Market not ready for property cooling measure to be lifted

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has said that it is still too early for the property cooling measures to go away. Unlike the car financing sector, the housing sector has yet to achieve the intended levels. The authorities are cautious about a sudden forward surge in the market should the measures be prematurely lifted.

c22aa9c3d5354ad6858cc5cec7ca1854Household debt levels have become more manageable as the debt servicing ratio helped keep new loans portfolios realistic and banks are feeling a reduction in the percentage of non-performing loans. The ultimate aim is a sustainable pathway for the property market – a balance between growth and affordability.

Though the market feels like it has been slowing down for quite a few quarters now, the numbers tell another story. Property prices have fallen 9.4 percent since it’s peak in Q3 of 2013, but between 2009 and 2013, prices rose 60 percent while income rose only 30 percent. Clearly the numbers are disproportionate and it will be some time yet before the market reaches a comfortable equilibrium.

Moving forward, the private resale market is showing signs of bottoming out, and investors who have been sitting in the sidelines may come back into the fold as long as interest rates remain low and home prices steady.

 

Indonesia opens up property market to foreign investors  

Buying an apartment in Indonesia may soon become easier. The Indonesian government is working towards changing the law in favor of foreign investors in a bid to grow the economy. The new regulations may be in place before the end of the year. Previously, the Agrarian law instated in 1960 stipulated that foreigners are not allowed to own properties in Indonesia.

Aeropolis Indonesia propertyThe new emergency law, named perppu, will take effect next month and foreigners will then be able to purchase apartment units though landed properties are still restricted. Property agents have already reported more enquiries for properties in Jakarta, mostly for properties in the suburbs priced around 2 billion rupiahs. Apartment prices in Indonesia are considerably lower than that in Singapore and so is the cost of living, thus this new law may indeed be the impetus behind a economic change in Indonesia.

Although job creation and economy growth are the motivation behind this move, some analysts say that this may change the landscape of property ownership for Indonesian citizens, as property prices may rise to unaffordable levels. The new law will no doubt come with caveats, for example price and property type restrictions, but the average Indonesian may still see the median prices rise about 20%.

Signs of property market bottoming out?  

Though the vacancy rates of private residential properties are currently 1.4 percent higher in Q2 and at a 16-year record high, and property prices 9.4 percent lower than the 2013 peak, property analysts remain positive about the outlook as these could be signs that the property market is reaching the bottom of its cycle.

7478d455d05b4f2aa26fd1e5a8ce7bd2There were 30,310 vacant private homes in the second quarter, that is 5,391 units more than in Q1. As the number of completed properties rise, with almost 11,400 new units entering the market in the first half of 2016, the rates are seemingly modest. Property prices have also been stabilizing, and as long as interest rates remain at their current level, most households will be likely to be able to hold on to their properties over the down season.

More property buyers are now making home purchases for their own use instead of pure investment purposes and many are taking the opportunity to seal deals during this quieter time. In a year-on-year comparison, sales volume has risen 11 per cent and the luxury property market in particular is enjoying a spike in buying interest as prices have fallen sufficiently, luring buyers back into the high-end property market.

 

 

 

Luxury property market heats up 

After the market lull in the past couple of years, buyers are once again picking off choice luxury units in the prime residential property sector.

ArdmoreIIIPrices in this segment have gradually become more competitive over the last year or so and sales volume has increased, partly due to this change. For example, in the first half of 2016 alone, 131 apartments priced above $5 million were sold. Only 166 similar units were sold in the entire 2015.

Investors are favoring Singapore properties they match up well against those in other global cities such as New York and London. Property analysts say most investors are still Singaporeans, though  Malaysians, Indonesians and Chinese continue to feature strongly in the investor pool as they see the value of properties here and are not deterred by the currency fluctuations.

An upcoming luxury development is the 99-year leasehold Victoria Park Villas by CapitaLand which consists of 3 bungalows and 106 semi-detached houses starting from $4.3million. In better times, these houses could have cost up to $6 million. Other high-end units currently in the market include those at Gramercy Park, OUE Twin Peaks and Ardmore Three.

The En-bloc secret

Could you possibly be sitting on an En-bloc golden egg and not know it? Or before you make an investment, do you know if your purchase could earn you a tidy sum in the  future?

Laguna Park

Laguna Park

En-bloc sales of older properties can often be the windfall property owners are looking for and having an idea of the process could be the start to planning for the future. Not every development will have the same potential and often the wait could be longer than the photos yields, but there is money to be made this way.

