Lull in private home prices

Despite a projected lull in local private home prices this year, interest in Singapore’s property market remains steady as prime residential property prices are still 165 per cent and 92 per cent lower than those in Hong Kong and London respectively.

 Photo credit: Singapore Tourism Board

So despite property analysts predicting a 5 to 10 per cent fall in prime and mass market private property prices this year, the local property market’s core remains strong. 2010’s property cooling measures may have kept property prices 17 per cent lower than what it could have been. Private home prices have fallen 4 per cent last year, following a 3.7 per cent fall in 2014. In the luxury home market, prices have fallen 20 per cent since the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD) was implemented in 2011.

China’s recent growth slump, plunging oil prices, the Federal Reserve interest rate hike and a general sense of a global recession looming, might consequently affect the property markets around the world. Businesses may reconsider their expansion plans, which could mean a fall in demand for office spaces and commercial properties. This in turn may affect the number of expatriates entering the country, which may also affect rental prices.

This year could prove tough for investors and property sellers, but not without glimpses of hope. 2016 may be the year to hang-in-there, but industry experts are expecting 2017 to take a turn for the better.

When investing in properties overseas …

There are a number of things to look out for when investing in properties. And even more so in properties overseas. It may be familiar ground if you know your stuff, but otherwise it could be a rather risky affair.

Balmain ColgatePhoto: Apartment in Balmain, NSW, Australia.

Every country’s investment environment varies, sometimes quite drastically, and while brochures and presentations may look sleek and professional, the ins-and-outs of the local economic infrastructure may speak the same language. Thus finding out more about the legal and tax systems of the country in which the property is located would be one of the first and most important steps. The Council of Estate Agencies (CEA) has good advice for investors in their consumer guide for foreign property investments. Some countries have restrictions on the type of property foreigners can purchase, and also on whom they can eventually sell it to and the about of taxes or stamp duties they have to pay. In Australia for example, foreigners purchasing property have to seek approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board; whereas in Cambodia, where the market is just opening up, the restrictions are not as limiting.

Similar to how you would plan for any major investment, doing the groundwork and sums will help you financially. It is wise to know what your options are should there be a need to sell, and how long it would take you to do that would depend on the political and economic situation. Make the effort to find out the developer’s track record, and even take a trip down to look at the properties. After-sales property management could sometimes make or break your bank account and familiarising yourself with the legal systems of the country could ensure you are well-covered in unexpected circumstances. Having a solid point-of-contact in the country, such as a property agency or management agent could also reduce the risk and make the investment experience a smooth-sailing one.

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.

Slower pace of private property price decline

Resale private apartment prices have been on the decline since its peak earlier in the decade, after the effects of property cooling measures kicked in and fuelled by a recent building boom. But the pace of decline has slowed down 2.1 per cent last year, in comparison with 2014. The URA property price index indicated a 3.7 per cent fall last year as compared to 2014’s 4 per cent.That may be a sign the market is finally stabilising, and sellers are no longer pressed or enticed to sell quickly.

St. Regis Residences on Orchard Road.

St. Regis Residences on Orchard Road.

The resale private property market did however report some profit losses. For example, some resale units at St. Regis Residences registered losses of $542,30 up to $4.78 million for a 4-bedroom penthouse.

2015 saw a total of 4,999 resale transactions of private properties, up 22 per cent from the year before, though still a far cry from the 10,598 in 2012. Property analysts are expecting a continued decline in prices, though at a slower rate, as buyers and sellers are still taking time to adjust to the loan restrictions and also now to cope with the new interest rate hikes. Buyers are however gradually acclimatising to the current market situation where new properties are priced affordably and resale property prices may not be drastically reduced, and thus are re-entering the market albeit with some care.

 

Australia’s property and housing market feels the chill

Tighter loan restrictions and a supply glut – these issues may not be affecting only Singapore’s property market. It seems in Australia, the same has threatened to shake the markets.

SYdney PropertyPhoto: Sydney

Property prices which were soaring, especially in major Australian cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, have now come down, as the approval for multi-unit properties have fallen 12.7 per cent last November. Developers of high-rise, multi-unit properties have found it harder to secure approvals as a supply glut looms in the near horizon.

