Tiong Bahru Living it up

HighlineResidences2Without a doubt, most Singaporeans, expatriates and even visiting tourists will consider Tiong Bahru to be one of the hippest districts in town. Well, that makes almost everyone, really.

Tiong Bahru has achieved a world ranking in Vogue’s Global Street Style Report: 15 Coolest Neighbourhoods in the World, coming up 4th in the list, quite a feat for a little township in this small city-state. Designated a Heritage Conservation Area by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), it is much-loved for its pre-war architecture, quaint boutiques, eateries and cafes, its eclectic mix of housing options and just a general air of debonair.

Besides the shophouses and first-born HDB flats (it was Singapore’s first public housing estate), new private apartments are also coming up in its midst, providing options for more to enjoy the enclave’s gently vibrant atmosphere.

HighlineResidences1One of these new-kids-on-the-block is the Highline Residences, a 500-unit condominium inspired by the High Line in New York City and designed by award-winning architect Mok Wei Wei of W architects, which offers a good mix of one- to 4-bedroom apartments as well as dual-key units and penthouses. Developed by Keppel Land, the property is located just 5-minute’s walk away from Tiong Bahru MRT station and just a few stops away from the Orchard road shopping belt and the Central Business District. The upcoming Havelock MRT station nearby will be completed by 2021 and will add more transport options to the already-well connected area.

As far as city-fringe bohemian living goes, Tiong Bahru’s residents will be living it up for awhile.

 

 

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.

 

Waterfront Living moving inland

Moving away from the coastlines, waterfront living has become more available inland. Aligned with the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Masterplan, Singapore’s landscape will evolve to include many man-sculptured green areas and waterways, with enhanced island-wide connectivity and a movement of population and property towards less mature districts and estates.

And it is only logical that building and property-development in these areas have ramped up in recent years. Besides government-built HDB flats, private condominiums have also been mushrooming in these developing districts.

Near Sungei Serangoon, just beside the Serangoon Park Connector, is the 1,165-unit Waterbay condominium. This 99-year leasehold condominium boasts a wide array of 1- to 5-bedroom apartment units, 2 swimming pools and even a childcare centre and 6 retail outlets. The waterfront views promise to bring a sense of living in a city but away from the buzz of a city.

In Punggol, there is the Watertown condominium, a mixed-use development that harnesses the beauty of nature and the Punggol Waterway while providing the convenience of city living with its extensive collection of integrated commercial and retail outlets.

With Punggol set to be the creative cluster in the North Coast Innovation Corridor which will also include Woodlands, Sembawang and the future Seletar Regional Centre, this outlier may soon be the latest town on the block to watch.

More for less – Smaller condo apartments

With the rising prices of land plots sold under the Government Land Sales programme and with developers taking into consideration how the property cooling measures have affected buyers’ purchasing power, private apartment sizes have been diminishing since 2010.

LakevillePhoto: Lakeville at Jurong West

More apparent in units in the city fringes, average sizes have shrunk from 1,051 to 810 sq ft. And in the suburbs, apartment sizes went from 878 sq ft to 811 sq ft; though the average sizes from new projects actually dropped from 1, 113 sq ft in 2006 to 667 sq ft in 2011 but rose again to 928 sq ft in 2014.

In 2012, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) put in place guidelines for the maximum number of units for condominium developments outside of the central area. Developers have since noticed that buyers are more sensitive to the total quantum price of a unit rather than per unit prices, especially since the implementation of loan curbs such as the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD) and Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR), hence maximising the land area and total number of units would be the best way to go.

Symphony SUitesPhoto: Symphony Suites

There are some residential projects which chose to follow their own path however, including Lakeville and Symphony Suites. But as the population continues to grow, it seems that unit sizes will only continue to diminish. Resale units may then have an edge over the smaller-sized newer units, provided pricing is equally competitive when time comes.

3 new MRT stations – Opportunity for property growth


76 Shenton
3 new MRT stations, part of the sixth phase of the Circle Line to be completed by 2025, have just been announced last week:

  • Keppel
  • Cantonment
  • Prince Edward

These areas are yet to be heavily populated, thus the breadth and depth for growth could potentially attract residential developers and commercial and retail businesses alike. These 3 new stations will link the rest of the island to the new Greater Southern Waterfront district under URA’s redevelopment and rejuvenation Masterplan which will take the place of the Keppel docklands.

