Small private condominium units popular again


NeemTreeIt seems the 2 most recent new condominium launches got buyers all hot and happy, snapping up 526 units at the 920-unit Northpark Residences and 254 in Botanique at Bartley. Most of the buyers were HDB upgraders, with private buyers and foreigners making up one third.

Contrary to previous figures which showed a dip in interest in smaller units, the studio, one- and two-bedders went the fastest at Northpark Residences. The average selling prices were between $1, 300 and $1,400 psf. Smaller units may be increasingly in demand, and perhaps upcoming launches may expect to see a similar trend.

Over at Botanique @ Bartley, the median selling price was at $1,290 psf. Close to 85 per cent of its units sold were below $1.2 million in total quantum price. Some of the other launches which continued to sell well were Sims Urban Oasis and City Gate.

Were these bigger developments more popular with buyers? A much smaller new property, the 84-unit Neem Tree in Balestier, seemed to have trailing in the wake of these 2 larger launches. They have yet to sell any of the 24 units they put out for sale. Property experts have read this recent leap in new property sales cautiously, as most of the sales were from only 2 launches which were priced to suit buyers’ current expectations of lowered prices.

Condominium prices wavering

It may be a year of fluctuations for the private non-landed property market. Condominium sales have been slow, though it picked up slightly in February.

Both new and resale private condominiums were affected by the market slowdown, much of it attributed to the TDSR (Total debt servicing ratio) framework set by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). But some property analysts are also connecting the dots between the lowered Cash-Over-Valuation (COV) prices of resale HDB flats. When COVs were high, potential HDB upgraders were able to leverage on these to leap into the private property market by using the COVs as part of the cash down payment for their new private homes. With the lack of this financial impetus, more are finding themselves in between an rock and a hard place when it comes to scaling up.

Sims Urban OasisWeaker buyers may find themselves having to hold back for now while those with the financial abilities will still be able to well afford what the market currently offers, and perhaps even more so as prices have been coming down for sometime now.

There has however, been a shift of interest from newer units to resale ones, in favour of larger floor area. HDB buyers have been purchasing units with an average of 926 sq ft in size, while private buyers leaned towards units averaging 1,119 sq ft in size. The sweet spot of affordability is now between $1.28 million to $1.46 million for private buyers and $950,000 to $1,09 million for HDB upgraders.

Resale HDB flats shrink in number

You may think that with the number of new properties being completed within these couple of years, more HDB upgraders will be in a hurry to sell. But as the figures show, fewer resale HDB flats are put out there in the market as many choose instead to hold on to their flats in wait of the market upturn.

The quicker rise in prices of private mass-market homes could also be part of the reason for this inertia to upgrade. Prices of condominiums have risen 4.8 per cent and coupled with the decreasing ability to receive and maintain a realistic home loan, many may have given up their plans to upgrade, at least temporarily.

Bukit Batok HDB FlatBut it is just as well, since demand for HDB resale flats has also fallen, especially since singles are now able to purchase new flats directly from HDB and permanent residents now have a 3-year waiting period after receiving their PR status before being allowed to purchase a HDB flat.

The first sign of the decline in demand was shown in the COV figures. From a 6-figure sum just not long ago, it is now at a zero median in February this year. Some have even been reported to have sold below valuation price.

It is uncertain how long this lacklustre situation will last, but at least for this year, the market seems relatively quiet.

Slow ride for Property Market in 2013

With the real estate sector ending on a high note last year, will 2013 be the year things begin to stagnate?

8 Mounth Sophia

2012 seems to be the watershed year for Singapore’s property market, with residential properties doing extremely well and commercial and industrial properties not far behind. Despite cooling measures rolled out twice in the year, sales and growth remained strong.

Industry analysts are however expecting prices to reach a plateau this year. They are expecting property developers to be less active in the bidding for Government Land Sales (GLS) sites, whose number has also dropped as compared to 2011. There are still sites which may draw strong interest, such as Alexandra View, Prince Charles Crescent and Mount Sophia.


And as new properties which entered the market last year compete for buyers, affordability may remain strong. Vacancy rates for rental properties may stay low, and the possibility of new property cooling measures being implemented this year may also contribute to a less vibrant market.

The prime districts are expected to do less well, as supply overshadows the weak rental demand due to companies cutting back on housing allowances and lowered employment rates. Mass market private homes are however given the thumbs up, resilient sales buoyed by affordable prices and favoured by investors and upgraders.

The Topriary penthouses sold out

At one of Sengkang’s up-and-coming executive condominiums, The Topriary, there were once 16 penthouses.  But they are now none. All were sold out within the first two hours and at prices of between $1.3 and $1.5 million at sizes of between 1, 970 sq ft to 2, 476 sq ft.

Buyers were attracted by The Topriary’s amenities and investment potential. Situated near the soon-to-be completed Seletar Mall and existing Greenwich V Mall, home  buyers snapped up 600 units of the 700 units within the first five days. Applications have since closed last Tuesday. Other units included two-, three- and four-bedders as well as dual-key apartments.

The response is a strong indication of the market interest in ECs. HDB upgraders and those not willing to fork out the money for limited space in private properties count amongst many of those applying for the recent EC launches. CityLife@Tampines was another EC with a 4, 349 penthouse which was more than three times oversubscribed. If you’re looking out for another EC launch, then Forestville in Woodlands might be just your thing.

With property developers offering more luxury fittings and options in the latest EC launches, it makes one wonder how much further will this particular property sector have to go before it becomes entirely comparable to private condominiums and possibly closer to laying its own path to demise.

In Demand – Bigger homes

When comparing getting more floor space in an older apartment over less in a brand new one for the same price, which would you go for?

Stadia condominium in Yio Chu Kang.

Many are choosing bigger, older private condominium units over smaller new condominium apartments. One of the reasons buyers are going for resale units is prices of new properties are still on the rise.  Prices of suburban resale non-landed homes have been  on the rise for two consecutive months and it doesn’t look like it will be letting up anytime soon. It might be the sellers’ market now as demand for bigger homes is on the rise.

Will this demand push up prices of resale private flats over the next few months? Industry experts certainly think so. HDB upgraders especially may be looking in the general direction of resale private units as they are priced out of the new condominium market.

But does this mean shoebox apartments have fallen out of favour with property buyers? Though the percentage rise in prices were marginal at 0.6 per cent in October compared to 2 per cent the month before, buyers are still willing to consider this new property type. Given some  time, the popularity may bounce back up should rental prices reflect positively