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.

 

Why property cooling measures are here to stay

ABSD, SSD, TDSR, QC – These abbreviations related to property cooling measures implemented over the course of 5 years have taken root in the local real estate and construction industry and despite a much quieter market, may not go away anytime soon. And with good reason.

Aeon MelbourneThe demand for properties in other major Asia-pacific countries and cities such as Hong Kong, China, Australia and Japan have not seem to wane, reflected by soaring home prices in Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne and various top-tier cities in China. And this is despite their governments placing more restrictive regulations in place in efforts to curb investment outflow and property speculation. But perhaps it could be the case of too-little-too-late. And it also goes to show that investors are still looking for markets to hedge their funds and the pool of willing China investors looking to take capital out of their country agains a depreciating yuan.

CasaAerataIn Singapore, despite a gradually decline in home prices, the market has remained resilient and a untimely lifting of property curbs may result in a quick and unrecoverable increase in property speculation. In fact, despite the series of property curbs instrumented since 2013, the property cycle seems to already be reaching the bottom, which could only mean a turnaround possibly within the year. Last year, resale volume rose 28 per cent and total sales increased by 16 per cent from 2015, indicative of a recovering, or at least stabilising, market.

Demand for well-located properties remain high

Properties near MRT stations often bring in the buying crowds. And there will be 2 such properties to look forward to in the first half of 2017.

GrandeurParkResidencesThe first is the 720-unit Grandeur Park Residences which is expected to launch in March, near the Tanah Merah MRT station. It’s proximity to transport, the inclusion of a childcare centre and 2 shop units is expected to add value to project. 1- to 5-bedroom units here will range between 420 sq ft and 1,450 sq ft in size. And if prices at the neighbouring The Glades are anything to go by, the units at Grandeur Park Residences may be priced between $1,300 to $1,400 psft.

Situated near East Coast Park and the upcoming Siglap MRT station, is the 843-unit Seascape Residences. With sea views and as one of the first private condominium projects to come up in the area in the last decade and a half, this new project along the coastline may make quite the splash on its launch. Prices are expected to hover between $1,550 to $1,650 psf.

SeasideResidencesDespite a weak economy and the property cooling measures, demand for new homes remain resilient and while buyers may be more selective with their purchases, properties which are well-located and offer competitive pricing will still sell. Interest rates remain a uncertain factor impacting market sentiments however, as sudden spikes may affect demand.

Launches of new projects can often boost sales of new homes across the board and this first quarter could very well already set the tone for the rest of the year.

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.

China’s top-tier cities post continued growth

2016 has been quite the year for China’s property sector. With property booms in top-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, overall investment in the country’s real estate rose by 6.9% last year.

chinaSince the property sector is one of China’s main sources of economic growth, and her economy did grow by 6.7% last year, fuelling 40 other main business sectors in the country, economists, the China government would no doubt hope for continued success this year. But there have been concerns that the pressure on the property bubble is building up and might be reaching bursting point.

Despite the government’s attempts to cool the market with rapid and frequent policy changes over the past couple of years, property investment growth has hit a 11.1 per cent high last December, up from the 5.7 per cent in the month before. Though home prices in some cities have began to fall slightly, analysts are seeing that market sentiments are hardly sensitive to policy shifts. Should the policies stick, any significant changes will only come with time. As most investors consider property-ownership the most feasible and desirable means of adding to their income, demand in top-tier cities remain high despite soft price growth.

GuosonCentreRecent shifts on the international front however may mean continued growth in the real estate market within China as more investors look inward, what with the Trump administration turning things on its head with his trade agreements changes. It may be in the government’s interest to acquire land revenue while keeping an eye on a burgeoning real estate sector which on the plus side will boost economic growth but may cause bigger issues later on if allowed to continue on its upward trajectory.

Office leasing market recovery expected in 2018

AXATowerWith predictions of prime office rents recovering in 2018, could this be the year to invest in commercial properties, in particular Grade A office spaces?

