Week in Review – 23 September 2016

Local Property News
Private property prices fell in August; downward trend expected to continue 
Private property sales dipped 58 per cent month-on-month compared to July, and 18 per cent lower year-on-year. August coincided with the Hungry Ghost Month, considered an inauspicious period to purchase property by some Chinese buyers. Private residential unit prices are expected to further slide in the near future, in part due to the impending supply influx of approximately 10,262 units by H2 2016 and 14,578 units by 2017. 
The looming deadline for Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD) is expected to add pressure on developers to offer discounts on their unsold units. Developers are required to sell all units in their residential projects within five years of purchasing the land in order to quality for an exemption from ABSD, based on the cost of land at purchase. Developers with ABSD deadlines in 2017 include IOI Properties, United Industrial Corporation, City Developments Limited, and Wing Tai Holdings.  

Volume of resale property transactions spiked 30 per cent year-on-year, strongest since 2013
According to the Singapore Property report by DBS, the volume of resale property transactions for the month of August leapt by 30 per cent year-on-year to 1,621 transactions. This is the strongest performance of Singapore’s resale residential property market since 2013. Relaunch of developments such as D’Leedon, The Interlace and OUE Twin Peaks which sold 41 units, 34 units and 31 units respectively, helped contribute to the strong performance in August. 

Office rents in CBD expected to dip, but demand for co-working spaces on the rise
The Global Cities 2017 report by Knight Frank showed that between the end of 2015 and the end of 2019, rent for Singapore’s prime office space is expected to dip 14 per cent, placing Singapore second last amongst 31 global cities. An influx of prime office supply and slower economic growth, as well as technology companies opting to have offices outside the Central Business District (CBD) are reasons for the projected poor performance. Alice Tan, Head of Research at Knight Frank Singapore, said that the expected influx of six million sqf of gross floor area expected to come onto the market by 2017 will slow rentals in the short run, with the market recovery expected to start only from 2019. On the bright side, according to Savills, there is increasing demand for co-working spaces in the CBD.

HSBC Survey: Singapore is the best expatriate destination for second consecutive year 
Singapore has been ranked the best destination for expatriates for the second consecutive year according to HSBC’s ninth annual Expat Explorer survey. The survey reveals that approximately two-thirds of expatriates have seen their overall quality of life improve since relocating to Singapore. 60 per cent said that they have higher earnings and savings in Singapore compared to their country of origin. On average, expatriates in Singapore are earning S$139,000 per annum. 23 per cent of the respondents are earning more than S$200,000 per year. More than half of the respondents believe Singapore provides a conducive environment for the development of their careers – 62 per cent believe Singapore provides opportunities for career advancement and 58 per cent believe that the country provides a good environment to start a business. 
Global Property News

Australia forces sale of 16 foreigner-owned properties 
Since May, the Australian government has forced the sale of 16 foreigner-owned properties that were purchased without required government permission. The cumulative value of the 16 units sold amounts to A$14 million, with the majority of the funds repaid to Chinese owners who owned seven units; all the owners were also fined. 
In Australia foreigners need permission from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) to purchase property in the country. Since 2013, the government has forced 46 foreign-owned properties, with a total value of A$93 million and majority owned by Chinese nationals, to be sold.

JLL list of “Top 20 Cities for Direct Commercial Real Estate Investment” dominated by US cities, with New York at the top
According to a Jones Lang LaSalle report, Global Market Perspective Q3 2016, 11 US cities ranked among the Top 20 Cities for direct commercial real estate investment, with New York coming out tops. The report showed that US cities with strong growth prospects, such as Los Angeles, Washington DC, Chicago and Boston, remain attractive to investors. Although New York saw a six per cent year-on-year dip in H1 2016 compared to H1 2015, it led all cities with US$24.4 billion worth of investment. London, which saw investment volumes reduced by 39 per cent year-on-year compared to H1 2015, to US$13.2 billion, was ranked second. Los Angeles was ranked third with US$11.3 billion, a 38 per cent year-on-year increase compared to H1 2015.

Malaysian cabinet requests reassessment of recently proposed home financing policy
Malaysia’s cabinet has requested Housing Minister Noh Omar to reassess and enhance the home financing policy. The home financing policy, proposed on 8th September, seeks to grant property developers permission to provide home buyers with loans at a maximum interest rate of 18 per cent. However bankers, industrialists and economists raised concerns that this might cause a sub-prime mortgage crisis in the country. Malaysia currently has one of the highest household debt burdens in Asia, at 89 per cent. According to Fitch the proposed scheme could lead to unregulated lending to households with high credit risks, resulting in rising household debt.