Property cooling measures to stay put

National Development Ministry Lawrence Wong has recently mentioned that the curbs placed on the property industry are here to stay as demand for property not declined.

HillsTwoOneThough property prices may have fallen, the dip has been gradual and slow. Coupled with the fertile bedrock of low interest rate and affordable quantum pricing of residential properties, the authorities may be afraid of a sudden and unmanageable spike in demand from investors should the curbs be lifted anytime soon.

And their fears may not be entirely unfounded as the market has been showing budding signs of recovery in the past couple of months. Demand, in particular for smaller units in well-located properties, from local and foreign investors alike, have been on the rise while prices are beginning to hold steady. Pent-up demand from previous quarters of muted activity have meant a rise in sales volume.

SignatureECYishunBigger Central Provident Fund housing grants will be included in the upcoming Budget talks, which may sustain resale HDB flat volume as more buyers qualify for subsidies. Resale volume for the public housing sector has already risen 7.8 per cent last year. As demand for resale flat increases, so will pricing and sales volume. A stabilising resale flat market could also mean an increase in the number of HDB upgraders who are buying off the private property market, in turn boosting sales in the private housing sector as well.

Consumer confidence in property market improving

Though gradual, the property market seems to be coming out of a long hibernation and there are some bright sparks to make 2017 a warm one.

VIIOThe supply and inventory stock is gradually diminishing, by 8.4 per cent at the end of last year, aided by the restriction in land supply by the government last year, the key word being gradual. Fortunately, the decline in home and rental prices have also been gradual, with no sudden collapse. Last year’s rate of decline of overall private home prices was at a 3-year low, at 3.1 per cent. The 2 years before saw a 3.7 and 4 per cent decline, counting backwards.

QuinterraBy now, consumers and investors are used to the price decline, which has been a regular occurrence since 2013 when the property cooling measures began to kick in. In the current market, any news of slower price declines will be good news, and of stabilisation, even better news. Private home prices have finally landed on a level where an increasing number of buyers find affordable and investment-worthy, which explains the boost in new home sales from 7,440 in 2015 to 7,972 last year.

Properties in the core-central region fared the best in the second half of 2016, while non-landed homes in the city fringe and suburbs registered 2 and 0.6 per cent drops respectively. Landed properties fared unexpectedly well with a 0.8 per cent price increase in Q4. Property analysts are expecting property prices to bottom out this year, which could the year when the property market bottoms out. The authorities do not yet seem to show any signs of easing the property cooling measures, at least not in the first half of the year.

Rise in new private home sales volume

The number of new private homes sold last year have risen on the back of declining prices in the primary private home sales market. Fighting against predictions of a languishing private residential sector, new private home sales have held up in 2016 with 8,136 new units sold, 9.4 per cent higher than 2015’s 7,440.

SantoriniBuyers have been picking up units directly from developers, aided by a couple of pushes from low interest rates an and lower selling prices. Though 2016 was a slow year for Singapore’s real estate industry in terms of home prices, the number of transactions clocked have surprisingly went against all odds. While private home prices have fallen over the past 3 years, market sentiments have begun to pick up last year and increased interest and availability of one- and two-bedroom units whose total quantum prices were more palatable for the general buying public and investors alike.

In Q4 of 2016, 2,480 new units were sold, the highest number in a quarter for the year. Despite the year end’s usual market lull and only 90 new units launched in the last quarter, December’s sales were positive with suburban projects leading the way with 231 sales, followed by 112 in the city fringes and 24 in the core central region. Last month’s best seller was The Santorini in Tampines which sold 26 units at an average price of $1,046 psf.

Will property market bottom out soon?

Hopes of a market rebound may be reignited as the bottom of the cycle seems to be in close reach. While private home prices have fallen by 0.4% for the 13th consecutive quarter, the rate of decline of private home prices have been reduced from the 1.5% in 2016’s Q3.

cairnhillresidencesIn 2016, private home prices fell only 3%, the slowest since 2013. Since the third quarter of 2013, home prices have fallen 11.2%, with a 4% fall in 2014 followed by a 3.75% fall in 2013. The projected fall in home value this year is 2% to 3%. While home seekers and investors may be drawn back into the market with the lowered property prices, analysts are not expecting them to splurge.

highlandresidencesIn Q4 of 2016, non-landed private home prices fell 0.7 per cent, led by city fringe properties with a 2 per cent drop. Prices of units in the core central region remained unchanged while suburban home prices fell 0.3 per cent. Units in the core central region have suffered a 1.9 per cent fall in Q3, thus the fact that sales volume have increased while prices remained unchanged could be a good sign for the year ahead.

Landed property prices posted a surprising rise of 0.9 per cent after a 2.7 per cent fall in Q3 while in the resale HDB flat market, prices fell 0.1 per cent.

