Buyers should keep their eyes peeled for 5 projects.
The government poured cold water on the property market with the introduction of fresh cooling measures that took effect on Dec 16, 2021.
The additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) was raised by 5 to 15 percentage points for Singapore citizens and permanent residents buying their second or subsequent residential property and on foreigners purchasing any residential property here.
The total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) threshold was reduced by 5 percentage points to 55 per cent.
Nevertheless, it was an excellent year for the property market as a whole. In 2021, an estimated 24 private residential projects were launched for sale. Of these, 12 were in the prime areas or core central region (CCR), 7 in the city fringe or rest of central region (RCR) and 5 in the suburbs or outside central region (OCR).
Last year, developers launched 10,496 private housing units and sold 13,027 units; the sales figure was 30.5 per cent higher than 2020 and also the highest full-year tally since 2013.
This has reduced the number of unsold units with planning approvals to 14,333, below the 16,929 units in the previous trough of Q2 2017.
Demand for homes in 2021 stemmed partly from the need for a bigger space due to hybrid work and learning arrangements amid the pandemic. Flush with liquidity from their profits in the financial markets, some people switched their focus to a physical asset like properties for stable returns.
In 2022, the property market will be characterised by the absence of mega launches, and lower supply. The last time that developers went on a land-banking spree was from 2016 to 2018 before the cooling measures that took effect on July 6, 2018 put a halt to it. The state also reduced the supply of land under the confirmed list of the Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme from second-half 2018.
When the Covid-19 pandemic struck Singapore in 2020, the supply under the GLS Programme's confirmed list was further cut in H2 2020 to 755 private housing units. This has resulted in lower supply of private homes in 2022.
The GLS and enbloc sale markets started to offer more options in the second half of last year when it became evident that the market needed more supply of land. However, new launches on these sites are likely to come on stream only next year.
Two rounds of ABSD hikes on July 6, 2018 and Dec 16, 2021 have raised the risks for developers, making them hesitant about considering mega sites. This could continue to be the situation.
There may be up to 41 private residential launches consisting of 5,282 units this year - with 22.2 per cent of the units in the CCR, 34.7 per cent in the RCR and 43.1 per cent in the OCR.
Including units from later phases in earlier-launched projects, there may be up to 8,000 units launched for sale this year. This would be down 23.8 per cent from last year and the lowest volume of units launched since 2017.
The lower supply of homes is the biggest downside for buyers as they will have less choice. In the first half of this year, only 5 new major non-landed projects (of over 100 units each) are expected to come to the market - Piccadilly Grand next to Farrer Park MRT station, LIV @ MB along Arthur Road, The Arden along Phoenix Road, a project in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, and Sceneca Residence along Tanah Merah Kechil Link.
All 5 projects have 99-year leasehold tenure and are in locations popular with buyers or where there has been little to no supply in the past few years. Buyers should keep their eyes peeled for these launches.
Piccadilly Grand, a city-fringe mixed-use project along Northumberland Road in District 8, is likely to be launched for sale in April 2022. A joint-venture between City Developments and MCL Land, the project will have 407 residential units. Piccadilly Galleria, at Level 1, will have retail and F&B offerings as well as a childcare centre.
The project enjoys doorstep access to Farrer Park station; Little India MRT station is also within walking distance. There are plenty of amenities in the area including City Square Mall and Mustafa Centre. Farrer Park Primary School is less than 5 minutes' walk away.
Piccadilly Grand will be the only project launch in District 8 this year. The last launch was the 116-unit Uptown @ Farrer in September 2019; as of Mar 14 this year, the project is left with 1 unsold unit.
LIV @ MB is a 298-unit bespoke collection by Bukit Sembawang Estates in the ever-popular District 15. It is a mere 4 minutes' walk to the upcoming Katong Park MRT station and 12 minutes' drive to Marina Bay Financial District.
Residents will enjoy close proximity to East Coast Park, Singapore Sports Hub and unblocked views of the city skyline. Foodies can look forward to a myriad of food options from hawker centres to trendy cafes.
There will be an upcoming mixed-use project along Tanah Merah Kechil Link in District 16. Sceneca Residence will have 268 units, while Sceneca Square, on Level 1, will have about 2,000 square metres of retail space.
The project is being developed by MCC Land (Singapore), The Place Holdings and Ekovest Development (S). It will have a direct link to Tanah Merah MRT interchange station, which is just 1 stop away from Singapore Expo, Changi Business Park, Singapore University of Technology and Design and Bedok Mall.
The project will be 2 MRT stops from Jewel, Changi Airport and Tampines Regional Centre. It will be the only project launch in Tanah Merah this year.
The 372-unit 99-year leasehold project in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 is being developed by United Venture Development, a 60:20:20 joint venture between UOL, Singapore Land and Kheng Leong. It is near Mayflower MRT station.
Projects in Ang Mo Kio tend to be well received; it is a mature estate with a sizeable pool of HDB upgraders.
The UOL-led consortium's project is also near vast stretches of greenery such as Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Lower Peirce Reservoir. Units facing north-west will enjoy unblocked views of the nature reserve.
This is the only project that will be launched in Ang Mo Kio this year.
The Arden is the only launch in district 23 and in the west region this year. The last launch of above 100 units in Choa Chu Kang was the neighbouring development, Hillsta, in 2012.
Options for buyers are limited in Choa Chu Kang as 38 units remained unsold in the nearby 74-unit Phoenix Residences as of Mar 14, 2022; the project was launched in December 2020.
There are plenty of amenities in the area such as Hillion Mall, Junction Ten, Bukit Panjang Plaza and Lot One Shoppers' Mall. Parents with school-going children will have many choices as the area has education institutes, from primary schools to junior colleges.
To buy or to wait is likely the question on a lot of buyers' minds after the cooling measures. An analysis of price trends after the July 6, 2018 cooling measures shows that prices were relatively flat over 2 quarters before resuming their growth. Since then, prices have been on an upward trend and appreciated by 16.8 per cent as at end-2021.
The first major project launch in 2022 after last December's cooling measures, Belgravia Ace, saw more than 70 per cent of its 107 units snapped up on the first day.
Buyers are not waiting for the dust to settle before entering the market as they recognise a perfect opportunity to buy early. If history repeats itself, it means H1 2022 is likely the best time for buyers to enter the market before prices start to increase for the rest of the year.
Lee Sze Teck is Senior Director of Research, Huttons Group. Mark Yip is CEO, Huttons Group
Credit: Business Times
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