Buyers home in on Pasir Ris, Punggol

GOING by recent searches on the STProperty website, the Pasir Ris and Punggol areas are attracting the most interest from potential home buyers.
The most searched project on the site in the week ended May 5, based on page views, was the Waterbay executive condominium (EC) in Punggol, which was launched last October.

Ripple Bay condominium in Pasir Ris was next, followed by Bartley Residences, next to Bartley MRT Station.
Knight Frank consultancy and research head Alice Tan said rising private home prices, especially for mass market units, are prompting home buyers to look at ECs as an affordable alternative.

Waterbay is the only EC in the top 10 so its popularity could be linked to growing interest in the Punggol area.

“Waterbay EC could be attractive to budget-conscious home buyers, for its lower price points and location attributes with its proximity to the Punggol Waterway and future retail amenities at Waterway Point,” she added.

There is also keen interest in projects that have launched within the past year or so, including Bartley Residences, launched in February last year, and Urban Vista, released in March.

Interest also rises when developments are close to receiving their temporary occupation permit (TOP) status, hence the clicks on Hundred Trees, located at West Coast.

The condo, which expects to receive its TOP next year, has recorded a slight increase in its average price from $1,322 per sq ft (psf) last October, to $1,394 psf in March.

Upcoming projects in an area could have created renewed interest in older projects such as the 646-unit Icon in Tanjong Pagar, one of STProperty’s popular searches.

A mixed-use development called Tanjong Pagar Centre by Singapore-listed GuocoLand will open in the area in 2016 with the boast of being Singapore’s tallest building at 290m.

Knight Frank’s Ms Tan said: “The development has heightened the attractiveness of Tanjong Pagar in terms of business vibrancy.
“This has promoted the interest of private homes in the locality, such as the Icon, which is near the future mega development.”

Source: Straits times 11 May 2013
Projects in the two areas are ‘most searched for’ on STProperty website
By Rachael Boon

Need for 700,000 more homes by 2030

Enough land has been set aside for 700,000 more homes here by 2030 – more than half the 1.2 million households currently – to cater to a growing population.

This is part of a plan to provide good and affordable housing for Singaporeans detailed in the Population White Paper yesterday, as the population may reach 6.9 million by then.
“To support that kind of trajectory, we estimate that we will need another 700,000 new homes,” said Minister for National Development
Khaw Boon Wan at a press conference.
The idea is to create a sufficient buffer, he said.
The White Paper acknowledged that Singapore had fallen behind in its planning and investment for infrastructure development, and accordingly discussed other improvements, such as a better and more extensive transport system.
Mr Khaw called for patience and understanding as solving the issue will take time.
“We are determined to address the current problem and definitely the overcrowding will ease,” he said, noting that housing matters can be improved at a slightly faster pace than transport.
“If you decide to build a line, it might take you 10 to 12 years,” he said. “Housing, you decide to start building and (in) four to five years, you can realise those houses.”
Of the 700,000 homes that can be built, about 200,000 are already under construction.
Of the remaining half a million houses, many will be in new towns, such as Tengah, Tampines North and Bidadari.
There will also be new homes built in mature estates where land is available. “We do want our children, when they get married, to stay nearby,” Mr Khaw said.
More details will be revealed in a Land Use plan report by the MND later this week.
Having a buffer stock also keeps prices in check, market watchers said.
However, Mr Khaw warned that building this buffer comes at a cost.
“Underdo and you have today’s problem. Overdo and it’s too costly for taxpayers. Like all things, we have to find that sweet spot and achieve that balance going forward,” he said.
Mr Khaw noted how MND was heavily criticised not too long ago for over-building homes, which led to a lot of empty flats.
The government also responded to concerns that Singapore could become as congested as cities such as Hong Kong at the conference.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said Hong Kong’s population density is about 22,700 per square kilometre (sq km), while Singapore’s is about 11,000 per sq km. Even with a 6.9 million population, Singapore’s population density will be around 13,700 per sq km.
Source: Business Times –30 January 2013