Currently, residential areas in these districts are few and far in between. The nearest HDB area might be The Pinnacle @ Duxton and some HDB blocks in the Cantonment and Spottiswoode Park estates. The nearby Tanjong Pagar and Chinatown districts have already seen a positive revival with new apartment buildings and retail shops injecting some life into the previously sleepy region.

The Beacon

Some of the properties near the Prince Edward MRT station which will also benefit from the redevelopment of these districts include Spottiswoode 18, Spottiswoode Residences, The Beacon, 76 SHenton and Lumiere. Nearer the Keppel station, there are private apartment blocks such as The Pearl@Mount Faber and Mount Faber Lodge.

Developers and industry players are hoping this redevelopment project will revive property interest this region as sales have been a little quiet last year due to the property cooling measures.

 

 

Tri-factor sustaining Property market – Government, industry and home owners

As 2016 brings a slew of completed new homes into the property market, developers are concerned about what market restrictions and rising construction and project development costs will do to the industry.

Kallang Riverside

Photo: Kallang Riverside

Even as everyone understands that Singapore is a land-scarce country, and the costs of properties will never be unrealistically low, the current market sentiment seems to be one of wait-and-see. But property prices may never fall too far without affecting the quality of homes. Developers are already feeling the financial squeeze as land costs rise, along with regulatory fees for plans submissions and costs of construction, fittings and furnishings. On top of that, developers are also under the time pressure of selling all their units within a five-year period in order to avoid paying the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty. At the moment 3,000 units from the development of properties from land plots sold under the Government Land Sales Programme in 2012 remain unsold, they will reach their five-year deadline next year.

Thus as much as a home buyers may be waiting for even lower prices, new properties launched in the months or year ahead may not be able to lower their prices any further. Moving ahead, how the Government manages its land sales programme, and how developers manoeuvre around rising project development costs and market their products may be key to keeping the industry and ultimately the overall economy healthy and growing.

Resale private homes – Slow climb up

There was a glimmer of light in the resale property market last month as prices of homes in the city fringe rose 1.1 per cent and 0.5 per cent in the suburbs. Overall private resale home prices rose 0.4 per cent.

BlueHorizonThough property analysts are not certain if prices will maintain their current level or dip even further in the later part of the year, the numbers gave at least a little hope to private property owners and sellers. While the resale market shows that it has steadied itself with a $0 T-O-X (the median transaction over X-value or a home’s market value), in the city centre district 9 which consists of Orchard Road and River Valley, more resale properties were being sold below the computer-generated  home prices dipped to an average of $55,000 below the X-value.

In district 5 of Pasir Panjang and Clementi however, the highest media T-O-X came up to $30,000; and in the Bukit Timah, Holland Road and Tanglin areas of prime district 10, the number came up to $14,000.

As the number of new properties being launched or completed rise, the prices of resale properties may face the danger of being pushed down by competition. Though location and condition of resale units may always have an upper hand. With the General Elections planned for the year ahead, prices may fluctuate with policy or economic changes. Could this year be the watershed year for the property market?

More data for Private home buyers

Private property buyers will no longer have to grasp at thin air in their attempt to make sense of which way the market is leaning in terms of prices, sales volume and even incentives offered by the developers or sellers.

iProperty Transacted PRices

Photo: iProperty’s transacted property price trends data is provided online

Starting from June 5, buyers or anyone who wants to do their market research can now access the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) website. Data will be published weekly. That would also mean much more transparency in the marketplace, including information provided to banks in order to allow them to better gauge applicants’ loan limits and also loan amounts which take into consideration value benefits such as cash rebates, legal and stamp duties absorption, rental guarantees and furniture vouchers.

Improvements will also be made into transparency of showflat depictions by developers. Previous complaints about obvious differences between showflats and the actual unit have not fallen onto deaf ears. Now, the Housing Developers (Snow Unit) Rules which will be in force starting from July 20, will keep everyone on the right track. Showflats ready for viewing before July 20 will however be exempted from the rules, though developers are required to made clear the differences between the showflats and the actual unit.

How will these new rules change the playing field? Will it be easier or more difficult to secure loans from the banks once these rules are put in place and enforced? Will that in turn affect the buying power of the already restricted purchasing crowd?