Property market showing signs of awakening

Sturdee-ResidenceAlthough property prices have been falling, the show of interest from the buying public has never really waned, instead they are now simply more aware of their options and have become more selective in their investments.

Signs that the market lull might be broken soon have come from the positive take-up of units in 2 recent launches at The Visionaire Executive Condominium (EC) and The Sturdee Residences. 158 units were sold the 632-unit The Visionaire EC at a median price of $811 psf while prices averaged at $1,550 psf at the 305-unit The Sturdee Residences. Buyers at the private residential project have gone mainly for the smaller one- and two-bedders though 3 of its 8 penthouses have already found new owners. Two of the 1,830 sq ft penthouse units were sold at $3.2 million each.

Gem REsidencesThe Parc Life EC and private residential project Gem Residences will launch this weekend. Private condominium Stars of Kovan is expected to launch next month. The latter is a mixed-use development consisting of 390 residential units, 5 strata terraces and 46 shops. Prices are expected to range between $1,550 to $1,600 psf. E-applications for Parc Life have already exceeded the 660 units available and there is hope that uptake will be on the uptick at both these projects.

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?

Foreign buyers favour luxury properties in Singapore

Private apartments up to the size of 506 sq ft, more popularly known as shoebox apartments, have been having a hard time finding new owners as prices of completed units fell 1.1 per cent. However, non-central region private apartment prices rose 0.3 per cent in February and central region units have fared surprisingly well.

St Regis ResidencesThe recent sale of a $15million St. Regis Residences penthouse may have given the owner in a $3.3 million profit margin and given last month’s figures a boost despite the low sales volume. Overall, private property prices rose 0.4 per cent last month, following a 0.2 per cent rise in January. The luxury property market has not been in the best of health last year, but things may be taking a turn for the better.

Though property analysts are conservative about their predictions of a market turnaround this year, it is nevertheless a glimmer of light. With rising home prices in London and Hong Kong, foreign buyers are taking a second look at properties here in Singapore for investment purposes. Approximately 92 per cent of the sales and subsales transactions registered in the core central region come from foreign buyers.

Sturdee-ResidenceProperty investors with less holding power may be pushed to sell their units, in particular the smaller ones as rental prospects have dimmed, as oil, gas and marine sectors wobble.

2016 Budget – Cooling measures to stay

In this year’s Budget, there was no mention from the authorities on the easing of property cooling curbs which property players have said are part of the reason behind diminishing growth in the sector.

Are buyers looking outside of Singapore for investment opportunities?

Are buyers looking outside of Singapore for investment opportunities?

The property cooling curbs have put the brakes on plans for many investors and even home buyers who now have their loan options rather severely restricted. The total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) framework limits the amount that can be loaned based on a percentage of the borrower’s monthly income.  Levy on the additional buyers’ stamp duty (ABSD) which increases the final buying price on a property, and many buyers and investors have shied away from putting their monies on local properties. They are instead looking outside of the country or into other kinds of investment opportunities.

The stock on unsold homes set to enter the market this year may depress prices even more but some analysts consider the government’s move to stand firm on their decision a wise one. As property prices are still high, and interest rates still considerably low, there is still space for them market to grow, albeit a little slower.

CIty GateThat will keep any possibility of a bubble at bay and though conservative, may be the best plan in the midst of a shaky global economic situation. Though private property prices have been falling, resale HDB flat prices have stayed stagnant for quite awhile now, which begs the question of who really benefits from these property cooling measures?

Private condominium prices hold steady

The fall in completed private condominium prices was gentler last year at 3.5 per cent, compared to the 5.7 per cent from the year before. Prices are expected to hold steady this year as a dip in supply of properties in this sector bring prices to a plateau.

Jewel CDL

Photo: Jewel @ Buangkok

Demand for smaller apartments of up to 500 sq ft in size, have been weakening as their numbers, especially in the suburbs, have been on the rise in the past couple of years. Investors have found them more difficult to rent out in the dulling leasing market and those outside the central region or further from regional business hubs may find themselves competing for the same tenant pool. Tenants now prefer units with larger floor spaces with just slightly higher rents.

