Are resale home prices stabilising?

After January’s dip in resale private property prices, February’s fall was considered slightly more positive. It was less steep for one, at 0.3 per cent as compared to January’s 0.9 per cent. Buyers have been waiting around for prices to slide further, but they seemed to have held firm. The prediction for January’s fall was originally 1.6 per cent.

Tre ResidencesLuxury homes took the brunt of the hit, with those in the city centre suffering an obvious softening demand. Suburban home sales remained level. Some of the market movements could be due to the lack of new property launches in February and the lack of activity during the festive Chinese New Year period.

Prices of shoebox apartments have been uncertain of late, as more have been completed are are now ready for the rental market. This in turn may have implications for the latter as competition runs high. Tenants now have fresh pickings to choose from and may have the upper hand when it comes to price negotiations.

In the months ahead, buyers and investors can expect a slight market shift, but not necessarily a significant one. It will be constant cha-cha between buyers and sellers and they try to suss out the other’s expectations.

Property market cooling in Malaysia as well?

Singapore aside, it seems the property market is cooling just across the border as well.

Similarly, higher interest rates are expected for the year ahead, and with weaker buying sentiments and a possible market saturation, property experts are saying that the property developers’ expectations and pricing will be the main factor determining a slowdown (or not) or sales this year. There was an increase in the Real Property Gains Tax rates and the minimum purchasing price for foreign buyers in October 2013, which have affected those investing in properties in the region.

Cypress Villa PenangHome prices in Malaysia have been rising faster than incomes. Could a bubble be slowly forming? How will this affect investors? In the past, it may have been easier and cheaper for foreign buyers to purchase a property in Malaysia, but when it comes to rental and future resale possibilities, the prospects may be slightly dimmer now as locals may not be able to afford and there are rules against selling the properties to other foreign buyers. Without a constant rental yield, the property could become an empty shell.

When purchasing overseas properties, selecting a good location may help shield you against some of these risks. And doing as much research as possible, finding a reputable agent, attending investment seminars and talks, will give you the tools to do just that. Home prices in Johor for example, are still on the rise, with a 5.44 per cent growth in Q3 of last year, albeit a drop from 10.93 per cent in Q1. There are still a reasonable pool of middle-income home buyers who are still looking for prime properties in this state, as well as select others such as Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang. Singaporean investors may have the strong Singapore dollar as an advantage but a keen eye for spotting good launches and a sense of the right timing are what makes a worthy investment.

Rental market ended weaker in 2014

Compared to a year ago, the private residential rental market was on a slight downwards slope since last February, with the luxury property market taking the biggest hit with a drop of 1.2 per cent last month.

Parc Rosewood in Woodlands.

Parc Rosewood in Woodlands.

As most expatriates now have a reduced housing budget, properties which are asking for more than $10,000 in monthly rents may struggle to secure tenants quickly. And as the rental prices of properties in the city centre dips and closes in on the rental prices of city fringe homes, the latter may also be facing some fierce competition.

While suburban homes holding up better with their comparatively less expensive rents, the surge of 25,000 new homes entering the market by end 2015 may change the tune of things to come. Private residential condominiums which may be ripe for the rental pickings soon include Parc Rosewood in Woodlands and Eight Courtyards in Yishun.

When many units within the same property enter the market at the same time, property experts are expecting a price war which may benefit the tenants but not necessarily the landlords. As the private property market prepares itself for the upcoming increase in supply, one begins to wonder if the HDB market will benefit from this or will the rental prices there be similarly affected?

New private condos threaten Rental Market

As more new private condominiums in the suburbs attain their occupation-ready status, the number of apartments available for rental has increased significantly and fierce competition has brought rental prices down. Though concentrated mainly in the suburbs, where most of the new condominiums are situated, the decline has dragged the rental market down by 1.5 per cent.

FOresta Mount FaberAnd as most of these new condominiums are in close proximity to HDB flats, the HDB rental market has also been affected somewhat as tenants now realised they may be able to afford a private condo after all and instead choose this option over HDB flats. And as this pressure is exerted on the HDB market, some HDB flat owners may consider jumping over to the private property market and the HDB resale flat sector may see some shifting as a result of the spillover effect.

From January to September of this year, there were a total of 6,621 condominium units entering the market in the suburbs alone. This has pushed rental prices down 5.3 per cent and a 1.3 drop in the number of rental deals signed in September alone. However, a year-on-year comparison with 2013 showed an increase of 11.8 per cent in terms of the number of units leased. This could signify a shift of tenants leasing private properties as opposed to HDB flats as the price gap narrows.

