Property market on the road to recovery

2016 has proven to be a fairly good year for the property market. Despite slight price fluctuations, prices and sales volume have been stabilising for a few quarters now, giving analysts hope that it’s on a timely road to recovery.

GramercyParkThough the government has yet to indicate an easing of property cooling measures, the market as managed to right itself within the past year or so. Signs of the luxury property market picking up point towards the property market possibly bottoming out soon, which would also mean the market’s on the road to recovery. In Q2, the fall in private residential price index was a mere 0.4 per cent, the smallest thus far. The market has also been correcting itself for 11 consecutive quarters now.

Since the 2013 peak, property prices have fallen 9.4 per cent. With the interest rates currently low and looking like it will remain so for a longer period of time as opposed to extreme fluctuations, borrowing is kept at a healthy level sans the danger of over-borrowing or a property bubble looming. Investors may be refocus their attention on other sectors, keeping the property sector speculation-free.

Leedon Residence on Holland Road.

Leedon Residence on Holland Road.

Global situations such as Brexit or global terrorism may indirectly affect the investment environment and sentiment in the country and region, but Singapore’s real estate market is considered one of the safest and investors are increasingly looking at longer-term capital appreciation.

 

New residential property in Hebei

Though the spotlight on some second and third-tier cities have dimmed, some bright sparks remain. Take the 533.3 ha Sino-Singapore Health City in Gaobeidian for example.

GaoBeidian1Photo credit: KSH Holdings

A Singapore-listed real estate and development company, KSH Holdings, has announced plans to launch a 3,050-unit residential project within the Hebei province by the end of 2016 together with their joint-venture partners, Beijing Jia Hua Hong Yuan Investment, Oxley Holdings, Lian Beng Group, Heeton Holdings and Zap Piling.

They continue to see potential for growth and demand for commercial and residential property development, especially as the infrastructure and shift in economics are favouring this particular township. With the high-speed train, Gaobeidian will only be a 20-min train ride away from Beijing. And with the food logistics centre moving to the city, the township is set to be an important hinterland.

GaoBeiDIanPhoto credit: KSH Holdings

The potential residential project launch will see up to 1,600 mass-market units priced between 4,000 to 5,000 yuan per sq m and 1,450 higher-end units priced between 7,000 to 8,000 yuan per sq m. And this is only a fifth of the 18,000 new homes the township will eventually yield in phase 1. The second phase will potentially yield up to 30,000 new residential units. The Gaobeidian development will also include a 40,000 sq m commercial site, a food-safety testing centre and even a mountain-climbing training centre.

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.

 

Resale properties off to a good start

The year seems to be looking up for the resale private property market as prices inched up in January by 0.6 per cent. Despite a 7.2 per cent difference from the 2014 peak, the signs could be promising as there has been a corresponding increase throughout the core central region,  city fringes and also in the suburbs.

Parkview Eclat

Photo: Parkview Eclat apartments on Grange road

The largest price increase of 1 per cent was centred around the core central region. Depending on the price trends of prime properties in regional gateway cities, Singapore’s prime and luxury property sector may  fluctuate, especially when price differences become too apparent. City fringe and suburban resale private property prices rose 0.1 and 0.8 per cent respectively, but some analysts are projecting a downward trend this year with competition from completed new properties.

Resale volume has yet to increase significantly, but should it do so, with the global economic situation, interest rate hikes, property cooling measures thrown into the mix, the market might be looking more at a price stabilisation rather than a sharp rebound. As the year has just begun, January’s figures are not representative of the year ahead. No doubt, the first quarterly figures will be watched keenly by market players, buyers, sellers and investors alike.

 

Fewer launches More sales

Despite property developers rolling out fewer new property launches last year, sales of new private homes rose 2.9 per cent from 2014, to ring the tills at 7,529 transactions in 2015. The number of new homes launched last year was in fact 8.2 per cent lesser than that of 2014. Buyers may have realised that property prices are stabilising and will not decline much more, and thus are returning to the market to pick off already-better deals.

The Trilinq
Photo: The Trilinq

759 new private property units were sold in November alone last year, buoyed by the launch of The Poiz Residences. In December, there were 384 transactions recorded, 154 more in a year-on-year comparison with December 2014. Though 2013’s peak saw 14,948 new home sales, almost double that of last year’s, the signs are more positive than expected. Property investors may also be picking up real estate as the stock market remains volatile. Perhaps declining property prices have also managed to strike a chord with investors. At The Trilinq for example, which first launched at prices of $1,545 psf in 2013, have since trimmed their prices to $1,329 psf.

