Higher future demand for ECs?

Recent news of the income ceiling for new HDB and ECs (executive condominiums) flats possibly being raised have brought about a wave of questions from the market. Will this increase competition for new BTO flats? How will the resale HDB flat market be affected? Will the private property sector see lower or higher demand?

Since ECs and mass market private homes often go after the same pool of buyers, raising the income ceiling for ECs may mean increasing competition for the latter. With the higher income ceiling of $14,000, buyers who were previously ineligible for executive condominiums may now find themselves able to purchase these unique public-private hybrid properties, drawing them away from the private property market.

Sol AcresECs are considered public housing and buyers are able to take advantage of available housing grants for this property type. After 10 years, they become private property, which considerably ramps up their sale value. Buyers who have previously had to turn to private properties at much higher prices, and who are now eligible to apply for ECs will no doubt be in glee. The difference between an EC and a private property is about $300 psf and buyers comparing private homes and ECs in the same vicinity may come up with savings of up to $250,000. Not an amount to be scoffed at.

One recent EC offering, Sol Acres, have since sold 294 units. Upcoming EC launches are expected to give pricier private mass market homes without the calling cards of a good location, a run for their money. Prices of ECs usually stand at around $800 psf whereas private homes go from $1,000 psf and up.

 

Raised Income ceilings for HDB and EC flats

In the months ahead, the HDB market may see some significant changes.

In his National Day Rally speech on Sunday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a raise in income ceilings for new HDB flats as well as ECs (executive condominiums). The income ceiling for HDB flats could be raised from $10,000 to $12,000 and for executive condominiums, from $12,000 to $14,000. Just four years a, the income ceiling for ECs was raised to $12,000 but apparently income levels have risen since then. The government are also making it easier for lower-income households to purchase 2-room flats. The Special Housing Grant (SHG) will be raised from $20,000 to $40,000, giving them the financial support they truly need.

Forestville Executive Condominium.

Forestville Executive Condominium.

And to promote stronger familial ties plus cater to the growing group of young families who prefer to live near their parents, a new Proximity Housing Grant will help buyers who wish to live near their parents or married children secure their new flat.

This could be good news for buyers and home-seekers, as more applicants may then find themselves eligible for a new BTO flat or EC. But will there be more applicants now vying for available units. And how will this move  possibly affect the resale HDB flat market?

 

Shoebox apartments – Supply over demand?

Shoebox apartments – affordable total quantum price, relatively easy to rent and maintain, limited numbers. That used to be the case when these small units were first marketed a couple of years ago. But as developers caught onto the small apartments trend and churned out more of these units, their numbers have increased significantly.

Parc Centros private condominium on Punggol Walk.

Parc Centros private condominium on Punggol Walk.

By 2017, the number of these shoebox apartments with floor area of approximately 500 sq ft, will rise by another 700. Instead of being mostly concentrated in the city and prime districts, they will now be in the Hougang, Punggol and Sengkang areas in residential projects such as A Treasure Trove, Bartley Residences, The Promenade@Pelikat, Parc Centros, River Isles, Jewel@Buangkok and La Fiesta.

Expatriates are usually keen on renting out properties near their workplace, usually near the Central Business District. But as businesses are moving out into the various regional commercial hubs, so may their search for rental properties. What may however be deterring them from renting out these small studio apartments could be the rental prices.

Rental prices of small studio apartment are now at $2,000 to $2,200 per month, down from $2,600 in 2013. These prices are now nearing that of renting out an entire HDB flat, which could prove to draw tenants away from the private property rental market. Could this then in turn increase the demand for resale HDB flat?

Resale HDB flat prices remain level

As the year moves quickly towards the middle of the second half, property sellers may be getting a little on edge about whether the property prices will fall further.

For the resale HDB market at least, property analysts are expecting prices to stabilise, with any fluctuations occurring only slightly on a month-on-month basis. Prices of HDB flats dipped slightly in July by 0.5 per cent, which is 4.3 per cent lower than July 2014. The fall in prices is still within the single digit range, and at the lower end of it, thus sellers could rest assured the boat will not rock too drastically. Most of the price drops were in the four- and five-room flats segment while prices of three-room flats remained flat.

The resale market for HDB flats seem to have taken a dive due to the bumper crop of BTO flats. Photo courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board.

Photo courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board.

Buyers looking to purchase a property within the year will still do so, and resale HDB flat prices and transaction volume looks likely to maintain at the current level for the rest of the year. The property cooling measures have taken a couple of years to take effect, and a sharp turnaround in prospects seem unlikely.

With a few more months to go before figures can be more effectively measured, property experts are nevertheless positive about the market stabilising soon.Though with a possible raising of the income ceiling which may draw buyers’ attention away from resale flats, and with the upcoming General Election in play, it could be anyone’s guess how property prices will fare by year end.

