Stamp Duty changes bring cheer to real estate market

With the recent Sellers’ Stamp Duty (SSD) changes, the real estate market is beginning to feel more upbeat all around.

PLQThe most significant changes were the SSD rates and the fact that sellers who let go of their properties after 3 years will no longer have to pay the sellers’ stamp duty. The Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) threshold has also been relaxed for properties with  loan-to-value (LTV) limits of 50% and less. The latter move is aimed at helping retirees monetise their properties as many could be sitting on their assets while having trouble with cash-flow or liquidity. Some property owners may wish to cash out on their properties in order to start businesses or send their children for overseas education but find themselves unable to loan enough as the TDSR framework limits the borrower only to amounts totalling up to 60 per cent of their gross income.

All these changes will give buyers a higher sense of security, knowing that they will have more flexibility in managing their finances without having to hold on to their properties should they urgently require liquidity. The crowds at the Paya Lebar Quarter’s (PLQ) residential project – Park Place Residences a couple of weekends ago were a positive affirmation of the improving sentiments in the property market. Property agents reckon that the SSD changes will motivate more people to buy as they now have less restrictions to take into consideration.

 

Sellers’ Stamp Duty rates tweaked

From March 11, the staggered rates which sellers have to pay should they resell their properties within stipulated time periods will be reduced. Previously, properties sold within a year of purchase were subjected to a 16 per cent seller’s stamp duty (SSD), the rates are at a staggered 12 per cent for properties sold within 2 years, and at 8 per cent and 4 per cent for those sold within 3 and 4 years respectively.

SingaporeskylineThe new tweaks to the regulation means that sellers now only have to pay 12 per cent stamp duty for properties sold within a year, and then at the staggered rates of 8 and 4 per cent for those sold within 3 and 4 years respectively. Whiles some buyers might have missed out on this new ruling by a day, the effect of the change on buyers who have purchased for the long-term will be minimal. This slight change in the property cooling curbs may provide a more fertile environment for property investment and some buyers may be interested in making headway with a second or subsequent property.

Whether this will boost home sales this year remains to be seen, but property analysts are expecting a slow and muted effect on the market. While the change may not translate to actual figures, with property analysts expecting only a 3 per cent increase on the previously projected 8,000 property transactions for 2017, what it does create is an atmosphere of positivity and a sense of hope. Any tweak by the government, however slight, could be seen as an indication of the market bottoming out, and following a period of market stabilisation, investors are hopeful that the market will eventually recover.

Will rental market climb back up this year?

The private rental market has made a bit of a turnaround last month, posting a 1.3 per cent rise after months of lacklustre demand and declining prices.

MillPointCondoIn the prime districts, rents have rise 0.9 per cent, while the most obvious change was in the city fringes where prices rose 1.6 per cent. In the suburbs, a 1.3 per cent price increase was recorded. Rental volume also rose by 5.8 per cent in January with 3,813 units leased. That is 0.7 per cent higher than the 3,785 units leased in January 2016.

With the year leaning on this positive note, could the private residential leasing market be climbing its way out of the gloom? While property analysts are not expecting any drastic or quick decline in prices, neither are they predicting a recovery in the near future. As more new completions from 2015 and 2016 hit the market, the increase in available leasing options will make it more a tenant’s market. What are more popular are shorter leases, and the authorities may even begin to reconsider making shorter leases legal as more tenants are leaning towards these preferences. Previously 2-year tenures were common, but of late, 1-year leases are now becoming the new norm.

HDBFlatRentalFor HDB flats, rents have been falling almost entirely across the board with the 5-room flat segment leading the way with a 1.5 per cent decline. 3-room flat rental prices have however risen by 0.2 per cent. Rental volume for HDB flats have also fallen 16.1 per cent last month.

 

 

Resale condominium market in gradual recovery

Could a slice of sunshine be sliding its way back into the local private property market? Resale condominium prices have risen 1.1% in January and it’s a bigger increase than the 0.5% in the last 2 months of 2016.

RivervaleCrestAnd as expected, non-landed private residential properties located in prime districts lead the way, with a 1.9% month-on-month increase. Central region properties also gained 1.5% in terms of prices while that of suburban properties rose by 0.4%. In a year-on-year comparison, resale prices were 0.3% higher than in the same period of 2016.

In some districts, resale properties exchanged hands at lower-than-market value, though the price difference at minus $4,000 is lesser that the $5,000 in December. District 23 posted more than 10 resale transactions in January alone and selling prices went as high as $2,000 above market value.

