Homes put up for mortgagee 
sale at auctions rise seven-fold

The number of homes put up for mortgagee sale at auctions surged seven-fold this year, property agency Colliers International said yesterday, warning that the worst had yet 
to come.

Of 529 properties put up for auction this year, 159, or 30 per cent, were mortgagee sales, five times the 32 properties put up by lenders in 2013. Of the mortgagee sales, 123 or 77 per cent were for housing, more than seven times the 17 homes listed by mortgagees last year.

“The higher number of mortgagee listings this year was on the back of the stricter regulatory and financing environment, in which borrowers in default are finding it challenging to sell properties on their own, as buyers generally remain cautious,” said Ms Annie Chan, director of Auction and Sales at Colliers.

“In addition to buyers having to fork out a higher cash outlay with measures such as Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty and Total Debt Servicing Ratio, there are concerns of a mounting supply of residential units and an impending increase in interest rates. The high number of bankruptcies could have also contributed to the increase in the number of properties put up for mortgagee sale,” she added.

The Insolvency and Public Trustee’s Office said 1,549 bankruptcy orders were made from January to October. Prices of private homes fell 0.7 per cent in the third quarter for a fourth consecutive quarterly decline, as cooling measures continued to bite, data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority showed.

Non-landed residential properties made up 65.4 per cent of mortgagee listings this year, while landed homes accounted for 11.9 per cent. Industrial and retail properties made up 10.7 per cent and 10.1 per cent, respectively, with office and other property types accounting for the balance.

Fifty-one non-landed homes in prime areas were put up for sale by mortgagees, including units in the newer prime Districts 1 and 4, in developments such as Marina Bay Residences and Reflections at Keppel Bay, as well as in traditional prime Districts 9 and 10, in projects such as Thong Sia Building in Orchard Road and Residences at Killiney.

“The subdued market sentiments are pronounced in these areas, as housing demand from both locals and foreigners has substantially weakened. Not only has it become challenging for local home buyers to secure loans, particularly for higher-priced properties, because of stringent loan curbs, but falling yields as a result of the softer rental market have also deterred investors,” Ms Chan said.

Buying interest from foreigners has been hit by the tax of 18 per cent for the property purchases, Colliers said.

Nine shoebox units were put up for mortgagee sale this year, an ominous sign after none had been put up in the past four years. Located at various locations such as Geylang and Wilkie Road, these small homes are generally priced below S$1 million.

“Investors are also drawn to shoebox apartments because of their relatively affordable price quantum. However, investors who are servicing more than one loan might have felt the heat from the increasingly competitive leasing market. Hence, those who are unable to secure tenants or have been hard-pressed to accept lower rents may find it a stretch to service their mortgages. This may then result in defaults in their monthly mortgage payments,” Ms Chan said.

Looking ahead, Colliers expect mortgagee sales to rise — particularly those of apartments and condominiums — as sellers continue to face increasing difficulties in disposing their properties in the resale market.

“Unless government curbs on the property market are relaxed, it is expected that the number of properties put up for mortgagee sale will continue to trend upwards to hit 200 in 2015,” said Ms Chan.

“Owners who are holding multiple properties may experience a further cash crunch, in view of the impending increase in interest rates and the challenge of renting out their units as more supply comes onto the market.”

Source : Today – 13 Dec 2014

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