Mortgage cap continues to limit resale HDB flat market

One of the more impactful property cooling measures implemented in recent years have been the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework and the mortgage servicing cap for HDB flats, which limits the percentage of one’s gross income which can be used to service a loan for a HDB flat to 30 per cent.

SengkangHDB

Resale flat prices have been deflating for 2 years now and looks like it will be flatlining this year. Since its peak in April 2013, resale HDB flat prices have fallen 11 per cent and many transactions are now closed sans Cash-over-valuation (COV). The second half of last year did however see a slight increase in prices. With the selling prices of recent transactions quite transparently and clearly reflected by HDB, buyers are now more aware of the current market climate.

The number of transactions in January fell 121 units from December, and prices fell 0.5 per cent. But this may be due to the busyness which January brings for buyers and sellers and property analysts are not overly worried about the HDB market as prices and sales volume are only expected to remain level this year. The stability may be a good thing this may be the much-needed rest period before a market rebound.

 

Right time for luxury (property) shopping?

With the current property market lull, developers are offering many larger-sized luxury properties at discounted prices. Prime central district properties have also seen less activity as foreigners are buying fewer condominium units possibly due to the higher stamp duties and taxes levied on them. Could this be the right time to suss out a good investment deal?

Twin-Peaks3

Photo: Twin Peaks condominium on Leonie Hill

In fact, many developers are looking at doing bulk sales on their unsold stock in order to prevent paying the penalties such as  the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD). Property funds may be the most likely buyers, though individuals or groups of individuals eyeing specific projects could also jump on the opportunity.

City Development Limited (CDL) for example has been trying to sell one of the two 24-storey towers at Gramercy Park and OUE is doing the same with their Twin Peaks development. Prices for Gramercy Park, a freehold condominium project, is expected to hover around $2,600 psf and will be ready for occupation by the Q2 of this year.

Though almost 92.9 per cent of their 174 units have been sold by last year, they still have a number of unsold stock to sell by 2018. Developers can file for extension of their Qualifying Certificate (QC) which allows them a bit more time to sell their stock. But developers will also have to weigh the charges and ABSD against the discounts they are able to provide buyers with bulk-buy offers.

 

Waterfront Living moving inland

Moving away from the coastlines, waterfront living has become more available inland. Aligned with the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Masterplan, Singapore’s landscape will evolve to include many man-sculptured green areas and waterways, with enhanced island-wide connectivity and a movement of population and property towards less mature districts and estates.

And it is only logical that building and property-development in these areas have ramped up in recent years. Besides government-built HDB flats, private condominiums have also been mushrooming in these developing districts.

Near Sungei Serangoon, just beside the Serangoon Park Connector, is the 1,165-unit Waterbay condominium. This 99-year leasehold condominium boasts a wide array of 1- to 5-bedroom apartment units, 2 swimming pools and even a childcare centre and 6 retail outlets. The waterfront views promise to bring a sense of living in a city but away from the buzz of a city.

In Punggol, there is the Watertown condominium, a mixed-use development that harnesses the beauty of nature and the Punggol Waterway while providing the convenience of city living with its extensive collection of integrated commercial and retail outlets.

With Punggol set to be the creative cluster in the North Coast Innovation Corridor which will also include Woodlands, Sembawang and the future Seletar Regional Centre, this outlier may soon be the latest town on the block to watch.

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.

What do home buyers value?

Location and price. The first is a well-known fact, that the better placed the property, the higher the demand and hence also the price. But home buyers are also keeping a close eye on their budget and the total quantum price could be the make-or-break factor when it comes to sealing a deal.

NorthparkResidences2Photo: Northpark Residences

Developers have been quick to catch on to this and the launches which sold quickly and well last year were those in the vicinity of a MRT station, school or shopping mall and affordably priced. Mixed-use developments such as Northpark Residences and The Poiz Residences were especially popular. Northpark Residences has sold 486 units at the $1,374 psf average while The Poiz Residences sold 277 units at $1,440 psf. Other mixed-use developments buyers seemed out include J Gateway and DUO Residences.

Home buyers’ appetite have signalled a trend towards $1,000 psf for suburban homes, $1,500 psf for city fringe properties and $2,000 psf for homes in the central regions. They are however more willing to pay more for mixed-use residential properties or those nearer MRT stations or bus interchanges.

WIsteria YishunPhoto credit: thewisteria.net

There will be a number of new launches such as 183 LongHaus in Upper Thomson and The Wisteria in Yishun coming up within this first quarter of the year, and it will be a time to watch as it will set the tone for the rest of 2016.

 

 

A stable year for Singapore’s property market?

Resale HDB flat prices have fallen only 1.5 per cent last year, as compared to 6 per cent the year before. Industry experts are not expecting prices to fall much more this year and in fact last quarter saw a 0.2 per cent rise in HDB resale flat price index. But that may not mean a sudden rebound of HDB flat prices as the options available to home buyers have now increased, especially as private home prices have fallen and more are now eligible to purchase new BTO flats directly from HDB.
Poiz Residences2Photo: Poiz Residences

HDB has announced that they will be rolling out up to 18,000 new flats this year, 3,000 more that last year. Private properties are now more affordable as developers have caught on to buyers’ affinity to total quantum selling prices. Last year, private property prices dropped 3.7 per cent overall, and a 0.5 per cent fall was registered last quarter of 2015.

The number of new property launches in the 4th quarter propped up new property prices with launches such as Principal Garden, The Poiz Residences and Thomson Impressions. Prices of new units in the city fringes fared well with no price changes. Landed property prices however fell 10.4 per cent over the last 2 and a half years, with prices falling 4.4 per cent last year alone.

Property analysts are watching the market closely as they are expecting the interest rate hikes to put a strain on those servicing home loans, especially as the property cooling measures concurrently remain.

Suburban private home prices waver


Parc EleganceNovember saw a 0.6% fall in private home prices, pulled down mainly by falling figures in the shoebox apartments segment. These units sized below 506 sq ft fared 1.2 per cent better in October than in November.

Property analysts are expecting some selling action in the months ahead, particularly in the non-central suburban private home segment as the surge of completed units and increased interest rates may force the hand of investors who have overstretched themselves. However, the number of sellers may outweigh the number of buyers as competition toughens up.

Properties in the central regions or prime districts of 1 to 4 and 9 to 11 could have fared better as well, with a 4.5 per cent fall in prices in a year-on-year comparison. That is a drop of 13.1 per cent from the peak in May 2013. Industry players have reasoned that properties in the central regions are generally larger in size, which means they also have a higher total quantum price, which makes them harder to find buyers for. Foreign buyers are also expected to pay a 15 per cent ABSD (Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty), which may have turned some investors off the Singapore property market.

The Boutiq Killiney

Photo: The Boutiq Killiney

As the target audience for the central and non-central regions are quite different, sellers and buyers alike may need to alter their expectations of the market in 2016. In the central regions, some sellers may be ready to let go of their properties as the economy slows, but prices are not expected to fall drastically as the owners usually have the holding power to hang on to their properties till the price is right. In the non-central regions however, where owners and buyers are usually salaried workers, pricing may be more dependent on external forces such as the overall rate of economic growth, employment and mortgage rates, rental potential and debt ratios.