Smart and kind HDB homes?

HDB is launching a new type of high-tech flats or smart flats at Punggol Northshore. And they are rather kind on the pockets too, with prices starting at $28,000 for a 2-room flat (after subsidies).

These 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-room flats at Punggol Northshore will be launched tomorrow and will feature the infrastructure to install smart systems such as energy consumption monitoring systems or alarm and alert systems for the elderly.

Punggol-northshore.jpg;wae44a5d811a611cfaPhoto credit: HDB

The smaller, and markedly lower-priced 2-roomers may be just the thing for singles and the elderly living alone. Sized at 36 sq to 45 sq m, singles who apply for one alone qualify for the Additional Housing Grant of up to $20,000 and Special Housing Grant of $10,000. That’s a total of $30,000 off the $88,000 price tag of a new 2-room HDB flat at Punggol Northshore. Previous launches at Sembawang and Yishun consisted of even cheaper 2-room flats starting from $10,000 and $15,000 after grants have been applied.

But these new smart-tech HDB flats could be the new way to go for future HDB flats moving forward. And the launch at Punggol Northshore is situated near the waterfront and boasts of a seamless connection to the LRT, these coupled with the fact that the 4- and 5-room HDB flats are cheaper than resale flats nearby at $130,000 and $170,000; the response for this launch could be more than positive.

 

HDB Resale flats – More affordable now?

Have prices of resale HDB flats reached an acceptable level? Prices and sales volume have been falling, and with the time it has taken for the property cooling measures to sink in, are resale flats now more affordable?

As more executive condominiums (ECs) and Build-to-order (BTO) flats hit the market, owners of existing HDB flats who are upgrading or getting keys to their new flats, in particular second-timers, are pressured to sell their flats within a stipulated time period of 6 months. This, plus the fact that a substantial period of time of steady but gentle decline of resale flat prices may have instilled confidence in buyers who may either see the market as stabilising, with slight or no further chances of price drops.

Bellewaters ECHow much as price really dropped? In a year-on-year comparison, prices have dipped 6 per cent since April last year, and an 11 per cent drop when matched against the peak in 2013. Property analysts are expecting prices of resale flats in non-mature estates to fall a little further of 6 per cent whereas those in mature estates are expected to hold their own for the rest of the year. Three-room and four-room flats also saw a 0.3 per cent price rise while five-roomers and ECs fell 0.8 and 2 per cent respectively.

In the first quarter of the year, the rate of decline in HDB resale flat prices have been the lowest since the fall in 2013, at 1 per cent. This be a signifier of a stabilising market, though 2015 may be the year to watch in terms of future market trends. With the possible General Elections coming up next year, it could also be the calm just before the storm, whichever way the wind blows.

 

HDB resale market – Prices down, Sales up

15, 914 resale HDB flats were sold last year, compared to 14, 220 in 2013. Though the numbers were up in the terms of transaction volume, prices dipped slightly. Prices of resale flats in non-matures estates such as Punggol and Sengkang fell 8.3 per cent while those in mature estates such as Queenstown and Bishan saw a 3.1 per cent decline.
Pinnacle@Duxton_2015The largest drop were in the four- and five-room flats sectors. Prices of three-room flats remained the same while a 1.8 per cent increase may have cheered up some executive flat sellers. Recent additions to the resale market, flats at The Pinnacle @ Duxton, did extremely well, with 2 units already sold at $900,000 and $918,000. Property analysts are expecting four- and five-room flats here to hit the $1 million mark soon. With it’s prime location and unique design, plus it is only five-years young, that may not be such an impossible task.

Overall, the projected decline this year for the HDB market will mirror that of last, at a single-digit fall of 5 to 8 percent. And perhaps buyers will be buoyed by this news and have a good run this year as well. Industry experts are expecting a stable transaction level in the first 2 months of 2015, followed by an increase in activity in March after the Chinese New Year break.

New life at Jurong Lake district

We’ve all heard about the various prestigious “Lake districts” of popular cities across the globe. Now, Singapore could finally boast a few of their own as waterfront living takes on a whole new spin. Sentosa Cove, Marina Bay, Punggol waterway and now Jurong Lake.

Lake Life ECAt the Lake Life EC (executive condominium) in the Jurong Lake district, almost 1,200 applications were registered when it was launched 2 weekends ago. And with one in three applicants being a first-time home buyer, it shows the demand for and power of these hybrid properties. An EC is sold under the HDB scheme but after 10 years, it becomes private property, making it value for money in the long run.

Though EC buyers may qualify for the HDB grants and subsidies, it largely depends on their income ceiling, which has been raised to $12,000 per household. Prices of these flats are also considerably higher than other HDB flats, new and resale.

As the price gap between private homes in the city centre and city fringe continue to narrow, and as suburban private properties rise in price, ECs may become the property of choice for growing households and young couples. How the scale tips may eventually affect the effectiveness and purpose of this hybrid property. Are ECs here to stay? Or could they possibly become obsolete?

Rise in HDB Resale flat sales

As HDB resale flat prices continue to decline for the eighth month in September, buyers are taking the opportunity to suss out the best deals. The number of sales transactions for HDB resale flats rose to the highest since April this year. A total of 1, 469 flats were sold in September, up 10.7 per cent from August and almost 20 per cent from the same month last year.

St George Towers

Photo credit: HDB

It comes as no surprise that the larger flats saw the largest fall in prices. Five-room HDB flat prices fell 1.6 per cent, followed by three- and four-room flats dipping 0.2 per cent and ECs (executive condominiums) 0.1 per cent. The recent numbers also revealed the fact that buyers are willing to accept a smaller price difference between the selling price and the average market value when previously, they had expected larger margins before committing to a deal.

