$1.5 million sweet spot for private resale buyers

Singapore’s property market will be expecting some adjustments in the private resale non-landed sector as more completed units continue to enter the market next year. But prices have stabilised somewhat in the past couple of months after 5 months of consecutive decline.

Loft @ Nathan, one of the new property launches available to buyers.

Loft @ Nathan, one of the new property launches available to buyers.

Property analysts have realised that buyers remain highly sensitive to the total quantum price and they seem to have reached a sweet spot of $1.5 million. Smaller units are more susceptible to price changes as their numbers are on the rise, causing rental competition to be rather fierce. In October, a 0.1% value increase for private completed non-landed properties was registered by the NUS Singapore Residential Price Index. More buyers have been setting their sights on resale properties as developers largely cut back on the number of new launches in the second half of the year.

There were 247 more transactions registered this year as compared to the last and with a $750,000 increase in sales figures. There has also been a shift this year in the market’s focus, from new developer properties to resale properties. More buyers are own-occupiers who are looking for immediate housing needs, thus are more willing to pay for resale units.

Industry experts are expecting 2016 to bring more fluctuations as the market copes with new homes reaching completion, private homes and HDB flats included.

Poiz Residences – Poised for Potential

Come this weekend, another mixed-use development will enter the market and perhaps just in time to add some excitement to the year-end festivities.

With half of its units launching this Saturday, November 28, is the 731-unit condominium Poiz Residences developed by MCC Land. It is part of a mixed-use development that includes the retail and lifestyle-centric Poiz Centre. The project is situated in Myeappa Chettiar, just right next to the Potong Pasir MRT station.

poiz-img-001Photo credit: MCC Land

With the new Bidadari HDB estate coming up not far away, and schools such as St. Andrew’s primary, secondary and junior colleges nearby, the new private condominium may provide buyers with a tantalising option. Tentative completion date for the property is in 2019, which will comfortably coincide with that of the HDB flats in Bidadari.

Pricing of units at Poiz Residences are expected to be around the average of $1,380 psf with a good mix of 4 penthouses, 202 three-bedroom units, 52 four-bedders, and the rest made up of the highly palatable one- and two-bedders. With buyers now more akin to units with lower quantum prices, the latter might sell quickly.

MCC Land is hoping to position the mixed-use project as a mainstay of the Potong Pasir area, building it up as a central destination in the region.

October shows dip in resale private home prices

In the current market, where sentiments and demand are weakened by the property cooling measures, it might be idealistic to wait for the market to climb back to its peak in 2009 and 2013. But angle of decline for resale properties has been gentle, with a 7.6 per cent fall from January 2014.

26 NewtonPhoto: 26 Newton condo apartment

Though resale private home prices have dipped since then, the lowered prices may have brought more buyers back into the market. Resale properties or condominiums which were new launches between 2010 and 2012 have relatively larger floor area and in the current market, and buyers who are looking for a permanent home may find the fact that they have higher bargaining power a more-than-valid reason for approaching the resale property market.

Properties in the city fringes fared better as they are priced much lower than city centre properties, and yet offer the proximity or a good location and hints at exclusivity. Resale prices here have fallen just 5 per cent since the highs in 2013. This region has always been popular with investors and owner-occupiers and the lack of new launches here of late may have raised the number of resale transactions.

Suburban resale properties are facing a slightly different situation as the large number of new units have decreased the leasing and resale demand. Fiercer competition may have caused some owners to lower prices, more so than ever, buyers and tenants are finding the ball in their court.

Compact apartment units popular with buyers

At a couple of the most recent property launches – Principal Garden and Thomson Impressions, smaller units such as one- and two-bedders were the stars of the show.

The developers of both properties have managed to hit it off with the buyers with smaller apartments. As buyers are now more price-conscious, it was no surprise that these units priced below the $1 million dollar mark sold fast and furious. At Principal Garden alone, 120 of the 200 units launched last weekend were sold at a $1,600 psf median; 70 per cent of the 663-unit Prince Charles Crescent project consists of one- and two-bedroom apartments ranging rom 484 to 807 sq ft. For a gauge of the quantum prices here, selling prices of a one-bedder started from $777,000 and $1.18 million for a two-bedder.


Photo: Principal Garden

Another much talked-about new property, Thomson Impressions, also launched 150 units last week, and 87 have since been sold at an average of $1, 393 psf. Similar to Principal Gardens, 60 per cent of the 288-unit Lorong Puntong property near Sin Ming Avenue are made up of one- and two-bedders. With its prime location near the future Bright Hill MRT station and many good schools, one-bedroom apartments at Thomson Impressions were going from $670,000.

About 85 per cent of the buyers at the launch were Singaporeans, which could signify a comeback of sorts for the private property market. Sales figures may indicate a shift to more palatable quantum pricing and smaller apartments.

Upper Thomson – Property Hot Spot

Ever since the up-and-coming Thomson-East Coast MRT Line was announced, a number of new properties along the upper thomson stretch have been launched to good, if not resounding, response.

