Resale condominium prices slide in February

The latest private resale condominium sales figures seem to slightly challenge industry experts’ expectations of the market bottoming out this year.

Marina One ResidencesFebruary’s resale condominium prices fell 0.3 per cent following a 0.1 per cent in January from December last year, indicating further decline in the private non-landed resale property sector. While the numbers could mean the market has yet to bottom out, the slower rate of decline does point towards a state of stabilisation.

The biggest impact was felt in the central region (made up of districts 1 to 4, 9 and 10, the financial district and Sentosa Cove) where a 1 per cent fall was registered following a hopeful 0.5 per cent rise in January. Even in the small-apartments (units 506 sq ft and below) segment, prices fell 0.6 per cent. Resale units outside of the central region however fared better, coming back up top with a 0.3 per cent rise following a 0.6 per cent fall from December.

Oceanfront Sentosa Cove CondoThough market sentiment has been picking up, the overall economic outlook and rising interest rates may not be enough to completely turn the market on its head. Recent tweaks in the property cooling measures may give the industry a little push towards to the direction of recovery, but property analysts are still expecting a 3 to 4 per cent price-decline by end of 2017.

Sellers’ Stamp Duty rates tweaked

From March 11, the staggered rates which sellers have to pay should they resell their properties within stipulated time periods will be reduced. Previously, properties sold within a year of purchase were subjected to a 16 per cent seller’s stamp duty (SSD), the rates are at a staggered 12 per cent for properties sold within 2 years, and at 8 per cent and 4 per cent for those sold within 3 and 4 years respectively.

SingaporeskylineThe new tweaks to the regulation means that sellers now only have to pay 12 per cent stamp duty for properties sold within a year, and then at the staggered rates of 8 and 4 per cent for those sold within 3 and 4 years respectively. Whiles some buyers might have missed out on this new ruling by a day, the effect of the change on buyers who have purchased for the long-term will be minimal. This slight change in the property cooling curbs may provide a more fertile environment for property investment and some buyers may be interested in making headway with a second or subsequent property.

Whether this will boost home sales this year remains to be seen, but property analysts are expecting a slow and muted effect on the market. While the change may not translate to actual figures, with property analysts expecting only a 3 per cent increase on the previously projected 8,000 property transactions for 2017, what it does create is an atmosphere of positivity and a sense of hope. Any tweak by the government, however slight, could be seen as an indication of the market bottoming out, and following a period of market stabilisation, investors are hopeful that the market will eventually recover.

Weak rental market not an obstacle for investors

While the weakening rental market may have been putting pressure on investors, the concurrent weakening private property prices are opportunities to some. While the leasing market has slowed down considerably, the property-purchasing market has been gaining speed, especially in the last quarter or so.

TRE ResidencesThe overall genial atmosphere in the private residential property market over the past few months have brought property investors back into the heat of things. As more newly completed properties enter the market and new projects such as The Clement Canopy and Grandeur Park Residences were launched to affirmative responses early in the year. Overall private home prices fell at the slowest rate in 3 years, which could point to an increasingly stabilising market.

It would be prudent however for investors to take into consideration that the property cooling measures have not yet been lifted, though some signs of relief have been provided earlier this month. In the past, profits of up to 60 per cent could be reaped in the short-term, but the long-term potential of a property, rather than quick turnarounds or a dependency on rental profits, will be at the heart of a good investment henceforth. Property analysts advise investors to consider cash-flow, calculate mortgage and maintenance costs carefully while keeping a portion aside for periods of negative cash flow when  the property is unable to be tenanted.

Hong Kong’s red-hot real estate calls for new cooling measures

The pace and amplitude of Hong Kong’s rising property prices, in particular over the last couple of years, have seen the authorities taking proactive steps to cool it. Despite a move to increase stamp duties 3 years ago, prices have continued to climb. In September this year, prices surged once more, after 6 consecutive months of increase, to clock at a record high for the year.

hongkongpropertyHong Kong is already considered one of the most expensive Asian cities to live in, and current cost of real estate plus the high standard of living, has placed many housing options out of reach for the average citizen. Now, with experts predicting further price increase for the rest of the year, the Hong Kong government has once again raised stamp duties on property transactions.

Stamp duties will be raised 15 per cent for all transactions, up from the current 8.5 per cent. This change only affects citizens however, as foreign buyers are already paying a 15 per cent stamp duty. This will hopefully deter property flipping for the populous though the wealthy may still transact within the luxury property sector. ManyWi mainland buyers prefer to hedge heir funds in the Hong Kong real estate sector and have thus negated the effect of the Hong Kong government’s properties cooling measures.

The_Mediterranean_Hong KOngTo help the common man secure housing, first-time home buyers will only be charged a maximum 4.25 per cent stamp duty, dependent in the property value. This latest move is one of the government’s attempts to cool the red-hot property market before financial instability sinks in and causes more chaos to their economy.

