Overall price decline in Q1 but buying sentiment remains upbeat

Price-declines across the board for private residential, commercial and resale public housing sectors could mean the bottom of property cycle is close. For the 14th consecutive quarter now, private home prices have fallen, the longest period in the past 13 years.

That said, the general market sentiment has recently picked up as slight tweaks in the property cooling measures and a series of new and exciting property launches have gotten buyers’ blood flowing once more. Private home prices have fallen 0.4 per cent in Q1, slightly lesser than the 0.5 per cent in Q4 of last year.

Paya Lebar Quarter_Lendlease PLQPhoto credit: Lendlease 

Values of private residential properties have fallen 11.6 per cent since its peak in 2013, and this difference has probably revived purchasing interest as most buyers still see the potential of well-located properties in Singapore.

Total private home transactions hit 5,202 units in Q1, the highest in 15 quarters thus far. Property analysts are expecting the market to remain bullish and continue its growth barring any unexpected economic circumstances. City fringe properties are faring particularly, propped up by the strong demand for newly launched projects such as The Clement Canopy, Grandeur Park Residences, Park Place Residences and the Paya Lebar Quarter. Non-landed home prices have in fact risen 0.3 per cent in the city fringes and 0.1 per cent in the suburbs. Core central region property prices fell 0.4 per cent however.

ParkPlaceResidencesLanded home prices fell 1.8 per cent last quarter, likely due to the restrictions placed on these rarer commodities. Foreigners are not allowed to own landed properties. On the resale HDB flat front, prices fell 0.5 per cent, though the decline is expected to reverse itself soon, in response to the positive sentiments from the private property market.

$653 million asking price makes Eunosville largest collective sale

Should the asking price of between $643 to $653 million for the HUDC estate of Eunosville truly go through, it would be the largest collective sale of late as it surpasses the $638 million paid for Shunfuville last year and the expected $450.8 million asking price for Rio Casa in Hougang which went on sale last month.

EunosvilleAnd it would mean each unit owner at the Sims Avenue estate would receive $780 to $790 psf or $1.9 to $2 million approximately. The estate has already reached the 80 per cent requirement for consent and the sheer size of the estate would be a dream for the winning developer. The 376, 713 sq ft site currently holds 225 maisonettes in 10 blocks and upon redevelopment, could yield 1,035 units of approximately 90 sq m each.

With 70 years left on its lease, $181 million on top of the bid will be required for intensification and a new 99-year lease. The site is just 100 metres away from the Eunos MRT station and strong showings at recent property launches show that buyers are still keen on new launches at good locations. Recent sales at Grandeur Park were a good example. All 420 of the units available at the launch were sold with the first weekend at the average price of $1,350 psf.

GrandeurParkResidencesThough bidding will be prudent as developers are keenly aware of the completion and sales deadlines imposed by the qualifying certificate and additional buyer’s stamp duty, some may be willing to put more into sites with long-term potential as land banks have been running low for the past year or so.

Bullish bid for land may mean higher home prices

A bid $65 million above the expected offer for a land plot is not something to scoff at. It also points to the site as having tremendous potential, are at the very least possesses characteristics which the winning developer is confident will eventually bring in profits.

The Creek in Bukit Timah.

The Creek in Bukit Timah.

Malaysian developer, S P Setia has offered $265 million for a 18,721.4 square metre site on Toh Tuck Road. The location, while tucked away behind Toh Yi Drive, is near enough to the Beauty World MRT station on the Downtown Line, as well as the series of shopping malls and eateries in the vicinity. Property analysts consider the bid bullish though understandable as the prices reflect the potential of the site’s location and size. It is also near the Bukit Timah housing district and schools such as Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary and Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

The robust bid sets the benchmark for sites in the vicinity. Recent tweaks in the property cooling measures might have had developers in a slight tizzy over the procurement of land plots for future projects. While demand is strong, supply from the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme is slower this year.

