Week in Review – 30 December 2016

Local Property News
105,500 HDB homes opt for elderly safety upgrades under Ease and Home Improvement Programmes
The Housing and Development Board (HDB) announced that 105,500 households have opted for elderly safety upgrades under the Enhancement for Active Seniors (Ease) programme and/or the Home Improvement Programme (HIP). These programs equip HDB flats with elderly-friendly features which help to facilitate movement for seniors. Upgrades for 74,000 flats have been completed, with 93,000 more units currently undergoing upgrading. Up to 95 per cent of the upgrading cost is subsidised by the government, and as of 31 March 2016, the government has spent S$30 million on Ease. Under the Ease programme, Singapore Citizen households eligible for the  subsidy pay between S$125 to S$312.50, depending on the type of flat they live in. The government is expected to spend an additional S$464 million on HIP and S$19 million on Ease by March 2017.
Industrial Government Land Sales Programme launched for first half of 2017
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI)’s Industrial Government Land Sales (IGLS) Programme for H12017 has been released. The IGLS programme includes six sites on the Confirmed list – each with 20 years’ tenure and a total of 3.27ha of land, and five sites totalling 7.98ha of land on the Reserve List. The six sites on the Confirmed List include Plot 15, 24 and 18 in Tuas South Link 3; Plot 3, Tampines North Drive 3; Plot A, Jalan Lam Huat, and Plot 10, Tuas South Link 2. The five sites on the Reserve List include Tuas Bay Close; Woodlands Height; Plot 13, Tuas South Link 1; Plot 25 and 21 in Tuas South Link. The Reserve List sites will only be released for sale if a company makes an opening offer acceptable to the government.
Global Property News
Vancouver home prices expected to fall in 2017 
According to Phil Soper, Chief Executive Officer of Royal LePage, home prices in Vancouver, Canada’s third-largest city, will see a double-digit decline next year. Buyers started to exit the market at the beginning of 2016 as home prices climbed drastically, with the price of an average single-family house jumping nearly 40 per cent over a 12-month period. Vancouver is currently ranked first on UBS Group’s global ranking for cities at risk of a housing bubble. Market cooling policies, such as a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers and stricter mortgage rules, have helped trigger a slowdown in house prices in the city. Residential property transactions in Vancouver declined in November for the fifth straight month. Mr Soper added that despite the falling transaction volume, an expected 10 per cent fall in single-family home prices in 2017 will only bring the price down to that seen in March 2016 – still in the unaffordable range. 
Modest rise for UK house prices in 2017
According to Halifax, weakening economic growth and rising inflation will ease housing demand in the UK in 2017. Tax changes and more restrictions on buy-to-let investments are expected to contribute to this trend. Halifax forecasts one to four per cent growth in house prices in 2017 – taking into consideration the uncertain relationship between the UK and the European Union following Brexit. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors also expect a slowdown in price growth and a shortage of supply in the UK housing market.
US home prices increase in October 
According to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan cities, prices for single-family homes in the US rose 5.1 per cent in October year-on-year, compared to a “downwardly adjusted” five per cent increase in September. Seasonally adjusted home prices in the 20 cities increased 0.6 per cent in October, up from 0.5 per cent in September. According to S&P Dow Jones Indices, strong consumer confidence and low unemployment rates suggest home prices are unlikely to buck the current trend of rising home prices. Conversely, it is also impossible for home prices to continue increasing at a pace that exceeds the growth of income and inflation. 
Luxury co-ops in Manhattan lose appeal with influx of new luxury condos
The luxury Manhattan co-op, which has long been seen as a status of prestige and exclusivity, is showing signs of losing its appeal due to an influx of new luxury condos. A report by luxury brokerage Olshan Realty Inc. states that the volume of transactions for co-op apartments valued at US$4 million or more dipped 25 per cent in 2016 compared to the year before, the steepest slide since the firm started tracking luxury co-op contracts 10 years ago. According to Donna Olshan, President of Olshan Realty Inc., data points show that the luxury co-op sector is in trouble, as property buyers now have increased choices with more newly built luxury condos with amenities such as gyms, pet spas and yoga rooms. The Olshan Realty report indicates that condominium transactions make up 76 per cent (751 deals) of all contracts valued at US$4 million or more in Manhattan. 
Higher rental demand in London from booming tech companies
Tech companies are showing higher demand in London’s rental markets as finance firms struggle after the Brexit referendum. Property developers are changing the traditional office layout to more spacious and colourful unique office spaces to accommodate tech companies. According to James Roberts, Chief Economist at property consultant Knight Frank, 250,000 square meters of office space in London was leased by tech giants such as Apple and WeWork following the Brexit vote, a 15 per cent increase over the past three months. This year has also seen the most office construction work in London since 2008, according to Deloitte. Developer British Land is cutting down on construction of office space and is instead focusing on refurbishing their existing sites to allow for flexible accommodation.