Properties near primary schools gets the spotlight

Especially those near clusters of well-know primary schools. Such as Nanyang Primary School, Anglo-Chinese Primary, Singapore Chinese Girls’ primary, Methodist Girls’ Primary and Raffles Girls’ Primary. No prizes guessing where this cluster hails from.

The Bukit Timah area has long been known as the prime district due to its proximity to schools and exclusive addresses and many huge landed properties. But quite a number of high-rise private condominiums have begin to come up in its midst, and parents eager for higher chances in the balloting for spaces in these schools now have options of moving nearer to their primary school of choice.

Cluny Park ResidenceStretching mainly across prime districts 10 and 11, properties along the main Bukit Timah stretch attract the most number of eyeballs, closely followed by those nearer newton and at the other closer to Upper Bukit Timah. Properties on the main stretch include Cluny Park Residences and The Siena. The latter has an added advantage with its proximity to the Botanic Gardens MRT Station.

Near Newtown, where ACS Primary is situated, cluster landed development, The Glyndebourne offers the option of serviced landed housing while the Robin Suites which will be completed in 2016 will attract savvy parents who have their children’s future well-planned ahead of time. The latest property to come up near the Upper Bukit Timah area is KAP Residences, taking over the King Albert Park McDonald’s, placing it near MGS.

King Albert Park Residences is a mixed-use development with retail and residential units in District 21.

King Albert Park Residences is a mixed-use development with retail and residential units in District 21.

A comparison of prices across these areas will show that the main stretch commands the highest prices as it is not only near a number of primary and secondary schools and junior colleges, but also  eateries and other amenities. Transport options are more apparent as well. Prices at The Siena and Cluny Park Residences range around $2, 323 to $2, 704 psf, though older condominiums may only go for $1, 700 to $1, 800 psf.

68% drop in private home sales

In comparison to 2013′s Q1 home sales figures, the chasm is deep. And so are moods in the real estate market.

Private home sales have been on the decline for some time now. And recent figures are not exactly uplifting. Buyer sentiments are pessimistic, as the loan curbs implemented last year takes its toll on buyers and sellers alike.

Hillford Retirement Home
It has become much harder for buyers to secure loans, with the Money Authority of Singapore’s Total Debt Servicing Ratio framework in place. Buyers can no longer loan as much as they would like, which may place them just out of reach of their target property. The lack of new property launches this quarter has also dampened the mood somewhat. And property developers have been slow in introducing new units into the market as they are now accutely aware of a softer market.

Some properties nevertheless have beat the odds and continued to enjoy brisk sales. Topping the list is the 281-unit The Hillford in Jalan Jurong Kechil. Since its launch in January, units have been completely sold. Next up are a couple of neighbouring properties in Sengkang – Rivertrees Residences and Riverbank @ Fernvale. Most of the units went for an average of $1,000 to $1, 100 psf. Industry analysts are wondering if this could signify that buying power for suburban private properties will now hover around this ceiling.

Rivertrees condoThe rest of the year may see a tussle of prices between new and resale properties. As developers cut prices to make sales, resale home sellers may be forced to face the competition head on.

Jurong private properties in demand

For those who are not used to living in the west, the lure may not be strong. Not yet perhaps. But as it changes from the industrial, remote ‘wild west’ into a well-greased regional commercial and education hub, many have seemed to change their minds.

LakevilleThe 695-unit Lakeville at Jurong West Street 41 has sold so well last weekend that the developers, MCL Land had to release 50 additional units to its original release of 150 units. Most buyers were Singaporeans, and they purchased mainly two- and three-bedders. A total of 180 units were sold thus far, at an average of $1, 300 psf. J Gateway, which was the last westside property launched since Lakeville, sold at an average of $1, 480 psf.

Despite constant reminders that the property market may be on a downturn, the response has buoyed the mood of the real estate market. This could however be due to the lack of private properties, especially new ones, in this neck of the woods. New amenities such as the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital, and new commercial properties promises of more jobs, and better services, which could drive up rents of both HDB and private properties in the area.

Commonwealth TowersSlightly more inland, Commonwealth Towers, which will be linked to Queenstown MRT station, could be the next property to watch. This 99-year leasehold property will likely be launched in May, with mostly one- and two-bedders in its massive 895-unit development. If nearby condominium prices are anything to go by, buyers could be looking at prices of between $1, 300 to $1, 700 psf.

Rent out your property quickly

As one of the best means of passive income, property rentals are one of the first physical investment returns most beginner investors are drawn to. But as the number of homes entering the market increase, picking up speed towards 2016, it might be prudent for property owners to take steps right now to prime themselves for when the competition truly gets tough. How can landlords pull ahead in the weakening rental market?

Property analysts are predicting a two to three month average waiting time for landlords when previously it may have taken only a month or two before finding a suitable tenant. It is very much the tenant’s market now and many are taking it online in their search for home rentals.

Online property search engineOnline searches make it easier for the tenant to look at similar units within the same development and make more efficient price comparisons. This also means price points are a crucial deciding factor. Holding on to prices may mean a longer waiting period which also translates to larger income losses Though going too low may seem unsavory, easing up on prices slightly while offering longer lease terms may help you secure profits more quickly.

It might be futile comparing rental prices to what it was a couple of years back, simply because new properties are springing up all over, and the newer, swankier, though smaller unit nearby may be more attractive to tenants. Providing working, good condition fittings and appliances could also be what helps you seal the deal.

City Square Residences near Little India used to go for $1000 psf in 2009. Now it is going for as much as $2,500 psf. So perhaps the adage “Spend money to make money” may not be so far from the truth here. Sprucing up your unit with light renovation touches or simply giving your appliances an overhaul may score you a tenant sooner than later. And not forgetting, the personal touch always works. Meeting your tenants and building a good relationship makes for a better rental process for both landlord and tenant.

