ERA Daily Research - 27 May

HDB launches over 3,800 BTO flats; 2,500 balance flats also on offer

The Business Times, 26 May 2021, Wed  

A TOTAL of 3,879 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats across four housing projects in four estates were launched for sale by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) on Tuesday, in the second sales exercise for the year.

Another 2,494 flats were also made available under this year's first Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) sales.

In total, 6,373 new flats were launched.

The smallest BTO project is Telok Blangah Beacon in the mature estate of Bukit Merah, where 175 three-room and four-room flats are on offer.

The site along Telok Blangah Drive is next to Telok Blangah Food Centre and within walking distance of the Telok Blangah MRT station.

This is the first time in eight years new flats are being launched in the mature estate of Bukit Merah. The last BTO project launched there was the 1,480-unit Telok Blangah ParcView in 2013.

Prices start at S$419,000, without grants, for a three-room flat and S$602,000 for a four-room flat, making them the most expensive units in this launch.

Buyers will also have to wait more than five years for these flats - the longest wait in this launch - as the project is estimated to be completed in the first quarter of 2027.

In Geylang, 1,382 two-room flexi, three-room and four-room flats are on offer at MacPherson Weave, on a site bounded by Circuit Road, Circuit Link and Paya Lebar Road.

The site is located next to MacPherson MRT station and served by two MRT lines. Prices start at S$343,000 for a three-room flat and S$489,000 for a four-room flat.

The estimated completion date is in the first quarter of 2026, which means buyers will have to wait more than four years for them to be ready.

In the non-mature estate of Woodlands, 1,540 two-room flexi, three-room, four-room and five-room flats are on offer at Woodgrove Ascent, on a site along Woodlands Avenue 1.

It will be the tallest development in the vicinity with seven blocks ranging from 15 to 25 storeys.

Prices start at S$185,000 for a three-room flat, S$275,000 for a four-room one and S$372,000 for a five-room one, making them the most affordable in this sales exercise.

These flats are estimated to be completed in the third quarter of 2025, so buyers have to wait for just under four years for them - one of the two fastest projects to be ready in this launch.

The previous Woodlands project, UrbanVille @ Woodlands, launched last August, drew more than nine applicants for each five-room flat available and more than five applicants for each four-room unit available.

Tengah, Singapore's newest town, has 782 two-room flexi, four-room and five-room flats in Garden Bloom @ Tengah. This is located in the town's Garden district and is served by an upcoming MRT station on the Jurong Region Line. Prices start at S$113,0000 for a two-room flexi, S$299,000 for a four-room and S$404,000 for a five-room flat.

These flats are slated for completion in the third quarter of 2025, one of two fastest projects to be ready in this launch.

It is the 11th BTO project to launch in Tengah, which is expected to house about 42,000 new homes when it is fully developed.

The 2,494 flats offered under the SBF scheme are spread across mature and non-mature estates such as Jurong East, Yishun, Marine Parade, Queenstown and Clementi.

About 28 per cent of them are already completed; the rest are in various stages of construction.

These flats are expected to be popular among buyers as the completion date of BTO projects has been delayed as a result of a manpower shortage in the construction industry arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Applications for the flats close at 11.59 pm next Monday on the HDB flat portal. The flats will be allocated through balloting.

In light of the tightened restrictions, HDB reminded buyers to apply for these flats online and not to visit the HDB Hub or branches.

In August, HDB will launch about 4,900 flats in Queenstown, Kallang/Whampoa, Tampines, Jurong East and Hougang.

Another 3,100 to 3,600 units flats will be offered in Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Jurong West, Kallang/Whampoa and Tengah in November.

Analysts said the projects in Bukit Merah and Geylang are likely to be the most popular this round, going by previous application trends.

ERA Realty head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said the Bukit Merah project, in particular, would be hotly contested as the supply of flats there is limited.

"Residents living on the higher floors would be able to enjoy good views of the sea and Sentosa from their homes," he said.

