Ready to invest in properties overseas?

The attraction of investing in a plum overseas property may be strong but while the yields may be high, so too could be the risks.

Prudent research and risk-calculation prior to taking the plunge is of course essential. And some of the very real and future-determining factors to take into consideration are:


1. Foreign ownership regulations

It almost goes without saying that this would be what any discerning buyer first finds out – what governs their purchase and whether they are eligible. Newer markets, in particular South-east Asian ones such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos, could have more relaxed rules as their immediate interest lie in attracting investments while markets with a longer history of foreign investment such as Australia and Thailand may have more rules in place in reaction to previous market movements. In some markets such as Australia and Malaysia, there are also restrictions on the resale of foreign-owned properties, and for buyers who do not have strong holding powers, having to hold on to properties in a economic downturn with only a niche target audience could be stressful in all senses of the word.

2. Currency exchange

Though currency fluctuations are inevitable, property analysts encourage buyers to seriously consider the market or country’s political and economic states. Markets where the local currency have been fairly stable for a prolonger period of time are generally lower-risk options, though even then, it would be wise to engage the services of a lawyer or accountant to help in long-term financial planning.


3. Rental potential

The location and type of property, the track record of the property developer and the rental demand for the property are all instrumental to the make or break of an investment decision. The property size should also be taken into consideration as larger albeit rarer properties may not be as quick to find a tenant as say, a smaller-sized unit at a more palatable quantum price. Industry experts also advice investors to first have a target audience in mind as expatriates may come from different industries and have differing housing budgets.

4. Payment schedules and options 

Singapore’s property market may veer to the stricter side in terms of payment schedules as they work on a progressive payment scheme. Many overseas markets however offer a deferred payment scheme, for example where a buyer puts down a 10% down-payment deposit and only pay the rest of the 90% upon completion of the projects. That could be a plus for some buyers, but it would mean a change in financial plans.  With overseas property investments, there are also more lending options, some of which could offer higher levels of flexibility such as dual currency switching and mortgages with the possibility of off-setting interest.



Buyers act before impending rates hike

The niggling thought of interest rates possibly rising in the later part of the year may have gotten buyers pumped to seal deals sooner. The interest in 2 new condominiums – Forest Woods in Lorong Lew Lian and The Alps Residences in Tampines Street 86 – both launched last weekend, was overwhelming, leaving their developers happy.

the-alps3Almost half of the 626 units at The Alps Residences have already been snapped up during its launch last Sunday. The project houses a range of one- to four-bedroom apartments and penthouses with sizes ranging from 441 sq ft to 2,486 sq ft and selling at between $900 to $1,200 psf. Similarly at the 519-unit Forest Woods, more than 500 buyers have already make monetary commitments of their interest in the property. The most popular units were the one- and two-bedders and buyers were mostly Singaporeans looking to upgrade or invest in the property market. Units here are going at $688,000 for a 506 sq ft one-bedroom apartment with study to $1.65 million for a four-bedder. Penthouse units go as far as 2,185 sq ft in terms of size.

forestwoods2Property analysts say the fervency could be due to the pent-up demand after the Hungry Ghost month and the lack of launches last quarter plus the overall market sentiment that prices are already at its lowest possible. Physical assets such as land and property are also considered less volatile than bonds and securities as the outlook for the latter seem less secure.

Singapore developer plans for 302-unit condo in Ho Chi Minh

One of Singapore’s property giants, CapitaLand, has just bought up a prime piece of land in Ho Chi Minh city and intends to develop a luxury private residential and serviced residence project which will yield 302 units across 0.5 ha in the city’s Cau Kho ward of District One.


Photo credit: CapitaLand Vietnam 

CapitaLand has previously launched 3 residential projects in Vietnam, including The Vista, Vista Verde and Seasons Avenue. All 3 had sales launches in Singapore and response has been positive ever since Vietnam relaxed their rules on foreign ownership of local real estate. The fact that this recent US$51.9 million (S$70 million) purchase is the developer’s third acquisition in less than a year and a half makes them a formidable foreign presence in the Vietnamese real estate sector. This launch will bring CapitaLand’s residential real estate portfolio in Vietnam to 9,100.

thevistavietnamPhoto credit: CapitaLand Vietnam 

As The Ascott‘s largest market in South-east Asia, CapitaLand will be managing the 200-serviced apartments in this new project under Somerset brand. The 17-storey residential block is targeted for a year-end launch, and will house 102-units made up of two- to four-bedroom apartments and penthouses. Akin to Cairnhill Nine, also developed by CapitaLand, in Singapore, plans are for the residential tower to also offer concierge services from the neighbouring serviced apartment block. This is apparently a first in Vietnam.

