Are foreign buyers shying away from Singapore properties?

Foreign buyers seem to be holding back from buying homes here in Singapore. The largest fall were from Indonesian buyers, from 112 down to 39 units in the last quarter. Chinese, Malaysian and Indian buyers make up the rest of the buying clout, though there has also been a decline in all segments.

Private home prices have fallen 1.3 per cent in all regions – 1.3 per cent in the central regions, 1.5 per cent in the city fringes and 1.6 per cent in the suburbs. An accumulation of various factors could have impacted the market:

White Sand HKPhoto credit:

Singapore is often compared with Hong Kong, for its size, population and infrastructure. Why then are property prices in Hong Kong skyrocketing while Singapore properties fight to garner foreign buying interest? One of the main factors could be the proximity of the country to China. Mainland Chinese buyers make up the bulk of the foreign buying pool here and Hong Kong is inevitably closer. Should they wish to travel far out, they often look at countries such as Australia, New Zealand or even the United Kingdom and United States. The yuan has also weakened and with the Chinese economy slowing down, Chinese buyers may also be more selective about their choices.

The Indonesian property market is flourishing and in fact, more buyers, even Singaporeans have been buying into the market. Jakarta and Bali are a few of the cities where buyers’ interest have peaked.

How then can Singapore continue to attract foreign buyers and will mere policy changes affect a change?

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.

Higher future demand for ECs?

Recent news of the income ceiling for new HDB and ECs (executive condominiums) flats possibly being raised have brought about a wave of questions from the market. Will this increase competition for new BTO flats? How will the resale HDB flat market be affected? Will the private property sector see lower or higher demand?

Since ECs and mass market private homes often go after the same pool of buyers, raising the income ceiling for ECs may mean increasing competition for the latter. With the higher income ceiling of $14,000, buyers who were previously ineligible for executive condominiums may now find themselves able to purchase these unique public-private hybrid properties, drawing them away from the private property market.

Sol AcresECs are considered public housing and buyers are able to take advantage of available housing grants for this property type. After 10 years, they become private property, which considerably ramps up their sale value. Buyers who have previously had to turn to private properties at much higher prices, and who are now eligible to apply for ECs will no doubt be in glee. The difference between an EC and a private property is about $300 psf and buyers comparing private homes and ECs in the same vicinity may come up with savings of up to $250,000. Not an amount to be scoffed at.

One recent EC offering, Sol Acres, have since sold 294 units. Upcoming EC launches are expected to give pricier private mass market homes without the calling cards of a good location, a run for their money. Prices of ECs usually stand at around $800 psf whereas private homes go from $1,000 psf and up.


Singapore – An Island city and her Sea view homes

With Singapore being a island city, it is no wonder properties with a sea view, or better still, just next to the sea, are a popular choice. Some of the more common spots for these seafront properties include Pasir Ris, East Coast, Keppel Bay, Sentosa and though not as common – Sembawang.

Bunglows By the Sea Wak HassanPhoto Credit: Fragrance Group

Not as well known as the other districts, Sembawang is a well-kept secret on the Northern end of the island. The Sembawang park area overlooks quiet stretches of the sea and the Johor Straits. Perhaps its distance from the city centre has deterred some buyers from calling this area home. But those who have since bought properties in district 27 have many good things to say about it.

It is quiet, hence provides a sense of exclusivity, where the view seems like it is almost all yours. Landed homes in the Bungalows By The Sea in Wak Hassan Drive have yet to be fully sold despite landed property prices having fallen in recent times. Prices of a bungalow here is at around $610 psf for the built-up area. But land sizes are big, thus the price of a bungalow here could come up to $6 million. The other landed properties in the vicinity include The Shoreline Residences which have been fully sold.

Next up - The Nautical in Sembawang.

The Nautical in Sembawang.

Nearby, there are private non-landed properties for sale, including The Nautical and Skypark Residences which is an EC (executive condominium). Will Sembawang become the next seaside town to watch? Perhaps so, though it will take some time to fill it with amenities and residents. But the wait might very well be worth it.

Resale private homes – Slow climb up

There was a glimmer of light in the resale property market last month as prices of homes in the city fringe rose 1.1 per cent and 0.5 per cent in the suburbs. Overall private resale home prices rose 0.4 per cent.

BlueHorizonThough property analysts are not certain if prices will maintain their current level or dip even further in the later part of the year, the numbers gave at least a little hope to private property owners and sellers. While the resale market shows that it has steadied itself with a $0 T-O-X (the median transaction over X-value or a home’s market value), in the city centre district 9 which consists of Orchard Road and River Valley, more resale properties were being sold below the computer-generated  home prices dipped to an average of $55,000 below the X-value.

In district 5 of Pasir Panjang and Clementi however, the highest media T-O-X came up to $30,000; and in the Bukit Timah, Holland Road and Tanglin areas of prime district 10, the number came up to $14,000.

As the number of new properties being launched or completed rise, the prices of resale properties may face the danger of being pushed down by competition. Though location and condition of resale units may always have an upper hand. With the General Elections planned for the year ahead, prices may fluctuate with policy or economic changes. Could this year be the watershed year for the property market?

Singapore home prices down last quarter

Across the board, property prices have dipped again last quarter, but resale HDB flat prices may be stabilising. Following the first quarter decline of 1 per cent, resale HDB flat prices dipped only 0.4 per cent last quarter, possibly signifying a bottoming out of this market.

Optima condominium at Tanah Merah.

Optima condominium at Tanah Merah.

