Downtown Line 2 – 12 stations bring buzz to prime districts

The Downtown line is having an open house this coming weekend on December 5, and with 12 new DTL2 (Downtown Line 2) stations commencing operations from December 27, travel across the island will now take half the time it used to. Spanning Bukit Panjang and Rochor, with stations such as Cashew, Hillview, Beauty World, King Albert Park, Tan Kah Kee, Sixth Avenue, Botanic Gardens, Stevens, Newton and Little India in between, the new stations and train service may just bring some year-end cheer to home and business owners in their vicinity.


Photo: Goodwood Residences

Not only do they potentially bring a buzz to businesses nearby, residential properties may also find an appreciation in sale and lease value. DTL2 runs through most of Hillview, Upper Bukit Timah and Bukit Timah, where the prime district of 10 stands. Properties along this stretch may see a rise on the already-high prices as the only public transport plying this route used to be the buses. Traffic jams are more than a dime a dozen, especially during peak hours and also when during the afternoons when schools are let out.

Downtown Line RochorPhoto credit: Land Transport Authority (LTA). Rochor Downtown Line Station.

Private properties along these 2 very long stretch include Hillbrooks, Springs Grove, Robin Residences, Stevens Suites and the newer Goodwood Residences, Three Balmoral, Hills TwoOne. Further up near the Cashew station are residential projects such as Cashew Villas and Cashew Crescent Terraces.

The rest of the Downtown Line, 16 stations of DTL3, are expected to be up and running by 2017.

More for less – Smaller condo apartments

With the rising prices of land plots sold under the Government Land Sales programme and with developers taking into consideration how the property cooling measures have affected buyers’ purchasing power, private apartment sizes have been diminishing since 2010.

LakevillePhoto: Lakeville at Jurong West

More apparent in units in the city fringes, average sizes have shrunk from 1,051 to 810 sq ft. And in the suburbs, apartment sizes went from 878 sq ft to 811 sq ft; though the average sizes from new projects actually dropped from 1, 113 sq ft in 2006 to 667 sq ft in 2011 but rose again to 928 sq ft in 2014.

In 2012, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) put in place guidelines for the maximum number of units for condominium developments outside of the central area. Developers have since noticed that buyers are more sensitive to the total quantum price of a unit rather than per unit prices, especially since the implementation of loan curbs such as the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD) and Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR), hence maximising the land area and total number of units would be the best way to go.

Symphony SUitesPhoto: Symphony Suites

There are some residential projects which chose to follow their own path however, including Lakeville and Symphony Suites. But as the population continues to grow, it seems that unit sizes will only continue to diminish. Resale units may then have an edge over the smaller-sized newer units, provided pricing is equally competitive when time comes.

Upper Thomson – Property Hot Spot

Ever since the up-and-coming Thomson-East Coast MRT Line was announced, a number of new properties along the upper thomson stretch have been launched to good, if not resounding, response.

New residential developments which will be ready within the next few years include Thomson Grand, Thomson Three and now, Thomson Impressions. These are all situated within walking distance of the Bright Hill and Upper Thomson stations. Units launched and priced under $1 million have almost all been snapped up as property analysts hint at a possible million dollar sweet spot for most buyers and investors.

Thomson Three 1Photo: Thomson Three

Smaller units such as one- and two-bedders were particularly popular. At Thomson Impressions, one-bedders start at $670,000 and two-bedders $980,000. Apartment sizes range from 68 to 71 sq m for the two-bedroom apartments, comparable to sizes of three-room HDB flats. Thomson Impressions is made up of 100 one-bedders, 72 two-bedders, 106 three-bedders plus 5 penthouses and 5 strata-landed homes.

Prices are fairly affordable, especially for HDB upgrades who typically go for private properties below $1.2 million. Previously, units at Thomson Three which were priced at around $1,400 psf, sold quickly as well. There are currently only 8 units left. Smaller projects with under 300 units tend to sell well, especially if the location is prime and are near a number of good schools. Ai Tong primary school, Catholic High School, St. Nicholas Girls’ School, Raffle Instituition are all within the district or nearby towns.

Compared to larger mass market projects, these smaller developments also have the advantage of exclusivity, and much lower competition in terms of resale and leasing.

The 19-storey Thomson Impression is situated in Lorong Puntong and is expected to be completed by 2019.

Private property prices remain level

The NUS Singapore Residentail PRIce Index (SRPI) showed a 0.1 per cent rise in private non-landed home prices in September. But property experts say it could simply have been a post-election response, when buyers might have held back to see if the property cooling measures would be removed. Now that the authorities have indicated the cooling measures are here to stay, at least for now, some buyers may have taken advantage of the already-lowered prices and closed some transactions.

The Scala condo Serangoon

Photo: The Scala condominium in Serangoon

The resale private home market in particular has benefited from the lack of new property launches in September. Non-central units rose 0.3 per cent while smaller units gained a 0.4 per cent footing. But as 2016 brings an onslaught of completed new properties, the resale market may have to brace itself for a bigger hit. Industry players are expecting home prices in the non-central regions to continue on a downward trend as the number of completed units there rise. Leasing may also prove difficult as there will be a huge leap in supply while immigration policies are now tighter, which implies a lower demand.

