Home prices surge in Australia and New Zealand

There has been a recent surge in property prices in Australia and New Zealand, in particular Sydney and Auckland. Not surprising that these are higher-density cities with housing shortage and high immigration rates.

In Sydney, high-rise living is beginning to take off with developers looking for land to build upwards. Multi-unit properties have multiplied over the past year, with approvals for high-rise residential developments rising by 28 per cent. The increased supply of homes these properties will eventually provide may bring home prices down slightly but for now, they are sky high.

main-2Some home owners whose combined land area come up to at least 4,000 sqm, have even banded together to sell their homes collectively to developers at premium prices. For example, a single standalone brick house could fetch around $1million in the suburbs, but when sold collectively with 3 to 4 other homes, they could command $21 million which means at least $4 million per house. There are fears however that the country could be entering a property market bubble, which could prove dangerous for their banking system.

Over in New Zealand, lowered interest rates and official cash rates set by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) has fuelled housing demand and more buyers are now investors, making up 41 per cent of all housing purchases. The New Zealand government is looking at ramping up housing supply to help relieve some of the pressure on the housing market.

Raised Income ceilings for HDB and EC flats

In the months ahead, the HDB market may see some significant changes.

In his National Day Rally speech on Sunday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a raise in income ceilings for new HDB flats as well as ECs (executive condominiums). The income ceiling for HDB flats could be raised from $10,000 to $12,000 and for executive condominiums, from $12,000 to $14,000. Just four years a, the income ceiling for ECs was raised to $12,000 but apparently income levels have risen since then. The government are also making it easier for lower-income households to purchase 2-room flats. The Special Housing Grant (SHG) will be raised from $20,000 to $40,000, giving them the financial support they truly need.

Forestville Executive Condominium.

Forestville Executive Condominium.

And to promote stronger familial ties plus cater to the growing group of young families who prefer to live near their parents, a new Proximity Housing Grant will help buyers who wish to live near their parents or married children secure their new flat.

This could be good news for buyers and home-seekers, as more applicants may then find themselves eligible for a new BTO flat or EC. But will there be more applicants now vying for available units. And how will this move  possibly affect the resale HDB flat market?

 

Property Auctions – Going, going, gone

With interest rates growing and demand on the decline, some home owners may be forced to allow their property to go to auction.

Mortgage auctions have been on the rise with a total of 99 homes put up for auction in the January to July period of this year alone. Property analysts are expecting an increase even as interest rates rise, with numbers hitting closer to 200 by the end of 2015.

GCB Leedon RoadRecently, landed homes, in particular larger ones such as corner terraces, semi-detached or detached houses, were the more frequent subjects of property auctions. Buyers may have been attracted to the higher profit margin of these properties, but failed to gauge their holding power. Finding buyers for these big ticket items is more difficult as they often come with a very much higher total quantum price and the pool of buyers is restricted to Singaporeans and Singaporean Permanent Residents (PRs).

Some of the properties which have sold at recent auctions include a Good Class Bungalow (GCB) at Binjai Rise, a detached house in One Tree Hill and some larger apartments in Seascape @ Sentosa Cove and Orchard Scotts.

Investors seem to favour smaller apartment units at property auctions as falling rental yields all around have made them more wary. Although not as dire as the 2008 Lehman Brothers and 1998 Asian financial crisis, investors and government authorities are keeping a close eye on the market direction. Property cooling measures have seemingly curbed rampant property flipping, but could there be more room for swifter, sharper manoeuvres? How much wriggle room should you leave yourself if you’re hoping to score a good deal at the auctions?

 

Move further away for better property deals

No longer are buyers limiting their sights to properties in familiar districts or estates. They are now willing to move from one end of the island to another if the draw of a property and its potential value in appreciation is strong enough.

This could be certainly be seen from the weekend turnout at the High Park Residences launch. Situated in Sengkang, a district only a few were willing to move to a decade ago, the Fernvale Road show suite of this latest mixed-use development in Sengkang was swarmed with interested buyers from all over Singapore; a sign that buyers are now more savvy about property investment and keen on purchasing properties with long-term goals in mind.

High Park 2Previously monopolised by public housing, Sengkang is slowly rising up as a popular new town with young couples and families. Private condominiums have also entered the district with gusto and buyers are snapping up units at resale and new private apartments in the area. Some of the properties in the area include Riverbank, La Fiesta and Rivertrees Residences.

High Park Residences will boast a mix of commercial, recreational and residential units. Out of their 1,390 units, 1,100 have been sold, with all the one-plus-study, bungalow and commercial units snapped up. With the Thanggam LRT station and Seletar Mall nearby, it’s no wonder this new kid on the block was popular with buyers.

