Will rental market climb back up this year?

The private rental market has made a bit of a turnaround last month, posting a 1.3 per cent rise after months of lacklustre demand and declining prices.

MillPointCondoIn the prime districts, rents have rise 0.9 per cent, while the most obvious change was in the city fringes where prices rose 1.6 per cent. In the suburbs, a 1.3 per cent price increase was recorded. Rental volume also rose by 5.8 per cent in January with 3,813 units leased. That is 0.7 per cent higher than the 3,785 units leased in January 2016.

With the year leaning on this positive note, could the private residential leasing market be climbing its way out of the gloom? While property analysts are not expecting any drastic or quick decline in prices, neither are they predicting a recovery in the near future. As more new completions from 2015 and 2016 hit the market, the increase in available leasing options will make it more a tenant’s market. What are more popular are shorter leases, and the authorities may even begin to reconsider making shorter leases legal as more tenants are leaning towards these preferences. Previously 2-year tenures were common, but of late, 1-year leases are now becoming the new norm.

HDBFlatRentalFor HDB flats, rents have been falling almost entirely across the board with the 5-room flat segment leading the way with a 1.5 per cent decline. 3-room flat rental prices have however risen by 0.2 per cent. Rental volume for HDB flats have also fallen 16.1 per cent last month.

 

 

Fall of private home rents put dampener on market

Hana CondoFor the 6th month in a row, private home rental rates have fallen with an even sharper 1.3 per cent drop last month. In the HDB market, rental prices have however edged up by 0.2 per cent. The overall decline in rents is smaller in this market, at 3.7 per cent for the entire year of 2016. In the private property market however, for the whole of last year, rents have fallen 6.2 per cent and in a year-on-year comparison with January 2013, almost 20 per cent.

Not in particular good news for those who have been counting on rental yields to help with their multiple property mortgages. Plus a probable interest rates hike this year, the market could be looking at more sellers putting their property in auction sales or banks being more active in their mortgage auction sales. This could however work in the favour of buyers who have been looking for a home to live in. The closing price gap between private housing and higher-end resale public housing may also cause some contention and competition, with location and floor area possibly being the deciding factor for many.

KatongRegencyNot only has rental rates fallen, so has leasing volume. The number of condominium apartment leases fell to 3,691 last month, down 2.2 per cent from November’s 3,775 units. Last December’s leasing volume however is 17.1 per cent higher than in the same period in 2015. Overall, the rental market is weakening and investors can no only rely on rental yields to help tide them over.

Sparks of hope in property market

Despite the prolonged property lull, analysts are hopeful that a few sparks of recovery will begin to rejuvenate the market this year. The office sector may boost the commercial market while high-end luxury homes will hold up the residential property segment.

dleedonAs far as regions go, the core central region is heating up in terms of foreign interest in both residential and commercial properties. The sliding private home prices, by 11 per cent since 2013, have brought investors back into the luxury homes market. Currency valuation will however continue to play a part in the movement of investment money, and Singapore will still have to compete with other cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Shanghai for investors’ attention.

Compared to other major cities such as Hong Kong, New York and London however, apartment prices here have fallen and will become more appealing to foreign buyers as the potential for yields in the medium term is considerable, especially as these specific market segment is expected to perform well this year.

skylineorchardboulevardThe collective sales market is another to watch in 2017, as developers are expected to collaborate to build up their store of land sites for long term yields. There might also be acquisitions of smaller developers by larger ones in order to participate in the government land sales programme. Property prices are expected to remain stable but depending on a property’s rental yields as a means of investment or profit could become less attractive as investors find it more difficult to find tenants in an increasingly competitive market.

How to make your rental unit shine

Though the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has reminded property investors in their Financial Stability Review released late last year of the increase in vacancy rates and declining rental market, there are still ways to ensure the best yields from the properties you have invested in.

lagunagreenFinding yourself a reliant property agent is of course the first step, and experienced agents can often advise you on how to make your property more appealing to tenants, what to look out for when selecting a suitable tenant and what the current market sentiments or pricings are like. But putting in the behind-the-scenes work will also get you the results and the little things do make a difference.

As more tenants are taking their search online, making an online presence, and a good one, will at least help to bring in the views. The reach of social media and online platforms where expatriates often visit could be extensive. On occasions, you may even consider online advertising. And providing a 360-view of your unit will also provide tenants who search online with a more comprehensive idea of what you are offering. This helps save time for both landlords and tenants.

loyanggardensBefore taking any photographs, some home-staging will go a long way. The rise of Airbnb (though not yet legalised in Singapore) means tenants now have more options or are used to more elaborate visuals of the units they potentially select. Taking care of tiny details such as cleanliness, lighting, placement of plants or quality of furniture and utensils all play a part in making the tenant feel comfortable and could be just what gives them the final push to sign on the dotted line.

