Chinese top buyers of Singaporean properties

Foreign interest in local properties have not waned despite rising prices and supply over the past half a decade. Their appetite have not diminished, if at all. Transactions may have shrunk slightly due to the additional costs involved in foreign-purchases of properties in Singapore, put in place by the series of property cooling curbs rolled out since 2011, but they buyers are back in the market in search of potential sites and units, in particular buyers from mainland China.

skyline-residencesIn a year-on-year comparison, foreign property transactions were up 11.8 per cent and this excludes purchases by permanent residents. Besides the Chinese, other major buyers hail from Malaysia, Indonesia and the United States. Each group have their preferences as the numbers show. Chinese buyers mostly favoured suburban properties while Malaysia and Indonesian buyers went for core central region units. 68 per cent of Indonesian buyers and 40 per cent to Malaysian buyers purchased homes in the prime districts while 58 per cent of transactions from the Chinese were for homes outside of the core central districts. Most Indonesia buyers are willing to pay $2,000 psf and above for prime properties while Chinese buyers usually went for properties priced between $750 to $1,700 psf.

Marina ONe iprop watermarkThe Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD) may have been a deterrent at one point in time, but as the government made clear that the measures are here to stay, acceptance is beginning to truly sink in and buyers are willing to spend the additional amounts in exchange for long-term capital gains. Buyers from the United States are exempt from the ABSD due to a free-trade agreement and this has raised the number of buyers up from 1.1 to 7.3 per cent over the past 5 years.

 

Property market slowdown reflected in stamp duty collected

In 2014, the property stamp duty assessed was at $4.11 billion. This year, the total amount for the period ending March 31 was 28 per cent lower at $2.96 billion. Property prices and transaction volume have also fallen since the peaks of 2009 and 2013.

TheOceanfrontThe real estate market here has hit a number of speed bumps over the past 3 to 4 years and with the various cooling measures in place, buyers and investors have shied away from this previously almost-surefire means of investment. Introduced almost 5 years in December 2011, the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD) has gradually taken effect on the market, perhaps in particular the luxury property sector which used to attract mostly foreign investors. With the 15 per cent ABSD imposed on them, and 7 to 10 per cent on Singaporeans, many may have thought twice about buying a second or subsequent property as the additional monies to be paid are considerable.

Much of the ABSD assessed came from share transfer from bulk purchases by non-Singaporean entities or shareholders who may have to let go of unsold units before they are hit by the Qualifying Certificate (QC).

marinacollectionBut with the current financial and economic climate hazy at best, the future of other investment products fairly volatile, and local property prices having fallen to affordable quantum levels, could more buyers be picking off units to secure more stable future yields?

 

Hong Kong’s red-hot real estate calls for new cooling measures

The pace and amplitude of Hong Kong’s rising property prices, in particular over the last couple of years, have seen the authorities taking proactive steps to cool it. Despite a move to increase stamp duties 3 years ago, prices have continued to climb. In September this year, prices surged once more, after 6 consecutive months of increase, to clock at a record high for the year.

hongkongpropertyHong Kong is already considered one of the most expensive Asian cities to live in, and current cost of real estate plus the high standard of living, has placed many housing options out of reach for the average citizen. Now, with experts predicting further price increase for the rest of the year, the Hong Kong government has once again raised stamp duties on property transactions.

Stamp duties will be raised 15 per cent for all transactions, up from the current 8.5 per cent. This change only affects citizens however, as foreign buyers are already paying a 15 per cent stamp duty. This will hopefully deter property flipping for the populous though the wealthy may still transact within the luxury property sector. ManyWi mainland buyers prefer to hedge heir funds in the Hong Kong real estate sector and have thus negated the effect of the Hong Kong government’s properties cooling measures.

The_Mediterranean_Hong KOngTo help the common man secure housing, first-time home buyers will only be charged a maximum 4.25 per cent stamp duty, dependent in the property value. This latest move is one of the government’s attempts to cool the red-hot property market before financial instability sinks in and causes more chaos to their economy.

 

Increasing difficulty in securing Australian home loans

Foreign property buyers hoping to snap up homes in Australia may find it increasing harder to secure home loans from Australian banks. The major Australian banks such as Commonwealth Bank, the National Australian Bank (NAB) and Westpac have further tightened loan restrictions to non-residents.

