Deflating rental prospects hurt home sales

Buying a property and collecting rent used to be one of the most popular ways to start your investment journey. Usually the case for cosmopolitan cities, the situation may have changed in this developing country. Rental rates have continued to deflate as immigration policies were adjusted.

According to URA data, vacancy rates have reached the highest point since 2006. City centre and luxury homes have been hardest hit as expatriates are now choosing to live further away from the city with more and cheaper housing options. And as sentiments go, the less lived in a property, the less others will want to live in it. And it’s a cycle which if not arrested soon, may be detrimental to the market.

But most of the unsold units reside in the prime districts 9, 10, 11. Further away in Sentosa, the Cape Royale is 100 per cent unsold with its 302 units still on the market. It was completed last year. Developers IOI and Ho Bee are going with the decision to rent the units out instead of trying to sell them.

The Interlace at Depot Road.

The Interlace at Depot Road.

And as more developments were finished in 2014, the number of unsold homes in completed projects continues its climb. Some of these include The Interlace at Depot road, Starlight Suites in River Valley, TwentyOne Anguilla Park and Concourse Skyline on Beach road.

Developers have been steadily offering discounts or cutting prices in order to bring the buyers and tenants back into the market. As shown by recent sales at The Vermont, where slashing the prices have sold 30 of its 37 unsold units. From $2,400 psf, it dropped to just a little over $2, 000 psf.

Rental may not earn you your investment money

Especially with property tax revisions in the 2013 Budget. The removal of tax refunds for vacant properties will take a huge chunk of potential income away from individual as well as corporate investors. They can no longer bank on getting money back on units they are holding on to whilst waiting for a good time to rent. Only those with extensive holding power will be able to hold on to their units and wait out the lulls in the real estate market.

Emerald Green condominium.

Coupled with the increase in taxes for luxury properties, more and more resale private residential properties may be pushed back into the market, which unfortunately is dominated by new homes at the moment. This may intensify competition within a saturated market which may or may not see a price drop, depending on how strong a holding power the investors have.

Starting January 2014, the concession for such properties will cease and 2013 might be the year where the price battle between resale and new properties may be fought most intensely. From next January, higher tax rates will apply, 5 different tiers in fact, ranging from 8 to 16 per cent. If luxury properties were not seen to be doing well in the current market, will things take an even worse turn come 2014?

On the other hand, might overseas properties be more promising for investors and how do you get your hands on one? Which countries hold the most potential? Answers could often be best found at property seminars and talks, where you get to pick the brains of property experts and those who have had experience doing just that.