843 new private homes sold in March

And that is a 8-month high, especially since the last new property launch was 4 months ago – The Poiz Residences in November 2015. That could be the glimmer of hope the local property market has been waiting for, though some analysts are still cautious about a obvious rebound as the government has tightened their grip on land supply this year.

WIsteria YishunThe rise in transactions of new units last month could be partly due to the pent up demand over the Chinese new year lull in February and the lack of new launches in the first 2 months of the year. Only 209 units were launched in February while the number more than tripled to 682 in March. The number of units sold doubled from 303 in February to 843 in March. The 2 new launches in March were Cairnhill Nine and The Wisteria.

Although the government has announced that they will be unlikely to ease up on the property cooling measures anytime soon, some buyers who may have been waiting in the sidelines for better deals may be coming to realise that prices will not be falling drastically this year and may have finally made the purchase move last month.

Overall, market sentiment is picking up and buyers are picking off bargains and affordable units before the winds change. New mass market suburban properties are capturing eyeballs and wallets.

How deep is the property market well?

Property prices in Singapore have been falling since 2014, 10 consecutive quarters to be exact. In the first quarter of this year, HDB flat prices have stabilised at 0.1 per cent while private property prices have dipped 0.7 per cent. In 2015, HDB flat and private property prices fell an average of 0.4 and 0.9 per cent respectively.

Kingsford WaterbayPhoto: Kingsford Waterbay condominium 

HDB flat prices have begun to stabilise of late, though some property analysts are still expecting a further drop in the second half of the year as 25,000 new BTO flats reach completion this year. A good 30 per cent of these new-flat buyers are upgraders and home owners, not investors, which means they will be looking to sell their existing HDB flat in order to finance their new flat. This will bring a new slew of units into the resale HDB flat market. Though the demand for resale flats has not waned much, the rise in supply may put the ball in the buyers’ court.

 Photo: Clementi Gateway BTO flats

Similarly in the private property and EC (executive condominium) market, buyers will need to time their upgrading manoeuvre in order to manage cash flow, thus some may be in a rush to let go of their existing unit which could put further pressure on the market which will be seeing 21,906 new private condominium and 4,561 EC units enter its midst this year. How will the property sector perform in this crucial second quarter of 2016?

Post lunar new year property market – What to expect?

The first half of February might have been duller for the property market, as expected what with the calendar year just beginning and preparations for the Lunar new year in the way. But now that festivities are almost over, what can we expect for the rest of the year?

South BeachPhoto: South Beach Residences

Property analysts are predicting a year of stabilisation for the market, with most of the worst almost over, though it may be too soon to expect a market recovery. January’s slight rise in resale private property prices and 2015’s increase in transaction volume may boost market sentiments.

They are however expecting the HDB resale market to fare better compared to their privately-owned counterparts. As the volume of these public housing are closely monitored by the government and are often considered the minimal living requirement (aside from those in the rental market), resale HDB flats will find potential buyers, though the wait may be longer than before. Resale flats with low or no COV (cash-over-valuation) can now more readily find buyers. HDB resale flat prices have fallen only 1.5 per cent last year, compared to 3.7 in the private property market.

This year, sellers of properties near the newly-opened Downtown Line mrt stations can expect more interest while buyers seek or hold out for private property bargains in the market as developers try to sell off unsold stock. With a much-depressed luxury property sector, buyers would be wise to keep an eye out for good deals in the prime-districts and central regions in developments such as South Beach Residences, New Futura and Paterson Collection.

 

 

Who’s the most expensive of them all?

Hong Kong. When it comes to housing affordability. According to Demographia, a United States-based urban planning research unit, Hong Kong has emerged as one of the most expensive cities out of 367 metropolitan areas in 9 countries. Second on the list was Sydney, followed by Vancouver, Melbourne and Auckland. Singapore was 5th on the list.

Hong Kong property

Photo: Apartment in Viking Garden, Hong Kong 

In Hong Kong, median home prices are almost 19 times the median annual gross household income. It is the largest year-to-year increase in pricing over the 12 years in which the research was conducted. A small shoebox apartment below 500 sq ft would cost almost US$75,000 (or S$1.1million) in Hong Kong. That is almost double the price of such an apartment unit in Singapore. In the United States, only 9 metropolitan registered highly affordable housing prices, with San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego being some of them. 14 other cities in the United States remained under the affordable level, with Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Rochester tied in first place.

SF FlatPhoto: San Francisco apartment

With the US interest rates rising this year however, property analysts are expecting some change in the global property markets. Hong Kong’s property bubble may burst should the authorities do good on their promise to meet housing supply demand.

In Singapore, housing prices are 5 times that of the median annual gross household income. Although still considered ‘severely unaffordable’ under Demographia’s rating scale, HDB has been making efforts in the last couple of years to increase supply and reduce demand for public housing. For now, the price of a new HDB flat is still $150,000 to $180,000 lesser than a resale unit in the same area.

 

2016 – Property cooling measures to stay

Remember those days of astounding COV (cash-over-valuation) prices? Those days may be but a shadow of the current market environment today. More than half of resale HDB flats sold now are selling at prices close to market value and prices are now comparable to those of 2011.