New residential developments which will be ready within the next few years include Thomson Grand, Thomson Three and now, Thomson Impressions. These are all situated within walking distance of the Bright Hill and Upper Thomson stations. Units launched and priced under $1 million have almost all been snapped up as property analysts hint at a possible million dollar sweet spot for most buyers and investors.

Thomson Three 1Photo: Thomson Three

Smaller units such as one- and two-bedders were particularly popular. At Thomson Impressions, one-bedders start at $670,000 and two-bedders $980,000. Apartment sizes range from 68 to 71 sq m for the two-bedroom apartments, comparable to sizes of three-room HDB flats. Thomson Impressions is made up of 100 one-bedders, 72 two-bedders, 106 three-bedders plus 5 penthouses and 5 strata-landed homes.

Prices are fairly affordable, especially for HDB upgrades who typically go for private properties below $1.2 million. Previously, units at Thomson Three which were priced at around $1,400 psf, sold quickly as well. There are currently only 8 units left. Smaller projects with under 300 units tend to sell well, especially if the location is prime and are near a number of good schools. Ai Tong primary school, Catholic High School, St. Nicholas Girls’ School, Raffle Instituition are all within the district or nearby towns.

Compared to larger mass market projects, these smaller developments also have the advantage of exclusivity, and much lower competition in terms of resale and leasing.

The 19-storey Thomson Impression is situated in Lorong Puntong and is expected to be completed by 2019.

Private property prices remain level

The NUS Singapore Residentail PRIce Index (SRPI) showed a 0.1 per cent rise in private non-landed home prices in September. But property experts say it could simply have been a post-election response, when buyers might have held back to see if the property cooling measures would be removed. Now that the authorities have indicated the cooling measures are here to stay, at least for now, some buyers may have taken advantage of the already-lowered prices and closed some transactions.

The Scala condo Serangoon

Photo: The Scala condominium in Serangoon

The resale private home market in particular has benefited from the lack of new property launches in September. Non-central units rose 0.3 per cent while smaller units gained a 0.4 per cent footing. But as 2016 brings an onslaught of completed new properties, the resale market may have to brace itself for a bigger hit. Industry players are expecting home prices in the non-central regions to continue on a downward trend as the number of completed units there rise. Leasing may also prove difficult as there will be a huge leap in supply while immigration policies are now tighter, which implies a lower demand.

While recent figures point to tenants looking towards to the central regions for leasing prospects, high-end properties may be hitting a wall in both sales and leases as competition has lowered rental prices in the suburbs and more tenants are seeking options there. The property market seems to be reaching a standstill as the year draws close and the festivities take over, the real time to watch the market might be the first quarter of 2016, which will set the tone for the year ahead.

Tenants’ market as rents dip

Tenants looking for a private apartment with a good location may now have more options as more properties enter the rental pool.

Property analysts have noticed that while rental rates have fallen 5.6 per cent since 2014, the number of private properties leased have risen 17.7 per cent. Shorter 12-month leases instead of the usual 24-months are also now more in demand. Tenants are taking the opportunity to move around more, in search for better units. More are now looking inwards to the Central region, as they tend to consider these city centre units better value-for-money. Landlords are also now more willing to negotiate as they begin to recognise that competition will only continue to heat up in the months ahead. Now $4,000 may be able to get you a two- or three-bedder in an older establishment in the city centre when it would have cost you $5,000 before.

Oliv Balmoral

Photo: The Oliv @ Balmoral

In the suburbs, as more new properties reach completion, rental prices may continue to dip. Private property rentals are expected to fall 4 to 5 per cent this year.

In the HDB rental market, as the number of rental HDB flats rise due to more HDB flat owners moving into their ready-for-occupation new suburban homes, leaving their empty units available for subletting; there are now an increasing number of four- and five-room flats available for rent. Rental rates for HDB flats have fallen 3.2 per cent this year. As the year-end draws near, overall property prices seem to indicate a stabilising market but as rental demand and prices continue to fall, will it inherently affect next year’s prospects?

Property prices soften last quarter

Property market prices seemed to have fallen once again as Q3’s numbers show. Weaker market sentiments as well as a weakening rental market seem to have taken a toll on property prices and sales volume. Resale HDB flat prices were down 0.3 per cent and private property prices down 0.9 percent in Q3. In a year-on-year comparison, HDB resale prices have fallen 9.8 per cent and private property prices 8 percent since 2013. Property analysts have expected a drop in prices this year of between 4 to 6 per cent.

Queens Condo Stirling RoadWhile many private property owners may not yet be feeling the impact of the price decline, those who truly want to sell their property may be faced with the dilemma of dropping their asking price in order to close the deal. With more readily available industry information, buyers are now more aware of market prices and making more informed offers, which places the ball in their court.

The HDB resale flat market seems to be stabilising. Last month’s price decline is the smallest thus far, with the previous month seeing a 0.4 per cent drop. As most HDB flat buyers are able to service their loans using their property using Central Provident Funds (CPF), they may be less affected by a weakening economy and rising interest rates.

How the market fares moving ahead, will be largely dependent on the economy. The 1998 Asian financial crisis is a good reminder of how policies, jobs and industries are closely tied.