Mortgage cap continues to limit resale HDB flat market

One of the more impactful property cooling measures implemented in recent years have been the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework and the mortgage servicing cap for HDB flats, which limits the percentage of one’s gross income which can be used to service a loan for a HDB flat to 30 per cent.

SengkangHDB

Resale flat prices have been deflating for 2 years now and looks like it will be flatlining this year. Since its peak in April 2013, resale HDB flat prices have fallen 11 per cent and many transactions are now closed sans Cash-over-valuation (COV). The second half of last year did however see a slight increase in prices. With the selling prices of recent transactions quite transparently and clearly reflected by HDB, buyers are now more aware of the current market climate.

The number of transactions in January fell 121 units from December, and prices fell 0.5 per cent. But this may be due to the busyness which January brings for buyers and sellers and property analysts are not overly worried about the HDB market as prices and sales volume are only expected to remain level this year. The stability may be a good thing this may be the much-needed rest period before a market rebound.

 

DBSS flats fetching profits

DBSS – these 4 letters have previously caused quite the debate about whether these HDB flats are priced so high the only ones winning are the developers. Since 2011, the Design Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) has been suspended.

CityViewBoonKengPhoto: City View @ Boon Keng DBSS HDB flats

Now, it seems buyers of these previously-launched private developer-built HDB flats are reaping in the profits, with recent reports of a 5-room DBSS flat at City View @ Boon Keng selling at $855,000. The unit is slightly above the mid-point of a 40-storey block and has a floor area of 109 sqm. The unit was originally priced at $627,000 in 2008. That makes a profit of $228,000.

Though the $288,000 profit is only a third of the launch price (the project previously launched at prices between $349,000 to $727,000), it is quite a reasonable sum considering the current dulling market.

With unblocked views of the Kallang river, card-access lift lobbies, bay windows, it’s city-fringe location and walking proximity to the Boon Keng and Bendemeer MRT stations, it’s easy to see how these units could have fetched such high prices. And more units might enter the market soon as they reach the end of their MOP (minimum occupation period).  In fact, industry players are expecting resale prices to possibly reach the $1 million mark, similar to HDB units at Pinnacle @ Duxton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resale HDB flat prices stabilising

HDB resale flat prices fell a mere 1.5% last year, buoyed by a 0.2% rise in the last quarter of 2015.

Skyline Bukit Batok HDB BTO FlatPhoto credit: HDB

With the lowered prices of resale HDB flats, there may be an increase in sales volume this year as buyers have found many of these sans-COV (cash over valuation) resale units more affordable. Price-wise, property experts are looking at a 1 – 2 per cent movement, with prices staying quite stagnant this year. More young couples and upgraders may also be moving into the private property market as the total quantum prices of units have come down to a much more palatable level.

According to Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, resale flats are mostly selling at market value, with prices comparable to that of 2011. Some of the property cooling measures which have been implemented since that which have taken effect, and which may continue to do so include the mortgage servicing cap of 30 per cent, the 25-year maximum loan tenure limit, and a 3-year waiting period for permanent residents before they are allowed to purchase resale HDB flats. Demand may also have waned as singles are now able to purchase new 2-room BTO flats directly from HDB and 18,000 new flats are to be rolled out this year with the first launch in February.

Though this may point to the market bottoming out by end of 2015, two consecutive quarters of price increase is required before a clear sign of a market rebound can be confirmed.

Higher chances for Singles applying for new HDB flat

The year might be looking up for singles hoping to secure a new HDB flat.

Fernvale Woods HDBPhoto credit: HDB

Before July 2013, singles were only allowed to purchase HDB flats from the resale market. For two and a half years now, 2-room new BTO HDB flats have been accessible to them though the number of applicants vying for a unit have been overwhelming and the wait have been long for some.

But since the most recent launch, the number of applicants have whittled down to 7.5 per unit. When the scheme first began in 2013, there were 57.5 applicants going for a single 2-room unit. These new 2-room flexi flats are the result of merging the 2-room and studio apartment schemes, and are designed mainly for the elderly and priced to help them and families in the lower income group. Singles who earn less than $5,000 then were also allowed to apply for these flats. The income ceiling has since been raised to $6,000 mid last year.

Bidadari HDB flat Alkaff

Photo credit: HDB

Singles are however restricted to new 2-room BTO flats in non-mature estates, which means they are not eligible for the new flats in Bidadari, which is considered a mature estate. Nevertheless, this option has helped many singles own their own space, to have a bit of privacy they can call their own in this growing city. The pricing of the new 2-room flats are considerably lower than those sold in the resale market, and most of the latter are much older and may not be suitable for the needs of singles who are looking for an affordable home.

Though there will still be competition for new 2-room flats, property experts are expecting the number to fall to a comfortable 4 or 5 applicants per unit.

 

2016’s BTO flat supply to benefit first-timers

First-time HDB applicants will be the main group to benefit from this year’s ramped-up BTO (build-to-order) supply, according to the new National Development Minister, Lawrence Wong.

