Winds of change in local property market

A decade or so ago, owning a second or third property might be the fastest way to secure your retirement funds or to even accumulate a tidy little kitty. Investment properties were considered a surefire way of earning additional income, but in the climate of today, property owners and investors have much more factors to consider and competition to battle against.

SunshinePlazaResidencesWith the rental market weakening, property agents are finding that it takes twice as long and also many more viewings before a property is successfully tenanted. And even then, for much less than before. Some property owners have had to reduce rents by almost half. Leaving the units empty are simply not an option for some investors as the rents go towards the mortgage or mortgages of their properties. It is after all better to have less help than none at all.

SerangoonHDBflatFor new investors looking to enter the market, the environment is a lot tougher than before. Considerations such as whether there is a large pool of HDB flats available for rental nearby, the long-term potential of the property, competition from other new launches or even within the same property, whether the local and global economy will affect businesses and commercial hubs nearby thus reducing the pool of foreign tenants, and so forth.

Before the market makes a complete recovery, a possibly lengthy period of stabilisation will ensue, despite the governments having made some allowances in the are of the property cooling curbs.

Grand opening launch for Grandeur Park Residences

The latest property development in Tanah Merah has sold more than half of its units over a weekend. Grandeur Park Residences reported strong sales with at least 58 per cent of its 720 units sold during its launch.

GrandeurParkResidencesSmaller apartments seem to be popular once again as the project sold most of the 96 one-bedroom units made available during the launch. Selling prices averaged $1,350 psf. The location, in close proximity to the Tanah Merah MRT station, could be one of the main factors pushing buyers to seriously consider the long-term and rental potential of the property. The condominium project which is also close to the Changi Business Park also has two- to five-bedders with prices starting from $550,000 for a one-bedder and $700,000 for a two-bedroom unit. Though the rental market is weak at the moment, buyers are counting on the property market rebounding by the time the project is ready for occupancy.

GrandeurPark2
Following the first private condominium launch this year of The Clement Canopy, response at the Grandeur Park Residences launch may be an expression of pent-up demand which could release keen albeit selective buyers back into the fold. However, the eagerness to snap up smaller units mean a lower overall quantum which may keep market figures low or at best level.

January’s private home sales plateau

After a slight rise of 0.1 per cent in December, January’s completed private home prices remained flat. There were some rise and fall in the different districts but overall, non-landed residential property prices evened out on a plateau.

CreekBukitTimahThat may not necessary be a negative as signs of stabilisation are generally expected of the year. Property analysts say that some of the zero per cent month-on-month change could also be due to the availability of smaller units with a higher psf pricing schedule. Besides shoebox apartments, studios and one-bedders, family-size units in new developments are also now smaller in size than before.

Small apartments aside, prices of completed condominium units in the central region did rise 0.7 per cent after a 0.3 per cent dip in December. In the non-central regions however, prices went the other direction with a 0.6 fall following a 0.5 per cent increase the month before.

26NewtonThe private real estate market could however be looking at more resale properties entering the pen soon as most buyers who have purchased investment properties in 2013 will have completed their 4-year holding period this year. This means they are no longer tied down by the cooling measure which requires them to pay a seller’s stamp duty should they sell their property within 4 years following the purchase. Whether the sector is ready for this influx of properties while pulling themselves sluggishly out of the lull remains to be seen.

Property cooling measures to stay put

National Development Ministry Lawrence Wong has recently mentioned that the curbs placed on the property industry are here to stay as demand for property not declined.

HillsTwoOneThough property prices may have fallen, the dip has been gradual and slow. Coupled with the fertile bedrock of low interest rate and affordable quantum pricing of residential properties, the authorities may be afraid of a sudden and unmanageable spike in demand from investors should the curbs be lifted anytime soon.

And their fears may not be entirely unfounded as the market has been showing budding signs of recovery in the past couple of months. Demand, in particular for smaller units in well-located properties, from local and foreign investors alike, have been on the rise while prices are beginning to hold steady. Pent-up demand from previous quarters of muted activity have meant a rise in sales volume.

