Seller’s Stamp Duty packs a punch

The Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) and Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) have been hogging property news for some time now, but the Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) has packed quite a punch of its own as well.

SeascapeThe Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) is seldom mentioned, but ever since its implementation in 2011 to curb property speculation, it has collected up to $70 million in non-landed property transactions. February 2015 marked the record high in SSD collected. One of the biggest losses for the seller was a unit at the Seascape condominium at Sentosa Cove which sold in May with a $5.43 million loss. Another unit at Four Seasons Park incurred a $2.64 million loss as well.

How does the SSD work? For properties purchased after 14 January 2011, should the property be sold within the first year, the SSD comes up to a whooping 16%, then lowered to 12%, 8 % and 4% after the second, third and fourth year. Should you sell after the fourth year, the SSD will no longer apply and you will be saved from having to pay any additional seller’s stamp duties.

Though tough, industry analysts consider the SSD an effective tool in curbing property “flipping” and consider it mild when compared to the ABSD which is levied on foreign home buyers and Singaporeans purchasing second and subsequent properties. These do not have a time limit, and unless the regulations are amended in future, will continue to take a fair bite out of profits.

Sentosa Cove units fetch high prices once more

There was a time when luxury properties on Sentosa fetched luxurious prices. That time was more than 2 years ago. The property cooling measures have hit home since their implementation over the past couple of years however, and sales number sand prices have dropped with the imposed additional stamp duties and loan restrictions.

TheOceanfrontBut there may be light yet in the horizon. Recent sales of 2 units at The Oceanfront condominium apartments in Sentosa Cove luxury enclave have soared above the $2, 000 psf range despite their lack of a waterfront view and their low-floor  Previous sales, which were few and far in between, have gone as low as $1, 190 psf. That was a $463 psf loss on a $1, 653 psf second-storey apartment at The Coast. Considering the fact that most mass-market homes on the mainland are already going at the $1,000 psf range, prices have declined substantially since its peak in 2008.

Will investors with deep pockets continue to pick up deals on the island, especially as prices dip? And will those who have already purchase units on this exclusive waterfront-living enclave continue to hold off on selling in wait of prices rising in the future? How much more will prices be able to rise and will the competition with units on the mainland only become fiercer?

Private property prospects for the next 2 years?

The Singapore General Election may be coming up in the next year and a half, and that leaves most wondering about possible policy shifts and how that would affect the country’s economy. Since the last election, immigration and loan policies have changed rather substantially, both of which have impacted the property industry in a number of ways.

Melrose VilleOn the financial front, the TDSR (total debt servicing ratio) framework has been effective in slowing down property demand. With the likelihood of interest rates here rising in tandem with US rates, it seems unlikely that this policy will be removed or relaxed anytime soon as it aims to help households and borrowers build a clearer structure around their long-term financial stability.

A decrease in immigration numbers have also affected the property rental industry, with vacancy rates possibly hitting 10 per cent at the end of 2015. Coupled with a growing number of completed new units made available within these 2 years, the supply could majorly outweigh the demand. Property experts suggest that the only way to slow down the property prices and demand decline is to reduce the speed and quantity of new properties, and an adjustment of the TDSR. There is no sign of change for the moment, but would next year bring about a fresh wave of changes?

Fewer new private property launches

Despite lower sales of new private home last month, the percentage of sales based on the number of units launched, was positive.

The lower sales figure was mainly due to the lack of new property launches. But the take-up rate of the 499 units launched was at a happy 128 per cent in May. The take-up rate was only 84 per cent in May this year, compared to 82 per cent in April 2014. Considering the 21 per cent fall in sales in the first 5 months of this year, the leap last month is a promising sign.

HighparkResidencesLeading the sales were suburban launches at Botanique at Bartley, Northpark Residences in Yishun and The Panorama in Ang Mo Kio. Median selling prices were $1,232 psf at The Panorama, $1,292 psf at Botanique at Bartley and $1,397 psf at Northpark Residences. Competitive pricing may have lowered prices on some newer launches and this could have attracted buyers back into the market. There were even reports of private funds or group of investors who have picked up 16 units at 111 Emerald Hill.

In the months ahead, the number of new property launches will remain low, which may in turn affect figures. But instead of looking at across-the-board figures, sussing out potential deals in previous launches which are re-launchning new units could be the way to get ahead of the pack. Upcoming launches to look forward to are Gramercy Park in Grange Road and High Park Residences in Fernvale.

