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.

Tri-factor sustaining Property market – Government, industry and home owners

As 2016 brings a slew of completed new homes into the property market, developers are concerned about what market restrictions and rising construction and project development costs will do to the industry.

Kallang Riverside

Photo: Kallang Riverside

Even as everyone understands that Singapore is a land-scarce country, and the costs of properties will never be unrealistically low, the current market sentiment seems to be one of wait-and-see. But property prices may never fall too far without affecting the quality of homes. Developers are already feeling the financial squeeze as land costs rise, along with regulatory fees for plans submissions and costs of construction, fittings and furnishings. On top of that, developers are also under the time pressure of selling all their units within a five-year period in order to avoid paying the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty. At the moment 3,000 units from the development of properties from land plots sold under the Government Land Sales Programme in 2012 remain unsold, they will reach their five-year deadline next year.

Thus as much as a home buyers may be waiting for even lower prices, new properties launched in the months or year ahead may not be able to lower their prices any further. Moving ahead, how the Government manages its land sales programme, and how developers manoeuvre around rising project development costs and market their products may be key to keeping the industry and ultimately the overall economy healthy and growing.

Maxing the potential of HDB Housing Grants

The General Elections of 2015 have brought about some changes in the local housing and property scene. With raised income ceilings for new flats and executive condominiums, plus a series of other adjusted or new housing grants, more HDB flat applicants are able to now secure a unit and at less by making use of these new grants.

HDB flats 10The new Proximity Housing Grant provides singles and families who are buying a resale flat with or near their married children or parents, with a respective $10,000 and $20,000 grant. Since its implementation on 24 August, 684 families and 53 singles have applied for the grant. Income ceilings have also been raised to $12,000 (from $10,000) for families and $6,000 (from $5,000) for singles. This means more would qualify for a HDB flat and the respective grants, possibly allowing some applicants who may have previously fallen just short of the income ceiling to now successfully apply for a unit.

Indirectly, this move may have also helped to boost resale transactions. As applicants who wish to live near their parents or married children may not be able to find a new flat within close proximity, especially in more mature estates where new flats are rare, resale flats may be their next best choice. With a combination of the Proximity Housing Grant and other CPF housing grants, what they may finally have to pay for a resale flat may be much more palatable.

Resale HDB flat prices hold steady

At this point of the property market cycle, prices holding steady could be a positive sign, indicating effectiveness on part of the cooling measures which did not crash the market but rather, merely realigned the prices gently. The change evolved over a long period of time, which is more palatable for sellers and the lowering prices may have also increased sales volume by enticing buyers.

BidadariPhoto credit: HDB

A 0.3 per cent fall in HDB resale flat prices indicate a slowly stabilising market. Although prices have been falling for 9 quarters straight, the last quarter showed the lowest rate of decline. In 2014, overall resale HDB flat prices fell 6 per cent. Industry analysts are expecting a smaller dip this year of 2 to 2.5 per cent. Some buyers may have been holding back on buying in the open resale market, in wait of November’s major launch of new Build-to-order (BTO) flats which includes prime units in Bidadari and Punggol Northshore.

Suburban resale private property prices are falling at a steeper rate of 1.3 per cent and if the prices fall even further and at a quicker rate than HDB resale flat prices, the gap between the 2 market segments will narrow. This could then draw a substantial pool of buyers from the resale flat market into the private property market, which could then give sales volume a boost and slow down the price decline in the private property sector.

Sims Urban Oasis

Photo: Sims Urban Oasis

Property developers are keeping a close eye on whether cooling measures will be adjusted, and pricing their units accordingly. We could also expect a more staggered schedule of new launches as developers become more careful about not cannibalising on one another’s market share. More so than before, it may be a matter of timing and opportunity.

Property market and Economy = Cause and Effect ?

It has always been thought that the economy, both local and global, has a big part to play in the performance of the local property market. But it seems a recent study by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), has shown that the link is not all that obvious.

The study has shown that Singapore’s economy may be affected more so by external factors such as exports, rather than our property market’s ups and downs. The latter, in turn, is more attuned to its own internal factors, mainly by how developers choose to hold back or release units during the property market’s flow and ebb.

Although news about Singapore’s economy may not be all that positive at the moment, the effect of that on the property market may be weaker than expected. Thus Singapore’s property market, despite slightly lowered prices and sales volume, may not be in such a bad place after all. The housing cycle’s rise and fall takes a longer route as compared to the overall economy and business sectors’, and is more often than not, caused by factors such a developers managing their inventories to preserve profit margin and mismatched expectations between buyers and sellers. These in turn cause a kink in the demand and supply chain, which in turn affects housing prices.

In short, it takes quite a huge change in sales volume of new and resale properties here before a significant adjustment in the property market can be seen.

HDB rolls out new smartphone app function

Taking a walk around a HDB estate and see a block you wouldn’t mind calling home? Now you can instantly call up relevant information and data such as resale prices by just using your smartphone.

Mobile@HDB Screen GrabThe Mobile@HDB app was launched in 2011, but has just recently had a revamp on 7 Oct. The mobile app is free and the latest augmented reality function uses GPS to identify blocks within a 200m radius to help users find out resale transaction details within a 2-year period. Although there is a 20m to 100m degree of error, property agents and home seekers will still no doubt benefit from this real-time app function.

HDB is hoping to make the home-seeking and purchasing process easier with their website and app revamps. Besides the augmented reality function, the Mobile@HDB app also has a concierge function which allows users to get a queue number remotely (as long as they are within the HDB vicinity, e.g. at the Toa Payoh MRT station which is near the HDB Hub) and even get a push notification when their number is called; and also check on their HDB appointments. Now more can be done without having to physically be at the HDB service centres.

Since its most recent update, the concierge function has been used 300 times and the augmented reality function 5,000 times. Users can look forward to an easier and breezier home search, and hopefully HDB will continue to improve on their customer service.

Photo credit: HDB


When will the property cooling measures ease?

Some of the first property cooling measures were implemented more than 4 years ago, and they have stayed till today. More were added along the way and the market seems to be finally responding to the restrictions, with prices and sales volume falling slightly since the 2009 peak.

Considering it took almost 5 years for a slight decline in property prices, the authorities seem determined to stick to their guns and have the property cooling measures in place at least for a little while more. But analysts are expecting a much steeper drop in residential prices of up to 15 per cent before the Singapore government is likely to ease up on the measures. They are likely to also be waiting for mortgage interest rates to rise above the 3.5 per cent average from before.

Especially as the elections have just ended, a sudden change in policies is unlikely as increasing housing prices could affect public sentiment. Although there has been pushback from citizens about immigration policies, and the increasing supply of new properties in then next couple of years may further keep rental and housing prices suppressed unless there is a drastic shift there. In the HDB market, they are expecting a further 5 to 10 per cent drop in prices before any change might be effected.

Will there however be a gradual easing of cooling measures by removing restrictions one at a time?