Private property market – The road ahead

The outlook for private properties seems a little vague for the moment. Though the market seems to be enjoying a respite, with prices maintaining its current level, and prices have risen slightly over the past two months, property experts are expecting an overall fall of 3 to 4 per cent in the Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI) this year.

Buyers looking out for good deals are picking up units across both the central and non-central regions. Recent increases in the SRPI could be due to the rise in number of transactions especially in the central regions with 0.6 and 0.2 per cent increases in June and July respectively.

WoodhavenThe rental market, however, has remained weak, especially in the suburbs. And as rents begin to fall in the central regions, many tenants are making quick comparisons and opting to move into more centrally-located properties instead. For example, a private 2-bedroom condominium unit in Woodlands is being rented out for $2,000 a month, which is comparative to leasing a 3-room HDB flat.

But for buyers and investors who are considering purchasing private properties, investing in bigger resale or new properties may be preferable as smaller units will be facing fiercer rental competition once many of these units reach completion next year.

Lower sales in new private homes market

The lack of new private condominium launches last month could be the main reason for the fall in number of new private homes transactions. That and fresh mentions of the General Elections plus competition from the executive condominium (EC) sector could have siphoned some attention away from the new properties already out there. Sales numbers for new properties were down 42 per cent from May.

Sol AcresDevelopers and buyers may be holding out in wait of political and policy adjustments which may in turn drive prices up or pull them down. Announcements of a slower-than-expected economic growth in the last quarter may have also affected buying sentiments. There could also be a sense of the scale tilting towards supply over demand.

Recent private home launches include The Botanique at Bartley, Lakeville in Jurong. Suburban home sales dropped 48 per cent while city fringe sales numbers fell 23 per cent. July however may prove a happier month with the launch of a number of new properties including The Brownstone, The Vales in Sengkang and Sol Acres in Choa Chu Kang. This long weekend, High Park Residences in Fernvale is also expecting an extension of the 18,000 strong turnout at their show flats in the past two weeks.

Smaller private homes popular with HDB Upgraders

Whether for occupation or investment, HDB dwellers moving into the private property market are setting their sights on smaller units below 100 sqm priced between $750,000 and $1.05 million. Median sizes of purchased non-landed homes have fallen to 85 sq m.

This could be a good indicator for developers and resale private condominium sellers of the pricing sweet spot in upcoming launches. Prices of completed transactions of non-landed homes have fallen 5.4 per cent. But private property owners who are purchasing within the market are snapping up bigger units of up to 110 sq m. This could be due to the fall in prices since 2013 and the affordable total quantum pricing.

Pollen&BleuThe number of foreign property buyers have also decreased slightly, with most now targeting luxury homes tagged above $5 million. In addition to Singapore’s political and economic stability, established infrastructure and education standards, value-for-money property options continue to draw foreign investors despite increased stamp duties.

As the market acclimatises itself to the new dynamics of the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework, increased stamp duties and other property cooling measures, the buyers may gradually re-enter the market. With the promise of new launches coming up in then next few months, the numbers could see a turnaround soon.

Resale private property prices dipped in April

Could it be that the competition from new properties are finally kicking in? Besides the property cooling measures such as loan limits and raised stamp duties, are buyers remaining cautious this year as they watch and wait?

NorthparkResidences2NorthparkResidences2Property analysts are expecting the property prices to remain mostly stable for the rest of the year, with buyers and investors beginning to suss out good deals and snapping up units. Further property cooling measures seem unlikely and any shifts in policy would probably be in favour of sellers. It goes without saying, this year might be the year of the buyer, but the next would be anyone’s guess.

In April, figures showed that buyers are no longer underpaying for properties and are purchasing them at market value. The biggest rebound came in District 16. The number of resale transactions, despite all the news about property prices and transactions falling, have been growing overall on a year-on-year basis. That itself is promising news for the industry and investors.

Thus the slight drop in resale private non-landed properties last month could be due to new launches such as that of Northpark Residences in Yishun. The relationship between new and resale, private properties and HDB flats, will always be symbiotic. But without a doubt, all will be tied to global and domestic economies and policy changes.

 

Private resale non-landed home prices rising

With more new non-landed homes reaching completion this year and entering the market with more vigour, resale properties will have quite a bit more competition to deal with.

65cc3e41521f45a9bee9cd4c20bcbf8cBut for the moment, good news prevails as prices of resale non-landed homes have risen albeit slightly. In March, prices rose 0.2 per cent with the number of sales maintaining at around 300 in February and March. Although there is no significant rise in the number of sales transactions or prices, at the very least prices do not seem to be dropping. This could indicate a stabilising market and where it goes thereafter is very much dependent on governmental policies and market forces.

