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With best wishes from the wife and I ...

- December 31, 2014 1 Comment

Our final review for 2014....or so we thought!

- December 30, 2014 3 Comments

The wife and I did say that we will do one final review before the end of this year. Although there were several suggestions made on which project we should see, we decided to go with our own preference (sorry guys) and headed to Sophia Hills @Mount Sophia yesterday afternoon.

Sophia Hills @Mount Sophia is a 99-year leasehold project jointly developed by Hoi Hup Realty and Sunway Developments. The luxurious project sits at the top of Mount Sophia and will consist of 493 residential units. There are currently 3 conserved buildings on-site and these will be restored into a clubhouse, restaurant and a kindergarten cum childcare centre. 

When we arrive at the project site at Adis Road, the wife and I were greeted with "Launching Soon" banner (uh oh) in front of one of the conservation building mentioned.

The wife and I had made the mistaken assumption that the project was launched when it obviously has not. But rather than beating a retreat and head on to another showflat, we decided to explore the area surrounding Sophia Hills @Mount Sophia instead - an area that we must admit to not being familiar with.

The first thing that struck us was the size of the Sophia Hills site. The 250,000+sqft land parcel forms an almost a semi-circle shape around Adis Road and the adjoining Mount Sophia. 

The wife and I decided to drive around the outer perimeters of the site and recorded what we saw at various stops along the way. 
Stop #1
The conservation building at the intersection of Adis Road and Sophia Road, which used to house the former Nan Hwa Girls' School, will be home to the kindergarten and childcare centre that comes with the project.

Stop #2
As we drive up Adis Road and after passing two other small condos adjacent to the project, we got a glimpse of the site behind those hoard boards. The yellow building with red roof - atop the small hill - Olson Building - is one of the remaining buildings of the old Methodist Girls' School, which used to be sited here until 1992. 

Stop #3
We arrived at the end of Adis Road where it joins with Mount Sophia. Directly opposite to Sophia Hills is The Cathay Residences and adjoining Cathay Building.

This is also where the famous "100 steps" is supposedly located - the flight of stairs links Mount Sophia to Handy Road, located 100 feet below. The wife and I did not manage to see those stairs though.

Stop #4
The wife and I came to a lone building on the opposite side of the road from Sophia Hills that currently houses a pre-school. It was only later that we realized that this is THE iconic 120-year old "House On The Hill".

Stop #5
We drove away from the House On The Hill and down Mount Sophia - a quiet and serene stretch of road lined with trees. This is when we saw picture boards with information about the 3 conservation buildings. 

Other than Nan Hwa and MGS, the Sophia Hills site also used to house the Trinity Theloogical College Chapel.

Stop #6
We finally arrived at what will be the main entrance and driveway of Sophia Hills. This is also where the sales gallery and showflats will be located... once the project is launched. 

The white "pointy" building on the right of the photo is the Trinity Theloogical College Chapel, which will be converted into a fine dining restaurant. We can also see Olson Building (again), which was named after one of MGS' school principal, on the left. The building will become the clubhouse of Sophia Hills.

As we reached the base of Mount Sophia that joins to Sophia Road, the wife and I cannot help but be amazed by the amount of history that adorn the Sophia Hills site and its surrounding. We are now fans of the Mount Sophia area definitely looking forward to the project launch and hopefully the next time we come by, the sales gallery and showflats of Sophia Hills will be ready for viewing...

And as far as review is concerned, this is unfortunately the best that we can do for the final hurrah of 2014 (as the family will be off for a short getaway from later today). But the wife and I do look forward to bringing you more of our project reviews come 2015!

