Properties near primary schools gets the spotlight

Especially those near clusters of well-know primary schools. Such as Nanyang Primary School, Anglo-Chinese Primary, Singapore Chinese Girls’ primary, Methodist Girls’ Primary and Raffles Girls’ Primary. No prizes guessing where this cluster hails from.

The Bukit Timah area has long been known as the prime district due to its proximity to schools and exclusive addresses and many huge landed properties. But quite a number of high-rise private condominiums have begin to come up in its midst, and parents eager for higher chances in the balloting for spaces in these schools now have options of moving nearer to their primary school of choice.

Cluny Park ResidenceStretching mainly across prime districts 10 and 11, properties along the main Bukit Timah stretch attract the most number of eyeballs, closely followed by those nearer newton and at the other closer to Upper Bukit Timah. Properties on the main stretch include Cluny Park Residences and The Siena. The latter has an added advantage with its proximity to the Botanic Gardens MRT Station.

Near Newtown, where ACS Primary is situated, cluster landed development, The Glyndebourne offers the option of serviced landed housing while the Robin Suites which will be completed in 2016 will attract savvy parents who have their children’s future well-planned ahead of time. The latest property to come up near the Upper Bukit Timah area is KAP Residences, taking over the King Albert Park McDonald’s, placing it near MGS.

King Albert Park Residences is a mixed-use development with retail and residential units in District 21.

King Albert Park Residences is a mixed-use development with retail and residential units in District 21.

A comparison of prices across these areas will show that the main stretch commands the highest prices as it is not only near a number of primary and secondary schools and junior colleges, but also  eateries and other amenities. Transport options are more apparent as well. Prices at The Siena and Cluny Park Residences range around $2, 323 to $2, 704 psf, though older condominiums may only go for $1, 700 to $1, 800 psf.

Lakeside’s Westside Story

Off on the west-side, Jurong and Woodlands are the main areas of business and redevelopment. But with the authorities planning to diversify commercial activity into the suburbs and redeveloping the Jurong Lake District into yet another hub for waterfront living, leisure and business, Lakeside may no longer be the town just on the side.

URA Jurong Lake District

Photo credit: Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Jurong Gateway and the potential working population and medical tourist it will bring serves to bring new life to the sleepy Lakeside township. Other businesses in the mix are Big Box, Westgate, Genting Hotel, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital. The previously very much industrial west-side of Singapore will see new life in many ways.

Already response at The Lakefront Residences spoke volumes, as it sold out of its 629 units during its launch in 2010. Prices then were at an average of $1, 000 to $1, 050 psf. Units were already selling this year at $1, 1199 psf. Units at The Lakeshore and Lakeholmz saw similar sales values with promising increases throughout the past few quarters. Though rentals and sales may not yet peak this year, the potential for growth is tremendous.

LakevilleThe newest kid on the block is Lakeville in Jurong West Street 41. Developer, MCL Land, is expecting buyers to mainly be HDB upgraders from the nearby, though not ruling out savvy investors who might see the rental possibilities of these units near future regional commercial hubs.

Authorities ease up on home refinancing rules

When the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) implemented the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework last June, it threw a rock in the home loan and mortgage system and made it difficult for many to get a home loan. For some who have already purchase properties prior to this new ruling, it made re-financing difficult and impossible.

The authorities have realised that the property market dynamics have been thrown rather out of whack ever since the new rules kicked in, and to prevent a rapid downward spiral of property prices, they have now eased up on the mortgage rules. More home owners are now exempted from the noose of the rules, but only those who have purchased prior to June 2013, and only for properties they are currently living in.

money imageThe main purpose behind this exception is to help households for whom refinancing may be the only way to keep the total debt ratio down. Instead of having to be forced to sell the roof over their heads, no matter how expensive the roof may be, they will now be able to find a little wriggle room. According to property analysts, this move will not affect new buyers, thus home prices and sales transactions may still be lower than before. Buying demand has been decreasing for a couple of quarters now.

