1 Developers likely to spread out launches

With an ample supply of homes in the pipeline, and buying decisions still tempered by last year’s cooling measures, higher interest rates and geopolitical tensions, developers are likely to spread out their project launches to maintain sale prices, analysts say.

Since July, the median prices of new launches have not changed much, suggesting that developers may have found equilibrium and are comfortable moving 30 to 50 units a month.

Given the higher stamp duties they have to pay with the new measures and more stringent loan limits, home buyers are increasingly price-sensitive. Studio apartments would continue to be a popular choice.

Analysts estimate that between 10,000 and 14,000 new homes could be launched next year, of which 8,000 to 12,000 units could be sold, depending on market conditions. But the 10,000 to 14,000 units may be launched in phases, and some projects may not be launched next year, OrangeTee & Tie said.

2 Use of CPF funds for older HDB flats

By next year, buyers of shorter-lease flats may be able to use more of their Central Provident Fund (CPF) money for the purchase without compromising their retirement savings.

This is something the Government is looking into, following concerns about the value of an HDB flat as its 99-year lease dwindles that came to the fore in recent years.

Now, CPF monies can be used for the purchase of older HDB flats subject to certain restrictions, which kick in when the remaining lease is less than 60 years.

A home owner can use his CPF money if his age plus the number of years left on the lease of the property is at least 80 years, but subject to restrictions. No CPF money can be used if the remaining lease is less than 30 years.

Relaxing the rules would improve the liquidity of the resale market for older flats, observers have said.

3 All eyes on update to URA Masterplan

The Government’s development intentions for the next five years will be revealed in the updated masterplan from the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Of interest will be the subterranean plan mapping out underground spaces and their potential uses. URA is working towards a complete 3D map of what lies below ground that will also provide a database of infrastructure like pipelines and power grids.

“In land-scarce Singapore, it makes sense to explore the intensification of land use above and below ground,” property consultancy Edmund Tie & Company’s chief executive Ong Choon Fah said.

“We already have a number of subterranean uses such as the Jurong Rock Caverns project, and the CityLink Mall. The masterplan may explore uses that don’t require a lot of people to be down there, for example, more storage facilities.”

The masterplan is the statutory land use plan guiding Singapore’s development in the medium term over the next 10 to 15 years. It is reviewed every five years.

Ms Ong said: “There is a possibility URA may review some land uses in a sharing economy as the line between office, retail and residential land use classes is no longer as clear; there’s a convergence of uses as people look now for flexibility.”

Adapted from: The Straits Times, 20 December 2018

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