Market activity this year will await to be seen as the interest rates hikes and loan restrictions combined, and the reduction of land sites sold this year, may deter buyers and lower demand. Industry analysts are however remaining positive, projecting 8,500 new private home sales this year. They are expecting lower overall quantum prices to be the draw of this years’ property market.

Singapore Real Estate – Of Buying and Renting

It is not easy sussing out a good landlord, tenant, seller or buyer. It takes time, a great deal of good timing and some amount of luck.

But whether you’re looking to rent a property or buy one, there are some common things to look out for.

Adana CondoPhoto: Adana Thomson

1. Reputation – If you are looking to buy a new property, the developer’s track record is one of the key factors. This even applies to resale properties for that matter. It is a reassurance of the current and future value of the property. They are familiar with the ins and outs of the industry and have quality control checks in place; plus they are often very transparent with the selling process. For tenants and landlords alike, background research and interviews are important. Employment track record, understanding each other’s background and culture are crucial and laying things out clearly on the table before anyone signs on the dotted line will help smoothen the tenancy out. In some cases, landlords may even request to check with a tenant’s previous landlords for references.

2. Price – There is no need to price below market price purely to secure a deal, landlords and home sellers should be realistic but also fair to themselves. They need to weigh the time and effort they are willing to sacrifice against the amount they are able to profit in the long run. Pricing too high may simply keep buyers and tenants at arms’ lengths and a vacant property will still require maintenance and utilities. It will always help to find out what similar properties in the vicinity are going for.

3. Finances – Before going on the hunt for a property, it’s always wise to first sort out your finances. Check with banks to see how much you are able to loan, how deep your pocket actually is, and what sort of financial liquidity you need and the sustainability of your current financial situation. Taking steps before committing to an often life-long commitment of buying a property will keep debt away. And remember not to be lead by opinions of others. They will not be paying your mortgage. Decide on what works best for you.

And after all that, if all else fails, a recommendation of a good real estate agent will often make all that property-hutning headache go away.

Sell now or later?

In real estate, it is often a timing game. How do you exactly know when to sell and when to buy? If you’re currently looking to sell your property, what should you be looking at for when making your decision of whether to sell now or later?

Just like buying a home, you first have to figure out why exactly you are selling. Is it to finance a new home upgrade, to invest in another property, or because you need the money urgently? The push factors are often stronger than you think when it comes to how much and how quickly you are willing to sell for.

KingsfordWaterbayAnother important question to ask yourself is “How much is my property worth?” Aside from getting a trustworthy real estate agent and valuator, spending a bit of time doing your own market research will help you determine where your property stands. A quick look at property websites, some of which provide tools to help you keep track of property trends and transacted property prices, or checking out resale HDB flat prices from the HDB website as well as attending property talks and seminars are just a few of the many ways to hone your pricing skills.

Market competition is also an important factor which affects pricing. Have a look at how other properties similar to yours are currently prices for a guide to pricing your property. But that said, if you know what qualities your property has above others in the market, list them. These may help you price above the market median. You do however have to be prepared to justify these premium prices and once you are confident the edge your property has, you will have a relatively easy time asking for higher prices. Location and proximity to transport nodes or schools are often a big plus; and sometimes the configuration of rooms, quality of renovation and age of the property could also be added to your property’s calling cards.

 

Deflating rental prospects hurt home sales

Buying a property and collecting rent used to be one of the most popular ways to start your investment journey. Usually the case for cosmopolitan cities, the situation may have changed in this developing country. Rental rates have continued to deflate as immigration policies were adjusted.

According to URA data, vacancy rates have reached the highest point since 2006. City centre and luxury homes have been hardest hit as expatriates are now choosing to live further away from the city with more and cheaper housing options. And as sentiments go, the less lived in a property, the less others will want to live in it. And it’s a cycle which if not arrested soon, may be detrimental to the market.

But most of the unsold units reside in the prime districts 9, 10, 11. Further away in Sentosa, the Cape Royale is 100 per cent unsold with its 302 units still on the market. It was completed last year. Developers IOI and Ho Bee are going with the decision to rent the units out instead of trying to sell them.

The Interlace at Depot Road.

The Interlace at Depot Road.

And as more developments were finished in 2014, the number of unsold homes in completed projects continues its climb. Some of these include The Interlace at Depot road, Starlight Suites in River Valley, TwentyOne Anguilla Park and Concourse Skyline on Beach road.

Developers have been steadily offering discounts or cutting prices in order to bring the buyers and tenants back into the market. As shown by recent sales at The Vermont, where slashing the prices have sold 30 of its 37 unsold units. From $2,400 psf, it dropped to just a little over $2, 000 psf.