Owners keen to sell while buyers expect price declines; HDB confidence rises.
The latest iProperty Asia Property Market Sentiment Report H2 2014, Asia’s largest consumer property sentiment survey, shows a significant shift in Singapore sentiment, with more wanting to sell (from one per cent to 16 per cent) and fewer wanting to buy now (from 22 per cent to ten per cent) as prices head lower. More respondents also expect new and resale private condominium prices will continue to decline (up from 34 per cent to 53 per cent), but are more confident about HDB values.
“The H2 2014 report shows that both property sellers and buyers are nervous a year after the start of the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR). In the H2 2013 APMSR report, just after the TDSR was announced, 59 per cent of owners were confident their property would retain its value; now only 38 per cent think so, a decline of 21 per cent. Another 25 per cent are unsure if the value will be retained,” commented Mr. Sean Tan, iProperty.com Singapore General Manager.
“Buyers are biding their time, with affordability and financing as top concerns. While the number of respondents who intend to purchase within the next 24 months remains the same at 51 per cent, buyers may wait for new and resale private condo prices to fall,” said Mr. Tan.
Developers are already responding to the more cautious market, delaying new project launches and lowering launch prices, among other strategies. According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), developer launches decreased from 441 to 351 private homes last month. Median prices between Q1 2013 and Q2 2014 declined three per cent for completed projects, while declining eight per cent for uncompleted projects.
Singaporeans do however continue to view property as a good investment, stating rental income (34 per cent) and long-term investment (29 per cent) as the top reasons. Home ownership was at 23 per cent. Private condominiums (57 per cent) continue to be the top choice, with terrace houses at 25 per cent and HDBs at 23 per cent. Survey respondents chose price, location and potential ROI as the top three factors when purchasing properties.
“Singaporeans are confident about property and have the money. 17 per cent of respondents have identified budgets above $1 million; 61 per cent have budgeted between $500,000 and $1 million; and 18 per cent have less than a $500,000 budget. The market is now correcting after the rapid rise over the last few years ago, and demand is there at the right price point,” concluded Mr Tan.
Mr. Getty Goh, Director at real estate research and consultancy firm Ascendant Assets, noted that buyers are jumping in to purchase properties when prices are within expectation, or if they are in a good location. “Examples include the 91 per cent surge in sales in District 9 and 10 reported by Barclays, and more recently the good sales figures at Highline Residences,” said Mr. Goh.
The Highline Residences in Tiong Bahru, District 3, launched in September, saw a strong sales with 80 per cent of its 160 units launched, following a “special preview discount” that took prices from $2,000 per sq. ft. (psf) to an average of $1,900 psf. District 3 was selected as one of the top three preferred locations in the iProperty H2 2014 survey.
A large number of respondents (45 per cent) indicated lower price per square foot was more important than other incentives, such as furniture vouchers. The next most important criteria (40 per cent) were smaller unit sizes. CIMB has reported that median sizes of homes have fallen from 1,200 sq. ft. to 800 sq. ft., because “most buyers compromised on smaller units in order to keep the investment amount more affordable”.
52 per cent say HDB resale prices are not affordable, down from 53 per cent in the previous survey, and from 61 per cent before that. Only 15 per cent say HDB resale prices will continue to fall, down from 37 per cent in the previous survey. This shows pricing levels are becoming more comfortable for buyers.
Overseas Properties Popular For Investment Purposes; Malaysia #1 followed by Australia and the UK
Overseas property continues to appeal for investment, with private condominiums and serviced apartments as the preferred property type. In May 2014, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) reported that the value of overseas property investments handled by local real estate agencies increased by 43 per cent from S$1.4 billion in 2012 to S$2 billion in 2013. Malaysia accounted for slightly more than half of investments, followed by the United Kingdom and Australia.
Malaysia remains Singaporean’s top investment destination at 31 per cent. Most respondents (40 per cent) are willing to pay less than S$500,000 for overseas properties and the attractive exchange rate of the Malaysian currency against the Singapore dollar continues to draw Singaporeans. Iskandar Malaysia remains a stronghold for investors, with 58 per cent stating investment as a reason for purchase, while citing affordability (54 per cent) and proximity to Singapore (69 per cent) as positives.
Australia sees continued interest (18 per cent, down from 22 per cent) along with the United Kingdom (UK) (12 per cent up from 9 per cent). Australia appeals for its proximity, quality education and lifestyle. The UK draws interest for capital growth, yields and as a place for buyers’ children to live while they study. Recent exchange rate shifts have made investing in both locations more attractive.
Respondents also indicated a preference for seminars and exhibitions when purchasing overseas properties, with 53 per cent having purchased their overseas properties through developer shows/seminars/exhibitions in Singapore.
The APMSR is Asia’s largest consumer sentiment survey, with close to 13,000 respondents from four countries, including 2,805 in Singapore. The survey was conducted by iProperty Group from June to July 2014. For the full report, please refer to http://www.iproperty.com.sg/asia-property-sentiment-survey/download/.