Sydney NSW skylineIn June this year, foreigners buying properties in New South Wales (NSW) have to now pay a 4 per cent stamp duty surcharge. In the state of Victoria, stamp duties have been raised this month to 7 per cent from the 3 per cent which commenced last year. Queensland may soon implement a 3 per cent foreign property surcharge as well, with a projected commencement date of October this year.

Foreign property buyers have come under the hammer of late, with citizens raising concerns about rising home prices, especially in popular cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Mainland Chinese buyers were the largest investors, spending A$24 billion in the property market last year, doubling that of A$12 billion in 2014.

The National Australian Bank (NAB) and Westpac are however still Sydney Surrey Streethelping Singaporean investors secure loans via their Singapore offices, though they are careful to alert clients to the total debt servicing ration (TDSR) framework which still applies. There are also other sources of home financing, including private lenders though additional information and documents, such as bank statements and income slips, will be required.

Increase in Foreign property purchases

The local property market is looking a little zestier as more foreign buyers picked up units in the first quarter. This affirms the continued popularity of properties in Singapore as compared to those in other major Asian cities, or global cities for that matter.

Kingsford HIllview PeakProperty prices in Singapore are still relatively affordable, and the number of purchases made by non-Singaporean residents rose by 5.4 per cent, while purchases made by permanent residents rose by 2.6 per cent in Q1. The Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD) initially dampened sales, but as foreign property investors find themselves having similar, it not even higher, fees levied upon them in other markets, their return is not particularly surprising. While there are other emerging markets with even lower property prices, the stability and proven track record of Singapore’s properties has done the market justice.

Most of the properties foreign buyers hunt down are priced between $1.5 to $3 million. They bought 79 units at Cairnhill Nine and 38 units at Kingsford Hillview peak. Most of the foreign buyers were Mainland Chinese or Malaysians. Property analysts are keeping positive about the market’s prospects for the rest of the year despite the number of local buyers falling 18.2 per cent, though it could be due to the Chinese New Year holidays falling in the middle of Q1.

 

 

Prices of suburban properties dipping

Prices of new properties in the prime central districts have been rising, even as the market dulls. Suburban homes are feeling the strain put on the market by the influx of completed new homes this year.

The PanoramaBuyers seeking out properties in the suburbs tend to be more price-sensitive, and are often hampered by the total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) framework and the additional buyers’ stamp duty (ABSD), leading to higher competition from an expanding pool of stock for a shrinking pool of ready buyers. Prices at The Panorama in Ang Mo Kio have fell 9.7 per cent since its launch to $1,213 psf and similarly in Clementi, units at The Trilinq are now priced around $1,408 psf, almost 9 per cent lower than its launch price.

In comparison, buyers of properties in the prime central districts are more affluent and are able to afford the prices properties here demand. For example at Robin Residences, selling prices are now hovering at $2,371 psf, 2.4 per cent higher than its launch-price. Buyers of centrally located properties also have stronger holding power and less likely to sell unless the price is right.

RObin ResidencesThe price gap between suburban and central district homes have been widening. Last year, CCR (core central region) new-home price premiums were 81 per cent over those in the OCR (outside central region). As more OCR homes hit the secondary market this year, how will smaller investors handle the competition?

 

Price drop in City fringe and Suburban properties

The global economic slowdown may have affected industries all around, as salaried employees whose jobs may even be in danger are now more prudent with their spendings. As these are the main target audience for suburban and city-fringe properties, these market sectors are a little worse for wear and both sales and rental prices have fallen.

A typical 3-bedder outside the central region may have fetch $3,800 in monthly rent a year ago, but now the going prices are hovering around $3,200. Competition in the resale market may also rise this year as investors who have purchase properties in 2011 will now be clear of stamp duties and may be putting their units into the market by the middle of this year.

Corals @ Keppel BayPhoto: Corals @ Keppel Bay

Luxury homes and central region properties may fare a little better, though resale private apartment prices have dropped 0.3 per cent in February this year. Most of the buyers of these high-end properties are high-net-worth individuals or funds who are capable of holding on to their properties through market troughs. Foreigners also make up a large proportion of the buyers here, with Malaysians, Indonesians and Chinese forming majority of the group. As Singapore’s luxury properties are still considered value-buys in comparison with the other popular Asian city, Hong Kong, where prices are 30 per cent higher and most properties are leasehold, those with the cash will continue to pick up deals, more of which are to be had this year as developers begin to offload their unsold stock.

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.