Just when Singapore's residential property market was reviving after a four-year slump, government moves to curb the exuberance might play spoiler going into the new year. Home prices that are forecast to climb as much as 10 per cent this year could remain flat in 2019 and may decline as much as 3 per cent, estimates from property brokers compiled by Bloomberg News showed. Home sales that lagged behind 2017 levels this year may once again be below that mark in 2019, according to forecasts. The pace of residential property price increases is slowing after the government added measures to cool the market in July. Additional guidelines that limit the number of "shoebox" apartments developers can build, plus anti-money laundering safeguards that restrict builders, are further constrictions. The government said earlier this month it also plans to slow its release of land sales for residential use in the first half of 2019, citing a spike in supply and a cooling in demand.
Housing demand could still fuel 2019 growth in Singapore
The local housing market could still support Singapore's growth in 2019, despite the curbs unveiled this year, bank analysts said this week. Standard Chartered's (StanChart) global chief economist David Mann, who is based here, acknowledged that "there are lots of cross-currents" in the air, from dampeners like an electronics cycle slowdown to upsides like a ramp-up in investment diversions into Asean. Domestic drivers could include "a relatively robust market demand for housing" that supports home prices as inflation grows while lauding shock cooling measures as a cap on "unnecessary speculative froth". Where Singapore is concerned, though, the house hews to the street's view: It expects economic growth to cool to 2.6 per cent in 2019, from an estimated 3.3 per cent this year.
Condominiums and private apartment resale prices strengthened by 0.2 per cent last month from October. This follows a 0.3 per cent drop in October, a figure revised from an earlier estimated decline of 0.4 per cent. Before August, resale prices had an unbroken 12-month run to new highs. Now, year-on-year, they are still up by 8.8 per cent from November 2017, but are down 0.7 per cent from their peak in July when the additional property curbs were announced. Buying activity in the resale market continued to remain lacklustre. An estimated 662 units were resold in November, a 4.6 per cent decline from the 694 units in October. Resale volume compared to a year ago was 55.4 per cent lower than the 1,483 units moved in November 2017.
The rental market for private non-landed property in Singapore picked up in November while it slowed for HDB properties, going by flash data. Rents for condominiums and private apartments in November increased by 0.6 per cent from the previous month. The monthly decline in rents for October was raised to 0.9 per cent from 0.7 per cent estimated earlier. They were unchanged in August. Year on year, private rents are up by 0.3 per cent from November 2017. However, compared to their record high in January 2013, they are down by 19.6 per cent.
Fintech workers helping to prop up private rental market
More hiring in the fast-growing fintech services sector has been holding up the rents for condominiums and private apartments. Rentals for HDB properties, however, slowed last month according to flash data. Rents for private, non-landed homes last month increased by 0.6 per cent from the previous month. Year on year, private home rents were up by 0.3 per cent last month. However, compared with their record high in January 2013, they were down by 19.6 per cent. Although the leasing volume dipped by 11.8 per cent last month from a year ago, the number of units leased for the first 11 months rose 5.9 per cent to 51,757 units from 48,882 units in the same period a year ago. Private rents in the prime or core central region (CCR) rose 1.8 per cent last month from a month ago, while rents in the city fringes or rest of central region (RCR) grew by 0.6 per cent. However, rents in the suburbs or outside central region (OCR) fell by 0.3 per cent. Year on year, RCR and OCR rents have risen 1.2 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively, but CCR rents have dropped by 1.5 per cent.
Condo management has no power to make by-law: Judge
A condominium management corporation took a unit owner to court to pay damages it had based on a condo by-law - but the High Court ruled that the MC did not have the power to make such a by-law in the first place. Striking down the MC's bid to seek some $344,000 from the owner, whose tenant had encroached on common walkway space, the judge said there was no provision under the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act (BMSMA) for the MC to make such a by-law. Instead, the BMSMA provides for the MCs to recover damages arising from breaches of by-laws by applying to the court, said Judicial Commissioner Dedar Singh Gill in judgment grounds.
HDB to launch around 15,000 new flats in 2019
The Housing Board (HDB) will launch about 15,000 new flats in 2019 in neighbourhoods like Sengkang, Jurong West and Kallang/Whampoa. This includes around 2,000 flats with shorter wait times in Tengah, where prospective home owners can expect to collect the keys to their new flats in two to three years from the point of application. "HDB will continue to monitor the housing needs of Singaporeans closely and calibrate our flat supply carefully to provide affordable and quality housing to all," it said
The Singapore wealth management and real estate services company who is buying Landmark Tower is continuing to raise funds to finance its stake in the collective sale. The joint venture had bought the Chin Swee Road site through a joint venture for S$286 million or $1,406 psf ppr, including the lease upgrading premium of S$57 million. The fundraising target is S$55 million by the end of Q1 2019, the company told The Business Times. The condo project will be launch in the second half of 2019, at a "low S$2,000 psf"
En bloc hopefuls cut prices as reality bites
Amid a decidedly quieter collective sale market, some homeowners have become more measured in their expectations as seen by the downward price adjustments at some en bloc potentials. The latest of these is Park View Mansions, which relaunched its tender at a reserve price of S$250 million, or 22 per cent lower than when it first launched earlier this year. In late October, Gilstead Mansion relaunched its en bloc at S$65 million, or S$3 million less than its guide price in June. At Park View Mansions, more than 80 per cent of the owners at the 191,974 sq ft development right by Jurong Lake Gardens consented to the new price, "in view of current market conditions", marketing agent Huttons Asia said in a statement. The new price translates to a land rate of roughly S$969 psf ppr, after taking into account an estimated differential premium and lease upgrading premium of some S$140.8 million. Angela Lim, deputy head of investment sales, told BT that the first time round, there was interest but no bid higher than the reserve price. She said developers had been "closely tracking" Park View Mansions' progress of securing a lower reserve price for the past few months. Terence Lian, head of investment sales for Huttons Asia, said in a statement: "The site presents an excellent redevelopment opportunity for developers as it is located right next to Jurong Lake Gardens. This is a rare piece of land which offers a seamless connection to the gardens and provides a natural environment, hence enhancing the well-being of residents." He also pointed to the Jurong Lake District, slated to be Singapore's second Central Business District. The break-even could be S$1,450 psf according to Huttons' estimate. The tender for Park View Mansions closes at 12pm on Jan 18.
Kampung Admiralty project attracts international attention
Kampung Admiralty, nestled in the Woodlands heartland, buzzes like any HDB community, but has lately become a destination from people from all over the world looking to learn about and photograph this retirement community. Designed by local architecture firm Woha Architects, the village with its own amenities won World Building of the Year at the World Architecture Festival in Amsterdam last month. It beat 535 projects from 57 countries; it also won the Mixed Use Completed Building category in the same competition. The win has since catapulted the development into the spotlight on the world architecture map.