Seletar Hills EC set to open for e-application

  The Topiary, a 700-unit executive condominium (EC) development along Fernvale Lane, at Seletar Hills, will be open for e-application come Friday.
While official prices have yet to be disclosed, consultants project that the development, which has a mix of two-bedroom, three-bedroom, dual-key, and single-storey penthouses, could fetch from $700-$720 per square foot (psf).
The majority of the units are in the three-bedroom and four-bedroom category – a three-bedroom unit ranges from 904-1,130 sq ft while a three-bedroom dual-key ranges from 1,259-1,539 sq ft. A four-bedroom dual-key unit ranges from 1,389-1,636 sq ft.
The project, which is being developed by Kheng Leong and Qingjian, also features 16 penthouses, which range from 1,970-2,476 sq ft.
The e-application period for The Topiary is from Nov 30 to Dec 4; booking day is on Dec 7.
Source: Business Times –27 November 2012

Exec condo site at Pasir Ris draws top bid of $207m

An executive condominium (EC) site at the intersection of Pasir Ris Drive 3 and Pasir Ris Rise was keenly contested, fetching a top bid of $207 million, or $331.10 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr).
There were 10 bidders in all for the 99-year leasehold plot, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) said after the tender closed yesterday.
Hao Yuan Investment, controlled by mainland China parties, put in the highest offer. This edged out World Class Investments’ bid of $206.7 million, or $330.60 psf ppr.
Eugene Lim, key executive officer at ERA Realty, said the latest tender shows that developers continue to be interested in EC sites, and expects the latest plot to have a breakeven price of between $600 and $650 per square foot (psf).
The nearby Watercolours EC has a median price of $719 psf, with 270 of its 416 units sold as of end-October.
Demand from buyers should stay healthy too, Mr Lim said.
“Upgraders chasing condominium lifestyles at more affordable prices will continue to be enticed by ECs,” he said.
Mr Lim noted that private developments in the area have also been doing well, citing strong sales at Sea Esta, Ripple Bay and Seastrand.
Other bidders for the site included Frasers Centrepoint’s FCL Tampines Court and Keong Hong Construction; Chinese developer Qingjian Realty, as well as a group comprising Evia Real Estate, Ho Lee Group and CNH Investment.
The lowest offer for the land parcel was $169 million, or $270.30 psf ppr, which came from Mezzo Development.
Source: Business Times –23 November 2012

Cooling measures deter foreign home buyers


Cooling measures deter foreign home buyers
Last December’s cooling measures have continued to deter overseas buyers from the property market.
Foreign purchases made up just 7 per cent of the private market in the three months to Sept 30, well down from their 18 per cent share for the whole of last year.
The trend was equally evident over the first nine months of the year with only 6 per cent of purchases coming from foreigners.
There were just 504 purchases by non-permanent resident foreigners in the third quarter, with eight being for landed home sales.
Suburban project Bartley Residences topped the table with 18 sales to foreigners while city fringe development One Dusun Residences and V on Shenton, in the central business district, were tied for second with 14.
Other mass market projects also enjoyed keen interest from foreign buyers, including Hillsta in Choa Chu Kang, Parc Centros in Punggol, The Palette in Pasir Ris and My Manhattan in Simei.
While sales are down from a year earlier, interest from some nationalities seems to be creeping back with the market share of mainland Chinese buyers – including permanent residents (PRs) – climbing again.
After an initial sharp pullback in the first quarter as the additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD) of 10 per cent for all foreign purchases hit, mainland Chinese buyers overtook Indonesians in the third quarter to clinch second place after Malaysians.
Including PRs, Chinese buyers accounted for 22 per cent – or 397 units – of all purchases made by non-Singaporeans in the three months to Sept 30. This is below the 28 per cent recorded by this group for the whole of last year.
Purchases by Americans also received a boost after the ABSD was implemented as they are one of the five nationalities exempt from the extra 10 per cent tax.
Americans bought 10 homes in the exclusive Sentosa Cove estate this year – Chinese buyers snapped up eight – to become the top non-Singaporean buyers group there.
This is a striking increase from 2010 and last year when only four Sentosa Cove purchases were made in total by Americans.
The cooling measures last December slapped a 10 per cent ABSD on all home purchases by foreigners.
PRs had to fork out an extra 3 per cent on their second and subsequent home purchases, while Singaporeans had to do so only for their third home on.
There was increased demand for landed homes above $5 million, particularly in the $5 million to $10 million price band.
More good class bungalows and Sentosa Cove houses were bought in the third quarter compared with the three-month period before.
Source: The Straits Times –20 November 2012


