Singapore’s property districts: Where do you belong?

Though small, Singapore’s 28 housing districts and 26 (and growing) HDB towns each have their own unique and distinct atmosphere. Each have their own history, good eats and exclusive hideouts or communal features. How do you choose which district or estate you belong to?

Grandeur8Many older estates such as Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh have their identity rooted in times preceding even World War II. These matures estates have well-established amenities and their transport options have grown over the years. Each will have their own MRT station and bus interchange providing inter-town and shuttle buses; schools, shopping mall, medical facilities such as polyclinics, sporting and recreation amenities as well as parks and libraries.

Some larger townships are built around a regional commercial hub, such as Woodlands and Jurong. Woodlands for example is laid out in a circular shape, with each part of the town connected to major highways and to the town centre. HDB flats and many private condominiums dot the estate and its proximity to the Causeway also makes it a prime leasing spot for Malaysians working in Singapore.

Queenstown HDB flatPhoto credit: HDB

And there are also Satellite towns, Queenstown being the first and Tampines joining its ranks later on. Queenstown was developed by the former Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) in 1952 and was named after Queen Elizabeth II to mark her coronation. These towns, much like the other mature estates, are chock full of property-investment opportunities as buyers tend to look to these towns for leasing opportunities.

Outlying townships such as Punggol, Sengkang and Sembawang, previously considered remote and unpopular, are all coming into their own with Punggol leading the way into the 21st Century.

Thus, depending on your lifestyle preference, with the variety available within our small nation, there will always be a spot in Singapore which suits you.

Property market showing signs of awakening

Sturdee-ResidenceAlthough property prices have been falling, the show of interest from the buying public has never really waned, instead they are now simply more aware of their options and have become more selective in their investments.

Signs that the market lull might be broken soon have come from the positive take-up of units in 2 recent launches at The Visionaire Executive Condominium (EC) and The Sturdee Residences. 158 units were sold the 632-unit The Visionaire EC at a median price of $811 psf while prices averaged at $1,550 psf at the 305-unit The Sturdee Residences. Buyers at the private residential project have gone mainly for the smaller one- and two-bedders though 3 of its 8 penthouses have already found new owners. Two of the 1,830 sq ft penthouse units were sold at $3.2 million each.

Gem REsidencesThe Parc Life EC and private residential project Gem Residences will launch this weekend. Private condominium Stars of Kovan is expected to launch next month. The latter is a mixed-use development consisting of 390 residential units, 5 strata terraces and 46 shops. Prices are expected to range between $1,550 to $1,600 psf. E-applications for Parc Life have already exceeded the 660 units available and there is hope that uptake will be on the uptick at both these projects.

Private home prices dip for 10 consecutive quarters

The delicate balance between population growth, economy growth and housing provision is not an easy one to strike. And Singapore as a young nation, will have to learn quickly as land is limited but the number of completed units to enter the market in the next couple of years is set to reach 23,000.

Cairnhill Nine CapitaLand

Photo credit: Cairnhill Nine by CapitaLand

Private property prices have been dipping for 10 consecutive quarters now, and the market will be under even greater pressure in the months ahead as supply continues to increase while demand remains stagnant. Rental prices are expected to fall even faster than sale prices and the global economic situation does not seem to be helping. Prices have fallen 9.1 per cent since Q3 of 2013 and non-landed suburban properties in the OCR (outside of central region) fell the hardest.

Part of the reason for the falling figures could be the cutback on land sales by the government and the consequent lack of new launches. Only 953 units were launched in Q1, but property players are expecting the momentum to pick up as the year moves on.

It the first quarter’s numbers were anything to go by, with sales rising 7.2 per cent to 2,847 units, volume may have increased across both the new and resale private home markets.

 

Prices of suburban properties dipping

Prices of new properties in the prime central districts have been rising, even as the market dulls. Suburban homes are feeling the strain put on the market by the influx of completed new homes this year.

The PanoramaBuyers seeking out properties in the suburbs tend to be more price-sensitive, and are often hampered by the total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) framework and the additional buyers’ stamp duty (ABSD), leading to higher competition from an expanding pool of stock for a shrinking pool of ready buyers. Prices at The Panorama in Ang Mo Kio have fell 9.7 per cent since its launch to $1,213 psf and similarly in Clementi, units at The Trilinq are now priced around $1,408 psf, almost 9 per cent lower than its launch price.

In comparison, buyers of properties in the prime central districts are more affluent and are able to afford the prices properties here demand. For example at Robin Residences, selling prices are now hovering at $2,371 psf, 2.4 per cent higher than its launch-price. Buyers of centrally located properties also have stronger holding power and less likely to sell unless the price is right.

RObin ResidencesThe price gap between suburban and central district homes have been widening. Last year, CCR (core central region) new-home price premiums were 81 per cent over those in the OCR (outside central region). As more OCR homes hit the secondary market this year, how will smaller investors handle the competition?

