LUXURY HOME PRICES UP DESPITE LOWER SALES

Singapore Luxury Homes 2022H1

SLOWDOWN IN LUXURY HOME SALES

A lower number of luxury homes were sold in 2022H1 compared to 2021H2 as sticky inflation, interest rates hikes, recession risks and uncertainties from geopolitical fronts dampened investors’ confidence.

Caveat data shows that all three luxury segments were affected: Good Class bungalows (GCBs), bungalows at Sentosa Cove and luxury apartments in the Core Central Region (CCR).

In 2022H1, there were 28 bungalow deals in the GCB areas, down from 35 deals in 2021H2 and 55 deals in 2021H1. Over at Sentosa Cove, 8 bungalows were sold in 2022H1, compared with 15 and 11 bungalows sold in 2021H2 and 2021H1 respectively.

Despite the lower sales, bungalow prices were still heading up. The average price of $1,760 psf for the bungalows in GCB areas was 3.6% higher than the $1,698 psf in 2021H2. Over at Sentosa Cove, the average price of bungalows had risen by 6.2% to $1,881 from $1,771 psf in 2021H2. As a general yardstick for comparison, these average prices do not take into account the differences in location, age, built-up area, orientation, etc.

Similarly for luxury apartments, 219 units were sold in 2022H1, lower than the 296 units sold in 2021H1 and 245 units sold in 2021H1. The deals reflected an average price of $2,971 psf, a shade higher than the $2,966 psf in 2021H2.

Following the strong sales activity in 2021 there seems to be fewer good bungalows available for sale in 2022 Also, some properties have been taken off the market as owners are not desperate to sell and would rather wait for the best offers Meanwhile, they can lease their properties to ultra high net worth (UHNW) foreigners who are waiting for the approval for their Singapore permanent residence or citizenship Some of the very large and luxurious bungalows that are designed by renown architects were able to fetch premium rents of above $100,000 per month As for luxury apartments, the top range could fetch rental of between $40,000 and $60,000 per month.


LUXURY SALES VOLUME

 

GOOD CLASS BUNGALOWS (GCBs)

Based on caveat data, 28 bungalows were sold in 2022H1, slowing down from 35 deals in 2021H1  and 55 deals in 2021H1. However, bungalow prices were still heading up despite the lower volume. The total transaction value of $691.42 mil reflects a per square foot rate of $1,760, which is 3.6% higher than the $1,698 psf in 2021H2 and 4.2% higher than the $1,689 psf in 2021H1. An interesting note is that of the 28 bungalow deals in 2022H1, 12 of them were sold at above $2,000 psf where as in the whole of 2021, only 14 out of the 90 bungalow deals crossed the same threshold.

Notable transactions included a bungalow at Gallop Park Road that was sold at $2,723 psf or $35.5 mil in March and a bungalow at Olive Road that was sold at $1,800 psf or $50.2 mil in April. The last record price in the Gallop Park/ Gallop Road area was $1,940 psf, for a GCB that was sold in December 2020. The Olive Road GCB trumped the previous record of $1,537 psf achieved by its opposite neighbour in June 2021.

The rental market of bungalows in the GCB areas has come into focus in recent months as more of such properties were known to be leased at phenomenal levels. It was reported in June that a 12-year-old bungalow at Queen Astrid Park was leased at $200,000 a month, or $2.4 mil a year. This could well be the highest known rental fetched by a GCB. Statistics from URA showed that a GCB at Dalvey Estate was leased in April for $150,000 per month while another GCB at Jalan Asuhan  was leased at $128,000 per month. To achieve such rentals, these bungalows are usually fairly new, with a large sprawling land, a generous built-up area of over 20,000 sq ft and designed by renown architects, These tenants are willing to pay not only to enjoy the luxury lifestyle, but also for the status symbol and to be able to entertain their friends.

SENTOSA COVE BUNGALOWS

Eight bungalows at Sentosa Cove were known to be sold in 2022H1, after a short-lived resurgence in sales activity in 2021 leading to 26 bungalow deals through the year.  

