Resale condos going for under $1m - and not all are shoebox units

Citylights in Jalan Besar is among the projects in or near the central region with units going for less than $1 million.
Citylights in Jalan Besar is among the projects in or near the central region with units going for less than $1 million.PHOTO: CAPITALAND

Developers may be grumbling about the cooling measures, but for buyers they mean bargains can be found in the private home resale market - at $1 million or even less.

For instance, the proportion of freehold or 999-year leasehold homes resold at this price point rose from just 6 per cent from 2010 to the end of 2013, to 17 per cent in the period from 2014 to this month.

And if you imagine these homes were all shoebox-size, you would be wrong. Some larger units in good locations such as Bayshore Road have been selling for this amount.

The tide has now turned, several years after the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) was implemented in mid-2013, according to Mr Ong Kah Seng, R'ST Research director.

"In 2010 to 2012, $1 million was a sort of standard or expected price to pay, and it was unlikely buyers could get something good for less than that," he said. "Now, opportunistic buyers are referencing it as a ceiling price... They are scouring for properties significantly lower than $1 million. It is still not easy to get these deals, but definitely much easier than before."

These value buys are typically found on the resale market, he said.

Property owners who bought before home prices spiked from about 2010 can still make a profit, even in current weakened property market conditions. Even those who bought from 2010 to 2012 may still be able to break even as prices peaked in 2013.

"The price gap between resale properties and recently completed or new projects is still about 20 per cent or 25 per cent," said Mr Ong.

However, buying a resale property also means financing kicks in immediately, which means a buyer who is an investor must contend with the soft leasing market.

According to SRX data, projects in or near the central region with units going for less than $1 million include Citylights in Jalan Besar, Domus and The Tier in Novena, The Interweave in Balestier, RiverBay in Bendemeer, RV Edge in Tanglin and Wilkie 80 in Dhoby Ghaut.

In the popular East Coast, such projects include Questa @ Dunman and The Bayshore in Upper East Coast.

Other bargains may be found in the auction market, where more mortgagee sales are taking place.

Since the start of the fourth quarter of last year, units on auction with opening prices of less than $1 million included a 527 sq ft unit at the freehold Dunearn Suites, an owner's sale; and the mortgagee sale of a 790 sq ft walk-up apartment in Tiong Bahru, according to data from Colliers International.

Mortgagee sales should be on a stable uptrend this year and potentially exceed 270 in number, more than the number recorded during the global financial crisis in 2008, said Ms Grace Ng, deputy managing director of Colliers International.

"The rising interest rate will add further strain on borrowers... particularly for those holding multiple properties. However, the numbers are not expected to spike as the employment rate in Singapore remains high, enabling most owners to service their mortgage loans."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2016, with the headline 'Resale condos going for under $1m - and not all are shoebox units'. Print Edition | Subscribe