SignatureECYishunBigger Central Provident Fund housing grants will be included in the upcoming Budget talks, which may sustain resale HDB flat volume as more buyers qualify for subsidies. Resale volume for the public housing sector has already risen 7.8 per cent last year. As demand for resale flat increases, so will pricing and sales volume. A stabilising resale flat market could also mean an increase in the number of HDB upgraders who are buying off the private property market, in turn boosting sales in the private housing sector as well.

Resale HDB flat prices dip in January

Though resale HDB flat prices fell by 0.3 per cent in January and is 0.1 per cent lower in comparison with the same month last year, industry players remain confident of a stabilising market for the rest of the year.

PunggolHDBFlatResale flat prices have already fallen 11.2 per cent since its peak in 2013, though prior to that, prices have already risen considerably within 3 years. Straining from the continued price decline were the 5-room and executive flats segments, in which prices rose 0.4 and 0.9 per cent respectively. And again moving in the opposite direction, while 3-room and 4-room flat prices were expected to remain mostly flat, they have fallen 0.6 and 0.5 per cent respectively.

Resale flat prices in mature estates also fell 0.7 per cent, which comes as a little of a surprise since they have always maintained their demand despite falling numbers. Could the fall be due to the government ramping up the supply of new build-to-order (BTO) flats in mature estates over the past few years? Possibly. The trickle-down effect works just as well in both private and public property sectors.

BellewatersECAs the price gaps between private and public homes close, the pool of options for property buyers becomes bigger and while some HDB owners are holding on to their units in wait of better times, some may be forced to sell as they move on to their new BTO units or to private properties they are upgrading to. The increase in resale units may put some pressure on prices and sales volume. Already the volume of resale units have fallen 13.9 per cent from last December. Tampines and Geylang registered the highest number of resale transactions closed with above-market prices of $4000 and $5,500 respectively.

 

Resale condominium market in gradual recovery

Could a slice of sunshine be sliding its way back into the local private property market? Resale condominium prices have risen 1.1% in January and it’s a bigger increase than the 0.5% in the last 2 months of 2016.

RivervaleCrestAnd as expected, non-landed private residential properties located in prime districts lead the way, with a 1.9% month-on-month increase. Central region properties also gained 1.5% in terms of prices while that of suburban properties rose by 0.4%. In a year-on-year comparison, resale prices were 0.3% higher than in the same period of 2016.

In some districts, resale properties exchanged hands at lower-than-market value, though the price difference at minus $4,000 is lesser that the $5,000 in December. District 23 posted more than 10 resale transactions in January alone and selling prices went as high as $2,000 above market value.

GrandeurParkResidencesThough the year is still young, it could be a budding sign of the things to come for the rest of the year. Property analysts are not expecting sharp rebounds anytime soon, though the stabilisation of prices and an increase in sales volume would already be sufficient to signify market recovery, albeit a gradual one. What could also be seen from the market data was that sellers were beginning to moderate their asking prices, possibly with pressure coming in from new property launches and completed new units entering the weak rental market.

 

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.

Consumer confidence in property market improving

Though gradual, the property market seems to be coming out of a long hibernation and there are some bright sparks to make 2017 a warm one.

VIIOThe supply and inventory stock is gradually diminishing, by 8.4 per cent at the end of last year, aided by the restriction in land supply by the government last year, the key word being gradual. Fortunately, the decline in home and rental prices have also been gradual, with no sudden collapse. Last year’s rate of decline of overall private home prices was at a 3-year low, at 3.1 per cent. The 2 years before saw a 3.7 and 4 per cent decline, counting backwards.

QuinterraBy now, consumers and investors are used to the price decline, which has been a regular occurrence since 2013 when the property cooling measures began to kick in. In the current market, any news of slower price declines will be good news, and of stabilisation, even better news. Private home prices have finally landed on a level where an increasing number of buyers find affordable and investment-worthy, which explains the boost in new home sales from 7,440 in 2015 to 7,972 last year.

Properties in the core-central region fared the best in the second half of 2016, while non-landed homes in the city fringe and suburbs registered 2 and 0.6 per cent drops respectively. Landed properties fared unexpectedly well with a 0.8 per cent price increase in Q4. Property analysts are expecting property prices to bottom out this year, which could the year when the property market bottoms out. The authorities do not yet seem to show any signs of easing the property cooling measures, at least not in the first half of the year.