Luxury property market heats up 

After the market lull in the past couple of years, buyers are once again picking off choice luxury units in the prime residential property sector.

ArdmoreIIIPrices in this segment have gradually become more competitive over the last year or so and sales volume has increased, partly due to this change. For example, in the first half of 2016 alone, 131 apartments priced above $5 million were sold. Only 166 similar units were sold in the entire 2015.

Investors are favoring Singapore properties they match up well against those in other global cities such as New York and London. Property analysts say most investors are still Singaporeans, though  Malaysians, Indonesians and Chinese continue to feature strongly in the investor pool as they see the value of properties here and are not deterred by the currency fluctuations.

An upcoming luxury development is the 99-year leasehold Victoria Park Villas by CapitaLand which consists of 3 bungalows and 106 semi-detached houses starting from $4.3million. In better times, these houses could have cost up to $6 million. Other high-end units currently in the market include those at Gramercy Park, OUE Twin Peaks and Ardmore Three.

Private resale home prices inching up

Prices of resale private non-landed homes have been on the rise since March this year and the upward climb though gradual, shows promise and property analysts are hoping market sentiments will improve as the year moves on.

Qbay ResidencesLast month’s price rise clocked at 0.5 per cent and was apparent throughout all regions. In the core central region (CCR), prices rose 0.9 per cent and 0.4 and 0.5 in the city fringe and suburbs respectively. Sales volume has also improved 27.4 per cent in a year-on-year comparison with 754 units sold, just a wisp lower than the 763 units sold in May.

Buyers are beginning to be more acceptable of the market prices of resale units as the median X-Value (TOX) was at negative $7,000, $1,000 more than the negative $8,000 in April. While there are a few major launches planned for the next half to the year, the number of unsold units in the market has been expanding to almost 15,000, and about 57,500 private homes and 12,000 executive condominiums are in the pipeline. How will the market react to the release of these units into the market? Many new launches now face challenging times beyond their initial launch. Depending on the speed and volume at which new units are released and changes in interest rates will be determining factors.

Singapore home prices remain muted

As long as the property cooling measures are here to stay and global economics remain shaky, home prices may hover at the current levels.

ArdmoreIIIAnd as the government continues to roll out more new build-to-order (BTO) flats while keeping the loan ratio capped at 30 per cent, demand for resale HDB flats may continue its lacklustre run. Although there was a 0.1 per cent rise in HDB prices in Q2, prices were mainly flat and private home prices dipped further by 0.4 per cent, that is following a 0.7 per cent fall in Q1. Some property players have viewed the private property market as possibly reaching the bottom of the cycle.

Since the last market peak in 2013, HDB and private home prices are now 9.8 per cent and 9.4 per cent lower respectively. There have been some signs of recovery in Q2 as private property prices in the core central region (CCR) rose 0.2 per cent. Developers have also been actively seeking out sales by offering creative payment schemes and keeping sales volume to a respectable level.

Considering the average length of a property lull being 8.4 quarters, this cycle may already have reached the end of its run. Will a prolonged cycle mean an even sharper and more drastic rebound when the measures are loosened? How will the market then respond to that and will there be any drawbacks?

River Valley’s properties peak

Just off the city centre, with a quiet and exclusive environment and a variety of hip and happening eateries, retail and office housed in quaint heritage buildings nearby, River Valley has always been a property hotspot for expatriates and young professionals.

MartinPlaceResidencesSo it probably comes as no surprise that developers were quick to bid, fast and furiously, on a GLS (government land sales) site in its vicinity. With the highest bid coming from Guocoland at $595.1 million or $1, 239 psf for the Martin Place plot which is situated near the upcoming Great World MRT station and promises to yield as many as 450 homes, this could be one of the highest bids for a land plot, aside from those on Sentosa. In January this year, a Siglap road condominium site was sold for $624.2million but that could yield up to 900 units, twice the number of units the Martin Place plot is capped at.

Confidence was likely to have been boosted by strong sales from the recent Cairnhill Nine launch. The area is peppered with a wide variety of private properties, including shophouses, older resale condominiums, newer developments and upcoming residential projects. Demand continues to be strong as rental prices become more competitive. Sales volume has always been on the rise, with 86 units sold in May this year, compared to the 15 units monthly average in 2015. Developers’ response to this land sale could be a positive indication of market confidence in recovery.

 

Increasing difficulty in securing Australian home loans

Foreign property buyers hoping to snap up homes in Australia may find it increasing harder to secure home loans from Australian banks. The major Australian banks such as Commonwealth Bank, the National Australian Bank (NAB) and Westpac have further tightened loan restrictions to non-residents.

