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Housing Update – Practical Information Guide

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Australia

 
There has been stability in rental costs over recent years as shown in the table below:

Australia Housing Rentals April 2019

However vacancy rates have been declining, and this could lead to pressure on rents in the period ahead, especially in Melbourne and Brisbane

In contrast after a period of rapid increases in the cost of buying property, driven by a mix of factors, there has been a period of stability (Melbourne broadly unchanged, Sydney approximately 10% decline).

New arrivals continue to be surprised that the cost of housing is higher than expected. This is often because they would like to live in the most sought after areas (near water, with views, close to the Central Business District) in which they are competing with locals.

Two factors are relevant in this regard:

  • Concentration of population in Sydney and Melbourne (over 40% of the population of Australia) compared with most other countries (For example in the USA less than 4% live in New York and Los Angeles combined; in the UK – approximately 15% live in London and Birmingham)
  • Relative wealth of a well-educated and skilled workforce, with a high proportion of dual income families.
China Flag Pin

China

 
Overall the housing rental market in China’s major cities has changed little in recent years. Despite the decreasing number of expats moving to Beijing, prices haven’t dropped because demand is increasing from wealthy local Chinese who can afford premium housing. In Shanghai, there has only been a small drop in the  numbers of expats moving  to Shanghai and rentals  have increased by 3%-5% over the past two years.

The popular areas for expats in Beijing are still the Shunyi District (where most expat families live to be close to schools) and Chaoyang District (which includes Sanlitun, Dongzhimen, Central Business District, Lufthansa, Chaoyang Park). For Shanghai, the popular areas are still the Hongqiao, Jinqiao area for villas in close proximity to international schools and also the Former French Concession, Lujiazui area. Two international schools will open in the Yangpu area which will increase demand in that area.

Occupancy rates for villas in Beijing have decreased slightly as the number of expat families in the city has dropped as a result of foreign corporations trying to reduce costs by sending fewer families and more couples and singles . One area where occupancy rates remain high is in the vicinity of the French school, which moved to a new location in 2017.

In Shanghai, occupancy rates remain high, partly because of a drop in availability as some Chinese landlords take their properties out of the rental market for their own use.  A slight change in demand is expected  in the Jinqiao area due to German and French schools moving out of Pudong to the Yangpu new development area. More Expat families with children at the German and French schools are expected to choose housing in this area to minimize the commute time for their children.

The serviced apartment market is under pressure in both Beijing and Shanghai. Supply has decreased because there has been very little new construction and several serviced apartment complexes have closed. Demand remains high in both cities and occupancy rates are high.

China Rental Costs in April 2019

Notes:

figures above includes management fee, internet and tax, excluding utilities, Gym membership.

The real estate industry in smaller Chinese cities ( often described as 2nd or 3rd tier cities) is not as mature as it is in 1st tier cities. These cities are also, usually, more difficult for expatriates to live in. They are less developed and often less sophisticated locations. Some of these difficulties  include an immature leasing market, therefore, things to watch out for in 2nd & 3rd tier cities when searching for properties to rent are:

  • There are no large established realtor companies nor any famous international brands which bring with them quite a high standard of professionalism efficiency and after sales service.
  • Realtors in small cities are generally not well managed and they tend to be young, unprofessional and with poor negotiating skills.
  • Realtors in 3rd tier cities have been known to use false information about ‘available’ properties to entice a potential client to use them.
  • The individual agents in 2nd & 3rd tier cities earn most of their salary from commissions; this makes them very commission-driven and very pushy during the contract signing process. They try to close the deal by any means.
  • Realtors tend to serve the landlords, not the transferee or the client.
  • Realtors unsupervised tend to max out the transferee’s housing budget.
  • Property Management companies are not experienced in dealing with expats and usually speak no English.
  • Landlords are often not used to dealing with a company lease and prefer they not to wait a long time for the lease to be reviewed and rent to be paid.
  • Landlords prefer to minimise the no-rent period, and therefore they push for the contract to start in 1-2weeks after house inspection. Moreover, there is limited availability of expat standard housing in these smaller cities and due to a relatively strong demand these properties are rented out very fast.
  • Most landlords will not hold properties without some non-refundable money as a holding deposit to demonstrate genuine interest (holding deposit can be converted into the security deposit when the lease contract is signed).
  • After sales service by a realtor or a landlord is also likely to be limited or even non-existent and landlords are less than diligent in supporting the tenant’s needs.

