HDB upgraders finding it harder to purchase private property

With the slower resale market, coupled with decreasing cash-over-valuation (COV) figures, HDB upgraders are finding it harder to upgrade to private properties.Based on PropNex Realty’s February resale deals, median COVs for all flats other than three-room flats fell by $3,000 to $7,000. In January, the figures for all flat-types fell by $3,000 to $6,000. The median COV for all flat types is estimated to be around $25,000, compared to $35,000 in Q4 2011.

The fall in COVs for all except for five-room and executive units in some towns reflects the slowing HDB resale market in 2012. HDB upgraders are less willing to sell their flats at a lower price since they need to purchase the more expensive private property. However, they need to sell the flat to get the cash for purchasing a private property.

However, the decrease in demand for resale flats as buyers turn to BTO flats and ECs with the promise of increased chances in balloting for the former and an increased monthly household income for the latter may mean that sellers have to lower their asking price if they want to sell their flats. The rule compelling private property owners to dispose of their private homes within six months of taking possession of the HDB flat if they buy resale flats is another factor that led to the decrease in demand. Furthermore, with the discounts and vouchers that developers offer for new private properties, buyers may prefer these brand-new units than older resale flats.

Nevertheless, prices for HDB resale flats are expected to increase in the long term, driven by demand for flats in mature estates, as well as demand from from second-timers, singles, private property owners, permanent residents, and first-timers who do not wish to wait three years for the completion of a BTO flat.

Figures in 2011 showed a 24% decrease in HDB resale transactions to 24,633 units and a 10.7% increase in HDB resale prices though the increase in prices are likely to moderate now.

A slew of housing projects to be released

A slew of upcoming projects are expected to be released soon, with some possibly sold at lower prices than neighbouring projects to attract buyers. These projects include MCL’s Ripple Bay condo near Pasir Ris, Frasers Centrepoint’s Palm Isles condo at Flora Drive, Far East’s Hillsta project at Choa Chu Kang Road (all 99-year leasehold) and Roxy-Pacific Holdings and Macly Group’s joint freehold Natura project located at Hillview Terrace.

679-unit Ripple Bay located within walking distance from Pasir Ris Beach consists of four 12-storey and three 13-storey blocks and offer a tennis court and a 50-metere lap pool. Its average selling price of $850 psf (after early-bird discounts) is lower than nearby Seastrand project released last June, which is selling its units at an average of more than $900 psf despite being located further from the beach.  One bedroom units constitute 18% of the units while two-bedroom units constitute 42%.A 484-sq-ft one-bedroom unit costs $415,130 or $858 psf while a 990-sq-ft three-bedroom unit costs $795,500 or $805 psf.

Meanwhile, 429-unit Palm Isles at Flora drive is expected to sell its units at an average of $850-$880 psf, lower than nearby Hedges Park median of $889 psf when released in April 2011. The development also includes 28 ‘garden homes’ with private carpark lots and gardens.

416-unit Hillsta at Choa Chu Kang Road will include condo and Soho-style apartments as well as strata townhouses.

10-storey Natura at Hillview Terrace is expected to price its units at an average of $1,250 psf. It will consist of one, two and three-bedroom units and penthouses, of which the three bedroom units will start at 635 sq ft.

Record 98.1% of profitable subsales in 2011 despite SSD

Despite the drag on subsales and the holding period for such transactions, the extension of the seller’s stamp duty (SSD) by up to 16% in January 2011 did not seem to affect the total number of profitable subsales (98.1%). This was because many of the 2,337 units subsold in 2011 had been bought before the new rules were implemented on January 14 last year.

The average gain per unit in 2011 was the highest in three years, but much of the subsales transactions are from properties bought in 2009, rather than 2011 (with only 11 properties from that year involved in subsales). Since 2009 had been a bad year for theprivate residential property market, the average gain per unit had increased significantly in 2011.

The average profit per unit was $309,455, an 8.3% increase from 2010’s $285,718. This is equivalent to 25.4% average profit per unit when expressed in percentage. Both figures are the highest in three years.  1,164 of the units subsold were from properties that had been previously transacted in 2009 but only two made a loss. This was likely due to the significant rise in private home prices since 2009; units transacted in other years (2005-2010) that were subsold in 2011 also mainly saw gains. This was not the case for those in 2011. The six non-landed private homes bought after implementation of the SSD and subsold in the same year resulted in an average loss per unit of $129,739 after SSD. If the SSD was not imposed, these transactions might have been profitable.

