Will property market bottom out soon?

Hopes of a market rebound may be reignited as the bottom of the cycle seems to be in close reach. While private home prices have fallen by 0.4% for the 13th consecutive quarter, the rate of decline of private home prices have been reduced from the 1.5% in 2016’s Q3.

cairnhillresidencesIn 2016, private home prices fell only 3%, the slowest since 2013. Since the third quarter of 2013, home prices have fallen 11.2%, with a 4% fall in 2014 followed by a 3.75% fall in 2013. The projected fall in home value this year is 2% to 3%. While home seekers and investors may be drawn back into the market with the lowered property prices, analysts are not expecting them to splurge.

highlandresidencesIn Q4 of 2016, non-landed private home prices fell 0.7 per cent, led by city fringe properties with a 2 per cent drop. Prices of units in the core central region remained unchanged while suburban home prices fell 0.3 per cent. Units in the core central region have suffered a 1.9 per cent fall in Q3, thus the fact that sales volume have increased while prices remained unchanged could be a good sign for the year ahead.

Landed property prices posted a surprising rise of 0.9 per cent after a 2.7 per cent fall in Q3 while in the resale HDB flat market, prices fell 0.1 per cent.

More deals in Q4 sealed in auction property segment

Sales of auctioned properties in the 4th quarter alone have accounted for more than half of the total sales for 2016, that is almost 5 times more than the $10.3 million in the same quarter in 2015. At $47.2 million, and possibly more when the numbers are tallied come end December, this sales figure already stands at 51 per cent of the entire year’s property auction segment sales.

Seascape at Sentosa Cove.

Seascape at Sentosa Cove.

Property analysts report that this is unusual for the year-end period which is usually a slower time for the property sector due to the festive season and school holidays. Most of the transactions hailed from big-ticket prime land plots as well as larger, highly-priced residential properties. 3 vacant land plots within the Swiss Club estate in Bukit Tinggi, Jalan Kampong and Kampong Chantek and another at Jalan Bahasa boosted sales in a big way. Developers have increasingly been on the lookout for land plots to replenish diminishing land banks and prime sites with development potential are always hot property.

Orchard Scotts2Other significantly-priced properties which were sold off at the auctions included a 3-bedder apartment in Orchard Scotts for $2.35 million and a 4-bedder duplex at Seascape @ Sentosa Cove for $6.35 million. Property analysts are expecting property auctions to continue attracting bidders next year as the economy is expected to remain sluggish and most buyers are getting used to the property cooling measures. More are now quicker to commit, and may be even more keen to close deals before the end of 2016 arrives.

Post-brexit: Singaporeans still believe in value of London homes

Brexit may have rocked London’s real estate sector, but it does not seem to have rocked Singaporeans’ confidence in the market. In fact, their appetite for properties in London has continued to be rather voracious.

televisioncentrelondonPhoto credit: televisioncentre.com

More first-time buyers are reportedly entering the overseas investment market, and for many, the United Kingdom is one of the first non-Asian market they are dipping their toes into. The Brexit seems to have opened doors for these first-time investors who see the recent turn of events cultivating the prime time to enter the market. The weaker pound is one of the reasons Singaporeans are making their foray into the London property sector. In fact, property analysts and UK-based developers have reported seeing Singaporeans picking up London homes priced between £300,000 and £500,000. And most interestingly, majority of these buyers are HDB flat dwellers who see foreign property investments as more worthy than local properties.

lincolnsquarePhoto credit: The Lodha Group

Take for example Television Centre, a new mixed-use project in West London developed by Stanhope, which will yield 950 new homes amidst massive office, lifestyle and retail spaces and a hotel and even TV studios . Its first marketing effort outside of the UK had a sales target of 40 units. But thus far, it has already sold 45 units and a third of the buyers were from Singapore. Another property, Lincoln Square, marketed by Lodha UK, has also seen their sales doubling. Most buyers either have business links in London or have children who are studying in colleges nearby such as the London School of Economics and King’s College London.

Though property prices in London have been falling for half a year now, these new Singaporean investors are more keen on long-term gains, and see the current timing as optimal and to be taken advantage of.

Main factor for Australia’s property price-rise not foreign investment

The Canberra-based Australian Treasury has recently divulged the results of a study which showed that the main factor for rising property prices in Australia is not, contrary to popular belief, investment monies from foreign buyers but the strong foundation of household formation in the country.

sydneypropertyPerhaps it is a culture where citizens are keen to form new nuclear family units and to live in their own home which drives up demand for property, especially the main Aussie cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. The possible influx of foreign students in these cities could also mean locals are buying up properties to reap rental yields, thus pushing property prices upwards.

pacecollingwoodmelbourneSince 2008, property prices have risen more than 50 per cent, but only A$122 (S$129) of the A$12,800 increase in overall prices per quarter were attributed to foreign demand. That said, a total of A$24 billion in real estate investment monies from Chinese buyers have been approved in the year ending June 2015. This year, some states have begun to impose transaction taxes on foreign purchases of Australian properties and the study done by the treasury may have excluded properties purchased by locals for their overseas family members and relatives.