The Index strata offices seen going for at least $2,400 psf
Investor interest in the strata office market is expected to go up a few notches in coming weeks as Far East Organization gets ready to release The Index at Robinson Road/Cecil Street. Talk in the market is that strata offices in the 99-year-leasehold project next to Capital Tower will start from around $2,400 per square foot (psf).
The Index will also have some medical suites on the lower floors and these are expected to be priced from $3,500 psf.
Far East and its listed unit, Far East Orchard Limited, are developing the project on a 99-year-leasehold site, which they clinched at a state tender in September last year. They paid $311.777 million or $882 per square foot per plot ratio. The project’s total development cost including land has been previously reported as around $520 million. The Index is about 200 metres from Tanjong Pagar MRT Station.
BT understands that the top eight levels of the 31-storey tower will offer larger whole-floor office units of 10,548 sq ft per floor. Levels 10 to 23 will house 136 smaller office units ranging from 592 sq ft to 1,442 sq ft.
Medical suites will be located on the third to fifth levels. In all, there will be 50 such units ranging from 613 sq ft to 1,345 sq ft. The medical suites will have a floor-to-floor height of 4.5 metres and the office units, five metres – higher than the three to 3.5 metres for typical offices.
Far East is also setting aside some space in The Index for civic and community institutional use, which will be exempted from the calculation of the building’s maximum approved gross floor area.
At street level, there will be separate double-volume lobbies for the offices and medical suites, accessed through a fully sheltered plaza that will be landscaped. There will also be two food-and-beverage outlets with outdoor dining areas and a shop unit – which are expected to be made available for sale.
Far East group is dedicating three basement levels to car parking lots.
A Platinum Green Mark building, The Index will feature a roof garden and pool on the ninth floor.
During a weekend in March this year, Far East sold all 100 office units at PS100 at Peck Seah Street at an average price of $3,000 psf.
Office units in the 99-year-leasehold project have sizes of between 420 sq ft and 517 sq ft.
URA Realis caveats data shows that this year, office units at the 99-year Eon Shenton project have fetched an average price of $2,554 psf, while freehold offices at Oxley Tower in Robinson Road have sold for $3,197 psf on average.
SISV Realink caveats data shows that nine medical suites at the completed Novena Medical Centre, on a site with a remaining lease of about 89 years, have changed hands for an average $3,147 psf this year.
In Bencoolen Street, a Guthrie-Sun Venture tie-up which acquired 66 office units from a partnership between Wing Tai and City Developments earlier this year has resold 25 of these units over the past month at $1,782-$1,893 psf. The sold units are from a batch of 43 which Guthrie-Sun Venture released on the fifth to eighth levels of Burlington Square.
The 66 office units are between 549 sq ft and 1,066 sq ft. CBRE is the marketing agent.
Burlington Square is on a site with 82.5 years’ remaining lease.
Source: Business Times –20 November 2012

