8 property-related topics you can bring up during Chinese New Year … – AsiaOne

This Chinese New Year, three things are certain: Mandarin oranges, ang pows and pineapple tarts.
From Jan 22, 2023 to the end of its 15-day run – this Lunar New Year celebration will see Singapore CNY celebrants wearing red and visiting as many houses as a property agent on a sunny day.
While the above activities are certain, the types of conversations you’ll have during these visits aren’t.
So, here’s an idea: since you’re visiting houses, and you’re familiar with the “property scene” (hey, you’re reading 99.co right?), why not discuss these 8 property-related topics among your grandparents, relatives and cousins?
Instead of “when are you getting married?” and “when are you having children?”, try “houses are expensive these days” and “do you know how much your house is worth?”
Since you know the postcode and address of the house you’re visiting, you can do an estimated check on the value of the property.
For example, you could be visiting your great-grandmother’s old condo, only to realise everyone’s sitting on a “Huat ah!” gold mine.
All you need to do is to visit 99.co Property Value Tool, enter the postcode, select property type (HDB, condo, etc.), floor level and unit. You’ll get an estimated value of how much the property is worth. We’ve even inserted a QR code here so you can invite your relatives to check theirs.
Note that the estimated value derived from our Property Value Tool is based on machine learning models across time, location and property attributes. The algorithm usually gives a less than 2-3per cent deviation of the property value from the final transacted price (based on past transacted records).
However, when buying and selling the property, HDB or the financial institution approving the home loan will require an official valuation report. You’ll then need to engage one of their recommended valuers to produce the report.
Still, with the estimated property value, your family, relatives and you can discuss ways to market and list the property (prior to engaging an agent). If the house has perceived disadvantages, there are ways to focus on the unit’s strengths and find a matching buyer.
Everyone in Singapore is discussing soaring rent and when it’ll stabilise.
Since you’re house visiting, you can also broach the subject of finding spare bedrooms and tenancy opportunities.
Maybe you have an overseas friend looking for work in Singapore who needs a place to rent?
It definitely pays if you can help your “friend” source for a cheaper rental alternative from your relatives. Whatever the case, conversations during house visits can revolve around rental prices or the potential rental value of the house you’re visiting.
During your house visit, you may be in a circle of uncles and granduncles who only talk about CPF, financial investments, politics, and that 5-million Toto draw.
What better way to sneak into their conversation than talking about the recent lower-than-expected US Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate? In December 2022, US inflation was 6.5 per cent (falling from November’s 7.1 per cent). There’s a glimmer of hope, but time will tell.
Lower inflation may see the US Federal Reserve ease its interest rate hikes.
This easing translates to lower costs for inter-bank lending, and that will spill over to consumer home loan or mortgage interest rates. Consumer home loan rates, traditionally based on SOR and Sibor, will transition to Sora.
Here’s a historical chart of SORA rates over the past two weeks:
Notice the slight dip in the daily rate on Jan 17, 2023? Monitor that diligently. (Source: Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS))
Due to hikes in interest rates (and the resulting mortgage rates), the government introduced cooling measures on 30 September 2022 to ensure responsible borrowing among home buyers and sellers. This includes the higher stress-test interest rates for loan approval.
Hopefully, as the US CPI trends downwards through 2023, we’ll see a greater easing in the US interest rate hikes and lower stress-test interest rates when we refinance our home loans this year.
The next HDB BTO exercise takes place in February 2023, so not too far off. In fact, you can even discuss this during your Reunion Dinners on Jan 21, 2023.
To be eligible for a BTO flat, an existing homeowner must first sell his existing house.
If it’s an HDB flat, he or she must complete his/her Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) and sell the flat within 6 months of collecting the keys to his/her new flat.
If it’s an EC, condo or landed house, he or she has to sell the property first and wait 30 months before he/she can apply for one. If the existing property is a new EC (the five-year MOP applies). If it’s a resale EC or private property, then there’s Sellers’ Stamp Duty if sold within three years.
The HDB BTO February 2023 estates cover Jurong West, Kallang/Whampoa, Queenstown and Tengah:
 This round, 5-room flats will only be available at the Tengah estate (unlike the HDB BTO November 2022 exercise, where 5-rooms were offered at Bukit Batok, Tengah and Yishun).
During your conversation, you can discuss how some projects are near MRT stations (eg. Jurong West, Queenstown and the Farrer Park BTOs). In fact, the Farrer Park BTO site will be unique because of its integration with sports facilities and proximity to the Picadilly Grand condominium.
If you’re visiting relatives staying in condos in the OCR, CCR or RCR, this conversation topic might interest them.
We’ve covered several related topics:
For instance, you can talk about the 7,050-sqft condo unit in Reflections at Keppel Bay, which was sold for $17.6 million in September 2022. The sale netted the owners a capital gain of $6.6m (60.2 per cent), despite living there for only one year. 
Yes – a $6.6 million gain after only one year.
You can also steer the discussion around holding periods – is it better to hold onto a property for X amount of years and realise higher capital gains, or is it better to sell it off early?
