Private home sales down in Q3

Despite recent new launches, private home sales remained lacklustre as the third quarter registered  lowest sales figures since 2008. Only 1,596 new homes were sold in the last 3 months, though 648 units were sold in August alone, signifying a plausible comeback.
 Tre ResidencesSome of the more popular residential properties were the newer ones such as Highline Residences, Seventy St Patrick’s, Lakeville, Eight Riversuites, and some new launches from projects such as The Panorama. As per previous years, post Hungry Ghost Festival meant home buyers were once again eager for new deals and were actively seeking property purchase opportunities.

Across the board, 6,030 private properties were sold in the first 3 quarters of the year, almost half that of the same period last year. Much of the decline was due to weakening demand in the primary market, which could be a result of the tightening home loan limits implemented in June 2013.

Upcoming launches of Sophia Hills, Tre Residences and Symphony Suites might bring renewed activity into the market and possibly close the year on a high. But most of the attention will be in the executive condominium (EC) market as the drought of new launches in this sector welcome new launches of Lake Life, Bellewoods and Bellewaters.

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?

Downturn for Downtown homes

The luxury property market has taken a downturn as homes in the downtown areas take a hit. Transactions were still taking place, and there were homes being resold, but an increasingly number of them at a loss. Recent transactions show a $60,000 loss in the resale of a Marina Bay Residences unit just last month. One of the largest differences came from a $342,000 loss from a subsale of a Robinson Suites unit.

eMuch of the competition comes from unsold stock from developers, a dipping rental market and a diminishing expatriate population. The first factor could be the most hurtful to investors as some developers have begun adjusting prices downwards, and even renting out unsold units instead of selling them. This puts up fierce competition for buyers who have originally planned for their properties to earn them the monthly sustenance through rental. Even small apartments and and one-bedders are meeting similar fate.

Downtown home prices have fallen 8 per cent, and properties in the prime districts 9 and 11 have fallen 5 per cent. Ultimately, it may come down to holding power. And learning some tricks of the trade through property seminars and talks could be the best way to safeguard yourself from bad investments.

Private property out of reach for HDB Upgraders?

If home prices are falling, most would think that the upgrade from public housing or HDB flats to the private home market should be getting easier. But it seems the opposite is true.

Prices of HDB flats and a private condominium apartment are perhaps softening at around the same rate, or that of HDB flats possibly even quicker. This creates a widening price gap between resale HDB flats and private condominiums, and HDB sellers can no longer depend on the sales proceeds of their HDB flats to balance out the price of their new private condominium.

BellewoodsECPhoto Credit: Bellewoodsec.com

Does this also mean that more HDB flat owners will now be forced to stay put and thus decrease the number of HDB flats available in the resale market? What about those who may have already purchase a private property and have a limited time period within which to sell their HDB flats? WIll they be pushed to sell at lower prices hence suffering the growing amount they need to top up?

Property experts are expecting ECs or executive condominiums to be the bridging properties between these two markets. As a hybrid between public and private housing, buyers qualify for public housing subsidies but after a 10-year period, can sell their units as private properties.  There is also the question of home sizes, will HDB upgraders be willing to settle for lesser space and a higher psf price to make the leap from HDB to private home?

Varied market response to declining property prices

Home prices in both the private and resale HDB markets have continued to dip in the second quarter of 2014. In the first three months of the year, the decline was 1.6 per cent. Perhaps buoyed by the increased number of launched in Q2, the rate of decline was somewhat less steep at 1.3 per cent the quarter past.

Rezi 3 TwoBuyers who have been on the lookout for opportunities such as this may be happy to find that more than a few property developments have been offering discounts. Though the overall number of sales have picked up in the second quarter, mostly due to new launches, the private homes market saw a more obvious slowdown in both the city centre and suburbs. The drop was 1.5 per cent in the city centre and 1.1 per cent in the suburbs. Properties in the city fringe fared better with a 0.6 per cent drop, an improvement considering the 3.3 per cent dive in the earlier part of the year.

But there are those who are concerned about the longevity of their investment should they purchase now. The question they may ask is, is this the lowest prices can go? If I were to buy now, will the prices continue to drop? Though property analysts are doubtful that the prices will bottom out anytime soon, they are expecting the maximum of a 5 per cent decline.