Future new private homes in 2 estates

Toa Payoh is well known for its attractiveness as a mature HDB estate, well chocked with amenities and commanding considerable prices for the resale HDB flats. However, the private condominiums in its midst are far and few in between

TreVistaTreVistaBut that might soon change as a private residential site near Braddell MRT station has been put on sale which might yield new 99-year leasehold properties in the future. Since the Government Land Sales Programmes (GLS) is planning to reduce the number of plots going up for sale, bidding for this prime site was keen, with 14 bidders going in with the highest coming from Evia Real Estate and their partners, Maxdin and Gamuda at $345.86 million. Selling prices of the new property is expected to range between $1,450 psf and $1,550 psf.

Just like Jurong and Lakeside, developers are expecting pent-up demand for private condominium apartments in Toa Payoh to work in their favour. The newest launch here, which has been for sometime now, is Trevista.

Hundred Trees on West Coast Drive.

Hundred Trees on West Coast Drive.

Another popular site which went up for sale under the GLS programme is one at at the Sungei Pandan waterfront at West Coast. With the possibility of yielding up to 600 homes in an area near the Westgate and Jem shopping malls, the Science centre and the future high-speed rail terminal in Jurong East, this 99-year lease term site is expected to fetch $370 million at auction. Nearby properties such as Waterfront @ Faber, Infiniti and Hundred Trees, have all fared well with some having sold out.

 

 

 

More landed homes sold

Those living in landed housing estates may recently have found a shift in neighbour dynamics as more homes changed hands in the past 2 quarters.

Since beginning of the year to the mid of the second quarter, there has been a 15.3 per cent rise in the number of landed property sales, 316 sales transactions with caveats lodged to be exact. Since the price peak in 2013, prices have come down and may have become more palatable to the buying public. For those hoping to snag a private landed home, now could be the time as prices are unlikely to drop even further.

BishopsgateBungalowLanded home prices have since dropped 7.2 per cent and as the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD) for second-time buyers will be revised by the end of this year, there is only a 6-month window to avoid paying more in duties. It’s not only home owners and individual investors who are purchasing these landed properties, but also developers who are hoping to turn a single plot of land into a potential cash cow. Older bungalows with their extensive land area are of particular interest to developers hoping to rebuild them into viable modern options. Some of the other buyers include new citizens.  A recent $33 million bungalow sale to a China-born Singaporean was recorded at Bishopsgate.

Other areas with increasing landed property sales include Robin Road, Hillcrest Road and Oriole Crescent.

 

The private home gentle wave

It’s an up and down ride for the private non-landed property market for more than a year now. Across the board, non-landed resale home prices dropped 6.2 per cent last year. Prices of homes in the central districts dipped an average of 7 per cent last year, though there were good months when some segments managed to bounce back slightly before falling again. That could mean that things were mainly level though there are outliers.

Duchess ResidencesResale private apartment prices fell 0.2 per cent last month, with a 3.9 per cent fall compared to the same month last year. But some city fringe properties bounced back with an average price rise of 0.4 per cent. Part of the yoyo-ing in prices could be due to the Chinese New Year period in February and buyers were just coming back into the fray in March.

The second quarter of this year would be a crucial point in almost determining how the rest of the year will flow, at least up to just before the Hungry Ghost month. Though the ride has been more a gentle wave of price fluctuations rather than a roller coaster ride, property experts are however not expecting a drastic change in prices unless there are major policy changes or a major interest rates hike.

The year could be a relatively quiet one with bright sparks and dull moments along the way, but the basics of good location and lowered total quantum prices will still move units.

Private properties – Not all in the slumps

Recent figures showed that the property cooling measures have only really affected the luxury market, which has slipped into the red.

Even then, there are properties within the private property market which have not been as drastically affected by the measures and market slump. At Cote d’Azur in Marine Parade for example, prices rose by 4.3 per cent. Prices of resale units at Costal del Sol also rose 4.5 per cent. And for the new property market, in Chestnut Avenue, selling prices of units at Eco Sanctuary showed a promising increase of 4.1 per cent.

Eco SanctuaryAlthough this could be caused by developers choosing to release juicier units later in their launch schedule, enticing buyers to purchase at their latest launches, this nevertheless gives hope to the market. Buyers are still wiling to fork out the cash to get the units they want. And there is no lack of these savvy folks.

Naturally as with all market movements, effects are never seldom felt the same way across the board, there will be units with more potential than others. It takes a keen eye and a close followup of market trends to make a killing at the right time.

While this is good news for property developers and sellers, it raises the question of whether the property cooling measures have really been effective in making property purchasing affordable for the majority, or only instead stymied the inflow of foreign cash earnings in the high-end property market?