October’s new home sales up 128 per cent this year

With more that 1,252 new private homes sold in October, new home sales have risen 145 per cent from the 509 units sold in September and 128 per cent in a year-on-year comparison with 2015 when 549 units were sold.

thealpsresidences4The sudden spike may have been due to pent up demand after the slower months of the June school holidays and Hungry Ghost month in August, plus the launch of major projects in the later part of Q3. The 2 new property launches which garnered most of the sales were The Alps Residences in Tampines and Forest Woods in Serangoon Central. Each sold more than 300 units which made up 55.7 per cent of October’s sales. Other projects which consumers actively seemed out such as Stars of Kovan, The Trilinq and Kingsford Waterbay all sold only 30 units each, though understandably as these are much older launches.

Property analysts put the sudden rise in sales, a 15-month record high in fact, to the affordable prices put out by developers. Despite the slower economic outlook, consumers know a good deal when they see one and are willing to invest in what they consider to be long-term investment-worthy properties. Forest Woods is situated close to the Serangoon transport hub – the MRT station, bus interchange and NEX shopping mall – which could account for its popularity.

forestwoodsForest Woods was the top seller last month, with 364 units going at an average of $1,078 psf. Smaller units were purportedly gaining traction with buyers once more. Shoebox apartments, though aplenty in the market, remain affordable and property analysts report a direction change from investors who have turned their attention from riskier financial products back to the more stable property market.

 

Foreign buyers favour luxury properties in Singapore

Private apartments up to the size of 506 sq ft, more popularly known as shoebox apartments, have been having a hard time finding new owners as prices of completed units fell 1.1 per cent. However, non-central region private apartment prices rose 0.3 per cent in February and central region units have fared surprisingly well.

St Regis ResidencesThe recent sale of a $15million St. Regis Residences penthouse may have given the owner in a $3.3 million profit margin and given last month’s figures a boost despite the low sales volume. Overall, private property prices rose 0.4 per cent last month, following a 0.2 per cent rise in January. The luxury property market has not been in the best of health last year, but things may be taking a turn for the better.

Though property analysts are conservative about their predictions of a market turnaround this year, it is nevertheless a glimmer of light. With rising home prices in London and Hong Kong, foreign buyers are taking a second look at properties here in Singapore for investment purposes. Approximately 92 per cent of the sales and subsales transactions registered in the core central region come from foreign buyers.

Sturdee-ResidenceProperty investors with less holding power may be pushed to sell their units, in particular the smaller ones as rental prospects have dimmed, as oil, gas and marine sectors wobble.

Has private property market reached stability point?

Has the private property market possibly reached a point of stabilisation? Figures of late seem to show that while there are slight fluctuations either ways of the scale, the market seems to have somewhat levelled.

Prices of completed private properties seem to have stopped declining and August showed a only a 0.6 per cent fall according to the Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI). Property analysts have put the slight decline mostly to the increase in completed units in the central regions, the possibility of buyers waiting for post-election policy changes, and the lull in property transactions in the Hungry Ghost month.

Stevesn SuitesSmaller apartment units seem to have fared well though, with prices rising 0.5 per cent in July. Vacancy rates of rental units have risen while rental rates dipped island wide. As long as foreigner labour and immigration policies remain tight, the leasing market may remain weak, especially as the number of completed units are rising in the next couple of years. Resale properties in districts 1 to 4 and 9 to 11 have suffered a hit with a 23 per cent fall in transactions in August.

The next 2 years might be a time to watch for small apartments under 506 sq ft which were purchases for investment purposes. While sellers may not yet be pressured to sell as interest rates now remain low, as the number of these units rise upon completion of many developments launched last and this year, and interest rates fluctuate, the situation may be different come 2017.

 

 

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?

Property auctions see more action

In light of the declining property market, more properties are finding themselves placed under the hammer at property auctions.

THeWaterlineLowered mortgage ratios, decreasing rental demand and increasing supply have all affected the property market. Most of the 180 units put up for auction in the 3 months up to 30 June have mostly been due to mortgagors defaulting on their mortgage payments. Industrial or residential properties alike have found it difficult to meet their mortgage payments if they were relying mainly on rents, especially as it has become harder to command leases at a level expected during the peak of the market.