BTO flats affordable for first-timers

Monday, 19 November, 2012


BTO flats affordable for first-timers: Khaw
The rise in prices of new Housing Board flats is less than that of resale HDB units, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in Parliament yesterday.
Since January 2009, the price of new HDB flats for first-time buyers has risen by 12 per cent, which is lower than the corresponding 34 per cent rise in the HDB resale price index.
These homes for first-time buyers are also affordable, he added.
“We take affordability fully into account when pricing BTO (Build-To-Order) flats. New flats enjoy generous discounts off market prices,” he told the House when replying to Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC).
But Ms Lee argued that a 12 per cent rise could still be higher than the salary increase of many Singaporeans.
She asked if the Government could keep prices stable.
Mr Khaw replied that first- time buyers of new flats in non- mature estates used, on average, 23 per cent of their monthly income for housing loans.
Also, they were able to pay their monthly instalments using their Central Provident Fund contributions, with minimal or no cash outlay.
“You judge by the figure that I’ve given – 23 per cent of their monthly income – I think that is affordable for BTO,” he said.
The price of a four-room HDB flat in Sengkang or Choa Chu Kang ranges from $250,000 to $310,000, he said. “Looking at it from the situation that we are facing today, I find these figures very reasonable,” he added.
Mr Khaw said a lot of the misunderstanding over HDB home prices resulted from people looking at the resale price index – which hit a record high in the last quarter. The Government is trying to stabilise that, he added.
“Resale price is beyond my control. That is set by buyer and seller. But for first-timers buying BTO flats, that is within my control and it is my job to ensure it will be affordable,” he said.
In fact, he added, it is “quite an achievement” to have brought about a 12 per cent price rise in new flats compared with the 34 per cent increase in resale prices.
“I think not enough credit has been given to my ministry,” he said, with a smile.
Source: The Straits Times –17 November 2012
Hot in the suburbs
City fringe and eastern suburban estates have broken new home price records in the past six months as clear pricing hot spots emerge across Singapore.
Once considered sky-high outside upscale precincts, the $1,500 per sq ft (psf) mark is fast becoming the norm in some hot spots – most dominant in the east.
Many new mass market projects eclipsing the $1,500 psf mark are tied to “titillating new lifestyle concepts” to attract buyer interest, experts say.
But the eastern suburban estates, with their ample, appealing lifestyle amenities, have surged ahead of the western districts in terms of prices.
One reason could be that the east was one of the first parts of Singapore outside the city centre to be developed, experts add.
Another factor is the substantial number of government land sale sites in eastern towns where developers have launched new projects at benchmark prices.
This has driven up other prices in the vicinity in tandem.
Freehold homes on the city fringe and suburban planning areas of Bukit Timah, Geylang, Marine Parade and Bedok have recorded the most transactions surpassing $1,500 psf so far this year.
This includes The Seawind project in Bedok, with a median price of $1,520 psf, and The Sound, at $1,650 psf.
Developments in the Marine Parade planning area, such as The Seafront on Meyer and Aalto, have also easily eclipsed the $1,500 psf mark.
For 99-year leasehold homes, Bukit Batok, Bukit Merah, Bishan and Kallang areas saw the most number of homes topping the price chart, said Mr Ong.
For instance, Citylights had a median price of $1,550 psf, while Southbank was sold at $1,590 psf. Both projects can be found in the Kallang planning area.
Experts note that home prices in western districts such as Jurong Gateway and one-north in Buona Vista are also expected to catch up when they are fully developed.
Moreover, the improvement of transport links across the island will also change the landscape of suburban living, they add.
The completion of Downtown Line 2, for instance, will boost the Bukit Panjang and Upper Bukit Timah areas, and Housing Board upgraders are likely to review their many housing options.