GrandeurParkResidencesThough the year is still young, it could be a budding sign of the things to come for the rest of the year. Property analysts are not expecting sharp rebounds anytime soon, though the stabilisation of prices and an increase in sales volume would already be sufficient to signify market recovery, albeit a gradual one. What could also be seen from the market data was that sellers were beginning to moderate their asking prices, possibly with pressure coming in from new property launches and completed new units entering the weak rental market.

 

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.

Consumer confidence in property market improving

Though gradual, the property market seems to be coming out of a long hibernation and there are some bright sparks to make 2017 a warm one.

VIIOThe supply and inventory stock is gradually diminishing, by 8.4 per cent at the end of last year, aided by the restriction in land supply by the government last year, the key word being gradual. Fortunately, the decline in home and rental prices have also been gradual, with no sudden collapse. Last year’s rate of decline of overall private home prices was at a 3-year low, at 3.1 per cent. The 2 years before saw a 3.7 and 4 per cent decline, counting backwards.

QuinterraBy now, consumers and investors are used to the price decline, which has been a regular occurrence since 2013 when the property cooling measures began to kick in. In the current market, any news of slower price declines will be good news, and of stabilisation, even better news. Private home prices have finally landed on a level where an increasing number of buyers find affordable and investment-worthy, which explains the boost in new home sales from 7,440 in 2015 to 7,972 last year.

Properties in the core-central region fared the best in the second half of 2016, while non-landed homes in the city fringe and suburbs registered 2 and 0.6 per cent drops respectively. Landed properties fared unexpectedly well with a 0.8 per cent price increase in Q4. Property analysts are expecting property prices to bottom out this year, which could the year when the property market bottoms out. The authorities do not yet seem to show any signs of easing the property cooling measures, at least not in the first half of the year.

China’s top-tier cities post continued growth

2016 has been quite the year for China’s property sector. With property booms in top-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, overall investment in the country’s real estate rose by 6.9% last year.

chinaSince the property sector is one of China’s main sources of economic growth, and her economy did grow by 6.7% last year, fuelling 40 other main business sectors in the country, economists, the China government would no doubt hope for continued success this year. But there have been concerns that the pressure on the property bubble is building up and might be reaching bursting point.

Despite the government’s attempts to cool the market with rapid and frequent policy changes over the past couple of years, property investment growth has hit a 11.1 per cent high last December, up from the 5.7 per cent in the month before. Though home prices in some cities have began to fall slightly, analysts are seeing that market sentiments are hardly sensitive to policy shifts. Should the policies stick, any significant changes will only come with time. As most investors consider property-ownership the most feasible and desirable means of adding to their income, demand in top-tier cities remain high despite soft price growth.

GuosonCentreRecent shifts on the international front however may mean continued growth in the real estate market within China as more investors look inward, what with the Trump administration turning things on its head with his trade agreements changes. It may be in the government’s interest to acquire land revenue while keeping an eye on a burgeoning real estate sector which on the plus side will boost economic growth but may cause bigger issues later on if allowed to continue on its upward trajectory.

Private resale property market to cruise on status quo

2016 proved to be a roller coaster year for the private home market, as prices fluctuated throughout the year but never quite settled into an upward swing. Price increases lasted hardly a quarter before turning the opposite direction and movements differed between regions as well.

SeletarParkResidencesAcross the board, resale private home prices rose 0.1 per cent. Most of the increase were for properties in the prime districts. Prices here rose 1.8 per cent while falling 0.9 per cent and 0.4 per cent in the city fringe and suburban districts respectively. Location continues to rule buyers’ decision-making process and prime district home prices remained stable despite the year-end lack of market activity.

As the rental market continues to wane and competition from completed properties put further pressure on rental prices, more private condominium unit owners may be pushed to sell this year as they come to the end of their 4-year holding period, after which they will have to foot their sellers’ stamp-duty bill. Buyers of resale units could have the upper hand when it comes to negotiations in these cases.

NathanResidencesThe number of private apartment units sold have been falling as well, with 484 units sold as compared to the 618 sold in November. Though the numbers are higher than the 453 units sold in December 2015, it is still a far cry from the 2,050 in April 2010 – a 76.3 per cent fall in fact. Property analysts are expecting prices and sales volume to maintain their current levels, though 2017 could be more a year of keeping the status quo than quick recovery.