Nudged by the lowered mortgage servicing ratio cap from 35 to 30 per cent and reduction in the number of new BTO (build-to-order) and SBF (sale of balance flats) units, HDB resale flat prices have fallen for a few quarters now. Property analysts are expecting a stabilising of the market, or at least a rise in demand for resale units as HDB plans to increase the income ceiling for BTO flats, which may replenish the pool of potential resale HDB flat buyers.

Private home prices are however expected to fall further this year, especially as resale HDB flat prices have fallen so quickly the gap between private suburban homes and the former have widened. Some HDB upgraders may think twice about selling their HDB flat to purchase a private condominium unit and others may turn to resale flats instead of private homes. The expectation of a rush of new private apartment units to hit the market in the later half of this year may have also put a damper on market prices.

In the first quarter, private home prices fell 1 per cent, and the fall remained steady in the second quarter at 0.9 per cent. Moving ahead, prices of private non-landed homes are expected to fall 4 to 6 per cent by the end of the year.


UMCity Medini Lakeside – The New Nexus in Medini, Iskandar Malaysia

Johor MB Officiates Groundbreaking at Award-Winning UMCity Medini Lakeside by UMLand and Samsung C&T Corporation

  • Groundbreaking ceremony for the RM1.2 billion GDV development was led by UMCity Medini Lakeside developer, UMLand and world-leading construction company, Samsung C&T Corporation
  • Located at the gateway into Medini Iskandar, the 5-acre UMCity Medini Lakeside is a waterfront mixed integrated development ideal for community living and work
  •  UMCity Medini Lakeside is poised to redefine metropolitan international brand collaborations in Iskandar Malaysia

Pix 1_Menteri Besar and VIPs officiating the Groundbreaking
Nusajaya, 20 May 2015 – United Malayan Land Bhd (UMLand) today held a groundbreaking celebration for UMCity Medini Lakeside, its premiere mixed integrated development in Medini Iskandar, with award-wining builder Samsung C&T.

The ceremony was officiated by Dato’ Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Chief Minister of Johor and marked the beginning of construction works at the 5-acre development which fronts a beautiful landscaped lake park. Also in attendance were His Excellency Carlos Domínguez Díaz, Ambassador of Spain to Malaysia, His Excellency Suh Chung-Ha, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Singapore, and Chi Hun Choi, the President and CEO of Samsung C&T Corporation

.Pix 5_Datuk Charlie Chia_Menteri Besar_Dennis Ng_Chi-Hun Choi

This is a significant milestone for UMLand in positioning itself to become the lifestyle developer of quality products in all their projects. UMCity is UMLand’s award-winning flagship mixed commercial development with a Gross Development Value (GDV) of RM1.2bil in Medini Iskandar. Its UMCity Office Tower was named the Best Office Development at the recent Asia Pacific Property Awards which was held in early May 2015.

In his officiating speech, Dato’ Mohamed Khaled Nordin said, ‘UMLand’s UMCity development reflects the highest level of confidence in the efforts to position Medini as the preferred destination for investment. This catalyst development will become the new nexus in Medini, bridging the lifestyle components to Medini’s fast growing business components.’

Pix 3_Datuk Charlie Chia_Dennis Ng_Menteri Besar_Chi-Hun Choi getting ready to launch the video

The groundbreaking celebration also witnessed the welcoming onboard of a new partner from Spain for UMCity – Roca, which is renowned for their complete bathroom solutions. UMCity also announced that AECOM, an internationally acclaimed multidisciplinary design company was responsible for the design of the Medini Lakeside public park. The presence of Roca and AECOM add to the already impressive list of UMCity international delivery partners who will be setting the benchmark in quality service in Medini Iskandar.

Earlier this year, UMLand cemented strategic alliances with established and international brands such as The Ascott Limited, ONYX Hospitality Group, Samsung S-1 Corporation, and Regus for the same development. With Samsung C&T headquartered in Korea as the main contractor for the UMCity project, the UMCity development is well en route to assured quality and timely delivery. Samsung C&T is a world-leading construction company responsible for many renowned buildings and skyscrapers such as the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and Tower 2 of the Malaysia Petronas Twin Towers. UMCity will be Samsung C&T’s first commercial project outside of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

“We are honoured to be part of the UMCity Medini Lakeside project,” said Chi Hun Choi, the President and CEO of Samsung C&T. He added, “We look forward to continuing our support for Malaysia’s development, having participated in large scale projects including Petronas Twin Towers. We are certain that by working closely together with our trusted partners, the project will be successful.”

Upon completion in 2018, UMCity will be the home to the renowned brands of Citadines, Shama, OZO,and Regus, with Samsung as the comprehensive solutions provider. With these brands onboard, UMCity has one of the most comprehensive international collaborations in a mixed development in Iskandar Malaysia.

UMLand Group CEO, Datuk Charlie Chia said, “Positioned as the commercial hub in Medini, UMCity is a one of its kind waterfront mixed integrated development designed for a vibrant community living and work. UMLand is a long established developer, and we are continuously striving to push boundaries while creating quality lifestyles and communities. This is especially true for UMCity which is poised to become a world-class commercial hub in Iskandar.”

He added “This is where the concept of innovation meets sustainable development within the Medini business district of Iskandar Malaysia. Primed to be the nexus of Medini, this development by UMLand is set to deliver a conducive environment, be it for business, leisure or residence.”

UMLand is assured that the development plans of UMCity will be in sync with the Medini Business District, making it the leading business environment in South East Asia

For more information, please visit

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.