For the consumer, the fierce bidding on recent land sites could be indicative of the direction home prices might be taking. The number of successful new launches this year could however account for the spending. The 99-year leasehold plot on Toh Tuck Road is expected to yield approximately 325 new private homes and is the first of 5 residential sites under the GLS confirmed list.

Winds of change in local property market

A decade or so ago, owning a second or third property might be the fastest way to secure your retirement funds or to even accumulate a tidy little kitty. Investment properties were considered a surefire way of earning additional income, but in the climate of today, property owners and investors have much more factors to consider and competition to battle against.

SunshinePlazaResidencesWith the rental market weakening, property agents are finding that it takes twice as long and also many more viewings before a property is successfully tenanted. And even then, for much less than before. Some property owners have had to reduce rents by almost half. Leaving the units empty are simply not an option for some investors as the rents go towards the mortgage or mortgages of their properties. It is after all better to have less help than none at all.

SerangoonHDBflatFor new investors looking to enter the market, the environment is a lot tougher than before. Considerations such as whether there is a large pool of HDB flats available for rental nearby, the long-term potential of the property, competition from other new launches or even within the same property, whether the local and global economy will affect businesses and commercial hubs nearby thus reducing the pool of foreign tenants, and so forth.

Before the market makes a complete recovery, a possibly lengthy period of stabilisation will ensue, despite the governments having made some allowances in the are of the property cooling curbs.

Fierce bids for Perumal Road land site

A mixed-use land site on Perumal road which could potentially yield 200 private homes and an entire floor of commercial spaces have attracted bullish bids from property developers since its release in November last year.

Sturdee-Residence11 bids have been placed, the highest at 4.4 per cent more than the next in line came from Low Keng Huat at $174.08 million. The second highest bid came from China Construction (South Pacific) development. The keen activity in the land sales sector could translate into a competitive primary and thereafter secondary market which will in turn mean a ready pool of buyers who are ready to spend after the prolonged market lull over the past few years.

Average selling prices at this site is expected to hover around $1,700 psf due to the high land cost and also its proximity to the Farrer Park MRT station and other amenities such as City Square Mall and Mustafa Centre. The neighbouring plot where Sturdee Residences stands only lodged at $787 psf.

The lack of land sites available for sale in the earlier part of 2016 could have resulted in pent up demand from developers who are looking to replenish their lank banks in preparation for 2018 and beyond when market recovery is expected to happen. Property analysts are already seeing signs of market stabilisation and developers who prepare ahead of the recovery could just catch buyers at an opportune time.

 

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.

Luxury home market shows signs of revival

The luxury property segment has shown strengthening signs of revival these past few months as units at high-end residential developments such as Leedon Residence and Goodwood Residence have been picked up at an increased rate, even without discounts, deferrer payment schemes or incentives.

GoodwoodResidencesAbout 70 per cent of the sales at Goodwood Residence were from investment buyers and the average selling price was at $2,300 psf. The property situated in Bukit Timah is developed by Singapore-listed developer GuocoLand and all of it’s 3 penthouses and 210 units have been sold. The penthouses sized between 3,900 and 9,600 sq ft were sold for between $6.5 to $14.23 million.

Over at the 381-unit Leedon Residence, with variety of 2- to 5-bedroom units, more than three quarters of which have been sold. Prices here are considerable as well, with most units going for only slightly lesser than $2,000 psf. Some 5-bedders have been sold for between $8.5 to $10 million. The remaining 100 or so units may be picked up by a group in a bulk sale.

Leedon Residence on Holland Road.

Leedon Residence on Holland Road.

Property analysts are holding back their optimism for a market turnaround as they chalk most of the sales up to value-for-money deals from the sector. Due to a subdued market, more opportunities for investors have popped up and while transactions of non-landed homes with prices of $2,000 psf and above have increased by 80 per cent, most of these investors are not banking on quick or huge returns. They may however be willing to and are able to hold on to the units for when the market makes a comeback.

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.