Sale prices of completed private properties within the central regions however have fallen more sharply as they usually come with a higher total quantum price. Compared to the many newer properties which have found a sweet spot with their total selling price, units in these central or prime districts see fewer overall transactions.

As the volume of unsold completed condominium stock diminishes and with the fewer launches expected this year due to cutbacks on land supply, resale properties could expect a happier year ahead.

China’s property market on road to recovery

Following the recent blip in China’s economy, which has affected economies across the globe, investor confidence and expectations have dipped considerably.

Home prices have also fallen but are now on the road to recovery as the authorities have eased measures to help regions, in particular smaller cities, in danger of a supply glut. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has helped to keep the yuan steady after allowing it to fall rather drastically in the beginning of the year. It has reduced interest rates 6 times since November 2014 and also lowered repayment requirements to allow buyers to borrow more for their first and second homes. Home prices have risen in 37 cities over the last month. In the more touristic cities such as Hangzhou and Xiamen, home prices have grown 1.1 and 1.3 per cent respectively over November last year. In a year-on-year comparison, a growth of 5.6 and 6.4 per cent was recorded.

PikShaRoadPhoto: Pik Sha Road property in Hong Kong

China‘s government seems determined to keep the economy afloat though sharp rebounds may be unlikely. Economists are expecting the authorities to play a more supportive role this year, with one of their main tasks this year being the reduction of home inventory, thus investors and market players are expecting further easing of measures this year.

Cities which are also business hubs, such as Shenzhen and Shanghai, have seen the quickest pace of home prices recovery. New home prices in Shenzhen and Shanghai have increased by 3.2 and 1.9 per cent respectively, followed by 0.4 and 0.7 per cent in Beijing and Guangzhou. Most of the positive activity in the property market remains centred around a small market segment, and some less popular cities are still seeing a market decline.

 

Lull in private home prices

Despite a projected lull in local private home prices this year, interest in Singapore’s property market remains steady as prime residential property prices are still 165 per cent and 92 per cent lower than those in Hong Kong and London respectively.

 Photo credit: Singapore Tourism Board

So despite property analysts predicting a 5 to 10 per cent fall in prime and mass market private property prices this year, the local property market’s core remains strong. 2010’s property cooling measures may have kept property prices 17 per cent lower than what it could have been. Private home prices have fallen 4 per cent last year, following a 3.7 per cent fall in 2014. In the luxury home market, prices have fallen 20 per cent since the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD) was implemented in 2011.

China’s recent growth slump, plunging oil prices, the Federal Reserve interest rate hike and a general sense of a global recession looming, might consequently affect the property markets around the world. Businesses may reconsider their expansion plans, which could mean a fall in demand for office spaces and commercial properties. This in turn may affect the number of expatriates entering the country, which may also affect rental prices.

This year could prove tough for investors and property sellers, but not without glimpses of hope. 2016 may be the year to hang-in-there, but industry experts are expecting 2017 to take a turn for the better.

Fewer launches More sales

Despite property developers rolling out fewer new property launches last year, sales of new private homes rose 2.9 per cent from 2014, to ring the tills at 7,529 transactions in 2015. The number of new homes launched last year was in fact 8.2 per cent lesser than that of 2014. Buyers may have realised that property prices are stabilising and will not decline much more, and thus are returning to the market to pick off already-better deals.

The Trilinq
Photo: The Trilinq

759 new private property units were sold in November alone last year, buoyed by the launch of The Poiz Residences. In December, there were 384 transactions recorded, 154 more in a year-on-year comparison with December 2014. Though 2013’s peak saw 14,948 new home sales, almost double that of last year’s, the signs are more positive than expected. Property investors may also be picking up real estate as the stock market remains volatile. Perhaps declining property prices have also managed to strike a chord with investors. At The Trilinq for example, which first launched at prices of $1,545 psf in 2013, have since trimmed their prices to $1,329 psf.

Market activity this year will await to be seen as the interest rates hikes and loan restrictions combined, and the reduction of land sites sold this year, may deter buyers and lower demand. Industry analysts are however remaining positive, projecting 8,500 new private home sales this year. They are expecting lower overall quantum prices to be the draw of this years’ property market.