What are the some of the  rental practices in China which might differ from those in the West

  • A minimum of a 12-month rental period (except for serviced apartments, which can be shorter);
  • Rent is usually paid monthly in 1st tier cities; but in 2nd and 3rd tier cities it is more commonly paid quarterly or semi-annually;
  • Deposit: two months’ rental in 1st tier cities; one month’s rental in 2nd & 3rd tier cities;
  • Agent gets a month’s commission from the landlord (except for low budget properties when the tenant also has to contribute) in 1st tier cities and some 2nd tier cities; in most  2nd and 3rd tier cities, both the landlord and tenant pay 50% of one month’s rent as commission to the realtor.
  • Rental normally includes monthly rental, government tax on the rental (fapiao), gym membership, and satellite TV in 1st tier cities. However, in the smaller cities, landlords will not agree to take responsibility for paying the tax. If companies wish to claim a tax deduction and tax invoice (fapiao), landlords normally in small cities are willing to be cooperative with realtor to obtain the tax invoice (fapiao) but they will add the cost of fapiao onto the cost of the rent. Paying utility bills (water, gas, and electricity) is usually the occupant’s responsibility in smaller cities.
  • Telephone and internet is usually pre-installed, but the usage fee needs to be covered by the tenant.
  • Most properties in China are rented out pre-furnished. “Pre-furnished” usually means basic furniture such as kitchen appliances (dishwasher, oven, fridge, washing machines, etc.), beds, sofas, tables and dining room furniture are supplied by the landlord. (note: an oven, dryer and dishwasher are usually provided in 1st tier cities, but not always provided in 2nd tier cities, and rarely provided in 3rd tier cities by landlords.) Interior decoration items such as bedding, pictures, cutlery and small electronic appliances are usually not included.
India Flag Pin

India

 
Expatriate housing in India varies a great deal from palatial independent houses to modern condominiums to luxurious villa projects. The real estate segment had enjoyed tremendous growth for several years followed by a slump which helped check the spiraling rental costs. The markets have once again shown signs of improvement and the future outlook indicates a positive trend. As of today, in most of the major cities there is more supply than demand whereas there is a severe dearth of good quality expatriate housing in the Tier 2 cities.

It is important to note that it has primarily been a Landlord’s market in India. Further the market is not rent controlled, nor are there any rigid entry barriers to deal in real estate. There is no pricing index or price controls for the properties. The Government is slowly bringing things into check but it is going to be a long road to ensure its compliance at every level.

Expatriate housing options in India generally include apartments, duplex or penthouses, independent houses, farm houses and builder floor apartment units. Bungalow in India is synonym to a detached house in America or Europe. Apartments are the most common housing option for both Indians and Expatriates. The term apartment is applied very flexibly in India and they vary a great deal in quality and size. While India is an unfurnished market, few fully furnished properties are always available. The rent also depends on factors such as neighbourhood, year of construction, investment made by the owner on the property and interiors, special features and inclusions.

One-bedroom or studio apartments that are of expat quality are practically impossible to find. Two-bedroom expat-quality apartments are also very few. Three and four-bedroom units are more common. One would often come across the acronym, BHK which stands for Bedroom, Hall, Kitchen. When indicated that it is a 3 BHK, it would mean that the unit has 3 bedrooms and 1 hall and 1 kitchen. Typical apartment sizes range from 900 - 1200 sq. ft. for a 2 BHK and 1200 - 1800 sq. ft. for a 03 BHK. 4 BHK may be 1800 to 3000 sq. ft. in size. Minimum ceiling height in India is 9 feet / 2.70 meters according to the building code.

Most of the properties are not “staged” for showing. If a property meets your needs, landlords will complete repairs, basic refurbishment and cleaning prior to move-in. Landlords will typically not entertain requests for major changes. Online listings are often misleading, outdated and posted by agents simply to attract customers.

