City fringe homes find their footing

Filling in the gap between luxury and mass-market homes are the city fringe properties. But sitting in this position means being more exposed to market forces such as a lull in the luxury property market, which may be a good thing as buyers may be looking at cheaper options. But a wider and possibly cheaper pool of options pop up in the suburbs in the form of mass-market suburban homes, this might be the first sector to suffer a backlash.

Sky Habitat condominium in Bishan.

Sky Habitat condominium in Bishan.

There has been a recent drop in city fringe home prices as developers are offering discounts to help boost sales. As the supply of these home increase, about 2,411 new units were launched in 2014, so will the urgency to move units. City fringe homes registered a 5.3 per cent price drop, as compared to 4.3 per cent in the luxury homes market and 2.2 per cent in suburban private homes.

Projects where prices were lowered include The Panorama in Ang Mo Kio, Sky Habitat in Bishan and D’Leedon on Farrer road. Though luxury homes hogged the headlines last year with their decline in sales volume, property analysts are confident that the price decline will be minimal as most owners of city-centre homes will have the holding power to hang on to their properties.

Resale HDB flats shrink in number

You may think that with the number of new properties being completed within these couple of years, more HDB upgraders will be in a hurry to sell. But as the figures show, fewer resale HDB flats are put out there in the market as many choose instead to hold on to their flats in wait of the market upturn.

The quicker rise in prices of private mass-market homes could also be part of the reason for this inertia to upgrade. Prices of condominiums have risen 4.8 per cent and coupled with the decreasing ability to receive and maintain a realistic home loan, many may have given up their plans to upgrade, at least temporarily.

Bukit Batok HDB FlatBut it is just as well, since demand for HDB resale flats has also fallen, especially since singles are now able to purchase new flats directly from HDB and permanent residents now have a 3-year waiting period after receiving their PR status before being allowed to purchase a HDB flat.

The first sign of the decline in demand was shown in the COV figures. From a 6-figure sum just not long ago, it is now at a zero median in February this year. Some have even been reported to have sold below valuation price.

It is uncertain how long this lacklustre situation will last, but at least for this year, the market seems relatively quiet.

Home prices down all around

Landed. Non-landed. Private. Public. Across the board, prices of all residential properties seem to have taken a hit in the last quarter.

Prices have dipped, some sectors more than the others, but signs are pointing to a possible slowdown in the market due to governmental curbs and the increased number of new property launches over the last 2 years. With the last price decline registered in 2005, resale HDB flat prices have been on the downhill slope for 2 quarters now. Private property prices have also suffered albeit to a lesser degree, with the lowest prices since 2009.

Mon JervoisMight it truly be the buyers’ market this year? Will this prompt more buyers to jump on the opportunity or are there other factors which might keep them away from the cash register? The tighter loan restrictions such as shorter loan periods, lower debt-to-income limits, and higher stamp duties may still be an obstacle to some buyers, thus sellers eager to cash in on their properties may find themselves having to wait a little longer for a good deal to come by.

Location usually still trumps all, though considerations such as space, amenities and living environment all have a part to play in the final selling price. With more new private condominium launches and new HDB flats pushing their way into the market this year, competition on the rental front is proving tough as well. Buyers now have more options for comparison and may be tempted to wait for prices to drop even further or wait it out for the best deal.

Even prices of suburban private homes, which have been the main stalwart of the property market last half of the year, have slipped 0.6 per cent. And as resale HDB flat prices drop, so have the number of HDB upgraders who may require the cash from the sale of their flats to purchase private homes. In turn, demand for mass-market suburban homes may fall.

Will it be a sombre year for Singapore’s residential property market?

Massive sales at Mass-market condominiums

Over the weekend, buyers turned up en-masse for a series of mass-market launches. Some were completely fresh out of the oven and some were launching a new round of units. These new properties are sprinkled across different districts and each had their plus points and investment value.

The 3 strongmen of the new condominium market this round are:

WhitehavenWhitehaven sold more than half of their 121 units. 70 apartments were picked up by eager buyers at an average price of $1,470 – $1,480 psf. A five-storey project developed by Roxy-Pacific Holdings, it does not have the bulk and density of other bigger condominiums but it does provide an exclusive and private atmosphere. And as a freehold project, prices are considered reasonable.

If you wish to go bigger, there is the 380-unit Stratum in Pasir Ris. It is a 99-year leasehold property, with a wide range of apartment sizes ranging from a 432 sq ft studio to a 2, 446 sq ft five-room duplex penthouse. In their first phase launch, 190 of 250 units released were sold over the weekend alone.

Corals at Keppel Bay previewed to intense response as well. Almost all of the 100 units released were sold and majority of the buyers were Singaporeans. Most of the units which moved were the one to three-bedders. As expected, buyers are savvy enough to recognise the investment value of this property, with it being near the HarbourFront MRT Station, and a number of amenities, entertainment spots and schools nearby. Prices at this 366-unit 99-year leasehold condominium were well spread across $1, 800 to $3,000 psf. And this is only the preview. What response will their official launch this weekend bring?

Belgravia villasAnd to whet the buyers’ appetite even further, a selection of other launches coming up include:

The long weekend is here. If you’re out house-hunting, there might be lots to look forward to.