The banks have also tightened their lending, and new regulations have made it more difficult for foreign investors to pick off large number of properties. This in turn has affect the construction industry in Australia, and have come at an most unfortunate time as the government has hoped it will plug the hole left behind by the lagging mining industry.

That said, there are still many considerable new properties which are highly valuable. Most importantly, they need to fit well with the investor’s or buyer’s needs and portfolio. Factors such as financial feasibility and longevity, short- and long-term leasing potential and margin of development of the district will continue to guide investors in making their purchasing decisions.

What do home buyers value?

Location and price. The first is a well-known fact, that the better placed the property, the higher the demand and hence also the price. But home buyers are also keeping a close eye on their budget and the total quantum price could be the make-or-break factor when it comes to sealing a deal.

NorthparkResidences2Photo: Northpark Residences

Developers have been quick to catch on to this and the launches which sold quickly and well last year were those in the vicinity of a MRT station, school or shopping mall and affordably priced. Mixed-use developments such as Northpark Residences and The Poiz Residences were especially popular. Northpark Residences has sold 486 units at the $1,374 psf average while The Poiz Residences sold 277 units at $1,440 psf. Other mixed-use developments buyers seemed out include J Gateway and DUO Residences.

Home buyers’ appetite have signalled a trend towards $1,000 psf for suburban homes, $1,500 psf for city fringe properties and $2,000 psf for homes in the central regions. They are however more willing to pay more for mixed-use residential properties or those nearer MRT stations or bus interchanges.

WIsteria YishunPhoto credit: thewisteria.net

There will be a number of new launches such as 183 LongHaus in Upper Thomson and The Wisteria in Yishun coming up within this first quarter of the year, and it will be a time to watch as it will set the tone for the rest of 2016.

 

 

A stable year for Singapore’s property market?

Resale HDB flat prices have fallen only 1.5 per cent last year, as compared to 6 per cent the year before. Industry experts are not expecting prices to fall much more this year and in fact last quarter saw a 0.2 per cent rise in HDB resale flat price index. But that may not mean a sudden rebound of HDB flat prices as the options available to home buyers have now increased, especially as private home prices have fallen and more are now eligible to purchase new BTO flats directly from HDB.
Poiz Residences2Photo: Poiz Residences

HDB has announced that they will be rolling out up to 18,000 new flats this year, 3,000 more that last year. Private properties are now more affordable as developers have caught on to buyers’ affinity to total quantum selling prices. Last year, private property prices dropped 3.7 per cent overall, and a 0.5 per cent fall was registered last quarter of 2015.

The number of new property launches in the 4th quarter propped up new property prices with launches such as Principal Garden, The Poiz Residences and Thomson Impressions. Prices of new units in the city fringes fared well with no price changes. Landed property prices however fell 10.4 per cent over the last 2 and a half years, with prices falling 4.4 per cent last year alone.

Property analysts are watching the market closely as they are expecting the interest rate hikes to put a strain on those servicing home loans, especially as the property cooling measures concurrently remain.

Buyers picked up properties worth $102.27 million at auction

Rising interest rates and restricted loan options may have amounted in more properties going under the hammer this year. Though the number was not drastically different from last year’s, the total property value fetched at the auctions was much higher. The total value of properties sold at auctions this year is currently at $102.27 million, the highest in these past 5 years. Last year’s total auction value was $72.5 million.

LuckyHeightsBungalowPhoto: Bungalows at prime locations could have high projected values.

Residential properties were the main draw at these auctions. And figures have been on the rise since 2009. A total of 34 properties were sold at the auctions this year, and out of that 26 were private homes. That is almost double of the 46 per cent of private properties in auction in 2013. Property analysts are expecting the list of residential mortgagees to grow next year as the combined effect of a dampened rental market, increase in supply of completed homes, interest rate hikes, prevailing property cooling measures and a general sense of a slowing economy, sinks in.

One of the largest sales this year includes $16.3 million single-storey bungalow at Branksome Road. The projected value of its redevelopment may have made it a bargain buy, even at the hefty price. For developers and investors hunting for a worthy investment, these mortgage sales may be fertile ground.