Rentals are especially high in Tier 1 cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Suburbs may typically warrant lower rents but could add to commute time considerably due to the traffic conditions in major cities. In Mumbai, suburbs may command a much higher rent than the Central Business District as most schools and offices are now located in the suburbs. Most expatriates, especially those with school-age children, prefer to reside in gated communities located close to the international schools. These communities offer luxurious condominiums and villas with amenities like security, a club house, sports facilities, grocery stores, parking and ATM machines.

The rent is always paid in advance, either on monthly or quarterly basis. While renting a unit in India, there are always additional costs such as security deposit (ranging from 2 to 10 months of rent), annual escalation in rent, stamp duty and registration costs, club house security deposit and usage charges, move in move out charges as well as maintenance / administrative charges levied by the housing community for upkeep of common areas, generator/ power back-up charges, nominal amounts for preparing maid & driver access cards, car stickers, garbage disposal costs, gardener and gardening material costs, utilities set up and usage costs, ongoing maintenance, upkeep and minor repairs, AMCs and pest control contracts. Some landlords may be inclined to include some of these additional costs within the rent. Most Landlords also look for a minimum rent commitment period – known as Lock in period and this may vary from 6 – 24 months dependent upon how negotiations are conducted and this lock in  is  enforced during the initial term of the contract. Lock in means that neither the landlord or the tenant may terminate the contract during this period, unless as stipulated in the contract otherwise. As per market norms, the real estate agent’s fee / finder’s fee is equivalent to 1 months’ rent in most cases and to be paid by the tenant. The agency fee may sometimes be as high as 2 months’ rent in certain remote locations or where the rents are very low. It is payable to the agent at the time of signing of the contract.

Most landlords in the local market like to close the deal or agree on terms, on payment of a surety amount, usually equal to one month’s rent, post which the lease process may be executed. If surety has not been paid, then Landlords like to keep their options open and continue to show the property to other potential tenants until the lease is actually executed.

As per law, any lease above the period of 11 months duration must be registered. Registration of the lease attracts a stamp duty as well as registration expenses. Usually the landlord and the tenant share these costs equally. The stamp duty varies from state to state within India.

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Japan

 
The real estate market in Tokyo remains extremely competitive. While we do not expect the 20% increase in rental prices that we witnessed last year in high rise apartments, those prices are definitely solid and could increase again. This has been the highest annual percentage increase in rents over the past 10 years according to market indices.

The market is busy in all price brackets with rents in the low/moderate range of 400,000 to 600,000 yen / month (approx. USD4,000 to 6,000) being particularly competitive. In contrast to the luxury residential market, advertised or “asking” rents for mid-market units fitting the above criteria are typically non-negotiable and are not subject to incentives such as rent-free periods.

No single industry dominates the expatriate market such as the finance industry did in the past. Though worthy of mention is that pharmaceutical companies and IT companies seem to be clearly growing and have high rental budgets.

Although the market is still very strong, there is no influence of or fluctuation due to the pending tax hike so prices could remain stable even if the tax increases to 10% in October as planned.

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Korea

Korea Reantal Costs April 2019

Comments on Availability

Most of apartments generally have 3 bedrooms regardless of the size of property. (1 or 2 bedroom apartments are not very common).

4 bedroom apartments could be found with higher rental while 5 bedroom apartments are rare.

Other Trends / Market Changes

The expat rental market has been stable in this traditional location known as “expat area” while general rental market is pretty slow due to strong measures taken by the government consistently (the government is trying to eliminate the “bubble” in the property market in Korea by restricting loans when purchasing property, increase tax related to properties etc.

The market is responding on these actions - Sales/purchase price of properties started to drop and Korean unique rental form “Jeonse” is also starting to decrease.

If this trend continues many people will be affected due to the structural problem of the rental market. So far, the property market has always recovered its increasing trend and people are waiting this time as well. We will have to see what will be the impact eventually. The expat market may also be affected if this trend is prolonged.

Malaysia Flag Pin

Malaysia

 
With the current slowdown in the property market, and the surge in the supply of completed new housing projects, it is both a buyer’s and renter’s market in most states. As quoted by a leading real estate agency, “sellers are now more willing to negotiate on the price to close a sale as compared to a few years ago when the market was still hot. Occupancy rates in some areas have declined and rentals have softened.”