Resale price fell marginally in November: SRPI

- December 29, 2014 No Comments

Resale prices of private homes dipped slightly last month, according to Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI) flash estimates, which were released on Monday (Dec 29).
The SRPI, compiled by the National University of Singapore's Institute of Real Estate Studies, showed overall prices decreased 0.3% in November from the previous month. In October, overall prices rose 0.4% from a month earlier - up 0.1 percentage point from that month's flash estimates.
Prices of homes in the central region, excluding small units, fell 0.5%, and prices of homes in the non-central region, excluding small units, stayed level in November from October.
Prices of small units, which have a floor area of 506sqft or below, fell the most at 1.9% on-month.
Source: CNA
The latest SRPI estimates certainly do not bode well for shoebox apartments. This comes immediately after a news report by CNA yesterday saying that rentals of shoebox units could fall by five to ten per cent in the coming years due to an expected increase in supply.
About 6,200 shoebox units will be completed in the next two years. Property consultant SLP International said this is a record number - compared to the 3,000 units on average per year for the last decade.
SLP said shoebox units within the city centre or near MRT stations would command better rentals compared to others.
Nicholas Mak, executive director of research & consultancy at SLP International, said: "Those shoebox developments that are located away from the city or MRT stations, I think they will not be doing very well in terms of their rental demand.
"And furthermore, if they are located within the suburban areas where typically family units are in more demand, such developments may actually languish in the rental market."

Introducing ... SG PropCare!

- December 28, 2014 No Comments

Remember those "now who do I call to fix this" moments when the electricity in your house suddenly died for no apparent reason or when that burst water pipe turned your bathroom into a mini wadding pool?

The wife and I certainly had our fair share of those misadventures. If only we had some "fixers" whom we could rely upon then ... better yet if they do not charge an arm and leg!

Hence, the wife and I have embarked on SG PropCare - a forum to collate and share a list of reliable, efficient and value-for-money contractors, handyman and other home-related service providers. And instead of your typical "advertised" site, recommendations will be made by our readers for our readers. And through such peer-to-peer sharing and review, we believe that recommendations are more likely to be "trial and tested", current and relevant.

To reduce the possibility of "phantom recommendations and reviews" (we probably cannot eliminate these entirely), access to SG PropCare will strictly be for registered users only. Lest you worry, registration is a fairly simple process and do not require you to provide us with your life history... or credit card details for that matter.

And to kick things off, the wife and I will (over the course of the next few days) share some of our known contacts that we have enjoyed working with. And in return, we seek your support to add to the list and also give us with your feedback on the services provided by the companies listed.

The only way to make SG PropCare become the useful resource that we envisioned is through your participation. And together we can make SG PropCare the go-to place for all our fix-it needs!

You can access SG PropCare forum by selecting the option in our Main Menu or by clicking on the link below

Photos we took around the site of 70 Saint Patrick's (Updated)

- December 27, 2014 5 Comments

The wife and I happened to be in the Marine Parade vicinity this afternoon and decided to check out the actual site of 70 Saint Patrick's.

Construction of the project is already in full swing. There are two access points into the development - one from East Coast Road and the other from Telok Kurau Road. 

St. Patrick's Road (where the project takes its address) is a rather narrow stretch of road and lined with private homes on either side. So street parking along this stretch of road is almost impossible.

Swinging across to Marine Parade Road, it suddenly dawned on us that the frontage of 70 Saint Patrick's along this stretch of road is not as wide as we had originally imagined. The project definitely looked "sandwiched" between St. Patrick's Residences to its left and Grand Duchess at St. Patrick's on its right.

While the wife and I had mentioned in our review that quite a number of units between adjacent blocks in 70 Saint Patrick's looked too close for comfort with each other, reality bites when we actually get to see the distance between the two blocks (Blocks 86 and 88) facing Marine Parade Road. 

And speaking of Marine Parade Road, one question came to mind: how does one walk from 70 Saint Patrick's to the upcoming Marine Terrace MRT station located across from Marine Parade Road? 

The wife and I were told (during our visit to the sales gallery) that the developer cannot commit to a "side-gate" access from the development to the MRT station, as this is subjected to approval by the relevant government authorities. Failing which, residents will have to walk the full length of the external perimeter of the estate (i.e. the distance  between St. Patrick's Road and Marine Parade Road) to get to the station. 

But from what we can observe at the site, it is impossible to walk the external perimeter as the development is built right to the edge of St. Patrick Residences on one side and Grand Duchess at St. Patrick's on the other. So if there is no side-gate access from within the development to get to Marine Parade Road, residents will probably have to circle around Telok Kurau Road to reach the MRT station by foot - quite a workout even by fitness buff's standard. 

One possible solution is to incorporate some sort of pedestrian access via the maintenance gate, which leads to the maintenance shed. This makes the most sense to us, as the maintenance gate is already in the building plans, which we take it to mean that it is approved by the authorities.

