Limits placed on tenancy of private homes

From today on, private homes can no longer be tenanted by more than 6 unrelated persons. This is 2 lesser than previous cap of 8 persons.

Enforced by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the new ruling kicks in today but existing tenancy agreements of 7 or 8 persons will be allowed to carry on until May 15, 2019 regardless of the tenancy contract’s expiration date.

TownervilleThis change was made to keep the integrity and character of the local community and to ensure that residential premises integrate with the neighbourhood. The move will also better engage the services of student hostels and company dormitories. There are differing views to this change. Property agents, some landlords and even tenants may welcome this shift towards quieter and less disruptive living environments. Others who are relying on rental income to prop up their finances may have opposing views. The loss of 2 tenants could very well surmount to $1800 to $2600 in potential monthly rents.

This shift to tenancy regulations will also affect home-sharing market such as Airbnb. The URA has been considering the creation of new leasing category for short-term rentals such as those publicised on home-sharing sites. And for those wondering if a huge bungalow and a small private studio may have different restrictions? The answer is no. URA has stated that there is no “stratified occupancy cap control based on unit sizes”.

Aura83For HDB flats which are sublet, the number of sub-tenants allowed remain unchanged at 6 and 9 for 3-room and 4-room or bigger units respectively. Property analysts are however expecting this new tenancy rules to soon apply for the HDB market.

 

Status quo for landed property market this year

Though figures from the last quarter indicated that landed home prices have risen 0.9 per cent, that was following a 2.7 per cent fall in Q3. Property analysts are careful not to yet call it a market rebound as 2017 may pose a difficult year for the economy.

bishopsgateThe landed housing market may continue to feel the pressure this year as cooling measures remain and the economic outlook seems uncertain. In a year-on-year comparison with Q3 of 2013, prices have fallen 14.8 per cent. Overall landed home prices fell 4.4 per cent last year and 4.1 per cent in 2015. The lowered prices could however have been a factor in bringing buyers back. Should sales volume and landed home prices continue to stabilise, the price index may inch up albeit gradually.

There were several considerable transactions in the detached landed house segment and this could have boosted numbers in Q4. One notable sale was for a property in Bishopsgate, at $26.8 million and a couple of others in Holland Park and White House Park at $25.5 million each. Though the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework implemented in 2013 has limited buyers for private properties across the board, it has more effect on the higher-priced property segments as investors here may have more financial commitments.

whitehouseparkDespite a muted landed housing market last and possibly this year, landed homes remain much sough-after and investors in these segments may be bolder in their attempts to close deals this year.

Rents dip for Hong Kong’s luxury properties

The shaky global economic situation may have a wider effect than just the countries directly hit. The effects of cutbacks and job losses in the oil, gas and banking sectors have resounded worldwide. The flow of expatriates between countries have decreased and those who are still living overseas have found their housing allowances slashed considerably.

HKCEntralThis has in turn reduced the demand for property rental, mostly in the luxury sector. Besides  Singapore, Hong Kong is also feeling the effect of change. In Hong Kong, monthly rental budgets of expatriates have gone down to approximately HK$100,000 and below. Gone are the days when expats could easily afford a HK$300,000 per month rental. In fact, most are making do with HK$30,000 per month housing budget for individuals and HK$70,000 for families, which barely allows for a 550 sq ft apartment in the Central district.

Housing prices which have shot through the roof in September has since fallen 14 per cent and high-end properties at Victoria Peak have suffered the largest blow. Rental prices have fallen in some cases as much as 30 per cent. But considering the rise in property rents have risen steadily year by year for the past decade, it may not be as drastic as it seems.

HongKongPeakHowever, does this mean that smaller and middle-range private apartments are benefitting from the trickle-down effect? Are expats now looking at a whole new range of property types which could mean fatter pockets for landlords and developers willing to fit into their budget? In fact, some developers have already begin offering discounts in the form of offering a month’s rent for free.

Rising competition in the Rental market

If you were looking to buy a condominium unit to call home, competition from the rising number of new homes might be good news for you. But if you were looking to invest in a unit to reap rental profits, it might be wise to consider your options carefully.

Jupiter18 CondoThe rental market for suburban condominiums has been falling, especially as more new properties enter the market. Private condominium rentals have fallen 0.6 per cent last month and is 6 per cent lower than last May on a year-on-year comparison. More new condominiums will receive their TOP (temporary occupation permits) in the next few months, which may suppress the rental market even more. Property analysts are expecting a fall of up to 7 per cent for the private property rental market this year.

The effects may also trickle down to the HDB rental market as competition heats up across the board. The price gap may be narrowing between HDB and private apartment rents, thus giving tenants a much wider pool of options. A five-bedroom HDB flat now usually rents for up to $2,400 per month while a 2-bedder private condo unit rents at just under $3,000.

Location is still king and units in mature estates or near MRT stations will still command slightly higher rents.