Punggol HDB EstatePhoto: Punggol HDB estate

The Housing Development Board (HDB) will be rolling out 18,000 new units over the course of the year, almost 3,000 more than last year’s 15,100 units. Last November’s mega-launch released 12,000 new flats in popular estates such as Bidadari to the public’s overwhelming response. Though the number of new BTO flats reaching completion within these 2 years will increase, 26,000 new flats were completed last year, the authorities maintain their stance in providing a balanced and stable supply of homes for Singaporeans.

With new priority schemes and higher income ceilings in place after last year’s elections, more first-time applicants have been successful in securing a unit within a shorter time frame. From 2011 to 2013, HDB had ramped up their supply and construction of BTO flats to meet the pent-up demand from the decade before.

Last year, the number of flats launched was reduced from 16,900 to 15,100 as the resale HDB flat market slowly stabilised. Those hoping to apply for a new BTO flat directly from HDB will be happy to hear of the increase in supply which will be spread out over various flat types and HDB estates.

Are new HDB BTO flats truly affordable?

The next HDB sales launch will be in about 2 months’ time. Considering the response from the November mega-launch, the February launch will be greeted with much cheer as 4,150 BTO units from Bidadari, Bukit Batok and Sengkang will be offered this time round.

Bidadari HDB mapPhoto credit: HDB

The Bidadari flats received the most number of applicants in the most recent sales exercise. Even though the 5-room flats here were price at $544,000 (excluding grants), they were oversubscribed with 259 applicants vying for 151 units. Despite Bidadari’s history as a former cemetery, it is the only mature estate in November’s launch and its prime location added to its popularity. There were also 2-room flexi units offered in the exercise and were well-received as always. A number of these short-lease 2-room flexi flats were kept aside for senior citizens and they can make use of HDB and CPF grants to purchase them.

But these Bidadari flats were not the most expensive of new BTO flats launched. In May, 5-room BTO flats launched in Clementi cost between $576,000 to $725,000. Even then, there were almost 14 applicants to one unit. Have Singaporeans truly become more affluent or are they simply getting used to property prices here, even public housing? Prices of the next BTO launch will be watched closely, especially as the economy is expected to slow down considerably next year.

 

Decrease in property launches next year?

Large fresh batches of completed homes will be entering the market next year, which may in turn increase the supply of available private homes and decrease consumer’s demand. Add the Federal Reserve’s rate hike which was just announced yesterday, the market is expected to remain quiet in 2016. The authorities are picking up on these changes and have announced that they will be holding back on the release of land sites for sale in the first half of 2016.

As most of the completed new private homes flooding the market next year will be outside the central regions, that is 55% in the suburbs, suburban private properties might be feeling the crunch in terms of rental competition and sales volume. The total number of private homes reaching completion next year will be a whooping 22,351. Property experts’ have previously projected the market requirement of only 8,000 to 10,000 new units per year. The numbers have almost doubled over the last 4 years, with a total of 70,000 private homes were launched within this time period. Add public housing and the numbers are substantial reason for worry.

Although the government will still keep the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme going in order to keep the property and construction industry going, they will only be releasing 16 sites in the H1 of 2016. Some of the confirmed sites include a residential site in Sembawang,  an executive condominium (EC) plot in Anchorvale Lane which may yield 640 units, a mixed-use plot in Bukit Batok West and a rare plot on Martin Place near River Valley road. The last of the 4 confirmed sites may be of particular interest to developers hoping to snag a prime plot which could yield potential high-end residential units.

Developers and buyers could also be interested in a few other mixed-use sites, in particular one on Holland Drive.

Local developers setting sights on Overseas property market

Since the implementation of the property cooling measures and a recently dampened local property market, some developers are moving to developing overseas properties in cities where economic growth and demand for certain types of properties provide fodder for potential yields.

London FlatPhoto: Flat in London

Spotting opportunities in countries such as Britain and China, these overseas properties developed by local developers give overseas and local investors alike more investment opportunities and options. China has been experiencing some signs of economic stress with the oversupply of properties, leaving some ‘ghost towns’ in her midst. But in major cities such as Shanghai, where commerce and the international community is strong, the demand for properties remain high. Especially after the government lifted their restrictions on loans and relaxed the rules on foreign purchases, interest and buying activity has increased.

In the city of London and her South Eastern suburbs, prospects remain positive. City Development Limited (CDL) is one of the developers concentrating their efforts on larger projects. They are doing the same in Tokyo despite the seemingly slower economy in Japan, and are hopeful that economic measures taken by the Japanese government will give the real estate sector a boost.

The Brownstone ECPhoto: The Brownstone EC in Sembawang

Locally, the executive condominium (EC) market has had varied results as not all launches were equally well received. The Brownstone EC in Sembawang has sold 289 out of its 638 units thus far, but The Criterion in Yishun has only sold 45 out of its 505 units. Both properties are developed by CDL. With more resale private residential options and new and resale HDB flats available in the market, buyers now have more choices on their platter, and may be taking a longer time to shop for a unit.