Click on link below to read our previous review of 70 Saint Patrick's:

Update  (29 Dec 2014):
One of our readers has mentioned that a foot-path actually exist at the end of Jalan Tenggiri (refer to map above), which will enable future residents of Seventy Saint Patrick's to walk a much shorter distance to Marine Parade Road rather than having to circle around Telok Kurau Road.

The wife and I were rather perturbed that we missed the foot-path during our last site visit. So for the sake of correctness, we headed down to the site again to check out the foot-path for ourselves.

No foot-path was visible from the intersection of St. Patrick's Road and Jalan Tenggiri. All we could see was a landed home at the end of the road.

But as we drive towards the end of Jalan Tenggiri, we noticed the said narrow path on the left of the landed property and next to a storm-drain.

The foot-path leads to the bus-stop and overhead bridge on the same side of Marine Parade Road where Seventy Saint Patrick's resides. 

So yes, our reader was indeed right and the wife and I do have to apologize for our earlier omission. This is probably the same path that marketing agents were referring to all along (although it is technically not along the perimeter of the development itself).

Based on our estimates, it will probably take between 10 - 15 minutes to walk from the main entrance of Seventy Saints Patrick's to Marine Parade Road via this foot-path. And having an umbrella handy (especially during this time of the year) is advisable, given that you be subjected to the weather elements throughout the walk.

Mixed-use developments in Singapore - A JLL report

- December 26, 2014 No Comments

Below is the latest report by JLL on mixed-use developments in Singapore, which is fast becoming a staple in the CDB area.

While the wife and I can appreciate why the concept of living inside the CBD is gaining popularity especially amongst the single working adults (think convenience), we aren't too crazy about the idea ourselves (think crowd)... not that we can afford it anyway! 

Season greetings from The Folks!

- December 24, 2014 3 Comments

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Short-term jitters in London real estate after tax changes

