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  • Writer's pictureSerene Phua

Why Singapore property remains resilient through Covid-19 crisis

Updated: Jun 16, 2020


property resilient

World Health Organisation (WHO) announced Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic on 12 March 2020.

Since last December, on a worldwide basis, Covid-19 has claimed many lives, with countless of new confirmed cases everyday.

resilient property

Locally, the rising numbers of the infected cases and the number of deaths, mostly the elderly, is a worrying sign. Hence, an elevated set of measures, as a circuit breaker, were put in place since April 7 2020 to minimize the risks of community spread.

safe nation

It is good news that, with two months of circuit breaker, the local infected cases have been reduced to lower numbers. Circuit breaker has also come to an end, gradualy entering the 3 phases required to be back to a safe nation.



In our line of business, movement restrictions have yet to be uplifted at this point of time. Showflats still remain closed, physical viewings of resale units cannot be done. Many of my friends and family members have been sending me concerned messages, throughout this period, to check how I was coping. Thankful to reconnect with them, our conversations would end up discussing the property market in Singapore, how the property market will be affected or whether property prices would drop drastically.

 

With historical data from the past crisis over the last twenty five years, on private residential properties, it is shown that both sales volume do take a dive at the initial stages of the crisis. However, it is seen that Singapore’s GDP growth often recovered after 3 quarters of negative growth.

GDP growth

SARS & H1N1 epidemic

When we speak of Covid-19 that is affecting us now, many would inevitably link to past similar health crisis, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and H1N1, which happened in 2003 and 2009 respectively.

Research done by Orange Tee & Tie Research (refer above diagram), shows that from during SARS and H1N1, both prices and sales volume of non-landed units increased after the crisis.

sales volume

When SARS ended in 2013, there was an increase of 264.1% in the sales volume and an increase of 0.7% in the average unit price. Similarly, there was an increase of 32.9% in the sales volume and an increase of 48% in the average unit price when H1N1 was contained in 2009.

Looking at these figures, it explains why epidemics have limited impact on property market.

Although, from the way it looks right now, Covid-19 has done much more damage than what SARS and H1N1 did previously, it is still too early to determine that Covid-19 has negative impacts to the property market. In addition, the relief packages of almost S$100 billion from the government may help to cushion off the impact to the economy which could, in turn lend support to the property market.

Pre-Circuit breaker Sales

the M launch

The phenomenon of increase in private property sales volume can be seen happening in Covid-19 crisis.


During the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak in February 2020, new project launches sold pretty well, including The M and Parc Canberra (Executive Condominium). One bedder units were almost wiped out on the

day of the launch for The M, mainly by investors who see this as a good investment property.

parc canberra

Just before the start of the circuit breaker, Kopar at Newton sold 77 units, about 20% of the development was taken up. This was a rather good performance, considering that it was launched two weeks after private preview, with all the strict distancing measures the developer had to keep in place.

Circuit breaker

Movement restrictions and measures during the circuit breaker has definitely brought the sales volume to a significant decline, but it is not deterring buyers from buying properties.


virtual viewing

Virtual viewings can be arranged, documents to be signed electronically and courier services engaged to do the necessary.


Below are some information on the top 3 selling projects sold during circuit breaker from April 7 to June 1:

Treasure at Tampines (OCR) : 68 units

Parc Clematis (OCR) : 66 units

The Florence Residences (OCR) : 62 units

crisis

Surprisingly, it is also during this circuit breaker period when some super luxury and luxury new homes were sold.

Property purchase during crisis

It can be a good opportunity for investors to get good bargains during times like this, especially when many developers are giving additional discounts on star buy units for projects located at different parts of the island.

There is this Chinese saying: 危机就是生机 which means, turning crisis into opportunity.

Below is a breakdown of the various property transactions based on their market segments. This research is done by OrangeTee & Tie, with matched caveats and an analysis over 15,000 new homes purchased and sold from 2007 to 2020Q1.

caveats

From these statistics, it looks like most property transactions in the OCR (mass markets) were the profitable ones in the long term.


The chart below shows the the average gross profit made from the rest of central region (RCR) property transactions and the time period from which they were first purchased.

return of investment

From this chart, it is seen that the highest gross profits for buyers who purchased during the Global Finanacial Crisis ranged between $300,000/- to $400,000/-. This is a very high profit compared to property purchased at any other time. The M, launched in February, is located in RCR. Those buyers who purchased the units during the launch could probably fall into this category when they eventually sell the units years later.


Similar pattern was seen for RCR segment.

Property cooling measures

Property cooling measures were implemented from 2010, a total of ten rounds in changes till date.

resilient

With these measures, property buyers had to come up with more cash for the property purchase, resulting in them to have longer holding power. especially in current situations. This, in turn, will bring down the possibility on a a sudden surge of increase in supply of properties in the market, at low prices, due to fulfillment of mortgage loans.

What may happen after circuit breaker?

Foreign investors have always been attracted to Singapore as their investment destination, because of its stability. Such foreign investors wants their wealth to be preserved and not be exposed to unnecessary risks that could affect the value of their properties, such as political unrest or the changing of governments.

There are still many rich China investors who are snapping up luxury homes across Asia, to guard their wealth against anticipated inflation and a weakening yuan. Even during circuit breaker last month, there were three Chinese clients who bought six apartments worth a combined S$20 million (US$11 million) at Marina One Residences, without any virtual tours conducted. You can read more about it here.

Hong Kong has always been known for its very expensive properties and being an expensive city to live in. The continuous protests in Hong Kong since 2019 has caused a huge impact in its economic growth and the recent announcement on May 22 of plans to impose a national security law has pushed many Hong Kong residents to consider alternatives. This has in turn prompted renewed interest by Hong Kong residents seeking to either relocate or do invest in Singapore’s property.


resilient

The fact that there are transactions of the super luxury homes during circuit breaker, it could be an indication that there are still many ultra-rich investors who continue to view Singapore as an attractive investment destination and a safe haven to park their funds.


Wealthy investors seeking good buys will also take the recent price declines in Singapore properties as an opportunity to enter the market.

In March and April, there were news on foreigners praising Singapore’s government for the way they handled Covid-19 situation. One of them is an American who was so impressed that he shared on his Twitter.


Such reports help to further boost the confidence level of foreign investors on investing in Singapore’s property. We are probably expecting to see an increase in the number of foreign investors once travel bans are lifted.



No one is certain how long this Covid-19 crisis will stay, it probably depends on how soon Covid-19 vaccine gets developed.



A slowdown in the sales volume of property transactions may be seen in the next few months as measures are gradually being lifted. Singapore residential property market will probably see some uncertainties until then but the long term outlook for residential property remains positive, whether you are buying it for a house or an investment.

Not sure if it is a good time to sell your property or to proceed with the property investment you have been thinking about? Do connect with me and we can discuss further.


 

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About The Author


serene phua realtor

Serene is the Senior Associate Director of Orange Tee & Tie and has been in the real estate business since 2013. Through the years, she has assisted many clients in their different property needs. Many of these clients eventually become her friends over the years, something that she is very thankful for.

She is a fan of TV serials, Hong Kong, Taiwan, not forgetting local productions too. Singing is her way of releasing stress, especially with her ktv khakis. Whenever she gets to travel, her number one choice is definitely Taiwan, the food and the shopping is awesome! :)

She is also a mother to two lovely girls , elder sister is a bubbly 7 years old girl with the younger one coming to the terrible 2 this year. They are both her pride and joy, the elder one often helps out in the little things such as folding mailers in Serene's real estate business too.

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