More resale condominiums sold in July and August

Current Q3 property market figures are showing that while sales volume on a year-on-year basis has risen almost 60 per cent, with a 10 per cent rise in June and inching up a further 5.3 per cent in July, home prices have slipped consecutively for 2 months.

183 LonghausA total of 817 units were sold in August while 776 were sold in July. Prices of resale non-landed residential properties have however fallen by 0.8 per cent in August, following a 0.7 per cent fall in July. Most of the price decline came from suburban properties, led by those in the city fringes. The core central region private home prices have continued to rise 0.1 per cent. Overall, buyers are paying an average of $11,000 below market value last month as compared to $10,000 in July.

A few major new launches may have injected some competition into the market, fuelled by the rise in the number of completed private homes. District 20 of Ang Mo Kio, Upper Thomson and Bishan has however had a positive showing of buyers willing to pay up to a median of $18,000 above market value for properties here. The maturity of these estates, coupled with the number of schools and proximity to town may have driven prices up. Surprisingly in district 15 which consists of Katong, Marine Parade, Joo Chiat and Amber Road, buyers are shying away from the high prices properties here used to command.

Belgravia villasThe Hungry Ghost Festival in August may have dulled sales figures slightly, though property analysts expect only marginal adjustments in the months leading to the end of 2016.

Property market’s road to recovery a gradual one

While the global economy remains in the doldrums and the authorities keep the local property cooling measures in place, Singapore’s real estate market is likely to see a gradual gentle road to recovery, starting with stabilisation.

LakeGrandeJuly’s sales figures show promise, with 1,091 units sold (excluding executive condominiums). That is almost double that of June’s 536 units. Although August’s numbers may dip due to the Hungry Ghost month and the lack of major property launches, September will see the launch of Parc Riveria at West Coast Vale and Forest Woods in Serangoon. The former is developed by EL Development and the latter by City Developments.

Consumer interest on landed homes, a rare commodity in local context, has also shone of late. CapitaLand‘s launch of 6 Victoria Park Villas‘ units which all sold between $4.3 to $4.9 million led the way to positive market sentiments. July’s major launch of the highly affordable units at Lake Grande largely boosted sales figures, accounting for 40 per cent of the total number of units sold.

VictoriaParkVillasProperty analysts are expecting monthly sales of 500 to 700 units for the rest of the year, totalling up to 8,000 units for 2016. Selling prices have remained steady in July while sales figures rose 22 per cent, signalling the start to the market’s road to recovery.

Property market on the road to recovery

2016 has proven to be a fairly good year for the property market. Despite slight price fluctuations, prices and sales volume have been stabilising for a few quarters now, giving analysts hope that it’s on a timely road to recovery.

GramercyParkThough the government has yet to indicate an easing of property cooling measures, the market as managed to right itself within the past year or so. Signs of the luxury property market picking up point towards the property market possibly bottoming out soon, which would also mean the market’s on the road to recovery. In Q2, the fall in private residential price index was a mere 0.4 per cent, the smallest thus far. The market has also been correcting itself for 11 consecutive quarters now.

Since the 2013 peak, property prices have fallen 9.4 per cent. With the interest rates currently low and looking like it will remain so for a longer period of time as opposed to extreme fluctuations, borrowing is kept at a healthy level sans the danger of over-borrowing or a property bubble looming. Investors may be refocus their attention on other sectors, keeping the property sector speculation-free.

Leedon Residence on Holland Road.

Leedon Residence on Holland Road.

Global situations such as Brexit or global terrorism may indirectly affect the investment environment and sentiment in the country and region, but Singapore’s real estate market is considered one of the safest and investors are increasingly looking at longer-term capital appreciation.


Resale HDB flat prices rise in July

Resale HDB flat prices have been stabilising for sometime now, and last month showed a 0.7 per cent rise in prices despite a fall in sales volume. Most buyers were in the market to take advantage of the lower prices, perhaps before an official market price-rise occurs. Three-room flat prices rose the most at 0.6 per cent, with five-roomers following at 0.5 per cent and 0.4 per cent for four-room flats.

HDB flat Jurong WestThe public housing market may be seeing some changes in August as 4,800 Build-to-order (BTO) flats are made available for application in Hougang, Sembawang, Yishun and Tampines which could direct buyers’ attention away from the resale segment. Buyers were mostly those looking for good market deals, and home occupiers might be more interested in the new HDB flats instead. The new executive condominium flats coming into the market may have also diluted interest for similar resale units as prices in this segment fell 0.4 per cent.

HDB SERS West CoastHDB is also revving up its Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) where 8 blocks in West Coast Road will be the next recipient of the scheme. Residents will be relocated to surrounding blocks and mature HDB estates will see improvements such as upgrading of toilets, lifts and installation of elderly-friendly features.

Property analysts are expecting the number of resale flat transactions to fall this month as the Hungry Ghost Festival begins, but prices are expected to remain level for the rest of the year.

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.