Singapore Market Review
According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), Singapore’s economy expanded by 5.5% in Q4 2013 on a year-on-year basis, in comparison with growth of 5.8% in Q3 2013. On a quarter-on-quarter seasonally-adjusted annualised basis, Singapore’s economy expanded by 6.1% in Q4 2013, higher than the 0.3% growth in Q3 2013.

For the full year of 2013, the Singapore economy grew by 4.1%, an improvement from the 1.9% expansion in 2012. This exceeded MTI’s growth forecast of 3.5% to 4.0% for 2013.

The manufacturing sector expanded by 1.7% year-on-year in 2013, compared with the 0.3% growth in 2012. The construction sector grew by 5.9% in 2013, lower than the 8.6% growth in the previous year. The service sector grew by 5.3% in 2013, compared with the 2.0% growth in 2012.


RESIDENTIAL

Singapore’s private residential market continued to moderate in 2013 on the back of property cooling measures, including the implementation of the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework. According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), developers sold 18,536 units (including Executive Condominiums (ECs) of new homes in 2013, 30.6% less than the 26,696 units sold in 2012.

The TDSR framework, introduced in June 2013 by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to encourage prudent borrowings by households and to strengthen credit underwriting standards of financial institutions, greatly impacted the sales volume of the private residential market. New measures targeting the EC market were also introduced in December 2013 to align the terms of the EC scheme with that of public housing. A resale levy has been imposed on second-time applicants buying EC units directly from developers, for EC land sales launched on or after 9 December 2013. In addition, the MAS also moved to cap the Mortgage Servicing Ratio for EC loans at 30% of a borrower’s gross monthly income. These measures would have an impact on EC affordability and, consequently, pricing and sales volume of EC units.

For the whole of 2013, prices of private residential properties increased by 1.1% compared with 2.8% in 2012. URA data indicated that the Residential Property Price Index (PPI) increased from 212.0 points in 2012 to 214.3 points in 2013. Growth for rentals of private residential properties had slowed with an increase of 0.9% in 2013, as compared to a 2.1% increase in 2012.

In 2013, prices of private apartments decreased by 1.9% and 0.1% respectively in the Core Central Region (CCR) and the Rest of Central Region (RCR), while private apartments in the Outside Central Region (OCR) increased by 6.5%. CCR comprises the prime districts 9, 10, 11, Downtown Core and Sentosa Cove, while RCR refers to the area within the Central Region that is outside CCR.

The Venue Residences and Shoppes, a joint venture mixed-use development, was launched in October 2013.

Despite the tough market conditions, CDL had done well for project launches in 2013. Echelon, a 508-unit joint venture development at Alexandra View, is almost sold out with only three penthouses left since its launch in December 2012. Bartley Ridge, an 868-unit joint venture development located at Bartley Road / Mount Vernon Road saw strong take-up with about 90% of the project sold to date. D’Nest, a 912-unit condominium located at Pasir Ris Grove, is now 93% sold. The 616-unit Jewel @ Buangkok, a few minutes’ walk from Buangkok MRT station, achieved healthy sales with 86% of the 450 launched units sold. The Venue Residences and Shoppes, a joint venture mixed development at the junction of Upper Serangoon and MacPherson Roads with 266 residential units and 28 commercial units, saw encouraging sales with 50% of commercial units and 66% of 70 residential units released for sale taken up. Lush Acres, a 380-unit EC located at Sengkang, and The Inflora, a 396-unit joint venture condominium at Flora Drive in the Changi/Pasir Ris locale, are now sold out.

In view of the cooling measures, real estate advisory firm CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) expects private home sales volume to moderate to between 10,000 and 12,000 units in 2014.

The economic outlook for Singapore in 2014 remains relatively positive as the major world economies are expected to recover. Even as the residential market saw demand slightly dampened in 2013, with the strong economy, low interest rate environment, as well as Singapore’s attractiveness to investors and expatriates, demand for Singapore’s residential property market is expected to remain healthy in 2014.