- December 23, 2014 1 Comment

The changes in London's property taxes - both the recent stamp duty reforms and a new capital gains tax for foreigners - may give investors from Singapore pause for thought before buying in the property safe haven.
But some believe that growing jitters leading up to the UK general elections next May could be the best opportunity for Asian buyers to drive a harder bargain, taking advantage of the slower market and a general feeling of caution.
The real estate market is already experiencing disruption and uncertainty, but this is likely a short-term transition period and, ultimately, will have a "very, very small impact" on buying, as the fundamental attractiveness of London real estate remains, analysts say.
The main downside is that the taxation of UK-held property has become more complex, so "international investors unfamiliar with UK tax rules will inevitably incur greater costs associated with compliance, or they risk failing to comply with rules through ignorance," says Mark Pollack, director of property agency Aston Chase.
Camilla Dell, managing partner of Black Brick Property, a buying agency, however, says: "We love nervous markets as it gives us the ability to negotiate more strongly on our clients' behalf."
Our view is that the next five months present perfect buying conditions for buyers that are willing to take the plunge," she said. "They could be rewarded handsomely, as the longer-term forecasts over the next five years are for 20-25% growth across central London."
The market has had about a year now to adjust to a capital gains tax that will be levied on non-UK residents when they sell a UK property that they are not staying in, starting April 2015.
Many see it as a long overdue closure to a "tax loophole", given that UK residents have always had to pay capital gains tax on their second homes, but foreigners were exempted from any.
"Most of our overseas clients have always thought it a bit odd . . . Most investors expect to pay some tax when they make a gain in another country," says Ms Dell.
There is no doubt many international property investors have been attracted to the absence of such a tax and exploited that. But even with the tax in place next year, it remains cheaper than other hot-favorite jurisdictions for property investors.
At 28% of capital gains, it remains lower than equivalent taxes in New York, Paris and Australia which can approach 35 - 50%, depending on various factors.
Adam Challis, JLL head of residential research in London, says what is perhaps more damaging is the uncertainty surrounding valuations. The tax will only be levied on gains made from April 2015 and not on any previous gains, but he asks how all of these properties are going to be valued at the same time.
"What we don't know is how they will be valued and measured, who will be responsible for the cost of managing a current valuation, and some of the impact on specific types of ownership," he said.
"Details for investors are very important for transparency. And there are a number of details that we believe the government still needs to work out and have not done. The lack of clarity around some of these issues is why we are having short-term uncertainty," Mr Challis added.
For now, values in most parts of central London remain strong and are expected to grow 5-6% over the medium term, but he has seen the jitters quell property transaction volumes, especially at the top end of the market.
That uncertainty is also partly driven by the ambiguous and widely criticized mansion tax which the Labour Party had proposed to be imposed annually on homes valued at more than £2 million - provided, of course, that it wins the general elections next May.
But the Conservative Party, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, had in early December announced and effected its own version of the mansion tax - in the chancellor's words: " . . . in stark contrast to the shambles of the anti-aspirational, unworkable homes tax that the Labour party wants to impose."
Basically, the old "slab system" where stamp duties are charged at a single rate on the whole purchase price of a home has been abolished and given way to a fairer, graduated system where each rate will only apply to the part of a property price which falls in that band, like income tax.
For purchases of £937,000 and below, buyers will enjoy savings in stamp duty under the reformed system. This is good news for Asian buyers, most of whom don't buy above £1 million, analysts say.
"Buyers from Asia tend to go for properties in the range of £500,000 - 900,000, for which there will be a modest lowering of transaction costs. As a result, the expectation is a modest boost for mainstream activity," JLL's Mr Challis says.
Asians make up between a third to 40% of property investors in the UK by various estimates. But that percentage dwindles as one approaches the higher end of the market, which is crowded with buyers from Europe, the Middle East and Russia.
The reformed stamp duty rises incrementally to as much as 12% for the portion above £1.5 million, which means a £2 million property will incur £154,000 stamp duty, compared with £100,000 before. Analysts thus expect the prime market to be badly hit, although Black Brick's Ms Dell points out "that buyer profile group is quite frankly able to absorb the slightly higher taxes".
In comparison, Hong Kong's stamp duty reaches 8.5% at the top end of the market, while Singapore's hits 15% for foreigners, and 7% and 10% respectively for citizens and permanent residents buying a second home.
Analysts think the prime central London residential market will stall until these luxury homes are re-priced to take into account the higher stamp duty. Mr Pollack says: "It's inevitable that this will cause many deals to fall through and for aggressive and desperate re-negotiations to happen."
Meanwhile, there is no guarantee that the Labour Party will drop the idea of a mansion tax over and above the stamp duty changes if it wins, even though an add-on tax now seems senseless and unnecessary.
If it does, Aston Chase's Mr Pollack says, it would result in "a huge backlash from both the domestic and investor markets" and would shave 30% off existing capital values.
It is amid this uncertainty that the high-end market now functions, but therein lies the opportunity for Asian buyers who have been mulling and hesitating about accessing the London property market.
"If buyers sit and wait until after May 2015, they may be disappointed. If you look back historically everytime we have had a general election in the UK, once the election has happened, the market bounces back. So if the Conservatives win, we believe the market will very quickly return to normal, with no threat of a mansion tax, and the opportunity will have been lost," Ms Dell says.

Source: BT

Here's one from the road...literally!

- December 22, 2014 No Comments

The wife and I were traveling along Mountbatten Road and decided to snap this photo while waiting at traffic. It actually turned out quite nicely (for a rush job), what with the little patch of sunlight shining down The Shore - a Far East project that recently TOP.

The Mountbatten area has undergone a drastic transformation over the past few years. It is virtually unrecognizable to those of us who still remember the days of Rose Garden (where The Shore is currently sited).

London home-price drop deepens as rules limit buyers

- December 19, 2014 No Comments

Sue Munden bought her five-bedroom house in the southwest London district of Streatham in November after negotiating the price down to 610,000 pounds, about 100,000 pounds less than a similar home on the street sold for in April.

“I did look earlier in the year, but I wasn’t able to have an offer accepted at a level I was comfortable with,” said Munden, who was surprised to get the property for 90,000 pounds ($141,000) less than the offer price. “I thought house prices were too high.”

The drop in prices is spreading through London as the Bank of England's restrictions on mortgage lending limit some borrowing. Values fell or were unchanged in 18% of the city’s postal-code districts in the three months through October, double the percentage of the previous quarter, according to data compiled by property researcher Hometrack Ltd.

“There’s nothing natural about this slowdown,” said Rob Wood, an economist at Berenberg Bank in London. “It’s been induced by what the Bank of England has done and what the government has done.” Soaring house prices “would have been dangerous, so absolutely they needed to take action and it’s really good news that it seems to have worked,” he said.

