iProperty launches new Room-for-rent E-service

Home rental has always been a big thing in Singapore. As in most other busy, cosmopolitan cities.

Some folks have extra space to spare, some are hoping to rake in their investments, others need a place to stay. Just a little cosy corner to call your own. If you’re not looking to rent a whole house, condo apartment or HDB flat, but only a room, iProperty now offers an efficient way of searching room rental listings throughout Singapore in just a few easy clicks.

iProperty room rentalRegistration is free and 4 easy steps later you’re able to post your rental ad. Powered by iProperty, the rental portal resides at sg-house.com. Attract as many as 52,000 views on your post and find a suitable tenant quickly and at the comfort of your desk. It’s an easy way for landlords to reach potential tenants and vice versa.

Short-term accommodation options are also available. Great for companies hunting down term rentals for their overseas employees. Filter down your search through keywords and find what you need pronto.

Besides this new feature, iProperty’s recently revamped website also has organised links and a site chock full of other property related resources such as a search function for properties near MRT stations or schools, directory of condominiums in Singapore and property trends.

When even suburban mass-market home prices fell

8 RajaSingapore’s housing market could be bracing itself for a year of tougher times. It has after all enjoyed a rather long period of highs.  Though the initial signs are slight, a 0.7 per cent drop in December, it could be a warning for the year or next couple of years ahead.

As new properties now come with lower price tags, apartments in the resale market may find themselves having to lower their prices as well in order to attract buyers. The biggest decline came in the suburban segment, which may be a bit of a downer for the market since this is the sector which has been faring the best for many consecutive quarters. But the huge number of launches all over the island could have diluted the buying crowd. Investors who would previously have snapped up these properties in a jiffy may also have been hindered by the loan restrictions implemented last June.

Homes in the central districts could however take the hardest beating this year as many are left unsold. As most of the properties head towards completion in the next few years, the housing supply glut may become more apparent. Put into the mix resale properties and the bowl seems rather big, unless of course the population grows, which might cause other issues for the small nation and its limited resources and space.

Less investing in private homes

Overall home prices have been losing steam, with significant signs showing in the last quarter of 2013. Mass market private home prices have begun to soften and investors are generally shying away from private properties. Upmarket luxury properties however might be the hardest hit as big funders who had previously purchased units in bulk choose to wash their hands of their investments early. Newton Imperial condominium is one example, with 21 units being put up for bulk sale earlier this month.

Hillford Retirement HomeSome investors may however choose to hold on to their properties and tide over the property cooling period. On the ground, city centre home prices have already fallen, and city fringe homes may follow suit. Individual buyers may be waiting for further price cuts or discounts from developers, thus widening the void in the market. But the market can hardly stagnate as activity will no doubt continue, though at a slightly more subdued level.

Some analysts are predicting the ebb and flow of the private property market this year to be highly dependent on the type and number of new property launches. As that too may be lower in number, one may wonder if 2014 might be a dull year for the real estate industry. But the first quarter of the year may bring about some positive change. The launch of The Hillford at Jalan Jurong Kechil earlier this month for example, sold out within its launch day with prices averaging $1, 100 psf.

The Resale HDB flat rollercoaster ride

A year or two ago, the property market was at its peak and now, it seems to be have taken the quick dash down. With the fervent entry of new HDB flats and private properties over the last 3 years, the market is now facing a possible glut. The continuous implementation of property cooling measures also accounted for much of the decrease in activity over the last 2 quarters.

The resale market for HDB flats seem to have taken a dive due to the bumper crop of BTO flats. Photo courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board.

The resale market for HDB flats seem to have taken a dive due to the bumper crop of BTO flats. Photo courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board.

Data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority seems to signify a peak in home supply in 2016. That is when most of the properties purchased in the past 2 years will be completed and ready for occupation. That might mean many will be compelled to sell their existing homes and the resale HDB flat market may then face yet another challenge then. By 2016, 33,290 homes are expected to be completed.

In the resale HDB market, transactions have been at an all-time low since 2005. Prices fell by 0.6 per cent, and sellers may find themselves at the mercy of market demand. Median COV prices are now $10,000 and below. No longer are the days when sellers could command exorbitant cash premiums, which have to be paid upfront.

Most buyers in the resale HDB flat market now are upgraders or PRs. But the pool of buyers may have diminished as buyers may be restricted by loan limits and reduced number of foreigners granted permanent residency. PRs are now only allowed to purchase HDB flats after a 3-year period. Property analysts are expecting interest to rise again after the first half of the year, as low prices bring the buyers back.

Foreign buyers back in the market

Have the cooling measures done their job in managing property prices? Foreign property buyers have held back for the last quarter,  but are now back in full force. Instead of aiming high for prime district properties, they have instead gone for cheaper options, namely suburban condominiums,

La Fiesta condominium in Sengkang.

La Fiesta condominium in Sengkang.

Foreign buyers made up 10.7 per cent of 4,884 private homes sold in Q1 of 2013. Chinese and Indonesians made up the largest numbers, followed by Malaysians. The number of Mainland Chinese buyers particularly has been on the rise once more. This could be partly due to the tightening of property buying policies in their own country.

Almost half of the 108 foreign buyers in March alone were Chinese nationals. With their strong buying power, even with the newly raised 15 per cent Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD), a private condominium of $1.53 million is still very much affordable in their books. One of the most popular suburban condominiums in district 19 was La Fiesta in Sengkang and in prime district 10, D’Leedon.

d'Leedon condo project on Farrer Road.

d’Leedon condo project on Farrer Road.

