Property cooling measures likely to remain

The economic slowdown and diminishing growth rates are causes for concern not only for the Singapore government, but also for consumers and businesses.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has recently spoken about the property cooling measures which were implemented in succession over the past three years. He has mentioned that they are likely to remain at this time of uncertainty as a response to “global context and environment”.

Kingsford HIllview PeakProperty prices have fallen 10.8 per cent since Q3 of 2013 and prices fell 1.5 per cent in the third quarter of this year, bringing it to the 12th consecutive quarter of price decline. The real estate industry currently faces stagnation and though interest rates are low, many are looking for higher yields. He has warned against creating an environment rife with property speculation and has said that capital inflow might create a volatile and highly-speculative atmosphere which will result in property market fluctuations.

With the high number of completed units entering the market this year, and with unsold inventory rising, the property cooling measures may be helpful in keeping the delicate market balance. As of Q2 this year, there were 21,500 unsold and uncompleted private homes, the lowest ever recorded, indicating a possible shift of influence from the seller to the buyer. The government has also held back on the launch of land sites earlier this year.

Meyerise2Property analysts are not surprised by the government’s move to keep the property curbs in place, though sudden pace changes and steeper declines might prompt the government to reconsider relaxing the rules sooner.

Forest Woods condominium in Serangoon selling fast

Keeping unit prices at the new Forest Woods condominium below the $1 million mark seems to be a good move by developer, City Developments (CDL).

forestwoodsBuyers are attracted by the prime suburban location and its proximity to the Serangoon MRT station which speaks volumes since location is still a key mitigating factor for most tenants. The fact that the Serangoon MRT station is a major interchange node connecting between different MRT lines, is linked to a bus interchange and also a huge shopping mall, NEX, are all bonuses. And as property prices have been falling for a couple of years now, buyer sentiment is that they will not fall any further, and are taking the opportunity to buy now before interest rates potentially rise in the later part of the year. The $6,000 to $12,000 early bird discount may also have enticed some to seal the deal early.

forestwoods2All the one- and two-bedroom apartments launched at Forest Woods have sold out and the median selling price currently stands at $1,400 psf. The development has a range of units ranging from 506 sq ft one-bedders to 2,185 sq ft penthouses. As of Sunday evening (the project was launched last weekend), almost 65% of the units were already sold. One of the three penthouses available was also sold at $2.85 million. Almost 90 per cent of the buyers were Singaporeans, with the rest being permanent residents or foreigners from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and Switzerland.

Fall in Q3 Private home prices

Private home prices have been falling for the past 3 years, 12 consecutive quarters to be exact, and it’s currently at it’s lowest in 7 years. Last quarter’s fall was the steepest at 1.5%. So it does seem like the property cooling measures which were rolled out at around the same time have worked. And while the authorities are committed to continue having them in place, the real estate industry might have to bite down hard and stay the course.

threebalmoralEffects from the general global, regional and local economic markets have trickled down to the property sector as worry about the job market and a weakening economy affects demand and risk-taking. Though interest in high-end core central region luxury properties may have improved, prices have yet to completely made a turnaround. Home prices in this segment fell the hardest at 1.8 per cent following a 0.3 per cent rise in Q2. Landed property prices also fell 2.2 per cent while previously in-demand city fringe properties saw a 1.3 per cent fall.

As the last quarter of the year will possibly see more new property launches in comparison to Q3 which was relatively quiet, and HDB rolls out its next launch of 5,090 new BTO flats in Bedok, Bidadari, Punggol and Kallang/Whampoa HDB estates in November, will existing unsold stock and resale private homes be on the receiving end of added pressure and competition?

August’s Property market showing weaker

Buyers may have pulled back from the property market last month, partly due to the Hungry Ghost festival. In comparison to July’s bounty of developer launches, August’s numbers may seem pale.

Those who were looking would have only been keen if the prices were too attractive to pass up, and most buyers who have not already inked a deal in July may be waiting for the next few launches coming up in the last quarter of 2016. Non-Central regions property prices dropped 0.9 per cent, the largest in the 0.6 per cent overall fall in August.

highlineresidences1Developers have been offering incentive schemes and discounts for the last couple of quarters. And the buyers may now be more aware of these possibilities and thus are less willing to fork out higher amounts for completed homes as they know new fodder may be coming their way soon.  Small apartments below 506 sq ft have fallen the hardest at 4.5 per cent in a year-on-year comparison.

Long-term investment seem to be on the minds of recent buyers.  Properties in prime locations still hold their own and while buying frequency has dropped, properties in the central region are gaining ground and popularity with investors. The incline of fall in prices and sales has gradually eased and prices have remained relatively stagnant over the last half of the year, providing a sentiment of stability.

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.


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%.