Rents down but sales of some projects up

Home rental prices have been slipping with a 0.4 per cent and 0.5 per cent fall in the private non-landed apartments and HDB flats markets respectively.

Cairnhill Nine CapitaLandPhoto credit: CapitaLand

But perhaps the decline in rent has increased rental volume. There was a 8.2 per cent increase across the board in rental volume with 3,686 units leased this October as compared to 3,408 from the same month last year. On the same year-on-year comparison, rental prices were however down by 4.5 per cent.

The increase in rental volume may also be reflected in the sales volume this quarter as stronger home sales may have lifted earnings for some developers. CapitaLand for example saw a 28.4 per cent rise in net profit in Q3. Locally, their private residential projects, The Nassim and Cairnhill Nine, have boosted sales, together with their new projects in China – namely Riverfront in Hangzhou, New Horizon in Shanghai and Vermont Hills in Beijing.

nassimhillcapitalandPhoto credit: CapitaLand

In Singapore, they have sold 206 units in the second quarter, and a total of $1.24 billion in total sales value in the first 3 quarters of the year. With the happy increase in number of launches within the last quarter, sales volume may hit a positive note and ring in the festive year-end cheer come end December.

Resale apartment prices falling

If anyone has found it increasingly difficult to find buyers for their private apartment, they may not be alone. Falling resale private non-landed property prices have heightened market competition, aided by the increase in completed new units hitting the market and the presence of major new launches in the past quarter.

visioncrest-residenceThe weak rental market has not helped as well. Property experts are expecting the rental demand to remain stagnant till 2017. In August, 830 units exchanged hands while only 683 were transacted in September. The drop in transactions were particularly apparent in the suburbs, once again possibly fuelled by the influx of completed units since 2014. The only bright spark came from the core central region resale properties, with a 0.6 per cent rise from August.

The volatility of the economic outlook and impending interest rates hike has also caused some edginess and those who may not have been able to handle the financial burdens of servicing their home loans may also be in a hurry to sell, thus pulling home prices down. Private resale apartment prices have fallen once more in September, this time by 0.9 per cent. In a year-on-year comparison, prices were 1.5 per cent lower than in 2015. City fringe home prices fell 1.3 per cent.

 

 

HDB flat and private condo rental prices evening out

The difference between renting a HDB flat and a private condominium unit used to be $1,000. Today, the difference stands at only $500. The gap between HDB flat and private property rental prices have narrowed considerably, due not to the rise in HDB flat rents but in the drop in private apartment rents.

Qbay ResidencesIn the past, renting a suburban condo would cost you $3,100 to $3,300 a month. Now, it is possible to rent a suburban unit at $2,700. HDB executive flat and 5-room flat rental prices have remained around the $2,200 to $2,400 range for the past 5 years now.

HDB flatMuch of the rental drop comes from the sudden increase in supply of new private condominium units, with more landlords now jostling for the same or shrinking tenant pool. Many HDB upgraders will also join the HDB rental pool as they seek to rent out their HDB flats.

Property analysts are putting it up to the shrinking apartment sizes. The psf rents have remained the same, but tenants are now getting less floor area than they used to for the same amount of money. They are however picky about location and may be willing to accept a smaller-sized accommodation in a central located as opposed to a larger one further away from their workplace or town.

As the gap narrows, will the HDB flat rental market take an indirect hit as tenants opt for private properties over public housing?

Rental market bodes well for HDB flats

The rental market has been on the downhill slip as a fresh crop of completed new private homes hits the market this year. Competition for an increasing limiting tenant pool will prove to be tough for private property landlords, but HDB flat rental prices are holding out well despite the softening rental market.

Paterson SuitesCore central region private apartments seem to be suffering the most with the global finance, oil and gas sectors in turmoil. Expatriates working here and their families have been moving out of the country, scaling the tenant pool for luxury and high-end prime properties down even further. For example, a 3-bedder in a 1,600 sq ft unit in Paterson Suites which would have tenanted at $7,000 in January is now offering $5,800 in rent.

Serangoon HDB flatPrivate property rental prices fell 1 per cent in March, while HDB flat rents fell just 0.1 per cent. Changes in immigration policies have reduced the foreign workforce in Singapore and those remaining may have to work around a smaller housing allowance, hence many private properties may be out of their rental budget. HDB flats are a fair and affordable option. For locals or HDB upgraders who have to rent a home while waiting for their new BTO flat or condominium to be built, private units often prove to be too expensive as well. Will the positive rental yields for the HDB flat market boost the sales figures for this sector?