Property prices in China continue to climb

Earlier in the year, China’s government laid down new regulations in an attempt to avert a property bubble, but if last month’s 33 per cent year-on-year increase in home value is anything to go by, they may have to do a whole lot more to prevent the real estate industry from travelling dangerously down the path of no return.

chinaProperty prices rose 1.2 per cent in August in 70 Chinese cities, not only in major cities such as Shanghai and Shenzhen but also in regional cities. Last year, the Chinese government relaxed rules on foreigners purchasing properties in China, and despite a slowing economy, property prices have continued to rise. Unrealistically? Perhaps. In Shanghai and Beijing alone, prices have risen 4.4 and 3.6 per cent respectively. In Shenzhen and Guangzhou, home values rose as well at 2.1 and 2.4 per cent respectively. Previously, only the first and second-tier cities had to grapple with sky-rocketing property prices, but the effect may have trickled down to cities of various tiers.

Property analysts are certain however, that as long as land supply remains stagnant and loans are fairly easily attained, the rise will continue. Previous curbs have yet to made a significant impact on the industry and as long as supply remains lower than demand, property prices will continue to climb.

MAS relaxes income cap on loans

Interest rates have been flying low for sometime now. At less than 2%, home loan rates are even lower than the 2.6% offered by the Housing Development Board (HDB). Though the latter offers stability despite inflation, the small difference is considerable for the large purchases real estate surmounts to.

And though there has been talks of rate hikes, a sharp increase has not yet happen and while interest rates have plunged to near-zero in 2011 and not surged since then, many have been favouring the floating-rate loans which are pegged to the Singapore Interbank Offer Rate (Sibor). But at the same time, the property cooling measures rolled out in waves by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) have restricted the ability of many to refinance their previously high-interest home loans.

MAS has since adjusted the total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) framework as of 1st September, and more home owners and new buyers will find that they now qualify to refinance their loans or service a less taxing one. Now all home owners are exempt from the 60 per cent income cap. Previously, the monthly repayment amount for total household debt can only be of and less than 60 per cent of the household income.

As the goal of this regulation is to prevent a property bubble and to stop buyers from overextending themselves and running into debt, property investors may still find themselves restricted by the rule, but now with the change, less so. The loan threshold may be surpassed if they pass the bank’s credit checks and they also have to commit to repaying at least 3 per cent of the outstanding bank loan within a 3-year period. This may still keep errant property investing in check while allowing those we have done their risk calculations carefully an opportunity to plan their financial growth.

The property market has been gradually cooling for a few years now and while no change downwards or upwards has been sudden nor drastic, and although the authorities say this is in no way a relaxation of the property cooling measures, this is nevertheless a good start on the pathway to building a more structured and robust real estate industry.

Executive condominiums top August property sales

August was a good month for the executive condominium (EC) market, with all 3 top sellers coming from this particular property sector, namely – Treasure Crest in Sengkang, Sol Acres in Choa Chu Kang and Bellewoods in Woodlands.

Bellewoods ECUnderstandably, there were not many major property launches in August with only 590 units launched in the month at Victoria Park Villas in District 10. A total of 805 units were sold, less than half of the 1,921 sold in July, with 41 per cent of the month’s sales coming from ECs. But demand for these rare hybrid public and private properties seems to be rising.

The price gap between ECs and private properties may be closing in as resale private property prices continue to dip though there is still a considerable distance between these 2 property types. The median selling prices of all 3 top EC developments below $800 psf whereas average prices for private apartments are mostly above the $1,000 psf range.

Sol Acres Besides comparison with ECs, new developer launches have also been fighting market competition from completed resale units, providing discounts and other incentive schemes to entice buyers. As a hybrid between public and private housing, EC buyers can tap on HDB grants and subsidies in the initial purchase and after 10 years, are able to leverage on the private property status of their property, harnessing the full capacity of a private resale condominium.

 

Indian Diaspora form new group of property buyers

Diaspora has always been one of the many lucrative ways of boosting a country’s economy, one of the most obvious ways being through the media industry, and the next being the real estate sector. Diasporas’ high disposable incomes may also translate to higher investment demand and capabilities. And when provided with ample and clear opportunities, they are more likely than not to bite.

godrejthetreesmumbaiPhoto credit: Godrej Properties

The Chinese and Indian diasporas are especially strong globally, and now the Indian diaspora in Singapore is being seen as a worthy target audience group for one of India’s largest real estate developer, Godrej Properties (GPL).

