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.

 

Banking on rents to cover mortgages increasingly risky

As the rental market strains against the backdrop of a general economic slowdown and job security wobbles on its feet, the old ways of banking on rental yields to cover mortgage loans and other outlays on invested properties may no longer be a sure thing.

Alexis @ Alexandra CondoThe imbalance may be getting dangerously so even as the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has publicly warned investors against the risks of putting all their eggs in the property basket. They mentioned both property and corporate bonds as emerging risks, especially as growth is weak and the political situations across the globe is uncertain.

Rising vacancy rates and declining rental demand are the more concrete and obvious factors investors should consider before closing a deal simply because the total quantum prices are too good to be true. Before investing in overseas properties, currency fluctuations and political stability are also serious considerations, not to mention the strength and longevity of property and rental demand in a country not in close proximity.

la-rivere-2Although MAS has noted that most households here are able to weather an economic storm, if it does occur, those who have bitten off more than they can chew may want to reconsider their financial holding power and set their sights in the long-term rather than counting on their eggs hatching early.

Will home loan rates rise soon?

Low interest rates have been ruling the home loan environment for at least the past year. But how long more can this streak continue is anyone’s guess, especially as the current global economic climate is uncertain at best, what with the effects of the recent Brexit and US elections yet to be revealed.

Two golden idols carrying a red house with a "%" inconProperty analysts say that this may be the last chance for home owners to jump on the refinancing bandwagon as interest rates in the United States have been expected to rise starting next month, and similarly those in Singapore may also follow suit. Some loan packages may however have a lock-in period and borrowers may find themselves unable to refinance or having to pay a penalty for loan-cancellation or pre-payment. But there are a good many options out there and financial planners or experienced property agents will be able to advise on the best course of action for those looking to refinance their home loans. There are also data, website and apps out there to help borrowers who may want to do their research before approaching the banks.

forte-suites1The current financial climate is competitive and banks are also out to acquire market share, thus the competitive rates in the initial loan period could help shave a load of your ultimate home loan. Though the rise in interest rates is likely in the next 2 years, the climb will be gradual with the Sibor possibly doubling from the current 0.9 per cent to 1.85 per cent by 2018.

High prices may lower demand for Australian properties

It’s no secret that property prices have been skyrocketing in Australia, particularly in major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. But as much as property owners and developers want to get onto the gravy train and take in all the profits they can, the way the current market prices are going may put many out of the affordability bracket and in turn cause a supply glut as fewer buyers are able to afford the exorbitant prices of homes in AustraliaProperty prices have risen 7.5 per cent in the last year alone, boosted by low interest rates and foreign investment monies flooding in mainly from China.

operaresidencessydneyIn Sydney and Melbourne, the market trend has moved away from landed homes or houses to high-rise apartments and as the number of units per square metre increase, analysts worry that the competition coupled with the high property prices may create a situation of oversupply of apartment units. This in turn could deflate the property market and see apartment prices falling 15 to 20 per cent within the following 2 years. How would this then affect those who have taken loans to purchase homes at higher prices prior to the deflation, and would that mean trouble for the banking and finance sector?

melbourneapartmentHigh-rise residential developments enjoying the most attention now are those near the railway stations or in the already crowded inner city areas. In Melbourne, 18,000 apartment units will be built within the next year and a half. Some analysts are however not overly worried about the apartment boom as overseas buyers are limited to purchasing only new homes and do favour apartment units closer to the city than landed houses future out in the suburbs. With the continued population increase and the number of foreign students or labourers coming into these cities, the demand may cool but a sudden fall seems unlikely.

Japan real estate may see future boom

Japan may have previously abhorred foreign labour but as their population declines and ages, they may be pushed to relax immigration laws. This may also increase the demand for real estate, and in particular since Japan’s Airbnb scene is also rather active, those who own a piece of prime real estate in the country will have profits to reap in the long run.

aoyama
Photo credit: Mitsui Fudosan Residential and City Developments

Singapore developer, City Developments (CDL) has recently been taking up stakes in various Japanese properties such as Park Court Aoyama The Tower, a 163-unit residential project in the Aoyama area within the Minato ward, where high-end businesses and exclusive residential areas  surrounded by modern eateries and pretty parks reside. In fact, with 26 storeys of freehold apartments ranging from 389 sq ft to 3,789 sq ft, the property looks set to attract both domestic and foreign buyers. Prices for the units will start at 178.8 million yen (approximately S$2.3 million) for a 1-bedder to 271 million yen (approximately S$3.5 million) for a 3-bedroom apartment. Only 55 units were released in its initial launch in Japan where show flats are already available for public viewing.

parkcourttokyo1Besides residential properties, hotels and commercial business spaces are also hot properties, quite literally. CDL’s hospitality unit, Millennium and Copthorne Hotels have already staked claim on a prime Ginza site for their flagship 329-room hotel and have invested in 3 other hotels as well. The CDL group also has stakes in 2 other residential developments. Despite the uncertain economic climate, Japan remains one of the more active real estate markets in the Asia-pacific region thus value appreciation will work in favour of property owners for quite some time yet.

