Thailand’s most expensive condo opens Singapore and China offices

Foreign property investors looking for a piece of luxury in Thailand now have something new to look forward to. Thai developer Sansiri has partnered with Thailand’s mass transit operator BTS group to open international sales offices in Singapore and China, tapping on the influx of tourists in particular mainland Chinese in recent years.

Sansiri98WirelessPhoto credit: Sansiri

Their Singapore office opened at the Ocean Financial Centre 2 weeks ago and plans to open more in Shanghai and Beijing are already in the way. The venture hopes to increase sales from foreign buyers by 40 per cent. Though interest from Singapore investors have been rising, investment monies flowing into Thailand’s real estate sector from China has been limited. Sansiri currently has over 300 projects in Thailand and one in London.

BaseGardenSansiriPhoto credit: Sansiri

Their flagship condominium project, 98 Wireless, is touted as Thailand’s most expensive condominium development. 120 sq m two-bedroom apartment units are going for US$2 million. Though most Singaporean investors favour mass market condominiums in Thailand, Singapore is nevertheless a good base to indirectly steer attention from interest mainland Chinese parties temporarily residing or visiting the country to possible investment opportunities within the region. The developer says Singaporeans are more keen on rental yields and quick turnarounds. Their new partnership with the BTS group will also allow them a leverage in developing projects which build upon upcoming infrastructure.

Singapore no. 2 destination for Asian property investors

A recent study has found Singapore to be No. 2 in a list of top destinations for wealthy Asian investors. The Wealth Report compiled by Knight Frank has placed Singapore second, after only Britain, as a country high net worth Asians are favouring as a property-investment destination.

BishopsgateResidencesExcluding their primary residence, these individuals are defined by their portfolios of at least US$30 million (S$42.3 million). They are also more likely to apportion most of their assets to real estate investments. This could come as good news to developers and property marketing agencies, helping them narrow down their target audiences and structure more focused marketing strategies which are more essential now than ever as the economy languishes.

While Chinese investors are the mainstay of the real estate scene, Indian and Malaysian buyers are making an increasingly obvious presence. Property analysts are expecting the proportion of foreign home buyers in Singapore to rise to between 25 and 28 per cent this year. Their numbers currently stand at 24.7 per cent. Singapore’s slower rate of property growth allows investors to take stock of their investment and stake calculated risks without having to grapple with the rapidly increasing price growth in cities in China, Australia and Canada.

Some of the other countries which are also gaining traction in the real estate investment arena are China and Vietnam. Singapore’s stable political and business environment has however continued to make it a choice pick amongst Asian investors.

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 curbs working in China

Many Asian-pacific countries have placed property cooling curbs on their housing and real estate industry as prices climbed rapidly within the past half a decade. Cities such as Hong Kong, Tokyo, Sydney, Melbourne, Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore are facing not only space and housing issues but also rapid inflation and increasing property prices.

Aerial view of suburban neighborhood, Wuhan, Hubei, China on 11th March 2016. (Photo by Jie Zhao/Corbis via Getty Images)

Aerial view of suburban neighborhood, Wuhan, Hubei, China on 11th March 2016. (Photo by Jie Zhao/Corbis via Getty Images)

The Chinese government has been placing curbs upon curbs on their real estate industry, with perhaps conflicting sentiments as the sector accounts for a large part of the country’s economic growth. But housing prices have been skyrocketing at an alarming rate and for the first time in the past few years, the measures seem to be taking effect.

In Shenzhen, currently the country’s hottest market for new homes, property prices have fallen 0.5 per cent after consecutive dips over the past 4 months. In Shanghai, prices fell by 0.1 per cent, also following a 3-consecutive-month decline. While prices remained unchanged in Beijing, the stabilisation is a start to possible price deflation. News of a possible reduction of land release by more than 3 times that released in 2016 could further reign in price increase.

Park yoho venezia Hong Kong propertyThe price-increase in January was reflected in the smallest number of cities in a year. Home prices have fallen in 20 cities while 45 out of 70 cities saw a gain in prices, down from 46 in December last year. Part of the reason could be the curbs placed not only on buyers but also on banks. Some bank branches in major Chinese cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou and Chongqing have recently increased mortgage rates for first-time buyers. China’s central bank is likely to have even stricter restrictions on credit and housing loans put in place, in particular targeting developers and households, in order to prevent a property bubble.

