Small private condominium units popular again

 

NeemTreeIt seems the 2 most recent new condominium launches got buyers all hot and happy, snapping up 526 units at the 920-unit Northpark Residences and 254 in Botanique at Bartley. Most of the buyers were HDB upgraders, with private buyers and foreigners making up one third.

Contrary to previous figures which showed a dip in interest in smaller units, the studio, one- and two-bedders went the fastest at Northpark Residences. The average selling prices were between $1, 300 and $1,400 psf. Smaller units may be increasingly in demand, and perhaps upcoming launches may expect to see a similar trend.

Over at Botanique @ Bartley, the median selling price was at $1,290 psf. Close to 85 per cent of its units sold were below $1.2 million in total quantum price. Some of the other launches which continued to sell well were Sims Urban Oasis and City Gate.

Were these bigger developments more popular with buyers? A much smaller new property, the 84-unit Neem Tree in Balestier, seemed to have trailing in the wake of these 2 larger launches. They have yet to sell any of the 24 units they put out for sale. Property experts have read this recent leap in new property sales cautiously, as most of the sales were from only 2 launches which were priced to suit buyers’ current expectations of lowered prices.

Rise in private condominium rental

Could the market be turning on its heels, headed up the charts? Vacancy rates have been falling as the number of rental properties finding tenants have been on the rise.

Property analysts are however not positive about the numbers. They have attributed it to statistics more than the actual market sentiment. Rental rates have instead fallen 1.7 per cent in Q1, which could show that the number of new occupant-ready properties entering the market last and this year may have shaven a chunk off the property rental pie. From now to 2018, almost 67,300 new units will flood the market, giving a possible indication of how the market will react in the months or even years to come.

AstoriaParkCondoLocation nevertheless still has the ability to bring rental prices up a significant notch. At the Astoria Park condominium near Kembangan MRT station for example, rents have risen for the first 3 months of the year. Older condominiums may have a battle at hand as newer properties offer fresher facilities; though the proximity to amenities, transport nodes and schools may put the former right back on the tenants’ maps. Landlords of older developments may also have an upper hand in their option of coming down on prices since they may have purchased the units at a lower cost.

As more new residential properties come into the fold in the months ahead, the symbiotic relationship between rental and sale prices could become more obvious and things may seem a lot clearer then.

 

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.

 

Slowing down of property market slowdown

The first quarter of 2015 has proved to be a slow one for the property industry. But the slowdown has lost some speed. Compared to the previous quarters, the decline for both private and public housing was at around 1 per cent for the past three months.

Property prices and sales have been slowing down since mid-2013. In the resale HDB flat market, prices have fallen for 7 consecutive quarters and private property prices have fallen 6 quarters in a row. What will the rest of the year hold for these market segments?

Northpark Residences1For the private property sector, property analysts are predicting:

  1.  A further dip in prices as the number of unsold units are on the rise.
  2. Continued fall in rental prices as more completed new homes enter the fold. The decline in the first quarter of the year was 1.7 per cent; rental prices fell 1 per cent in the last quarter of 2014.
  3. As interest rates rise, home owners and developers may be pushed to lower prices further to secure deals. The competition between resale and new properties may also heat up.
  4.  A 5 to 8 per cent fall in private home prices for the year as buyers delay their market entry, possibly waiting for prices to fall further before making a buy.

In the HDB resale flat market, the prospects seem slightly more positive:

  1. HDB resale prices are expected to fall at a slower pace of 4 to 7 per cent and perhaps even stabilise.
  2. But as more new BTO (build-to-order) flats and ECs (executive condominiums) are completed this year,  flat owners may feel the imminent pressure to sell their existing flats at lower prices in order to move into their new units.

A fall in home prices seem inevitable this year, but the good news may come in the form of increasing sales and reaching a balance between sellers and buyers in terms of home prices.

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.

 

Yishun no backwater town

A somewhat laid back atmosphere that speaks of a slow and nature-filled life with occasional bursts of activity and energy describes the fringe township of Yishun. This HDB estate once was called “Ulu” (a Singaporean slang for being out-of-the-way and backward), but it has progressed nicely into the genteel gem it is today.

It seems to live life just the edge, growing and filling in a gap that straddles bustling and slow. Latest news of the redevelopment of the Yishun Central, with Frasers Centrepoint Homes taking the lead in building a mixed-use condominium and mall development, Northpoint City, in the vicinity, the Yishun area may be seeing a revival of sorts.

The EstuaryStretching out in a large area between Chong Pang, Sembawang and Yio Chu Kang, it has quite the space for development and expansion. Some of the current private properties already in its midst include Orchid Park, Lilydale and The Estuary. Newer residential developments include Nine Residences, Symphony Suites and the recently launched Northpark Residences.

There are a considerable number of HDB flats in the area as well, and property prices are considered reasonable and affordable. For now. New BTO (Build-to-Order) flats were also introduced into the mix starting from 2013, putting a good 9,500 units in the estate, including Yishun Greenwalk, DBSS ADora Green and Vista Spring.

From kampung to new town. The kampung spirit remains strong.

Dual key apartments rising in popularity

The latest property type on the block has been gathering an increasing crowd of fans. Not surprisingly, since they offer the space and the privacy for larger, multi-generational families, giving them the option of having their family members close, but not too close for comfort.

The concept began with the Housing Development Board and their “Granny flats” in 1986 and the first private properties to pick up on that were the Caspian and 8@Woodleigh. And now, new properties actively set aside a number of units as dual key apartments.

Boathouse ResidencesSome of the latest market offerings to include these units include Seventy Saint Patrick’s, Northpark Residences, Riverbank@Fernvale and Botanique @ Bartley. Older properties with these options include Coco Palms, and The Santorini at Tampines. At the latter, there are 144 dual key units. Most of the dual key units include a two- or three-room unit attached to a studio apartment, with two separate entrances.

In addition to providing privacy, these units also provide a cheaper alternative to buyers who are running an office out of their home. It gives them a separate entrance to their business and a physical separation from their living quarters while saving on transport costs and time.

Plus, it is easier to rent out these smaller units. For longterm investment considerations, these units could also be sold as it is or as a normal unit with the separating structures reconfigured.

Coming up later this year, the Boathouse Residences, developed by Frasers Centrepoint Limited, will also feature dual key apartments.

Condominium prices wavering

It may be a year of fluctuations for the private non-landed property market. Condominium sales have been slow, though it picked up slightly in February.

Both new and resale private condominiums were affected by the market slowdown, much of it attributed to the TDSR (Total debt servicing ratio) framework set by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). But some property analysts are also connecting the dots between the lowered Cash-Over-Valuation (COV) prices of resale HDB flats. When COVs were high, potential HDB upgraders were able to leverage on these to leap into the private property market by using the COVs as part of the cash down payment for their new private homes. With the lack of this financial impetus, more are finding themselves in between an rock and a hard place when it comes to scaling up.

Sims Urban OasisWeaker buyers may find themselves having to hold back for now while those with the financial abilities will still be able to well afford what the market currently offers, and perhaps even more so as prices have been coming down for sometime now.

There has however, been a shift of interest from newer units to resale ones, in favour of larger floor area. HDB buyers have been purchasing units with an average of 926 sq ft in size, while private buyers leaned towards units averaging 1,119 sq ft in size. The sweet spot of affordability is now between $1.28 million to $1.46 million for private buyers and $950,000 to $1,09 million for HDB upgraders.