Despite fewer commercial spaces being released and slight holdbacks from tenants in the leasing market – office rents have fallen 20 per cent since 2015 – property analysts are still hopeful for a 3 per cent overall rental growth in prime Grade A office space, mostly in the Central Business District (CBD). The rebound in rental prices is expected to happen in the later half of 2018, with stabilisation possibly occurring even earlier.

At the moment, average monthly rents of an office space in Marina Bay hovers around $9.05 psf, followed by $8.72 psf in Raffles Place, $8.42 psf at City Hall and $7.86 psf in ShentonWay and Tanjong Pagar. The weakening oil and gas sector has put pressure on businesses and affected market sentiments all round.

SouthBeach3
Photo credit: www.southbeach-sb.com

But with announcements of multi-national companies such as Facebook moving into the Marina Bay area and upcoming city fringe developments such as South Beach giving more traditional office districts a run for their money, 2017 could be the time to pick off potential units which may be affordable options when rents do rise come next year. The next wave of new office spaces which will enter the market is projected for 2020 and 2021.

 

2017 to welcome more bulk sales?

As Qualifying Certificate (QC) deadlines close in on more residential projects, bulk sales could the difference between having to pay hefty penalties and escaping by the skin of their teeth. The Qualifying Certificate which developers are issued with once they purchase a private residential land plot binds them in a contract to finish building the project within 5 years of acquiring the land and to sell all units within 2 years of obtaining a temporary occupation permit (TOP). Should there be remaining units after this time, the developers will be required to pay extension charges.

nassimhillcapitalandPhoto credit: CapitaLand

The Qualifying Certificate which developers are issued with once they purchase a private residential land plot binds them in a contract to finish building the project within 5 years of acquiring the land and to sell all units within 2 years of obtaining a temporary occupation permit (TOP). Should there be remaining units after this time, the developers will be required to pay extension charges.

iLiv@GrangeThe most recent bulk sale of the 45 remaining units at The Nassim has helped developer CapitaLand avoid having to possibly pay up to millions of dollars worth of penalties as their QC deadline is in August this year. Mr Wee Cho Yaw, chairman emeritus of United Overseas Bank has paid $411.6 million for the 45 units with a strata area of 16,466 sq m at an approximate 18 per cent discount on the current sale price of individual units. The development consists of 55 units housed in eight 5-storey blocks, and the other 10 units have been sold to individual buyers.

Other recent bulk sales include the 156 units sold at a 16 per cent discount at Nouvel 18 and 30 units sold at a 23 per cent discount at iLiv@Grange. Though this enbloc exit of units may relief the unsold inventory of some pressure, more completed units are entering the market this year and may we could be looking at more bulk sales in the year ahead.

 

Fierce bids for Perumal Road land site

A mixed-use land site on Perumal road which could potentially yield 200 private homes and an entire floor of commercial spaces have attracted bullish bids from property developers since its release in November last year.

Sturdee-Residence11 bids have been placed, the highest at 4.4 per cent more than the next in line came from Low Keng Huat at $174.08 million. The second highest bid came from China Construction (South Pacific) development. The keen activity in the land sales sector could translate into a competitive primary and thereafter secondary market which will in turn mean a ready pool of buyers who are ready to spend after the prolonged market lull over the past few years.

Average selling prices at this site is expected to hover around $1,700 psf due to the high land cost and also its proximity to the Farrer Park MRT station and other amenities such as City Square Mall and Mustafa Centre. The neighbouring plot where Sturdee Residences stands only lodged at $787 psf.

The lack of land sites available for sale in the earlier part of 2016 could have resulted in pent up demand from developers who are looking to replenish their lank banks in preparation for 2018 and beyond when market recovery is expected to happen. Property analysts are already seeing signs of market stabilisation and developers who prepare ahead of the recovery could just catch buyers at an opportune time.