New home sales yet to show significant change following SSD tweaks

Perhaps the recent changes in Sellers’ Stamp Duty (SSD) regulations may have no effect on the property market, or it might have a considerable effect. Whichever direction things might go, it is still too early to tell. Sales of new properties following the March 11 announcement has yet to show significant signs of change in terms of concrete figures, but the tweak has however boosted interest in new launches as shown in the response from the public at recent show flats such as that of Marine Blue and Park Place Residences.

MarineBlueCondoWhile earlier launches of The Clement Canopy and Grandeur Park Residences generated positive sales during their launch weekends, things have slowed down in the time following. That is however the general real estate market trend and is no cause for alarm. Most property analysts are glad for the change as it will bring about positive sentiments in the buying market, which could mean more energy, move net and direction in the months ahead. They are not certain this relaxation of the property cooling curbs will have a big impact on the market but are nevertheless happy the government has taken this step in moving forward. The next most likely impact would be the push for those caught in a dither of to-buy-or-not-to-buy.

On the other side, the Federal Reserve has raised their interest rates to 1 per cent and that could affect home loan rates, in turn diminishing demand from property investors.

 

New private home sales rise 17.6%

In a year-on-year comparison, new private home sales has risen a promising 17.6% since last January. With 381 units sold last month, an increase from the 324 from the same month last year and up 3.8 per cent from December’s 367 units, it’s safe to say the year for the new non-landed residential homes market segment has gotten off to a rather good start.

Suburban condominims made the biggest showing with 238 units sold last month. 110 units were sold in the city fringes followed by 33 in the core central region. Parc Riviera came out tops with 38 units sold at $1,270 psf, followed by 25 units at The Trilinq at $1,399 psf. Developers have been aggressive in their marketing and pricing strategies, offering discounts and lowering prices to make it palatable overall to increasingly savvy buyers.

parcriviera2The new property launch earlier this month, Clement Canopy, together with last weekend’s launch at Grandeur Park Residences, and upcoming launches at Park Place Residences and Seaside Residences, will be a boost to the quarter’s sales volume.

While no quick nor drastic rebound is expected for the year ahead, industry experts are nevertheless hopeful about the performance of this market sector. They expect demand to hold steady and a sales figure of about 7,000 units. Essentially, the pins holding down the pricing structure are the cooling measures though there might be a bit of give should the interest rates change.

Banking on rents to cover mortgages increasingly risky

As the rental market strains against the backdrop of a general economic slowdown and job security wobbles on its feet, the old ways of banking on rental yields to cover mortgage loans and other outlays on invested properties may no longer be a sure thing.

Alexis @ Alexandra CondoThe imbalance may be getting dangerously so even as the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has publicly warned investors against the risks of putting all their eggs in the property basket. They mentioned both property and corporate bonds as emerging risks, especially as growth is weak and the political situations across the globe is uncertain.

Rising vacancy rates and declining rental demand are the more concrete and obvious factors investors should consider before closing a deal simply because the total quantum prices are too good to be true. Before investing in overseas properties, currency fluctuations and political stability are also serious considerations, not to mention the strength and longevity of property and rental demand in a country not in close proximity.

la-rivere-2Although MAS has noted that most households here are able to weather an economic storm, if it does occur, those who have bitten off more than they can chew may want to reconsider their financial holding power and set their sights in the long-term rather than counting on their eggs hatching early.

3 City fringe properties exchange hands for $190 million

3 residential properties in the city fringes – owned by 1 group of 3 investment holding firms and sold to 3 different developers fetching $190.5 million in total. Quite the sale, it seems. These 3 sites, situated in Grange Road, Cuscaden Walk and Hullet Road, were launched for sale in October for $185 million and from the interest it drew before the sale closed on November 2, developers and investors seem upbeat about the future of high-end luxury residential projects and serviced apartments or hospitality-based properties in Singapore.

urban-suitesThe luxury property market may have shrunk slightly in the past 3 to 4 years, but buyers are coming back into the market, after letting the effects of the additional buyers’ stamp duty sink in. Despite the authorities being unlikely to budge on the property cooling measures for now, interest is once again growing, with central region properties sales on the rise this last quarter.