Property prices’ sudden growth in Q4

Perhaps the property cooling measures are timely after all. What with the fourth quarter registering a sudden growth after a few months of slower movement.

Is the private property market quietening? Image courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board

Is the private property market really going to slow down? Image courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board

So in general, prices are still high, whatever dip in prices in the few months just before the end of 2012 were corrected by prices shooting up again, rounding off the year with a record-breaking run. The strong showing were in the resale HDB flat market, with a rise of 2.5 per cent and COV (cash-over-valuation) price increases, in particular for executive condominiums (ECs). The suburban private property market also saw equally strong demand, with prices up 3.8 per cent.

Developers, having paid high prices for their land bids, are not expected to drop their selling prices anytime soon, and their strong holding power will allow them to hold out till the market bounces back. Knight Frank research head Png Poh Soon is predicting a 5 to 7 per cent drop in high-end luxury home market this year, with a similar drop in mass market private homes prices.

Prices however, have considerably moderated over the years, ever since the first round of cooling measures rolled out in 2009. In the property boom of 2010, resale HDB flat prices rose a whooping 14 per cent; in 2011, prices rose 11 per cent; and in 2012, 6.6 per cent. The rise has slowed, but there is still a rise, nevertheless.

The interesting question will be, if prices are only allowed to go up, what will the property market be in like in say, 10 years? Will it be a case of what goes up must come down, or will more be priced out of property-ownership in the long run and put Singapore in the same league as major cities such as New York or Tokyo where renting is the way of life?

Properties with Pluses

Facilities previously considered bonuses or frills in luxury properties are now included more and more even in mass market condominiums. Sky gyms, yoga terraces, spa lounges, private jacuzzis, infinity pools, concierge services, aromatherapy gardens and even a community garden, yes where you can grow organic fruits and vegetables for your dinner table. It’ll be intriguing to see what else developers come up with in new launches planned for the year ahead.


So then, what do luxury residential developments have to do to get the upper hand and justify their high prices? Well, at Hamilton Scotts, luxury apartment along Scotts Road near town, features en suite sky garages for each unit. So in Sentosa, you can sail right up to your doorstep, and here you drive up to yours. And The Marq at Paterson Hill, you get lap pools with a scenic view overlooking Orchard Road.

Hamilton Scotts

Hamilton Scotts

Property experts said that this growing trend could simply be an indication that the market is getting more competitive. However, there is a possibility that buyers will then increasingly take them for granted and begin to expect more for the prices they are paying. Do property buyers really know that they are paying for these extras, or would they rather have a simple unit in their ideal location? Will a sub-market emerge from this and spice up the already heated property sector?

Executive Condominiums expected to do well in 2013

As more EC sites are released, more new EC projects are launched, and more households qualify for one, activity in this sector is only set to increase in 2013.

Heron Bay Executive Condominium on Upper Serangoon Road.

Heron Bay Executive Condominium on Upper Serangoon Road.

opular executive condominiums include:

There does not yet seem to be an oversupply issue here, as compared to the mass market private property market or the luxury non-landed apartment sector. The market trend is indicating a widening of the price gap between a new executive condominium and a resale HDB flat; and a narrowing of that between a new executive condominium and a private condominium.

Recently there were some hype over bigger EC units which were selling beyond the $1 million mark. If this trend continues, and new EC units are priced higher and higher, might it cause a crunch in the resale HDB flat sector as some opt for the latter? Home buyers are now looking for properties that will go the mile in making their buck last. Areas such as Punggol and Serangoon where the ratio of private to public homes is lower than the national average, will continue to see active buying in the EC sector. Executive condominiums are a hybrid between private and public housing, where after the minimum occupation period of 5 years, they can be sold on the private property market; and after 10 years, they can be sold to foreigners.

Yishun HDB Flat

Reports show that there are currently 46, 000 households living in four and five-room HDB flats who, after the raised income ceiling of $10,000 to $12,000, will qualify for ECs. But does it necessarily mean that they will opt to upgrade to an EC? And even if they do, will they they want to put their resale HDB flat in the market for higher prices as they will now need more to pay for their new EC home? Is it merely a vicious cycle which will spiral upwards before a mighty fall? Or will the developers be the ultimate winners as more accept the higher home prices?

Home rentals – Record numbers in 2012

What could be the reason for a record number of 48, 000 leases this year? Does this signify a major shift in the preferences of home buyers and are more buying for investment purposes? Do more now own more than one property and will home rentals continue to reap in good profits in 2013?


Median monthly rental prices for private condominiums have risen to $3.75 psf, driving tenants to look for smaller apartments. Luxury apartments however have seen a drop in rentals as corporate rental budgets may have been reduced. But as the number of new condominiums nearing completion rise, especially in the suburbs, will rental rates drop?

Industry experts are expecting an increase in the number of vacant units all across Singapore. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has mentioned a possible excess of 100, 000 units by Q3 and more than 35, 000 private homes will be ready by 2014.

Savills is however expecting a steady flow of rental yields with up to 49, 000 transactions as companies here continue to hire expatriate employees. Already more are leaning towards mass market homes in various districts around the island, veering away from the expensive prime district and city-centre options. Does this spell a possible change in dynamics in the property sector?