One example includes the 19-year-holding seller from Hillview Park (OCR), who bought his 1,248 sqft unit for $465k in 2003 and sold it for $1.78 million in 2022, seeing a 238 per cent capital gain (an annualised gain of 7.19 per cent).
Naturally, you may also want to discuss the capital losses.
For example, the owner of a 3,412-square-foot, 4-bedroom penthouse at Sentosa’s Marina Collection suffered a capital loss of $2.65 million  in November 2022. He bought the unit for $7.7 million in May 2010 and held it for 12.4 years before selling it for $5.05 million in November 2022. That’s a 34.42 per cent capital loss, or -3.34 per cent annually.
Watch it, though – if the apartment you’re visiting is in the same development as a similar condo unit that was sold at a loss, you might want to be respectful to the homeowner and not bring it up at all… (you can, however, check 99.co Property Value Tool to see its price trends).
If the neighbourhood you’re visiting has been in the news lately (eg. en bloc/collective sale, or there’s an ongoing government land sale tender nearby), it may make for some interesting conversations during your CNY house visit.
It could galvanise some speculative talk because as the housing supply in the area increases, the value of existing houses may slow down. Note that we’re currently experiencing a glut in the housing supply.
A few new sites are earmarked for tender in H1 2023 (and some tenders are ongoing). Several tendered projects are underway, like a few developments at the Lentor Estate neighbourhood and Jalan Anak Bukit.
One of the more interesting upcoming tenders is Jurong Lake District, a whopping 6.8-hectare site covering 100,000 square metres of commercial space. This site may in some way link Jurong East MRT station with the Jurong Lake District MRT station, so that’s a huge project to follow.
Also, the Government Reserve List has six residential sites, which include two EC sites at Senja Close and Tengah’s Plantation Close. The Reserve List shows a list of land sites that will only be launched for tender upon successful application by bidders.
ALSO READ: House hunting during Chinese New Year? Virtual viewings are the key
Here’s another way to impress your relatives (or a potential girlfriend/boyfriend/significant other at the house).
You can peer out of the house (eg. look out of the balcony or window), share your findings from the URA Master Plan and highlight other developments being earmarked around the area.
At the Master Plan site, enter the postcode of the house you’re at, and you’ll be able to see what URA’s development plans are around it. Light orange sites are residential, while the number denotes the ‘plot ratio’.
Depending on its land area size, a higher plot ratio usually means a much taller or denser development. This may affect the existing property’s unblocked view in the future. You can also highlight the school sites in the area (off-white land sites with E). This will be useful if there are parents in the group thinking of moving to a neighbourhood with more schooling options. It wouldn’t hurt to talk about the new home-school distance or use 99.co’s house search using school proximity as a filter.
Perhaps you know of upcoming infrastructural upgrades in the vicinity, such as a new MRT network (eg. Cross-Island Line, Thomson-East Coast Line), transport hub or shopping mall. These usually increase the value of the property you’re at (and make your host happy).
Last but not least, there is a high likelihood this CNY’s conversation themes will revolve around record-breaking million-dollar HDB resale flats or sold-out condos and ECs. We’ve covered quite a few here:
June 2022: Million-dollar 4-room HDB resale flats: What, Where, Why and When?
July 2022: New all-time high HDB resale: 5-room HDB in Dawson sold for $1.418 million
September 2022: First million-dollar HDB resale flats sold in Tampines and Punggol
October 2022: 9 HDB resale and 7 condos which broke all-time-high records before and after the September 30 cooling measure
October 2022: 1,001-sqft Pinnacle@Duxton flat sold for $1.37 million at record $1,369 psf – most expensive 4-room HDB resale in Singapore
October 2022: 1,679-sqft penthouse at Copen Grand sold for $2.173 million, a record for new launch ECs
October 2022: Multi-generation HDB resale flat at 666 Yishun Avenue 4 sold for a record $1.063 million
October 2022: Nearly all ECs resold in the past 15 years made a profit averaging $300k
November 2022: Record prices set by recently MOP-ed BTO flats: 732 sq ft Ang Mo Kio flat sold for $710k
November 2022: Recently MOP-ed 5-room HDB resale flat at Sembawang sold for record $745k
December 2022: December 2022 records: 5-room DBSS in Jurong West sold for $858k, 2-room HDB in Choa Chu Kang sold for $318k
December 2022: Record-breaking HDB resale maisonettes: Toh Yi Drive flat sold for $1.3 million, Jurong East flat sold for $1 million
January 2023: Tenet EC is 93.2 per cent sold to date, paves the way for other new launch ECs
If you’re visiting someone’s HDB neighbourhood with a history of million-dollar flat sales, you can:
If it’s an EC, you can talk about upcoming EC projects or how nearly all ECs resold over the past 15 years made average profits of $300k each. If it’s a condo, you can discuss new launches, like Sceneca Residence, Enchante, Lentor Modern or upcoming ones we’ve listed here.
We hope whatever conversations you have or show to your relatives and friends this Chinese New Year, they’re filled with hope, optimism, reflection and prosperity. 
This article was first published in 99.co.

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