Are There Still Good Property Deals in the Singapore Market?

I consider myself as someone who is sensitive to what’s going on in the property market.

This is part of my job – I am highly tuned to how property prices move.

More importantly, I try to figure out how property prices are linked with the behavior of the developers themselves.

If you look at the overall property market, it seems that prices have not really come down.

All seems to be trending upwards across all 3 segments whether they are resale, subsale or new launches.

On the surface, it seems what everybody is saying is true. Prices are going up and up in the private property market.

However, I think it does not really match what is happening on the ground.

On the ground there are many questions being raised based on my conversations with agents, buyers and sellers.

So I decided to dig one layer deeper.

I did some research on the recent PSF launch prices of various new launch developments.

Have you heard of The Atelier, a new launch freehold condo located in the Core Central Region (CCR)?

It is now currently sold out.

Did you know why it was fully sold out?

It was because the last few remaining units were sold at a new psf-price low of $2494.

Essentially, buyers were able to pick up a CCR new launch condo unit – that was sold at RCR prices.

As you can see, units at The Atelier were snapped up at $2.5K to $2.6K PSF.

Now, let’s compare these prices to Terra Hill – another freehold new launch condo but located in the RCR region.

Here is another new FH new launch condo to compare to, The Continuum located at District 15, another RCR region.

If you understand the “desirability” ranking of condo locations, CCR is the most desirable location, followed by RCR location. And finally OCR location is ranked last.

Essentially CCR is the gold medal, RCR is the silver medal and OCR is the bronze medal.

So in this case, you can see the RCR FH condo developments like Terra Hill and Continuum are being transacted at prices that is about the same as the CCR condo The Atelier.

This means the buyers of the Atelier essentially got a great deal.

I won’t say that Terra Hill and The Continuum are overpriced – these developments have their own reasons why they are asking at such prices.

The point I am trying to make is this:

Why did the developers for The Atelier condo release such a promotion to fully sell out their units?

The answer is:

While ABSD concerns might be a reason for The Atelier to give out promo prices, this is also a reminder on how the developers are reading the property market now.

They are also cautious.

Has Property Prices “Softened”?

Let’s explore the new launch market for leasehold properties.

Below is the transacted prices for Blossoms by the Park. More than 70% of the units have been sold since it was launched in April 2023.

You can see quite a number of units sold around $22xxpsf and $23xxpsf – even for small units.

This is a brand new launch development that is due to be completed in 2026.

Compare those prices to Principal Garden – a 5-year old leasehold condo that was completed in 2018.

You can see that the prices of new launch condos – like Blossom by the Park – are at similar prices of a 5-year old leasehold condo.

Are developers worried about something?

Are they concerned about a limited pool of property buyers?

Are the developers becoming more cautious on setting their prices compared to resale owners?

If so, does this mean we have a higher chance of getting a bargain from developers who are overly cautious?

The Curious Sales Results of The Reserve Residences

Source: https://www.facebook.com/edgepropsg/posts/pfbid0pKCAeX153PoXFXX91P7HZSz92Ro5rqDjwZ8Q2ATWXF8VNboTtsbSU188HiueuYVpl

If you have seen the headline about how 71% units of The Reserve Residences have been sold, you would probably just ignore it and chalk it up to that being normal.

But as an agent who has seen how developers behave in the market, this result of 71% units sold within the first day – it is actually ABNORMAL.

This is because the developer of The Reserve Residences is Far East Organization (FEO).

From what I observe about them is that – FEO tend to usually price their projects higher and they will take their own sweet time to sell the units.

I believe this is their strategy to maximize their profits.

For example, One Holland Village Residences, which was launched by them in Nov 2019 – is still not sold out yet. Units are still available.

Similarly, another project of theirs is Parksuite which was launched in Feb 2018 is also still not sold out.

So the fact that more than 71% of the units of a FEO new launch project has been sold so quickly – I will take it as an indicator of their “new” sales strategy in this current market.

The Property Supply Factor

The property supply charts is one of the most important factor in determining how property prices perform.

Below is the latest property supply charts from URA – based on the first quarter of 2023.

17,543 units remain unsold.

Recently on 21 June 2023, the government released more land for sale. This will add another 5,160 units in the property pipeline.

https://www.facebook.com/ChannelNewsAsia/posts/pfbid033LAdjAG7WGDdXhjdU24ibgCucpmRzUA2XhBhoR794odiWboAKzZ8Yk6kh3cFyJQyl

So if we add up 17,5143 +5,160 = 22,703

This means we can expect about 23,000 units coming up.