Prime land plots released for H1 of 2017

Out of the 5 residential sites which were released under the Government Land Sales (GLS) scheme‘s confirmed list for H1 of 2017 are 3 sites which may see heated competition from bidders – one on Jiak Kim Street where the Zouk nightclub used to stand, another on Fourth Avenue right next to the Sixth Avenue MRT station and yet another on Woodleigh Lane, near the new Bidadari township and Woodleigh MRT station.

rmaisonThese 5 sites are expected to yield up to 2,330 new homes, about 50% more than the 1,560 units yielded by land released in the first half of this year. Bidding on the last few sites released this year have gotten developers and property analysts excited about the potential volume and size of land plots to be released next year, but the authorities have kept it conservative thus far, having released only 10 sites on the reserve list. This includes 1 mixed-use site and 2 commercial sites.

It is possible that the Government is concerned about the stock of unsold executive condominiums (EC) currently in the market. In addition, most of the units sold this year were purchased by investors and not true home-occupiers. The Monetary Authority of Singapore has also recently flagged their concern about rising vacancy rates in the private property market. This combination of factors may have influenced their decision on how much land supply to release in 2017. Only 1 EC site was released on the confirmed list and another on the reserved list.

2016’s demand for properties level with last year’s

Though it may seem like the property market took a turn for the worse this year, figures have shown that the level of demand has remained similar to last year’s.

peak-cairnhillProperty prices have fallen 10.8 per cent since the 2013 peak and perhaps it is precisely this decline of home prices that have kept buyers coming to the table, more so this year than the previous few which have been dull partly due to the property cooling measures implemented since 2013. Some property agents have in fact reported up to a 50 per cent increase in sealed deals this year, indicative of increased buyer’s interest and number of project launches.

The market inertia in terms of the property cooling measures and interest rates may also have been push factors in enticing buyers back into the market. Resale property sales have been strong with 5,587 transactions closed in the first 3 quarters of this year, up 18 per cent from 2015. Developers have also been pricing new units more competitively this year, giving the resale market a run for their money.

the-crestCity fringe and central region resale properties were particularly popular with buyers though some may still be waiting for better deals.  And as property analysts predict a further 3 to 3.5 per cent drop in prices for the rest of the year, the market seems primed for owner-occupiers though those considering investing in properties should wait a little more to get the most out of their buck.

 

Fall in Q3 Private home prices

Private home prices have been falling for the past 3 years, 12 consecutive quarters to be exact, and it’s currently at it’s lowest in 7 years. Last quarter’s fall was the steepest at 1.5%. So it does seem like the property cooling measures which were rolled out at around the same time have worked. And while the authorities are committed to continue having them in place, the real estate industry might have to bite down hard and stay the course.

threebalmoralEffects from the general global, regional and local economic markets have trickled down to the property sector as worry about the job market and a weakening economy affects demand and risk-taking. Though interest in high-end core central region luxury properties may have improved, prices have yet to completely made a turnaround. Home prices in this segment fell the hardest at 1.8 per cent following a 0.3 per cent rise in Q2. Landed property prices also fell 2.2 per cent while previously in-demand city fringe properties saw a 1.3 per cent fall.

As the last quarter of the year will possibly see more new property launches in comparison to Q3 which was relatively quiet, and HDB rolls out its next launch of 5,090 new BTO flats in Bedok, Bidadari, Punggol and Kallang/Whampoa HDB estates in November, will existing unsold stock and resale private homes be on the receiving end of added pressure and competition?

Property market’s road to recovery a gradual one

While the global economy remains in the doldrums and the authorities keep the local property cooling measures in place, Singapore’s real estate market is likely to see a gradual gentle road to recovery, starting with stabilisation.

LakeGrandeJuly’s sales figures show promise, with 1,091 units sold (excluding executive condominiums). That is almost double that of June’s 536 units. Although August’s numbers may dip due to the Hungry Ghost month and the lack of major property launches, September will see the launch of Parc Riveria at West Coast Vale and Forest Woods in Serangoon. The former is developed by EL Development and the latter by City Developments.

Consumer interest on landed homes, a rare commodity in local context, has also shone of late. CapitaLand‘s launch of 6 Victoria Park Villas‘ units which all sold between $4.3 to $4.9 million led the way to positive market sentiments. July’s major launch of the highly affordable units at Lake Grande largely boosted sales figures, accounting for 40 per cent of the total number of units sold.

VictoriaParkVillasProperty analysts are expecting monthly sales of 500 to 700 units for the rest of the year, totalling up to 8,000 units for 2016. Selling prices have remained steady in July while sales figures rose 22 per cent, signalling the start to the market’s road to recovery.