Resale private apartment prices remain level

Last month’s resale private non-landed property prices remained flat, which could be a sign that the market is bottoming out.

The back-and-forth quick-step between sellers and buyers is a dance familiar to market players, but they are expecting further falls in prices of 3 to 6 per cent, especially in the suburban resale property market. In the Central regions and prime districts, prices have fallen considerably since its peak in 2013, and thus it’s not surprising to find a rise in resale volume of late. Investors who have been on the lookout for prospective buys will be quick to jump on these units.

SimsUrbanOasisIn the suburbs, it is another picture altogether as prices have held relatively steady despite the property cooling measures. But the sheer number of new units entering the market, combined with the weakening leasing market, may bring an about-change soon. In addition, the per sq foot prices of newer condominium units have increased, due to their smaller sizes. What this could mean for the market is an expected further fall in prices as resale units will have to compete with the newer developments and the total quantum prices become more important for buyers.

But the industry could well expect and enjoy an increasingly positive resale volume as up to 6,000 resale units are projected to change hands this year.

 

Private resale home prices stabilising

With minimal fall in prices over the previous couple of quarters, could this be a sign that resale private property prices are stabilising? Could buyers be getting used to the current home prices and are coming back to pick up deals before a possible rise? Will the predictions of a 4 to 8 per cent drop in property prices this year continue on its track or will buyers buck the trend?

Botanique@BartleyThe NUS Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI) has indicated a 2.2 per cent fall in resale condominium prices over the last 12 months. But since the first quarter of 2015, the fall has been more gradual and marginal, considering the expected 5 per cent year-on-year fall in prices per month in the last quarter of 2014. The next couple of months could be the watershed for the property market. A slow and small drop in prices could indicate a possible bottoming out of the market.

Part of the reason for last month’s 0.1 per cent fall in April could also be due to the high transaction volume. The recent new property launches of Botanique at Bartley and Northpark Residences may also have had a trickle-down effect on the resale market, in particular properties in the proximity of these 2 launches. Another promising bit of news is the 0.4 per cent rise in the prices of small apartment units up to 506 sq ft. A much untested market, particularly in the suburbs, as more commercial businesses move out of the central region and into the heartlands, the demand for these units may change in the next few years.

Rise in private condominium rental

Could the market be turning on its heels, headed up the charts? Vacancy rates have been falling as the number of rental properties finding tenants have been on the rise.

Property analysts are however not positive about the numbers. They have attributed it to statistics more than the actual market sentiment. Rental rates have instead fallen 1.7 per cent in Q1, which could show that the number of new occupant-ready properties entering the market last and this year may have shaven a chunk off the property rental pie. From now to 2018, almost 67,300 new units will flood the market, giving a possible indication of how the market will react in the months or even years to come.

AstoriaParkCondoLocation nevertheless still has the ability to bring rental prices up a significant notch. At the Astoria Park condominium near Kembangan MRT station for example, rents have risen for the first 3 months of the year. Older condominiums may have a battle at hand as newer properties offer fresher facilities; though the proximity to amenities, transport nodes and schools may put the former right back on the tenants’ maps. Landlords of older developments may also have an upper hand in their option of coming down on prices since they may have purchased the units at a lower cost.

As more new residential properties come into the fold in the months ahead, the symbiotic relationship between rental and sale prices could become more obvious and things may seem a lot clearer then.

 

Resale and New HDB Flats – Price gap narrowing?

Have the price tag on new BTO HDB flats truly gone down, as the Minister of National Development, Mr Khaw Boon Wan has promised? Or are prices of new flats still considered high? What about resale flats?

WestRockHDB flatA recent survey has shown that most still think new HDB flats cost between $300,000 and $400,000 for a four-room unit. That is almost $100,000 more than the actual average of $295,000 for a new flat. Resale four-room HDB flats can easily range between $320,000 to more than $500,000 depending on location and floor area.

The average price of a new 3-room HDB flat currently stands at $186,000. But perhaps buyers have been using resale HDB flats as a gauge of value and have been expecting new BTO flats to cost between $200,000 to $300,000.

Since most of the individuals surveyed were willing to pay about 20% more than the actual prices of new HDB flats, what does this indicate about the resale HDB flat market? Are buyers getting used to the higher prices of public housing? Should the authorities work to keep new and resale flat prices as what they are? Is public housing truly affordable and has enough been done to keep the market just so?

Photo credit: HDB