Renting out your private condo apartment

Many property owners here rely on property rental to help them with their mortgages and oftentimes, the rental option is regarded as a long-term financial aid. What then should you as a home owner who is looking to rent out your private property or even just a room in your home be watching out for? And as a tenant, do you know what you should or should not do?

DuchessResidencePublic housing or HDB flats fall under the jurisdiction of the Housing Development Board (HDB), which has clear rules and guidelines for property leasing. But private properties are often left to the discretion of the market, tenants and landlords, with some areas which though seemingly grey, should be quite glaringly clear.

What is not allowed?

  • Short-term rentals. Though concepts such as Airbnb have been around for sometime, it sadly may not yet work within Singapore’s legislative system for property rentals. URA’s lease and subletting rules currently states that rentals need to fulfil certain requirements, with the time period being a minimum of 6 months.
  • Partitioning of a unit into smaller units. It is not uncommon to find landlords or sometimes a master tenant putting up false walls or partitions in order to sublet the unit.  The maximum number of residents in a private residential property is 8, regardless of the size of the property.
  • Leasing to tenants without proper papers. Landlords should always make it a point to check and keep a copy of the tenants’ passport and work permits or employment passes as the onus is on the owner of the unit to ensure that the unit is rented only to legal workers. A quick check on the ICA website will allow you to verify your tenants’ validity and authenticity.
  • Subletting of properties by master tenants. As landlords of a property, always be vigilant and do frequent checks on your property to ensure the clauses in your tenancy agreements are not flouted.

And for tenants, be aware that your landlord should pay for the condominium’s maintenance fees. For both sides, a reliable agent who will be able to advise and help you with the proper paperwork and help your keep a lookout for blind spots is an invaluable asset.

 

 

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.

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.