Suburban home prices have inched up 2.7 per cent in the first nine months of this year, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
This is more than the 0.7 per cent rise for city fringe areas and the 0.1 per cent gain for city centre homes.
Source: The Straits Times –17 November 2012
Amber Rd condo enclave hot with expats
It used to be a quiet beachfront road lined with old bungalows, but today Amber Road is packed with condominiums and popular with expatriates.
The area, in District 15 and near the Parkway Parade mall, still retains some pre-war flavour with historical landmarks such as the Chinese Swimming Club, founded in 1905.
Most homes here are private. Major condominium projects in the area include the 400-unit The Esta, which was completed in 2008, and One Amber, with 562 apartments finished in 2010.
Both are freehold properties.
The 114-unit freehold Amber Residences obtained its temporary occupation permit (TOP) last year, while the freehold The Cape, with 76 apartments, was launched with a TOP expected in 2015.
The upcoming Silversea, which was launched in 2009 and expected to obtain its TOP in 2014, is also nearby.
383-unit project on a 99-year lease had sold around 370 of the 377 units launched as of September.
Analysts expect about 700 new homes to be completed in the next few years.
The bulk of these will come from Silversea, as well as from the collective sale in January last year of Marine Point on Marine Parade Road, which is expected to be redeveloped into around 150 freehold private residential units.
Overall, developer prices for 99-year leasehold and freehold properties in the Amber Road area range from $1,600 per sq ft (psf) to $2,000 psf, analysts said.
Reputable schools such as Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus Katong Primary School and Tao Nan School are also close by..
Monthly rents at Amber Residences range from $5,000 to $6,800, and at One Amber, from $3,700 to $6,600.
Resale activity has been relatively healthy, but waned recently, in line with an islandwide slowdown.
The number of resale transactions for Cote D’Azur on Marine Parade Road has ranged from five to 10 each quarter since the final three months of last year.
Another newer project, the 546-unit The Seaview, which obtained its TOP in 2008, has seen a similar level of resale activity.
In comparison, there were 10 to 20 transactions every quarter in 2010 and the first half of last year for the Cote D’Azur and The Seaview.
Source: The Straits Times –17 November 2012
Cooling measures likely to boost sales of sub-$1.5m homes
Demand for homes under $1.5 million is expected to increase thanks to recent cooling measures aimed at preventing buyers from over-extending themselves.
Demand for lower-priced, non-landed private homes is likely to be healthier as the measures restrict the maximum term of loans.
It offered some examples to show the impact of the latest cooling measures on affordability.
For instance, a home buyer aged 35 with a monthly household income of $12,000 can now afford a residential property with a maximum value of $1.5 million to $1.6 million on a 30-year loan period.
This assumes a debt-servicing ratio – a buyer’s total monthly debt payments divided by net income – of 35 per cent, which is the recommended position of affordability, the report noted.
An older home buyer aged 40 years with a similar monthly household income can now afford a home that costs $1.3 million to $1.4 million. This takes into account a 25-year loan term under the new rules.
These buyers could look to District 19 – comprising Hougang, Sengkang and Punggol – to meet their housing needs.
The area has the highest concentration of homes of at least 70 sq m in size sold for under $1.5 million in the past four months.
It is followed by District 18, which includes Pasir Ris, Tampines and Simei.
The sixth round of cooling measures introduced last month sought to restrict all home loans to more reasonable time frames, of up to 35 years.
Home buyers who take up a loan that lasts more than 30 years or extends past their retirement age of 65 will now have to fork out much more in cash.
Where previously a buyer may borrow up to 80 per cent of the property’s value for his first mortgage, he can now do so for up to 60 per cent if he busts the 30-year loan or 65-year-old age limit. Under a similar scenario, the borrowing ceiling shrinks to just 40 per cent for his second and subsequent mortgages.
