High potential for capital appreciation?

SINGAPORE — The last Housing and Development Board (HDB) sales exercise of the year is also the biggest, kicking off on Tuesday with 10,118 flats, about half of which are under the Build-To-Order (BTO) scheme. These included units in the popular Bidadari area as well as in the mature estate of Kallang, where the four-room flats drew the strongest interest at the start of the exercise, despite their higher prices.

As of 5pm on Tuesday, the 158 four-room BTO flats in Kallang, located on Sims Avenue and near Kallang MRT Station, had 271 applicants, meaning there were 1.7 applicants for every unit available. The demand so far is largely driven by second-timers, with nearly seven applicants for every flat available to this group. Upcoming executive condo launches include Yio Chu Kang EC, Inz Residence EC, Choa Chu Kang EC, Anchorvale Lane EC,  while existing ones include Terrace EC, Brownstone EC, The Vales EC, Parc Life EC , Sol Acres EC, The Visionaire, Bellewoods EC, Signature at Yishun, The Criterion EC, Treasure Crest, Northwave EC Waterwoods EC, Skypark Residences, Wandervale EC, The Amore EC,  Bellewaters EC.

The indicative prices for these units ranged from S$497,000 to S$584,000, compared with S$407,000 to S$527,000 for four-room flats in Bedok. Applications for the three-room units were more muted, with 40 submitted so far for 85 flats.

Elsewhere, the Bidadari four-room units also drew interest, but at a smaller scale compared with previous launches in the area. There were 481 applications for the 587 flats available.

A total of 5,110 BTO units were launched, spread across nine projects. Three projects are in the non-mature town of Punggol, while another six are in the mature towns and estates of Bedok, Bidadari (Toa Payoh) and Kallang/Whampoa, with the flat types ranging from two-room Flexi to Three-Generation (3Gen) units.

The remaining units in the exercise comprise 5,008 Sale of Balance flats (SBF) across 11 non-mature towns and 14 mature towns and estates, including Ang Mo Kio, Queenstown, Kallang and Tampines. Most are four-room (2,233) and three-room (1,266) units, but there are also two-room Flexi units, five-room units, 3Gen units, executive flats and one Multi-Generation flat.

Property analysts noted the Kallang BTO units are located in an area that has seen properties change hands at relatively high prices. According to the HDB website, four-room HDB resale flats in the area have gone for S$636,000 to S$685,000, while three-room HDB resale units have fetched S$420,000 to S$488,000.

Mr Chong Chai Shyong, executive director of Global Alliance Property-Century 21 Singapore, noted that nearby Boon Keng saw a Design, Build and Sell Scheme unit go for over S$1 million in March. “People will try to capitalise on the resale (market) in five years’ time,” he added.

ERA Realty Network’s key executive officer Eugene Lim agreed: “Many applicants will likely try their luck for a unit as the potential for capital appreciation is very high.”

Mr Wong Xian Yang, OrangeTee’s head of research and consultancy, said the estate is very well located, being near Kallang MRT Station. “Those who are looking for accessibility and shorter travel times towards the CBD will be keen on Kallang Residences,” he said, adding that Bedok Beacon, with similarly strong attributes, located beside Bedok Mall and Bedok MRT, could also be highly sought after.

The latest launch brings the total BTO supply this year to 17,891 units, in line with the 18,000 units expected for the year. Together with the 10,178 balance flats offered in the May and November SBF exercises, a total of 28,069 flats have been launched this year.

The next exercise in February will see 4,100 BTO flats launched in Clementi, Punggol, Tampines and Woodlands — a signal, said some analysts, that the Government may maintain supply at a similar level next year.

After cutting back on public housing supply previously, the Government bumped up the numbers this year, in anticipation of higher demand due to policy tweaks that allowed more to buy HDB flats, such as raising the income ceiling for BTO flat buyers to S$12,000.

Although next February’s launch will be “marginally lower” than the 4,170 units launched in the same month this year, Scotia Real Estate Group’s chief investment officer Francis Tan said this was still more than the 3,995 units launched in February 2015. “It suggests that the demand for BTO flats is still healthy,” he said.

But HSR International Group CEO Jeffrey Hong felt that the BTO supply would “gradually be coming down” as there “might be a slight shift towards the resale demand of HDB flats and the neighbourhood condominiums, if prices remain unchanged or even decline in the next two quarters”.

“The HDB is unfortunately unable to control its prices due to the high cost of building, while resale owners are more flexible in terms of the selling price, when there is a real need for them to dispose (of their flats),” Mr Hong added.

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