Christine Sun, senior vice-president of research and analytics at OrangeTee & Tie, said both the Bukit Merah and Geylang projects will likely draw more than 10 applicants for each available flat. Those applying for the Tengah project could be luckier, she noted, as the number of applicants has been falling since November 2019.

Despite construction delays due to Covid-19, she said some buyers will still choose to apply for BTO flats as prices of HDB resale flats and private properties have been rising. 


Record bid for Tengah EC site, 15 bids for Ang Mo Kio condo plot signal developers' hunger for land

The Business Times, 26 May 2021, Wed  

DEVELOPERS continue to be hungry for residential development land with the latest state tenders for two 99-year leasehold plots attracting top bids that were above market expectations.

One of the two plots, in the new estate of Tengah in Singapore's western part, fetched a record top bid of S$603.17 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) for an executive condominium (EC) development. This is the first site in Tengah for ECs, which are a public-private housing hybrid. The plot attracted seven bids.

The second plot, along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, opposite the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and near Mayflower MRT Station which will open this year and also in close proximity to various popular schools, fetched a top bid of nearly S$1,118 psf ppr.

The top bid was from a joint venture between UOL Group, Singapore Land Group and Kheng Leong Group. They paid 6.3 per cent more than the second-highest bid (from a tie-up between City Developments Ltd or CDL and MCL Land).

The strategy of sharing risk by participating through a consortium, as well as fairly manageable size of the development, which can yield about 370 units, would have been considerations in formulating their land bid price.

UOL chief investment and asset officer, Jesline Goh, said the site will be "a timely replenishment for our land bank, given that Avenue South Residence and Clavon are more than 65 per cent and 80 per cent sold respectively".

In all the Ang Mo Kio plot drew 15 bids, towards the high end of market expectations.

Market observers say Tuesday's tender closings reflect keener competition among developers for sites amid declining unsold inventory.

JLL Singapore's senior director of research and consultancy, Ong Teck Hui said: "The current tightening of measures due to Covid-19 has not dampened demand for sites, showing developers' positive outlook on demand from buyers and firm prices."

CDL and MCL missed out on placing the top bid for the Ang Mo Kio private housing site, but they emerged the top bidder for the EC plot in Tengah Garden Walk.

Their bid price busts the previous record of S$583 psf ppr set in 2018, by CDL in partnership with TID for a site in Sumang Walk in Punggol now being developed into the Piermont Grand EC.

But CDL can take comfort in the fact that the bid on Tuesday was "by a razor-thin margin of only 0.03 per cent versus the next bid", as the group's chief executive Sherman Kwek put it.

The second-highest bid, from CSC Land Group (Singapore), was S$602.99 psf ppr. The plot is about 500 metres to Tengah MRT station and 600 metres to Hong Kah and Tengah Plantation stations - all on the upcoming Jurong Regional Line.

CDL and MCL's scheme envisages a project of about 620 units.

ERA Realty head of research and consultancy, Nicholas Mak, estimates that the new EC project in Tengah could be launched at about S$1,200 psf, higher than the average prices of the current launched EC projects.

For the Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 private housing site, Mr Mak said the new condo on the site may be launched at S$1,900-2,000 psf.

The two plots were from the H2 2020 Government Land Sales (GLS) confirmed list, where sites are launched according to schedule regardless of demand.

This is in contrast to sites on the reserve list, which are put up for tender when a developer makes an offer acceptable to the government.

Leonard Tay, head of research at Knight Frank Singapore, noted that given the strong interest for the two sites at Tuesday's tender closing, along with developers' dwindling unsold residential inventory and the fact that minimal land for private residential development was acquired during the pandemic year of 2020, perhaps developers should now look towards the sites on the GLS reserve list.

"In the H1 2021 GLS reserve list, there are five private residential sites (including an EC plot) that could yield about 3,095 units in addition to three more white sites where mixed developments there can potentially create another 2,345 homes. Instead of pursuing the same sites in tender exercises from the confirmed list, developers could look towards triggering sites on the reserve list.

