China real estate sector – impending bubble by 2018?

Property analysts are wary of a possible property bubble in China, especially after property prices in Shenzhen rose 60 per cent in a year. Despite the government’s attempts at curbing the rapid price rise, consumer fervency has spread from first and second tier cities to third and lesser-known cities and townships. The speed and extent at which China’s real estate sector is growing has economists concerned about an impending bubble and possible market crash. Some analysts have pegged 2018 as the year when things might take the turn for worse.

rafflescityshenzhenPhoto credit: CapitaLand

The fact that China’s banking sector is closely tied to the real estate industry, any shift in the dynamics may rattle the country’s economy. Akin to the property bubble in the United States in 2008, the fact that loans have increased to take up 71 per cent of new lending, up from 24 per cent within 8 months, indicates an increase that could be based on many gaps in the system.

Property prices are climbing so quickly that concerns for a sharp and drastic fall are well-founded. The unsubstantiated value of homes may cause an eventual collapse of the banking system as it becomes riskier for banks to loan such large amounts of money without a certain way of recouping the losses should the market fall. Having assets at hand which have no value or are not in demand will not bode well for individual property owners, funds nor banks.



Small apartment units spell affordable prices

Despite small private condominium apartments having fallen out of favour with buyers of late, 2 upcoming launches will feature these smaller units heavily.

forestwoodsForest Woods, a 519-unit condominium project in Lorong Lew Lian developed by a joint venture between City Developments (CDL), Hong Leong Holdings and TID, will launch this week with almost 89 per cent devoted to smaller units below 1,184 sq ft. The property configurations will vary from one- to three-bedroom units and pricing is expected to range between $668,000 for a one-bedder to $1 million for a 3-bedder. Forest Woods is located in prime suburban location, near interchange-MRT station, Serangoon, Nex shopping mall and schools such as Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School and Yangzheng Primary School.

The other development with 96 per cent of their units configurered as three-bedders and smaller units is The Alps Residences in Tampines. Prices are highly affordable with 80 per cent of the units priced below the $1 million sweet spot,  at $491,000 for a one-bedder to $918,000 for a three-bedder. About 30 per cent of the units at Forest Woods will also be priced below $1 million.

thealpsThe Alps Residences will also be launched this weekend, and if the 6,000 visitors who have since showed up at their showflat preview last weekend is anything to go by, the pent-up demand for new condo units in Tampines will bring out the buying mood in property seekers.

Singapore property market on the mend?

Is Singapore’s property market finally bottoming out? Are current property prices the lowest they can go?

WhitehavenHong Kong and Singapore are 2 of Asia’s most expensive residential property markets, and while both countries’ governments have implemented property cooling measures to help abate the tension, prices remain high. Though Singapore’s property price spike of 92 per cent in the decade between 2003 and 2013 was not as drastic as Hong Kong’s 370 per cent in the same time period, housing cost has increased considerably and was much fodder for debate during the past 2 elections. While home prices have fallen 1.2 percent in Singapore and 13 per cent in Hong Kong since September 2015, the fall will have to be much more drastic for the situation to return to what it was before 2003.

Taking inflation, economic growth and global economics into consideration, property analysts feel that Singapore’s property cycle has almost reached its bottom or turning point as it is in a much more advanced state than Hong Kong’s. Considering the gentle slope of decline in Singapore’s property prices, a sharp rebound seems unlikely. Will there however be a glimmer of hope for a gradual increase upon policy changes and changes in the demand and supply scale?

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.

Hong Kong’s property scene veer towards Commercial

Buyers and investors in Hong Kong’s property market seem to be veering towards commercial as residential property prices decline.

Mongkok Office hOng KongPhoto credit:

Offices are at the top of the list as Chinese companies continue to seek out spaces and sometimes even entire buildings. Hong Kong is a city popular with Chinese corporations who hope to elevate their brand globally by having offices in the country. As the economy in China begins to slow, many companies are looking outside of the country for higher returns.

Home prices on the other hand, are not faring as well. Residential property prices are expected to fall by up to 20 per cent within the next couple of quarters. This may impact overseas investors who have previously purchased properties in Hong Kong. But the falling prices may be good news to those who are hoping to snag a few more properties in the city. Investors may very well take the opportunity to purchase and hold on to these  assets whose value might rise in the future not too far away.

Upper East Hong Kong CondoPhoto credit:

There is however certainly no lack of new property launches in Hong Kong; with apartments in Mong Kok, Aberdeen and Yuen Long, just to name a few.

Private property prospects for the next 2 years?

The Singapore General Election may be coming up in the next year and a half, and that leaves most wondering about possible policy shifts and how that would affect the country’s economy. Since the last election, immigration and loan policies have changed rather substantially, both of which have impacted the property industry in a number of ways.

Melrose VilleOn the financial front, the TDSR (total debt servicing ratio) framework has been effective in slowing down property demand. With the likelihood of interest rates here rising in tandem with US rates, it seems unlikely that this policy will be removed or relaxed anytime soon as it aims to help households and borrowers build a clearer structure around their long-term financial stability.

A decrease in immigration numbers have also affected the property rental industry, with vacancy rates possibly hitting 10 per cent at the end of 2015. Coupled with a growing number of completed new units made available within these 2 years, the supply could majorly outweigh the demand. Property experts suggest that the only way to slow down the property prices and demand decline is to reduce the speed and quantity of new properties, and an adjustment of the TDSR. There is no sign of change for the moment, but would next year bring about a fresh wave of changes?

Re-zoning Geylang – Fewer residential properties

At first instance, this proposal may not sound promising, but it may actually bring good news for owners of existing condominiums in Geylang. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has recently announced a re-zoning of residential areas in Geylang for commercial use.

Rezi3TwoWhile this means that there may not be as many private residential properties in the area, the value of those which have already been built may appreciate as offices and businesses eventually move into the area. This proposal by the URA could be seen as mainly to facilitate the balancing of residential and commercial activities in the district. The over-building of residential properties in the red-light district could have a reverse effect and introducing more commercial properties and maintaining a suitable amount of residential properties in the area may in turn increase the rental yields and value of properties in its proximity.

With Geylang’s prime location putting it close to the city centre, Aljunied MRT station and the Singapore Sports Hub, rental yields here are already 1.5 per cent higher than those in other districts. With the area mostly made up of smaller land parcels, the likely tenants would be boutique developers and small businesses, with the possibilities of niche eateries and shops.

Some residents have however raised concerns over this re-zoning move as more commercial spaces here may mean an increase in the illegal and disruptive activities normally associated with this infamous district. What are the pros and cons of purchasing property in Geylang and does one outweigh the other?

New condominiums not spared from 2014’s lull

The stream of new homes entering the market has been continuous and more will be coming our way in 2015, with up to 2,500 units within the next two months. Larger new residential projects ready for occupation soon include the Sims Urban Oasis and Northpark residences.

Sims Urban OasisThis sudden increase in supply may not necessary affect sales prices, but the number of transactions may drop as buyers hold out in wait of what the rest of the year brings. In the last month of 2014, sales were lacklustre, with the best seller being Lakeville condominium with 16 units sold. This is followed by 13 units sold at Rivertree Residences and 12 at The Panorama. All are suburban mass-market private homes. Even the executive condominium market slacked a little with only 128 units sold at the 747-unit The Terrace in Punggol.

But the later half of 2015 may hold some promise as property prices may have corrected by more than 10 per cent and property cooling measures may then be lifted. Sellers may find themselves having to lower prices as competition heats up and buyers wait out as long as they can. It is just a matter of waiting for that sweet spot to hit the markets.