Suburban resale homes were leading the price rise, with a 0.3 per cent monthly gain. Central region homes in districts 1 to 4 and 9 to 11 also saw a 0.1 per cent rise. It were the smaller apartments which saw a drop in prices of 0.4 per cent by the month. These shoebox apartments, with floor areas of 506 sq ft and less, were one of the hottest ticket items the last couple of years, why the depression in prices now?

Property analysts are putting it up to the increasing number of shoebox units in suburban condominium developments. Demand for these smaller units outside of the Central region may not be as high as developers had thought, and as the number of unsold or untenanted units rise, so does the competition. Buyers have more choices and will be more likely to bargain or wait for lower prices.

Sticking to previous estimates, property prices are expected to dip 3 to 6 per cent this year. Previous estimates were around 4 to 8 per cent.

 

Offers galore in blossoming EC market

Executive condominium launches in the recent months haev proved attractive to the buying crowd, especially after years of quiet on the ground.

But with 7 more launches planned for the later part of the year, will the market be poised for a saturation point? Or will buyers welcome the competition and options? Most of the new launches will be near existing EC sites in the North and North-east regions, which could mean stiffer competition for the developers.

Westwood ResidencesOne project which may however prove promising is the Westwood Residences in Boon Lay. Together with Lake Life EC, they could the only 2 executive condominiums in Jurong since 2010. The rarity, coupled with the pent-up demand could means buyers may be willing to pay slightly higher than average prices for units here as compared to ECs elsewhere. Property experts are expecting the median prices for ECs launched later this year to hover between $750 to $770 psf.

Currently, the average selling prices for ECs are at around $800 psf. But buyers have not been particularly responsive to this pricing level and with the introduction of thousands of new units over this and next year could bring the competition higher and prices lower. The dip in resale HDB and private condominium prices since the high in 2013, would also mean that ECs have to priced realistically in order to entice HDB upgraders and buyers.

As the market segments react to one another, the EC being hybrid between private and public properties, may also find themselves having to price themselves appropriately between these two market segments.

 

New properties on a fresh new ride

And hopefully it will be an upwards ride.

May 2014 was a good month for the new private home market. Mostly due to the large number of properties launched, 1,487 units were sold. But after that huge spike, sales have held steady at around 300 to 400 units sold per month, with December’s showing a little lower due to the festive season.

KingsfordWaterbayThe numbers have however increased significantly in March this year, from 390 units sold in February to 613 last month. The results are promising, but there has been a few recent launches of new units at previously launched developments and also a release of pent-up demand after the Chinese New Year festivities, which could account for some of the positive vibes.  Most of the sales came from Kingsford Waterbay with 155 units sold and Sims Urban Oasis with 107 units sold. New launches are pulling out all the stops to get buyers’ attention. Competition will be high as more launches are planned for the year, thus getting first dibs with the buyers’ pool is crucial for developers.

Suburban properties are often priced below city fringe and central district properties; at 22 per cent lower than city fringe and 43 per cent lower than central region homes. Lower quantum prices seems to be the factor helping to close deals, as the property cooling measures do not work in favour of most middle-income buyers. The Skywoods and Symphony Suites projects seemed to stacked up better, but sales at Northpark Residences and Botanique @ Bartley may very well give them a run for their money soon, looking at the response from the public.

The outlook for the market this year seems spotted, with possible glimmers of hope but also tough restrictions which may put a damper on sales volume and prices.

 

The private home gentle wave

It’s an up and down ride for the private non-landed property market for more than a year now. Across the board, non-landed resale home prices dropped 6.2 per cent last year. Prices of homes in the central districts dipped an average of 7 per cent last year, though there were good months when some segments managed to bounce back slightly before falling again. That could mean that things were mainly level though there are outliers.

Duchess ResidencesResale private apartment prices fell 0.2 per cent last month, with a 3.9 per cent fall compared to the same month last year. But some city fringe properties bounced back with an average price rise of 0.4 per cent. Part of the yoyo-ing in prices could be due to the Chinese New Year period in February and buyers were just coming back into the fray in March.

The second quarter of this year would be a crucial point in almost determining how the rest of the year will flow, at least up to just before the Hungry Ghost month. Though the ride has been more a gentle wave of price fluctuations rather than a roller coaster ride, property experts are however not expecting a drastic change in prices unless there are major policy changes or a major interest rates hike.

The year could be a relatively quiet one with bright sparks and dull moments along the way, but the basics of good location and lowered total quantum prices will still move units.