Smaller private non-landed units such as studios or shoebox apartments were also facing some market pressure as their popularity waned. Supply of such units, or simply more private condominium apartments in general, has possibly exceeded demand and such units are now more commonplace. The next thing to budge would be rental and then sale prices.

Even as property loans become harder to secure, with the tight loan limits and hefty stamp duties implemented as part of the property cooling measures, the last hurdle that mortgagors have to cross would be the increasing interest rates.

For buyers and property investors, the proper might be a possible avenue to consider in their property search.

Will shoebox apartments be 2015’s top seller?

Despite a rise in the number of available shoebox apartments over the last year, the fall in prices of this property sector was the lowest amongst all the other completed non-landed private apartments.

JurongLake_URA

Photo credit: Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)

These small units up to 506 sq ft in size, especially if situated in good locations, will this segment continue to do well this year despite a 4 per cent price decline in 2014? Made popular in 2009, shoebox units in the prime districts such as those in the city centre or city fringes, were snapped up well and fast over the past 5 years. So much so that developers launched projects with shoebox units which made up as much as 80 per cent of the total number of units launched outside the city centre region.

Though these small studio-size units are commonly popular in highly populated cities such as London, Sydney, Tokyo and New York, will they work in suburban Singapore? With new regional hubs such as Jurong and Woodlands coming up, and even more in the next 10 to 20 years under URA’s redevelopment plans, it could possibly be so as businesses fan out from the city centre into these regions, bringing with them expatriates and their housing needs.

For the current year, property experts are waiting to see the markets’ response to resale shoebox units as more of these developments attain their TOP (temporary occupation permit). The most recent additions to the market are The Promenade@Pelikat and The Hillier. It could be a battle between centrally located shoebox units and slightly larger two-room apartments outside of the city.

Prices remain low for private properties

With a drop of 0.3%, private home prices have slipped down the slope a little further in July. Property experts are taking this dip, 2 months in a row, to mean that prices could be stablising.

Bijou1Despite four new launches of private apartments Bijou, City Gate, Robin Residences and Citron Residences, which also meant a spill-over effect on surrounding resale properties, the market remained soft. Shoebox apartment units saw the largest difference, with a 0.8 per cent drop, with the non-central regions showing the most promise. Prices in the central region fell 0.7 per cent.

The biggest factor suppressing prices is the TDSR (total debt servicing ratio) framework. Since the authorities have expressed the fact that this cooling measure will not be reduced or removed anytime soon, the property market may see more slipping and sliding for now. The new year may bring a breathe of fresh air with new launches and some new properties reaching completion, though that could also mean a further dampening of the market with a larger supply and a diminishing demand.

Resale homes are expected to receive a larger blow as they often have older designs in comparison to the newer units and property buyers could be drawn by the discounts offered by developers.

Commonwealth – Properties not so common

Considered on the city fringe, just a little way off Alexandra which is an area popular with expatriates, Commonwealth may see renewed buyers’ interest as new private condominiums enter the mix.

The latest launch is Commonwealth Towers on Commonwealth Avenue. It will be officially launched on May 1 and is expected to be priced at $1, 600 to $1, 800 psf, it is relatively more expensive than similar properties in its vicinity, such as Queens condominium, Alexis, The Metropolitan, Ascentia Sky and The Anchorage private apartments. These are older residential developments and units are available on the resale market. Rental demand has been strong, though property experts are expecting competition to heat up once the newer condominiums are up and running.

The AnchorageAccording to URA figures, rental prices at the Queens averages at $4.32 psf per month. Sale prices were at $1, 350 psf. The Alexis commanded even higher prices at $6.65 psf and units sold at an average of $1, 939 psf, possibly because at 2 years old,  it is much newer than the Queens which was completed in 2002. Also, a third of the 293-unit The Alexis are shoebox apartments and are easier to rent out.

Alexis @ Alexandra CondoHowever the tightening foreign workforce rulings and immigration regulations may prove challenging for landlords looking to rent out their property especially with the rise in new units in the Redhill and Tiong Bahru area. Competition will always be present, but good location, providing attractive rental conditions and ultimately good timing may beat all that.