Melbourne’s Twin Peaks

As if the property scene in one of the loveliest Asia-Pacfic cities could not get more exciting enough, add towering twin 80-storey residential blocks and with almost 2,000 retailers in arm’s reach and there is buzz upon buzz.

QueensPlaceMelbourne‘s central business district (CBD) will be welcoming at least 819 new private apartments in just one tower alone of the 2-towered Queens Place, a landmark residential project right in the city centre atop Flagstaff Hill, the city’s highest point. Talk about cream of the crop.

Interspersed between residential units within the 80 floors of block 1, which has been launched in Stage One of the project, are commercial and retail spaces. With prices starting from A$429,000, there are a variety of units available including one-, two- and three-bedders, penthouses and sub-penthouses. Demand from local buyers have been positive and the project certainly presents itself well to overseas investors.

Photo credit: South East Property

This sparkling new gem also boasts amenities such as private lobbies, pool, spa, sauna, wine cellar, library, private gardens, private bars and dining rooms, and even poker and mahjong rooms. It’s prime location puts it within 2-minutes walk away from major shopping malls including Emporium, Myer, David Jones and Melbourne Central, and also the numerous offices nearby. Without doubt it would command considerable resale and rental yields especially with a rising Australian property market.

The project is marketed exclusively by South East Property in Singapore and Malaysia, in collaboration with Colliers International.

From East to West – What’s prompting Singaporean investors to invest in UK properties?


Investment trends in 2015 have made for compelling analysis.

Uncertainty in global equities markets and political instability are just some of the reasons that have prompted many of the world’s investor community to reconsider their investment strategies this year.

Yet amid all of this change and upheaval has remained one asset that continues to generate global investment interest – UK property.

A weakening rand, for example, has triggered high numbers of investors in South Africa to get their money out of the country and diversify their portfolio with a British real estate acquisition.

And another region in which the UK market has seen significant levels of sentiment is Singapore. This year many investors have decided to hold off entering one of Asia’s most popular property markets, and instead invested in one of the highest performing in Europe. Such significant activity has prompted Select Property Group, the UK’s leading property investment company, to open an office in downtown Singapore, where they will be holding an exclusive grand opening on 25th November.

But why are investors in the region rushing to secure assets in a market 7,000 miles away?

Singapore – a 13-year slump with no end in sight

For many investors, patience has finally worn thin. Singapore’s property market has now been sliding for eight consecutive quarters, overwhelmed by the government cooling measures put in place in recent years to control what has become the continent’s second most expensive real estate market. With yields being swallowed and an outlook that predicts little market improvement, an alternative investment strategy is urgently sought.

What about the Singapore equities market?

Although it offers an alternative investment option, Singapore shares are also on the wane. The Straits Times Index has plummeted 18.6% since its peak in the middle of April this year.

Besides, it’s real estate that investors in Singapore have familiarised themselves with, thanks to historic capital growth of 83.7% in the last 10 years. But now house prices are experiencing slow residual declines and they cannot be offset by yields.

Property is still the answer, just not in Singapore.

So why has the UK now become the place investors want to own real estate?

High returns and a long track record of growth for international investors make British property an attractive proposition. In three decades UK residential real estate has driven better returns than gilts, equities and commercial property.

Instead of weathering the storm of the Singapore market, investors can take advantage of the security the UK offers, with its political and economic stability and returns in a strong currency.

Which UK markets are currently offering the highest growth?

Traditionally a nation of homeowners, Britain is currently undergoing a rental revolution. A preference for flexibility, as well as changing generational attitudes, means that by 2025, it’s estimated that over 50% of 20 to 39-year-olds in the UK will be renting their property.

As such, private rented sector (PRS) property is one of the must-have property assets in the UK right now. Cities such as Manchester have seen yield growth 13 times faster than London, as the demand for property in key regional markets is being met with low levels of supply.

Additionally, student property has been established as the UK’s number one asset in recent years. A product that experienced growth throughout each year of the global economic downturn, huge undersupplies of purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) across the UK has created huge investment opportunities in a country with an international appeal for higher education.

