Talk about a buyer’s market. Hot on the heels of 2019’s 52 new projects are another 40 to 50 expected to launch this year, according to Huttons Asia. This will add an estimated 8,900 new units – just over half of 2019’s supply.
What this means, says David Ng, senior associate marketing director at Propnex, is: “Choices! There’s a luxury development for every type of buyer and investor.” This avalanche of launches is due to the many en bloc acquisitions from the last property cycle.
“The close launch timing [between projects] gives the impression that there is a glut. But if you consider that these massive developments can take anywhere up to three and five years to construct, and you spread the current supply over that period, you’ll find the annual supply numbers more palatable.
The government has also issued cooling measures to effectively control the supply side of land acquisitions to enable a smoother, sustainable growth in the market,” he says. However, despite their imposition in July 2018, Low Po Yu, senior marketing director at ERA Realty Network observes that the demand for luxury projects from both seasoned and first- time investors continues to be healthy. “Prices keep hitting new highs. At 3 Cuscaden, a unit hit a record high of $4,162 psf. Last March, City Developments Limited (CDL) sold 20 units of its luxury project Boulevard 88 for $4 to $10 million each, with an average selling price of $3,550 psf.”
Ng says that while he can understand why people expect prices to drop with increased supply, things are not that straightforward. “Land prices acquired for 2020’s new launches were purchased at aggressive prices. Couple that with higher development charges and you’ll find that developers don’t have much profit margin to reduce prices.”
In addition, Low says: “Money from en bloc sales is still pouring into the market. The fact that these sellers need new homes is pushing up prices. Meanwhile, interest rates are on a downward trend. In my opinion, first-time buyers benefit now as they have many options and are not hampered by the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD).”
On top of the usual 3 per cent stamp duty, Singaporeans shell out an extra 12 per cent ABSD for their second property and 15 per cent for third and subsequent properties; Singapore Permanent Residents (SPRs) pay 5 per cent more for their first property and 15 per cent more for the second property onwards; and foreigners pay 20 per cent more for buying any property.
Despite this, foreigners are still buying property here. “Singapore is still considered a safe haven with low taxes and attracts luxury investors from China, Indonesia and Hong Kong. In fact, in the first half of 2019, 70 per cent of luxury property buyers were PRs and foreigners,” says Low.
Indeed, Ng points out that if you factor in the 2013 Population White Paper that projects the population in Singapore to be 6.9 million by 2030, one can expect an influx of additional potential future buyers to soak up the current supply. They may end up buying within the city centre area where most of the luxury developments are, he predicts.
One such project is The Landmark at Chin Swee Road (the former Landmark Tower) in District 3. This 99-year, 396-unit project by ZACD Group Limited and MCC Land is strategically located within minutes’ drive to the CBD, Chinatown, Tiong Bahru and Orchard Road, and walking distance to Chinatown MRT and Outram MRT.
Boasting a rare 360-degree panoramic view, it offers a first mover’s advantage near the Greater Southern Waterfront, an exciting work-live-play district PM Lee Hsien Loong spoke about during last year’s National Day Rally.
For many luxury property investors, their primary concerns are the location and good schools. “Investors often ask if a project is within 1km to 2km of a good school. They know that there is a catchment of tenants who want to be near good schools. Thus, Districts 9, 10 and 11 are still preferred for these reasons,” says Low. In fact, in the past five years, prices in District 10 have increased by 23 per cent.
American multinational investment bank Morgan Stanley has bullishly predicted that property prices in Singapore will double by 2030 or, in a bear market, by 2034. Based on these projected figures and historical records, Po feels that it signals a good time for investors to enter the market.
Since half of the new condo launches of 2020 are located in the Core Central Region (CCR), we suss out three hot properties with the popular Districts 9 and 10 postal codes.
Van Holland (formerly Toho Mansion)
Where Holland Road, District 10
Developer Koh Brothers
Total units 69; ranging from 1- to 4-bedroom units Price From $2,600 psf
With 69 units and overlooking Good Class Bungalows, Van Holland exudes an exclusive feel for those who prefer smaller projects. It is the only freehold launch opposite bustling Holland Village, a three-minute walk to Holland MRT, and an easy stroll to the new mixed development, One Holland Village, via a covered link bridge. Botanic Gardens, Dempsey Hill and Orchard Road are within a 10-minute drive. It is also within 2km of Henry Park Primary School. Van Holland’s pride and joy is its book-matched marble the developer flew to Italy to select. Some lucky buyers were even offered bonus trips to Italy to check out the marble quarry. Other luxe touches include high ceilings (3.1m), quality sanitary fittings with Swarovski crystals and branded fittings and appliances. Considering that Van Holland is a freehold project, at prices starting from S$2,600 psf, it is competitively priced against the 296-unit, 99-year leasehold One Holland Village Residences, which recently sold 87 of 126 units at a median price of $2,606 psf.
Leedon Green (formerly Tulip Garden)
Where Corner of Farrer Road and Holland Road, District 10
Developer Yanlord Land Group and MCL
Total units 638; mix of 1-bedroom to 3-bedroom + utility units; 3+ utility and 4+ utility units with private lifts; and 4-bedroom Garden Villas. Price Average of $2700 psf
Leedon Green is one of the most anticipated new projects, thanks to its freehold tenure, snazzy District 10 address and features like a Water Lounge, gorgeous landscaping and dining pavilions. Top-range finishings include an Ernestomeda kitchen set from Italy. Depending on the block you choose, buyers will be within 1km to 2km of the ultra popular Nanyang Primary School whose alumni include PM Lee Hsien Loong. Like Van Holland, Leedon Green is also next to a Good Class Bungalows cluster. This expansive project of almost 320,000 sq ft has 638 units, including five special garden villas of about 2,400 sq ft each with four bedrooms, double storeys and high ceilings. All have been snapped up despite their $6 million-plus price tags – equivalent to a semi-detached house. Priced from $2,550 psf, some may consider it pretty affordable for a new District 10 freehold property. It is well connected to Orchard Road, Dempsey Hill, Bukit Timah, Queenstown and Holland Village, with the PIE and AYE at its door step, and just a nine-minute walk to Farrer Road MRT station.
Where River Valley Close, District 9
Developer Carmel Development (joint venture between Hong Leong Holdings, Guocoland and Hong Realty)
Total units 376; from 1 to 4 bedrooms + family room units (some with private lifts) Price From $2,930 psf
The Avenir sits on a sizable 129,648 sq ft piece of land, and the developer has dedicated 75 per cent of that to landscaping and facilities. This freehold project has just 376 units, with higher-than-usual 3.2m ceiling and high-end appliances like De Dietrich. During The Avenir’s launch in January last year, 20 of the 40 units listed for sale were snapped up in one weekend. According to Hong Leong Holdings, seven were premium apartments, including four-bedroom units with private lift access. One third of the buyers were foreigners from China and the US. It is no surprise that The Avenir is a hit with foreign investors. This location has historically seen strong demand for rentals. Expats particularly enjoy being close to work in the CBD, the wine-and-dine lifestyle at nearby Robertson Quay, and the shops just minutes away at Orchard Road.