 

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.

China clamping down on investment outflow

The Chinese have been known to be big spenders in many real estate markets worldwide, thus the recent clamping down on investment outflow by the Chinese government has markets all over the globe in a little bit of a tizzy as Chinese buyers are now finding it increasingly more difficult to transfer funds out of China in payment for the properties they have previously purchased. In an announcement on Dec 31, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (Safe) stated that all buyers of foreign exchange must now sign a pledge to not use their US$50,000 quota for offer shore property investment.

SydneyCondoDarlingSquareThis may put a crimp in things as many real estate markets may find themselves missing out on this potentially huge audience pool as Chinese buyers are now shying away from foreign investments due to the difficulties involved in trying to bring their monies offshore. While the move may not deter the major buyers, first-time buyers with a lack of offshore assets and expertise in capital-manuvering may be forced to relinquish their offshore real estate purchases despite having already made deposits of previous scheduled payments.

Those who violate the new ruling may be denied access to foreign currency for up to 3 years, be added to a government watch list and may be investigated for money-laundering. The regulation also applies to companies with corporate outflows, requiring them to provide clear documentation with regards to outbound monies. The use of foreign currency for real estate has always been banned, but the authorities are serious this time, as seen in their request for additional documentation.

Hong Kong’s property prices expected to rise further

As one of Asia’s, if not the world’s, most expensive cities to live and work in, it comes as no surprise that the real estate in Hong Kong is one of the world’s costliest.

onekaitak_2

Photo credit: www.onekt.com.hk

Despite the Hong Kong government‘s repeated attempts to cool the market, with implementation of stamp duties and laying down of other purchasing restrictions, property prices in Hong Kong have continued to climb. And things could be heating up even more this year as even Mr Li Ka Shing, the country’s richest man, predicts the market still have room for property prices to climb further. In November last year, private property prices reached a peak unseen since 1979 when the data was made available by the city’s rating and valuation department.

Although there has been some political unrest, mostly civil, in the city and interest rates have been on the rise, there is still space apparently, for slight rise in prices this year. It will not be a smooth ride up, but there will be increments made nonetheless. China Overseas Land and Investment for example has listed the prices of their latest private residential development in the former Kai Tak airport area for almost 20 per cent higher that the same which were sold in August. In a city where liveable land is scarce, developers have been known to pay exorbitant prices for land sites, for example the record ids for sites in the same Kai Tak airport area for US$1.8 billion or S$2.58 billion.

 

Singapore gains traction as property investment safe haven

A little red dot, almost invisible in the huge map of the world. But as political and economic turmoil rock the majority, Singapore is increasingly considered by many global investors as a safe haven for foreign funds.

Asia SquareThe strength of the SingDollar, coupled with a relatively stable political climate has provided foreign investors with the assurance that their monies are well-protected. Thus far, $8.85 billion has reportedly been spent by foreign investment on Singapore property, a 62 per cent increase from last year, the highest in 9 years and making up 41.7 per cent of total property spending in 2016. In 2015, the total foreign monies invested in the local property market was $5.46 million and in 2014, $4.67 million. Qatar Investment Authority was a major foreign player this year, putting in $3.4 billion for Asia Square Tower One. Also in the Marina Bay area, a white site in Central Boulevard has been bid on and won by Wealthy Link of IOI properties at $2.57 billion. Projected to be up for sale next year are Jurong Point Mall and Asia Square Tower Two.

Though the commercial property rental market has dulled slightly, the lack of new office spaces being developed within the next 3 to 4 years might help the rental market eventually gain traction. 2020 might be the watershed year when the market is projected to rebound significantly and most investors are willing and able to financially wait out the next few years ahead.

marina-bay-suitesIn the residential market, a number of en bloc sales were successfully tendered this year, with Qingjian Realty’s $638 million for Shunfu Ville taking the spotlight. The sharp increase in interest this year could be the fact that other markets in Asia have been on the upturn in the past decade, and although Singapore has been priced out in terms of capital gains due to an economic slowdown during this time, she has more than made up for lost time with this year’s results.