Singapore’s cooling property market may be denting demand even for sites in some of the city’s most exclusive districts, with analysts predicting that a newly launched project in the Orchard Road area could sell for up to 37 percent below prices paid for a nearby parcel five years ago.
The city-state’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Tuesday opened a tender for a 75,686 square foot (7,031.5 square metre) land plot on Orchard Boulevard which can be developed into 280 new homes above a single floor of retail shops linking directly to the Orchard Boulevard MRT station.
The 99-year leasehold site at the intersection with Grange Road is the first Orchard area residential plot put up for sale by the government in five years, but could struggle to draw even three offers at prices around S$1,500 per square foot of built area. Analysts see higher duties on home purchases by non-residents deterring development in a neighbourhood popular with wealthy investors from around the region at the same time that the overall market slows.
“With the cooling measures crimping demand from foreigners, the (project’s) unit mix, size and quantum will have to cater more towards the local market,” said Huttons Asia senior director for data analytics Lee Sze Teck, who predicted a winning bid of around S$397.4 million for the plot. “Developers are likely to tread carefully especially when interest rates may stay higher for longer.”
Turning to Local Demand
The 99-year leasehold Orchard Boulevard site has a maximum gross floor area of 264,910 square feet with about 5,380 square metres of space allotted for commercial use.
The parcel is located a few streets away from the famous Orchard Road shopping belt and is close to some of the most exclusive residential neighbourhoods in the city-state, like the Chatsworth Park good-class bungalow area, which is set aside for fully-detached homes with large yards.
Wong Siew Ying, research and content head at PropNex Realty, also anticipates cautious bidding for the tender set to close on 1 February next year, but foresees the project potentially drawing up to four offers ranging from S$477 million to S$530 million, valuing the project at S$1,800 to S$2,000 per square foot of built area.
Wong said that the most recent URA site brought to market in the Orchard area was in May 2018, when a nearby plot along Cuscaden Road was awarded to a consortium of Singapore’s SC Global and its Hong Kong-based partners, New World Development and Far East Consortium.
That plot where the 192-unit Cuscaden Reserve luxury condo project currently sits sold for S$410 million or S$2,377 per square foot of built area. Propnex’ high-end estimate for the Orchard Boulevard site is about 16 percent less than the price paid for the Cuscaden Reserve plot, with Huttons Asia pegging the winning bid at around 37 below the rate for the 2018 deal.
Among the reasons for the low expectations are Singapore’s April increases in stamp duty on home prices that doubled rates for most non-resident buyers.
“Developers will be cognizant of the impact of April’s doubling of the additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD)… that they may have to tap the local demand pool more extensively to move sales for CCR (Core Central Region) homes,” Wong said. “Local buyers may have different unit-mix requirements and tend to be more price-conscious compared to foreign buyers and investors.”
Bidders for the Orchard Boulevard site are also likely to consider Singapore’s growing inventory of unsold homes, which swelled to 5,300 unsold units by the end of September, according to URA data.
Last Three Land Sales
Singapore’s government land sales have been receiving tepid response from developers this year, with a tender for a Lentor Central site last month attracting just two bids, as rising interest rates deter buyers and the government continues to ramp up home supply.
With prospects for home sales dimming, analysts expect limited demand for the last three URA sites being put up for tender this year.
“They (developers) are likely to exercise greater caution and place their bets strategically, with a preference towards smaller to medium sized sites and sites with low future market competition,” Wong Xian Yang, research head at Cushman and Wakefield, said in response to media queries earlier this month, regarding the tenders closing on 7 November.
Private home sales across the city-state dropped to a nine-month low of just 217 units in September due to the absence of major project launches that usually prop up sales.