Demand for Hong Kong properties continue to climb

Home prices in Hong Kong are escalating despite the government’s attempts to curb the rapid and steep climb.

OneKaiTak1Photo credit: www.onekt.com.hk/

Buying a resale private property from the secondary market has become difficult due to the heavy stamp duties levied by the Hong Kong government on open market homes in an effort to curb rising property prices and a ballooning market. Stamp duties for first-time local buyers are particularly high and the move has slowed down activity in the secondary market considerably. Instead, it has created a demand for new homes in the primary market. Since homes in this market are sold directly by the developers, they are able to adjust home prices according to market demand and requirements, sometimes even offering incentives and discounts.

In the first month of 2016, the demand for new homes fell by 76 per cent. In the same time this year, it rose by 48 per cent. A complete turnaround. With the current lack of interest and activity in the secondary market, developers are  ceasing the current window of opportunity by its neck and adjusting prices according to rising demand. And the demand is high indeed. At China Overseas Land & Investment‘s new residential project situated on the site of the old Hong Kong airport, One Kai Tak, all 188 units were sold out in a single day last month.

OneKaiTak3Buyers may ramp up their buying speed and fervency in the months ahead, as they pre-empt the possibility of the Hong Kong government implementing further curbs on the market, in particular on individuals who sell their properties to purchase new ones.

Rise in new private home sales volume

The number of new private homes sold last year have risen on the back of declining prices in the primary private home sales market. Fighting against predictions of a languishing private residential sector, new private home sales have held up in 2016 with 8,136 new units sold, 9.4 per cent higher than 2015’s 7,440.

SantoriniBuyers have been picking up units directly from developers, aided by a couple of pushes from low interest rates an and lower selling prices. Though 2016 was a slow year for Singapore’s real estate industry in terms of home prices, the number of transactions clocked have surprisingly went against all odds. While private home prices have fallen over the past 3 years, market sentiments have begun to pick up last year and increased interest and availability of one- and two-bedroom units whose total quantum prices were more palatable for the general buying public and investors alike.

In Q4 of 2016, 2,480 new units were sold, the highest number in a quarter for the year. Despite the year end’s usual market lull and only 90 new units launched in the last quarter, December’s sales were positive with suburban projects leading the way with 231 sales, followed by 112 in the city fringes and 24 in the core central region. Last month’s best seller was The Santorini in Tampines which sold 26 units at an average price of $1,046 psf.

More condo developments offering deferred payment plans

As the number of completed private home units in the market rise without the same exponential reaction from buyers, developers are finding it increasingly difficult to move remaining units.

peak-cairnhillMore developers have been seen to offer incentives such as a deferred payment scheme in order to entice buyers. One of the latest to hop on the bandwagon is TG Development‘s The Peak @ Cairnhill II. Following good response to their previously-launched deferred payment scheme, CapitaLand has added Sky Habitat to their other 2 properties, d’Leedon and The Interlace, offering the same incentive. Their stay-then-pay option allows Singaporean buyers to make a 10 per cent down payment (15 per cent for foreign buyers) within 8 weeks to exercise the option to purchase and the other 90 per cent within a year from that even while living in the unit.

Some other properties such as One Balmoral are offering sweeteners such as direct discounts. The freehold 91-unit condominium in prime district 10 has offered a 13 per cent discount on all their units with prices averaging at $2,150 to $2,200 psf. Over at the waterfront-style Corals at Keppel Bay, the developer is offering $50,000 off selected units with average prices working out to be around $1,850 psf.

threebalmoral the increasing number of unsold units in the market, industry experts are not yet concerned about new launches coming up this year. New blood will likely inject active browsing and buying sentiments into a stabilising market, and with prices holding steady buyers are likely to take the bait, and the effect may very well trickle down to the secondary and other sectors.

Private resale property market to cruise on status quo

2016 proved to be a roller coaster year for the private home market, as prices fluctuated throughout the year but never quite settled into an upward swing. Price increases lasted hardly a quarter before turning the opposite direction and movements differed between regions as well.

SeletarParkResidencesAcross the board, resale private home prices rose 0.1 per cent. Most of the increase were for properties in the prime districts. Prices here rose 1.8 per cent while falling 0.9 per cent and 0.4 per cent in the city fringe and suburban districts respectively. Location continues to rule buyers’ decision-making process and prime district home prices remained stable despite the year-end lack of market activity.

As the rental market continues to wane and competition from completed properties put further pressure on rental prices, more private condominium unit owners may be pushed to sell this year as they come to the end of their 4-year holding period, after which they will have to foot their sellers’ stamp-duty bill. Buyers of resale units could have the upper hand when it comes to negotiations in these cases.

NathanResidencesThe number of private apartment units sold have been falling as well, with 484 units sold as compared to the 618 sold in November. Though the numbers are higher than the 453 units sold in December 2015, it is still a far cry from the 2,050 in April 2010 – a 76.3 per cent fall in fact. Property analysts are expecting prices and sales volume to maintain their current levels, though 2017 could be more a year of keeping the status quo than quick recovery.

