Resale HDB flat prices expected to stablise

It seems like 2016 could be the year when things stand still. Good for some, and a little less ideal for others. But either ways, it may be a good time for the dust to settle, for the market to finally take stock of the property cooling measures and interest rate hikes, to balance the supply and demand scale, and for the authorities to closely monitor and plan their next steps.

HDB mature estatePhoto credit: Singapore Tourism Board

Prices of resale HDB flats have stayed the same last November and December, perhaps signalling a stabilisation of the market. There was a slight 0.3 per cent and 0.1 per cent rise for 3- and 4-room flats, but a drop of 0.4 per cent for 5-room flats and ECs (executive condominiums). Flats in mature estates are still in demand, with a 0.2 per cent rise in prices, though in comparison, prices fell the same percentage in non-mature estates.

It has taken resale HDB flat prices some time to fall a narrow margin, thus a soft landing could be said to have been achieved considering last year only saw a 1.3 per cent drop in price index. Property experts are expecting prices to hold at their current level for the rest of the year despite HDB’s announcement of their intended launch of 18,000 new BTO flats this year, as the target audience for both flat types are different, with those searching within the resale HDB market most likely requiring a HDB flat in the short term. New flats typically require 3 to 6 years to build.

 

Higher chances for Singles applying for new HDB flat

The year might be looking up for singles hoping to secure a new HDB flat.

Fernvale Woods HDBPhoto credit: HDB

Before July 2013, singles were only allowed to purchase HDB flats from the resale market. For two and a half years now, 2-room new BTO HDB flats have been accessible to them though the number of applicants vying for a unit have been overwhelming and the wait have been long for some.

But since the most recent launch, the number of applicants have whittled down to 7.5 per unit. When the scheme first began in 2013, there were 57.5 applicants going for a single 2-room unit. These new 2-room flexi flats are the result of merging the 2-room and studio apartment schemes, and are designed mainly for the elderly and priced to help them and families in the lower income group. Singles who earn less than $5,000 then were also allowed to apply for these flats. The income ceiling has since been raised to $6,000 mid last year.

Bidadari HDB flat Alkaff

Photo credit: HDB

Singles are however restricted to new 2-room BTO flats in non-mature estates, which means they are not eligible for the new flats in Bidadari, which is considered a mature estate. Nevertheless, this option has helped many singles own their own space, to have a bit of privacy they can call their own in this growing city. The pricing of the new 2-room flats are considerably lower than those sold in the resale market, and most of the latter are much older and may not be suitable for the needs of singles who are looking for an affordable home.

Though there will still be competition for new 2-room flats, property experts are expecting the number to fall to a comfortable 4 or 5 applicants per unit.

 

2016 – Property cooling measures to stay

Remember those days of astounding COV (cash-over-valuation) prices? Those days may be but a shadow of the current market environment today. More than half of resale HDB flats sold now are selling at prices close to market value and prices are now comparable to those of 2011.

Tampines HDB flatPhoto: Resale HDB flat for sale in Tampines.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has however said that it may be too early to lift the property curbs, most of which were implemented in 2013, during the peak of the property market. Since then, HDB resale flat prices have fallen about 10 per cent, according to the HDB resale price index.

Some of the most impactful measures include the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD) and Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework. For HDB loans, the mortgage servicing ratio was tightened to 30 per cent of the loan applicant’s gross income.

With the property cooling measures here to stay, this year’s resale flat prices may remain level, with some fluctuations should there be economic or interest rate changes. HDB’s announcement of their expected 18,000 new BTO units this year may dilute demand for resale HDB flats, though prices are not expected to fall much as most buyers will be those who do not wish to or are unable to wait 3 to 4 years for the new BTO flats to be built. The motivating factors for selling or buying a resale unit may be what lays the foundation for the final transacted price.

2016’s BTO flat supply to benefit first-timers

First-time HDB applicants will be the main group to benefit from this year’s ramped-up BTO (build-to-order) supply, according to the new National Development Minister, Lawrence Wong.

Punggol HDB EstatePhoto: Punggol HDB estate

The Housing Development Board (HDB) will be rolling out 18,000 new units over the course of the year, almost 3,000 more than last year’s 15,100 units. Last November’s mega-launch released 12,000 new flats in popular estates such as Bidadari to the public’s overwhelming response. Though the number of new BTO flats reaching completion within these 2 years will increase, 26,000 new flats were completed last year, the authorities maintain their stance in providing a balanced and stable supply of homes for Singaporeans.

With new priority schemes and higher income ceilings in place after last year’s elections, more first-time applicants have been successful in securing a unit within a shorter time frame. From 2011 to 2013, HDB had ramped up their supply and construction of BTO flats to meet the pent-up demand from the decade before.

Last year, the number of flats launched was reduced from 16,900 to 15,100 as the resale HDB flat market slowly stabilised. Those hoping to apply for a new BTO flat directly from HDB will be happy to hear of the increase in supply which will be spread out over various flat types and HDB estates.

Are new HDB BTO flats truly affordable?

