News

30 May 2016

Experts share suggestions for Fresh Start Housing Scheme

Experts hope that the 2016 Budget, which will be announced this Thursday (24 March), will solve some current problems with the Fresh Start Housing Scheme, reported Channel NewsAsia.

This scheme helps HDB tenants purchase their own flat, with a focus on families with young children, and those who previously owned a home.

But a key problem is fine-tuning the eligibility criteria to ensure that the beneficiaries really deserve such assistance, said DTZ’s Research Head Lee Nai Jia.

“I think this is a great scheme. The key problem is how we are going to identify this group and their income ceiling, and (how we are going to define) the type of benefits to give this group.”

According to Saktiandi Supaat, member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for National Development, the scheme provides a second chance to families currently leasing an HDB flat, particularly those who were forced to sell their original unit due to an unavoidable issue.

However, the support given should take into account the different circumstances of each household.

“There could be more support in terms of grants and there could also be some conditions for the grants to be disbursed,” said Saktiandi. For instance, families would first have to show proof that they have the means to pay for the new flats.

Aside from providing grants and the actual house, it is also important to educate families about responsible homeownership, financial management, and activities to keep their children in school, explained the Fei Yue Family Service Centre.

“We don’t want to come to a point where they are on the scheme, and then there is a setback, and they are penalised or thrown out of the scheme,” said the centre’s principal social worker, Lilian Ong.

“We could introduce some sort of readiness or transitional programme to prepare the whole family for this”, and this should run for six months, she said.

The Housing Board and the Ministry of National Development have held public consultations to gather suggestions on implementing the scheme. The feedback includes provision of concessionary loans and more grants, as well as shorter leases.

Picture Source: The Fresh Start Housing Scheme is targeted at families with young children.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/120536/experts-share-suggestions-for-fresh-start-housing-scheme

Wealthy Malaysians favour Singapore property

Singapore was ranked the second top choice for wealthy Malaysians who can afford offshore real estate, according to PropertyGuru’s latest market sentiment study.

Of 326 individuals surveyed online, 21 (seven percent) own a high-rise or landed home outside Malaysia. Of this, 20 percent have acquired a house in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Australia took the top spot, with 23 percent having bought a home there, while India and Germany were also among the most popular choices, with a respective 18 percent and eight percent of those surveyed owning homes there.

“According to other studies, many Malaysians choose Australia as their second home as it is located comparatively close to Malaysia at a few hours’ flight (away), and for its better working environment and better education system,” said the report.

Other countries favoured by those surveyed are Hong Kong (seven percent), Japan (six percent), China (five percent), Thailand (five percent) and the UK (four percent).

51 percent of the 23 respondents who own either overseas homes or non-residential properties noted that prices in those markets were cheaper than those in Malaysia, despite the softer ringgit.

The top reasons for buying offshore real estate are capital appreciation (30 percent) and children’s education (29 percent). 27 percent revealed that the overseas properties they have bought are situated in their countries of residence, while a similar percentage were attracted by good funding options.

Other reasons cited include favourable government policies (24 percent), retirement (23 percent), migration (20 percent), and relocation to a better environment (16 percent).

Moving forward, more Malaysians are now keen to purchase overseas properties, particularly in Australia, which continues to be the most popular market for 52 percent of 37 respondents. Other target markets for this group are Singapore (23 percent), Indonesia (15 percent), and the UK (14 percent).

Picture Source: Singapore is a popular property investment destination for wealthy Malaysians. (Photo: William Cho / Wikimedia Commons)
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/120428/wealthy-malaysians-favour-singapore-property

Thai developers now building more luxury homes

Property firms in Thailand have already launched several residential projects targeted at the high-end market in the first quarter of 2016, reported The Nation. This is due to the high household debt, which continues to create uncertainty in other segments of the property market.

Anant Asavabhokhin, Chairman of Land & Houses’ Executive Board, reckons that the government should stimulate spending in the luxury segment, to help boost the overall economy. Land & Houses recently launched an upscale detached housing project in the Rama II area, and is one of a handful of developers hoping to cash in on the growing demand for high-end condos and detached homes.

And it doesn’t look as though this trend will subside anytime soon. Launching luxury units at this time helps developers to boost pre-sales, as banks are still reluctant to provide mortgages for the lower- and middle-income segments.

