Original article from Straits Times published 15th Nov 2017

A series of blockbuster land deals in Singapore this year signal the property market is set to break out of its prolonged slump next year. A Chinese group lobbed a winning record bid for a residential plot, while Guocoland paid a record per-square-foot price for an office development site in the Central Business District.

Office rents last quarter rose for the first time in 2½ years and home prices ended a four-year slide.

The spending spree may not be over, with more than $3.3 billion of land deals set to be completed by the end of the year, pushing the annual total to $14 billion, the highest since 2011, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

“Singapore’s residential and office market has passed its inflection point, embarking on an exciting recovery journey,” said Cushman director of research Christine Li.

“With brighter economic prospects and improved market sentiment in the next two to three years, developers are increasingly sourcing land sites to ride the wave of growth for the rest of the decade.”

Singapore in March relaxed some home-buying restrictions, unleashing pent-up demand in a market where property ownership as a proportion of household assets is near a record low.

Home prices could rise as much as 10 per cent next year, according to analysts from Morgan Stanley, BNP Paribas and UOB Kay Hian.

Brokers including Cushman and CBRE Group predict office rents will climb 7 per cent to 9 per cent as an oversupply of space eases. The resurgence in deals suggests Singapore is on course to emulate Hong Kong’s red-hot property market, where home values have surged to record highs – following a jump in land prices last year – and office towers have fetched eye-popping prices. With housing affordability much better in Singapore, there may be a surge in demand next year, according to BNP Paribas.

“Singapore’s property market has largely turned the corner, underpinned by a brightening economic outlook,” JLL Singapore head of research and consultancy Tay Huey Ying said.

Residential and Grade A office assets are poised to remain investor favourites for the rest of this year and next year, she said. Residential land sales were boosted by redevelopment deals, or so-called collective sales, where a group of owners band together to sell entire apartment blocks, allowing developers to knock them down and build anew in a city where new residential land sales are tightly controlled by the Government.

These deals have topped $6.3 billion this year, the highest since 2007.