Weak rental market not an obstacle for investors

While the weakening rental market may have been putting pressure on investors, the concurrent weakening private property prices are opportunities to some. While the leasing market has slowed down considerably, the property-purchasing market has been gaining speed, especially in the last quarter or so.

TRE ResidencesThe overall genial atmosphere in the private residential property market over the past few months have brought property investors back into the heat of things. As more newly completed properties enter the market and new projects such as The Clement Canopy and Grandeur Park Residences were launched to affirmative responses early in the year. Overall private home prices fell at the slowest rate in 3 years, which could point to an increasingly stabilising market.

It would be prudent however for investors to take into consideration that the property cooling measures have not yet been lifted, though some signs of relief have been provided earlier this month. In the past, profits of up to 60 per cent could be reaped in the short-term, but the long-term potential of a property, rather than quick turnarounds or a dependency on rental profits, will be at the heart of a good investment henceforth. Property analysts advise investors to consider cash-flow, calculate mortgage and maintenance costs carefully while keeping a portion aside for periods of negative cash flow when  the property is unable to be tenanted.

New Tanah Merah condominium show flat draws thousands

Grandeur Park Residences premiered its show flat to a grand crowd last weekend as they thronged the Tanah Merah site in all eagerness. It will officially open for purchase on March 4.

GrandeurParkResidencesMost of the potential buyers were there to suss out the new 720-unit residential project situated near the Tanah Merah MRT station. Its proximity to the MRT station and location has no doubt attracted keen eyes. Most have spotted this new project for its rental and investment potential.

As more than half of the units in Grandeur Park Residences are one- and two-bedders, the more palatable quantum prices is a big draw for investors. Prices of the 2-bedroom apartments start from $700,000. Though the developers expected a big crowd at the launch of the show flat, the response has been overwhelming and is indeed a positive sign.

ParkPlaceResidencesThere has been glimmers of hope in the resale flat and rental markets just within the first month of 2017. The new condominium market has also been faring well even before the start of the year. And there will be at least 2 other major launches coming up in the months ahead, such as Seaside Residences in Siglap and Park Place Residences in Paya Lebar. Thus even though analysts are hesitant about calling it a good year for the market, consumer confidence is once again building up.

Fall of private home rents put dampener on market

Hana CondoFor the 6th month in a row, private home rental rates have fallen with an even sharper 1.3 per cent drop last month. In the HDB market, rental prices have however edged up by 0.2 per cent. The overall decline in rents is smaller in this market, at 3.7 per cent for the entire year of 2016. In the private property market however, for the whole of last year, rents have fallen 6.2 per cent and in a year-on-year comparison with January 2013, almost 20 per cent.

Not in particular good news for those who have been counting on rental yields to help with their multiple property mortgages. Plus a probable interest rates hike this year, the market could be looking at more sellers putting their property in auction sales or banks being more active in their mortgage auction sales. This could however work in the favour of buyers who have been looking for a home to live in. The closing price gap between private housing and higher-end resale public housing may also cause some contention and competition, with location and floor area possibly being the deciding factor for many.

KatongRegencyNot only has rental rates fallen, so has leasing volume. The number of condominium apartment leases fell to 3,691 last month, down 2.2 per cent from November’s 3,775 units. Last December’s leasing volume however is 17.1 per cent higher than in the same period in 2015. Overall, the rental market is weakening and investors can no only rely on rental yields to help tide them over.

Private resale property market to cruise on status quo

2016 proved to be a roller coaster year for the private home market, as prices fluctuated throughout the year but never quite settled into an upward swing. Price increases lasted hardly a quarter before turning the opposite direction and movements differed between regions as well.

SeletarParkResidencesAcross the board, resale private home prices rose 0.1 per cent. Most of the increase were for properties in the prime districts. Prices here rose 1.8 per cent while falling 0.9 per cent and 0.4 per cent in the city fringe and suburban districts respectively. Location continues to rule buyers’ decision-making process and prime district home prices remained stable despite the year-end lack of market activity.

As the rental market continues to wane and competition from completed properties put further pressure on rental prices, more private condominium unit owners may be pushed to sell this year as they come to the end of their 4-year holding period, after which they will have to foot their sellers’ stamp-duty bill. Buyers of resale units could have the upper hand when it comes to negotiations in these cases.

NathanResidencesThe number of private apartment units sold have been falling as well, with 484 units sold as compared to the 618 sold in November. Though the numbers are higher than the 453 units sold in December 2015, it is still a far cry from the 2,050 in April 2010 – a 76.3 per cent fall in fact. Property analysts are expecting prices and sales volume to maintain their current levels, though 2017 could be more a year of keeping the status quo than quick recovery.