October’s new home sales up 128 per cent this year

With more that 1,252 new private homes sold in October, new home sales have risen 145 per cent from the 509 units sold in September and 128 per cent in a year-on-year comparison with 2015 when 549 units were sold.

thealpsresidences4The sudden spike may have been due to pent up demand after the slower months of the June school holidays and Hungry Ghost month in August, plus the launch of major projects in the later part of Q3. The 2 new property launches which garnered most of the sales were The Alps Residences in Tampines and Forest Woods in Serangoon Central. Each sold more than 300 units which made up 55.7 per cent of October’s sales. Other projects which consumers actively seemed out such as Stars of Kovan, The Trilinq and Kingsford Waterbay all sold only 30 units each, though understandably as these are much older launches.

Property analysts put the sudden rise in sales, a 15-month record high in fact, to the affordable prices put out by developers. Despite the slower economic outlook, consumers know a good deal when they see one and are willing to invest in what they consider to be long-term investment-worthy properties. Forest Woods is situated close to the Serangoon transport hub – the MRT station, bus interchange and NEX shopping mall – which could account for its popularity.

forestwoodsForest Woods was the top seller last month, with 364 units going at an average of $1,078 psf. Smaller units were purportedly gaining traction with buyers once more. Shoebox apartments, though aplenty in the market, remain affordable and property analysts report a direction change from investors who have turned their attention from riskier financial products back to the more stable property market.

 

Hong Kong’s red-hot real estate calls for new cooling measures

The pace and amplitude of Hong Kong’s rising property prices, in particular over the last couple of years, have seen the authorities taking proactive steps to cool it. Despite a move to increase stamp duties 3 years ago, prices have continued to climb. In September this year, prices surged once more, after 6 consecutive months of increase, to clock at a record high for the year.

hongkongpropertyHong Kong is already considered one of the most expensive Asian cities to live in, and current cost of real estate plus the high standard of living, has placed many housing options out of reach for the average citizen. Now, with experts predicting further price increase for the rest of the year, the Hong Kong government has once again raised stamp duties on property transactions.

Stamp duties will be raised 15 per cent for all transactions, up from the current 8.5 per cent. This change only affects citizens however, as foreign buyers are already paying a 15 per cent stamp duty. This will hopefully deter property flipping for the populous though the wealthy may still transact within the luxury property sector. ManyWi mainland buyers prefer to hedge heir funds in the Hong Kong real estate sector and have thus negated the effect of the Hong Kong government’s properties cooling measures.

The_Mediterranean_Hong KOngTo help the common man secure housing, first-time home buyers will only be charged a maximum 4.25 per cent stamp duty, dependent in the property value. This latest move is one of the government’s attempts to cool the red-hot property market before financial instability sinks in and causes more chaos to their economy.

 

Parc Riviera – One price fits all

Developers have been dishing out various incentive schemes to draw buyers into the new private home fold, and now an upcoming property launch will do the same. EL Development will be offering a flat-price within the same type of units between the second and fifteenth floor of their Parc Riveria condominium. And the offer only stands when the deal is sealed at their launch this Saturday.

parcriviera2Photo Credit: www.parcrivieracondo.sg

With this new incentive scheme, units on the more popular higher floors will likely be the first to fly off the shelves as they traditionally command higher prices for the view they promise. As a price guide, the 2-bedroom units are going for $725,000. Other units available in the project’s two 36-storey blocks include 463 sq ft one- and 1,711 sq ft four-bedders though more than half are made up of one- to two-bedroom apartment units.

parcriviera1Units in the floors above the 15th-storey will also be available for purchase, though prices will be higher. Traditionally, units in the higher floors are about 15% more expensive than those in the lower floors. EL Development came up with the first-in-market scheme as a way to provide buyers with a transparent pricing system and a way to draw attention to specific units. Some of their other properties currently in the market include Skysuites 17, Stevens Suites, La Fiesta and Trivelis. Parc Riviera has already received positive interest and with this creative new strategy in place, it looks like the Parc Riviera sales office might see a flurry of activity this weekend.