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PROPERTY: Where to find homes at or below $600,000

They include executive condos as well as older private apartments in suburban locations

THE property market has quietened considerably this year, but prices have yet to fall.

Nevertheless, if you have a modest budget of about $600,000 for a home, your choices are not just confined to HDB flats.

Some fairly new executive condominiums as well as older private condos or apartments are within reach, if you look hard enough.

These are typically 99-year leasehold properties in suburban locations such as Woodlands, Choa Chu Kang and Jurong.

Some city-fringe locations such as Geylang, where the red-light district is nestled, or small apartments in places such as Upper East Coast Road, may also offer some bargains. Landed homes, however, will require a bigger budget. So will new condo launches, unless you do not mind tiny studio apartments.

New versus Old

BUYERS tend to prefer buying new properties directly from developers, rather than old ones. They are drawn by the slick marketing promotions put out by developers and pay a premium for their new homes. But new properties may not be worth buying when you have a tight budget.

‘In 2006, all the record prices were achieved by new launches,’ said Knight Frank’s director of research and consultancy, Mr Nicholas Mak.

‘Units at Ardmore Park, an older development which is in a very good location and is well-maintained, were transacted at much lower prices than those in new high-end condos in not-so-good locations.’

It is the same in suburban locations, as buyers pay more for what is new, he said.

The 99-year leasehold apartments at the 636-unit Maysprings in the Bukit Panjang area are mostly going for $650,000 and below. A year ago, they went for $500,000 and below.

The 17-year-old, 616-unit Orchid Park Condominium in Yishun, which faces Lower Seletar Reservoir, also had some units that went for around $600,000.

At the West Bay Condominium, a 936 sq ft unit was sold for $585,000 in January, while a bigger 1,216 sq ft unit went for $650,000.

Studio apartments, which can range from around 500 sq ft to 600 sq ft, can be bought for $600,000 or less.

The only problem is that there are not many of them in suburban projects, Mr Mak pointed out.

Private versus HDB

NOW that HDB prices have risen and there is overwhelming demand for new HDB flats, buyers may do well to consider private homes if they can afford them.

‘There will be growing demand for mass market properties as Singapore continues to create jobs,’ said Savills Singapore’s director of business development and marketing, Mr Ku Swee Yong. The opening of the two integrated resorts alone will create a significant number of entry-level jobs, he said.

‘Our unemployment rate is at a 10-year low, which means that we will need foreigners for some of these jobs,’ he said. ‘As long as rental values remain strong, capital values should also trend up.’

For those buyers who may one day want to rent out their homes, a private property could be a better choice than an HDB flat.

First of all, not everybody can buy an HDB flat. Also, there are leasing restrictions.

Yields may be higher for some HDB flats than private homes, but a private condo unit may be easier to rent out as condos usually come with amenities and security, property consultants said.

On average, net rental yields for private homes across Singapore are at 3.6 per cent, said Mr Mak.

Government data shows that the median rental rate in the fourth quarter of last year for Maysprings was $2.38 per sq ft a month. For a 904 sq ft unit at Maysprings, the rent would work out to $2,151 a month, or a 5.2 per cent gross yield.

The median rate was $2.09 psf for Orchid Park Condominium and $2.98 psf for West Bay Condominium.

Using this rate, the rent at West Bay Condominium would work out to $2,789 a month for a 936 sq ft unit.

Whether you are buying a property to live in or to rent out, know that you have a fair number of choices even if your budget is only $600,000.


Source: The Sunday Times 17 Feb 08


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