April saw a big pullback in new home launches as developers turned cautious despite relatively resilient sales in March. Only 444 private homes were released for sale in April - the lowest so far this year - down 75 per cent from the previous month's 1,812 units, and 33 per cent less than the 664 units launched a year ago, according to data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. Just three new projects were launched in April compared with 10 in the previous month. In the absence of major launches, developers' sales dropped about 30 per cent to 735 private homes in April, from the 1,054 units they moved a month ago, but almost the same as the 733 units booked in the same month last year. In all, the three new launches accounted for just 3.8 per cent of the 735 units sold last month, with the bulk of sales coming from earlier launches.
Reflecting the weaker sentiment, a total of 2,573 units were sold in the first four months of this year, while 3,433 units were launched. This compares with the 2,360 units that were sold in the same four-month period a year ago, when 1,732 units were launched. It is noted that most buyers remain price sensitive, with the lowest-priced projects in the suburbs or outside central region, such as Parc Botannia, and the lowest-priced projects in the city fringes or rest of central region, such as The Tre Ver, topping the charts. Huttons Real Estate Professional, Kiwi Lim believes that early sales numbers for May indicates that it is likely to break April's level because more than 200 new sales werelodged with URA in the first week of May alone. If the average monthly sales for the rest of 2019 can be maintained at April's level, 2019's sales will be similar to 2018.
Some 8,795 private homes were sold in 2018. Projects which have already started selling in May or are likely to launch this month include Amber Park in East Coast, Olloi Condo at Changi Road, The Woodleigh Residences in Bidadari Estate, The Gazania and The Lilium at How Sun and Parc Komo in Changi.
Singapore condo resale prices up 0.9% in April
Resale prices for non-landed private residential units rose 0.9 per cent in April 2019, for a third straight month-on-month rise, according to flash estimates. For the first four months of the year, non-landed resale prices were up about 2 per cent, according to data from the real estate portal. Year-on-year, resale prices were up 3.6 per cent, with the core central region, rest of central region and outside central region recording increases of 3.1 per cent, 2.4 per cent and 4.5 per cent, respectively. Volume, however, remained "well below" 2018's, with the number of units resold in April falling 48.4 per cent year-on-year to 830 units. However, this was 3.4 per cent higher than March's 803 resale units, and was the highest volume since the latest property cooling measures were implemented in July last year. April's volume was within expectations and was likely below April 2018's numbers due to cooling measures introduced in July 2018. New and upcoming property launches could have also "excited" the resale market and drove the gradual increase in price.
Singapore condo rents up 0.6% in April, HDB rents down 0.1%
Rents for non-landed private homes in Singapore rose 0.6 per cent in April from March, while rents for HDB flats dipped 0.1 per cent. Year on year, rents for condominiums and private apartments rose 2.4 per cent; all regions recorded increases. The core central region (CCR) rose by 2.8 per cent, rest of central region (RCR) by 2.3 per cent and outside central region (OCR) by 2.0 per cent. But as of last month, private home rents were down by 17.2 per cent from their high in January 2013. In another sign of the soft market, the number of leasings dropped by 5 per cent to 4,970 units in April from 5,229 units in March. Year on year, volume was 3.6 per cent lower than the 5,157 units rented out a year ago.
The Housing Board (HDB) has put up an executive condominium site in Canberra Link for sale by public tender. In the announcement on Thursday (May 16), the HDB said that the 16,690 sq m site could potentially house 385 residential units. It has a maximum permissible gross floor area of 38,387 sq m, a maximum building height of 45m to 55m above mean sea level, and has a lease period of 99 years. The site falls under the confirmed list of the first half of the 2019 Government Land Sales Programme. The HDB - the Government's land sales agent, said in its statement that the tender closes at noon on July 3.
70 units at The Woodleigh Residences sold to date
The Woodleigh Residences has sold a total of 70 units following its launch weekend, said codevelopers Japan-based Kajima Development and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). Many of the condominium units sold were two- and three-bedroom units, with prices starting at S$1,733 psf. Three of the units were four-bedroom residences, which achieved a high of S$2,331 psf. Many of the two-bedroom residences were bought by young couples and smaller families, the larger units were purchased by multi-generational families. The developers did not say how many units were released for sale during the launch. In November last year, 50 units of The Woodleigh Residences were released for sale during a soft launch selling around 30 units, achieving an average price of above S$2,000 psf.
Freehold Parc Komo priced at average S$1,450 psf; public preview opens May 18
The property development division of Chip Eng Seng Corporation unveiled its Parc Komo mixed development in Changi. CEL Development said the freehold project is inspired by the Japanese concept of Komorebi, which celebrates the blend of nature and order. It has an average price of about $1,450 psf and occupies a land area of about 202,000 sq ft with 10 five-storey blocks totalling 276 units. There are also two levels consisting of 28 commercial units. Apartment sizes range from 452 sq ft for a one-bedroom apartment to 1,905 sq ft for the largest five-bedroom luxury penthouse. The pricing starts at $663,000 for a one-bedroom unit, $871,000 for a two-bedder and $1,294,000 for a three-bedroom unit.
Condo design for Pearl Bank site unveiled
A beacon comprising two curved towers linked at the roof by sky bridges will replace the Pearl Bank Apartments landmark in Outram. Even as some members of the public come to terms with the loss of the 38-storey horseshoe-shaped block, the new design, with its "clear and simple form", ensures the continuity of a distinct punctuator on Pearl's Hill, said its architect, Dr Christopher Lee, in an interview with The Straits Times. The upcoming structure, which will house 774 residential apartments - almost triple the original 288 units - has a plot ratio of 8:1. The unit types will range from studio apartments to penthouses, from about 430 sq ft to 2,800 sq ft. The 39-storey condominium, to be ready by 2023, will be called One Pearl Bank. It is a 99-year leasehold property.
