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%.

Signs of property market bottoming out?  

Though the vacancy rates of private residential properties are currently 1.4 percent higher in Q2 and at a 16-year record high, and property prices 9.4 percent lower than the 2013 peak, property analysts remain positive about the outlook as these could be signs that the property market is reaching the bottom of its cycle.

7478d455d05b4f2aa26fd1e5a8ce7bd2There were 30,310 vacant private homes in the second quarter, that is 5,391 units more than in Q1. As the number of completed properties rise, with almost 11,400 new units entering the market in the first half of 2016, the rates are seemingly modest. Property prices have also been stabilizing, and as long as interest rates remain at their current level, most households will be likely to be able to hold on to their properties over the down season.

More property buyers are now making home purchases for their own use instead of pure investment purposes and many are taking the opportunity to seal deals during this quieter time. In a year-on-year comparison, sales volume has risen 11 per cent and the luxury property market in particular is enjoying a spike in buying interest as prices have fallen sufficiently, luring buyers back into the high-end property market.

 

 

 

Property cooling measure not going away

Yet. For now, as long as global circumstances continue to destabilise, growth slows and home prices remain high, the local government is unlikely to loosen the noose on the property market and the property cooling measures look set to stay.

Thomson Impressions2Property analysts say only a drastic and sudden market plunge will move the authorities into action as they focus their energy into repositioning Singapore as research and development investment-worthy. Though a complete reversal of the sudden market boom between 2008 and 2013 seems unlikely, the property cooling measures rolled out by the government over the past few years have effected a slow and gradual decline in property prices.

More households are saving up for their first home or to invest in a second, and putting away less for research, education, entrepreneurship and development. And as high home prices also mean higher wage expectations and thus higher labour costs, the high property prices here may be detrimental to Singapore’s overall growth over the next few years. In the near future, it seems unlikely that the property cooling measures will be lifted, until such time when a balance between national growth, competitiveness and housing needs is struck. Or till a sudden fall in property prices. Would a prolonged period of suppressed property market be any less damaging to the local economy?

Completed private home prices fall further

Completed resale private non-landed property prices have dipped further in May, following a slight increase the month before. The muted sales could have also been a reflex response to the recent Brexit vote though in the long term, property analysts are not expecting the fallout to be too drastic.

FulcrumPrice decline of apartments in the central region were the lowest, with prices falling only 0.5 per cent last month, almost evening out with the 0.4 per cent rise in April. Properties here have the location advantage and will be unlikely to see a sudden price depression anytime soon. Astute buyers are however still out for the hunt and are likely to look towards properties in this areas for good deals. In the current market, buyers who lack holding power may find themselves having to let go of their properties within a time period, and may be more open to price negotiations.

As more new properties were launched in the last couple of months, activity from this segment may have also stimulated the resale private property sector and the spillover effect of positive market sentiments could have caused a slight blip in April’s price rise. Small apartments below 506 sq ft saw the steepest fall of 1.1 per cent as competition in the rental market heats up and prices continue to fall with high supply against lower demand.

 

The true value of Hong Kong homes?

Property prices in Hong Kong are at a record high, and there are no signs of it letting up anytime soon. Or does there?

From the number of foreclosures on properties surging to a 5-year high, buyers seem to be struggling to cope with high-interest home loans, almost impossible property prices and a weakening economy. Although a property bubble has yet to occur, cracks in the market seem to be showing as the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) points to a growing number of homes whose value are lower than their original price tag.

Park yoho venezia Hong Kong propertyBy the end of 2016’s first quarter, 1,432 homes were already under the foreclosure hammer, and their value – a whooping HK$4.9 million (S$852.5 million). As the Hong Kong government has a strictly-regulated banking system and with 7 rounds of property cooling measures already in place, home buyers and investors have been borrowing from unregulated sources such finance firms and real estate developers, some up to 95 per cent.

Analysts are concerned that the household debt is at 70 per cent and more investors and home owners have been using their properties are collateral for other transactions such as stock trading. As the global and local economy shake, they find themselves in deep hot water. What will the near future hold for Hong Kong’s property market? Is a bubble brewing and is there a danger of the 2008 recession?