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.

China real estate sector – impending bubble by 2018?

Property analysts are wary of a possible property bubble in China, especially after property prices in Shenzhen rose 60 per cent in a year. Despite the government’s attempts at curbing the rapid price rise, consumer fervency has spread from first and second tier cities to third and lesser-known cities and townships. The speed and extent at which China’s real estate sector is growing has economists concerned about an impending bubble and possible market crash. Some analysts have pegged 2018 as the year when things might take the turn for worse.

rafflescityshenzhenPhoto credit: CapitaLand

The fact that China’s banking sector is closely tied to the real estate industry, any shift in the dynamics may rattle the country’s economy. Akin to the property bubble in the United States in 2008, the fact that loans have increased to take up 71 per cent of new lending, up from 24 per cent within 8 months, indicates an increase that could be based on many gaps in the system.

Property prices are climbing so quickly that concerns for a sharp and drastic fall are well-founded. The unsubstantiated value of homes may cause an eventual collapse of the banking system as it becomes riskier for banks to loan such large amounts of money without a certain way of recouping the losses should the market fall. Having assets at hand which have no value or are not in demand will not bode well for individual property owners, funds nor banks.

 

 

Fall in Q3 Private home prices

Private home prices have been falling for the past 3 years, 12 consecutive quarters to be exact, and it’s currently at it’s lowest in 7 years. Last quarter’s fall was the steepest at 1.5%. So it does seem like the property cooling measures which were rolled out at around the same time have worked. And while the authorities are committed to continue having them in place, the real estate industry might have to bite down hard and stay the course.

threebalmoralEffects from the general global, regional and local economic markets have trickled down to the property sector as worry about the job market and a weakening economy affects demand and risk-taking. Though interest in high-end core central region luxury properties may have improved, prices have yet to completely made a turnaround. Home prices in this segment fell the hardest at 1.8 per cent following a 0.3 per cent rise in Q2. Landed property prices also fell 2.2 per cent while previously in-demand city fringe properties saw a 1.3 per cent fall.

As the last quarter of the year will possibly see more new property launches in comparison to Q3 which was relatively quiet, and HDB rolls out its next launch of 5,090 new BTO flats in Bedok, Bidadari, Punggol and Kallang/Whampoa HDB estates in November, will existing unsold stock and resale private homes be on the receiving end of added pressure and competition?

Executive condominiums top August property sales

August was a good month for the executive condominium (EC) market, with all 3 top sellers coming from this particular property sector, namely – Treasure Crest in Sengkang, Sol Acres in Choa Chu Kang and Bellewoods in Woodlands.

Bellewoods ECUnderstandably, there were not many major property launches in August with only 590 units launched in the month at Victoria Park Villas in District 10. A total of 805 units were sold, less than half of the 1,921 sold in July, with 41 per cent of the month’s sales coming from ECs. But demand for these rare hybrid public and private properties seems to be rising.

The price gap between ECs and private properties may be closing in as resale private property prices continue to dip though there is still a considerable distance between these 2 property types. The median selling prices of all 3 top EC developments below $800 psf whereas average prices for private apartments are mostly above the $1,000 psf range.

Sol Acres Besides comparison with ECs, new developer launches have also been fighting market competition from completed resale units, providing discounts and other incentive schemes to entice buyers. As a hybrid between public and private housing, EC buyers can tap on HDB grants and subsidies in the initial purchase and after 10 years, are able to leverage on the private property status of their property, harnessing the full capacity of a private resale condominium.

 

More luxury homes above $5 million sold this year

The difference is 198 per cent – for Indonesians keeping their cash overseas without declaring it and in Indonesia for at least 3 years. And that whooping amount is possibly pushing wealthy Indonesians to pick up luxury properties in Singapore before the new law kicks in. Singapore will soon be sharing financial information with Indonesian authorities.

The TomlinsonAt the moment under a tax amnesty scheme, Indonesians pay a tax rate of 4 per cent and upwards on properties or funds outside of Indonesia. The rates are increased in stages up to 10 per cent up till March 2017, when the amnesty closes. It is uncertain if the information shared will be of both real estate and funds, but some buyers are understandably moving their monies into real estate ahead of time.

Local properties priced at $5 million and above have been attracting interest from Indonesians who have been closing deals quickly over the year. The number of such properties sold this year have already far surpassed last year’s, by almost 4 times. 30 properties valued at $5 million and above have been sold this year as of August, compared to just 8 the whole of last year.

Whitley ResidencesMost Indonesian buyers see the potential of high-end Singaporean properties and have been keeping an eye on the market, waiting for an opportune time to pick off prime properties. A total of 189 purchases, and possibly more as declarations of nationality is voluntary, were made by Indonesians from January to August this year.