The Hillford: Is it worth buying?

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If you have received the same price guide which I did, you will be seriously tempted by the fact that it will cost you only an estimated S$388,000 to own a 1-bedroom unit of 398-sqft in Bukit Timah vicinity (as branded by most). Sounds good? Let’s break it all down all look into the fine details.

We shall begin with the good stuffs.

the-hillford

The Hillford is Singapore’s first Retirement resort, targeted for independent seniors. It’s definitely something unique and rare in today’s property market. What really makes residents feel exclusive is the 24-hour concierge service provided, which you may only find in higher end developments located in Orchard or Marina Bay.

Convenience is practically at your doorstep where you will find a wide range of amenities within new launch project The Hillford itself, such as restaurants, convenience store, hair/beauty salon, minimart, clinics etc.  If you are looking for other shopping/dining options, Beauty World Centre/Plaza and Bukit Timah Plaza are just nearby.

It is reasonably well-connected via the longest cross-island expressway, the Pan Island Expressway. Thus drivers need not to worry too much about getting to places. Even if you are not driving, the upcoming Beauty World MRT station (due to complete by 2015) is about 10 minutes’ walk away.

If you are investor or a parent, the nearby schools will be an added plus factor as it is relatively close to the German European School, Bukit Timah Primary School, Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Dimensions Hospitality School etc.

All for as low as S$388,000! Not too bad isn’t it? However, it can be a terrible mess if you get blinded by its beautiful cover.

Selling in future may be a challenge

If you are planning to cash out this piece of investment in future (as the lease shortens), you will probably find it hard because getting loans financial institutions (FIs) isn’t going to be easy.

Assuming that you will be holding out your unit at The Hillford for 4 years to avoid any Sellers’ Stamp Duty (SSD) and perhaps hold out for another 3-4 years to gain some rental income as you wait for the capital gain. That’s almost 8 years of possession, which will leave you with an approximate of 52 years lease. This is where you will have a difficult time finding a buyer for your property, because when a potential buyer attempts to get mortgage loan for a property with such a short lease term, FIs will usually:

FIs are likely to reject mortgage loan for property with short tenure.
FIs are likely to reject mortgage loan for property with short tenure.
  1. Reject to finance the mortgage loan (most banks will not provide financing)
  2. Lessen the loan amount (buyer will likely need to fork out more cash)
  3. Grant shorter loan tenures (which may result in higher monthly mortgage repayments)

Just to note, investors are mostly looking for passive income (from rental). Thus, if option 3 will definitely not be feasible as the monthly rental will not be able to cover the monthly loan repayments.

A possible lack of rental demand

Based on today’s market in the same district (21), a 1-bedroom can easily fetch you an average of S$2800 rental amount every month. However, the concept of this development may deter tenants to looks somewhere else.  The Hillford is designed to be different from a typical condominium as it is targeting this be a “retirement resort” for independent seniors. Upon completion, you will probably find this development filled with elders looking to just enjoy their retirement life.

I have helped foreign expatriates to search for rental homes before, and trust me, lifestyle and the community are mainly the important factors which they will look at. That explains why some foreigners are willing to spend 5-figure rental amounts in areas like Sentosa Cove.

Besides wanting a place which feels like home, tenants are likely to be attracted to places with a community from their origins. Therefore, a place filled with retirees or seniors will probably turn them off. And also, I just feel that when you branding this as a “retirement resort”, what are the chances that a “retiree” will pay over $2000 every month just to rent an apartment unit?

But of course, different tenants have different requirements. Some may even place convenience as their top priority. Then again, The Hillford is not exactly very convenient considering the distance to the nearest public transport. There are seriously better options out there for tenants, thus property owners of this development will seriously need to make adjustments to their rental amounts.

Weak potential upside

As we all know, property is about demand and supply. When demand is stronger than the available supply, prices will be driven upwards. A retirement haven will probably spell more home stayers and investors.

The market trend Is that, pricing for a particular property will generally rise faster when there are transactions pushing up pricing one after another, the possibility of setting new heights. This will probably not happen at The Hillford.

Secondly, as mentioned in the earlier part of this review, buyers may not even consider The Hillford due to its short tenure as it may pose financing hurdles. They will likely be better off putting their money somewhere else, even if they need to pay a little more. This may result is weaken demand for this particular development.

To sum up,

Yes, The Hillford is affordable, but it is probably not ideal for parking your wealth. When you put money into real estate, on some level you are thinking of making money out of it.

I am certainly not comfortable with the risk of not being able to sell my property, or end up having to sell at a below market price. Well, even if you are able to sell it off at a profit, is it going to a lucrative one? Personally when it comes to real estate, I won’t be blinded by just the price tag.

Of course, something did attract me a little. If you are able to achieve a S$2000 rental every month for a unit purchased at S$388,000, you can easily have a 6% rental yield. However I still have my reservations on that.

Overall, in my opinion, the risk is just slightly on the high side and the current potential upside isn’t that attractive. Not sure about you, but I will pass.

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