The number of unsold and completed residential units are on the rise. The National Property Information Centre (NAPIC) published on January 2019 the data for Q3 of 2018 that the total overhang (completed, unsold units nine months after the issuance of Certificate of Fitness) value stands at MYR19.54 billion, a 56.44% rise from MYR12.49 billion a year ago. States with serious overhang are Johor, Selangor, Penang and Kedah. These exclude residential properties built on commercial land like serviced apartments and SoHo suites.

Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya

Kuala Lumpur, the nation’s capital and its bustling satellite city Petaling Jaya have seen a drop in rental prices since last year by between 10 – 15%, giving renters the opportunity to rent brand new or newly-renovated properties at very competitive prices. Owners of older units, facing competition from newer properties have had to reduce their rental prices unless they were willing to upgrade their units.

Though rental prices in expat-friendly areas like Mont Kiara, Bangsar, Bangsar South, Desa Parkcity, KL Sentral and KLCC have dipped in the past year, they remain resilient due to their upmarket status and appeal to the expatriate community.

Highly populated Mont Kiara, for example, is home to Mont Kiara International School and Garden International School and many luxury homes. Known as the Beverly Hills of Kuala Lumpur, this is a great place for expatriates new to Kuala Lumpur. With an abundance of social activities and gatherings, new residents easily settle in and meet like-minded friends. Malls like Publika, 1 Mont Kiara, Solaris and Mont Kiara Plaza offer cafes, restaurants and bars popular within the expat community.

Airbnb is also notably fast becoming the preferred short-term accommodation for tourists and short-term visitors, which has resulted in serviced apartments (also known as serviced residences) becoming more commonplace, as they are able to offer guests the comfort and privacy of a residential apartment and the safety and luxury of a hotel. Four Seasons Private Residences KL, Anggun Residences, Pavilion Hilltop, The Ruma Residences, Pavilion Suites, Premium Residences @ KL Gateway, Dorsett Residences Sri Hartamas, and Inwood Residences are some of the serviced residences development launched in 2018 to cater to the rising demand.

Penang

Generally, the property market in Penang is expected to be slow but steady throughout 2019. As the Malaysian government continues to focus on affordable housing schemes for the middle and lower income earners, the number of completed housing projects in Penang are slated to rise this year, and these available properties will contribute to the residential property overhang which currently stands at its highest ever.

Housing in the Batu Ferringhi, Tanjung Tokong, Tanjung Bungah, Pulau Tikus, Georgetown and Gurney are still the most-preferred for long-term expats, especially those with families and MM2H (Malaysia My 2nd Home) visa holders due to its proximity to international schools, easy access to the city and beach, popular shops, restaurants, cafes and a variety of activities catering to expat needs. The Tanjung Tokong/Tanjung Bungah stretch also houses a large selection of high-end condominiums offering gorgeous views of the sea and hillside. It has been noted that sale and rental prices for properties in this area are some of the highest on the island. One Tanjong, The Cove, The Harmony, The Penthouse and Straits Residences are just some of the luxury properties offering spectacular views with rental prices starting from MYR7,000.

For an expat working on the mainland (e.g. Bandar Cassia or Simpang Ampat), in Kulim, Batu Kawan or at the Bayan Lepas Industrial Zone, the commute to/from these expat-friendly areas can take an hour or more during peak times, so although somewhat isolated from the major attractions of the island, many don’t mind living among locals in properties around Jelutong, Gelugor, Bayan Baru or Bayan Lepas where its quieter and housing is generally inexpensive. Summerton, Putra Marine, and Baystar are among condominiums in the Bayan Lepas area popular with expats due to their close proximity to the Queensbay Mall, where rentals start from MYR3,000 per month for a fully-furnished 3-bedroom condo. Cost of daily essentials are also much cheaper on this side of the island as businesses primarily cater to the locals. For expats with schooling children, there are 2 international schools close to these residential areas – Straits International School and Fairview International School.