As long as the supply continues at a steady pace, prices will not vary far from the current levels. Perhaps true change will only come with a shift in policies. Considering the elections will be here in a couple of years’ time, the time leading up to that might be a period of uncertainty.

Property launches may trickle

As transaction volume of luxury homes remains below par this year, property developers are holding back on their new launches. The last big launch was in October last year, of the freehold Goodwood Grand and Liv on Wilkie.  There are apparently up to 12 new projects on hold.

The one high-end residential project which went on sale this year was The Rise @ Oxley Residences near Orchard road. So far only 8 units of the 120-unit project has been sold, at a median price of $2,452 psf. Sales have been slow since November last year. Goodwood Grand has sold 22 of its 73 units as of May this year, at a $2,323 psf average. The availability of smaller apartments at Liv on Wilkie has helped with sales as they are more affordable for investors and may have longer legs to run.

The Rise @ OxleyWhat have developers been busy with these few months? Cutting back on their losses by offering discounts on existing stock, it seems. And as some may be in a hurry to sell as deadlines loom, the discounts are more attractive than usually expected of the property market.

But for those who are willing to wait, new projects yet-to-be launched include New Futura in Leonie Hill Road and Gramercy Park on Grange road. Once again the waiting game is being played. And though it was the buyer’s game earlier this year, the ball now remains in mid-air. In whose court will it land?

Paya Lebar thriving area for properties

A largely commercial and industrial area, one would not have thought Paya Lebar would bring much cheer to anyone but the landlords of commercial properties. But the large number of foreign workforce these businesses will bring to the surrounding districts may be something to look forward to.

Katong Regency - Mixed-used development on Tanjong Katong Road.

Katong Regency – Mixed-used development on Tanjong Katong Road.

Slated for sale in the next half of 2014, Paya Lebar Central will see a 132, 000 sq m new building with offices, retails businesses and even a hotel. What now stands on the spot is the Singapore Post Centre amongst other industrial properties. Its proximity to the city centre and its competitive rental rates will no doubt make it one of the more popular commercial districts in the country and residential properties nearby could be looking at positive rental possibilities.

There are a variety of both landed homes and high-rise apartments in Paya Lebar, Joo Chiat, Katong and Marine Parade. Urban Villas is a cluster of private terraces and semi-detached houses which are freehold. In the Katong area, there are Katong Regency, The Lush and Aura 83 condominiums, an area which has been a hive of activity since the opening of many new eateries and shops and also the 112 Katong shopping mall.

The East has never looked so exciting. And we can expect it to be the next big thing in a few years’ time.

Private property buyers holding out on post-launches

New residential developments usually draw large crowds at their previews and initial launches, with some selling out within weeks as eager house hunters scramble for the best units. But buyers are holding back during post-launches, opting instead to wait for newer projects or other post-launches to see which developers offer the best deals. City Developments’ Coco Palms sold only 20 units over the weekend. In its debut, 52 per cent of its 944 units were sold. Prices range from $880,000 for a three-bedder to $1.21 million for four-bedder though units available range from 463 sq ft one-bedders to 3, 111 sq ft penthouses.

Commonwealth TowersSome developers have been dishing considerable discounts on their post-launch offerings. The Panorama in Ang Mo Kio just a couple of weekends ago saw developers giving up to 12 per cent discounts on their second launch. Property hunters are likely to compare between new project launches and previous projects’ re-launches, weighing the potential of rental possibilities and asset appreciation.

The increased number of mass-market property launches in May has lent some joy to the market and transaction volume is expected to reach 1,600 units. Projects which are offering prices lower than the projected buyers’ total quantum will be likely to still get buyers coming to their doorsteps. When it was first launched, units at Waterfront@Faber condominium went for $1, 100 to $1, 350 psf. Since then, only 6 more were sold, at an average of $1, 280 psf. Another May baby was the 845-unit Commonwealth Towers, where more than 66 per cent of the 400 units released have been sold.

As we move into the middle of 2014, the next half will be a time to watch. It may show signs of what 2015 will bring.