Rising resale HDB flat sales

There’s possible cheer on the resale HDB flat front with a 28% increase in the number of resale flats sold in the last 3 months up to June 30; and a slowdown in the dip of the resale price index at 0.4 per cent. Previous quarters saw a 1.4 per cent decline.

Are resale HDB flat prices going to drop as more new HDB flats are made available to the buying public?

Are resale HDB flat prices going to fall further as more BTO flats become available for occupation next year?

Obviously the lowered prices and announcements of reduced new BTO (build-to-order) HDB flat launches have drawn buyers back into the fold. The HDB estate of Jurong West saw the most number of resale flat transactions with 423 units being sold. This is closely followed by Tampines with 364 units at Sengkang with 341 units.

Property analysts are however wary about a quick and complete recovery. For the rest of the year and perhaps the next year as well, HDB flat prices are expected to stabilise at best. As home buyers are still restricted by the property cooling measures, and as more BTO flats become ready for occupation, more resale units may be expected to enter the market, and heat up the competition. Buyers have more options and can afford to be picky about their selection. Some sellers are already finding it difficult to find a buyer for their current flat which they are required to sell within a stipulated time upon receiving the key for their new BTO flat.

With the upcoming General Elections (GE), what can be expected of the property market?

HDB resale flats – Market recovery soon?

The number of HDB resale flats which exchanged hands in the last 2 months have increased by more than 8 per cent. A sign property analysts are taking as a positive.

Photo credit: The Singapore Tourism Board.

Photo credit: The Singapore Tourism Board.

With a consecutive 2-month rise in prices, at 0.1 per cent in June and 0.2 per cent in May, the HDB resale market seems to be showing signs of bottoming out and a turn for the better may come quite soon. In the months prior, when the property cooling measures just began to take effect, it were the four- and five-room flats which suffered the biggest hit in price drops. But recent market figures seem to show that prices in these segments have risen by 0.3 and 0.5 per cent of late, followed by a 0.7 per cent in executive flats (EC) prices as well. The three-room HDB flats segment however have seen a 0.2 per cent fall in prices.

In the year ahead, as the government reduces the supply of new BTO flats, buyers may have to turn to the resale market instead, which may in turn positively affect the number of sales and prices. However, the rebound, though happening, may be slow as buyers may be more selective of their choice of units and there may be more put into the market as BTO flats reach completion and those who have secured a new flat may be pressured to sell within a stipulated 6-month period of getting the keys to their new units.

BTO Flats in less mature estates sold for more

Punggol Northshore, one of the latest BTO (Build-to-order) HDB flat offerings in Punggol, proved popular with young families and couples. The response may have been surprising 10 years ago, when the area was still underdeveloped and considered far-flung. But now, as the amenities have built up over the years, those who have bought units in Punggol and Sengkang in the earlier years are reaping the ripe profits.

Punggol HDB EstateMost of the resale HDB flats which sold in these 2 HDB estates have tripled their original purchase prices. Four-room flats in Sengkang once cost $205,000 but now they can sell for as much as $566,880 in average on the resale HDB flat market. The lowest recorded sale was $410,000, double its original price tag. Property analysts have placed the HDB price index at a 90-per-cent increase since the launch of the system in 2002.

Once costing buyers $178,000 at its highest in 2003, prices of these BTO flats have since appreciated over the past 10 years. Most BTO flats take 4 years to be completed, and buyers have to fulfil a 5-year MOP (minimum occupation period) before being allowed to list their flat in the resale market.

It was once thought that older flats in mature estates were able to fetch higher prices, but these newer BTO flats are beating them at their odds; mostly due to the young age of the flats which means they will also be in relatively better condition, have more years left in their lease, and possess a higher potential for growth in terms of property prices once the less mature township is developed.

HDB resale prices – Upwards soon?

With property prices on the decline since almost a year ago, have HDB resale flat prices finally bottomed out?

Buyers seems to have caught on with the price drop and have been back on the hunt for units as the number of transactions in May this year indicated a 20 per cent rise compared to the same month last year. Prices have also shown a 0.2 per cent increase in March and have held steady in April.

Resale 5-room HDB flat on King George's Avenue with asking price of more than $700,000.

The property cooling measures rolled out by the government seem to have finally taken full effect since their implementation over the past couple of years. Since its peak in 2013, HDB flat prices have fallen 11 per cent.  Property analysts are expecting resale HDB flat prices to reach it’s bottom by the end of the year. Minister for National Development, Mr. Khaw Boon Wan, has previously mentioned a possible single digit fall in HDB flat prices this year.

How long the lower prices will be maintained is largely dependant on policy changes and buyers’ sentiments, but also on the private property market and the options made available to the buying public. It could be that the prices may remain stable for awhile with the number of sales transactions increasing as buyers take advantage of this window of opportunity.