Some of the factors contributing to the drop in HDB flat prices could be:

The first and last two factors in the list may have more lasting effects that expected. And it may change the value and purpose of HDB flats. But would the change be all that bad? Or will it help refocus investments into the private property market?

Married couples opt for HDB Parenthood Priority Scheme

It may or may not increase the likelihood of young Singaporean couples starting a family sooner, but more married couples are purchasing new HDB flats under the Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS).

In the March sales launch alone, 32 per cent of Build-To-Order (BTO) flats were taken up by applicants under the PPS scheme. There is almost 100% possibility of all PPS applicants getting a flat. 3, 898 flats were launched in March in non-mature estates such as Sengkang, Punggol and Bukit Batok. A total of 12,000 applicants applied for BTO flats in the latest launch.

Compassvale Cape Mar2013

HDB’s next launch will be later this month, in Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Jurong West, Sembawang and Woodlands. WIth 4, 850 new flats plus 3,000 balance flats from previous launches planned, response from PPS applicants may be even more than March’s 32 per cent. Other schemes which the HDB provides include the:

  • Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS)
  • Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS)
  • Third-Child Priority (TCP) Scheme
  • Tenants Priority Scheme (TPS)
  • Ageing-in-Place Priority Scheme (APPS)
  • Studio Apartment Priority Scheme (SAPS)

It should be noted that for the hotly debated Executive Condominiums (EC), the priority schemes do not apply. And for previous Design Build and Sell developments, developers are required to give priority to buyers applying under the Married Child Priority (MCP) Scheme and the Third-Child Priority (TCP) Scheme.

Topiary Executive Condominium in Fernvale.

Topiary Executive Condominium in Fernvale.

Under the MCPS, applicants who are a first-time married couple and who have at least one child below the age of 16 qualify for up to 30% of BTO and 50% of SBF (sale of balance) flats in each launch. This scheme began in January 2013 and many have since successfully secured a HDB Flat by applying under this scheme. Whether this will help population growth and fertility rate remains to be seen, but at least it has helped Singaporean couples secure a home more quickly and without the pain of waiting endlessly.

Previously married couples had joined engaged couples applying under the Fiancee scheme. However unmarried couples made up close to 50% of the applicants under this scheme, which lessened the chances of those who are already married or already have a child securing a flat.

No quick-fix to managing HDB flat prices

So says National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

Ever since the Government announced that new HDB flats will come at a lower price, HDB flat owners have been expressing fears of losing their nest egg should prices of flats drop. But as new flats are limited to only certain groups and limited in terms of type and location, will there necessarily be a drastic drop in resale flat prices and are we worrying too early? Though the number of resale flat transactions have decreased, prices continue to remain high. And there will always be those who wish to choose a flat of their liking in a location they prefer, as opposed to trying perhaps numerous times in the HDB ballot queue.

HDB Flats THinkStockMr Khaw reassured Singaporeans that while prices of HDB flat will only drop “a few per cent over the next few years”, but in the same breath said that the prices of HDB flats cannot keep rising forever. “If housing prices keep rising,it won’t be good. When I came into the MND (Ministry of National Development) two years ago, that was my target”. And much has been done since then, with the ramp up of BTO flat supply, changes in income ceiling, limits on HDB flat sizes, increase in number of allocated flats for both first and second-timers, and even allowing singles to buy new HDB flats.

During the recent Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) dialogue, the idea of selling back new flats only to the Housing Board was faced with much opposition. Homeowners naturally worry that their homes will lose  their value and cut them off from the profit they can earn by selling it in the open market. Mr Khaw admits that resale flat prices are difficult to manage as they are largely subjected to the market demand. SLP International executive director Nicholas Mak speculates that one way of gently letting resale HDB flat prices drop is to decrease the prices of new HDB flats in the same estate.

Forestville Executive Condominium.

Forestville Executive Condominium.

Recent debate also surround the Executive Condominium (EC) scheme\. While some have said that those who can afford an EC should not receive subsidies from the Government, the scheme was specifically initiated to help those who may not qualify for other HDB subsidy schemes. Thus should ECs still be considered a value-added profit-making asset for their owners?

Suburban condominiums may be in for a downturn

The recent property measures seemed to have been forgotten, but its effect may just be taking root. Despite all the suburban homes which developers have been launching and selling this first quarter, it may be headed towards a limp finish.

Urban VistaOnly 1,544 resale homes were sold up till March 12, maybe hitting 2, 200 by the end of the month. But this is a far cry from the 3, 647 homes sold in the last quarter of 2012. In 2011, 3,761 homes were sold on a year-on-year comparison. Recent private residential apartment launches such as Sennett Residences, D’Nest and Urban Vista may pick things up by the scruff of the neck and pull numbers up after all. Since their launches, 1,400 new homes have been sold, including three other property launches.

So new homes seem to be doing well. But resale homes may be at the opposite end of the success spectrum. Most owners are keeping their current private home, what with the increased ABSD (Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty) and tighter loan limits which were part of January’s property cooling measures. And it seems they are not so quick to lower their prices as well, unlike developers who have dangled discounts and other incentives to new home buyers.

What the ABSD has done is to increase the stakes for property owners who are looking to buy their second home. There will now be a 7 per cent stamp duty. And owners of completed homes may not see the urgency to offload their current property, perhaps only with the exception of those looking to downgrade. But until resale HBD flat prices drop, they may not act so quickly as well.

Activity will not wane in the private property market, but instead, it seems like it may be the battle between new and resale. Which will you go for?