HDB flat prices rise slightly in November

A 0.2% rise in resale HDB flat prices may bely the fall in sales volume in November due to a possible trickle-down effect from heightened activity in the new Build-to-order (BTO) flat segment.

bidadariNovember’s launch of BTO flats was the largest in the year, with flats in Kallang/Whampoa and Bidadari garnering the biggest response from applicants. With flats in these areas oversubscribed, some may have decided to skip the wait and go for resale flats instead. The overall buying sentiment in the HDB market may have also received a boost from the launch.

In a year-on-year comparison, prices are however 0.7 lower than that in November 2015 while resale volume is 7.1 per cent higher. The figures are not surprising since resale HDB flat prices have been stabilising over the past year while sales volume is largely dependent on demand and the option of new flats. Flats in mature estates continue to command high prices and in that, the property cooling measures may not have had that kept selling prices high and most sellers are not in a hurry to let go of their flats, until the time when keys to their new flats are ready for collection.

NorthwaveECPrivate property prices may have declined in single-digit percentages, and while that narrows the gap between smaller non-landed private property units and more expensive public housing options such as executive condominiums (EC), resale flat prices have budged only slightly which may not be sufficient for those who fall between these price segments. Prices of resale HDB flats are expected to have up to a 0.5 per cent price rise in 2017.

 

October’s private home sales set to rise

After a quarter of being in the doldrums, the mood in the property sector may lift a little next month as private home sales are expected to rise, mainly due to the increase in number of new property launches this last quarter of the year.

queenspeakcondoSome of the major launches which have already started things off on the right note include Forest Woods in Serangoon and Queens Peak in Queenstown. Both properties are situated near MRT stations and will no doubt be popular with buyers and investors who often look at the location and potential sales and rental yields. The Alps Residences in Tampines which launched last month has been enjoying the attention from buyers and have been selling well.

Property analysts are in fact expecting Q4’s property figures to exceed that of 2015. The total number of private homes sold last year stood at 7,440 units; and this year’s predictive numbers are between 7,500 and 8,000. Some of the best-sellers in the private home segment include Lake Grande in Jurong, The Trilinq in Clementi, Kingsford Waterbay in Serangoon, The Glades in Bedok and Sophia Hills in the fringe of the city. For October alone, sales volume looks set to exceed the 1,100-units mark, the highest number of units sold in a month this year.

KingsfordWaterbayWhile interest rates remain low, buyers are more savvy about where they put their money, and are more likely to look at new, uncompleted units, especially with some developers offering incentive schemes that benefit the financial plans of buyers without cash liquidity, which do not yet require immediate rental yields to help tide them over the market lull.

Parc Riviera – One price fits all

Developers have been dishing out various incentive schemes to draw buyers into the new private home fold, and now an upcoming property launch will do the same. EL Development will be offering a flat-price within the same type of units between the second and fifteenth floor of their Parc Riveria condominium. And the offer only stands when the deal is sealed at their launch this Saturday.

parcriviera2Photo Credit: www.parcrivieracondo.sg

With this new incentive scheme, units on the more popular higher floors will likely be the first to fly off the shelves as they traditionally command higher prices for the view they promise. As a price guide, the 2-bedroom units are going for $725,000. Other units available in the project’s two 36-storey blocks include 463 sq ft one- and 1,711 sq ft four-bedders though more than half are made up of one- to two-bedroom apartment units.

parcriviera1Units in the floors above the 15th-storey will also be available for purchase, though prices will be higher. Traditionally, units in the higher floors are about 15% more expensive than those in the lower floors. EL Development came up with the first-in-market scheme as a way to provide buyers with a transparent pricing system and a way to draw attention to specific units. Some of their other properties currently in the market include Skysuites 17, Stevens Suites, La Fiesta and Trivelis. Parc Riviera has already received positive interest and with this creative new strategy in place, it looks like the Parc Riviera sales office might see a flurry of activity this weekend.

 

 

Consumer awareness crucial for property industry

The local property industry landscape has been changing quite a bit over the past few years, in particular for the consumer. The authorities have been working on transparency and consumers now have more information at their finger tips, and perhaps even more as net prices of de-licensed projects’ will soon be available as well.

singapore-property-authoritiesCurrently, the Housing Development Board (HDB) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) both provide property statistics and data on their websites. The Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI) by the National University of Singapore (NUS) Institute of Real Estate also provides month-on-month transaction-based information for private non-landed residential properties.

ardmorethreeThere are however some caveats to take into consideration. URA’s quarterly price index for example, does not include the discounts and incentives which developers sometimes provide. Only the net-price will be recorded, thus consumers will do well to take this into consideration when viewing statistics and median monthly transaction prices. The change will take effect this month, which means the price index may have some downward pressure put on it as current figures may be inflated. De-licensed projects which have obtained their Certificate of Statutory Completion and thus do not come under the Housing Developers Rules, such as OUE Twin Peaks and Ardmore Three, are known to provide incentive schemes to their buyers such as 15% discounts and Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rebate.

A recent case of a property agent who handled and misappropriated cash handed to him by his client also brings to light that consumers may not be entirely aware of what they are entitled to or what their agents are allowed and disallowed to do. In brief, it is against the law for property agents to handle any cash on behalf of their clients.