Eight RiversuitesMoving forward, 2015 and 2016 may see a vacancy rate of 10 per cent and more if immigration policies remain the same and if rental prices become even more competitive with up to 20,000 new units reaching completion annually. Is this a sign that the cooling measures have worked? Or is it merely a sign that investing in residential property may have to take a different slant, to focus on long-term profits through property appreciation rather than on short-term rental profits? How does that then change the criteria for property selection?

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.

A little east-side enclave – St. Patrick’s road.

The Thomson-East Coast MRT line looks set to have a big effect on properties near the future MRT stations. The exclusive area of St Patrick’s road is but just one of them. With a station in Marine Parade situated nearby, properties in the area may see a big boost in home prices as the future MRT line will cut down travel time to the city.

Grand DuchessAlthough situated in the prime district 15, near good schools and many other amenities such as the 112 Katong and Parkway Parade shopping malls, the Marine Parade library, and the market and town centre just a stone’s throw away, sales has been far and few in between for a long time. But private home rental prices has held steady. With new property launches coming up, buyers may now consider these properties in all seriousness, with their potential for high rental yields.

Currently, only a few private apartment blocks stand in its vicinity, such as the St Patrick’s Residences and the Grand Duchess @ St Patrick’s. New launches planned for the months ahead include Seventy St Patrick’s and Amber Skye. Despite the harsh conditions of the TDSR framework, buyers may be drawn to the area by its exclusive and lush surroundings, the convenience of amenities and schools just streets away, and the evergreen plus point of a MRT station nearby.

Marina One Residences breathes new life into Marina Bay

Activity at the Marina Bay district may see a boost as new units at the Marina One Residences were launched over the weekend. With its exclusive CBD address, the 1,024-unit residential development may see a more positive uptake as property cooling measures could have kept prices at a reasonably affordable range for investors.

Those with strong holding power and are looking for properties with a high growth potential may consider the Marina One development quite seriously. With one- to four-bedder apartments available in the mixed-use development, residents will be in close proximity not only the entertainment areas, the Central Business District but also the Marina One offices and the 65,000 sq ft retail podium, The Heart. Prices are set to hover around $2, 600 psf. Over the past year, prices averaged between $1, 945 to $2,694 psf.

Marina One residential project with 1,042 new condominium units. Photo by marina-one.org.

Marina One residential project with 1,042 new condominium units. Photo by marina-one.org.

Buyers of units in the Marina Bay area, such as those at Marina Bay Residences, Marina Bay Suites and The Sail @ Marina Bay, have seen profits ranging from $60,000 to close to $1 million. Other properties in the area include V on Shenton.

With the Marina One Residences being one of the rare freehold apartments in the area, property experts are expecting its value to hold steady or increase over the years. Despite resale prices falling up to 8 per cent, and with expatriates now moving into less central areas such as the suburbs due to their housing allowance curbs, smaller units are still expected to do well as the mid- to senior-level foreign workforce may still favor the convenience and proximity of units in the CBD.

For this sector of the market, the main change which came about from the implementation of the TDSR (total debt servicing ratio) framework by the MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) is that buyers may now dictate how owners and developers price their units.

Lakeside Wonder

Things in the West are heating up, especially with the launch of a number of private residential properties, announcements of a new Jurong Lake Gardens, a new retail and commercial hub Jurong Gateway and new transport lines. It’s a whole new township blossoming.

Prices of properties at Lakeside, a largely residential district, has been on the rise, significantly more so since 2009. Lakeholmz condominium apartments were only priced at $440psf in 2003. In 2009 and 2010 respectively, relatively properties such as The Caspian and Lakefront Residences were already costing buyers $580 psf and $1, 020psf. That is almost double in just a year’s time.

LakevilleOne of the newer launches is the Lakeville condominium and current median prices of properties in the area range at $1, 300 psf. Over the past 12 months, prices have ranged between $706psf for older establishments such as Lakepoint condominium to $1,263 psf at Lakefront Residences.

The new malls, businesses and regional offices setting up shop in the area has also brought along with it a new flow of tenants. Thus rental prospects are promising, especially for newer properties. Rental prices above $3 psf and at least 10 leases are signed at each residential property per month.

With a new land parcel up for bids in December, buyers looking to enter the market in the west side of the country could possibly have something to look forward to.