Rougher terrain for local leasing market

Property owners with rental units at hand have been finding it increasingly difficult to find tenants.

MartinPlaceResidencesForeigners make up approximately 60 per cent of the rental demand in Singapore, and as the financial and oil and gas sectors take a hit, demand has declined with the foreign workforce diminishing due to companies moving out of the country or simply because housing budgets have been cut as the sluggish global economic drags out. As of mid-2016, vacancy rates stand at 8.9 per cent and there were about 30,310 units vacant. The sudden influx of completed new homes hitting the market this year could not have helped things as well. This year, the number of completed properties entering the market outgrew the influx of a foreign workforce. Immigration and labour policies have changed since the last general election.

Rental rates in the suburbs fell the hardest at 1.2 per cent, followed by 0.6 per cent in the city fringes. Rents of core central region properties however increase by 0.1 per cent.

cavenaghlodge2017 will see the completion of even more residential developments and analysts are expecting rental demand to fall even further, particularly in the suburbs. Rents have dipped by up to 8.8 per cent in the suburbs and 4.5 per cent in the central districts. Some landlords have even give discounts of up to 30 per cent, just to secure a tenant. Others have found themselves going months without finding a suitable taker on the unit. Smaller one- and two-bedroom apartment units are however still faring well, especially those in the Central Business District (CBD), Marina Bay, Orchard Road, and River Valley areas.


2016’s demand for properties level with last year’s

Though it may seem like the property market took a turn for the worse this year, figures have shown that the level of demand has remained similar to last year’s.

peak-cairnhillProperty prices have fallen 10.8 per cent since the 2013 peak and perhaps it is precisely this decline of home prices that have kept buyers coming to the table, more so this year than the previous few which have been dull partly due to the property cooling measures implemented since 2013. Some property agents have in fact reported up to a 50 per cent increase in sealed deals this year, indicative of increased buyer’s interest and number of project launches.

The market inertia in terms of the property cooling measures and interest rates may also have been push factors in enticing buyers back into the market. Resale property sales have been strong with 5,587 transactions closed in the first 3 quarters of this year, up 18 per cent from 2015. Developers have also been pricing new units more competitively this year, giving the resale market a run for their money.

the-crestCity fringe and central region resale properties were particularly popular with buyers though some may still be waiting for better deals.  And as property analysts predict a further 3 to 3.5 per cent drop in prices for the rest of the year, the market seems primed for owner-occupiers though those considering investing in properties should wait a little more to get the most out of their buck.


New private homes with strong attributes still a draw

Amidst speculations of a bottoming-out real estate market, the 3 major project previews over the weekend might be good indicators of market fluctuations in the months ahead.

38-jervoisPhoto credit: Prominent Land

Judging from the strength of public response from recent launches, new private non-landed developments with strong attributes such as good locations, usually those near MRT stations and shopping malls, and affordable quantum prices will take market headlines for now. Buyers are not entirely shrinking away from making purchases, but they may be pickier as the choices available outweigh the current demand.

City Development’s (CDL) latest private residential offering of the Forest Woods condominium clocked an encouragingly positive level of sales in its recent launch, perhaps leading the way for the next few launches coming up – Queens Peak on Dundee Road in Queenstown, Parc Riviera in West Coast Vale and 38 Jervois in Jervois Road.

forestwoodsThe last of these projects is a rather exclusive boutique offering of 27 units developed by Prominent Land. At 38 Jervios, units range from 474 sq ft one-bedders to 1,098 sq ft two-bedders plus penthouse study with prices averaging $2,100 psf and up. Buyers can expect to fork out $1.08 million for a one-bedroom unit to $1,81 million for a 3-bedroom unit. 6 of the 27 units will be penthouses.

Although these new private homes may push sales figures past the 1,000 a month mark, property analysts do not yet expect a sudden market uptick as prospects of the economy remain lacklustre.

Showflats season – Parc Riviera and Queens Peaks

Starting low and working the way up. That’s the strategy property developer, EL Development, will be taking with their latest project, Parc Riviera. They are hoping that buyers will continue to take the price bait and are thus pricing their units affordably and on the low side, with an option of raising prices later on should market conditions improve.

parcrivieraPhoto credit:

And this weekend looks like it will be busy one for the real estate industry as crowds are expected to take to the 2 latest private residential project offerings with relish, if recent buyers’ response to new condominium units are anything to go by. Buyers have been snapping up units at the recently-launched Alps Residences and Forest Woods condominiums.

Although Parc Riviera is only launching in November, their show flats will be ready for viewing this and next weekend. The projected average selling price at this 752-unit development in West Coast Vale is expected to stand at approximately $1,250 psf.

queenspeak2The 99-year leasehold Parc Riviera will feature  two 36-storey towers consisting of a range of units from 463 sq ft one-bedders to 1,711 sq ft four-bedders, though more than half will be smaller one- and two-bedroom units. Situated near the Pandan Reservoir and will feature rooftop pavilions and jacuzzi decks.

Another private condo project which will have their show flats ready for public viewing this weekend is Hao Yuan Investment‘s Queens Peak which sits near the Queenstown MRT station. Larger units are available at this 99-year leasehold development, ranging from 431 sq ft for a one-bedder to 2,002 sq ft for a five-bedder, including a penthouse at 4,768 sq ft unit.

Is new the new gold?

New private condominiums that is. The resale private condominium market may have a strong competitor in new private condominiums as prices in this sector become more competitive with developers offering various discounts and incentive payment schemes.