Before December 2011, when the ABSD was first introduced, foreign buyers made up 21.2 per cent of the total home sales. By the first quarter of 2012, the proportion has dropped to 5.7 per cent. The current level is at 10.7 per cent. Jones Lang LaSalle Singapore research director Ong Teck Hui has said that Singaporean investors seemed to be more affected by the cooling measures than PRs and foreigners.

In short, the additional buyers’ stamp duty has merely herded the buying crowd in another direction. Are they competing with local buyers? If there are sufficient private homes to go around, then market forces will keep the real estate machine chugging on its own. Does this answer what Singaporeans have been asking for in terms of housing prices and supply?

Fringe growth for City fringe homes

In terms of speed, the property cooling measures have certainly put the brakes on the growth of city fringe private apartments. Investors are not coming to the buffet table of apartments in areas such as Balestier, Thomson, Outram and Rochor, despite the substantial number of choice units for the picking.

Echelon condominium.

Echelon condominium.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority data indicated zero growth in the non-landed home prices for city fringe areas. City centre apartments on the other hand has increased by a slight 0.4 per cent. The higher stamp duty and tighter home loan limits have detracted many a property investor. In fact, growth in this sector in particular has be flattening since April 2012.

Spottiswoode SuitesSLP International’s head of research, Mr Nicholas Mak, thinks that part of the reason for the flat-lining sales could be that recent launches have been targeted at investors. These include Echelon near Redhill MRT station, Seasuites in Pasir Panjang and Spottiswoode Suites near Outram Park MRT station. Projects such as these has a significant number of one and two-bedders, which have been the hot favourites of real estate investors for sometime.

Have residential home prices in this area reached a saturation point and what will it take to get the buyers back into the market? Will there be spillover interest from the suburban private home market which is doing exceedingly well for the moment?

Are homes in Singapore truly affordable?

If you have always wanted to ask the authorities this question, will now hear what they have to say. In a grassroot dialogue on Sunday night, National Development Minister Mr. Khaw Boon Wan emphasized the Government’s commitment to providing affordable homes for Singapore’s future generations.

Do you think Singapore’s homes are truly affordable for the average Singaporean?

On the one hand, the nation is hoping to improve birth rates and push up the population numbers, but on the other, housing prices have been soaring above the capability of the average Singaporean. But Mr. Khaw says that the 25, 000 new HDB flats built per year over the past couple of years have more than provided for the 15, 000 marriages per year. He also said that “Pricing is within my control”, further taking up the responsibility of making it possible for citizens to own a roof over their heads.

With the rate at which property prices are rising and the constant increment quarter by quarter, are you positive that affordability is true of the current situation? And what about in five years’ time? Will homes be more or less affordable then as compared to now? How should affordability be measured, or what other factors should it be measured against? What about inflation and other living expenses such as education, transport, or simply the overall livability of the nation?

Looking back on 2011: Key Property Highlights of the Year

As we ring in the New Year, iProperty.com takes a look back to remind you of the highlights of the real estate market over the last 12 action-packed months:

1. Cooling Measures 2011

The additional cooling measures introduced by MND (Ministry of National Development) was by far the most talked-about topics within the property industry this year. These included the increase of seller stamp duty rates to 4 to 16% for residential properties sold within four years of purchase, as well as the lowering of LTV (Loan-to-Value) limits from 70% to 60% per cent for buyers financing two or more properties.

In November 2011, MND also shocked the market by announcing the increase in Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty of 10% for foreigners purchasing private residential property.

2. Relief for The Middle-Class Masses

Those in the “sandwiched middle-class” had much to rejoice about this year, when MND announced that the income ceiling for buyers of HDB flats would be raised from $8,000 to $10,000, and from $10,000 to $12,000 for buyers of ECs (Executive Condominiums).

Other measures included the release of large numbers of BTO (Build-To-Order) flats, accompanied by a SBF (Sale of Balance Flats) exercise in September earlier this year.

3. En-Bloc Schemes a Plenty

Rochor Centre, Redhill Close, East Coast Road and Clementi Avenue 5 were all examples of the areas which were ear-marked for SERS (Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme) this year. While the sentiment of residents affected was mixed, a good many were most concerned about compensation and replacement programs – with some even writing some (very public) letters to voice their unhappiness, contributing to the extensive media coverage on this topic.

4. DBSS Sticker-Shock

While high property prices in Singapore are nothing new, the price tag of $880,000 for a unit at Centrale 8, a DBSS (Design, Build & Sell) project in Tampines proved too much even for the locals to swallow.

Very quickly, petitions from the public led to MND stepping in to freeze all land sales under the DBSS program. However, prices of Centrale 8 were eventually lowered, and DBSS sales soon continued into the year, with projects such as Lake Vista @ Yuan Ching, the first DBSS project in western Singapore, launched at more affordable prices, from S$360,500 for the smallest unit to S$680,400 for the largest flat.

5. ECs: the Hot Property of 2011

ECs were in high demand in 2011, with notable launches including the Arc at Tampines –which commanded higher average PSFs as compared to Belysa, the previous EC launch in Pasir Ris earlier in the year.

ECs particularly appealed to home-buyers whose income was below the revised ceiling of $12,000, and who wanted accessibility to condo facilities such as 24-hour security, a swimming pool and tennis courts.

6. Record-Breaking PSFs

Developers certainly had reason to pop out the champagne at their annual company dinners this year. Earlier this month, more 80% of the freehold Charlton Residences was sold, even before its official launch. New benchmark prices were also set at the preview of Thomson Grand in Upper Thomson, with PSFs for apartments topping a jaw-dropping $1,600 psf. EC developers also had much to celebrate this year, as mass-market EC projects like Blossom Residences enjoyed strong consumer demand during the first weeks of their launch.