Encouraging response from recent property launches

Over the weekend, show flats at two new condominium launches were packed to the rafters with eager buyers and those shopping for a good deal. Affordability and proximity to transport seemed to be the biggest crowd pleasers at these two developments.

Northpark Residences saw more than 70% of their 430 units sold with most of their buyers being Singapore citizens. Prices averaged at $1,300 psf. A 431 sq ft studio apartment for example, went for $612,000 while five-bedders with an average floor area of 1,432 sq ft sold at approximately $1.89 million.

Botanique @ Bartley2At the Botanique at Bartley, most of their units, about 70%, were all priced below $1 million. Definitely wallet-friendly for the middle-upper class household in Singapore and also more plausible for those who need a home loan. And they boasted the options of turning two- and three-bedders into dual-key apartments. Situated in the midst of quite a few schools such as the Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (PLMGS), Maris Stella High School and the Australian International School, the property was quite the hot target for local and foreign buyers alike. Although only 300 units were put up for sale over the weekend, almost half have been sold. The most popular units were the one- and two-bedroom apartments starting at $598,000 for one-bedders and $798,000 for two-bedders.

If the weekend response and sales were anything to go by, the next few months may not be such dull ones. Is it time the property market picked itself off the floor, dust off and hit the road running? Will the positive effect rub off on older properties in close proximity to these new launches?

 

Landed home prices set to rise

The spotlight has been on new and resale private mass-market homes recently. But with that market reaching saturation, attention is now turned onto landed private homes. Everyone knows how rare these types of property are in land-scarce Singapore, but prices have been falling due to the consumers’ diminishing ability to purchase these expensive properties.

Loyang Rise HouseBut the decline may ease up by end of this year. Analysts are expecting prices of landed homes to pick up next year. This may mean more home owners will hold on to their properties in wait for better prices. This restriction of supply could also be the start of rising prices. In the long run, landed homes do generally hold up in terms of prices better than condominiums. The drop in landed homes prices was only 0.7 per cent, compared to the overall private home prices of 1.3 per cent.

Meanwhile, buyers looking for a worthy landed property to purchase could look at areas such as Bukit Batok, Loyang, Jurong or Sembawang. Terrace houses are usually more affordable than semi-detached or bungalows, and they are usually the first to rise in prices when the property market bounces back.

One possibly glitch is the rental prospects of landed homes. Compared to apartments, they are harder to find tenants for.

Landed home prices land hard

With a few cracks in the market, landed home prices have come up lower to show for it. Perhaps an unexpected casualty of the series of government-implemented curbs in 2013. Once considered almost the rock of the residential property market, sellers may now find it increasingly more difficult to get the buyers who were once clamouring for them. Only 465 landed homes were sold in the second half of last year, that’s almost half of the 865 units sold in the first six months.

Whitley ResidencesPerhaps buyers may be willing in spirit, but in fleshly terms, their pockets are not. Restrictions on loans now leave buyers with shallower pockets and less cash all around. Landed home prices may have also peaked, and is now on the decline. As these properties are one of the few which cannot be bought by foreigners, it leaves a selective and much smaller pool of buyers or investors. When they feel the squeeze, so does the market.

Most of the target group for landed homes are working professionals in their 40s, who may already have a number of loans taken out, whether home, car or insurance. Servicing a heftier loan with a shorter timeframe means either smaller loan amounts or the need for bigger cash amounts in the bank, both of which may be a handful to juggle.

Poets Villas cluster housing in Teacher's Estate in the Upper Thomson district.

Poets Villas cluster housing in Teacher’s Estate in the Upper Thomson district.

But for those who are ready and able to invest, a short wait later and the prices may well be attractive enough to make a timely investment. Industry experts still consider landed homes a worthy long-term investment as demand will almost always outweigh supply.

Slow ride for Property Market in 2013

With the real estate sector ending on a high note last year, will 2013 be the year things begin to stagnate?

8 Mounth Sophia

2012 seems to be the watershed year for Singapore’s property market, with residential properties doing extremely well and commercial and industrial properties not far behind. Despite cooling measures rolled out twice in the year, sales and growth remained strong.

Industry analysts are however expecting prices to reach a plateau this year. They are expecting property developers to be less active in the bidding for Government Land Sales (GLS) sites, whose number has also dropped as compared to 2011. There are still sites which may draw strong interest, such as Alexandra View, Prince Charles Crescent and Mount Sophia.

Echelon

And as new properties which entered the market last year compete for buyers, affordability may remain strong. Vacancy rates for rental properties may stay low, and the possibility of new property cooling measures being implemented this year may also contribute to a less vibrant market.

The prime districts are expected to do less well, as supply overshadows the weak rental demand due to companies cutting back on housing allowances and lowered employment rates. Mass market private homes are however given the thumbs up, resilient sales buoyed by affordable prices and favoured by investors and upgraders.