Overall demand for homes could moderate in the coming quarter as the pool of local investors and foreign buyers thins on the back of multiple rounds of cooling measures.
Investors who have already bought homes would also be monitoring the market changes before making their next move.
“Any potential lower demand coupled with ample upcoming supply of new homes will put downward pressure on residential property prices.
“Competition in the secondary market will set in if the economy cools and unemployment rate increases,” it added.
The firm expects overall prices to increase marginally by around 0.1 to 0.3 per cent in the last three months of the year.
Source: The Straits Times –17 November 2012
8 projects may be nearing sales deadline
At least eight private housing projects, mostly in prime areas, are likely running out of time to sell their units within two years of completion, as stipulated by the authorities.
High-end developments such as The Marq on Paterson Hill and Hilltops in Cairnhill Circle, for instance, have been completed for at least a year but still have hundreds of new units sitting unsold.
If they are not sold within the next 12 months or less, developers may have to fork out extension charges to buy themselves more time after the two-year deadline.
Developers pay 8 per cent, 16 per cent and 24 per cent of the property purchase price for the first, second and third extra years, respectively. The amount is pro-rated based on the proportion of unsold units.
SC Global’s 241-unit Hilltops, for example, was completed in the second quarter of last year and has till about June next year to sell its 196 apartments still unsold as at the end of September.
Its other luxury project, the 66-unit The Marq on Paterson Hill, completed in the first quarter of last year, has till about March next year to find buyers for its 33 unsold units.
Wheelock Properties’ Scotts Square in Scotts Road also has 72 units unsold. It was completed in the third quarter of last year and also has less than a year to move its remaining units.
Other projects facing a similar predicament, with at least 10 units still unsold, include 88-unit Martin No. 38 with 21 units left and Residences at Emerald Hill with all its 33 units unsold.
SC Global and Wheelock Properties declined to comment about whether they had obtained or are planning to get an extension.
The high-end market has been languishing with slow sales and prices that are still below their peak. The additional buyer’s stamp duty of up to 10 per cent introduced last year also whittled down foreign home demand, further hurting sales.
Under the Residential Property Act, housing developers whose shareholders and directors are not all Singaporeans have to get a Qualifying Certificate (QC) to buy residential property for development. This is imposed to control foreign ownership of land here.
This gives developers up to five years to build the project and requires them to sell all the units within two years of obtaining the temporary occupation permit (TOP). They are not allowed to rent out unsold units.
To ensure compliance, a developer has to put up a banker’s guarantee for 10 per cent of the purchase price of the property, which may be forfeited if it fails to fulfil the QC’s conditions.
Since January last year, a developer has been given the option to pay an “extension charge” if it cannot meet the five years’ deadline from the issue of the QC to complete its project.
It might also be liable for a pro-rated extension charge, based on the proportion of unsold units it still holds, if it cannot meet the two-year deadline to sell all its units after the project is completed.
Some developers are understood to have sought extensions to the two-year window. However, since the implementation of the extension charge scheme last year, six developers have paid charges, the Ministry of Law said.
The Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore has also submitted a proposal this year to extend this two-year period. The Law Ministry said that it is “looking into the feedback”.
Experts say that while indirect discounts such as rental guarantees or stamp duty absorption might be offered by some projects as the deadline nears, large cuts in prices are unlikely.
Source: The Straits Times –19 November 2012


