Commonwealth – Properties not so common

Considered on the city fringe, just a little way off Alexandra which is an area popular with expatriates, Commonwealth may see renewed buyers’ interest as new private condominiums enter the mix.

The latest launch is Commonwealth Towers on Commonwealth Avenue. It will be officially launched on May 1 and is expected to be priced at $1, 600 to $1, 800 psf, it is relatively more expensive than similar properties in its vicinity, such as Queens condominium, Alexis, The Metropolitan, Ascentia Sky and The Anchorage private apartments. These are older residential developments and units are available on the resale market. Rental demand has been strong, though property experts are expecting competition to heat up once the newer condominiums are up and running.

The AnchorageAccording to URA figures, rental prices at the Queens averages at $4.32 psf per month. Sale prices were at $1, 350 psf. The Alexis commanded even higher prices at $6.65 psf and units sold at an average of $1, 939 psf, possibly because at 2 years old,  it is much newer than the Queens which was completed in 2002. Also, a third of the 293-unit The Alexis are shoebox apartments and are easier to rent out.

Alexis @ Alexandra CondoHowever the tightening foreign workforce rulings and immigration regulations may prove challenging for landlords looking to rent out their property especially with the rise in new units in the Redhill and Tiong Bahru area. Competition will always be present, but good location, providing attractive rental conditions and ultimately good timing may beat all that.

New home sales up in February

After much news about home sales taking the hit, a rebound has brought some cheer to February.

Mainly lead by new suburban property launches, analysts are hoping that this is a sign of the market stablising. Excluding sales of executive condominiums, the Urban Redevelopment Authority released data showing a 28 per cent rise of private home sales of 724 units as compared to January’s 565 units.

2 launches in the Sengkang area, Rivertrees Residences and Riverbank @ Fernvale, made up majority of the sales. 218 units of the 495-uni Rivertrees Residences were sold at a $1,111 psf median while 211 units were sold at the 555-unit Riverbank @ Fernvale at an $1,033 psf average.

Rivertrees condoThe future however may lie in the hands of the property developers. Depending on their pricing structure and strategies, the buying public may respond correspondingly. Some older projects with units yet unsold, as well as resale units may find themselves competing intensely with lower-priced newer properties. But if recent sales are anything to go by, finding the sweet spot that hits home with pocket-conscious home buyers will bring the crowd back into the market.

Buyers who are looking for a good deal may find themselves searching for less salable units in older projects which may still be worth the investment depending on their location and potential for future development. March may be the turning point of this delicate dance between buyer and developer. What will the month show in terms of sales volume and prices?

Cluny Cluster – Exclusive prime district

Tucked away near the quiet of the Botanic Gardens, are a cluster of heritage properties with sprawling land and exclusive addresses. These are the homes in the Cluny cluster – namely Cluny Road, Cluny Hill and Cluny Park.

The area consists mainly of landed homes. But all that will soon change. New high-rise condominiums are planned for its midst and these landed properties will welcome their taller comrades as soon as this year.

Cluny Park ResidenceThe latest addition to be launched is the 52-unit freehold Cluny Park Residence. Sales began as early as August 2013 but its proper launch was only last weekend. 12 units have already be sold, and the developer Tuan Sing, is expecting a launch selling price of $3, 000 psf. Nearby, other condominium projects include The Siena, 10 Shelford and Dukes Residences. The last has already been completed in 2011. Prices at 10 Shelford are around $1, 874 psf for a 431 sq ft shoebox apartment. At Duke Residences, median prices were at $1, 576 psf for the past 6 months. Both are freehold properties.

The draw of the exclusive address which is surrounded by good class bungalows and semi-detached houses, and the proximity to good schools, eateries and supermarkets which are just a stone’s throw away, makes good fodder for well-heeled investors.

Luxury condominiums going at lower prices

$2,200 psf to $1, 800 psf.
$3.7 million to $3.4 million.

That’s how far lower the prices for high-end luxury apartment units are going for.

Perhaps it’s a case of when the going gets tough, the tough gets going, at lower prices. It’s no secret that while luxury properties are the creme de la creme for property agents and developers, when investment money is slow in coming, these are one of the hardest to sell.

Hallmark residencesAnd the going looks like it is going to be tough for quite some time more. Property developers are struggling to move unsold stock, and depending on whether their holding power is strong enough, they may be forced to make other moves sooner. There were news earlier on this month that developers are looking to convert condominiums into serviced apartments as the pressure of the deadline to sell looms closer.

At MCL Land’s Hallmark Residences in Bukit Timah, the uncompleted condominium development is already advertising sales of units at discounts of up to $300,000. A 969 to 990 sq ft 2-bedroom unit was originally priced at $2 million but is now at a lower $1.8 million. Since its release of the first 20 units in January, 5 have been sold. They are however planning for a proper launch sometime in the first half of 2014. At the 999-year leasehold St Regis Residences on Tanglin Road, prices have dropped from $4,653 to $2, 349 psf. Of the over 10,000 private homes still under construction in the prime districts 9, 10 and 11, nearly half remain unsold.

Once again the story of low demand versus high supply dogs the real estate industry. With the government’s many cooling measures, a bubble is unlikely to happen especially since loans are harder to get. It will be interesting to see how the property market plans for a rebound.

Homes, homes, homes galore

204,461 in 2016. And a good lot of it will be in the private property market. The number of HDB flats remain the same but there will be an increase in the number of private properties and executive condominiums (ECs) come 2016. One might question if Singapore really does need that many homes or is it a case of having enough homes but at prices not many can afford?

Forestville Executive Condominium.

Forestville Executive Condominium.