The TrilinqIndicative of the heightened activity in the new condominium sector was the 8.8 per cent rise in transactions last month, from the 468 units in August to the 5o9 units in September. And this was in spite of the lack of major launches. In fact, property analysts are expecting a further 8 to 10 per cent rise in the number of new condo units sold this year. There were 7,440 new residential units sold last year.

The highest sales number of 297 units sold last month came from properties in the city fringe, followed by 144 units in the suburbs and 68 units in the core central region. Some of the best-selling projects were Lake Grande, The Trilinq and Kingsford Waterbay.

queenspeakcondoIt seems, buyers are finally coming to terms with the stabilising of property prices, almost three years after the first property cooling measure was rolled out. They may have relinquished further expectations of price declines and are picking off deals whenever they come up in the market.

There will be 2 major launches next month – Parc Riviera and Queens Peak and new homes sales are expected to cross the 1,000 units per month mark in the next 2 months.


Ready to invest in properties overseas?

The attraction of investing in a plum overseas property may be strong but while the yields may be high, so too could be the risks.

Prudent research and risk-calculation prior to taking the plunge is of course essential. And some of the very real and future-determining factors to take into consideration are:


1. Foreign ownership regulations

It almost goes without saying that this would be what any discerning buyer first finds out – what governs their purchase and whether they are eligible. Newer markets, in particular South-east Asian ones such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos, could have more relaxed rules as their immediate interest lie in attracting investments while markets with a longer history of foreign investment such as Australia and Thailand may have more rules in place in reaction to previous market movements. In some markets such as Australia and Malaysia, there are also restrictions on the resale of foreign-owned properties, and for buyers who do not have strong holding powers, having to hold on to properties in a economic downturn with only a niche target audience could be stressful in all senses of the word.

2. Currency exchange

Though currency fluctuations are inevitable, property analysts encourage buyers to seriously consider the market or country’s political and economic states. Markets where the local currency have been fairly stable for a prolonger period of time are generally lower-risk options, though even then, it would be wise to engage the services of a lawyer or accountant to help in long-term financial planning.


3. Rental potential

The location and type of property, the track record of the property developer and the rental demand for the property are all instrumental to the make or break of an investment decision. The property size should also be taken into consideration as larger albeit rarer properties may not be as quick to find a tenant as say, a smaller-sized unit at a more palatable quantum price. Industry experts also advice investors to first have a target audience in mind as expatriates may come from different industries and have differing housing budgets.

4. Payment schedules and options 

Singapore’s property market may veer to the stricter side in terms of payment schedules as they work on a progressive payment scheme. Many overseas markets however offer a deferred payment scheme, for example where a buyer puts down a 10% down-payment deposit and only pay the rest of the 90% upon completion of the projects. That could be a plus for some buyers, but it would mean a change in financial plans.  With overseas property investments, there are also more lending options, some of which could offer higher levels of flexibility such as dual currency switching and mortgages with the possibility of off-setting interest.



Property cooling measures likely to remain

The economic slowdown and diminishing growth rates are causes for concern not only for the Singapore government, but also for consumers and businesses.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has recently spoken about the property cooling measures which were implemented in succession over the past three years. He has mentioned that they are likely to remain at this time of uncertainty as a response to “global context and environment”.

Kingsford HIllview PeakProperty prices have fallen 10.8 per cent since Q3 of 2013 and prices fell 1.5 per cent in the third quarter of this year, bringing it to the 12th consecutive quarter of price decline. The real estate industry currently faces stagnation and though interest rates are low, many are looking for higher yields. He has warned against creating an environment rife with property speculation and has said that capital inflow might create a volatile and highly-speculative atmosphere which will result in property market fluctuations.

With the high number of completed units entering the market this year, and with unsold inventory rising, the property cooling measures may be helpful in keeping the delicate market balance. As of Q2 this year, there were 21,500 unsold and uncompleted private homes, the lowest ever recorded, indicating a possible shift of influence from the seller to the buyer. The government has also held back on the launch of land sites earlier this year.

Meyerise2Property analysts are not surprised by the government’s move to keep the property curbs in place, though sudden pace changes and steeper declines might prompt the government to reconsider relaxing the rules sooner.

Home rental market softening

Rents for both HDB flats and private condominiums have been falling. The number of leases transacted per month have also dipped.

olina-lodgeThe weakening economic situation might be lengthening its stay as the job market remains soft and the hiring of expatriates is on the decline as well, indirectly affecting rental demand. The influx of new completed private condominium units and increase in number of HDB flats being sublet have also pushed rental prices and volume down in recent months.

In September, private non-landed property rental prices fell 0.6 per cent while HDB flat rents fell 0.3 per cent. In a year-on-year comparison, prices have fallen 4.6 and 4.5 per cent in the previously-mentioned property sectors respectively. Weak rental demand have also impacted property sales as resale private condominium prices have been reported to be shrinking, especially with added pressure from new completed units and new project launches.

hdb-flat-rentalStrangely however, core region property prices have increased despite the district leading the drop in condominium rents at 1.8 per cent. City fringe properties bucked the trend with a 0.2 per cent rise as the quantum rental might be more affordable to foreign tenants who also want to live in convenient and popular locales.

In the rest of 2016, the rental market may stagnant while in wait for the new year. As most of the completed projects were rolled out this year, 2017 may be the turning point for both the rental and resale markets. Property analysts are expecting rents to fall by a further 5 per cent before a possible rebound.