The 2013 Draft Master Plan, which aims to house a bigger population in Singapore, appears to be encouraging for the private residential market. Subject to further review and gazetting, the Plan has identified areas such as Marina South, Kampung Bugis, and Paya Lebar for major redevelopment; all of which present good long-term growth opportunities for the industry.


OFFICE

URA statistics showed that the overall price index for office space increased by 5.2% in 2013, compared to 1.4% in 2012. The price indices for office space in the Central Area and Fringe Area increased by 6.3% and 7.2% respectively. The overall rental index for office space increased by 1.3% in 2013, compared to the 1.3% moderation in 2012. The rental index for office space in Central Area increased by 1.8% while that for Fringe Area increased by 0.6%. According to CBRE, leasing activity in the Central Business District (CBD) increased in 2013 on the back of relocation activities by corporations for office space upgrades and expansion.

Based on URA’s statistics, the island-wide occupancy rate of office space at the end of 2013 moderated slightly to 90.1%, from 90.6% in 2012. Total available office space as at end of 2013 was approximately 80.1 million square feet. About 12.1 million square feet of new office space is expected to be completed between 2014 and 2018. In the short to medium term, CBRE expects available office space in the CBD to tighten due to limited supply before the second half of 2016.

According to Colliers, Singapore is well-positioned to benefit from the strength of Asia’s continued economic growth. Singapore, with its business-friendly legal, tax and regulatory environments coupled with excellent infrastructure and strong connectivity with the global economy, remains the premium choice of destination for the headquarters of multi-national companies. In addition, Singapore is poised to continue to grow and develop as a financial and wealth management hub, a top destination for legal services and dispute resolutions, as well as a sustainable energy hub. The combination of these elements should ensure that Singapore remains a top business centre which will support demand for office space.


RETAIL

Supported by a strong economy and tourist arrivals, retail space in Singapore has drawn interest from international brands looking to expand or gain a foothold in the Asian market. Existing retailers in Singapore are also active in seeking expansion.

According to URA statistics, the island-wide occupancy rate of shop space for 2013 grew marginally to 95.5% on a year-on-year basis, a 0.7% increase from 94.8% in 2012. For 2013 as a whole, rentals of shop space decreased by 0.9%, compared with a decrease of 0.3% in 2012. In contrast, prices of shop space increased by 4.3% in 2013, compared with 2.0% in 2012. According to CBRE, the average monthly gross rents for prime retail space in Orchard was about $33.30 per square foot at the end of 2013, an increase of 5.4% from 2012.

Colliers has forecasted stronger retail sales figures in 2014 due to anticipated robust economic growth, the current low unemployment rate which will reasonably boost consumer confidence, and an expected increase in tourists’ arrivals. These factors will contribute to increased demand for retail space from international retailers and new retail start-ups alike. However, investors’ demand for strata-titled retail space is likely to moderate due to the impact of the TDSR framework on financing capacities.


HOTEL

The Singapore tourism industry continued to record strong growth for visitor arrivals in 2013. Singapore Tourism Board (STB) statistics showed that 15.5 million visitors visited Singapore in 2013, an increase of 6.9% year-on-year. Visitor arrivals from Singapore’s top five international visitor-generating markets (Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Australia and India) for the first half of 2013 accounted for 56% of total visitor arrivals. In addition, visitorship from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia and Japan saw strong double-digit growth in the same period.

STB’s hotel statistics showed that the overall hotel average room rate in 2013 was about $258.0, a decline of 1.4% compared to 2012. With the exception of the luxury hotel segment which posted an increase of 1.2%, standard average room rates decreased across all the hotel segments in 2013, while overall average occupancy rate remained relatively flat at 86%.

According to CBRE, tourism receipts is expected to rise with an anticipated increase in visitor arrivals, and forecasted to gross between $23.5 billion and $24.5 billion. While Singapore faces increasing competition from regional attractions in Asia and growing labour costs, Singapore’s status as a financial and business centre will continue to ensure its attractiveness for both tourists and business travellers.

 

Copyright © 2014 City Developments Limited. All rights reserved.