Select Property Group will hold the exclusive grand opening of its new Singapore office on Thursday November 25th – and it wants you be part of it. Hear about the latest UK investment opportunities and find out why Select Property Group are the trusted UK property investment experts of investors in over 117 countries. To register and secure your place, follow this link.

Moderation of HDB flat prices modest

HDB flat prices rose 50 per cent between 2009 and 2013. With the property curbs in the last 3 years, prices have fallen 10 per cent. The government are considering the decline moderate and have mentioned that it is not yet time to completely reverse the process and policies despite recent figures showing a stabilisation of resale flat prices and a rise in sales volume.

Yishun HDB

Photo: HDB flat in Yishun

The most effective cooling measures thus far have been the 2013 implementation of the mortgage servicing ratio limit. The loan amount home buyers were able to take to service a HDB flat loan was capped at 30 per cent of their gross income. On top of that, there was a 60 per cent Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) which was also introduced in 2013 to prevent borrowers from over stretching themselves with the number and amount of loans payments.

Industry experts are mostly in agreement about a sudden and drastic switch in policies which back backfire on the industry and property market. But some have felt that certain measures such as the ABSD (additional buyers’ stamp duty) could be lifted in phases to encourage property investment. The current rule requires foreign property buyers to pay an additional 15 per cent of the price of a property here while Singaporeans have to do the same but at 7 and 10 per cent for second and third subsequent properties.

The new National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has however mentioned that adjustments may be possible, depending on global and local economic situations.


More buying into Southeast-Asian properties

Beside the usual countries in Asia such as Hong Kong and Japan, whose property industry has been flourishing for many years now, the market in Southeast-Asia (SEA)  is also increasingly on the up.

Vietnam has recently opened up their market to foreign buyers, and the effects are obvious as buying sentiment has largely increased over the last year. Foreigners were previously only able to purchase one property, and had to first have a work permit in order to do so. Now, they are allowed to buy, hold, occupy or lease out more than one property. Property developers are now allowed to also sell their properties outside of Vietnam, which increases the pool of potential buyers tremendously. Property analysts have since seen a rise in the number of foreign buyers, in particular from Korea, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, most of whom work in Vietnam.


Photo credit: Keppel Land.

As with most major cities, the property market in Ho Chi Minh has benefitted from these legislative changes; properties in districts near International schools or Multi-National Companies (MNCs) are particularly popular. Developers have also been launching more units in Ho Chi Minh, with 10,114 new units in 26 projects launched in the last quarter alone.

For example, Keppel Land will be launching the second phase of its project in Ho Chi Minh City – Estella Heights, soon. Prices will be starting at $288 psf, which makes an $150,000 unit more than affordable for buyers or investors. As Vietnam continues to integrate globally, the potential for growth is immense, and investors taking the opportunity to enter the market early may be able to see yields soon.

From New York to Sydney – Investing in Foreign properties

While the number of new properties coming up in Singapore may tilt the scale towards supply and give buyers an upper hand, in other major cities around the world, a decline in supply has moved property prices up the charts.

MelbourneProperty_CollinsStreetIn New York, the number of available properties, especially those in popular districts, have been on the decline. There has reportedly been a 20 per cent fall in the number of available listings, now standing at 5,654 which is much lower than the 10-year average of 7,047. This has placed the median selling price for a Manhattan apartment to just below the record-setting US$1 million (S$1.4 million) mark. Though that may not seem much, considering Singapore condominium apartments are selling at similar prices, the amount of space you get is much lesser. If it’s space you’re looking at, buyers may have to look outside of New York and into the suburbs. Needless to say, the lack of available properties below the US$1 million mark has made competition all the more heated, and buyers now find themselves having to stretch their budget to get the apartment they want. Landlords and sellers now have the upper hand.


At the opposite end of the globe in Sydney, Australia, property prices have been climbing steadily for the past quarters and now stand at an average of A$785,000. But prices in Sydney may have reached its peak as prices only grew 0.1 % last month. Over in Melbourne, the average prices stand at A$580,000 and prices have rise 2.4 %.