Johor

Horizon Hills, for example is an exclusive luxury residential development, becoming increasingly popular among expatriates. Integrating an 18-hole golf course, dwellers have the option of semi-detached and double-storey terrace houses, bungalows and condominiums. Rental for a fully-furnished 4-bedroom intermediate cluster house costs approximately MYR3, 200 per month, whereas a partly-furnished 2-storey bungalow (intermediate), complete with security and clubhouse facilities start from MYR7, 000 per month.

For those not wanting to spend too much on their housing budget, they could consider living in Teega Residences, Puteri Cove, Setia Peak, Iskandar Residences or Citrine or alternatively on the east side of Johor Bahru, in Mount Austin, Senibong Cove, Permas Jaya and Pasir Gudang. The monthly rental for standard furnished housing in these areas range from MYR2, 000 to MYR6, 000 depending on the neighbourhood. With the current market conditions, renters are spoilt for choice as there are more vacant properties compared to potential tenants.

Rental Procedures

There are no changes to the basic guidelines to renting a property in Malaysia. Most landlords require the tenant to lease the property for a minimum of 12 months. Where the property is leased for 2 years, the Tenancy Agreement will contain a Diplomatic Clause, allowing the expatriate tenant to terminate the contract in the event he needs to leave the country, provided he has rented the property for the fixed term stipulated in the contract (usually minimum 12 months) This fixed term does not include the 2 months’ notice period.

In order to secure the chosen property, an “Earnest Deposit” will need to be made, equivalent to the first month’s rent and this serves as the booking fee. Upon signing the Tenancy Agreement, the tenant will then pay the “Security Deposit” which is usually two month’s rent and the “Utility Deposit” which is equivalent to half month’s rent. The Stamp Duty which is the fee due to the Inland Revenue Board to render the contract valid and legal, is also payable by the tenant. Commission is paid by the property owner to the realtors.

Summary

Due to rising supply and market challenges, it is clearly a tenant’s market, and rental growth is expected to be slow throughout the year. As global mobility trends change, and with the popularity of short-term assignments on the rise, there is a demand for short-term accommodation. We hope more landlords, especially those holding on to overhang units would be willing to offer their properties for short-term rental e.g. for 6 month tenancy periods, as this would not only benefit them but give the expats wider and cheaper accommodation options.

New Zealand Flag Pin

New Zealand

 
Currently in Auckland there is a severe shortage of rental accommodation at all price levels. In Wellington there is a severe shortage of rental accommodation at all price levels, with the most significant shortage and competition at the lower price levels for 1-2 bedroom, city centre, apartment accommodation.

Nationwide there is insufficient rental (and purchased) accommodation to meet demand and consequently prices have increased significantly and are likely to continue increasing until there is a significant increase in rental supply. The government is trying to implement policies to increase the building of new housing stocks but this will take some years to make any impact on the current shortage of accommodation across New Zealand, especially in the main cities including Auckland.

There is significantly less (40-50%) rental accommodation being advertised in Auckland per month than in previous years and 30 – 40% for Wellington. This has been the case for the past couple of years.

There is also less rental turnover as those in accommodation know it will be difficult to secure new accommodation so do not want to risk moving.

Some tenants, particularly those with common requirements (3-4 bedroom family homes in suburbs with good schools, close to the city in Auckland OR 1-2 bed city apartments in Wellington), are having to view, and offer on multiple properties before managing to secure accommodation. Due to the large number of people applying for most properties landlords can pick and choose from multiple applicants and can afford to be quite selective.

Good quality family homes in expat desirable areas are also in short supply nationawide, increasing in price and very competitive to secure. There is little if any room for rent negotiation and agents/tenants must move quickly to try to secure any property they are interested in.

The quality and availability of client rental references can make a difference in the success of tenant rental applications, especially if it is difficult to get hold of (or responses from) previous landlords who are located overseas.

The current shortage of rental stock and competitive environment mean it is quite time consuming to secure accommodation due to the number of properties that need to be viewed and offered on before being able to secure a satisfactory property.

Philippines Flag Pin

Philippines

 
Most expats moving to the Philippines live in the Metro Manila area. The most popular expatriate area in Metro Manila is Makati City followed by The Fort, Global City in Taguig City, which is home to many multinational corporations, international schools, and is the heart of the Philippines business and trade.