Will demand, local or foreign, wane and if so, how soon? Will prices slide gradually or continue to remain stagnant at its current levels?

 

Banking on rents to cover mortgages increasingly risky

As the rental market strains against the backdrop of a general economic slowdown and job security wobbles on its feet, the old ways of banking on rental yields to cover mortgage loans and other outlays on invested properties may no longer be a sure thing.

Alexis @ Alexandra CondoThe imbalance may be getting dangerously so even as the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has publicly warned investors against the risks of putting all their eggs in the property basket. They mentioned both property and corporate bonds as emerging risks, especially as growth is weak and the political situations across the globe is uncertain.

Rising vacancy rates and declining rental demand are the more concrete and obvious factors investors should consider before closing a deal simply because the total quantum prices are too good to be true. Before investing in overseas properties, currency fluctuations and political stability are also serious considerations, not to mention the strength and longevity of property and rental demand in a country not in close proximity.

la-rivere-2Although MAS has noted that most households here are able to weather an economic storm, if it does occur, those who have bitten off more than they can chew may want to reconsider their financial holding power and set their sights in the long-term rather than counting on their eggs hatching early.

New Vietnam properties hook buyers

It seems a few private residential ‘townships’ are coming up in Vietnam, and at the welcome of investors and those seeking a place to call home.

palm_cityOne of Singapore’s major developers, Keppel Land has been developing massive properties in Ho Chi Minh, where the expatriate population is growing and the rental demand for housing has increased by leaps and bounds in the last decade. 3 of Keppel Land’s major developments in the mamking are – Empire City, Palm City and Riviera Point.

Palm City on its own is already quite a force to be reckoned with. Jointly developed by Keppel Land and Tien Phuoc and Tran Thai, it covers a good 30 hectares of waterfront land, essentially an entire township itself. In Phase 1 of its development, all 135 landed terrace and detached houses have already been fully spoken for in their July preview. Now in Phase 2, they have launched the 816-unit Palm Heights apartments, with 570 units already booked at the average price of 32.6 million Vietnamese dong (S$2,017) per sq m.

riviera-pointOver at the 518-unit The View private apartments at Riviera Point, almost 33% of the 345-units launched have been sold. The selling price average at 37 million dong (S$2,302) per sq m. The developments in Ho Chi Minh seem be all be larger-sized high-rise ones. Yet another 500-unit private residential condominium project will be coming up within the year – Empire City, also a waterfront development in the Thu Thiem New Urban Area.

Property cooling measures likely to remain

The economic slowdown and diminishing growth rates are causes for concern not only for the Singapore government, but also for consumers and businesses.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has recently spoken about the property cooling measures which were implemented in succession over the past three years. He has mentioned that they are likely to remain at this time of uncertainty as a response to “global context and environment”.

Kingsford HIllview PeakProperty prices have fallen 10.8 per cent since Q3 of 2013 and prices fell 1.5 per cent in the third quarter of this year, bringing it to the 12th consecutive quarter of price decline. The real estate industry currently faces stagnation and though interest rates are low, many are looking for higher yields. He has warned against creating an environment rife with property speculation and has said that capital inflow might create a volatile and highly-speculative atmosphere which will result in property market fluctuations.

With the high number of completed units entering the market this year, and with unsold inventory rising, the property cooling measures may be helpful in keeping the delicate market balance. As of Q2 this year, there were 21,500 unsold and uncompleted private homes, the lowest ever recorded, indicating a possible shift of influence from the seller to the buyer. The government has also held back on the launch of land sites earlier this year.

Meyerise2Property analysts are not surprised by the government’s move to keep the property curbs in place, though sudden pace changes and steeper declines might prompt the government to reconsider relaxing the rules sooner.

Forest Woods condominium in Serangoon selling fast

Keeping unit prices at the new Forest Woods condominium below the $1 million mark seems to be a good move by developer, City Developments (CDL).

forestwoodsBuyers are attracted by the prime suburban location and its proximity to the Serangoon MRT station which speaks volumes since location is still a key mitigating factor for most tenants. The fact that the Serangoon MRT station is a major interchange node connecting between different MRT lines, is linked to a bus interchange and also a huge shopping mall, NEX, are all bonuses. And as property prices have been falling for a couple of years now, buyer sentiment is that they will not fall any further, and are taking the opportunity to buy now before interest rates potentially rise in the later part of the year. The $6,000 to $12,000 early bird discount may also have enticed some to seal the deal early.

forestwoods2All the one- and two-bedroom apartments launched at Forest Woods have sold out and the median selling price currently stands at $1,400 psf. The development has a range of units ranging from 506 sq ft one-bedders to 2,185 sq ft penthouses. As of Sunday evening (the project was launched last weekend), almost 65% of the units were already sold. One of the three penthouses available was also sold at $2.85 million. Almost 90 per cent of the buyers were Singaporeans, with the rest being permanent residents or foreigners from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and Switzerland.