Sansiri’s most recent launch is a luxury condominium called 98 Wireless. The project is worth a total of THB 8.5 billion. It is understood that around THB1.2 billion has already been sold. Sansiri’s President Srettha Thavisin said while booking for the project isn’t scheduled to start till later this year, the company has accepted cash offers for two penthouses.

98 Wireless will only have a total of 77 units when completed, with prices starting at THB550,000 psm (S$21,425 psm). Sansiri will host an official grand opening ceremony once the development is ready in the second half of 2016.

Ananda Development is another developer that decided to launch a luxury condominium during the first quarter of this year. Ashton Silom is worth a total of THB5.8 billion, with prices starting from THB7.9 million (S$307,667) for a unit.

Picture Source: The interior of an apartment unit at 98 Wireless.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/120439/thai-developers-turn-to-building-more-luxury-homes

Developers confident of disposing units before ABSD deadline

Some developers in Singapore are optimistic they can sell all the remaining units in their private residential projects before the stipulated deadline, even if they don’t offer huge discounts, reported The Business Times.

Under the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rules introduced in December 2011, these companies need to build, complete and sell all units within five years of purchasing the land. If there are any unsold units after that period, they need to pay a 10 percent levy, which was subsequently raised to 15 percent for land parcels purchased as of 12 January 2013.

According to SingLand’s General Manager Michael Ng, they are confident of clearing all units before the deadline, and they don’t intend to slash prices.

Last month, its luxury projects Mon Jervois and Pollen & Bleu in District 10 reported 61 and 94 unsold units respectively, while Alex Residences in Redhill had 173 unsold units. These developments will be penalised with an ABSD of 10 percent if there are any leftover units by February, June and December 2017, respectively.

“For boutique projects, our priority is to hit temporary occupation permit (TOP) quickly, as many interested parties for luxury homes want to see the completed units. For Alex Residences, we will clear all units before TOP,” he said.

Similarly, City Developments Limited (CDL) is bullish that they can offload all unsold units at Jewel@Buangkok and two joint venture projects, Bartley Ridge and The Venue Residences, before their respective ABSD deadlines in 2017. This is because the developments are located in established neighbourhoods, and the number of unsold units is low.

“There are no significant ABSD issues for the three projects which have been selling steadily,” said a CDL spokesperson. As of February 2016, there were three, 31 and 160 unsold units at these three developments respectively.

As of last month, the projects with the most unsold units are Malaysian developer IOI Properties’ The Trilinq (524 units), The Crest (365 units) by a Wing Tai-led consortium, and The Glades (331 units), jointly developed by Keppel Land and China Vanke.

Furthermore, SingLand or CDL could be hit with the heftiest ABSD penalty of approximately $70 million, based on their stakes in projects with leftover units, assuming there are still leftover units after the deadline.

Picture Source: Alex Residences in Redhill has 173 unsold units.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/120317/developers-confident-of-disposing-units-before-absd-deadline

Chinese nationals still buying Singapore homes for their kids

Despite facing weaker currencies and slowing economies, mainland Chinese and Malaysians remain the top foreign buyers of Singapore property, revealed DTZ.

Together, they bought 1,952 private homes in 2015, or 54 percent of total foreign purchases.

Specifically, sales to Chinese nationals fell slightly by 3.8 percent to 998 units, while Malaysian home purchases remained largely unchanged at 954 units.

“The devaluation of the Chinese yuan in August 2015 meant that mainland Chinese nationals found their purchasing power clipped, as their national currency weakened against the Singapore dollar,” said DTZ.

Still, both groups of foreign buyers posted healthy purchases last year compared to 2008, during the Global Financial Crisis, when mainland Chinese only purchased 362 private homes, while Malaysians bought 626 units.

“Singapore’s political stability, transparent real estate policies and strict rule of law positions the city-state ahead of many other countries as a place where investors enjoy a high level of certainty on returns. Many mainland Chinese also bought homes for their children studying in Singapore,” added DTZ.

Meanwhile, the number of Indonesian home purchases fell by 33.6 percent to 279 units, lower than the 618 homes bought in 2008.