Are there opportunities in both cities for investment and is the time now?

Should the ABSD be removed?

ABSD – Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty. Though mentioned less this year as other property cooling measures take over in significance, this nevertheless is a rather big hump investors have to get over should they wish to purchase properties for investment purposes.

Implemented in 2011 by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), it applies to foreign investors, Singapore PRs (permanent residents) purchasing their second and subsequent properties and Singaporeans purchasing their third and subsequent properties. This and other property cooling measures have successfully curbed the blossoming of a potential housing bubble which threatened to grow in 2009 and 2010. Combined with the Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD), of up to 16 per cent, property speculation is significantly lower than before. The highly affluent are rarely affected but it has helped keep individuals relatively debt-free.

SantoriniAnother positive that came out of the previous couple of years of policy adjustments is more transparent industry practices. Developers are now required to submit weekly transaction data to the Controller of Housing, including incentives provided to buyers such as furniture vouchers, cash rebates, stamp fee or legal fees absorption and sales volume. That will help project a truer image of how the industry is fairing and what are the actual market prices and keep pricing more realistic.

The restrictive loan-to-value limit has perhaps affected the industry a tad more as it has brought prices down and maintained a level playing field. Whether the government has brought property prices to a level affordable for majority of Singaporeans is yet to be seen clearly, but with the recent election just over, all eyes could be on the new government to see what else they can or will do.

Rising property market – Vietnam

With a communist government, most would not have considered Vietnam potential ground for a thriving real estate market. Their property market suffered a severe blow about 4 years ago when property bubble burst, leaving banks in debt and buyers and developers defaulting on their loans.


Photo Credit: Phuoc Thanh Construction

But 4 years on, the government has injected stimulus into the real estate sector of up to US$1.4 million and has also restructured their banking sector to ensure history does not repeat itself. In fact, they have gone even further to relax rules on foreign investment money coming through their borders. Foreign firms, individual buyers as well as Vietnamese who have left the country during the war in 1975 – the Viet Kieu, are now able to purchase properties in Hanoi. And response has been overwhelming. One developer, Vingroup, reported a whooping 112 deposits on apartments within 2 hours of their launches specifically targeting foreigners and Viet Kieu.

Most foreign firms are keen to purchase properties to house their foreign staff. Intel and Samsung, which are situated in the Saigon Hi-Tech Park, are just a couple of the many international firms snapping up properties. Average prices of high-end apartments in the southern commercial hub go up to as much as US$1,800 per sq m. In the capital, prices are around $1,600, a number familiar to the property players before the last housing crisis. With a market value of US$21 billion, Vietnam’s real estate sector still has a way to go compared to Singapore’s US$241 billion, but that difference could be what most attracts investors.

London home prices rising

If you’re looking for London properties marketed overseas, you may not be seeing the whole picture as there has been an increasing number of properties which are marketed strictly in the United Kingdom alone. The number of foreign buyers of London property has been on the rise, and Londoners are getting a little agitated by the recent influx, which is not aided by rising home prices.

WestfieldHouse_Wandsworth_LOndonRecent additions to the London property market include luxury homes in the Nine Elms district in London. Lauded to have luxury fittings by Versace, they join the ranks of highly-priced and prized properties in the exclusive and expensive districts of Knightsbridge, Kensington and Chelsea. Situated in the borough of Wandsworth, prices of the luxury apartments here are twice the average of properties in the area, ranging from £1,600 to £2,000. Developments in this district include the Battersea Power Station, with 20% of the buyers coming from Singapore. Singaporeans have also made up 5.3 per cent of overseas buyers of prime properties in London.


Photo credit:

Despite an increased stamp duty this quarter, home prices in London which have dipped slightly, are still high as demand for properties in less expensive suburbs continue to rise. But locals are becoming disgruntled as London faces a housing crunch with simultaneously rising property prices. Would this indicate possible changes in policies and regulations in the year ahead? How would that affect foreign property investors?