Katong Junction sold for $55.28m
Katong Junction, a four-storey freehold commercial building at Joo Chiat Road, has been sold for $55.28 million.
This works out to $1,162 per square foot based on the building’s existing gross floor area of 47,558 sq ft.
Katong Junction has been bought by East Coast Holdings, whose shareholders comprise real estate investor Kishore Buxani and offshore investors advised by Mukesh Valabhji of Seychelles-based Capital Management Group.
The property is being sold by a company controlled by Tan Suat Hua, an architect by training and one of the original shareholders of Singapore Healthpartners Pte Ltd (now known as The Farrer Park Company), which is developing Connexion, a hospital, medical centre and hotel project. She later sold her stake.
Katong Junction is almost fully tenanted. Two restaurants occupy the ground level while offices fill levels two to four.
Mr Buxani, who confirmed the purchase when contacted by BT, said the plan is to spruce up the asset when the existing leases run out by late 2014 and reposition it as a retail property comprising mostly food outlets. “F&B outlets are thriving in the East Coast area, which is shaping up as the Holland Village of the east.”
A strong selling point of Katong Junction is the 30 car park lots in the basement, adds Mr Buxani.
BT understands that the average monthly passing rent in the building is in the $3-4 psf range, which spells considerable upside if the asset is successfully repositioned.
At the nearby 112 Katong in East Coast Road, F&B outlets are generally fetching rents of $10-20 psf.
However, Mr Buxani is not ruling out the possibility of strata titling Katong Junction and selling individual units.
The building was completed in the late 1990s and refurbished in 2007-2008.
Its existing 47,558 sq ft gross floor area (GFA) reflects a plot ratio of about 3.56 based on the land area of 13,346 sq ft. This exceeds the 3.0 plot ratio for the site under Master Plan 2008. The site is zoned for commercial use.
Market watchers consider the $1,162 psf on GFA price for Katong Junction reasonable. Earlier this year, Oxley Holdings paid $76.1 million or $1,298 psf of potential gross floor area inclusive of development charge for GRTH Building at 66 East Coast Road.
Katong Junction’s $55.28 million transacted price is 10.8 per cent below the latest valuation of $62 million ($1,303 psf on GFA) for the property in August this year.
Mr Buxani, a former Goldman Sachs banker, has also partnered Mr Valabhji’s Capital Management Group for other property investments in Singapore.
Earlier this year, they bought 51 strata-titled office units at Parkway Centre in Marine Parade Central for $53.375 million or $1,043 psf on strata area.
Since then, 10 of these units have been resold at an average price of $1,600 psf. Parkway Centre is on a site with a balance lease term of some 68 years.
In 2007, the partnership acquired six floors at Samsung Hub at Church Street from OCBC Properties for $122.4 million or $1,560 psf. Last year it divested one of these floors – the 20th level – to a Chinese investor at $2,800 psf.
“We’ve recently received an offer of $3,000 psf for another floor,” said Mr Buxani. Samsung Hub has 999-year-leasehold tenure.
Mr Buxani and Capital Management also own a half stake in Finexis Building (formerly GMG Building) at 108 Robinson Road.
Source: Business Times –17 November 2012

