More for less – Smaller condo apartments

With the rising prices of land plots sold under the Government Land Sales programme and with developers taking into consideration how the property cooling measures have affected buyers’ purchasing power, private apartment sizes have been diminishing since 2010.

LakevillePhoto: Lakeville at Jurong West

More apparent in units in the city fringes, average sizes have shrunk from 1,051 to 810 sq ft. And in the suburbs, apartment sizes went from 878 sq ft to 811 sq ft; though the average sizes from new projects actually dropped from 1, 113 sq ft in 2006 to 667 sq ft in 2011 but rose again to 928 sq ft in 2014.

In 2012, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) put in place guidelines for the maximum number of units for condominium developments outside of the central area. Developers have since noticed that buyers are more sensitive to the total quantum price of a unit rather than per unit prices, especially since the implementation of loan curbs such as the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD) and Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR), hence maximising the land area and total number of units would be the best way to go.

Symphony SUitesPhoto: Symphony Suites

There are some residential projects which chose to follow their own path however, including Lakeville and Symphony Suites. But as the population continues to grow, it seems that unit sizes will only continue to diminish. Resale units may then have an edge over the smaller-sized newer units, provided pricing is equally competitive when time comes.

October shows dip in resale private home prices

In the current market, where sentiments and demand are weakened by the property cooling measures, it might be idealistic to wait for the market to climb back to its peak in 2009 and 2013. But angle of decline for resale properties has been gentle, with a 7.6 per cent fall from January 2014.

26 NewtonPhoto: 26 Newton condo apartment

Though resale private home prices have dipped since then, the lowered prices may have brought more buyers back into the market. Resale properties or condominiums which were new launches between 2010 and 2012 have relatively larger floor area and in the current market, and buyers who are looking for a permanent home may find the fact that they have higher bargaining power a more-than-valid reason for approaching the resale property market.

Properties in the city fringes fared better as they are priced much lower than city centre properties, and yet offer the proximity or a good location and hints at exclusivity. Resale prices here have fallen just 5 per cent since the highs in 2013. This region has always been popular with investors and owner-occupiers and the lack of new launches here of late may have raised the number of resale transactions.

Suburban resale properties are facing a slightly different situation as the large number of new units have decreased the leasing and resale demand. Fiercer competition may have caused some owners to lower prices, more so than ever, buyers and tenants are finding the ball in their court.

Luxury tucked away – Seletar Hills

For now, the district of Seletar and its surroundings are fairly quiet and laid-back. But all that may soon change as the area is being redeveloped as part of the North Coast Innovation Corridor.

The exclusive Seletar Hills Estate in its midst holds a great deal of potential with the serene environment it provides as well as its proximity to town. A 999-year leasehold landed housing project is being built there at the moment –  Luxus Hills is currently in the seventh phase of its development and will feature 28 terrace units and 4 semi-detached houses. These landed properties are developed by Bukit Sembawang Estates whose other properties include Skyline Residences and Paterson Suites.

LUxus HillsPhoto: Luxus Hills

The surrounding area will soon be very vibrant with commercial and retail businesses including the Seletar Aerospace Hub, Greenwich V and Seletar Mall. Within a short drive or bus ride away are the Ang Mo Kio Town Centre and Compass Point in Sengkang. Situated somewhat midway between Yio Chu Kang, Sengkang and Punggol, and Ang Mo Kio, it’s proximity to the Central Expressway (CTE) also makes it a cinch to get to the Central Business District (CBD) and Orchard belt. The Hougang, Ang Mo Kio, Yio Chu Kang and Buangkok MRT stations are within easy reach.

Each of the Luxus Hills homes are designed to suit multi-generational families and come with four en-suite bedrooms, a guest room and roof terrace.

Other properties nearby include Riverbank, Rivertrees Residences, Seletar Park Residence, The Greenwich and Belgravia Park.


Home Loans – Fixed or Fluctuating?

There has been talk about home loan rates rising, but without concrete rise or fall, home owners are not yet basing property purchase decisions on mortage-linked rates. Loan rate fluctuations for the past few years have not also resulted in a rush for refinancing, which analysts have originally expected of home buyers.

Property graphMost home loans taken out within the past few years have been pegged to the SIBOR (Singapore Interbank Offered Rate) rather than the SOR (Swap Offer Rate), the former being less prone to wild fluctuations. The SOR increased by 50 percent to reach 1.56409 per cent in September whereas the SIBOR reached a high of 1.13958 in the same month, the highest in 7 years. By the end of last week, the SOR has fallen to 0.88223 per cent while SIBOR was at 1.00906 per cent.

As home loans are a crucial part of home owners’ cash flow management, fluctuating home loan rates are not to their benefit, though some banks have been actively reaching out to home-owners who have taken out loans pegged to the SOR to refinance and better manage their finances.

Early next year is expected to bring a sharp increase in both the SIBOR and SOR, thus fixed-rate or fixed-deposit home loan rates might be a better idea for now. Fixed-deposit home loan rates are pegged to fixed deposit rates. Some banks even offer an loan option which is partially pegged to fixed-interest rates and partially to floating rates to take the edge off the more expensive fixed-rate loans but with only partial risk of fluctuating-rate loans. DBS and OCBC both offer such loan packages.