Tampines HDB flatPhoto: Resale HDB flat for sale in Tampines.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has however said that it may be too early to lift the property curbs, most of which were implemented in 2013, during the peak of the property market. Since then, HDB resale flat prices have fallen about 10 per cent, according to the HDB resale price index.

Some of the most impactful measures include the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD) and Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework. For HDB loans, the mortgage servicing ratio was tightened to 30 per cent of the loan applicant’s gross income.

With the property cooling measures here to stay, this year’s resale flat prices may remain level, with some fluctuations should there be economic or interest rate changes. HDB’s announcement of their expected 18,000 new BTO units this year may dilute demand for resale HDB flats, though prices are not expected to fall much as most buyers will be those who do not wish to or are unable to wait 3 to 4 years for the new BTO flats to be built. The motivating factors for selling or buying a resale unit may be what lays the foundation for the final transacted price.

Suburban private home prices waver


Parc EleganceNovember saw a 0.6% fall in private home prices, pulled down mainly by falling figures in the shoebox apartments segment. These units sized below 506 sq ft fared 1.2 per cent better in October than in November.

Property analysts are expecting some selling action in the months ahead, particularly in the non-central suburban private home segment as the surge of completed units and increased interest rates may force the hand of investors who have overstretched themselves. However, the number of sellers may outweigh the number of buyers as competition toughens up.

Properties in the central regions or prime districts of 1 to 4 and 9 to 11 could have fared better as well, with a 4.5 per cent fall in prices in a year-on-year comparison. That is a drop of 13.1 per cent from the peak in May 2013. Industry players have reasoned that properties in the central regions are generally larger in size, which means they also have a higher total quantum price, which makes them harder to find buyers for. Foreign buyers are also expected to pay a 15 per cent ABSD (Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty), which may have turned some investors off the Singapore property market.

The Boutiq Killiney

Photo: The Boutiq Killiney

As the target audience for the central and non-central regions are quite different, sellers and buyers alike may need to alter their expectations of the market in 2016. In the central regions, some sellers may be ready to let go of their properties as the economy slows, but prices are not expected to fall drastically as the owners usually have the holding power to hang on to their properties till the price is right. In the non-central regions however, where owners and buyers are usually salaried workers, pricing may be more dependent on external forces such as the overall rate of economic growth, employment and mortgage rates, rental potential and debt ratios.

Private property market- Volume versus price

Stock of unsold private property units have been falling. At 25 per cent lower this year as compared to 2013, the improving take up rates could be chalked up to pent-up demand from buyers and lowering property prices.

Sol AcresPhoto: Sol Acres Executive Condominium

But the question remains, could sellers and investors expect a quick turnaround next year with profits and rental yields increasing? Resale property prices have dropped 6 to 11 per cent since 2013 and while sales volume has risen, the property rental market remains quiet. In fact, rents have softened this year and with the impending boom in supply of completed residential units next year (including executive condominiums or ECs and HDB flats), the rental market may be facing competition that’s tougher than before.

There are currently more than 300 unsold units the executive condominium (EC) market in projects such as Sol Acres, The Criterion and The Terrace. Developers of these and other private projects with unsold stock might be pressured to move these units next year as some may face restrictions such as the Qualifying Certificate penalties and the Additional Buerys’ Stamp Duty (ABSD). The latter not only affects developers, but also buyers who are also further restrained by the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR).

The PanoramaPhoto: The Panorama

Prices of developer-sold new properties have already been on the decline this year. At The Panorama in Ang Mo Kio, prices fell fromr $1,343 psf to $1,226 psf within 10 months. Similarly in Sims Urban Oasis, prices have dropped $112 psf to $1,285 psf in 9 months.

2016 begins in less than a month, and everyone will be keeping a keen eye on the first quarter for the tone it sets for the year ahead.

$1.5 million sweet spot for private resale buyers

Singapore’s property market will be expecting some adjustments in the private resale non-landed sector as more completed units continue to enter the market next year. But prices have stabilised somewhat in the past couple of months after 5 months of consecutive decline.

Loft @ Nathan, one of the new property launches available to buyers.

Loft @ Nathan, one of the new property launches available to buyers.

Property analysts have realised that buyers remain highly sensitive to the total quantum price and they seem to have reached a sweet spot of $1.5 million. Smaller units are more susceptible to price changes as their numbers are on the rise, causing rental competition to be rather fierce. In October, a 0.1% value increase for private completed non-landed properties was registered by the NUS Singapore Residential Price Index. More buyers have been setting their sights on resale properties as developers largely cut back on the number of new launches in the second half of the year.

There were 247 more transactions registered this year as compared to the last and with a $750,000 increase in sales figures. There has also been a shift this year in the market’s focus, from new developer properties to resale properties. More buyers are own-occupiers who are looking for immediate housing needs, thus are more willing to pay for resale units.

Industry experts are expecting 2016 to bring more fluctuations as the market copes with new homes reaching completion, private homes and HDB flats included.