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.

New citizens new buyers of Good Class Bungalows

Buyers and sellers of Good Class Bungalows (GCB) seem to be gradually meeting on the same page as the price gap between them narrows and more transactions were recorded thus far this year – 19 to be exact, valued at a total of $438.17 million. In 2015, 33 GCBs valued at a total of $714.78 million were sold and 28 totalling $626.14 million in 2014. Analysts are predicting up to 30 GCB sales in 2016.

Leedon Road GCBEven though prices of these rare properties have not fallen much at all, investors’ interest seems to not have waned. Developer OUE have just picked up 2 sites from the British government in Nassim road at $1,652 psf for $56.58 million, a steal considering the median price of the area stands at $2,000 psf.

An increasing number of GCB buyers are new citizens, buying over these massive-sized properties from Singaporeans moving between property transactions and investment deals. These buyers see the potential in prime properties and the slightest of price adjustments will spike their interest in their search for property upgrades and prestigious addresses. Recent sales included a $27 million GCB in Gallop road and currently on the market are a $38 million Bukit Tunggal Road GCB sized at 14,000 sq ft and a $30 million Dalvey Road property on a 15,211 sq ft site.


Strata strategy – Landed homes with benefit

Though owning your own piece of land may seem the ultimate goal in terms of local property, but the maintenance fees, property taxes and other extras it comes with are often mentioned and considered much lesser than they should be.

Eight Riversuites condominium in Whampoa East.

Eight Riversuites condominium in Whampoa East.

And it is this market gap which cluster housing and strata-landed homes fill so well. These landed properties, though mostly leasehold, come with condominium facilities and amenities, not to mention the security of a gated community. In fact, so residents of me cluster housing developments even manage to foster long and meaningful relationships with one another.

Eight Riversuites is one of the latest additions to the sector and they have 19 three-storey terrace strata landed houses, each with their own roof terraces and bdedicated asement parking spaces. Some units even come with jacuzzis. Some other popular landed strata homes include those in Thomson Grand, Whitley Residences and Belgravia Villas

Strategically situated near Boon Keng MRT station in the Bendemeer and Whampoa districts, it is in a hip up-and-coming city-fringe area and is but just 3 MRT stops away from the town centre. There are a number of schools in its vinicity and value of properties around it have risen over the past few years. As MRT stations reach completion, values of properties in their vicinity will no doubt increase as well. Prices of units currently start at $850psf. 


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.