Sydney NSW skylineIn June this year, foreigners buying properties in New South Wales (NSW) have to now pay a 4 per cent stamp duty surcharge. In the state of Victoria, stamp duties have been raised this month to 7 per cent from the 3 per cent which commenced last year. Queensland may soon implement a 3 per cent foreign property surcharge as well, with a projected commencement date of October this year.

Foreign property buyers have come under the hammer of late, with citizens raising concerns about rising home prices, especially in popular cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Mainland Chinese buyers were the largest investors, spending A$24 billion in the property market last year, doubling that of A$12 billion in 2014.

The National Australian Bank (NAB) and Westpac are however still Sydney Surrey Streethelping Singaporean investors secure loans via their Singapore offices, though they are careful to alert clients to the total debt servicing ration (TDSR) framework which still applies. There are also other sources of home financing, including private lenders though additional information and documents, such as bank statements and income slips, will be required.

The true value of Hong Kong homes?

Property prices in Hong Kong are at a record high, and there are no signs of it letting up anytime soon. Or does there?

From the number of foreclosures on properties surging to a 5-year high, buyers seem to be struggling to cope with high-interest home loans, almost impossible property prices and a weakening economy. Although a property bubble has yet to occur, cracks in the market seem to be showing as the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) points to a growing number of homes whose value are lower than their original price tag.

Park yoho venezia Hong Kong propertyBy the end of 2016’s first quarter, 1,432 homes were already under the foreclosure hammer, and their value – a whooping HK$4.9 million (S$852.5 million). As the Hong Kong government has a strictly-regulated banking system and with 7 rounds of property cooling measures already in place, home buyers and investors have been borrowing from unregulated sources such finance firms and real estate developers, some up to 95 per cent.

Analysts are concerned that the household debt is at 70 per cent and more investors and home owners have been using their properties are collateral for other transactions such as stock trading. As the global and local economy shake, they find themselves in deep hot water. What will the near future hold for Hong Kong’s property market? Is a bubble brewing and is there a danger of the 2008 recession?

 

West Coast soon abuzz with new properties?

Without question, the west coast has a vibe of its own. A sense of excitement, freedom; a buzzing undercurrent of work and play. So the government’s recent release of a 16, 378 sq m land site on West Coast Vale could potentially mean an even more vibrant district in as soon as half a decade’s time.

AYEPhoto credit: LTA

The plot of land released for sale is under the government’s reserve list, which also means the sale will only go through if the bids meet the minimum set by the government. With its prime location near the Ayer Rajah Expressway and West Coast Highway, and schools such as Nan Hua Primary School, The Japanese School and Commonwealth Secondary School, the area is ripe for a new residential condominium or strata landed housing project.

The neighbouring Parc Riveria may be a good gauge of the potential this new site holds. The land which Parc Riveria stands on was acquired only last year and another private condominium nearby is The Trilinq.

The TrilinqThe government has been more cautious of late with the  release of land for sale under the government land sales programme as the market is becoming more saturated. What may hold developers back from bidding for this site is its distance from MRT stations and other amenities. It may however mean quieter and more exclusive environments which young couples or families looking for a property near schools in its vicinity.

Bungalow of Tan Tock Seng’s descendant sold for $145 million

Is paying $145 million for a landed house over the top? Well, there is a first for everything.

The recent sale of a 25,741 sq ft freehold bungalow at 9 Cuscaden road is the first foray into Singapore’s property market for Hong Kong tycoon, Stanley Ho who has made billions through the gambling industry. The bungalow was put up for sale by Tan Tock Seng’s descendants and the site is zoned for hotel redevelopment with a plot ratio of 4.2. The bungalow was originally the family home of Tan Tock Seng’s great-grandson, Tan Hoon Siang and was put up for sale for between $160 to $170 million just last month. Named Villa Marie, it was presumably named after Mr. Tan’s second wife, Marie Windsor.

BungalowsStanley Ho’s Shun Tak Holdings paid $145 million for the prime site, the highest ever paid for a landed property and at $2,145 psf, it is all eyes on what is eventually built. Because of how it was zoned, the transaction was made sans the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD), which could be a real positive, considering how much the deal cost. Though zoned for hotel redevelopment, there is also the possibility of building residential units up to 20 storeys high. Could Orchard road be seeing a new residential block or hotel in its midst? Will other landed properties possibly be seeing more activity soon?