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.

Sparks of hope in property market

Despite the prolonged property lull, analysts are hopeful that a few sparks of recovery will begin to rejuvenate the market this year. The office sector may boost the commercial market while high-end luxury homes will hold up the residential property segment.

dleedonAs far as regions go, the core central region is heating up in terms of foreign interest in both residential and commercial properties. The sliding private home prices, by 11 per cent since 2013, have brought investors back into the luxury homes market. Currency valuation will however continue to play a part in the movement of investment money, and Singapore will still have to compete with other cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Shanghai for investors’ attention.

Compared to other major cities such as Hong Kong, New York and London however, apartment prices here have fallen and will become more appealing to foreign buyers as the potential for yields in the medium term is considerable, especially as these specific market segment is expected to perform well this year.

skylineorchardboulevardThe collective sales market is another to watch in 2017, as developers are expected to collaborate to build up their store of land sites for long term yields. There might also be acquisitions of smaller developers by larger ones in order to participate in the government land sales programme. Property prices are expected to remain stable but depending on a property’s rental yields as a means of investment or profit could become less attractive as investors find it more difficult to find tenants in an increasingly competitive market.

Hong Kong’s property prices expected to rise further

As one of Asia’s, if not the world’s, most expensive cities to live and work in, it comes as no surprise that the real estate in Hong Kong is one of the world’s costliest.

onekaitak_2

Photo credit: www.onekt.com.hk

Despite the Hong Kong government‘s repeated attempts to cool the market, with implementation of stamp duties and laying down of other purchasing restrictions, property prices in Hong Kong have continued to climb. And things could be heating up even more this year as even Mr Li Ka Shing, the country’s richest man, predicts the market still have room for property prices to climb further. In November last year, private property prices reached a peak unseen since 1979 when the data was made available by the city’s rating and valuation department.

Although there has been some political unrest, mostly civil, in the city and interest rates have been on the rise, there is still space apparently, for slight rise in prices this year. It will not be a smooth ride up, but there will be increments made nonetheless. China Overseas Land and Investment for example has listed the prices of their latest private residential development in the former Kai Tak airport area for almost 20 per cent higher that the same which were sold in August. In a city where liveable land is scarce, developers have been known to pay exorbitant prices for land sites, for example the record ids for sites in the same Kai Tak airport area for US$1.8 billion or S$2.58 billion.

 

Will property market bottom out soon?

Hopes of a market rebound may be reignited as the bottom of the cycle seems to be in close reach. While private home prices have fallen by 0.4% for the 13th consecutive quarter, the rate of decline of private home prices have been reduced from the 1.5% in 2016’s Q3.

cairnhillresidencesIn 2016, private home prices fell only 3%, the slowest since 2013. Since the third quarter of 2013, home prices have fallen 11.2%, with a 4% fall in 2014 followed by a 3.75% fall in 2013. The projected fall in home value this year is 2% to 3%. While home seekers and investors may be drawn back into the market with the lowered property prices, analysts are not expecting them to splurge.

highlandresidencesIn Q4 of 2016, non-landed private home prices fell 0.7 per cent, led by city fringe properties with a 2 per cent drop. Prices of units in the core central region remained unchanged while suburban home prices fell 0.3 per cent. Units in the core central region have suffered a 1.9 per cent fall in Q3, thus the fact that sales volume have increased while prices remained unchanged could be a good sign for the year ahead.

Landed property prices posted a surprising rise of 0.9 per cent after a 2.7 per cent fall in Q3 while in the resale HDB flat market, prices fell 0.1 per cent.

Will current property bright spots continue to shine in 2017?

Private home prices have continued to fall in 2016, and while that may have coloured the market atmosphere somewhat grey, bright spots are beginning to shine through the gloom, with 3 sectors performing particularly well this year.

Miro condo on Lincoln Road, just off Novena at the City Fringe districts.

Miro condo on Lincoln Road, just off Novena in the city fringe.

The luxury residential property, commercial office and collective sales segments have all shone this year. And industry players are no doubt hoping that the positive streak will continue in 2017. In this year alone, 3 en bloc sales were closed. Only 1 such transaction was recorded for 2015 and none in 2014. Even for the private home market, sales volume has risen 9.8 per cent this year despite 10.8 and 10.7 per cent fall respectively in sale prices and rents in 12 consecutive quarters.

Some property analysts however consider the fall in property prices a good thing, as this has enticed more buyers back into the market. Buyers who may have previously stayed away from the market due to the increased stamp duties and fees implemented by the authorities in the past few years to attempt to cool the market, have now returned and are now swiftly closing transactions.

2 RVG condo apartment in River Valley

2 RVG condo apartment in River Valley

In the prime districts of 9, 10 and 11, private home transactions were already 42.6 per cent higher than the total in 2015. 2,601 deals were sealed in the Orchard, River Valley, Bukit Timah and Novena areas as of mid-December. With more land allocated under the Government Land Sales (GLS) scheme and developers on the lookout for smaller prime location sites, the market may see a lot more activity quite soon.

Luxury home market shows signs of revival

The luxury property segment has shown strengthening signs of revival these past few months as units at high-end residential developments such as Leedon Residence and Goodwood Residence have been picked up at an increased rate, even without discounts, deferrer payment schemes or incentives.

GoodwoodResidencesAbout 70 per cent of the sales at Goodwood Residence were from investment buyers and the average selling price was at $2,300 psf. The property situated in Bukit Timah is developed by Singapore-listed developer GuocoLand and all of it’s 3 penthouses and 210 units have been sold. The penthouses sized between 3,900 and 9,600 sq ft were sold for between $6.5 to $14.23 million.

Over at the 381-unit Leedon Residence, with variety of 2- to 5-bedroom units, more than three quarters of which have been sold. Prices here are considerable as well, with most units going for only slightly lesser than $2,000 psf. Some 5-bedders have been sold for between $8.5 to $10 million. The remaining 100 or so units may be picked up by a group in a bulk sale.

Leedon Residence on Holland Road.

Leedon Residence on Holland Road.

Property analysts are holding back their optimism for a market turnaround as they chalk most of the sales up to value-for-money deals from the sector. Due to a subdued market, more opportunities for investors have popped up and while transactions of non-landed homes with prices of $2,000 psf and above have increased by 80 per cent, most of these investors are not banking on quick or huge returns. They may however be willing to and are able to hold on to the units for when the market makes a comeback.