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?

To buy or not to buy.

That is the question. When rental prices fall and rise according to property prices, which in turn are directed by local economies of scales and indirectly impacted by global economies and general market sentiment, that is often the question home-seekers ask themselves.

In the current market, is it wiser to buy or rent? Under what circumstances should you definitely choose one option over the other? Property analysts advice against renting while speculating on market direction as the uncertainties may not always work in your favour. Instead, the main factor should be whether renting or buying best suits your needs.

KembanganSuitesSingapore may very well be one of the cities in the world where most people own their homes. In many other cosmopolitan cities, rental is a more-than-common way of life. While renting may suit those who are not willing to be tied down by fixed monthly outlays such as mortgages, taxes and condominium maintenance fees, it also means that the money that goes into your rent does not ultimately accumulate into owning the roof over your head. There is also the danger of rental rates being raised and frequent moves.

Buying a property is not a small decision, and market advisors caution against doing so when you have not yet made sound financial calculations. The price differences in purchasing a freehold versus a leasehold property could also be considerable in the long run as most freehold properties tend to appreciate over time.  This then brings you to the considerations of when to buy and sell your property. While it is true that leasehold properties tend to depreciate, factors such as location and the competitiveness of neighbouring properties could also lend weight to the depreciation process, slowing it down considerably.

A resale private condo market respite

3 consecutive months of rising private non-landed home prices is reason enough for some mid-year cheer. Could this be a sign of respite from the recent property market lull?

GramercyParkProperty seekers and buyers who have been on the lookout for good deals and the right opportunity to jump back onto the property investment train have proven to be more active of late. Incentive schemes for various residential developments such as OUE Twin Peaks and Ardmore Three have also helped boost sales and prices. The former’s deferred payment scheme has received positive response from buyers, which ultimately translated to sales. The number of resale units sold in May rose by 36% with 840 units sold. 619 units were sold in April.

Prime central region properties are once again finding favour with investors as they view the potential value of the private residential properties here with new eyes. The next launch in the core central region (CCR) would be Gramercy Park luxury apartments by City Developments.

Property analysts are however cautious about their predictions for the rest of the year as the cooling measures will still mean buyers continue to be price-sensitive. They are expecting resale private apartment prices to fall 3 per cent across the board this year.

 

London properties only foreign investors can afford?

Londoners are railing against the consistently rising property prices which have reached a mark where only rich foreign investors from Middle East and Asia are able to afford.

As foreign property investments become more common globally, countries are finding the need to regulate the property market and it ultimately comes down to the question of priorities. Taking notes from the US real estate bubble a decade ago, Australia and Singapore have both recently made policy adjustments to guard against excessive financial loans and foreign purchases on local properties.

London PropertiesLondon’s new mayor may also be lobbying to make moves to allow residents to purchase new properties ahead of foreign investors who have been snapping up units with fervour, with prices rapidly rising over the years. The average price of a home in London now costs approximately S$1.2 million and rental for a flat in central London can easily be S$2,700 per month. 20 per cent of home sales in Kensington and Chelsea are from foreign buyers and for new properties, the numbers can come up to as much as 75 per cent, with almost 67 per cent of them purchasing purely for investment purposes.

LondonProperty2Though some of these foreign buyers are purchasing units to rent out, some are owned by shell companies who leave the units empty on end, taking away essential numbers of available homes for London’s residents when they are already only rolling out half of the 50,000 new homes required each year.

With similar high-population versus limited land issues, Singapore’s average private home prices could easily rival that in London. While income growth lags behind other first world cities, living expenses are not necessarily remaining stagnant, will the country’s government need to revise their strategies in keeping homes affordable?

Foreign investors like Singapore property market for its stability

http://www.thehumanbuilding.comThe recent en bloc sale of Shunfu Ville to Qingjian realty plus a $145-million dollar sale of a Cuscaden road bungalow to a Hong Kong Tycoon may have boosted foreign-investment sentiments, especially in the property market. It shows that many high net-worth individuals and funds are finding long term potential in Singapore’s property market.

AsiaSqaure

Photo credit: http://www.thehumanbuilding.com

They often have the financial holding power and are looking beyond short-term cyclical trends, setting their sights instead on mid- to long-term goals of 5 to 10 years. Asean is just beginning to boom, as many of the nations and economies become interwoven and thus provide more opportunities for growth and a general sense of vibrancy and promise. Aside from residential properties, commercial properties are also faring well, with offers of up to $560 million being made for the Straits Trading Building on Battery Road and $3.5 million for Asia Square Tower 1. Many regional and global companies are setting up headquarters in Singapore and will be looking at picking up office, commercial and retail spaces.

The recent dealings though hardly representative of Singapore’s weakening local market, may be a positive sign that companies, funds and high net-worth individuals are still happy to put their monies in Singapore properties. And though a market turnaround may not be quick, the time will come.