Expat houses in Metro Manila are often located within gated community villages where wealthier local Filipino live. Condominiums and gated villages usually have round-the-clock security guards who monitor the coming and going of non-residents. Some of the larger villages may even have security check-points to screen visitors before they arrive at the main entrance.

With new areas being develop in Metropolitan Manila, expatriates venture further out from Makati's affluent financial district and opt instead for residential areas like Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City, an urbanized lifestyle hub with residential condominiums, offices, shopping malls, dining, and entertainment areas. Others choose single-detached housing in the gated community of Ayala Alabang Village in the Muntinlupa City district. Single expats and couples usually rent condominium units with one or two bedrooms, while families with children prefer single-detached housing or condominiums with three or more rooms depending on their housing budgets and lifestyle.

Most expats consider proximity to their place of work and their children’s school since traffic is notoriously bad in large cities, particularly Manila, and this can affect commute times. The traffic congestion in Metro Manila seem to grow in parallel to the country’s population.

Average working class people spends 1,000 hours a year in traffic and wastes as much as 28,000 hours of his economic life. Wasted productivity hours amount to a monetary value that could be used for other things. What could merely be a 15-minutes travel for a 6 km drive can turn to 45-minutes to an hour travel. It results to waste of time and effort, higher expense, and low productivity. Though there may be other ways of dealing with the daily traffic, those who are able, purchase or lease a unit within or near the CBD to cut down on travel time and enjoy more of what one can save, time and money-wise.

Expat Housing Locations in Metro Manila

Makati City

Within Makati City, Forbes Park and Dasmarinas Village are one of Manila's most prestigious residential enclaves. It's where some of the wealthiest families in the Philippines reside, along with industry leaders and foreign dignitaries. The Manila Golf and Country Club and the Manila Polo Club are located here. The rental value of a five-bedroom house in Forbes Park is between PhP350,000 and PhP550,000 per month (US$ 6,900 to $10,790.00). Dasmariñas Village housing monthly rental is slightly lower due to the smaller lot area compared to Forbes Park Village.

The smallest of the gated villages in Makati City is Urdaneta Village and Bel-Air Village. Bel-Air is considered as one of the cleanest and greenest of villages in Makati City and it is known for its strong community spirit.

On condominium living, Rockwell Centre, which was formerly the site of a thermal powerplant, has since been developed into a high-end commercial and residential hub and is very popular among expat assignees with or without families. It’s a condominium within a community where security is very tight. Another popular condominium complex among expats is One Roxas Triangle in the center of Makati CBD, and condominium properties in Salcedo and Legaspi Village areas.

Taguig City

A portion of the former headquarters of the Philippine Army, now popularly called the Bonifacio Global City (BGC), was developed into a commercial and residential zone in 1995. The "city" boasts a high standard of living with a convenient combination of luxury residences.

BGC’s mixed-use development or live-work space includes corporate offices, shopping malls, a world-class hospital, a science museum, alfresco dining, and manicured landscaped parks and gardens decorated with modern Filipino art. Testament to BGC’s rise as a business district is the latest transfer of the Philippine Stock Exchange on One Bonifacio High Street. The British, Japanese, American, Korean and Chinese international schools are located within BGC as a response to the educational needs of expat children. Further, select mid to high-end residences such as the Arya Residences Tower, Pacific Plaza Towers, Essensa, Serendra, Eight Forbestown, Beaufort, One McKinley Place, Grand Hyatt Residences, Maridian Tower, and the Shang Residences pose as top options of expatriates.

Muntinlupa City

Ayala Alabang Village was created in 1981 and it has since grown to become a popular single-gated community expat neighborhood. Filinvest City is a scaled down version of Bonifacio Global City with mega-malls, hospital, offices, entertainment options, condominiums and country clubs within its perimeters.