The average holding period was 2.34 years, compared to 2.16 years in 2010. This was a probably a result of the SSD which discourages speculative buying and selling by imposing higher SSD on those who sell their property quickly and the fall in private home prices. These may have also caused the 22.2% fall in the number of subsale transactions in 2011 to 2,619.

According to URA, prices of non-landed private homes increased by 4.6% in 2011 compared to 14% the year before. If this trend continues, the number of subsales transactions is likely to decline further in 2012.

HDB launches 8,000 BTO and balance-of-sale flats

HDB is launching 8,000 flats through a joint built-to-order (BTO) and Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise, over half of which are BTO flats. The units will include all flat types and are located in both mature and non-mature estates. The BTO flats consist of 1,220 units in Bukit Batok, 860 in Bukit Panjang, 670 in Clementi, 640 in Geylang, 410 in Bedok, 180 in Toa Payoh and 130 in Bukit Timah. The wide range of flat types and varied locations meant that buyers have several options though competition for completed or almost completed units in the mature estates are likely to be high.

New measuresto help genuine HDB flats buyers

These new rules include one that serves to prevent buyers from cancelling their bookings on flats. Applicants who cancel their bookings without valid reasons will not be allowed to apply for, or be included as an essential occupier for a new HDB flat, DBSS (Design, Build, and Sell Scheme) flat, executive condominium (EC) unit, or resale flat with housing grants, within one year from the date of cancellation. Meanwhile, the income ceiling for two-room flats in mature towns will be raised from $2,000 to $5,000 per month while those in non-mature estates will remain at $2,000 to ensure that low-income families will still be able to purchase flats.

To meet the demand, HDB will offer 4,640 BTO flats during the May BTO launch in addition to 8,000 flats were launched under the joint build-to-order (BTO) and Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise recently, which includes 4,153 new flats from eight BTO projects and 3,825 SBF units located in 15 mature and 11 non-mature estates. First timers will be given priority for 1,739 of the BTO flats in mature estates and 3,609 SBF units while second-timers now have a 15% chance at the 2,094 BTO flats in non-mature estates.

In addition, the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme will give priority to married children and their parents who jointly apply to live near each other while the enhanced Married Child Priority Scheme will give a married child six ballot chances and three ballot chances if he applies to live with his parents depending on whether he is a first- or second-timer.

Lower private home prices to benefit buyers

NUS’s Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI) showed a 0.8% decrease in prices of completed properties from last month, with the biggest fall from small apartments islandwide (up to 506 square feet) and the Central Region (excluding small units) by 0.9%. The sub-index for Non-Central Region (excluding small apartments) also fell by 0.6%. The overall SRPI index also fell by 1% in January and is likely to continue falling. This reflects a decline in demand, may also means that buyers now have more power to negotiate prices.

50 units of Palm Isles sold at an average of $830

50 units at 99-year leasehold 429-unit Palm Isles condo project at Flora Drive had been sold at its preview launch of 100 units. After discounts, the average price is $830 psf, below the expected price of $850-880 psf. The development comprises a mix of five to seven storey blocks as well as 28 ‘garden homes’ with four to five bedrooms, a private carpark space and garden for each unit. Facilities include two tennis courts and a 50-metre lap pool. The units sold were mainly two- and three-bedders, with two garden homes to mainly Singaporeans. Prices range from $460,000 or $909 psf for a 506-sq-ft one-bedroom unit, $660,000 or $839 psf for a 786-sq-ft two-bedroom unit, $760,000 or $767 psf for a 990-sq-ft three-bedroom unit to $2.2 million or $730 psf for a 3,014-sq-ft garden home.

270 Ripple Bay condo units sold

99-year leasehold 679-unit Ripple Bay condo at Pasir Ris has sold 270 units at an average price ranging from $855-$870 psf. Units sold include one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units, mainly by Singaporeans. The project is located right in front of 473-unit Seastrand, where almost 100 of its remaining units are priced at an average of $905 psf. However, it may also face competition from the upcoming June launch of 376-unit Sea Esta, which could price its units more competitively given the lower land price the developer paid and the developer’s ability to do its own construction, in addition to two nearby sites on the H1 2012 confirmed list of the GLS programme.