2016 might be the watershed year, when things begin to actually happen and effects become more obvious. As more new properties reach completion, more public housing is rolled out, interest rates begin to solidify, market sentiments might actually head towards a more specific direction.

Impressions of Thomson Impressions

The Thomson-East Coast MRT Line looks set to connect even more districts when it begins its journey starting from 2019. And with it, more home owners and new properties near its many new stations may enjoy the benefits.

Thomson falls within district 20, which also includes Ang Mo Kio and Bishan. Along the Upper Thomson Road stretch, a good many new developments are already entering the market. Some of these new properties which also include the area’s name include Thomson Three, Thomson Grand and Thomson Impressions.

Thomson ImpressionsPhoto credit: Nanshan Group

One of the latest offerings, Thomson Impressions, is situated in between Bishan and Thomson on Sin Ming Avenue and boasts a proximity to many good schools such as Ai Tong, CHIJ St. Nicholas, Catholic Primary and High School and Raffles Instituition. It will feature a myriad of property types, including single-storey penthouses. The area is booming and a number of hip new eateries have entered its fold. It has its own heartland malls, Thomson Plaza and Junction 8, and is also fairly close to the city centre, with buses and train stations nearby. By car, it takes about 15 minutes to get to town.

Besides all the necessary amenities and transport options, District 20 is also known for its abundance of greenery and parks. The Upper and lower pierce reservoir, MacRitchie reservoir, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Singapore Island Country Club are all in close by.

Set to achieve its temporary occupation permit (TOP) by 2019, it will coincide with the projected opening of the Thomson-East Coast line.

Has private property market reached stability point?

Has the private property market possibly reached a point of stabilisation? Figures of late seem to show that while there are slight fluctuations either ways of the scale, the market seems to have somewhat levelled.

Prices of completed private properties seem to have stopped declining and August showed a only a 0.6 per cent fall according to the Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI). Property analysts have put the slight decline mostly to the increase in completed units in the central regions, the possibility of buyers waiting for post-election policy changes, and the lull in property transactions in the Hungry Ghost month.

Stevesn SuitesSmaller apartment units seem to have fared well though, with prices rising 0.5 per cent in July. Vacancy rates of rental units have risen while rental rates dipped island wide. As long as foreigner labour and immigration policies remain tight, the leasing market may remain weak, especially as the number of completed units are rising in the next couple of years. Resale properties in districts 1 to 4 and 9 to 11 have suffered a hit with a 23 per cent fall in transactions in August.

The next 2 years might be a time to watch for small apartments under 506 sq ft which were purchases for investment purposes. While sellers may not yet be pressured to sell as interest rates now remain low, as the number of these units rise upon completion of many developments launched last and this year, and interest rates fluctuate, the situation may be different come 2017.



A possible supply glut in Australia property market

Economists are beginning to see possible cracks in the Australia property market as an onslaught of new homes threaten to cause a supply glut by 2017. The property market has been booming for awhile now, with most homes overvalued at 20 per cent. Partly boosted by the central bank’s series of 10 interest rate cuts since 2011, buyers have been snapping up units in one of the world’s most expensive property markets.

GreenSquareProperty prices in Sydney alone have risen 46 per cent in 3 years, with a 24 per cent average rise in the whole of Australia. The latest property offering is Green Square in Sydney, which will yield 10,000 new apartments, adding to the 213, 000 new homes which will be made available across the country. Perhaps some of the reasons for the possible glut could also be the lack of a corresponding rise in income and population growth. Confidence and capital spending have thus reflected this. Tighter lending rules have also effected a 13.1 per cent drop in investor loan growth.

Though buying will not cease or fall immediately, analysts are advising buyers to proceed with caution and to consider their mortgage options for the long term as banking rates will fluctuate and holding power will no doubt be what differentiates the wise investors from those in for a quick buck.

Waterfront living from East to West

Waterfront living is no longer restricted to those living at Sentosa or by the coastal lines mainly in the eastern districts. With a number of lakes being developed all across the island, waterfront living is becoming more possible than ever before.

In North-east, there is the Punggol Waterway; in the West, Jurong Lake; and in the East, there is the Bedok Reservoir area which has already seen the development of 3 massive private condominium establishments – Waterfront Gold, Waterfront Key and Waterfront Isle.

WaterfrontFaberNow, there is Waterfront@Faber near Sungei Ulu Pandan – a 210-unit private residential development boasting a wide variety of units including increasingly popular dual-key apartments and strata houses. The property consists of 11 such landed houses and 5 high-rise apartment blocks and holds a substantial amount of potential value in terms of its location near the future Singapore-Kuala Lumpur Speed Rail Terminus, as well as its current proximity to the Clementi MRT station and bus interchange. The latter makes it easy for travel to The International Business Park, JTC Summit, National University of Singapore and neighbouring towns and industrial hubs in Jurong and Bukit Batok.

Families will also be happy to know that the property is surrounded by a number of good schools including Nan Hua Primary and High School, The Japanese School Singapore, United World College, Singapore Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic and SIM University. There is also no lack of medical facilities as the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, Jurong Community Hospital and the National University Hospital are all just a stone’s throw away.

No longer does the East have monopoly of well-amenitized townships and waterfront living. It seems the West is doing well in cultivating well-rounded environments for their old and new residents.