GPL has already been actively working with clients all over the globe, namely in the UK, USA, Africa, Australia, Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore but now with major luxury development projects happening in over 10 Indian cities such as Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Gurgaon, Noida, Chandigarh, Pune, Nagpur, Bengaluru and Manglore, they are strengthening their marketing efforts to their global diaspora as these new properties are likely to be of interest and are highly affordable to these overseas individuals and entities.

godrejeternitybengaluruPhoto credit: Godrej Properties

GPL first established themselves internationally in 2014 in Dubai, and now their Singapore office will also serve an international clientele, with a focus on providing residential property investment opportunities to Indians in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong.  Their office will be situated in One Fullerton Road. Foreign nationals or companies also invest in properties in India though they will have to fulfil more specific requirements set by the Reserve Bank of India.

 

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.

More luxury homes above $5 million sold this year

The difference is 198 per cent – for Indonesians keeping their cash overseas without declaring it and in Indonesia for at least 3 years. And that whooping amount is possibly pushing wealthy Indonesians to pick up luxury properties in Singapore before the new law kicks in. Singapore will soon be sharing financial information with Indonesian authorities.

The TomlinsonAt the moment under a tax amnesty scheme, Indonesians pay a tax rate of 4 per cent and upwards on properties or funds outside of Indonesia. The rates are increased in stages up to 10 per cent up till March 2017, when the amnesty closes. It is uncertain if the information shared will be of both real estate and funds, but some buyers are understandably moving their monies into real estate ahead of time.

Local properties priced at $5 million and above have been attracting interest from Indonesians who have been closing deals quickly over the year. The number of such properties sold this year have already far surpassed last year’s, by almost 4 times. 30 properties valued at $5 million and above have been sold this year as of August, compared to just 8 the whole of last year.

Whitley ResidencesMost Indonesian buyers see the potential of high-end Singaporean properties and have been keeping an eye on the market, waiting for an opportune time to pick off prime properties. A total of 189 purchases, and possibly more as declarations of nationality is voluntary, were made by Indonesians from January to August this year.

More resale condominiums sold in July and August

Current Q3 property market figures are showing that while sales volume on a year-on-year basis has risen almost 60 per cent, with a 10 per cent rise in June and inching up a further 5.3 per cent in July, home prices have slipped consecutively for 2 months.

183 LonghausA total of 817 units were sold in August while 776 were sold in July. Prices of resale non-landed residential properties have however fallen by 0.8 per cent in August, following a 0.7 per cent fall in July. Most of the price decline came from suburban properties, led by those in the city fringes. The core central region private home prices have continued to rise 0.1 per cent. Overall, buyers are paying an average of $11,000 below market value last month as compared to $10,000 in July.

A few major new launches may have injected some competition into the market, fuelled by the rise in the number of completed private homes. District 20 of Ang Mo Kio, Upper Thomson and Bishan has however had a positive showing of buyers willing to pay up to a median of $18,000 above market value for properties here. The maturity of these estates, coupled with the number of schools and proximity to town may have driven prices up. Surprisingly in district 15 which consists of Katong, Marine Parade, Joo Chiat and Amber Road, buyers are shying away from the high prices properties here used to command.

Belgravia villasThe Hungry Ghost Festival in August may have dulled sales figures slightly, though property analysts expect only marginal adjustments in the months leading to the end of 2016.

Keppel Land develops mixed-use project in Yangon

Photo credit: Keppel Land

Photo credit: Keppel Land

1993 – the year Keppel Land first dipped their toes into the Myanmar property market by breaking ground for the Sedona Hotel Yangon. Now almost a decade and a half into the 21st Century, they are building an even stronger presence in Myanmar as they tie up with Myanmar conglomerate Shwe Taung Group to develope serviced residences and Grade A offices in the heart of Yangon.

More developers are making headwinds in Asean countries such as Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. The potential for growth in these countries is immense as they rapidly open up to the international business and investment world. As the pool of young, educated professionals grow, so does the interest in these South-east Asian countries.

At Junction City in Yangon, Keppel Land is already in the second phase of developing this massive mixed-use project which will eventually house the 260-unit Sedona Suites and 50,000 square metres of office space in addition to the Pan Pacific Hotel, an entertainment centre and retail spaces.

sedonahotelyangon

Photo credit: Sedona Hotel Yangon

International investment monies have been pouring into the city and country in the past few years, and there are no signs of slowing down as yet. Property developers and real estate companies are capitalising on this population and commercial business boom by providing quality accommodation and business spaces – and rapidly too. The second phase of Junction City is scheduled for construction beginning in 2018 and 33, 400 square metres of Grade A office spaces will be ready as soon as the early part of 2017.