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.

Rougher terrain for local leasing market

Property owners with rental units at hand have been finding it increasingly difficult to find tenants.

MartinPlaceResidencesForeigners make up approximately 60 per cent of the rental demand in Singapore, and as the financial and oil and gas sectors take a hit, demand has declined with the foreign workforce diminishing due to companies moving out of the country or simply because housing budgets have been cut as the sluggish global economic drags out. As of mid-2016, vacancy rates stand at 8.9 per cent and there were about 30,310 units vacant. The sudden influx of completed new homes hitting the market this year could not have helped things as well. This year, the number of completed properties entering the market outgrew the influx of a foreign workforce. Immigration and labour policies have changed since the last general election.

Rental rates in the suburbs fell the hardest at 1.2 per cent, followed by 0.6 per cent in the city fringes. Rents of core central region properties however increase by 0.1 per cent.

cavenaghlodge2017 will see the completion of even more residential developments and analysts are expecting rental demand to fall even further, particularly in the suburbs. Rents have dipped by up to 8.8 per cent in the suburbs and 4.5 per cent in the central districts. Some landlords have even give discounts of up to 30 per cent, just to secure a tenant. Others have found themselves going months without finding a suitable taker on the unit. Smaller one- and two-bedroom apartment units are however still faring well, especially those in the Central Business District (CBD), Marina Bay, Orchard Road, and River Valley areas.

 

Home rental market softening

Rents for both HDB flats and private condominiums have been falling. The number of leases transacted per month have also dipped.

olina-lodgeThe weakening economic situation might be lengthening its stay as the job market remains soft and the hiring of expatriates is on the decline as well, indirectly affecting rental demand. The influx of new completed private condominium units and increase in number of HDB flats being sublet have also pushed rental prices and volume down in recent months.

In September, private non-landed property rental prices fell 0.6 per cent while HDB flat rents fell 0.3 per cent. In a year-on-year comparison, prices have fallen 4.6 and 4.5 per cent in the previously-mentioned property sectors respectively. Weak rental demand have also impacted property sales as resale private condominium prices have been reported to be shrinking, especially with added pressure from new completed units and new project launches.

hdb-flat-rentalStrangely however, core region property prices have increased despite the district leading the drop in condominium rents at 1.8 per cent. City fringe properties bucked the trend with a 0.2 per cent rise as the quantum rental might be more affordable to foreign tenants who also want to live in convenient and popular locales.

In the rest of 2016, the rental market may stagnant while in wait for the new year. As most of the completed projects were rolled out this year, 2017 may be the turning point for both the rental and resale markets. Property analysts are expecting rents to fall by a further 5 per cent before a possible rebound.