Resale non-landed residential property prices hold steady in April

After 5 consecutive months of climbing figures, resale condominium prices have steadied themselves in April. Resale transactions fell by 21 per cent as a number of new launches drew the attention of buyers and investors in the past couple of months.

Thomson Impressions2Though the numbers are still shy of that during the peak of 2010 and 2013, things have been looking up for the private property market this year. Year on year, private resale prices and transaction volume were 1.8 and 48 per cent higher than in April last year. In comparison with March 2017, April’s resale private property market numbers dipped slightly. Prime district property prices fell 1.2 per cent last month while prices of units in the city fringes and suburbs rose 1.2 per cent.

In the 5 months prior, private resale prices have risen 0.6, 0.3, 0.9, 1 and 0.8 per cent from last November to March this year. The improving market sentiments seem to be reflected in the overall above-market-values which rose to $5,000 from $0 in just a month. Districts which posted the highest median above-market-values at $37,000, and had more than 10 resale transactions, were District 16 and 21. Despite higher resale activity in the city fringes, District 11 which consists of Newton and Novena, posted the highest negative median above-market-value of -$40,000.

the-crestThe year is almost at its mid-point and the latest new launches have boosted numbers in the new private home sales market, but how will the resale private property sector fare in H2?

Sellers’ Stamp Duty rates tweaked

From March 11, the staggered rates which sellers have to pay should they resell their properties within stipulated time periods will be reduced. Previously, properties sold within a year of purchase were subjected to a 16 per cent seller’s stamp duty (SSD), the rates are at a staggered 12 per cent for properties sold within 2 years, and at 8 per cent and 4 per cent for those sold within 3 and 4 years respectively.

SingaporeskylineThe new tweaks to the regulation means that sellers now only have to pay 12 per cent stamp duty for properties sold within a year, and then at the staggered rates of 8 and 4 per cent for those sold within 3 and 4 years respectively. Whiles some buyers might have missed out on this new ruling by a day, the effect of the change on buyers who have purchased for the long-term will be minimal. This slight change in the property cooling curbs may provide a more fertile environment for property investment and some buyers may be interested in making headway with a second or subsequent property.

Whether this will boost home sales this year remains to be seen, but property analysts are expecting a slow and muted effect on the market. While the change may not translate to actual figures, with property analysts expecting only a 3 per cent increase on the previously projected 8,000 property transactions for 2017, what it does create is an atmosphere of positivity and a sense of hope. Any tweak by the government, however slight, could be seen as an indication of the market bottoming out, and following a period of market stabilisation, investors are hopeful that the market will eventually recover.

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.

Fewer launches More sales

Despite property developers rolling out fewer new property launches last year, sales of new private homes rose 2.9 per cent from 2014, to ring the tills at 7,529 transactions in 2015. The number of new homes launched last year was in fact 8.2 per cent lesser than that of 2014. Buyers may have realised that property prices are stabilising and will not decline much more, and thus are returning to the market to pick off already-better deals.

The Trilinq
Photo: The Trilinq

759 new private property units were sold in November alone last year, buoyed by the launch of The Poiz Residences. In December, there were 384 transactions recorded, 154 more in a year-on-year comparison with December 2014. Though 2013’s peak saw 14,948 new home sales, almost double that of last year’s, the signs are more positive than expected. Property investors may also be picking up real estate as the stock market remains volatile. Perhaps declining property prices have also managed to strike a chord with investors. At The Trilinq for example, which first launched at prices of $1,545 psf in 2013, have since trimmed their prices to $1,329 psf.

Market activity this year will await to be seen as the interest rates hikes and loan restrictions combined, and the reduction of land sites sold this year, may deter buyers and lower demand. Industry analysts are however remaining positive, projecting 8,500 new private home sales this year. They are expecting lower overall quantum prices to be the draw of this years’ property market.

Deflating rental prospects hurt home sales

Buying a property and collecting rent used to be one of the most popular ways to start your investment journey. Usually the case for cosmopolitan cities, the situation may have changed in this developing country. Rental rates have continued to deflate as immigration policies were adjusted.

According to URA data, vacancy rates have reached the highest point since 2006. City centre and luxury homes have been hardest hit as expatriates are now choosing to live further away from the city with more and cheaper housing options. And as sentiments go, the less lived in a property, the less others will want to live in it. And it’s a cycle which if not arrested soon, may be detrimental to the market.

But most of the unsold units reside in the prime districts 9, 10, 11. Further away in Sentosa, the Cape Royale is 100 per cent unsold with its 302 units still on the market. It was completed last year. Developers IOI and Ho Bee are going with the decision to rent the units out instead of trying to sell them.

