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.

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.

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: GoHome.com.hk

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?