The BOE imposed limits on high loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages after the government said in June it would give it the authority to do so. The Financial Conduct Authority, an independent organization that works with the U.K. Treasury, in April introduced stricter affordability checks on buyers and required banks to verify a borrower’s income. It also reined in interest-only loans.
Prices in London are down as much as 10% from a peak in the Spring, said Jeffrey Doble, chief executive officer of Thamesview Estate Agents Ltd. The company operates 60 offices in London through brands including Dexters.

Values in the city had surged by almost 80% since the last trough in March 2009, according to the Office for National Statistics office.

The central bank and the FCA enacted the lending controls to stem rising household debt, which BOE Governor Mark Carney has called the biggest threat to the U.K.’s economic recovery. Borrowing, including mortgages, stands at about 145% of gross disposable income.

Even with the bank’s new rules in place, the value of U.K. mortgage borrowing is expected to rise by 5 billion pounds to 120 billion next year, the Council of Mortgage Lenders said on Dec. 16. The household debt-to-income ratio will start to increase across the U.K. next year after falling since 2008, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility. Combined with rising consumer spending, the measure will exceed 180% by 2020, the OBR said Dec. 3.


High loan-to-value lending, with down payments of 15% or less, in Britain fell more than 30% from September through November, property appraiser e.surv said this month. Mortgage loans by volume rose by less in London than in any other U.K. region in the past year, the CML said in a report today.

The lending restrictions are hitting property values in the capital harder than in the rest of the country. The London house-price index fell 1.9% in October from its peak in August, according to the statistics office. That’s almost twice the decline in the U.K., the data show.

Sales, offers, listings and viewings in London were lower than expected in November, Jeremy Leaf of broker Jeremy Leaf & Co. wrote in a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors poll published Dec. 11.

“Prices went up too far and too fast earlier in the year, so realism has returned,” he said.

An index measuring new buyers interested in London homes was negative for the seventh consecutive month in November, the longest streak in six years, according to the RICS survey.

The biggest price declines in London are in the central, southwest and west districts, said Richard Donnell, director of research at Hometrack, which measures price changes by postal code. Those districts are traditionally the more affluent parts of the city.

Foxtons Group Plc, the residential property broker focused on the U.K. capital and southeast England, fell as much as 6.9% in London trading. The stock has declined about 54% this year.

Values fell 0.5% in southwest London and 1.1% in Fulham in October from a month earlier, according to broker Knight Frank LLP. Prices in Kensington and Chelsea, the U.K.’s most expensive borough, declined by 2.5% in the month to an average of 1.28 million pounds, according to the Land Registry.
Doble of Thamesview said the declines are a pause in a housing market that’s still fundamentally positive.

“Demand is strong, supply weak and therefore in the medium term prices will rise,” he said. “The best time to buy is when the market is catching its breath as it is right now.”

Asking prices in the capital dropped 5.1% from November and are forecast to rise by 1% to 3% next year, property website Rightmove Plc said Dec. 15.

Munden said the discount she secured on her home in Streatham will shield her in case values continue to fall.

“I felt it was good value for money which would protect me from any potential weakening in London house prices,” she said.
Source: Bloomberg

A single (standard) private residential market price index?

- December 18, 2014 No Comments

There was an interesting article in the ST Forum today, where a call was made to adopt a single private property index with data that is complete, transparent, accurate and consistent. This is in view of the recent improvement announced for the HDB resale price index.

The wife and I agree with the views of the some extent. Yes, upgrading to a condominium is the "Singapore dream" of many Singaporeans. And yes, it is probably the most expensive item purchased in their lives. As such, potential buyers should make the most informed decisions before they put money on that private property. And there are definitely data on private property transactions published and reported regularly (with some available monthly) in Singapore. But is it really a good thing to adopt a single "standard" index for the private residential property market?

The wife and I must admit that we are not absolutely familiar with the mechanics of the various indexes that were mentioned in the article. But based on our limited understanding, there are notable differences in terms of how each of the index is derived.

The Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI) complied by NUS, for example, is a transactions-based index that tracks the month-on-month price movements of private non-landed residential properties in Singapore. The index published is in the form of value-weighted indexes. The SRX Property Index (SPI), on the other hand, supposedly calculate price changes that take into account unique Singaporean factors such as the property's distance to a top primary school or an MRT station, in addition to standard index factors like location, age of property, size, floor levels and land tenure.

