Market recovery uncertain despite rise in resale condo prices

May was a rather good month for the resale private condominium market as prices rose 0.4% and sales volume increased by 17.4%. In comparison with the same month last year, prices have risen 1.5%.

CreekBukitTimahAll signs seem to be pointing to a market recovery after 3 years of lacklustre performances. However, some property analysts are taking a more conservative stance with regards to the recent price adjustments. The leasing market remains weak and rental prices have fallen, putting additional pressure on an already-weak market hence the market is still a ways from bottoming out. Private property values have fallen 11.6 per cent since the peak in Q3 of 2013.

skyline-residencesPrices of resale properties in the core central and city-fringe regions have shown improvements with a 1.1 per cent rise from April. In the suburbs, prices fell slightly by 0.4 per cent. A moderate look at the current situation would more likely than not mean a gradual rise in prices over the course of a year rather than a quick and immediate recovery. A recent hash of high land bids and the gradually diminishing stock of unsold private homes do however seem to be beacons of light, however dim, pointing towards the promise of a market stabilisation at the least. Positive sentiments and sales at new project launches and continued low interest rates may add icing to the cake if developers can have it and eat it too.

 

Resale condominium market in gradual recovery

Could a slice of sunshine be sliding its way back into the local private property market? Resale condominium prices have risen 1.1% in January and it’s a bigger increase than the 0.5% in the last 2 months of 2016.

RivervaleCrestAnd as expected, non-landed private residential properties located in prime districts lead the way, with a 1.9% month-on-month increase. Central region properties also gained 1.5% in terms of prices while that of suburban properties rose by 0.4%. In a year-on-year comparison, resale prices were 0.3% higher than in the same period of 2016.

In some districts, resale properties exchanged hands at lower-than-market value, though the price difference at minus $4,000 is lesser that the $5,000 in December. District 23 posted more than 10 resale transactions in January alone and selling prices went as high as $2,000 above market value.

GrandeurParkResidencesThough the year is still young, it could be a budding sign of the things to come for the rest of the year. Property analysts are not expecting sharp rebounds anytime soon, though the stabilisation of prices and an increase in sales volume would already be sufficient to signify market recovery, albeit a gradual one. What could also be seen from the market data was that sellers were beginning to moderate their asking prices, possibly with pressure coming in from new property launches and completed new units entering the weak rental market.

 

Small apartments: New fare better than resale

Prices of private non-landed properties in the central region have risen 0.7 per cent last month, a possible indication of the market bottoming out soon. New payment and incentive schemes could also have helped boost sales numbers, in particular for properties in the prime districts of 9 and 10. Across the board, prices of completed apartments have risen 0.2 per cent.

E MaisonNew small apartment units fared better than resale units as demand for the latter tends to be overshadowed by the former. Buyers are more open to buying small apartment units directly from developers rather than in the resale market as new projects tend to offer more longer-term benefits and immediate rental profits from resale units have been falling as the foreign workforce shrinks as a result of  tighter immigration policies. Most of the buyers are Singaporeans or permanent residents looking for properties to live in or rent out for the long-run, and having waited a couple of years for the property cooling measures to be lifted to no avail, are now dipping more than their toe into the pool.

July has proven to be a good month for the real estate market, with some property agents reporting up to a 50 per cent increase in sales in a year-on-year comparison.

More resale private properties sold in July

No movement may be good movement – as far as the current property market situation goes. Property analysts say any fluctuations in property prices or sales volume may be minimal for now. And as long as there are no drastic dips, the market is in good stead. Recovery may take awhile and it will probably be slow, a sudden rebound unlikely.

Hills TwoONeThere was a rise in property prices in Q2, though followed by a slight fall in July. Sales volume of resale private non-landed properties however has increased 31% and 770 units were sold last month, compared to the 586 in a year-on-year comparison. Buyers are back in action and are picking up deals which seem to be aplenty as more private properties enter the market, heating up competition in and between new and resale segments. The number of deals closed have been rising steadily since May with a 35.5 per cent increase followed by a 27.4 per cent increase in June.

For the rest of 2016, the resale market may see some heightened activity as stabilising prices prompt buyers who have waited long enough in the sidelines to jump back into the fold. The number of new launches this year is also considerably fewer than the last, and as buyers come to realise that prices are unlikely to fall further anytime soon, more may see the diminishing choices in the primary market as a sign to reconsider possibilities in the resale market.

 

 

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.

Slower pace of private property price decline

Resale private apartment prices have been on the decline since its peak earlier in the decade, after the effects of property cooling measures kicked in and fuelled by a recent building boom. But the pace of decline has slowed down 2.1 per cent last year, in comparison with 2014. The URA property price index indicated a 3.7 per cent fall last year as compared to 2014’s 4 per cent.That may be a sign the market is finally stabilising, and sellers are no longer pressed or enticed to sell quickly.

St. Regis Residences on Orchard Road.

St. Regis Residences on Orchard Road.

The resale private property market did however report some profit losses. For example, some resale units at St. Regis Residences registered losses of $542,30 up to $4.78 million for a 4-bedroom penthouse.

2015 saw a total of 4,999 resale transactions of private properties, up 22 per cent from the year before, though still a far cry from the 10,598 in 2012. Property analysts are expecting a continued decline in prices, though at a slower rate, as buyers and sellers are still taking time to adjust to the loan restrictions and also now to cope with the new interest rate hikes. Buyers are however gradually acclimatising to the current market situation where new properties are priced affordably and resale property prices may not be drastically reduced, and thus are re-entering the market albeit with some care.

 

Private property market- Volume versus price

Stock of unsold private property units have been falling. At 25 per cent lower this year as compared to 2013, the improving take up rates could be chalked up to pent-up demand from buyers and lowering property prices.

Sol AcresPhoto: Sol Acres Executive Condominium

But the question remains, could sellers and investors expect a quick turnaround next year with profits and rental yields increasing? Resale property prices have dropped 6 to 11 per cent since 2013 and while sales volume has risen, the property rental market remains quiet. In fact, rents have softened this year and with the impending boom in supply of completed residential units next year (including executive condominiums or ECs and HDB flats), the rental market may be facing competition that’s tougher than before.

There are currently more than 300 unsold units the executive condominium (EC) market in projects such as Sol Acres, The Criterion and The Terrace. Developers of these and other private projects with unsold stock might be pressured to move these units next year as some may face restrictions such as the Qualifying Certificate penalties and the Additional Buerys’ Stamp Duty (ABSD). The latter not only affects developers, but also buyers who are also further restrained by the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR).

The PanoramaPhoto: The Panorama

Prices of developer-sold new properties have already been on the decline this year. At The Panorama in Ang Mo Kio, prices fell fromr $1,343 psf to $1,226 psf within 10 months. Similarly in Sims Urban Oasis, prices have dropped $112 psf to $1,285 psf in 9 months.

2016 begins in less than a month, and everyone will be keeping a keen eye on the first quarter for the tone it sets for the year ahead.

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.