New HDB rules may hit young buyers more
Some young buyers are already walking away from homes they were hoping to buy, after changes to how much of their Central Provident Fund (CPF) monies can be used to buy ageing Housing Board flats. A real estate agent felt it acutely when three of his clients, all of whom had said they would purchase older HDB flats in Tampines and Jurong West, phoned him to put a brake on completing the deals. The Government said it wanted to put more weight on whether a property's lease can cover buyers into their old age, instead of looking only at how many years are left on the lease. Buyers can now buy flats with less than 60 years left on the lease without any CPF restrictions, as long as the lease lasts them till age 95. They would also be entitled to the maximum HDB loan of 90 per cent of the purchase price or valuation, whichever is lower. On the one hand, this benefits middle-aged buyers by giving them more financing flexibility to buy older flats. But for younger buyers, it could mean paying more cash than before - a luxury young entrants to the workforce may not have. Also, it may be harder for this group to withdraw more from their CPF accounts at age 55 than if they had got a flat that covered them for life.
The latest in a string of East Coast launches, freehold luxury condominium Amber Park sold 115 units at an average S$2,425 psf during its launch weekend. Some 150 units were launched over the weekend, out of the development's 592 units, said City Developments Limited (CDL) and its sister company Hong Realty on Sunday. The units sold - which included a penthouse - covered all apartment types. CDL said about 85 per cent of the buyers were Singaporeans, while the remaining were foreigners mainly from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and others. Early-bird prices start from S$1.088 million for a one-bedroom unit with a study to S$4.98 million for a five-bedroom premium unit. Unit sizes range from 463 sq ft for a one-bedroom plus study apartment to 5,005 sq ft for the largest penthouse, which has six bedrooms plus a study.
Huttons Real Estate's Kiwi Lim believes the good sales results indicates healthy demand for well-located projects that are exceptionally designed. As a freehold project in District 15 located so close to an MRT station, Amber Park draws buyers looking for projects with good investment value. Other upcoming launches nearby include UOL's and Kheng Leong's MeyerHouse (the former Nanak Mansions) on Meyer Road, Bukit Sembawang Estates' former Katong Park Towers site, and GuocoLand's former Casa Meyfort on Meyer Road.
Rules on HDB housing loans, CPF usage updated
Buyers can now use more from their Central Provident Fund (CPF) and get bigger Housing Board loans for ageing flats, so long as the property's remaining lease covers the youngest buyer till the age of 95. The changes, announced by the ministries of Manpower and National Development, mark a shift in how the Government regulates CPF usage and disburses public housing loans. Instead of looking only at a flat's remaining lease, the focus is on whether a property can last its home owner for life. But restrictions will still be in place to ensure buyers have sufficient funds for retirement: HDB flats must have at least 20 years left on their leases - down from 30 years - for CPF monies to be used for the purchase. HDB flats are sold with 99-year leases.
Also, CPF members aged 55 and older must have properties with leases that cover them till age 95, before they can withdraw their CPF savings in excess of the Basic Retirement Sum. This effectively means their property must have a remaining lease of at least 40 years, up from the old requirement of 30 years. MND said most buyers will not be affected by the changes, as 98 per cent of HDB households and 99 per cent of private property families have a home that will cover them to age 95. But older buyers can now buy ageing flats and face less restrictions on CPF usage. On the other hand, younger buyers who buy older flats have to be prepared to fork out more cash. For example, a couple both aged 25 who buy a flat with 65 years of lease remaining can use their CPF to pay only 90 per cent of the valuation limit, down from 100 per cent. They would also be entitled to a smaller loan limit of 81 per cent, compared with 90 per cent.
Younger HDB buyers likely to be more prudent
Younger people may not be able to get as much in Central Provident Fund (CPF) monies or Housing Board loans to buy ageing flats, but they still benefit from policy changes announced yesterday, observers said. Most home buyers will not be affected by the new rules. But younger buyers who buy ageing flats must now be prepared to fork out cash and get smaller HDB loans. Huttons Real Estate's Kiwi Lim says the changes are likely to nudge younger buyers to go for Build-to-Order (BTO) flats or newer resale flats because under the changes, those who buy homes that do not cover them for life cannot withdraw more than $5,000 when they turn 55, unless they have saved up to the Full Retirement Sum (FRS). They can still withdraw 20 per cent of their Retirement Account savings when they hit their payout eligibility age. Previously, they could withdraw any savings in excess of their Basic Retirement Sum, which is half that of the FRS.
More HDB resale flats sold in April
The volume of Housing Board (HDB) resale flats rose by 16.5 per cent last month, while prices eased slightly. According to flash estimates, 1,931 resale flats were sold last month, up from 1,657 transactions the month before. Last month's volume also marked a 4.3 per cent increase compared with April last year. The increase in sales is within expectation, as there are many flats reaching their five-year minimum occupation period this year, making them eligible for resale. The increase could also be caused by a seasonal effect, as housing activities usually ramp up from the second quarter of the year. The flash estimate also showed a 0.4 per cent dip in last month's resale prices, compared with March. This was a 0.6 per cent slide down from April last year and a 14 per cent drop from the peak in April 2013. Mature estates recorded a year-on-year price decrease of 1.4 per cent, while prices for non-mature estates remained stagnant. When compared with figures from March, mature estates saw a 0.7 per cent drop in prices, while non-mature estates had a price decrease of 0.1 per cent. The price dip in mature estates could also be attributed to a general price weakness of older flats in such estates.