Home prices are expected to dip 5 per cent this year, and with the looking oversupply starting in 2015, an even further drop of 5 to 15 per cent next year. In an industry that is all about timing, smart buyers will begin keeping a keen eye on what to buy and what not to  buy.

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.

Fixed rates home loans favored

As signs from the US point to a cutback on stimulus spending, borrowers are wary about the possible corresponding increase in interest rates. In turn, they are favoring banks which offer fixed rates home loans. Those who are on a floating rate home loan package may be burnt by sudden rise and unpredicted fluctuations in interest rates.

In terms of investment, property in Singapore is attractive for its relative safety.

In terms of investment, property in Singapore is attractive for its relative safety. But will interest rates change soon? How will that affect the market?

DBS bank for example, saw a rise of borrowers opting for the fixed rate home loans from 10 to 30 per cent. And the smart move is to do it now, when the interest rates are low. Fixed rate home loans often offer a low initial interest rate that is fixed for the first two to five years, depending on the plan and the bank. Home buyers are happier accepting these packages as they feel like they have better control of their finances and are better armed in planning their future.

Floating rate packages are still around however, and there are those who lean towards these precisely because of the flexibility it provides. ANZ for example, offers a “3-month combo package” that takes its 1.3 per cent rate from an average of the Sibor and Swap Offer Rate (SOR), which still gives a lower percentage than its fixed rate package of 1.65 per cent.

Tembusu1As 2013 drew to a close on lower resale and private home sales transactions, will this change the packages bank offer as the number of borrowers may also be on a decrease?

Geylang East shines brightly for property investors

Saying “Geylang” is almost the same as saying “Red light district”. But as infamous as the area is, for its various night-time activities as  as good food, properties at its fringes are also becoming the favourites of savvy investors. Its accessibility to both the Paya Lebar commercial and industrial areas and the city centre has placed Geylang East in the spotlight, but for all the right reasons.

Surrounded by small apartment blocks, shophouses and boutique hotels, the area is plump for the picking of property developers hoping to add new private homes to the district. The fresh and continuous supply of workers in the neighbouring commercial centres looking for homes to rent will provide investors with positive rental yields.

Grandview SuitesThe latest land sale of a 99-year leasehold residential plot near the Aljunied MRT station could be indicative of 215 new homes. Recent launches in the area include Grandview suites in Lorong 22, The Centren in Lorong 27, The Octet and #1 Loft. Most are smaller condominium developments with less than 60 units each. Average selling prices are between $1, 184 psf to $1,300 psf. Guillemard Suites is one of the larger establishments with 146 units and its freehold status makes it popular with investors even long after its launch a couple of years back.

Industry analysts said the median capital values for homes in Geylang have risen across the board over the past 3 years and are likely to continue its climb as Singapore’s urban and commercial landscape looks set for a major revamp and regeneration over the next 5 to 10 years.

More smaller HDB flats to be built

Though the supply of HDB flats may be reduced starting next year, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan has said that these may apply only to the larger four- and five-room flats. Smaller two-room and studio flats will still be steadily supplied in the coming year or two.

5,000 new two-room flats are targeted for 2014, and since response from singles applying for new HDB flats have been overwhelming, with 58 applicants for 1 unit since the scheme began in July this year, this will be greeted with much cheer.

bto-families-ft-st-b2
Photo Source: Ministry of National Development.

Some larger HDB flats will also be made available to second-time applicants. But this shift in supply is to balance out demand for BTO (build-to-order) flats between singles and families. And since demand from families have mostly been met, the shift to releasing smaller units will allow for more success from other applicants such as singles, divorced families and young couples.

Is this halt to releasing larger HDB flats an effective way to adjusting the dynamics in the housing market? Will there be a kickback reaction in the private property market? What is the percentage of the population who are able to afford private housing and will that percentage increase five years down the road or will the building of HDB flats continue to dominate much of the nation’s housing supply?