 

New launches versus Completed private homes

As home supply inches towards a new high this year, the public’s attention may now be shifted to the competition between completed new homes and new developer launches.

Property investment was almost a sure thing not long ago, but now 3 to 5 years down the road from the peak of the market, when property prices were high but so were buying sentiment and potential investment yields, units which were launched then are now made available in the physical, adding pressure to the already-gluggy property market.

Private apartment prices in the core central region (CCR) have taken a turn for the better with a 0.4 per cent rise in the first quarter of 2016, following a 0.3 per cent fall in the last quarter of 2015. Luxury properties in the prime districts may once again be welcoming affluent buyers and investors as average unit prices have risen from $2,215 psf to $2,243 psf by the end of last year.

In the city fringes however, private property prices have continued to ebb, falling 0.4 per cent for 2 consecutive quarters now. Out of the central regions (OCR) and in the suburbs, prices fell 0.9 per cent. For the rest of the year, property experts are expecting private apartment prices to stabilise in the central regions while landed and suburban non-landed homes continue to struggle.

How deep is the property market well?

Property prices in Singapore have been falling since 2014, 10 consecutive quarters to be exact. In the first quarter of this year, HDB flat prices have stabilised at 0.1 per cent while private property prices have dipped 0.7 per cent. In 2015, HDB flat and private property prices fell an average of 0.4 and 0.9 per cent respectively.

Kingsford WaterbayPhoto: Kingsford Waterbay condominium 

HDB flat prices have begun to stabilise of late, though some property analysts are still expecting a further drop in the second half of the year as 25,000 new BTO flats reach completion this year. A good 30 per cent of these new-flat buyers are upgraders and home owners, not investors, which means they will be looking to sell their existing HDB flat in order to finance their new flat. This will bring a new slew of units into the resale HDB flat market. Though the demand for resale flats has not waned much, the rise in supply may put the ball in the buyers’ court.

 Photo: Clementi Gateway BTO flats

Similarly in the private property and EC (executive condominium) market, buyers will need to time their upgrading manoeuvre in order to manage cash flow, thus some may be in a rush to let go of their existing unit which could put further pressure on the market which will be seeing 21,906 new private condominium and 4,561 EC units enter its midst this year. How will the property sector perform in this crucial second quarter of 2016?

Property DIY – Buy and sell Resale HDB flat on your own

Ready and planning to buy or sell your HDB flat? Finding a good agent is the next big step, and an important one. But if you have the energy and time to do it yourself, the option and resources are available.

Queenstown-HDB
HDB regularly runs resale seminars in English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil to educate buyers and sellers about the resale process. On their website, they have a clearly mapped out 9-step process complete with links to resources. Sellers could also do the marketing and selling of the flat themselves but engage an agent only to assist with the paperwork.

The entire resale transaction, minus the open houses and home viewings, commonly takes between 6 to 8 weeks. Before all that, sellers and buyers are advised to check their eligibility to sell or buy a flat, plan their finances and either approach banks or apply for a HLE (HDB loan eligibility) letter before looking for a flat. HDB also has an online tool that helps you compute a rough estimate of your loan type and amount.

HDB websiteUpon finding a flat you wish to purchase or when someone is ready to purchase your flat, the seller will then need to grant the buyer an OTP (option to purchase) which costs up to $1,000 and the ball is then in the buyer’s court whether or not to exercise the option within 21 days. If the buyer wishes to purchase the flat, both parties are required to submit resale applications via HDB’s e-Resale service. There are additional legal, administrative, insurance and valuation fees to consider in the entire process. Agent or DIY, having a firm idea of what is required will only be helpful in making the entire resale flat search and purchase process a smoother one.

 

Foreign buyers favour luxury properties in Singapore

Private apartments up to the size of 506 sq ft, more popularly known as shoebox apartments, have been having a hard time finding new owners as prices of completed units fell 1.1 per cent. However, non-central region private apartment prices rose 0.3 per cent in February and central region units have fared surprisingly well.

St Regis ResidencesThe recent sale of a $15million St. Regis Residences penthouse may have given the owner in a $3.3 million profit margin and given last month’s figures a boost despite the low sales volume. Overall, private property prices rose 0.4 per cent last month, following a 0.2 per cent rise in January. The luxury property market has not been in the best of health last year, but things may be taking a turn for the better.

Though property analysts are conservative about their predictions of a market turnaround this year, it is nevertheless a glimmer of light. With rising home prices in London and Hong Kong, foreign buyers are taking a second look at properties here in Singapore for investment purposes. Approximately 92 per cent of the sales and subsales transactions registered in the core central region come from foreign buyers.

Sturdee-ResidenceProperty investors with less holding power may be pushed to sell their units, in particular the smaller ones as rental prospects have dimmed, as oil, gas and marine sectors wobble.