Week in Review – 19 Jun 2015

Big Data By iProperty.com Reveals More Demand Than Supply 
The iProperty Group has revealed its latest innovative product offering – iPropertyIQ big data that enables real estate professionals to quickly turn data into business value. iPropertyIQ will provide simplified access to trends on consumer behaviour in the property market helping developers discover new insights, predict outcomes in real time, and build developments that cater to the needs of property buyers. With iPropertyIQ, information such as buyer-interest towards specific property types, consumer search trends, as well as details on property demand for respective districts will be made available. Users can also monitor the price trends of properties. iPropertyIQ Singapore data revealed that the three most searched type of properties were condominiums, hi-rise apartments and low-rise apartments. The most popular districts consumers searched for were Ardmore, Bukit Timah, Farrer Road, Holland, Tanglin Road, Balmoral, Grange Road, Orchard Boulevard and River Valley. According to iProperty.com Singapore General Manager, Mr Sean Tan, data from 2014 showed that close to 56.85 per cent of listings on iProperty.com Singapore were above SGD1 million, an unaffordable price for most buyers. “This partially explains why Singaporeans look at investing outside Singapore, as they are able to purchase a property at a cheaper price due to currency exchange,” shared Mr. Tan. 
45 per cent dip in new private home sales in May
Numbers of new private homes sold in May took a tumble, falling 45 per cent from April with only 638 new private homes sold, excluding executive condominiums (ECs). This is according to data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). 469 of the 638 units sold were in the outside central region (OCR). Despite the drop, total sales outdid monthly figures from January to March which saw sales of 374 to 613 units. Low sales figures last month were attributed to the lack of new launches. Only 499 units were launched in May compared to 1,382 units in April.
Meanwhile Botanique at Bartley and North Park Residences in Yishun Central remained hot favourites from April to May, selling another 94 units and 59 units last month at median prices of S$1,292 per square foot (psf) and S$1,397 psf respectively. The sales at the two projects contributed to the outside central region (OCR) maintaining its position as the top selling region. 
May sales for units in the core central region (CCR) hit the highest record for the year with 69 units sold. Analysts who spoke to Today said that this was likely due to home buyers’ ample savings after prices declined from cooling measures and property loan curbs. However Dr Chua Yang Liang, Jones Lang Lasalle’s (JLL) head of research and consultancy noted that this did not indicate a market recovery and that buyers will continue to be cautious with the potential increase in interest rates.
The EC segment also topped the charts after sales increased 64 per cent to 207 units in May. The jump was due to Westwood Residences in Westwood Avenue, a new project launch that sold 118 units at a median price of S$803 psf. With the inclusion of ECs, total sales in May hit 845 units. 
Investors to avoid residential market until prices decline 
SC Capital Partners will not be re-entering the residential market until home prices decline by at least 30 per cent, noted Mr Suchad Chiaranussatti, founder of the Asian property fund in an interview with Bloomberg. The company made a loss from the sale of Singapore apartments after additional stamp duty policies hindered home sales in 2011, the year they acquired the property. According to Mr Chiaranussatti, the company was unprepared for “the intensity and the severity of the policies”. SC Capital made a record high loss of S$12 million for its 18 units in Patterson Suites condominium project which they sold for S$2,100 psf. It was previously bought for S$2,300 psf in 2011. 
Mr Chiaranussatti also believes that the government will not relax property curbs for at least two years, however, he noted that investment opportunities should emerge in the coming years when mass-market home prices decline further. 
Developers likely to avoid unattractive GLS residential sites
Sites released for the recently announced Government Land Sales (GLS) programme for the second instalment of 2015 were significantly lesser than the previous 2015 GLS programme. Mr Desmond Sim, Head of Research for South East Asia and Singapore at CBRE said in an interview with Channel NewsAsia that he believes government’s refrain on launching new sites is due to the excess of unsold supply that has accumulated over the last eight to 12 months. Approximately 19,000 units continued to be unsold in end March. This is higher than 17,644 units and 16,587 units that were reported to be unsold in September and December 2014 respectively. 
Analysts who spoke to Singapore Business Review said that Confirmed List sites such as Jalan Kandis, Clementi Ave 1 and Yio Chu Kang Road are unlikely to attract developers in this challenging market. These sites are considered unattractive being located a distance away from the Central Region as well as MRT stations. The sites at Alexandra View and Siglap Road are predicted to be favourites; Alexandra View is near the Redhill MRT Station while Siglap Road is in a waterfront living area.