Luxury market makes for a suitable investment playground

Recent news of veteran banker and one of Singapore’s richest men, Wee Cho Yaw’s latest property purchase of 45-units at the luxury property, The Nassim for $411.6 million, may have reignited interest from potential buyers of high-end luxury apartment units.

Seascape at Sentosa Cove.

Seascape at Sentosa Cove.

Although property prices have fallen last year, the rate of decline has slowed and the luxury market has fared considerably better than the other property segment. Prices of high-end properties in prime districts, particularly in the Central Business District, Orchard road and Tanglin areas, have fallen 1.2 per cent last year. But the fall is still lesser than the 2.8 and 3.4 per cent in the city fringe and suburbs respectively. This segment also clocked more transactions last year, an increase of 48.7 per cent from 2015. Home sales in the city fringe and suburbs rose by 27.2 and 3.7 per cent.

Meyer Road Bunaglow2Property analysts are confident that the luxury market will find its footing more firmly this year as the supply of high-end properties will increase in the next few years. Though rents have fallen, those who have the holding power will come out tops in the long run, when the property cooling measures are relaxed. Most sellers put a 15 to 20 per cent premium on the value of freehold properties. Property auctions and en bloc sales could be activities to watch this year, especially for those with cash to spare and the financial endurance to last through at least the next few years.

 

Consumer confidence in property market improving

Though gradual, the property market seems to be coming out of a long hibernation and there are some bright sparks to make 2017 a warm one.

VIIOThe supply and inventory stock is gradually diminishing, by 8.4 per cent at the end of last year, aided by the restriction in land supply by the government last year, the key word being gradual. Fortunately, the decline in home and rental prices have also been gradual, with no sudden collapse. Last year’s rate of decline of overall private home prices was at a 3-year low, at 3.1 per cent. The 2 years before saw a 3.7 and 4 per cent decline, counting backwards.

QuinterraBy now, consumers and investors are used to the price decline, which has been a regular occurrence since 2013 when the property cooling measures began to kick in. In the current market, any news of slower price declines will be good news, and of stabilisation, even better news. Private home prices have finally landed on a level where an increasing number of buyers find affordable and investment-worthy, which explains the boost in new home sales from 7,440 in 2015 to 7,972 last year.

Properties in the core-central region fared the best in the second half of 2016, while non-landed homes in the city fringe and suburbs registered 2 and 0.6 per cent drops respectively. Landed properties fared unexpectedly well with a 0.8 per cent price increase in Q4. Property analysts are expecting property prices to bottom out this year, which could the year when the property market bottoms out. The authorities do not yet seem to show any signs of easing the property cooling measures, at least not in the first half of the year.

Freehold site to yield potential landed homes in Orchard road

The Orchard road belt has not seen landed homes in its midst, or at least new ones, for quite sometime now. They are few and far in between and usually cost more than an arm and a leg. But a freehold residential site near Orchard road worth $72.8 million might potentially yield landed homes.

OneTreeHillGardensThe One Tree Hill Gardens site measures at 39,063 sq ft and currently consist of 6 maisonettes and 7 apartment blocks or $1, 864 psf in asking price. The units here are of considerable sizes, ranging from 1,916 to 4,682 sq ft. Should the development succeed at a collective sale, each home owner could receive anything between $4 to $11 million. What the site could potentially yield are 13 detached and semi-detached houses. Considering the prime district, the rarity of landed homes across the board and more so in the centre of town, and the lack of sizeable residential sites readily available for redevelopment, marketing agent Knight Frank is confident of the interest the site will garner. Recent sales of sites in Grange Road, Cuscaden Walk and Hullet Road have all drew considerable bids of $190.5 million in total.

The area surrounding the One Tree Hill Gardens site is in itself an exclusive enclave of high-end apartments and some landed homes. Add on its future proximity to the upcoming Orchard Boulevard MRT station along the Thomson-East Coast Line and up goes its value.

Status quo for landed property market this year

Though figures from the last quarter indicated that landed home prices have risen 0.9 per cent, that was following a 2.7 per cent fall in Q3. Property analysts are careful not to yet call it a market rebound as 2017 may pose a difficult year for the economy.

bishopsgateThe landed housing market may continue to feel the pressure this year as cooling measures remain and the economic outlook seems uncertain. In a year-on-year comparison with Q3 of 2013, prices have fallen 14.8 per cent. Overall landed home prices fell 4.4 per cent last year and 4.1 per cent in 2015. The lowered prices could however have been a factor in bringing buyers back. Should sales volume and landed home prices continue to stabilise, the price index may inch up albeit gradually.

There were several considerable transactions in the detached landed house segment and this could have boosted numbers in Q4. One notable sale was for a property in Bishopsgate, at $26.8 million and a couple of others in Holland Park and White House Park at $25.5 million each. Though the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework implemented in 2013 has limited buyers for private properties across the board, it has more effect on the higher-priced property segments as investors here may have more financial commitments.

whitehouseparkDespite a muted landed housing market last and possibly this year, landed homes remain much sough-after and investors in these segments may be bolder in their attempts to close deals this year.

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.

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.

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.

 

 

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.