MARKET UPDATES

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Hong Kong luxury house sets record with monthly rent of $275,000

Hong Kong's luxury real estate sector continues to hit new highs, defying a declining rental market in the city. A house on 73 Mount Kellett Road on the Peak was leased for HK$1.6 million (S$275,000) a month, Hong Kong Economic Times reported, citing unidentified sources. That translates into about US$2.5 million a year for the tenant. The amount surpassed the previous record that was just set two months ago, signaling robust demand among the richest tenants in the world's most expensive property market. The five-bedroom house comes with a private elevator and a garden of 7,000 square feet (650 square metres). Despite the falling rents across the city, Hong Kong's most upscale market is defying the trend. The former rental record was held by Wharf Holdings, which leased a luxury house in its 11 Plantation Road project for HK$1.35 million a month in March. In February, CK Asset Holdings sold a high-end apartment for HK$459 million, the priciest for such a property in Asia. That same month, a Wharf-led consortium won a residential plot on the Peak for a record price by square feet in Hong Kong.

Source: Straits Times
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Demand for interim rental flats under HDB scheme doubled last year amid BTO construction delays

Demand for interim rental Housing Board flats almost doubled last year as more families were affected by construction delays to Build-To-Order (BTO) units due to the pandemic. The board received 2,350 applications under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS) compared with 1,370 in 2019, said the Ministry of National Development (MND) in a written parliamentary reply on Tuesday (May 11). But there were only 160 available flats last year so most applicants were not able to get a unit. The PPHS provides interim housing to households awaiting the completion of their new flats with units allocated by ballot. Rents range from $400 for a two-room flat in Marsiling, $600 for a three-roomer in Hougang and $1,500 for a four-room unit in Tiong Bahru. While application numbers have increased, the MND said not all may be in urgent need of temporary housing or some may have sought other options as about 40 per cent of successful applicants did not turn up for flat selection. Food technologist Jowee Ng,29, and wife Joslyn Chua,26, an engineer, consider themselves to be "one of the lucky ones" after they landed a PPHS unit on their fifth try. "Honestly, we were already thinking of giving up if we failed on the fifth try and just renting a flat on the open market because we've seen how crazy high the PPHS application rates were. We were quite surprised we got it, " said Mr Ng. They moved into their two-room flat in Canberra last month and have spent around $6,000 on furnishings. The monthly rent is $400, excluding utility bills. They plan to live there until their BTO flat in Tengah is ready in 2023. "We were previously living separately and met only on weekends. Now that we're living together, we have a better understanding of each other's habits at home and even developed new hobbies such as gardening together, " said Mr Ng. "It's small but cosy and it feels like home. It's good practice before the real deal comes along." Married couples made up 66 per cent of the 2,350 applications last year while couples applying under the fiance/fiancee scheme comprised 31 per cent. The remaining 3 per cent were from applicants who are divorced or widowed with children. The supply of PPHS flats is limited and depends on the availability, such as units in vacated blocks that are not immediately needed for redevelopment. There are about 110 two-room,570 three-room, and 60 four-room flats under the PPHS across Singapore. The HDB said it is working towards a more stable supply and giving wider options for families needing temporary housing. Construction delays to BTO developments have increased the demand for such flats. About 85 per cent of the 89 ongoing BTO projects are around six to nine months behind schedule, affecting about 43,000 households. These projects are now expected to be delayed by a further three months as bans on new arrivals from countries like India and Bangladesh have exacerbated the manpower crunch in the construction sector. Operations administrator Siti Amirah Ramli,26, and her fiance Amir Nurhasan Kamarudin plan to apply for a PPHS unit in July before their October wedding, but are concerned they will miss out. Couples applying under the fiance/fiancee scheme must submit their marriage certificate to the HDB within three months of taking possession of a PPHS flat. The couple's BTO flat in Tengah will be ready only at the end of next year. Ms Amirah said they are thinking about a plan B if their application falls through. She said: "Rent on the open market is too costly for us to manage and we also wouldn't want to spend so much just to fund a temporary home. "We could rent a single room, instead of a whole unit, but this means living with strangers so we are not keen. Perhaps we'll live with relatives or live separately for some time."