The Interlace at Depot Road.

The Interlace at Depot Road.

And as more developments were finished in 2014, the number of unsold homes in completed projects continues its climb. Some of these include The Interlace at Depot road, Starlight Suites in River Valley, TwentyOne Anguilla Park and Concourse Skyline on Beach road.

Developers have been steadily offering discounts or cutting prices in order to bring the buyers and tenants back into the market. As shown by recent sales at The Vermont, where slashing the prices have sold 30 of its 37 unsold units. From $2,400 psf, it dropped to just a little over $2, 000 psf.

New launches expected but at staggered timings

The market is somewhat dense with many units unable to leave the sales shelves. But the buying crowd is expecting new launches to whet their appetite. And perhaps this is the indirect way to help move existing properties as new properties provide grounds for comparison. A few more choices may just help the buyer make up his mind.

Though, developers are also equally wary about providing too many choices. This may tilt the market the way of the buyer and sellers may find themselves cannibalising on one another’s properties. Instead, the consumer can look forward to a steady flow of new property launches over the second quarter, but at staggered timings.

The Sorrento condominium

The Sorrento condominium

In Q1, only 7 new properties were launched. Q2 may see as many as 11 new launches. Starting the ball rolling is The Sorrento. Sales began over the weekend at $1, 380 to $1, 600 psf. It’s situated on West Coast road and has an offering of 131 units of one- to three-bedders.

And if you’re looking for something to do on 1 May, the labour day holidays. You can visit the showflats of Commonwealth Towers. This massive 845-unit project is developed by Hong Leong Holdings. Response at its preview last Sunday was indicative of its potential, drawing a crowd of 1, 500. Selling prices are expected to be around $1, 600 to $1, 800 psf.

Commonwealth TowersMost of the other projects expected to enter the market are in the city or at the city fringe districts. They include The Crest, Highline Residences, Amber Skye, Kallang Riverside, Pollen & Bleu, Marina One, Waterfront@Faber, Bijou and Coco Palms. Industry analysts are already expecting this second quarter to fare much better than the last, with 500 to 800 new private home sales.

68% drop in private home sales

In comparison to 2013’s Q1 home sales figures, the chasm is deep. And so are moods in the real estate market.

Private home sales have been on the decline for some time now. And recent figures are not exactly uplifting. Buyer sentiments are pessimistic, as the loan curbs implemented last year takes its toll on buyers and sellers alike.

Hillford Retirement Home
It has become much harder for buyers to secure loans, with the Money Authority of Singapore’s Total Debt Servicing Ratio framework in place. Buyers can no longer loan as much as they would like, which may place them just out of reach of their target property. The lack of new property launches this quarter has also dampened the mood somewhat. And property developers have been slow in introducing new units into the market as they are now accutely aware of a softer market.

Some properties nevertheless have beat the odds and continued to enjoy brisk sales. Topping the list is the 281-unit The Hillford in Jalan Jurong Kechil. Since its launch in January, units have been completely sold. Next up are a couple of neighbouring properties in Sengkang – Rivertrees Residences and Riverbank @ Fernvale. Most of the units went for an average of $1,000 to $1, 100 psf. Industry analysts are wondering if this could signify that buying power for suburban private properties will now hover around this ceiling.

Rivertrees condoThe rest of the year may see a tussle of prices between new and resale properties. As developers cut prices to make sales, resale home sellers may be forced to face the competition head on.

New private residential projects breezing into Marine Parade

With its proximity and accessibility to the city centre, and its seaside township feel, properties in Marine Parade have always been an easy breezy sell. But it has been sometime since new properties were launched hence news of upcoming projects might bring a fresh round of excitement.

A new launch to look forward to is the Marine Blue (working title) project whose building is underway across Parkway Parade Mall, developed by CapitaLand.

Coralis condominium.

Coralis condominium.

Other properties which are garnering some eager eyeballs area:

Some of these properties are older resale homes, but some new units  will soon be ready for occupation, with the Silversea possibly receiving its TOP (temporary occupation permit) by end of April. Marine Blue units are expected to sell at a promising $2, 000 psf, which may then also bring up prices at the neigbouring Silversea condominium. Most of the units have been sold at the 383-unit Silversea since its launch in 2009. Recent sales clocked at $1, 714 psf. At the Coralis, which was completed in 2013, sales stood at $1, 842 psf.

SilverseaHigh rental prices are expected to hold up and  future transport links such as the Eastern Region Line which will pass through Tanjong Rhu, Marine Parade, Siglap, Bedok South and Upper East Coast Road may only mean rising value in properties in these districts.