The site on Hullet Road with a total strata area of 18,428 sq ft was sold to Hullet Development for $38.2 million. The consortium led by Mr Patrick Kho of Lian Huat Group have plans to build a high-end development in the site, leveraging on its location right in the centre of town. The biggest of the 3 sites on Cuscaden Walk with a land area of 21,560 sq ft, was bought by a consortium led by Sustained Land for $103.8 million. The other plot on Grange Road was purchased by Roxy-Pacific Holdings for $48.5 million.

boulevard-vueThese new sales may ultimately see the introduction of some choice luxury apartment units in and about town, by the time they are launched or built, the market may or may not provide a suitably soft landing for these new properties.

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.

Private homes sales show slow and steady improvement

Twin-Peaks3Private non-landed property prices have been rising for 2 consecutive months now, a positive sign considering the recent market lull. Though values and volume are still lacking behind that during the peak of 2012 and 2013, any slight improvement is something to cheer for.

In April, the jump in non-landed homes sold was 17.6 per cent, a considerable 28.1 per cent higher on a year-on-year comparison with 2015. A total of 689 non-landed private units were sold last month. Property analysts are happy with the recent progress as it shows that the market is not completely dismal, and buyers will still bite if the prices are right. Resale private home prices similarly rose for 2 months straight, though the percentage were more modest with a 0.1 and 0.5 per cent increase in March and April respectively.

The residential developments which showed the most positive uptick were Twin Peaks in Leonie Hill, A Treasure Trove, D’Leedon, Double Bay Residences, Parkview Apartments, Thomson 800 and Carribean at Keppel Bay. The highest rise in home prices were in the core and central regions with a 1.3 per cent increase, while resale home prices in the suburbs fell 0.2 per cent.

Double Bay Residences SimeiAs the mid-year closes in, these 2 months may set the tone for the rest of the year, though much still hinges on how both local and global economies fare. Buying abilities and sentiments may follow suit.

More resale condominiums falling under affordable price range

Not so long ago, prices of private condominiums were creeping beyond the $1 million mark, but with new units bursting into the scene and the competition in the private property market heating up, developers and sellers alike have had to find a new pricing sweet spot.

CityLightsBuyers have become more aware and sensitive to market prices ever since market data and statistics became more readily available from URA and other property news and research sources. Now, it is not unlikely to find resale private properties available at below $1 million. And some are reasonably-sized units too. Previously only shoebox apartments or one-bedders are likely to fall below the $1 million mark.

Most of the the developments with such affordable resale units are in the city fringes, including Citylights in Jalan Besar, Domus and The Tier in Novena, Wilkie 80 in Dhoby Ghaut, RiverBay in Bendemeer and RV Edge in Tanglin.

Despite the weaker property market, resale properties are still selling at 20 to 25 per cent above the prices of new units and sellers can still look forward to some long-term value appreciation. Property analysts however advice buyers to be aware of their financial commitment as buying resale properties mean the property mortgages kick in immediately and with a softening rental market, the yields may not come in as quickly or as much as projected.

 

Private condominium prices hold steady

The fall in completed private condominium prices was gentler last year at 3.5 per cent, compared to the 5.7 per cent from the year before. Prices are expected to hold steady this year as a dip in supply of properties in this sector bring prices to a plateau.

Jewel CDL

Photo: Jewel @ Buangkok

Demand for smaller apartments of up to 500 sq ft in size, have been weakening as their numbers, especially in the suburbs, have been on the rise in the past couple of years. Investors have found them more difficult to rent out in the dulling leasing market and those outside the central region or further from regional business hubs may find themselves competing for the same tenant pool. Tenants now prefer units with larger floor spaces with just slightly higher rents.

Sale prices of completed private properties within the central regions however have fallen more sharply as they usually come with a higher total quantum price. Compared to the many newer properties which have found a sweet spot with their total selling price, units in these central or prime districts see fewer overall transactions.

As the volume of unsold completed condominium stock diminishes and with the fewer launches expected this year due to cutbacks on land supply, resale properties could expect a happier year ahead.