Luxury market boosts overall real estate figures

Ironically one of the markets which first took the hit when the property cooling measures kicked in is now the one keeping the numbers looking good.

GoodwoodResidencesFor her relative political and economic stability, Singapore is considered a haven for the rich who are hoping to park their wealth somewhere safe. And real estate here are considered stable long-term assets; not so much for those in for speedy turnarounds or hoping to make a quick buck in short-term rentals, but for investors looking at long-term capital appreciation.

Recent numbers released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has shown a 76 per cent increase in sales of luxury apartments worth above $5 million this year. Some of the best sellers in this segment were Ardmore Three, Leedon Residence, Goodwood Residence and Gramercy Park.

GramercyParkProperty prices of city fringe units also rose 0.2 per cent though prices in the suburbs fell 0.5 per cent. But property analyst are seeing the market possibly bottoming out this and next quarter as the incline of the price drops have been gradually reducing.

There were a high number of completed units entering the market in the earlier part of the year, but as developers held back on major launches for a couple of quarters, it gave the market a few chance to do some catching up in terms of sales volume. The prolonged period of low interest rates may also push consumers to pick up deals now rather than later.

Consumer awareness crucial for property industry

The local property industry landscape has been changing quite a bit over the past few years, in particular for the consumer. The authorities have been working on transparency and consumers now have more information at their finger tips, and perhaps even more as net prices of de-licensed projects’ will soon be available as well.

singapore-property-authoritiesCurrently, the Housing Development Board (HDB) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) both provide property statistics and data on their websites. The Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI) by the National University of Singapore (NUS) Institute of Real Estate also provides month-on-month transaction-based information for private non-landed residential properties.

ardmorethreeThere are however some caveats to take into consideration. URA’s quarterly price index for example, does not include the discounts and incentives which developers sometimes provide. Only the net-price will be recorded, thus consumers will do well to take this into consideration when viewing statistics and median monthly transaction prices. The change will take effect this month, which means the price index may have some downward pressure put on it as current figures may be inflated. De-licensed projects which have obtained their Certificate of Statutory Completion and thus do not come under the Housing Developers Rules, such as OUE Twin Peaks and Ardmore Three, are known to provide incentive schemes to their buyers such as 15% discounts and Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rebate.

A recent case of a property agent who handled and misappropriated cash handed to him by his client also brings to light that consumers may not be entirely aware of what they are entitled to or what their agents are allowed and disallowed to do. In brief, it is against the law for property agents to handle any cash on behalf of their clients.

Jurong Lake District – New sparkling Gem of the West

In less than 2 decades, the landscape of Singapore’s west-side could be said to be almost completely transformed. From the largely industrial factory districts to far-flung housing estates and only a few schools, new shopping malls, transport hubs, commercial and office spaces, private residential homes and spanking new build-to-order (BTO) flats now dot the scene.


Photo credit: URA

Jurong, once a busy but secondary commercial district, has been slated for development as Singapore’s second central business district (CBD). Every large city is almost certain to have one secondary commercial hub, as big and functional as the town-centre CBD, but newer and with more space for development. Just thing of Shanghia’s Pudong or London’s Canary Wharf. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is looking to transform the Jurong Lake District into a eco-friendly, futuristic township with homes, offices, hotels and filled with greenery and waterways.

LakeGrandeWith the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail in its midst and as the convergence point of a number of new and existing MRT lines, there seems to be quite a far breadth for value appreciation of residential and commercial properties in the Jurong Lake district.

With Punggol and Jurong both set to include many good, new things may be coming the country’s way in the next decade or two.

Developers’ incentive schemes under scrutiny

As competition in the private property market heats up and sales slow down, developers have been coming up with creative ways to sell their unsold stock. Some have offered rebates, vouchers and even tiered payment plans. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has however been picking up on some creative incentive schemes which may have tripped up on regulations.

Lloyd Sixtyfive

Take the newly launched Gem Residences as an example. There is currently a 5 per cent minimum booking fee for purchases of a new home, and the developers of Gem Residences have tried to ease the burden for their buyers by offering cheques of $7,500 to $10,000 to offset their booking fee under a “specimen cheque scheme”. As this would circumvent the fulfilment of the minimum booking fee requirement, the developers have instead offered rebates or direct discounts accumulating to the same amount originally to be offered in the cheques.

Another project with a creative scheme is Lloyd Sixty Five in River Valley. Its developers had originally come up with an “experiential purchaser scheme” which offers the buyer the opportunity to stay in the unit with only a downpayment, and the option to purchase will only kick in 2 years later. The scheme is under review by the Controller of Housing as it is essentially a tenancy scheme.

Twin Peaks2Uncompleted residential projects in particular were under URA’s scrutiny. Completed projects with unsold stock enjoy slightly more leeway as they will already have obtained their Certificate of Statutory Completion and are no longer restricted by the Housing Developers Rules. Developers of OUE Twin Peaks were for example able to successfully offer deferred payment schemes which allowed buyers to pay 20 per cent of the purchase price up front, with the remaining amount payable only 2 to 3 years later. Buyers who may be banking on the lifting of property curbs, in particular the total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) by then may find this scheme favourable.

Yio Chu Kang and her old-world charm

Purportedly named after an early settler, Mr. Yeo, which built his house (chu in the hokkien dialect) along the river (kang), Yio Chu Kang still has an old-world charm about her. With kampongs still in her midst till the 1980s, the area is slowly awakening while still holding on nature and space.

floravista3Photo credit: Oxley Holdings Limited

As part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)‘s rejuvenation master plan and development of the North Coast Innovation Corridor, Yio Chu Kang is situated near the Seletar Aerospace Park, which will create 10,000 jobs by 2018. Many private condominiums and mixed-used properties are sprouting in the vicinity, with Flora V (made up of Floraview and Floravista) being one of the latest. A freehold mixed-use development situated along Yi Chu Kang Road, it will hold 140 residential units and 80 commercial units. Besides one-, two- and three-bedders, the project will also feature terrace penthouses. Some penthouse units even come complete with jacuzzis and rooftop terraces.

Adding to its own mix of restaurants, shopping and lifestyle services, are nearby shopping malls such as Greenwich V, Seletar Mall and Ang Mo Kio Hub. The Yio Chu Kang MRT station is also a short distance away, and the upcoming Lentor station (Thomson- East Coast Line), also provide options to get to town quickly, aside from its connectivity to the Seletar Expressway, Central Expressway (CTE) and Kallang-Laya Lebar Expressway (KPE).

In the decade ahead, Yio Chu Kang might very well be the lion awakening. When will we hear it roar?

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.