The Core Central Region (CCR), also referred to as the prime region, has some of the most expensive luxury condos in Singapore. It’s one of the most exciting regions in the Singapore private property market – both due to the prestige attached with a CCR address, and the competitiveness of developments (condos here are always trying to outdo each other in terms of luxury and novelty, from private lifts for your car, to indoor swimming pools!)
As part of an ongoing series, this article will examine the current factors and prices of CCR districts as of 2021:
By convention, the following districts are considered to make up the CCR:
1. District 1 (Raffles Place, Marina Bay, some parts of Chinatown)
Condo prices in D1 currently stand at around $2,019 psf. Note that this is entirely reflective of resale prices, as there have been no new launch transactions in District 1 since October 2019.
Rental rates in D1 are only recorded up till August 2020. At the time, they were around $4.54 psf.
2. District 2 (Chinatown, Tanjong Pagar, some parts of Raffles Place)
Transaction volumes have been low in District 2, with the last new launch dating back to May 2019. At present, prices are at $2,081 psf.
Rental rates in D2 average $4.98 psf, mainly thanks to Chinatown. Condos near Chinatown MRT are considered by some to be the best in the CCR, as you also have a lot of food and entertainment in the surroundings.
3. District 6 (City Hall)
Unfortunately, the data for this district is not so useful, as the transaction volume is extremely low. There are fewer residential properties here, and new launches are rare; but here are the last few transactions:
The last transaction, in November 2020, was at $3,206 psf; but take it with a grain of salt, as prices are volatile given the low volume.
Note that we can expect an uptick soon, with the redevelopment of Liang Court into the new Canninghill Square.
Rental rates in D6 have averaged $7.29 psf as of August 2020. Landlords are benefiting from changes in the Beach Road/Bugis area. As the Ophir-Rochor Corridor develops, we will likely see a spillover as tenants identify D6 as the next closest alternative.
4. District 9 (Orchard and Cairnhill)
Prices in D9 currently average $2,287 psf. Notably, volumes have started to pick up again, after the last round of cooling measures in 2018. This is partly due to the large number of new launches from 2020, with a further slate of upcoming – albeit smaller – launches this year.
A further pick-up is likely, due to some strong recent launches; in particular Kopar at Newton (from 2019) and The Atelier this year. Both are within walking distance of Newton MRT.
Rental rates in D9 averaged $4.12 psf in August 2020. Rates have been on a notable decline since the circuit breaker in April 2020; this may be related to fewer expat workers coming into the country, or the existing ones making plans to return home.
5. District 10 (Holland V, Bukit Timah)
Prices in D10 average $2,096 psf. Over the past year, this has been driven by a slew of strong launches such as One Holland Residences, Van Holland, Leedon Green, and Hyll on Holland. Note that prices are now – on average – higher than the period before the 2018 cooling measures (around $2,035 psf in January 2018).
D10 is quite competitive for landlords, especially around the Holland V area. Nonetheless, rental rates have managed a slight uptick to $3.38 psf as of August 2020. This area is likely to remain challenging however, with the aforementioned new launches presenting strong alternatives to the older condos here.
6. District 11 (Novena, some parts of Bukit Timah)
Prices in D11 have climbed to $1,924 psf, an impressive recovery from the cooling measures in 2018. Just after the cooling measures they had fallen to $1,575 psf, but in just around two years they seem to climbing to a new peak.
Rental rates in D11 have been on an uptrend since May, and are currently at $3.29 psf.
CCR condo launch list for 2020 / 2021
Key trends in the CCR
1. Sliding behind the RCR for the first time
In July of 2020, D7 overtook D9 in terms of price per square foot; they now average $2,513 psf, ahead of their Orchard Road counterparts.
Note that in terms of overall quantum, District 9 is still more expensive – the average price of a D9 condo is about $2.85 million, whereas the average price in D7 is just around $1.57 million. This is also partly due to size – we can credit it to recent D7 launches such as The M and Midtown Modern, where we saw units priced at $1.3 million or under, while reaching about $3,000 psf.
That said, D7 is showing that it has the potential to one day overtake Orchard. This could happen as Singapore decentralises further, or the centre of gravity shifts more toward the Beach Road / Bugis area, as the Ophir-Rochor Corridor opens up. This is likely to be much farther into the future, however.
2. Rental rates likely to be impacted by Covid-19
The weakening rental market in CCR districts is likely to continue, if the overall economy doesn’t spring back fast from Covid-19. This is because CCR properties have a larger proportion of rental units, versus owner-occupied units.
During a weak economy, companies tend to scale back. This can lead to less generous expat packages, and smaller housing allowances. The increased price sensitivity tends to benefit the Rest of Central Region (RCR) over the CCR – this is because expats will move to the city fringe where rental is more affordable, and the distance from the CBD is still tolerable.
This is not a new phenomenon, and landlords who have been invested in the CCR for a long time are well familiar with it by now. Unfortunately, I think you’ll be disappointed if you expect discounts or a rush to sell in the prime region.
3. Orchard’s redevelopment to improve mid-term prospects
A major revamp of Orchard was put into motion sometime in 2019. This was likely a response to Orchard’s stagnation, which we saw sometime in 2016. Vacancy rates for shops in Orchard hit highs of over eight per cent, and even the residential properties were showing stagnating prices.
However, the urban authorities have now caught on, and realised that a whole street full of Prada/Louis Vuitton/Hermes and other branded shops is an outmoded idea. It may have worked in the 1990’s, but in 2020, Singaporeans just don’t go to Orchard; their neighbourhood malls are more varied and practical.
(In 2009, Uniqlo shocked the commercial property sector when they chose to open in Tampines and not Orchard; some market observers called it the first warning bell for Orchard).
At any rate, the revamp of Orchard will create a more balanced D9; we will have a mix of recreational and event spaces, and a wider mix of eateries/retail. Surrounding areas like D10 are also likely to see benefits (Tanglin, for instance, will be revamped into an arts or cultural hub for the area).
However, there has been little news about the Orchard revamp since Covid-19; perhaps it’s on hold for the time being.
In the more immediate term, new launches such as, Kopar at Newton and The Atelier, are likely to dominate here for a while. Both properties are within walking distance of Newton MRT, and one is leasehold (Kopar) while the other is freehold (The Atelier).
Frankly speaking, CCR properties are better suited to veteran, well-capitalised investors. CCR landlords tend to be the first to bear the brunt, whenever there’s wider economic uncertainty; and the high quantum of CCR properties means they’re not easy to offload quickly.
It’s also worth noting that many CCR properties are freehold. While great for gains, rental yields tend to be lower given the freehold premium; and it’s rare to find cashflow positive properties in this region.
Many CCR properties are also boutique or luxury developments. The small number of units, plus an emphasis on luxury over financial elements, can make them difficult from an investment perspective.
Nonetheless, it’s hard to match the prestige of a CCR property; and the area attracts the most affluent tenants and buyers. Whether it’s right for you depends on your financial position and long term plans, so drop me a note if you need advice.
Next, I will take a look at current prices and trends in the RCR; so follow me on RonChongProperty.sg for the next part of this series.