Below is a chart of different types of housing and average rental ranges in the top expat housing locations in Makati City, Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City, and Muntinlupa City (Ayala Alabang Village ).

philippines-rental-april-2019

Notes:

  • Condominiums rental rates are based on being fully-furnished arrangements;
  • Single-detached housing rental rates are based on unfurnished/semi-furnished arrangements;
  • Government taxes: 12% VAT and 5% withholding tax are imposed on the monthly rental;
  • ForEx: USD 1.00 = PhP 51.00

Sources:

https://www.jll.com.ph/en/newsroom
https://business.inquirer.net/263553/the-outlook-of-the-philippine-real-estate-industry-in-2019
https://tradingeconomics.com/philippines/inflation-cpi
https://www.focus-economics.com/countries/philippines

Singapore Flag Pin

Singapore

 
Rental prices in Singapore have dropped quite significantly for many consecutive years (see attached graph).  The current rental prices are about 18 per cent off their peak in January 2013.

Singapore Rental Index

The economy may seem uncertain and expatriates housing packages may have shrunken, recently, many tenants are caught by surprise when Landlords asked for rent increase during a lease renewal negotiation.

Per the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore’s (URA) report, for the whole of 2018, rentals of landed and non-landed properties increased by 2.0% and 0.4% respectively.

It’s our opinion that 2019 may be a Landlord’s market for the following reasons:-

  • Increasing demands from both permanent residents and citizens
  • Shrinking stock in general and shrinking stock for family size apartments (due to the redevelopment of en-bloc sites)
  • New properties supply is low.  It is 30% less than average annual supply.  The 10,119 private residential units are slated for completion in 2019 is still lower than the ten-year average annual supply of 12,950 units
Hard Truth On Leasining Title

A realtor will advise you that there is no standard Tenancy Agreement for use in Singapore.  Worse, what’s written in the Tenancy Agreement may not be able to cover all aspect of Tenant’s and Landlord’s issues.

When the covenants are put to test or when the covenant is silent on some obligations, it can be frustrating to keep up to the obligations.

Housing usually costs 30% to 40% of one’s income.. A decent size public housing apartment can cost S$700,000 to S$1,1000,000 to buy and about S$2,500 to S$3,500 per month to rent.  For other property types, rental can go as high as S$35,000 per month.

With so much money spent on leasing a property, there are minor repairs and maintenance surprises that a Tenant may find cumbersome / feel dreadful to undertake.

Singapore Leasing Issues Graphic

Other Ambiguous Incidentals:

  • Who is responsible if plants die during the term of lease?
  • Who bears the cost to eradicate bats or snakes that intrude into the property?
  • Who is responsible if tress need to be pruned?
  • Who should bear the cost for chemical cleaning of the air con units?
  • What is not subject to minor repair? Water heater, replacement of appliance, swimming pool pump, fallen tiles?
  • Who bears the cost for swimming pool cleaning kit and cost of gas pipe connection?
  • How clean must the walls in the apartment be when returning the apartment?
  • And many more.

In addition to the above “headaches”, Singapore may have the highest number of property transactions compared to the rest of the world, unfortunately, there is no real standard guidelines on what is fair wear & tear. Many a times, you may still need to negotiate what is “fair wear and tear” as every landlord’s opinion of this is different.

Spotting the right house is as important as spotting the right Landlord and Landlord’s agent.

In conclusion, it will be helpful if you can engage a responsible realtor who takes care of your lease from start to end.

Taiwan Flag Pin

Taiwan

Taiwan has been ranked 1st in quality of life and the 2nd best place for expats overall in InterNations' Expat Insider report for 2018.

It reclaimed its throne from 2016 at 1st place and had been voted the most attractive destination especially for its affordable health care at 96 percent and personal safety at 98 percent.

Strong demand vs. Low supply

The strong demand is due to government’s new strategy in green energy development vs. nuclear power plants commenced in 2018, several foreign energy companies send transferees for the various projects of offshore power generation to Taipei, Taichung and Changhua cities.

Because of the high demand, all types of rental houses from 1 bedroom in city center to a single home outskirt of Taipei come and go rapidly. In the meantime, the growth of land development in both city and urban is very slow in Taipei, therefore there are not many new high-rise buildings or new communities being developed. Due to the scarce supplies of brand new and newer residential buildings, the leasing availabilities in CBD and suburban Taipei whereas the international schools housed are still up in the air. Thus, the market is highly competitive due to the rare supply and the strong demand among not only the expatriates but also the locals who opted to rent instead of purchase due to the inflated housing price. Meanwhile, current housing market is pretty stabled due to the high rental housing retention this time of the year.