The next HDB sales launch will be in about 2 months’ time. Considering the response from the November mega-launch, the February launch will be greeted with much cheer as 4,150 BTO units from Bidadari, Bukit Batok and Sengkang will be offered this time round.

Bidadari HDB mapPhoto credit: HDB

The Bidadari flats received the most number of applicants in the most recent sales exercise. Even though the 5-room flats here were price at $544,000 (excluding grants), they were oversubscribed with 259 applicants vying for 151 units. Despite Bidadari’s history as a former cemetery, it is the only mature estate in November’s launch and its prime location added to its popularity. There were also 2-room flexi units offered in the exercise and were well-received as always. A number of these short-lease 2-room flexi flats were kept aside for senior citizens and they can make use of HDB and CPF grants to purchase them.

But these Bidadari flats were not the most expensive of new BTO flats launched. In May, 5-room BTO flats launched in Clementi cost between $576,000 to $725,000. Even then, there were almost 14 applicants to one unit. Have Singaporeans truly become more affluent or are they simply getting used to property prices here, even public housing? Prices of the next BTO launch will be watched closely, especially as the economy is expected to slow down considerably next year.

 

Garden homes – New Bidadari HDB estate

Bishan was once set on cemetery grounds, but now it is a booming township with HDB flats, private condominiums, landed homes, schools, malls, libraries, sports complexes and MRT stations. Properties here are in high demand and HDB flat prices alone have blossomed more than thrice what their original owners purchased them for back in the 80s.

Bidadar HDB flat_EditPhoto credit: HDB

Thus the same fact that an all-new HDB estate, Bidadari, is built on a former cemetery site would probably not deter buyers, with this estate holding similar potential for growth. Besides a 10ha Bidadari Park featuring a new Alkaff Lake, named after the Alkaff family which built the Alkaff Gardens in 1929 which was closed after World War II, the area is also centrally located in Toa Payoh town which gives it the clout of good location and living environment.

Schools nearby include the Cedar Primary School and Cedar Girls’ Secondary School, and St. Andrew’s Primary, Secondary schools and Junior College.

Bidadari HDB flats 2

Photo credit: HDB

These new Bidadari HDB flats however may not come cheap, with prices about 20 per cent higher than other launches. For a gauge, a Build-to-order (BTO) launch at Punggol Northshore in May this year had four-room flats going from $284,00 to $350,000. There are 3 projects in the launch – Alkaff CourtView, Alkaff LakeView and Alkaff Vista.

Other BTO projects included in the launch are Waterfront I and Waterfront II @ Northshore and Northshore StraistView in Punggol, Hougang Rivercourt in Hougang, Fernvale woods in Sengkang, Teck Whye Vista in Choa Chu Kang and West Quarry in Bukit Batok.

Applications are open now till 26 November.

500 potential new homes near Serangoon MRT station

Say Lorong Lew Lian and the name brings to mind the spiky durian fruit – but you might not be far off with the fruit metaphor as the site might yield a bumper crop of new homes in a few years’ time.

Bartley Ridge

Photo: Bartley Ridge

Hoping to plant the investment seed early, several property developers have already placed juicy bids for a 1.4 ha condominium site on Lorong Lew Lian. The top bid came from a joint venture between City Developments Limited (CDL), Hong Leong Holdings and TID at $321 million. The site could yield up to 500 new units in a 12 or 13-storey condominium project. The developers are old hands at building in this area, having already developed residential projects in the vicinity including Bartley Residences and Bartley Ridge. Sales at both properties have been more than positive, with Bartley Residences 100% sold and 99% of the units at Bartley Ridge snapped up.

As the authorities may not be releasing many more land plots anytime soon, putting in bids for tenders with good locations might be a good way to go. Despite recent concerns that an oversupply of homes might descent on the market as soon as next year, buyers may hardly tire of homes with good locations, near transport nodes such as MRT stations or bus interchanges and schools. This Lorong Lew Lian site is located near Serangoon MRT station and bus interchange and the NEX shopping mall. With the new Bidadari Housing Estate coming up along the North East Line, properties along this and the Circle Line are likely to enjoy some attention from property seekers.

Maxing the potential of HDB Housing Grants

The General Elections of 2015 have brought about some changes in the local housing and property scene. With raised income ceilings for new flats and executive condominiums, plus a series of other adjusted or new housing grants, more HDB flat applicants are able to now secure a unit and at less by making use of these new grants.

HDB flats 10The new Proximity Housing Grant provides singles and families who are buying a resale flat with or near their married children or parents, with a respective $10,000 and $20,000 grant. Since its implementation on 24 August, 684 families and 53 singles have applied for the grant. Income ceilings have also been raised to $12,000 (from $10,000) for families and $6,000 (from $5,000) for singles. This means more would qualify for a HDB flat and the respective grants, possibly allowing some applicants who may have previously fallen just short of the income ceiling to now successfully apply for a unit.

Indirectly, this move may have also helped to boost resale transactions. As applicants who wish to live near their parents or married children may not be able to find a new flat within close proximity, especially in more mature estates where new flats are rare, resale flats may be their next best choice. With a combination of the Proximity Housing Grant and other CPF housing grants, what they may finally have to pay for a resale flat may be much more palatable.