News and Views

Thursday, 15 November, 2012


Signs of HDB resale market stabilising: Khaw

The HDB resale market has shown signs of stabilising, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in Parliament yesterday.
He cited latest figures that showed how the annual Resale Price Index (RPI) growth had fallen from 14.1 per cent in 2010, to 10.7 per cent last year and to 3.9 per cent in the first nine months of 2012.
He was responding to queries by MP Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon group representation constituency), who had asked whether there was any cause for concern due to HDB resale prices hitting a high in the third quarter of this year.
In his reply, Mr Khaw added that while the uptick in quarterly RPI growth to 2 per cent in the third quarter of this year showed that the situation was improving, there was still much more to be done.
“We have implemented a number of measures but they will take some time to work their way through the market. For example, the huge supply of new housing units will be available only over the next 2-3 years,” said Mr Khaw.
Separately, the minister was also quizzed by MP Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) on the success rate for HDB loans in the last three years.
Mr Khaw said that just 2 per cent of a total of 178,000 applications – or 3,500 cases – were rejected from January 2010 to September this year.
They were turned down because the applicants had already taken two or more HDB loans previously.
“The rejection rate is rather low, but in any case we do exercise discretion and provide sympathy where we can,” said Mr Khaw.
He shared that the success rate for appeals for HDB loans was currently about one in three, or 36 per cent – a figure which he described as “pretty high” and “quite good”.
Mr Khaw later said that while home ownership was a social objective for the government, this had to be “underpinned by prudence” as well.
“Let’s not forget that (there was) a huge problem in the US with the sub- prime (mortgage) crisis. While we will try to make sure everyone can afford to own a home, I think that for everyone to get a loan is a bit unrealistic,” said Mr Khaw.
Source: Business Times –15 November 2012
KL-S’pore venture unveils plans for Bugis project
Khazanah Nasional and Temasek Holdings yesterday unveiled details of their second development project together.
DUO, as the project has been named, will comprise two towers of residential, retail, hotel and Grade A office space in Bugis, and be directly connected to the Bugis MRT station.
Designed by architect Ole Scheeren, it will have a gross floor area (GFA) of 1.8 million square feet, and a development value exceeding $3 billion.
Nearly half its GFA – 45 per cent or 810,000 sq ft – will be dedicated to residential space; the 660 units will occupy a 50-storey tower.
Offices, retail outlets and a 300-room, five-star hotel will be in the other tower, which will stand 39 storeys tall.
The hotel will take up 15 per cent of the GFA, or 270,000 sq ft.
The remaining 40 per cent or 720,000 sq ft will be given over to offices and shops, with the offices taking the bulk of that space.
M+S, the 60:40 joint venture vehicle between Khazanah and Temasek that is behind the project, said it aims to complete the development in the second quarter of 2017.
Plans are being made to launch the sale of the units in the residential tower early next year.
M+S chairman Azman Yahya said he expects demand for the residential and office space in DUO to be strong; in particular, he expects the 99-year leasehold homes to attract international buyers.
“We do expect strong demand. We think around that area it is quite a unique development. There are not that many offerings around the Bugis area. And based on cold calls we have been getting . . . there seems to be a lot of interest, both in the commercial as well as the residential site,” he said.
DUO is one of two projects undertaken by M+S – the other is in Marina South – in a 2010 land swap deal between Singapore and Malaysia, under which Malaysian railway land in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji, Bukit Timah and Woodlands was returned to Singapore in exchange for four land parcels in Marina South and two in Ophir-Rochor. The projects have a total development value of $11 billion.
M+S unveiled details of the Marina South project, called Marina One, in July this year, but will do so for its design only next year, said Mr Azman.
CapitaLand and UEM Land Holdings are project managers for DUO.
UEM is partnering Mapletree Investments to manage Marina One, also expected to be completed in 2017.
Mr Azman disclosed that M+S is in talks with several five-star hotel operators to manage the hotel component.
“I think we’ll probably finalise the operator some time in the later part of next year,” he said.

Source: Business Times –15 November 2012

Lego S’pore among latest tenants at MBFC’s Tower 3
Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC) has secured new leases in its Tower 3 building, which brings the overall commitment level at the tower to 76 per cent, or nearly 960,000 square feet.
Raffles Quay Asset Management (RQAM), the manager for MBFC, said yesterday that the building, which offers 1.3 million sq ft of prime Grade A office space, had secured new tenants such as Lego Singapore, which supplies products of Denmark-based firm Lego, and New York-based international legal firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP.
Earlier this month, BT reported that French banking group CIC, now located in Market Street, had signed a lease to take up 31,000 sq ft of space on the 37th floor of Tower 3.
The new tenants will join existing ones such as DBS Bank, Ashurst LLP, Clifford Chance, WongPartnership, Mead Johnson and McGraw-Hill in the 46-storey tower.
Said Warren Bishop, chief executive of RQAM: “We continue to see a healthy pipeline of interest from companies and prospects for Tower 3 who want to be part of this . . . development.
“With Singapore being positioned as the Asian financial gateway, we are confident that MBFC remains the choice location for multinational corporations.”
RQAM also said yesterday that the 179,000-sq-ft Marina Bay Link Mall, the retail component of MBFC, is now 100 per cent leased.
Urban Redevelopment Authority data indicates that the net increase in demand for islandwide office space for the third quarter of this year was 764,237 sq ft, taking the figure for the first nine months to 1.69 million sq ft.
The figure for last year was 2.3 million sq ft.
On the supply side, CBRE estimates that this year, 1.4 million sq ft of office space would be built, down from last year’s three million sq ft.
Next year, some 2.6 million sq ft of offices are slated for completion from projects such as Asia Square Tower 2 in the central business district, Jem next to Jurong East MRT station and The Metropolis in Buona Vista.

Source: Business Times –15 November 2012