Market not ready for property cooling measure to be lifted

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has said that it is still too early for the property cooling measures to go away. Unlike the car financing sector, the housing sector has yet to achieve the intended levels. The authorities are cautious about a sudden forward surge in the market should the measures be prematurely lifted.

c22aa9c3d5354ad6858cc5cec7ca1854Household debt levels have become more manageable as the debt servicing ratio helped keep new loans portfolios realistic and banks are feeling a reduction in the percentage of non-performing loans. The ultimate aim is a sustainable pathway for the property market – a balance between growth and affordability.

Though the market feels like it has been slowing down for quite a few quarters now, the numbers tell another story. Property prices have fallen 9.4 percent since it’s peak in Q3 of 2013, but between 2009 and 2013, prices rose 60 percent while income rose only 30 percent. Clearly the numbers are disproportionate and it will be some time yet before the market reaches a comfortable equilibrium.

Moving forward, the private resale market is showing signs of bottoming out, and investors who have been sitting in the sidelines may come back into the fold as long as interest rates remain low and home prices steady.

 

Private resale home prices inching up

Prices of resale private non-landed homes have been on the rise since March this year and the upward climb though gradual, shows promise and property analysts are hoping market sentiments will improve as the year moves on.

Qbay ResidencesLast month’s price rise clocked at 0.5 per cent and was apparent throughout all regions. In the core central region (CCR), prices rose 0.9 per cent and 0.4 and 0.5 in the city fringe and suburbs respectively. Sales volume has also improved 27.4 per cent in a year-on-year comparison with 754 units sold, just a wisp lower than the 763 units sold in May.

Buyers are beginning to be more acceptable of the market prices of resale units as the median X-Value (TOX) was at negative $7,000, $1,000 more than the negative $8,000 in April. While there are a few major launches planned for the next half to the year, the number of unsold units in the market has been expanding to almost 15,000, and about 57,500 private homes and 12,000 executive condominiums are in the pipeline. How will the market react to the release of these units into the market? Many new launches now face challenging times beyond their initial launch. Depending on the speed and volume at which new units are released and changes in interest rates will be determining factors.

Completed private home prices fall further

Completed resale private non-landed property prices have dipped further in May, following a slight increase the month before. The muted sales could have also been a reflex response to the recent Brexit vote though in the long term, property analysts are not expecting the fallout to be too drastic.

FulcrumPrice decline of apartments in the central region were the lowest, with prices falling only 0.5 per cent last month, almost evening out with the 0.4 per cent rise in April. Properties here have the location advantage and will be unlikely to see a sudden price depression anytime soon. Astute buyers are however still out for the hunt and are likely to look towards properties in this areas for good deals. In the current market, buyers who lack holding power may find themselves having to let go of their properties within a time period, and may be more open to price negotiations.

As more new properties were launched in the last couple of months, activity from this segment may have also stimulated the resale private property sector and the spillover effect of positive market sentiments could have caused a slight blip in April’s price rise. Small apartments below 506 sq ft saw the steepest fall of 1.1 per cent as competition in the rental market heats up and prices continue to fall with high supply against lower demand.

 

Money still to be made in property rental market

Despite falling property rental prices across the board as the market slump continues, home owners and investors are finding that there is still profit to be made in the home rental sector, at least earning them more than simply leaving their properties empty or waiting for money in the bank to earn them interest.

The AmstonA sudden and deep plunge in rents is quite improbable, and with slight adjustments of expectations, landlords will still find that there are tenants to be had in the current market. The median gross rental yield in May this year stood at 3.2 per cent, with median prices at $1,223 psf. Median monthly rents were down from $3.45 psf in April to $3.26 psf in May. The districts with the highest yields were 1, 2, 4,5 and 17 with the highest median prices at $1,960 psf in district 1 and 2 – in Chinatown, Raffles Place and Tanjong Pagar.

Property analysts are however expecting further reduction in yields as the foreign workforce plays musical chairs with the abundant number of rental units in the mark. Areas with fewer residential properties, such as in districts 1, 2 and where property prices are lower such as in district 17 (Changi, Loyang and Pasir Ris), rental demand tends to be stronger. Rents have however plunged in districts 20 and 8 of Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Little india and Farrer Park respectively.

Singapore prime properties considered reasonably priced 

Singapore properties are expensive. But compared to other major global cities such as London, New York, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong, perhaps they are simply reasonably priced, particularly in the category of prime district properties. The government-implemented property cooling measures might have helped keep prices down.

Marina One ResidencesAccording to the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) Financial Stability Review from November 2015, Singapore’s home prices very well could have been 17 per cent higher than they are now if not for the property curbs implemented since 2010. The ratio of home prices to income for Singapore is now 5.6 per cent, lower than the 8 to 9 per cent for most major cities. Mortgage rates (at between 1.6 to 2 per cent) are approximately the same as average rental yields for prime properties, which are currently at 1.8 per cent.

Average luxury prime district home prices are hovering around $1,991 psf at the moment, about 20 per cent lower than the segment’s peak in 2011. Though sales volume has been low in the past year, as the year moves ahead, property analysts are expecting rental rates to increase after this year as the supply of prime properties dwindle. For savvy investors, the time to purchase may be soon, before property curbs are lifted and demand rises once more.

 

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?

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.

 

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.