The URA non-landed residential property price index (PPI) are complied on a quarterly basis while the SRPI and SPI are derived monthly.

And the SRPI certainly did not claim to be more accurate than the others - they have stated in no unclear terms to being a complement to existing property information.

So yes, there are quite a few indexes for prospective buyers to refer... if they choose to. And yes, it can be confusing at times. But is it really a bad thing?

The wife and I believe that with more available sources, more in terms of knowledge/understanding can be gained from the data provided. We cannot comment on the conflicting price signals that the different indexes supposedly conveyed during the period of 2008 till now, as we do not track these closely. But if one index says that the private property market is up while another claims that it is down, it does set us thinking about why this is so and prompt us to find out the reason for such discrepancy. Having said that, we reckon that the indexes are likely to point the same way in most cases, albeit not in similar degree. And if we realize that most of the property indexes are generally pointing towards a downward trend (as per what is happening now), we can safely assume that the market is down and be guided accordingly.

But what if one index said that the market is down 1% this month while another calculated it to be 0.8%? The wife and I have never been too bothered by such differences. The actual index numbers do not typically feature in our calculation proper when we decide to buy - what the numbers mean (at least to us) is that the more it is down, the higher the probability that we can "press" the seller for a lower price. We deem it more important to research on actual transacted prices (e.g. caveats lodged with URA) and what the current asking prices are (e.g. adverts in property sites) to derive at our "ideal" price.

One other point that we do agree with is that lodging of caveats with the Singapore Land Authority should be made compulsory rather than voluntary. But with regard to the so-called "inflated prices"  due to stamp duty/cash rebates that are offered by developers and not captured in the data, which in turn served as a biased reference for valuation of similar properties and resulting in the risk of buyers taking bigger housing loans and servicing mortgages that are higher than the actual market values of their properties, the wife and I did an off-the-envelope calculation and reckon that these "incentives" are minuscule compared to the actual price of the property. So the question of how big an "inflation effect" these will have on property valuation remains.  

While the wife and I can certainly appreciate the good intention of the writer, we do not quite concur with her notion to adopt a single index for tracking the private residential market. And besides, Singapore is just one of many countries (USA, UK...just to name two) in the world where different organizations compile and distribute their own set of private home market index. 

So instead of focusing on the negatives of having different price indexes, we should all take better ownership over our decisions (not merely being spoon-fed) and do the necessary homework based on the diversity of data that's available out there. This is especially if it concerns one of the most important decisions in our lives...

But given that the wife and I are no experts, the above are just our humble opinions. And we be more than happy to agree to disagree as always...


Looking for the Bijou showflat?

- December 17, 2014 2 Comments

While traveling along West Coast Road this morning, the wife and I came across the sales gallery of Bijou - a 120-unit freehold project by Far East Organization. 

For those who are interested in this project, the gallery is built on an empty plot at the intersection between West Coast Road and West Coast Link. If this still does not ring a bell, the gallery is diagonally across the road from the McDonald's at West Coast Park (better?).

However, the actual site of Bijou is actually in Pasir Panjang. So do not think that you will be living across from West Coast Park or your kids can have their "Happy Meal" every day at the McDonald's across the road when you have buy into Bijou. Consolation is that you will be living right across from the Pasir Panjang MRT station.

Nov new private home sales figure lowest in 2014, but solid rebound with EC sales

- December 15, 2014 No Comments

Developers sold 412 new units (excluding ECs) in November, down from the 785 units sold in October. This is despite an increase in the number of units launched – 859 units compared with the 676 units launched in October. 

The November sales figure for pure private properties is also the lowest for 2014.

Only two new private condominium developments - 493-unit Sophia Hills located at Mount Sophia, and the 250-unit TRE Residences in Geylang - were launched in November. Altogether, the two projects saw just 61 units sold.

Looking ahead, property watchers said developers are unlikely to offer discounts on projects due to the high cost of land they paid for.

"Over the next few months, a lot of the projects that will come on stream would have been derived from Government Land Sales sites in the second half of 2013 and the first half of 2014. On average, although prices would have come off, there are pockets where the GLS sites went to the highest bidder at a relatively high price, which means that developers may not have much room to lower prices," said Mr Alan Cheong, senior director of research and consultancy at Savills Singapore.