Source: Straits Times
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Condo, HDB rents in S'pore climb again in April with 1.3% rise; rental volumes dip: SRX

Rents for condominium units and Housing Board flats both increased by 1.3 per cent in April from the previous month, although the number of leasings dipped. As at last month, condo rents have risen for four consecutive months, while HDB rents rose for 10 straight months, according to flash data from real estate portal SRX released on Wednesday (May 12). Condo rents are up 5.2 per cent in April from a year ago, although they are still down 11.9 per cent from their peak in January 2013. HDB rents, which are 5.6 per cent higher than a year ago, have hit their highest since July 2016, although they are still 10 per cent down from their peak in August 2013. Rents in non-mature estates rose by 2 per cent month on month, while those in mature estates edged up by 0.6 per cent. Rents also increased across all room types. Rental volume for condo apartments dropped by 3.1 per cent in April to an estimated 5,100 units from 5,262 units the month before. However, rental volumes are 51 per cent higher compared with April last year, when Singapore was in its circuit breaker period. Discounting most of the Covid-19 effect, the number of condo leasings are 13.5 per cent higher than the five-year average for the month of April. HDB rental volume in April also saw a drop from March, down 8.8 per cent to an estimated 1,847 flats from 2,026 flats the month before. Rental volumes are 33.9 per cent higher compared with April last year although they are 6.1 per cent lower than the five-year average volume for the month of April. Ms Christine Sun, OrangeTee & Tie's senior vice-president of research and analytics, said rents have been rising as demand for rental units appear to be outstripping supply. "Housing vacancy is low and supply of newly completed homes is limited. Many locals have been renting units in recent months, including HDB upgraders who have sold their flats recently to take advantage of the rapidly rising HDB resale prices, " said Ms Sun. These HDB upgraders may then rent a unit in the interim while they look for their next permanent home, she said. Although Covid-19 border restrictions are still largely in place, ERA Realty head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said the arrival of some foreigners, such as students, professionals and their dependents, may have caused rental prices to climb. Huttons Asia director of research Lee Sze Teck noted that employers in some industries such as technology and manufacturing are hiring again, which has helped to boost condo rental in April - usually a quiet month. "Early economic indicators are pointing to a stronger-than-expected gross domestic product growth for this year, " he said.

Source: Straits Times
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Singapore condo resales hit 11-year high in April, prices rise 1.5%

The private resale housing market remained robust with the number of condominium units resold in April hitting an 11-year high as prices rose 1.5 per cent from the previous month. Resale volume last month jumped by 7.9 per cent to an estimated 1,993 units from 1,847 units in March, representing the highest monthly volume since April 2010, according to flash data from real estate portal SRX released on Tuesday (May 11). Volumes last month were estimated to be 528.7 per cent higher than in April last year, and 125.2 per cent more than the five-year average volumes for the month of April. Year on year, prices rose 5.8 per cent over April 2020. Month on month, the price increase was across the board. Prices in the suburbs rose by 1.7 per cent, while those in the city fringe and city centre both increased by 1.2 per cent. Ms Christine Sun, senior vice-president of research and analytics at OrangeTee & Tie, said the resale market was propped up by a large proportion of Housing Board (HDB) flat upgraders as 56.9 per cent of the last month's resale volume were in the suburbs. Homes in the city fringes accounted for 23.7 per cent, while the remaining 19.5 per cent came from central Singapore. "Many HDB flat owners have sold their flats in recent months and are searching for affordable, completed homes. Therefore, demand for resale homes may continue to increase in the coming months since prices of new homes are rising in many locations and the supply of mass-market condominiums remain limited, " said Ms Sun. She noted that the uncertain rental market have may also driven some landlords to sell their units as it may still take some time for tenants, who are typically foreigners, to return to Singapore and for the leasing market to recover fully. ERA Realty head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said the construction delays for Build-To-Order (BTO) flats may have seen a chain reaction. More buyers may have turned to HDB resale flats instead of applying for BTO flats, leading to an increase in HDB resale flat prices. In turn, this enabled sellers of the resale flats to afford an upgrade to private resale condos, thus pushing up the prices of such real estate, he said. "The continuing disruption in the local construction industry due to the pandemic would fuel the demand for completed HDB flats and private condominiums among owner-occupiers in the coming months, " he said. Mr Mak expects prices for resale condos to rise between 6 per cent and 9 per cent this year. PropNex head of research and content Wong Siew Ying said the demand for resale condos will likely remain healthy, as buyers may prefer ready properties in order to avoid the uncertainty around completion delays. "In addition, the substantial price gap between new sale and resale properties may also encourage some buyers who have a tighter budget to look at the resale market, " she said. The highest transacted price for a private resale unit last month was $13.8 million at Leedon Residence in Bukit Timah, according to SRX data. In the city fringes, a unit at The Meyerise in Meyer Road fetched the highest price of $5.2 million, while in the outside central region, the top spot went to a $3.2 million unit at Ocean Park in East Coast Road. In its report, SRX noted that the overall median capital gain in April was $200,000, an increase of $20,500 as compared with the month before. The capital gain or loss of a condo resale unit is calculated by comparing the current transacted price with the previous transacted price of the same unit. District 21 (Clementi/Upper Bukit Timah) posted the highest median capital gain of $486,250, while District 4 (Sentosa/Harbourfront) posted the highest median capital loss of $54,880.