Picture Source: Mainland Chinese and Malaysian buyers formed 54 percent of foreign home purchases in 2015.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/120261/chinese-nationals-still-buying-singapore-homes-for-their-kids

Katong bungalow put up for mortgagee sale

A single-storey bungalow in Katong, one of the few available freehold properties in the area with redevelopment potential, has been put up for mortgagee sale, revealed marketing agent DTZ.

Located at 85 Branksome Road, the house sits on 13,189 sq ft of land and has a gross floor area of around 9,000 sq ft. According to DTZ, the property has an indicative price of $16 million, or $1,200 psf.

Recent transactions of landed homes in the area have ranged from $1,200 psf to $1,400 psf. Last year, a 13,843 sq ft site at Branksome Road was sold for $16.3 million ($1,178 psf).

Under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Master Plan 2014, the site is zoned for residential use and could be redeveloped into a two-storey bungalow.

The plot can also be subdivided into a pair of bungalows or semi-detached houses, subject to the relevant authority’s approval, said the consultancy.

Nearby amenities include established schools and shopping malls. Dakota MRT station and two future MRT stations on the Thomson-East Coast Line are also within the vicinity.

Joy Tan, DTZ’s Head of Auction, expects strong interest for the subject property. “A landed housing redevelopment site of this size in the prestigious District 15 is rarely made available for mortgagee sale. The last known mortgagee sale was at least a decade ago.”

The sale is being conducted through an auction, which takes place on 30 March at The Amara Hotel.

Picture Source: View of the single-storey detached house at 85 Branksome Road. (Photo: DTZ)
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/120056/katong-bungalow-put-up-for-mortgagee-sale

HLH launches phase two of Cambodian project

Singapore-listed HLH Group has launched phase two of its maiden mixed-use development in Cambodia, after the first phase was sold out.

A total of 437 units were released in the latest phase of the D’Seaview project in Sihanoukville, with one- to three-bedroom units on offer.

The waterfront development was first launched in September 2015. All 300 apartments released under phase one were snapped up by local and international buyers, with prices ranging from US$675 psm (S$922 psm) to US$1,943 psm (S$2,653 psm).

“The strong response to our project reflects the pent-up demand for good quality affordable housing in Cambodia. Given the country’s positive GDP growth of about six percent to seven percent annually, the Cambodian economy remains vibrant and attractive to both local and foreign investors,” said HLH Group CEO Dato Dr Johnny Ong.

“In view of this and the rising tourist numbers in Sihanoukville as well as the increasing disposable incomes of consumers in Cambodia, our plans for more developments will add greater vibrancy and activities to the area,” he added.

D’Seaview is a mixed-use development located near the popular Sokha Beach in Sihanoukville, which is expected to become Cambodia’s next hotspot, not only for property investments, but also for tourism. Aside from its potential as a major cruise ship destination, there are also more flights landing at the city’s international airport.

Piling work is currently underway and is expected to be completed by June this year. The apartments are being marketed under the CAMHOMES brand of HLH, which is targeting the mass market.

Looking ahead, the group plans to build more residential projects in other locations, including the capital Phnom Penh.

Picture Source: 437 units of D’Seaview in Sihanoukville have been released for sale.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/120254/hlh-launches-phase-two-of-cambodian-project

Singapore’s housing market among the weakest: Knight Frank

Prices of private residential properties in Singapore continued their downward trend, falling by 3.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 from the previous year, according to Knight Frank’s latest Global House Price Index.

On a quarterly basis, prices slipped by 0.2 percent from Q3 2015. Singapore was ranked 51st out of the 55 housing markets tracked by Knight Frank, which puts it among the weakest performers, Ukraine and Greece.

Between 2009 and 2011, prices of private units surged by 62.2 percent, but have dropped by 8.41 percent since then.

Analysts believe that a number of factors will continue to put pressure on the property market, such as the large pipeline supply of units, weakening demand amid low economic growth, and the market cooling measures which remain in place.

Meanwhile, the world’s housing markets recorded three percent growth on average in 2015. Turkey leads the rankings with prices ending the year 18 percent higher, said Knight Frank.

The consultancy added that its outlook for the year is muted. “We expect the index’s overall rate of growth to be weaker in 2016 than 2015. The global economy is experiencing a potentially dangerous cocktail of low oil prices, a strong dollar and a continued slowdown in China,” said Kate Everett-Allen, Head of International Residential Research at Knight Frank.