A fall in industrial rents predicted

Industrial rents are expected to fall by 5-10% with higher decline in business park rentals as a result of competition from office spaces. Demand has also been on the decline, and new rules preventing unauthorised use do not help either.The expected increase of business park supply by 1.4 million square feet, coupled with the vacancy from existing supply (20%) is also likely a factor for the decline in rents. There is also an upcoming increase of 1.2 million sq ft of private multiple-user space for the year.

GRTH Building purchased by Oxley Holdings

Oxley Holdings Ltd bought the freehold 22,147 sq ft site located at 66 East Coast Road at $76.1 million, or $1,298 psf ppr based on the potential gross floor area of 66,441 sq ft, which took into account the development charge. The site, zoned for commercial use with a 3.0 plot ratio, can be potentially redeveloped for hotel, commercial or residential purposes, subjected to approval from the authorities.

Grade A office rents to drop in 2012

Grade A office rents is expected to decrease by 10-15% in 2012, given the new office supply in the form of Marina Bay Financial Centre and Asia Square in 2012 and 2013 respectively. The decrease in demand from the financial sector which usually rents large spaces will likely contribute to this decline. Q1 monthly gross office rents for Super Grade A office buildings and Grade A buildings has declined from Q4 2011 by 12.6% to $11.40 psf and 2.6% to $10 psf respectively. The fall in Super Grade A rents was likely due to competition from other Super Grade A office buildings and upcoming Marina Bay Financial Tower 3. Lower rental transactions from less attractive units have also contributed to the lower rental rates.

Grade A office buildings are also facing stiff competition as more tenants move to other more attractive spaces.There are 140,000 sq ft of office space expected to be completed by the end of this year which may lead to a decline in rental rates even though the current rental rate is fairly steady with only 1% decrease from Q4 2011 to Q1 2012 to $9.40 psf. Rental rates in Tanjong Pagar and CBD fringe areas have also remained stable. Monthly average gross office rents for Grade A buildings in the Shenton Way/Robinson Road/Tanjong Pagar area and suburban locations also remained stable at $7.80 psf and $6.20 psf respectively.

75% of Paya Lebar Square’s office tower sold

75% of the 99-year leasehold development’s 10-storey office tower has sold at an average of $1,750 psf, the strong interest a result of the lower rental rate of $6 psf in the area compared to CBD’s $10-$12 psf. Companies may also rather own a property than be subjected to fluctuations in rents. Other reasons for its popularity include the proximity to Paya Lebar MRT interchange station and the lack of ABSD and SSD that might be imposed on purchase. Most of the 556 office units except for those on the 13th floor have been launched.Smaller units are more popular than larger ones, with sizes ranging from 480 sq ft to 43,000 sq ft.The 159-unit retail podium will not be sold for now and a weighted average rental rate of $16 to $18 psf might be charged.The project with 671,420 sq ft gross floor area and 300 car park lots is expected to be completed in mid-2014.

Meanwhile freehold 32-storey Oxley Towers, a mixed office-retail developmentat Robinson Road and 99-year leasehold Eon@Shenton Way are expected to be launched soon. Prices for the latter’s commercial, residential and shop units are expected to be priced from $2,700 psf, $2,200 psf and $5,000 psf, respectively.

Oxley Tower units so popular that ballots have to be conducted

Freehold Oxley Tower, a mixed retail-office strata development located at 138 Robinson Road attracted so many buyers for its shop and cafe units that two phases of ballot have to be carried out. Prices range from an average of $6,653 psf for cafes ranging from 398-807 sq ft to an average of $4,820 psf for shops ranging from 118-409 sq ft.  The 56 released office units on levels 5-18 were priced at an average of $3,048 psf. All of its eight cafes and 121 shop units were sold out, while 60% of the 56 office units released had also been sold.The development has a total of 104 office units. The remaining space for a gym or spa and three restaurants will only be soldif prospective buyers express their interest.

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