Singapore home prices down last quarter

Across the board, property prices have dipped again last quarter, but resale HDB flat prices may be stabilising. Following the first quarter decline of 1 per cent, resale HDB flat prices dipped only 0.4 per cent last quarter, possibly signifying a bottoming out of this market.

Optima condominium at Tanah Merah.

Optima condominium at Tanah Merah.

Nudged by the lowered mortgage servicing ratio cap from 35 to 30 per cent and reduction in the number of new BTO (build-to-order) and SBF (sale of balance flats) units, HDB resale flat prices have fallen for a few quarters now. Property analysts are expecting a stabilising of the market, or at least a rise in demand for resale units as HDB plans to increase the income ceiling for BTO flats, which may replenish the pool of potential resale HDB flat buyers.

Private home prices are however expected to fall further this year, especially as resale HDB flat prices have fallen so quickly the gap between private suburban homes and the former have widened. Some HDB upgraders may think twice about selling their HDB flat to purchase a private condominium unit and others may turn to resale flats instead of private homes. The expectation of a rush of new private apartment units to hit the market in the later half of this year may have also put a damper on market prices.

In the first quarter, private home prices fell 1 per cent, and the fall remained steady in the second quarter at 0.9 per cent. Moving ahead, prices of private non-landed homes are expected to fall 4 to 6 per cent by the end of the year.

 

Rising competition in the Rental market

If you were looking to buy a condominium unit to call home, competition from the rising number of new homes might be good news for you. But if you were looking to invest in a unit to reap rental profits, it might be wise to consider your options carefully.

Jupiter18 CondoThe rental market for suburban condominiums has been falling, especially as more new properties enter the market. Private condominium rentals have fallen 0.6 per cent last month and is 6 per cent lower than last May on a year-on-year comparison. More new condominiums will receive their TOP (temporary occupation permits) in the next few months, which may suppress the rental market even more. Property analysts are expecting a fall of up to 7 per cent for the private property rental market this year.

The effects may also trickle down to the HDB rental market as competition heats up across the board. The price gap may be narrowing between HDB and private apartment rents, thus giving tenants a much wider pool of options. A five-bedroom HDB flat now usually rents for up to $2,400 per month while a 2-bedder private condo unit rents at just under $3,000.

Location is still king and units in mature estates or near MRT stations will still command slightly higher rents.

HDB resale prices – Upwards soon?

With property prices on the decline since almost a year ago, have HDB resale flat prices finally bottomed out?

Buyers seems to have caught on with the price drop and have been back on the hunt for units as the number of transactions in May this year indicated a 20 per cent rise compared to the same month last year. Prices have also shown a 0.2 per cent increase in March and have held steady in April.

Resale 5-room HDB flat on King George's Avenue with asking price of more than $700,000.

The property cooling measures rolled out by the government seem to have finally taken full effect since their implementation over the past couple of years. Since its peak in 2013, HDB flat prices have fallen 11 per cent.  Property analysts are expecting resale HDB flat prices to reach it’s bottom by the end of the year. Minister for National Development, Mr. Khaw Boon Wan, has previously mentioned a possible single digit fall in HDB flat prices this year.

How long the lower prices will be maintained is largely dependant on policy changes and buyers’ sentiments, but also on the private property market and the options made available to the buying public. It could be that the prices may remain stable for awhile with the number of sales transactions increasing as buyers take advantage of this window of opportunity.

 

More go for Clementi HDB flats

HDB launches in mature estates have always been popular with applicants. And in their May launch this year, applicants are heading straight for the new BTO flats in Clementi. The application rate for 5-room flats in this HDB estate was at 13.1 per unit. 2,047 buyers vied for just 156 units. All this despite the Clementi flats being the priciest ones of the entire launch. 5-room units had price tags starting from $566,000. Property analysts have however expected such fervent response as the new flats were situated close to the MRT station and other amenities.

ClementiCrestHDB

Photo credit: HDB

But waterfront units at Punggol Northshore received quite a bit of attention as well, as the new town sees more development and potential growth. These flats featured the latest products by HDB – smart-technology HDB homes. Although not quite reaching the 13.1 rate for the Clementi flats, the 2.8 application rate for the Punggol flats (double the 1.3 rate for the last Punggol flat launch) already showed an marked increase in interest for flats in this area.

Overall, the recent launch had an application rate of 3.7 per cent, making it the most oversubscribed launch since July last year. Since HDB has reduced the number of launches this year, could future launches have similar reactions? How will that change the demand for resale HDB flats in the areas or estates surrounding the launch?

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.

 

Resale and New HDB Flats – Price gap narrowing?

Have the price tag on new BTO HDB flats truly gone down, as the Minister of National Development, Mr Khaw Boon Wan has promised? Or are prices of new flats still considered high? What about resale flats?

WestRockHDB flatA recent survey has shown that most still think new HDB flats cost between $300,000 and $400,000 for a four-room unit. That is almost $100,000 more than the actual average of $295,000 for a new flat. Resale four-room HDB flats can easily range between $320,000 to more than $500,000 depending on location and floor area.

The average price of a new 3-room HDB flat currently stands at $186,000. But perhaps buyers have been using resale HDB flats as a gauge of value and have been expecting new BTO flats to cost between $200,000 to $300,000.

Since most of the individuals surveyed were willing to pay about 20% more than the actual prices of new HDB flats, what does this indicate about the resale HDB flat market? Are buyers getting used to the higher prices of public housing? Should the authorities work to keep new and resale flat prices as what they are? Is public housing truly affordable and has enough been done to keep the market just so?

Photo credit: HDB

 

 

Resale HDB flats in prime locations command high prices

Even though the resale HDB flat market seems to be following the general downhill trend of the property market over the last year or so, bigger and newer units in the town’s hottest locations are still bringing in big bucks.

Of the 20 five-room HDB flats which sold at over $900,000 this year, as compared to just one in the same period last year, 14 were from the lauded Pinnacle @ Duxton. The other sales came from units in Bukit Merah and Queenstown.

View from PInnacleAs units at the Pinncale@Duxton were only recently released into the market, after their statutory five-year MOP (minimum occupation period), part of the increase in sales could be accounted for by these units. At their time of launch in 2004, five-room units were only priced between $345, 100 to $439, 400. Prices have since more than doubled. With their astounding views (for a public housing facility) and close proximity to the CBD (Central Business District), chinatown and city centre, the reasons for their expensive price tags could hardly be disputed.

Most of the other flats which sold in Strathmore Avenue and Holland Drive, were also newer ones which came under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS). These flats were newly built in order to house owners of older flats nearby which were scheduled to be demolished. Many of these owners were luckily enough to secure a new flat at almost no additional cost, and now are able to sell at a profit.

Other areas with a higher ratio of newer resale flats include the less mature estates such as Punggol and Sengkang. Here, the units may not command as high a price due to their far flung location and higher number of sellers. But that said, it could be early days yet and in years to come, another tune may be sung.