Source: Straits Times
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Home buyers fret as some BTO flats may be delayed by a year or more

Home buyers are becoming more worried that they will have to wait longer to get the keys to their Build-To-Order (BTO) flats, while others said they are resigned to the fact that their housing projects may now be delayed by up to one year or more. A home buyer, who wanted to be known only as Ms Tan, said she had been looking forward to moving into her new BTO flat in Punggol later this year, after living with her in-laws for the past five years. But her hopes were dashed when she was informed of a nine-month delay to her five-room flat in a project called Northshore Cove, and she is worried that it may be further delayed. She said living with her in-laws is mentally taxing as she frequently clashes with her mother-in-law on how to raise her five-year-old daughter. "My husband and I hesitate to rent a place and move out because we have already tolerated this living arrangement for five years, (so) what is one more year?" said 26-year-old Ms Tan, who works in the finance industry. On May 4, Covid-19 multi-ministry task force co-chair Lawrence Wong hinted about a possible longer delay during a press conference, while addressing the labour crunch in the construction industry, following the entry bans on travellers from India and Bangladesh, among other countries. "Many projects have been suffering from delays, as all of us know. More recently, when we restricted the flow of workers from India and the entire South Indian continent… it means considerable delays will be added to all of our projects, " said Mr Wong, who is also Education Minister. "Some of our housing projects, BTO projects, may now be delayed by up to a year or more. So it does come at a considerable cost to Singaporeans, " he added. Mr Wong did not specify how many or which BTO projects are affected. ERA Realty head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said the possible delay of up to one year or more is "not unexpected" as the Covid-19 situation is evolving quickly, both globally and in Singapore. The extended delay for BTO flats may add upwards pressure on the HDB resale market as more people may think of turning to the open market for their housing needs, added Mr Mak. The resale market remained robust in April as prices rose for the 10th straight month by 1.2 per cent compared with March. Mr Mak expects HDB resale prices to continue to grow by 7 per cent to 10 per cent this year. The delay of one year or more is up from the original six to nine months earlier announced by the HDB. About 43,000 households are expected to get keys to their BTO flats late owing to construction delays, said the Ministry of National Development last month. Of the 89 ongoing BTO projects, about 85 per cent are around six to nine months behind schedule, MND had then said. Engineer Siddiq Sallim,27, and his fiancee have ruled out applying for a BTO flat but is aiming for a unit in the next Sale of Balance Flats exercise. "We might look into getting a resale flat if we have to, but the higher cost is putting me off. Alternatively, we may live separately after the wedding, " he said. "Of course I'm disappointed, but it's yet another unfortunate circumstance of the pandemic we have to put up with." This month, HDB will launch some 3,800 BTO units in Bukit Merah, Geylang, Tengah and Woodlands. Another 4,900 BTO flats in Hougang, Jurong East, Kallang Whampoa, Queenstown and Tampines will be offered in August. Ms Christine Sun, senior vice-president of research and analytics at OrangeTee & Tie, said this month's BTO exercise may draw some buyers away from the resale market. "The launches in Bukit Merah and Geylang are well located, and buying interest is expected to be strong especially for these two sites, " she said.

Source: Straits Times
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Maxwell House sold en bloc to Chip Eng Seng, SingHaiyi for $276.8 million, above asking price

The owners of Maxwell House, which has been around since 1971, were second-time lucky with their collective sale bid, snagging a sale at $276.8 million, above their $268 million asking price. The building at 20 Maxwell Road was put on the market at a reserve price of $295 million in September 2020, but the asking price was lowered in April this year. On Friday (May 7), the collective sale tender for the 13-storey commercial development comprising 145 strata units was awarded to a unit of Singapore-listed Chip Eng Seng Corp, SingHaiyi Investments and Chuan Investments, which jointly bid for the property. The sale is subject to approval of the Strata Titles Board and other conditions. The joint tenderers will seek in-principle approval from the Singapore Land Authority to issue a fresh 99-year lease for the building, whose tenure began in June 1969. Chip Eng Seng told the Singapore Exchange on Friday that it is seeking approval from the Urban Redevelopment Authority to redevelop the site into a commercial and residential mixed-use development. This will have a gross plot ratio of at least 5.6 and a gross floor area of at least 21,746.48 sq m, for which the commercial component will be up to 20 per cent of the total gross floor area. Sitting on a trapezoidal island plot spanning 41,799 sq ft, the property is currently zoned "commercial" with a plot ratio of 4.3. It is in the immediate vicinity of the dining and entertainment precinct along Tras Street, Duxton Hill and Keong Saik Road. Located at the fringe of the Tanjong Pagar planning area, it is expected to benefit from the area's rejuvenation alongside the planned development of the Greater Southern Waterfront precinct.

