Developers keen to build more ECs in Sengkang

Despite the substantial quantity of unsold inventory in the executive condominium (EC) market, the numbers have been decreasing as more units sold in the last quarter, developers are picking up on the changing market sentiments and have come out in full force at the most recent land sales tender for an EC site on Anchorvale Lane. There were 16 bids in total for the site which could potentially yield 630 units.

Treasure Chest ECAs the private property market continues to show price improvements, the EC market has followed suit. Executive condominiums are a hybrid between public and private properties and more often than not, offer an almost surefire appreciation in its value after 10 years when it transits from the former to the latter. It’s initial step into the market as public housing means buyers can utilise HDB grant and subsidies to shave off part of the selling prices.

There are a number of ECs in the vicinity of this Anchorvale Lane site, namely The Vales, Bellewaters and Treasure Chest. The last sold 72 units within a week of its launch in July. However developers must be positive about the outlook of the EC market. Admittedly, the situation may change in a few years’ time and as the estate matures and becomes more popular with young families, there may also be an eventual shift in demand.

The ValesThe highest bid of $240.95 million came from Hoi Hup Realty and Sunway Developments. With this $355 psf purchase price, property analysts are expecting the developers to price their units at $820 psf and above, which is a sliver higher than other EC projects.

Property market on the road to recovery

2016 has proven to be a fairly good year for the property market. Despite slight price fluctuations, prices and sales volume have been stabilising for a few quarters now, giving analysts hope that it’s on a timely road to recovery.

GramercyParkThough the government has yet to indicate an easing of property cooling measures, the market as managed to right itself within the past year or so. Signs of the luxury property market picking up point towards the property market possibly bottoming out soon, which would also mean the market’s on the road to recovery. In Q2, the fall in private residential price index was a mere 0.4 per cent, the smallest thus far. The market has also been correcting itself for 11 consecutive quarters now.

Since the 2013 peak, property prices have fallen 9.4 per cent. With the interest rates currently low and looking like it will remain so for a longer period of time as opposed to extreme fluctuations, borrowing is kept at a healthy level sans the danger of over-borrowing or a property bubble looming. Investors may be refocus their attention on other sectors, keeping the property sector speculation-free.

Leedon Residence on Holland Road.

Leedon Residence on Holland Road.

Global situations such as Brexit or global terrorism may indirectly affect the investment environment and sentiment in the country and region, but Singapore’s real estate market is considered one of the safest and investors are increasingly looking at longer-term capital appreciation.

 

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.

 

Signs of property market bottoming out?  

Though the vacancy rates of private residential properties are currently 1.4 percent higher in Q2 and at a 16-year record high, and property prices 9.4 percent lower than the 2013 peak, property analysts remain positive about the outlook as these could be signs that the property market is reaching the bottom of its cycle.

7478d455d05b4f2aa26fd1e5a8ce7bd2There were 30,310 vacant private homes in the second quarter, that is 5,391 units more than in Q1. As the number of completed properties rise, with almost 11,400 new units entering the market in the first half of 2016, the rates are seemingly modest. Property prices have also been stabilizing, and as long as interest rates remain at their current level, most households will be likely to be able to hold on to their properties over the down season.

More property buyers are now making home purchases for their own use instead of pure investment purposes and many are taking the opportunity to seal deals during this quieter time. In a year-on-year comparison, sales volume has risen 11 per cent and the luxury property market in particular is enjoying a spike in buying interest as prices have fallen sufficiently, luring buyers back into the high-end property market.

 

 

 

Luxury property market heats up 

After the market lull in the past couple of years, buyers are once again picking off choice luxury units in the prime residential property sector.

ArdmoreIIIPrices in this segment have gradually become more competitive over the last year or so and sales volume has increased, partly due to this change. For example, in the first half of 2016 alone, 131 apartments priced above $5 million were sold. Only 166 similar units were sold in the entire 2015.

Investors are favoring Singapore properties they match up well against those in other global cities such as New York and London. Property analysts say most investors are still Singaporeans, though  Malaysians, Indonesians and Chinese continue to feature strongly in the investor pool as they see the value of properties here and are not deterred by the currency fluctuations.

An upcoming luxury development is the 99-year leasehold Victoria Park Villas by CapitaLand which consists of 3 bungalows and 106 semi-detached houses starting from $4.3million. In better times, these houses could have cost up to $6 million. Other high-end units currently in the market include those at Gramercy Park, OUE Twin Peaks and Ardmore Three.

Home loan competition heats up

As the economy slows worldwide,  as global markets struggle to make sense of the recent Brexit vote and as the US Federal reserves rate hikes are put on hold, the time to secure or refinance a home loan could be now. Especially as banks compete for earnings with diminishing property demands.

Image courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board.

Image courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board.

The Singapore Interbank offered rate (SIBOR) at which local home loans are set to, has since fallen to 1 per cent. At its peak, rates went as high as 1.25 per cent.  On the commercial property front, the swap offer rate (SOR) was at 0.94 in June, down from 1.36 per cent in March. What all this means is it now costs less for banks to borrow funds from one another, which makes it easier to schedule fundings for their clients and they may take the opportunity to offer lower rates to secure more earnings.

Banks have been battling for clients and offering up increasingly competitive home loan packages. The dropping SIBOR rates also means linked home loan packages will have lower interest rates. If the US Federal reserve continues to hold off the incline of the rates hike, home buyers may still be able to benefit from the correspondingly lower home loan rates here.

Property cooling measure not going away

Yet. For now, as long as global circumstances continue to destabilise, growth slows and home prices remain high, the local government is unlikely to loosen the noose on the property market and the property cooling measures look set to stay.

Thomson Impressions2Property analysts say only a drastic and sudden market plunge will move the authorities into action as they focus their energy into repositioning Singapore as research and development investment-worthy. Though a complete reversal of the sudden market boom between 2008 and 2013 seems unlikely, the property cooling measures rolled out by the government over the past few years have effected a slow and gradual decline in property prices.

More households are saving up for their first home or to invest in a second, and putting away less for research, education, entrepreneurship and development. And as high home prices also mean higher wage expectations and thus higher labour costs, the high property prices here may be detrimental to Singapore’s overall growth over the next few years. In the near future, it seems unlikely that the property cooling measures will be lifted, until such time when a balance between national growth, competitiveness and housing needs is struck. Or till a sudden fall in property prices. Would a prolonged period of suppressed property market be any less damaging to the local economy?

Singapore home prices remain muted

As long as the property cooling measures are here to stay and global economics remain shaky, home prices may hover at the current levels.

ArdmoreIIIAnd as the government continues to roll out more new build-to-order (BTO) flats while keeping the loan ratio capped at 30 per cent, demand for resale HDB flats may continue its lacklustre run. Although there was a 0.1 per cent rise in HDB prices in Q2, prices were mainly flat and private home prices dipped further by 0.4 per cent, that is following a 0.7 per cent fall in Q1. Some property players have viewed the private property market as possibly reaching the bottom of the cycle.

Since the last market peak in 2013, HDB and private home prices are now 9.8 per cent and 9.4 per cent lower respectively. There have been some signs of recovery in Q2 as private property prices in the core central region (CCR) rose 0.2 per cent. Developers have also been actively seeking out sales by offering creative payment schemes and keeping sales volume to a respectable level.

Considering the average length of a property lull being 8.4 quarters, this cycle may already have reached the end of its run. Will a prolonged cycle mean an even sharper and more drastic rebound when the measures are loosened? How will the market then respond to that and will there be any drawbacks?