But developers may turn to other strategies to keep properties affordable for buyers. Mr Lim Yong Hock, key executive officer of PropNex Realty, said: "One of the ways is to actually trim the sizes of the units, so that the quantum can be much more affordable. Some of the sizes could even range from 300 over square feet upwards. And that could come up to a very affordable pricing of below $500,000."

But there were positive news in the Executive Condominiums (ECs) front, as sales rose sharply in November.

A total of 1,758 ECs were launched last month, with 855 units sold. This marked a significant turnaround from October, when 90 ECs were sold with no new units launched.

EC projects were also best-sellers in November. Topping the list was Lake Life EC in Jurong. Its developer sold 533 of the total 546 units at a median price of $869 psf. Lake Life is the first EC project in Jurong in 17 years.

Buyers also picked up units from other new EC developments. Bellewaters in Punggol saw 170 units sold - at a median price of $813 psf. The same developer cleared 79 units at Bellewoods in Woodlands at a median price of $800 psf.

Property observers said the brisk EC sales are expected due to a pent-up demand in the market following a halt in new launches recently.

Ms Chia Siew Chuin, director of research and advisory at Colliers' International, said: "It is also an indication of buyers' price sensitivity amid a tightened credit environment, as eligible home-buyers deciding between private homes and ECs may go for the latter due to the relatively lower price quantum and housing grants available for the public-private housing hybrid."

As the year draws to a close, observers expect Dec to be a quiet month, due to the year-end festive and holiday period. Overall, property experts say 2014 is likely to end with less than 8,000 units sold - about half the number (14,948) sold in 2013.
Info source: CNA

If Mr Lim @PropNex is right, then one can expect little in terms of price drop for new private homes next year. But as a consolation, one may still be able to afford a new home due to "affordable" quantum by virtue of the fact that developers will continue to build smaller and smaller homes. So what if the per square feet price remains sky-high?

And as long as "there are some who like to slap and others that enjoy being slapped", the property market will continue chugging albeit at a slower pace...

Home prices to fall or stabilise next year: Poll showed

- No Comments

Most people think the once-soaring property market here has been reined in, according to a recent poll.

Almost three-quarters expect residential prices to stay the same or fall in the next six months, based on the survey by real estate firm ERA Realty and research firm Nexus Link.

Almost four in 10 expect residential property prices to fall in the next six months, while another one-third of respondents expect prices to stay the same.

Only a quarter think prices might rise, with younger people and four-room flat owners most likely to think so.

Despite this cool sentiment, ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim said: "We do not see the results as negative." The impact of government cooling measures is being felt, but these aim to stabilise prices rather than cause a huge drop, he added.

Property prices had been on the rise since 2009, but started falling in the second half of last year for public flats, and at the start of this year for private units.

In this cooling market, 38.5% of respondents think prices will fall in the next six months. Another 35.6% think they will stay the same.

Expectations are similar for the longer term, with 33.8% and 39.7% expecting prices to be lower or the same in a year's time, respectively.

The 21-to-34 age group was the only one where more people expected higher prices.

Younger buyers might be less aware of market dynamics as they have limited investment experience, said R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng.

Similarly, four-room flat owners were the only group where more people thought that prices would rise rather than fall.

The face-to-face poll was conducted from late September till late October with a representative sample of 500 citizens and permanent residents.

Respondents were also asked about their awareness of property cooling measures. Seven in 10 knew at least one, but less than a fifth were aware of all six.

Two loan curbs were the least known: total debt servicing ratio and the mortgage servicing ratio.

These limit a borrower's total debt and the share of income that can be used to service a home loan, respectively.

The apparent ignorance of these measures could simply be an issue of not recognising the terms, said Mr Colin Tan, Suntec Real Estate Consultants director of research and consultancy. "Most people know and understand banks don't lend as much (now)."
Source: ST

Funnily enough, the wife and I counted SEVEN cooling measures if we are to treat TDSR and MSR as separate:

1. Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR)
2. Mortgage Servicing Ratio (MSR)
3. Loan Tenure Limit
4. Loan-to-value (LTV) Limits
5. Minimum cash downpayment
6. Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD)
7. Seller Stamp Duty (SSD)

And we are not at all surprised that more people expect home prices to fall next year. But the pertinent question is "by how much" - this was apparently not addressed by the poll.

So for the sake of completeness:

survey solutions