Overseas property – New frontiers

Malaysia. Australia. London.

There are the usual hotspots for Singaporean property investors. But have you ever wondered what else is out there for the taking? Which other markets have green pastures providing long-term fodder for the profit-hungry?

Dubai, which once saw plummeting real estate prices when a bubble burst, is recovering well and once again housing prices are on the rise. To catch the property on its up cycle would be every investor’s dream. The Dubai authorities have since tightened up regulations, targeting in particular speculators. Their Real Estate Regulatory Agency, a regulatory arm of the Dubai Land Department, has rolled out a rental index which is updated every four months. As Dubai continues to expand as a commercial hub, the stream of expatriates who will be looking for rental units keep investors happy for now.

Vida Residence DubaiPhoto Credit: Emaar

Besides commercial properties, some of the most sought-after residential real estate in the Emirates are in popular communities and districts such as Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, Arabian Ranches and Emirates Living.  The 57-storey Vida Residence in Downtown Dubai with 320 serviced apartments are selling one-bedders for approximately S$660, 000.

Japan, which most would regard as one of the countries with the highest standard living, surprising has some good property investment opportunities. The low yen has no doubt helped. In the highly populated Tokyo for example, properties in Shinjuku and Shibuya, the 2 most popular shopping districts, are popular with investors. Since Tokyo won the right to host the 2020 Olympics, interest in properties near the proposed Olympic stadium in Harumi have also gained momentum. These include the freehold Harumi Tower with prices starting at S$900 psf. Just 800m away from the Tokyo Tower is the 13-storey Concieria Mita, a freehold property with studio apartments going at a surprisingly competitive S$436, 000.

Conciera Mita condo

Photo Credit: ECG

So it might truly be worth the time and effort to look beyond the usual suspects for investment opportunities which might be more profitable than fighting for those closer to home.

Lakeside’s Westside Story

Off on the west-side, Jurong and Woodlands are the main areas of business and redevelopment. But with the authorities planning to diversify commercial activity into the suburbs and redeveloping the Jurong Lake District into yet another hub for waterfront living, leisure and business, Lakeside may no longer be the town just on the side.

URA Jurong Lake District

Photo credit: Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Jurong Gateway and the potential working population and medical tourist it will bring serves to bring new life to the sleepy Lakeside township. Other businesses in the mix are Big Box, Westgate, Genting Hotel, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital. The previously very much industrial west-side of Singapore will see new life in many ways.

Already response at The Lakefront Residences spoke volumes, as it sold out of its 629 units during its launch in 2010. Prices then were at an average of $1, 000 to $1, 050 psf. Units were already selling this year at $1, 1199 psf. Units at The Lakeshore and Lakeholmz saw similar sales values with promising increases throughout the past few quarters. Though rentals and sales may not yet peak this year, the potential for growth is tremendous.

LakevilleThe newest kid on the block is Lakeville in Jurong West Street 41. Developer, MCL Land, is expecting buyers to mainly be HDB upgraders from the nearby, though not ruling out savvy investors who might see the rental possibilities of these units near future regional commercial hubs.

Investment money take overseas trips

Overseas properties are looking particularly attractive to investors from within Asia. Higher yields are one of the draw factors.

Areas which are pulling in crowds are the US and Europe. Commercial buildings such as offices, development sites as well as hotels are hot on the property investors’ lists. As Asia, the Americas and Europe go through different stages of the property cycle, higher returns are evident outside of Asia especially with the currency within Asia strengthening and low interest rates. The number of overseas investment opportunities are also on the increase, making the overseas market more competitive.

Oxley Royal Wharf

Photo credit: Oxley Holdings Limited.

In terms of residential developments, Oxley Holding‘s first London project is garnering a great deal of investor interest. Most of the studio apartments going at £235, 000 (S$495,000) have been sold at the 811-unit development, Royal WharfThe Royal Wharf project, situated near the Thames Barrier Park, will consist of 3, 385 homes, 10,000 residents who will be serviced by schools, shops, offices and leisure amenities. It is also near a future transport line, the Crossrail line, which will provide timely links to Heathrow airport and Bond Street.

Both the London and Singapore launches welcomed a big response. Mr Richard Oakes, the sales and marketing director of the project manager Ballymore says that despite Londoners’ usual lack of enthusiasm for property launches, a long line of 300 had queued for this particular project.

Evaluation of the HDB Resale Valuation

Recent changes in the valuation process for resale HDB flats have drawn some feedback from the public. Many are wary of how this mix-up will cause some hiccups in the buy-sell procedure and how it may also affect the selling prices.

Photo by HDB.

Photo by HDB. How does the recent change in the HDB resale process affect the seller and buyer?

Sellers will no longer be the ones to apply for valuation of their flats. They now need to come to an agreement on a selling price with the buyer before the buyer applies for the valuation. This may favour the buyer more than the seller as COV prices have been the main bugbear in the search and purchase of a suitable resale HDB unit, but without prior knowledge of the price of a unit based on the age, location and size of the unit, buyers may also be very much left to glean information from rumours in the wind or self-research.

HDB has however tried to bring some equilibrium to this confusion by publishing resale transaction figures daily instead of fortnightly.

What HDB hopes to achieve with this procedure renewal is:

  • Long-term stability of public housing prices
  • Less dependency of sales on COV (cash-over-valuation) prices
  • Making the HDB resale market more transparent

Will this move help them achieve all that? Or will market forces turn this around on its head and steer it in the other direction?