"The present climate remains a cautious one amid community infections and the prospect of further restrictions or even lockdowns. However, the possibility of a land-binging frenzy looms once the economy is firmly poised in recovery and vaccinations have significantly reduced the dangers of Covid-19.

"And as long as developers are not willing to dip into the reserve list for the essential raw material in their business, the government might show reticence in expanding the selection of sites for the next-half's GLS Programme by very much."


HDB upgraders are fuelling mass-market condominium sales

The Business Times, 27 May 2021, Thu

By Fiona Lam

 PRIVATE non-landed homes in the outside central region (OCR) continued to be popular with owner-occupiers upgrading from Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats.

Robust deal volumes and prices of HDB resale flats islandwide helped spur condominium sales in the suburban areas, said Lee Nai Jia, deputy director of the Institute of Real Estate and Urban Studies (IREUS) at the National University of Singapore.

This comes as owners who sold their existing flats benefitted from the price appreciation and cash-over-valuation amounts, enabling them to move to private housing, he added.

HDB resale volumes and prices have been supported in part by demand from first-time homebuyers, many of whom turned to the secondary market as Build-to-Order (BTO) flats' completion dates were pushed back amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Analysts expect the stricter curbs on arrivals from countries including India and Bangladesh to further delay the construction of BTO projects and thus prompt more homebuyers to turn to HDB resale flats.

"If Singapore's employment conditions do not change, the HDB resale market is likely to become even more active, as prospective buyers may become more aggressive in purchasing homes," Dr Lee said.

This, in turn, may benefit the OCR private housing market, which could see a further uptick in sales when the number of new Covid-19 cases in Singapore comes down and the country eases its pandemic-related restrictions, he added.

As HDB upgraders are usually price-sensitive, many prefer the OCR's more affordable private homes, Dr Lee noted.

Overall price quantums in the OCR are generally lower than in the city fringe or rest of central region (RCR) and the prime core central region (CCR), assuming the sizes of the units are the same.

The OCR is often seen as an entry point into the private residential market, PropNex chief executive Ismail Gafoor wrote in a recent commentary.

Based on the real estate agency's analysis of new sales in this region in 2019, 2020, and this January, the pricing sweet spot for mass-market condos continued to be below S$1.5 million, Mr Gafoor said.

Another reason mass-market condominiums are often snapped up by upgraders is the access to social support and education.

"If the upgraders are young families, they may need to stay near their parents for support. Additionally, uprooting to a more central location may be disruptive for the children if they are attending a school near the existing HDB flat," IREUS' Dr Lee said.

Transaction data indicated that private non-landed homes in the OCR remained the top pick of upgraders. Buyers with HDB addresses accounted for 39 per cent of purchases in the OCR during the first quarter this year, compared with 25 per cent in the RCR and 13 per cent in the CCR.

To be sure, not all buyers who stated HDB addresses are necessarily upgraders, as some could be first-time homebuyers moving out of their parents' home.

But the figures may serve as a proxy to suggest where the upgraders are buying their next homes, Dr Lee said.

PropNex's Mr Gafoor also noted that the OCR tends to account for the bulk of transactions in the market, be it in the new sale or resale segments, given the broader demand base.

Prices of non-landed private residential properties in the OCR increased by 1.1 per cent quarter on quarter for Q1 2021, a tad slower than the 1.8 per cent growth in Q4 2020, statistics released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority last month showed. The figures exclude executive condominiums, a public-private housing hybrid.

Meanwhile, HDB resale flat prices across the country climbed 3 per cent quarter on quarter in Q1 2021, even as fewer flats changed hands during the Chinese New Year lull period.

Besides the BTO construction delays, a surge in the number of flats reaching the end of their five-year minimum occupation period (MOP) also boosted resale volumes and prices.

These flats are newer and thus can potentially fetch higher prices than older flats nearby, said ERA Singapore head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak.

In 2021 and 2022, an additional 26,000 flats and 35,300 flats respectively will complete their MOP, much higher than the annual average of 12,600 flats from 2014 to 2018, Mr Mak noted.


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