In 2013 alone, 15, 824 private homes will be built come end December. In the public and private hybrid housing (EC) market, the number this year is 1,659 and counting. Over the next 3 years, buyers can expect 1, 355 executive condominium and 4,884 new private properties to enter the fold. Sales of private residential homes have already begun to dip, will this increase in supply signify a further price drop over the next 3 years? Or will the supply glut dissipate quickly and redirect interest into the resale and rental markets?

Sales of new properties plummeted 46 per cent with only 2,430 units sold in Q3. 1,340 resale units were sold, at a 35 per cent drop. Overall, private property prices still rose though at only 0.2 per cent. Most of sales came from suburban condominiums. City centre home prices dropped 0.3 per cent but city fringe homes suffered a 1.1 per cent decline.

But despite recent lulls, a rise was registered in the rental front, at an increase of 0.2 per cent . Has the make-up of Singapore’s population shifted, with a larger percentage of temporary residents or has the population’s property purchasing habits changed and more are willing to simply rent rather than purchase a permanent home? Which way is the nation headed and are we becoming more like the bigger cosmopolitan cities in the world?

Foreign property buyers not biting

National Development Minister, Mr Khaw Boon Wan has announced a significant drop in the number of foreign buyers of property in Singapore, from 17 per cent in 2011 to only 7 per cent in Q3 of this year. From 1, 400 transactions per quarter in 2011, it’s now down to 330 transactions last quarter.

Was the high in 2011 reason for the government implementing the 10% Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD) in December of the same year, and is the current drop the intended goal of that exercise? Sub-sales, which are an indication of the property speculation level in the market, has decreased by 3 per cent. It stood at 7.6 per cent in 2011.

The Creek in Bukit Timah.

The Creek in Bukit Timah.

This year, there were a few rounds of property cooling measures, including a new debt-servicing framework and also caps of loan limits. Increase in the ABSD percentage may have also put a bitter taste in the mouths of some investors. The luxury market has been quiet for awhile, but property developers seem to be hopeful about next year, with some holding back on launches, waiting out the year-end festive period which is usually a lull period for the property market.

Moving forward, Mr Khaw says regulatory policies will need to remain nimble in order to deal with a fluctuating and ever-changing industry. Although many other countries have had stricter property-buying rules for foreign buyers, such as in Australia, it does not necessarily mean the property market is entirely stable. They are in fact experiencing signs of a property bubble and thus being able to react to market response is a skill the authorities will have to hone. Perhaps also with some good luck on the side.

There are no restrictions on foreigners purchasing properties in Hong Kong. Will investors turn their attention there instead? A comprehensive listing of properties for sale and rent are available at GoHome.com.hk.

There are now increasing restrictions on foreigners purchasing properties in Hong Kong. Will investors turn their attention elsewhere instead? A comprehensive listing of properties for sale and rent are available at GoHome.com.hk.

In Hong Kong, the government is already imposing a 50% down payment on properties. With the minimum sum raised six times over less than three years, they seem determined to find ways to make homes more affordable. The Singapore government has not resorted to such drastic measures yet, but in future, will we go down the same road? Will more Singaporeans be able to afford their own homes then?

Iskandar properties excite Property investors

It certainly so. By the way they are snapping up units. As far as foreign property goes, Iskandar Malaysia is one of the most popular destinations for Singaporean investors when it comes to exploring into foreign lands.

Proximity to home, stepped up security measures and increasing number of new property launches make for better fodder. And the investors are certainly finding this fertile feeding ground. Property developers are also offering more, and better discounts. And it’s not only the new homes which are finding new owners. Resale units are already commanding heightened interest, with buyers who are looking to move in immediately and into areas where amenities are established.

Meridin SUiteMeridin Suites, Medini Signature and Horizon HIlls count as some of the chart toppers in the preferred list of properties investors are looking at. How much are most investors willing to spend? Although foreigners are only allowed to purchase properties valued above RM$500,000, most buyers are willing to go as high as RM1 million. As a second property, that might be a viable option, especially as locally, curbs and other cooling measures are in place and makes investing in the second or subsequent property more difficult.

There are some concerns, of course. Top on the list are Malaysia’s fluid policies surrounding land and property ownership, and also the political situation in the region.

Home buyers get more time to decide

It used to be, see the showflat, book a flat, pay a deposit all within a day or two. Or otherwise miss your chance altogether, what with so many buyers competing for the same unit.

THE Quinn

But now, it seems developers are lengthening their preview launch periods to allow buyers more time to work out their sums before their big commitment. All this in reaction to the recent restrictions on loans, which may have caused buyers to be more cautious about how much they can afford and how much of a loan they can actually receive. Mental sums may not cut it, and developers are making certain that marketing agents are readily at hand to provide assistance and information, even going as far as to provide a “thinking corner” which is free from the pressure of agents to allow buyers a quiet space to consider their potential purchases.

The Tembusu condominium for example was launched only on 13 August, but two weeks before the official launch date, showflats were already open and available for viewing but not purchases. Buyers could have the luxury of time to browse and consider whether their budget matched the indicative pricing. It also allows for a more thorough research and comparison of short and long-term goals and financial considerations.

The MaisonsBanks are also held to the new total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) rules when calculating property buyers’ loan applications, thus the approval waiting period is also longer. It used to take three days to process an application, but now it could take up to a week.
At The Quinn and The Maisons private apartments, buyers not get two days leeway to think things through when previously a blank cheque is required as an expression of interest should they wish to reserve a unit. This has certainly tipped the scale towards buyers as they now have more time to contemplate their purchases and there might be a higher chance of rejection for the developers. How will this affect the overall private property prices?