Prior to the worsening macroeconomic and geopolitical issues in early 2022, there was the cooling measures introduced in December 2021 which raised the upfront costs for home buyers. All foreign buyers have to pay a 30% additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD), up from 20% previously. Buyers who are permanent residents (PRs) have to pay ABSD of 25% and 30% for the second and third property purchase respectively. The Sentosa Cove bungalow market has been relatively more reliant on these two groups of buyers because it is the only location in Singapore where foreigners and PRs can get approval to buy landed homes.

The eight bungalows sold in 2022H1 amounted to $108.25 mil which translates to $1,881 psf. This per square foot rate is a 6.2% increase over the $1,771 psf achieved in 2021H2, in line with the price uptrend in the wider residential market.

Caveat data showed that the investors in 2022H1 were predominantly Singaporeans. The 8 bungalows were bought by four Singaporeans, two foreigners and two PRs. The foreign and PR investors were from Brazil, China, Indonesia and Portugal.

LUXURY APARTMENTS

In 2022H1, 219 luxury apartments were sold, slowing down from 296 transactions in 2021H2 and also lower than the 267 units sold in 2021H1. Of the 219 units, 191 units were in the $5-$10 mil price band and 28 units were priced from $10 mil and above. Besides the dampening effect of the macroeconomic factors and war in Ukraine, there was no new launch of luxury projects to stimulate the market. 

An analysis of the prices showed that the average price of apartments within the $5-$10 mil band rose by 6.8% to $2,715 psf from six months ago while the price of apartments priced from $10 mil onwards edged up by a marginal 0.5% to $4,113 psf. This could be attributed to the scarcity of such large sized, pristine quality trophy homes available for sale. Developers are less keen to provide for them in new projects because due to the high price quantum, they usually take a longer time to sell. 

A notable deal during the period included the sale of the second and final penthouse at the ultra-luxurious Les Maisons Nassim  at $59.77 mil or $4,953 psf to a permanent resident. The price included the customisation of the unit but exclude finishes and fittings so that the buyer can fit it out according to his own preference. Another significant deal was the sale of a 4,609 sq ft,  four-bedroom apartment at The Nassim for $20 mil or $4,915 psf, inclusive of furniture and fittings.

Similar to the bungalow market, luxury apartments with floor areas of 6,000-7,300 sq ft were known to clinch top rents in 2022H1. The highest rental of $65,000 per month went to a five-bedroom apartment in The Nassim, followed by $60,000 per month to a four-bedroom apartment in The Marq. A four-bedroom penthouse at V On Shenton was leased at $48,000 per month in April.

 

By residential status, the luxury apartment buyers comprised 75 foreigners (34%), 61 PRs (28%) and 82 Singaporeans (37%). Back in 2021H2, buyers of the 296 units comprised 87 foreigners and 87 PRs (29% each) and 120 Singaporeans (41%).

The top five foreign investors (including PRs) in 2022H1 came from China, USA, Indonesia, Malaysia and Korea.

At this point, it is still too early to tell whether the demand for luxury homes from foreign investors has returned even though the lifting of travel restrictions has boosted investors’ confidence. Besides the hike in ABSD for foreign buyers, recent market instability, such as the turbulent stock markets and the volatile cryptocurrency market, could have led to foreigners exploring their options in the Singapore property market.

PROFILE OF BUYERS OF LUXURY APARTMENTS IN CORE CENTRAL REGION

 

OUTLOOK

Singapore has been courting billionaires to its shores with tax breaks and a friendly business environment. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) estimated that there were about 700 single family offices at the end of 2021, compared with about 400 as at end-2020. In the first four months 2022, MAS approved more than 100 applications to set up family offices, underlining the island state’s growing stature as a preferred investment destination for the rich.

Large companies like L’Oreal, Moet Hennessy and VF Corporation have relocated to Singapore from Hong Kong because people are attracted to the ease of business, family friendliness, tax incentives and open borders. More are expected to come.

These factors will continue to support the sale and rental of luxury homes, in addition to the growing pool of wealthy locals. Nevertheless, we do expect a slowdown in sales volume in 2022H2 due to rising inflation and interest rates as well as repercussions from the war in Ukraine.