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Thread: Prices and rentals of landed homes set to rise

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    Default Prices and rentals of landed homes set to rise

    Published March 27, 2008

    Prices and rentals of landed homes set to rise

    Land scarcity in Singapore should ensure sustainable capital growth in landed housing in the medium to long term, write STEVEN MING and AVIN SEOW


    LANDED homes saw their strongest price rise last year since 1994 but they have yet to catch up with their non-landed counterparts, leaving room for more capital as well as rental growth in 2008. Prices of landed homes rose 23.4 per cent last year, going by the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) index of landed private residential property island-wide. This growth rate reaffirmed the upward trend, especially compared with the negligible growth in previous years - 0.6 per cent in 2004 and 2.4 per cent in 2005.

    For landed homes in the suburban areas, average prices rose to $636 per sq ft, an increase of 45.1 per cent year-on-year. Landed homes in the prime districts of 9, 10 and 11 enjoyed healthy capital growth of 24.3 per cent to reach $961 per sq ft in 4Q 2007.

    Good Class Bungalows (GCBs) were the star performers in 2007. According to URA numbers, average prices of GCBs surged 58.7 per cent year-on-year to $763 psf from $539 psf in 2006. The average cost of a GCB stood at $13.8 million in 2007, compared to $10.3 million in the preceding year. The trend of some GCBs being sold and resold within 12 to 18 months continued into 2007.

    An example of this trend is a GCB at First Avenue that was sold for $10 million in September 2007, only to be resold at $12.5 million in October 2007, and then resold again at $16 million in December 2007. This is a whopping increase of 60 per cent in just four months.

    Boasting a unique waterfront lifestyle, new 99-year leasehold homes on Sentosa Cove have redefined luxury landed living since their emergence in 2004. Expatriates and overseas investors have since lent much support to the capital growth in this segment. Average prices climbed 20.8 per cent to $1,463 psf by end-2007.

    Another trend which we have observed is the increasing popularity of cluster housing. Since it resurfaced in 2000, this lifestyle concept has become ever more popular, especially among younger home owners and permanent residents. Cluster houses, offering shared facilities, blend the elements of landed property with condominium style living. Known as strata landed housing, these developments may be bungalows, terraced or semi-detached homes. Some developers have added more exclusivity to their projects by including a private swimming pool in each house. Notable launches last year were Dunsfold 18 and 8 @ Stratton in Stratton Green, both of which received good sales response.

    There are several reasons for optimism across all landed housing segments this year. We believe that more capital gains can be expected this year since the price index of landed homes remains some 25 per cent below the peak of 2Q 1996. Landed homes have yet to see the sharp price rises of their non-landed counterparts. Emerging from a relatively low base, landed properties may be more appealing to investors this year.

    Secondly, landed housing will always be considered a luxury in land scarce Singapore. This inherent scarcity should continue to lend support to the landed housing market. As such, GCBs look poised for yet another good year of capital value growth. It would not be surprising to see average GCB land prices cross $900 psf in 2008, due to the scarcity of such bungalows (there are an estimated 2,500 of them) coupled with the rising transacted prices on Sentosa Cove.

    Similarly, landed homes on Sentosa Cove should continue to trend higher. Unlike those on the mainland, these houses have a broader market. There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of landed homes on Sentosa Cove. The continued influx of expatriates, together with the growing appetite of the rich for something unique and exclusive, is likely to fuel prices of these luxurious homes.

    Rental yields are an attractive component of property investments, providing landlords with regular and stable income. Landed properties have become increasingly popular with tenants, with rents rising at their fastest pace in seven years. As at 4Q 2007, average rents of terrace houses and semi-detached houses climbed to $1.87 and $2.22 psf per month respectively, up 52 per cent year on year, while rents for detached houses rose by 23 per cent to $3.09 psf per month.

    Rental growth is clearly outpacing capital growth for landed homes, and with the expectation that landed home prices will catch up this year, landed properties could offer an investor both healthy rental and capital gains in 2008 and beyond.

    Given the above factors, the landed housing market should be able to attain capital gains of 10 to 20 per cent this year, notwithstanding the continued US credit turmoil. Singapore's property market remains fundamentally sound, backed by a robust job market and an expanding economy. Perhaps the most fundamental fact is the scarcity of land in Singapore which should ensure sustainable capital growth in landed housing in the medium to long term.

    Steven Ming is director at Savills Prestige Homes and Avin Seow, analyst, Savills Research & Consultancy.

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