While recent figures point to tenants looking towards to the central regions for leasing prospects, high-end properties may be hitting a wall in both sales and leases as competition has lowered rental prices in the suburbs and more tenants are seeking options there. The property market seems to be reaching a standstill as the year draws close and the festivities take over, the real time to watch the market might be the first quarter of 2016, which will set the tone for the year ahead.

Tenants’ market as rents dip

Tenants looking for a private apartment with a good location may now have more options as more properties enter the rental pool.

Property analysts have noticed that while rental rates have fallen 5.6 per cent since 2014, the number of private properties leased have risen 17.7 per cent. Shorter 12-month leases instead of the usual 24-months are also now more in demand. Tenants are taking the opportunity to move around more, in search for better units. More are now looking inwards to the Central region, as they tend to consider these city centre units better value-for-money. Landlords are also now more willing to negotiate as they begin to recognise that competition will only continue to heat up in the months ahead. Now $4,000 may be able to get you a two- or three-bedder in an older establishment in the city centre when it would have cost you $5,000 before.

Oliv Balmoral

Photo: The Oliv @ Balmoral

In the suburbs, as more new properties reach completion, rental prices may continue to dip. Private property rentals are expected to fall 4 to 5 per cent this year.

In the HDB rental market, as the number of rental HDB flats rise due to more HDB flat owners moving into their ready-for-occupation new suburban homes, leaving their empty units available for subletting; there are now an increasing number of four- and five-room flats available for rent. Rental rates for HDB flats have fallen 3.2 per cent this year. As the year-end draws near, overall property prices seem to indicate a stabilising market but as rental demand and prices continue to fall, will it inherently affect next year’s prospects?

August shows fluctuations in property rental market


OneDusanIn July, private property rentals have fallen 0.3 per cent, and now August has reflected a further 0.4 per cent drop. The number of new units entering the market no doubt has made competition tougher. Most of the fall in prices were for properties in the city centre. Rental prices of city fringe units fared better, with a 0.8 per cent rise. Overall, the number of units rented out decreased slightly compared to the month before, but rose 13.8 per cent in a year-on-year comparison.

What does the future hold for the residential rental market? 2016 seems to point towards a further influx of new properties. It used to be normal to rely on rental yields from one property to fund mortgages on another, but now the investment path may not be as easy. Spotting the right investment opportunity would take practice and a lot of market research, though there are advice out there to be had. Attending regular property seminars and talks will help you gain useful insights to what’s available out there and the potential of differing property options.

HDBrentalThe market is currently seeing a circular migration of tenants and they move from property to property in search of better rental rates. But this ensures a fairly stable rental volume level, though rental leases favoured now are the shorter 12-month ones as opposed to previous 24-month norms.

While the private property rental market faces strong competition, the HDB rental market will maintain a strong showing as rental rates are more palatable and has a strong tenant base.

Resale private property prices inch up

Positive news for the resale non-landed private property front as prices inched up slightly by 0.2 per cent last month. Though not a massive leap, any shifts in the right direction is a good sign indeed.

Archipelago private condominium project in Bedok.

Properties in the fringe of the city in particular had a good showing with a 7.1 per cent increase from a year ago. This is quite impressive considering prices have fallen 6.2 per cent in the last year for units in the central region and 2.9 per cent in the suburbs. The year-end festivities usually mean a slight slow-down in the property market, but between then and after the Hungry Ghost Festival, a number of new property launches are expected to help buoy the resale property market. Some new launches include Principal Garden in Prince Charles Crescent and Thomson Impressions in Sin Ming.

A recent change in immigration policies announced by the Ministry of Manpower in July may affect the demand for investment properties and rental units. The minimum monthly salary ceiling for Employment Pass (EP) holders who are bringing their families with them will be raised to $5,000 from $4,000. This may deter existing EP holders from following through with their plans or potential EP holders looking to relocate. However, this may only mean a dip in demand for larger units. Could smaller studio or one- and two-bedder units continue to benefit from the change?



Competition heats up in suburban rental market

As the number of new condominiums reaching completion in the suburbs increase, more owners and landlords are feeling the heat of the competition, especially if many units within the same establishment are in the market for tenants.

Tenants are becoming more savvy and picky with their rental choices, and are more aware of the choices and rental prices available. Though rents are not dipping anytime yet, competition may eventually push it downwards. Older resale condominium developments may also feel the squeeze more as proximity no longer plays a part in differentiating rental prices. When placed near each other, newer private apartment units will command higher prices in comparison, as their facilities are newer and may need lesser maintenance.

WaterfallGardensThe size of the property will then come into play. Smaller suburban developments without amenities at the scale at which larger establishments offer may lose out slightly. At D’Leedon for example, rental prices were at a monthly median of $4, 288 whereas at the nearby older Waterfall Gardens, median prices were at $8,600 per month. That could however be due to the larger apartment sizes of units at Waterfall Gardens, which does not have smaller studio or one-bedders.

With diminishing expatriate housing budgets, landlords may be looking at tenants with the spending power of $3,000 to $6,000 per month. But as centrally-located apartments have rental price tags closer to $10,000 per month, suburban units may still garner some attention. It may merely be a matter of how thinly spread out the tenant pool will be.