 

Property cooling measures likely to remain

The economic slowdown and diminishing growth rates are causes for concern not only for the Singapore government, but also for consumers and businesses.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has recently spoken about the property cooling measures which were implemented in succession over the past three years. He has mentioned that they are likely to remain at this time of uncertainty as a response to “global context and environment”.

Kingsford HIllview PeakProperty prices have fallen 10.8 per cent since Q3 of 2013 and prices fell 1.5 per cent in the third quarter of this year, bringing it to the 12th consecutive quarter of price decline. The real estate industry currently faces stagnation and though interest rates are low, many are looking for higher yields. He has warned against creating an environment rife with property speculation and has said that capital inflow might create a volatile and highly-speculative atmosphere which will result in property market fluctuations.

With the high number of completed units entering the market this year, and with unsold inventory rising, the property cooling measures may be helpful in keeping the delicate market balance. As of Q2 this year, there were 21,500 unsold and uncompleted private homes, the lowest ever recorded, indicating a possible shift of influence from the seller to the buyer. The government has also held back on the launch of land sites earlier this year.

Meyerise2Property analysts are not surprised by the government’s move to keep the property curbs in place, though sudden pace changes and steeper declines might prompt the government to reconsider relaxing the rules sooner.

Home loan refinancing may become easier

Property cooling measures putting a kink in your investment or financial planning? There may be some relief in that arena soon.

money-imageDespite emphasis that the property cooling measures are here to stay, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is fine-tuning part of the regulations to help owner-occupiers take a quicker step towards purchasing their own home. The current total debt servicing ration (TDSR) framework is strict and keeps a huge number of borrowers from refinancing their loans by taking advantage of the low interest rates; only properties purchase before the implementation of the TDSR framework in June 2013 can be exempted. Soon, all owner-occupiers will be able to apply for exemption from the TDSR rule and more home buyers will be able to refinance their loans more easily.

For buyers purchasing properties for investment purposes, current regulations stipulates that these loans can only be refinanced above the 60 per cent TDSR threshold if application is done before June 2017 and the borrower commits to a debt reduction plan. But now,the borrower only has to commit to replay at least 3 per cent of the loan’s total outstanding balance over 3 years.

Treasure CrestThese moves will help those who might have been affected by the oil and gas industry lapses and weakening global economy and who may need help with their existing home loans. The TDSR will still apply for new loans and industry experts continue to expect a certain amount of foreclosures on property owners who may have overstretched themselves financially or have been hit hard by unexpected income adjustments.

Market not ready for property cooling measure to be lifted

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has said that it is still too early for the property cooling measures to go away. Unlike the car financing sector, the housing sector has yet to achieve the intended levels. The authorities are cautious about a sudden forward surge in the market should the measures be prematurely lifted.

c22aa9c3d5354ad6858cc5cec7ca1854Household debt levels have become more manageable as the debt servicing ratio helped keep new loans portfolios realistic and banks are feeling a reduction in the percentage of non-performing loans. The ultimate aim is a sustainable pathway for the property market – a balance between growth and affordability.

Though the market feels like it has been slowing down for quite a few quarters now, the numbers tell another story. Property prices have fallen 9.4 percent since it’s peak in Q3 of 2013, but between 2009 and 2013, prices rose 60 percent while income rose only 30 percent. Clearly the numbers are disproportionate and it will be some time yet before the market reaches a comfortable equilibrium.

Moving forward, the private resale market is showing signs of bottoming out, and investors who have been sitting in the sidelines may come back into the fold as long as interest rates remain low and home prices steady.

 

Cool moves to boost property market take off

Property buyers and investors are certainly flexing their shopping muscles this year by weighing their many options carefully and taking time to do so. It has been the buyers’ market for sometime now, with sellers and developers realising that the ball is over in the other court.

Twin Peaks2Purchasing activity has certainly not ceased, but buyers are taking their time to shop their options, with most seeing about 10 to 15 units before taking the plunge. Thus interest is definitely still evident, but the speed and volume of sales may have to take a backseat for now. Some developers have taken to new and creative ways to push sales. OUE for example has offered a deferred payment scheme for their 99-year leasehold condominium Twin Peaks. The move has helped them sell around 100 more units since end March and also put them in the race against freehold properties nearby such as Ardmore Three and Gramercy Park. Average prices at Twin peaks stand at $2,300 psf while units at Ardmore Three are going for around $2,700 psf and the upcoming Gramercy Park has prices set at around $2,600 psf.

LloydSixtyFiveIn a move to help their customers tide over property cooling curbs, in particular the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD), the developer of Lloyd Sixty-Five, TG development, is offering an “experimental purchaser scheme” which allows the buyer to pay only 12.5 per cent of the purchase price to occupy the unit without having to pay the maintenance fees and property tax for a stipulated period of time till such time when the property cooling measures may be lifted.