Source: Straits Times
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21 million-dollar HDB resale flats sold in April as overall prices rise for 10th straight month

The Housing Board resale market remained robust in April as 21 million-dollar flats changed hands and overall resale prices rose for the 10th straight month. Experts said the return to phase 2 Covid-19 curbs will help underpin demand. Resale prices climbed 1.2 per cent last month compared to March, according to flash data from real estate portal SRX released on Thursday (May 6). The 21 million-dollar flats sold last month was an increase from March when 17 such flats were sold. The monthly record so far is 23 million-dollar flats sold in February. The number of million-dollar flats sold in April accounts for 0.9 per cent of the total resale volume in the month, said SRX. This brings the total of HDB flats that have sold for more than $1 million to 74 units in the first four months of this year, compared to 14 of such units sold during the same period last year. A total of 82 million-dollar flats changed hands in the whole of 2020. Ms Christine Sun, senior vice-president of research and analytics at OrangeTee & Tie, said it is likely a new record for million-dollar flats will be inked next month. Last month, a five-room 120 square metre Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flat at Natura Loft at Bishan Street 24 was sold for $1.25 million. It has a balance lease of 89 years and 5 months. It is now the second most expensive resale flat on record, just shy of the top spot of $1.258 million for a five-room HDB flat at Pinnacle at Duxton in September last year. ERA Realty head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak noted that the rising prices of private properties may be a contributing factor to the increased number of million-dollar flats. "Some buyers feel that it's worthwhile to fork out a million dollars or more for a relatively new and well-located HDB flat on a high floor, as compared to a private condo or executive condo, " he said. The price rise for resale flats in April was broad-based, with prices growing in both mature and non-mature estates as well as across all room types. Year on year, prices have increased 10.8 per cent from April 2020, although they are 3.7 per cent lower than the peak in April 2013. A total of 2,340 resale flats changed hands last month, representing a decrease of 4.4 per cent from March, the SRX data showed. OrangeTee & Tie's Ms Sun noted that the number of transactions is still considered "healthy" as more than 2,000 units were sold, which is above the 1,873 monthly average transactions recorded in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic struck. PropNex head of research and content Wong Siew Ying said: "The improved economic outlook, projected delays in the completion of new BTO flats, as well as firm private home prices are some key factors that have spurred demand for resale HDB flats." She added that the return to phase 2 Covid-19 curbs, such as the limits on gatherings and household visits, may restrict the number of potential buyers who are able to view properties in person. "However, we do not expect it to have a major impact on sales as many real estate agents are already adept at using technology tools to conduct virtual tours and performing transactions in a safe manner, " she said. Analysts say the tightened restrictions on arrivals from India and Bangladesh, among other countries, will lead to further delay of the construction of Build-To-Order (BTO) projects. Said ERA's Mr Mak: "More homebuyers will choose to buy resale flats instead, leading to further expansion of the demand for such real estate this year." He expects HDB resale prices to continue to grow by 7 to 10 per cent this year. This month, HDB will launch some 3,800 BTO units in Bukit Merah, Geylang, Tengah and Woodlands. In August, another 4,900 BTO flats in Hougang, Jurong East, Kallang Whampoa, Queenstown and Tampines will be put up for sale.

Source: Straits Times
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Australia's housing price boom shows signs of slowing

Australia's housing price boom is showing some signs of slowing as the rapid rise the past six months begins to constrain affordability and dampen demand. Nationwide dwelling values rose 1.8 per cent in April, the slowest pace since January after last month's record rise, CoreLogic data released on Monday (May 3) show. Capital city prices also gained 1.8 per cent, led by Darwin and Sydney, data show. House price gains could slow over the coming months as a lift in the number of houses for sale and affordability constraints dampen demand, said Tim Lawless, head of research at CoreLogic. "With housing prices rising faster than incomes, it's likely price sensitive sectors of the market, such as first home buyers and lower income households, are finding it harder to save for a deposit and transactional costs." Australia's property prices have surged 7.8 per cent the past year, fueled by record low borrowing rates, an improving economic outlook, an under-supply of new houses and government incentives. While housing prices are climbing from Singapore to Canada and the US, a return to boom times in Australia threatens to swell an already worrisome pile of household debt.

Source: Straits Times
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