Sparks of hope in property market

Despite the prolonged property lull, analysts are hopeful that a few sparks of recovery will begin to rejuvenate the market this year. The office sector may boost the commercial market while high-end luxury homes will hold up the residential property segment.

dleedonAs far as regions go, the core central region is heating up in terms of foreign interest in both residential and commercial properties. The sliding private home prices, by 11 per cent since 2013, have brought investors back into the luxury homes market. Currency valuation will however continue to play a part in the movement of investment money, and Singapore will still have to compete with other cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Shanghai for investors’ attention.

Compared to other major cities such as Hong Kong, New York and London however, apartment prices here have fallen and will become more appealing to foreign buyers as the potential for yields in the medium term is considerable, especially as these specific market segment is expected to perform well this year.

skylineorchardboulevardThe collective sales market is another to watch in 2017, as developers are expected to collaborate to build up their store of land sites for long term yields. There might also be acquisitions of smaller developers by larger ones in order to participate in the government land sales programme. Property prices are expected to remain stable but depending on a property’s rental yields as a means of investment or profit could become less attractive as investors find it more difficult to find tenants in an increasingly competitive market.

How to make your rental unit shine

Though the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has reminded property investors in their Financial Stability Review released late last year of the increase in vacancy rates and declining rental market, there are still ways to ensure the best yields from the properties you have invested in.

lagunagreenFinding yourself a reliant property agent is of course the first step, and experienced agents can often advise you on how to make your property more appealing to tenants, what to look out for when selecting a suitable tenant and what the current market sentiments or pricings are like. But putting in the behind-the-scenes work will also get you the results and the little things do make a difference.

As more tenants are taking their search online, making an online presence, and a good one, will at least help to bring in the views. The reach of social media and online platforms where expatriates often visit could be extensive. On occasions, you may even consider online advertising. And providing a 360-view of your unit will also provide tenants who search online with a more comprehensive idea of what you are offering. This helps save time for both landlords and tenants.

loyanggardensBefore taking any photographs, some home-staging will go a long way. The rise of Airbnb (though not yet legalised in Singapore) means tenants now have more options or are used to more elaborate visuals of the units they potentially select. Taking care of tiny details such as cleanliness, lighting, placement of plants or quality of furniture and utensils all play a part in making the tenant feel comfortable and could be just what gives them the final push to sign on the dotted line.

525 potential new residential units near city fringe and nature reserve

hertford-collectionNear Little India and off Toh Tuck Road, the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) has released 2 residential sites that may culminate to a total of 525 private homes. Both sites are released under the Government Land Sales GLS) scheme and have 99-year leasehold tenures.

The first site off Perumal road near Farrer Park MRT station may be of particular interest to developers due to their city fringe location, proximity to a MRT station and its yet unfounded potential. The area is also close to the new medical hub off Farrer park and Novena. The tender for this site closes at noon on Jan 10 and is expected to fetch $280 to $295 million at $800 to $850 psf. The bids may come in strong as there has been a lack of new launches in the area for sometime now, which could mean buyers will be looking for something new to put their money in when the time is right.

connexion-farrer-parkThe only con for this site might be the proximity to the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple which could mean a higher noise level especially during festivals. But its location and depending on what other facilities or incentives the new property offers, may overcome all that.

Though the Toh Tuck Road is on the reserve list, should a developer be able to meet the minimum bid set by the authorities, it should still be able to fetch up to $225 million. This site is near the Bukit Batok Nature Reserve and Nature Park plus schools such as Pei Hwa Primary and Ngee Ann Polytechnic which could be rental fodder for expatriates or foreign students.

Rents down but sales of some projects up

Home rental prices have been slipping with a 0.4 per cent and 0.5 per cent fall in the private non-landed apartments and HDB flats markets respectively.

Cairnhill Nine CapitaLandPhoto credit: CapitaLand

But perhaps the decline in rent has increased rental volume. There was a 8.2 per cent increase across the board in rental volume with 3,686 units leased this October as compared to 3,408 from the same month last year. On the same year-on-year comparison, rental prices were however down by 4.5 per cent.

The increase in rental volume may also be reflected in the sales volume this quarter as stronger home sales may have lifted earnings for some developers. CapitaLand for example saw a 28.4 per cent rise in net profit in Q3. Locally, their private residential projects, The Nassim and Cairnhill Nine, have boosted sales, together with their new projects in China – namely Riverfront in Hangzhou, New Horizon in Shanghai and Vermont Hills in Beijing.

nassimhillcapitalandPhoto credit: CapitaLand

In Singapore, they have sold 206 units in the second quarter, and a total of $1.24 billion in total sales value in the first 3 quarters of the year. With the happy increase in number of launches within the last quarter, sales volume may hit a positive note and ring in the festive year-end cheer come end December.