After four straight quarters of higher private residential prices, the Singapore government introduced cooling measures in July 2018 to curtail the exuberance of the market and allow prices to grow at a sustainable rate. Suddenly, new guidelines were announced in October to reduce the maximum number of units allowed in new private housing projects in the heartlands with the intention to lessen the cumulative effect new developments could pose to local infrastructure, as well as encourage developers to provide a more balanced mix of unit sizes. New guidelines to limit the size of balconies, as well as a bonus allowance for indoor communal spaces, were also announced shortly after. These will come into effect on Jan 17.
There have been some aftershocks but it is still a little too early to determine the full effects these have had on the private residential property market going forward. Meanwhile, experts have been surprised by the severity of the new property curbs, with reactions ranging from regulations being described as “a sledgehammer to kill a fly”, to concerns about a sales momentum freefall and subdued sales volumes for the months ahead. How will private property fare and what else can we expect in the near future?
Experts believe that home designs must make strata space feel more spacious despite the smaller unit areas. To achieve this, add features such as higher ceilings, corner windows, full-height window openings, open kitchens and high rise planters. Certain functions such as storage, a laundry/dryer, and parts of the kitchen and study room can also be transferred out of apartments into communal amenities to make more room. This is especially relevant for smaller units, as tenants, singles and young people are more predisposed towards co-living and do not mind sharing such amenities.
Per square foot prices may be slightly lower but the quantum may be higher due to bigger sizes
Factors that may affect property purchases are...
● Higher additional buyer’s stamp duty
● Tighter loan-to-value limits on residential property purchases
● Stock market turbulence
● Changing interest rates
● The fall-out from the trade war between the United States and China
These factors will affect property purchases, but after a while buyers will accept them as the new normal as Singapore face a tight land constraint. Developers will probably bid less for land at the moment due to the above factors and home owners may enjoy slightly lower per square foot price.
Faced with the uncertainty of the continuing uptrend in housing interest rates, we are likely to see more borrowers opting for fixed rate packages to lock in the lower rates now and hedge against future interest rate hikes of up to 2.5% for residential home loan interest by the end of 2019.
Experts believe Singapore's domestic drivers could include “a relatively robust market demand for housing” that supports home prices as inflation grows boosted by a ramp-up in billions of investment diversions into Asean from global capital flows. The government's timely shock cooling measures put a cap on “unnecessary speculative froth” for the Singapore property market.
Singapore could see gross domestic product (GDP) growth of as much as 3 per cent in 2019 due to improving Singapore labour market leading to decent wage growth in 2019 and in turn result in higher inflationary pressure, particularly in the services sector.
The US-China trade war is seeing increasing trade and investment flows shifting to Asean allowing Singapore to reap gains from its indirect role in regional value chains.