What is significant about this number?

Well, it tells you something about how developers will behave.

Below is a chart about how the 2017-2018 enbloc cycle was triggered.

That period was known as the en-bloc fever – where developers were snapping up so many old developments to boost their own land holdings.

If you look at the numbers, the property supply had to drop all the way to 15,085 units before the en-bloc fever kicked in.

And when the en-bloc fever went into full swing, developers boosted their supply numbers all the way to 37,000 units before the July 2018 cooling measures was implemented.

The current supply number is now 23,000 units.

Right now, we can also observe that developers themselves are facing dwindling inventory of units.

Are they going to boost their own supply numbers anytime soon?

The Cautious Property Developers’ Behavior

Like any business, property developers are also monitoring market movements and the overall sentiment.

Just like how we are notified by the banks about rising interest rates for our property loans, I am sure the developers themselves also receive their own notification about rising interest rates.

So what I am observing right now as an agent with more than 14 years of market experience – is that developers are feeling quite cautious on their next course of action.

They want to make sure that they are ready for any changes in the market – for instance, a cut in interest rates will definitely boost sentiment and demand.

And if that happens, they would want to have enough property units to sell to buyers.

But at the same time, they would also want to minimize their own risks. What if the market doesn’t turn to their favour?

This is especially so when they have their own impending costs they have to consider like:

Developers are staffed by normal people who are also susceptible to the basic human emotions like fear and greed.

So that’s why if you know where to look – there are good property deals in the market. It is just not openly advertised.

“But Property Prices Today Are Still Too Expensive!”

I had a chat with a client a few days ago. He was lamenting that property prices were still too high and it seems developers were not lowering their prices.

So I asked him what was he comparing the prices to?

He replied – “Oh I am looking at the new launch prices based on prices from 2 years ago.”

My reply – “Is it fair to compare prices of today to 2 years ago?”

In 2020, the pandemic happened and the world almost shutdown. Governments around the world released various stimulus packages and injected a lot of liquidity in the market to keep their economies going.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/financialtimes/posts/pfbid09Dn65YsUJqHKrCJJEC5f4n12wkiCMYm4oWuZQHPmEdEZ6xmiCiGKhUbjJd7gPWZFl

Today, we are now facing record levels of inflation.

Interest rates have risen dramatically in order to combat inflation and reduce demand.

The market today is dramatically different from the pre-pandemic years of low interest rates.

And hence, we have to expect that the property prices of today will be very different from those before 2020.

2022 vs 2030 Population Data

Based on Singstats data, as of June 2022 – we have 5.64M in our total population.

Assuming the government is still going for the 6.5M population figure by 2030, this means there will be an increase of 860,000.

If we spread it over 8 years, this means an increase of 107,500 new residents per year.

Based on an average household size of 3.09 persons in 2022, this means 107,500 / 3.09 = 34,789 new households per year.

This means about 34,000 new properties are needed per year.

This figure will include HDB as well.

However, I do think more of the new residents will be from other countries who will likely go for condo units.

This is because since Singapore is trying to attract those PMETs who are highly skilled and are able to bring their talents into the country.

Conclusion

It appears that property developers might be stalling their land acquisition process. But they will eventually re-enter the market especially with the recent release of GLS that is aimed at boosting supply.

More importantly, demand will be present as Singapore continues to become more and more attractive to investors and foreigners.

For developers, they will no longer be in business if they do not replenish their land holdings. This is something they will have to do sooner rather than later.

On this note, since developers are not holding a lot of property inventory…

They may be price sensitive to move units to mitigate their business risk.

But it might not be necessary for them to reduce the price so much that they incur losses or cut too deeply into their own profit margins.

On a brighter note, this also means if we are able to weather through this current storm, it also means we can benefit once it passes.

Have further questions? Let me know.

Drop me a message via whatsapp to find out more.

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Darius Ng
Darius Ng

Darius Ng is a District Director and consistent top producer in PropNex since 2011.

Over the years, he has built up a strong track record of successful restructuring / upgrading case studies. This depth of experience has allowed him to share many critical learning points that are beneficial to his clients.

In addition to serving clients, he also has mentored many of his associates in Darius Ng Division towards becoming top 100 producers as well.

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