Will home loan rates rise soon?

Low interest rates have been ruling the home loan environment for at least the past year. But how long more can this streak continue is anyone’s guess, especially as the current global economic climate is uncertain at best, what with the effects of the recent Brexit and US elections yet to be revealed.

Two golden idols carrying a red house with a "%" inconProperty analysts say that this may be the last chance for home owners to jump on the refinancing bandwagon as interest rates in the United States have been expected to rise starting next month, and similarly those in Singapore may also follow suit. Some loan packages may however have a lock-in period and borrowers may find themselves unable to refinance or having to pay a penalty for loan-cancellation or pre-payment. But there are a good many options out there and financial planners or experienced property agents will be able to advise on the best course of action for those looking to refinance their home loans. There are also data, website and apps out there to help borrowers who may want to do their research before approaching the banks.

forte-suites1The current financial climate is competitive and banks are also out to acquire market share, thus the competitive rates in the initial loan period could help shave a load of your ultimate home loan. Though the rise in interest rates is likely in the next 2 years, the climb will be gradual with the Sibor possibly doubling from the current 0.9 per cent to 1.85 per cent by 2018.

Resale private property prices slip further in October

Following the dip in resale prices in September, last month saw a further slip of 0.7%. Resale prices of private non-landed properties were apparently at a 50-month low.sycamoretreeSales volume of resale private properties also fell 15.2 per cent with 586 transactions clocked in October, in comparison to the 691 in September. In the peak of April 2010, 2050 units were sold, 71.4 per cent higher than the current numbers. September’s numbers may have been slightly more positive due to the pent up demand from the lack of major launches in the second quarter and the Hungry Ghost month in August.

Some districts fared better, with more than 10 resale transactions recorded – namely district 10 where the median selling price was $10,000 more than the computer-generated market value. But in most regions, sellers have found themselves having to offer prices up to $10,000 below the market value in order to close deals and attract buyers. In district 21 in fact, selling prices went as low as $23,000 below the market value.

HighlineResidences2Property prices in the city fringe, normally where selling and buying is the most active, have fallen 2 per cent. In the suburbs, prices also fell 3.3 per cent. Prime district properties however enjoyed a 4.9 per cent price increase, though it might only be sufficient to consider it a rebound from previous lull months.

New private homes with strong attributes still a draw

Amidst speculations of a bottoming-out real estate market, the 3 major project previews over the weekend might be good indicators of market fluctuations in the months ahead.

38-jervoisPhoto credit: Prominent Land

Judging from the strength of public response from recent launches, new private non-landed developments with strong attributes such as good locations, usually those near MRT stations and shopping malls, and affordable quantum prices will take market headlines for now. Buyers are not entirely shrinking away from making purchases, but they may be pickier as the choices available outweigh the current demand.

City Development’s (CDL) latest private residential offering of the Forest Woods condominium clocked an encouragingly positive level of sales in its recent launch, perhaps leading the way for the next few launches coming up – Queens Peak on Dundee Road in Queenstown, Parc Riviera in West Coast Vale and 38 Jervois in Jervois Road.

forestwoodsThe last of these projects is a rather exclusive boutique offering of 27 units developed by Prominent Land. At 38 Jervios, units range from 474 sq ft one-bedders to 1,098 sq ft two-bedders plus penthouse study with prices averaging $2,100 psf and up. Buyers can expect to fork out $1.08 million for a one-bedroom unit to $1,81 million for a 3-bedroom unit. 6 of the 27 units will be penthouses.

Although these new private homes may push sales figures past the 1,000 a month mark, property analysts do not yet expect a sudden market uptick as prospects of the economy remain lacklustre.

August’s Property market showing weaker

Buyers may have pulled back from the property market last month, partly due to the Hungry Ghost festival. In comparison to July’s bounty of developer launches, August’s numbers may seem pale.

Those who were looking would have only been keen if the prices were too attractive to pass up, and most buyers who have not already inked a deal in July may be waiting for the next few launches coming up in the last quarter of 2016. Non-Central regions property prices dropped 0.9 per cent, the largest in the 0.6 per cent overall fall in August.

highlineresidences1Developers have been offering incentive schemes and discounts for the last couple of quarters. And the buyers may now be more aware of these possibilities and thus are less willing to fork out higher amounts for completed homes as they know new fodder may be coming their way soon.  Small apartments below 506 sq ft have fallen the hardest at 4.5 per cent in a year-on-year comparison.

Long-term investment seem to be on the minds of recent buyers.  Properties in prime locations still hold their own and while buying frequency has dropped, properties in the central region are gaining ground and popularity with investors. The incline of fall in prices and sales has gradually eased and prices have remained relatively stagnant over the last half of the year, providing a sentiment of stability.

Consumer awareness crucial for property industry

The local property industry landscape has been changing quite a bit over the past few years, in particular for the consumer. The authorities have been working on transparency and consumers now have more information at their finger tips, and perhaps even more as net prices of de-licensed projects’ will soon be available as well.

singapore-property-authoritiesCurrently, the Housing Development Board (HDB) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) both provide property statistics and data on their websites. The Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI) by the National University of Singapore (NUS) Institute of Real Estate also provides month-on-month transaction-based information for private non-landed residential properties.

ardmorethreeThere are however some caveats to take into consideration. URA’s quarterly price index for example, does not include the discounts and incentives which developers sometimes provide. Only the net-price will be recorded, thus consumers will do well to take this into consideration when viewing statistics and median monthly transaction prices. The change will take effect this month, which means the price index may have some downward pressure put on it as current figures may be inflated. De-licensed projects which have obtained their Certificate of Statutory Completion and thus do not come under the Housing Developers Rules, such as OUE Twin Peaks and Ardmore Three, are known to provide incentive schemes to their buyers such as 15% discounts and Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rebate.

A recent case of a property agent who handled and misappropriated cash handed to him by his client also brings to light that consumers may not be entirely aware of what they are entitled to or what their agents are allowed and disallowed to do. In brief, it is against the law for property agents to handle any cash on behalf of their clients.

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.

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.