The first step involves securing 20% of the total share value of 25% or the total number of owners. But should the first bid at a collective sale fail,  50% of the previously mentioned total share value or total number of owners will be required to requisition a extraordinary general meeting (EOGM) within 2 years. Then there is the election of the collective sale committee (CSC). They will then draft the proposed a reserve price as part of the collective sales agreement (CSA). Though a high reserve price may increase the probability of securing sufficient signatures go the sale, the high price may also turn potential buyers away. Developers do after all need to take the time and money to conduct feasibility studies and land surveys of the site.

Then there is also the issue of valuation per unit. The criteria for share allocation as recommended by the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers are valuation, strata area and share value. In addition,  80% of the owners must also agree on the method of apportionment before the bid can happen.

ShunfuVilleOnly then will  public tender be made and a property valuation be made by an independent valuer on the closing date of the tender. In the 10-week period after the tender closing date, the CSC is still able to enter into a private treaty with a buyer. The process is often long and could take years, such as in the case of the Pearl bank apartments or Laguna Park.

 

New home sales dip in June

June and July are traditionally slower months for the local property market as the school holidays are followed by the Hungry Ghost month. The lower numbers may also have been due to the lack of new launches.

Kingsford HIllview PeakLast month, only 536 new private non-landed units were sold, about 49 per cent lower than the 1,058 units clocked in May. Despite the huge fall in market figures, property analysts remain positive about the journey as numbers have reached a plateau and the fluctuations between quarters have been minimal.

Following the slew of cooling measures implemented by the government over the past few years, th market has cooled considerably. In a year-on-year comparison to 2015, the 536 units sold is 43 per cent higher than the 375 units sold last year.

Suburban homes were the best sellers in May, with developments such as Kingsford Waterbay, The Glades and Kingsford Hillview Peak managing to sell off some of their unsold stock. Median selling prices were at $1,185 psf, $1,402 psf and $1,315 psf respectively. In previous months, sales were largely  boosted by developers offering discounts, but the units sold in June were not heavily discounted, signifying the return of buyers to the market as they gradually come to realize that prices will not come down much more.

Singapore home prices remain muted

As long as the property cooling measures are here to stay and global economics remain shaky, home prices may hover at the current levels.

ArdmoreIIIAnd as the government continues to roll out more new build-to-order (BTO) flats while keeping the loan ratio capped at 30 per cent, demand for resale HDB flats may continue its lacklustre run. Although there was a 0.1 per cent rise in HDB prices in Q2, prices were mainly flat and private home prices dipped further by 0.4 per cent, that is following a 0.7 per cent fall in Q1. Some property players have viewed the private property market as possibly reaching the bottom of the cycle.

Since the last market peak in 2013, HDB and private home prices are now 9.8 per cent and 9.4 per cent lower respectively. There have been some signs of recovery in Q2 as private property prices in the core central region (CCR) rose 0.2 per cent. Developers have also been actively seeking out sales by offering creative payment schemes and keeping sales volume to a respectable level.

Considering the average length of a property lull being 8.4 quarters, this cycle may already have reached the end of its run. Will a prolonged cycle mean an even sharper and more drastic rebound when the measures are loosened? How will the market then respond to that and will there be any drawbacks?

Increasing difficulty in securing Australian home loans

Foreign property buyers hoping to snap up homes in Australia may find it increasing harder to secure home loans from Australian banks. The major Australian banks such as Commonwealth Bank, the National Australian Bank (NAB) and Westpac have further tightened loan restrictions to non-residents.

Sydney NSW skylineIn June this year, foreigners buying properties in New South Wales (NSW) have to now pay a 4 per cent stamp duty surcharge. In the state of Victoria, stamp duties have been raised this month to 7 per cent from the 3 per cent which commenced last year. Queensland may soon implement a 3 per cent foreign property surcharge as well, with a projected commencement date of October this year.

Foreign property buyers have come under the hammer of late, with citizens raising concerns about rising home prices, especially in popular cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Mainland Chinese buyers were the largest investors, spending A$24 billion in the property market last year, doubling that of A$12 billion in 2014.

The National Australian Bank (NAB) and Westpac are however still Sydney Surrey Streethelping Singaporean investors secure loans via their Singapore offices, though they are careful to alert clients to the total debt servicing ration (TDSR) framework which still applies. There are also other sources of home financing, including private lenders though additional information and documents, such as bank statements and income slips, will be required.