Overall, incoming expats may find it challenging with such limited options in choosing a home that is close to their wishing list and meeting the goal of set location and budget at the same time.

Market trends:

  • Percentage of furnished apartments increased from 25% to 45% up to date. Rental costs are slightly increased due to the fully furnished condition.

  • Less room for additional requirements negotiations.

  • Pets are usually not allowed in the furnished apartments and could be a deal breaker.

  • Tenant would require to include utilities to the monthly rent which generally will be declined by home owners.

  • Landlords prefer to sign Personal Leases to evade tax upon rental incomes when he/she has multiple leasing premises which brings higher tax rates.

Taiwan Housing Rental Table - April 2019

Additional notes:

  • Rental currency USD1 = TWD31
  • All rentals quoted are inclusive of 10% tax and 1.91% NHI premium.
  • Rentals are exclusive of building management fee, utilities, internet, cable TV.
  • Areas identified are expatriate community, high rise apartment complexes.
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Thailand

While Thailand offers an impressive range of accommodation options across its urban and sub-urban centers, overall rental prices have seen a steady increase over the past decade. But despite the generally upward trending prices Thailand still boasts a wealth of options at lower cost than in most other countries in the region and catering to varying budget ranges. In addition to the old stock, new properties are continuously being put on the market, offering the renter an amazing choice of new and older properties.

When it comes to Bangkok many expats choose to live in the vicinity of their work places and/or near the international schools if they have children attending. This is generally a result of the heavy traffic and rush hour commuting times. Public transportation in Bangkok – notably the city’s Skytrain (BTS) and Underground train (MRT) – efficiently carries commuters along their routes, but do not connect all areas of the city. As a rule of thumb, property rental prices can be said to inversely correlate with the distance to BTS/MRT, and to the City center.

The quality of accommodation varies but in general you get what you pay for and many expats will find that, especially for high-end condominiums/serviced apartments, housing standards will be at least as high as in their home country. As for the available types of property they broadly come in the three categories of apartment, condominium, and detached house.

Serviced Apartment / Apartment

Some expats in Bangkok opt for serviced apartments, which very much resemble staying at a hotel, as they normally come with full amenities such as gym, swimming pool, lobby area with round-the-clock service, while units are also fully furnished and include cleaning service and amenities. Serviced apartments are relatively more expensive than normal apartments.

Normal apartments are owned and managed by one landlord for the entire building, with standard furnishing and standard lease agreement, which leaves less room for flexibility and negotiation regarding rent and other aspects of the lease.

On the downside it should be kept in mind that utilities are centrally managed by the building owner/landlord who adds a service fee to the actual utility costs. Irrespective, with a generally lower rental price per sq.m., apartments are often the favored expat choice.

Condominium

Individual condominiums are part of an often large building, which is managed by a “juristic person”, but differ from apartments in that individual units are owned separately by individual private landlords, and therefore offers better opportunity of negotiating flexibility on the terms and details of the lease agreement, amenities and utilities. As condominium landlords are not adding a service charge on utility bills, since they are paid by the tenant direct to the provider company, such utility costs will be lower in a condo than at apartments. Many condominiums can be found in prime locations across Bangkok and other urban centers, with convenient access to public transportation and shopping options.

House (detached house/ townhouse)

Typically towards the edges of the city and in sub-urban areas, Western style houses can be found in quiet community neighborhoods and surrounded by gardens, private swimming pools etc. – often in ‘gated communities’. This option is favored by expat families with children, and the bigger housing communities offer good kindergarten facilities or even top-level international schools. Rental of detached houses do not include servicing of the property, which means that the tenant must hire maid service, gardener and pool technicians etc. at own expense.

Some Western style houses or townhouses can be found closer to city centers, but rental costs increase substantially with proximity to the center. An important point, if searching for house or townhouse closer to city centers, is to keep in mind that locations will not be ‘prime’, but rather tend to be further down the winding side streets to main city thoroughfares. Prime locations, in Bangkok, have long since been claimed and occupied by major condominium and apartment buildings, or hotel and shopping mall developments.

2019 general indicative rental prices for Bangkok:
1.00 USD = THB 32.00

Thailand Housing April 2019