Picture Source: Singapore sits close to the Ukraine and Greece as having one of the world’s weakest housing markets.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/120027/singapores-housing-market-among-the-weakest-knight-frank

South Beach wins top design award

South Beach, Singapore’s biggest mixed-use development, has won the only Platinum SG Mark, presented at this year’s Design Business Chamber Singapore (DBCS) SG Mark awards.

Jointly developed by City Developments Limited (CDL) and Malaysian-based IOI Properties, the new project at Beach Road was built on a 3.5ha plot, and took eight years to complete. It faced design challenges that involved incorporating four conserved buildings with modern structures.

Several of the project’s green features impressed the judges, including a 280-metre long canopy that converts solar energy to electricity and collects rainwater to irrigate South Beach’s landscaping, as well as sky gardens which act as ‘green lungs’.

It is estimated that South Beach can save up to 17 million KWh of energy and 174,000 cubic metres of water annually.

“We believe that many of the principles behind this iconic building can be applied to future buildings to improve urban sustainability and overall aesthetic and practical appeal,” said Tai Lee Siang, President of the DBCS.

Several other local developments picked up SG Mark Gold Awards, namely the JTC Space @ Tuas development and the Singapore University of Technology and Design campus in Changi.

In total, 32 organisations picked up awards this year. Started in 2013, the SG Mark Awards are considered the Oscars of the design industry here. Previous winners include Gardens by the Bay, Botanic Gardens and Changi Airport.

Picture Source: South Beach was the big winner at the SG Mark 2016 awards. (Photo: Christopher Chitty)
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119975/south-beach-wins-top-design-award

Malaysia’s property market has hit bottom, says developer

Home sales in Malaysia are expected to recover in the second half of 2016, said Mah Sing Group, the country’s third largest property developer by sales.

“We have reached the bottom of the downturn, and it will recover in the medium term,” as Mah Sing is witnessing signs of renewed confidence from home buyers, despite the negative reports on the weak ringgit, and allegations of corruption, said Group Managing Director Leong Hoy Kum.

“The bad news like 1MDB and the ringgit have already been digested; I don’t see anymore bad news coming out. It is back to work for everyone, to focus on economic growth.”

The ringgit has also strengthened 3.8 percent, making it Asia’s third best-performing currency.

Meanwhile, Mah Sing is set to hit its RM2.3 billion sales target for this year. The developer is confident it can sell more “medium range to high-end properties” in 2017, especially in Kuala Lumpur.

Meanwhile, its competitors are also posting strong sales. Earlier this month, Eco World Development Group found buyers for 85 percent of the units at its apartment outside the capital. Moreover, nearly all of the 341 units at a project by Sime Darby were snapped up in one day.

Given the turnaround, Mah Sing is now looking to acquire more land parcels with its record net worth of RM1.4 billion (S$467 million). It wants to replenish its land bank after holding back on such acquisitions in 2015.

“Every weekend is shopping time for me and sometimes, I charter a helicopter to look at land of 500 acres to 1,000 acres,” added Leong.

Picture Source: Mah Sing Group believes that Malaysia’s property sector will recover soon.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119981/malaysias-property-market-has-hit-bottom-says-developer

Top property agents earn 66% more than average Singaporean

The median gross monthly commission earned by the top 300 property agents at ERA Realty Network hit $11,686 in 2015, according to latest statistics released by the property agency.

This is 66 percent more than the median gross monthly income of full-time employees in Singapore, which averaged $3,949 last year, based on data from the Ministry of Manpower.

These 300 agents are aged 23 to 65, with four of them above 60 years old, earning more than $133,876 annually despite being of retirement age, noted ERA.

At just 28, property agent Kavin Kuah, who joined ERA in 2012, has earned a median monthly gross commission of $119,873.

“Real estate is a good career path if you are someone who looks forward to no-ceiling income. There are always opportunities around; it’s all about commitment, passion and perseverance,” he said.

Jack Chua, ERA’s CEO, said the company remains resilient, despite the current market downturn and changes in real estate regulations.

“Media channels are reporting that many property agents quit the industry in 2015. However, statistics prove that the performance of (the) property sector is positive.

“Many individuals are lured by factors such as high salaries and work-life balance. However, selling properties has never been a simple sales job. It is a long-term, viable career that requires constant upgrading,” added Chua.

ERA remains the biggest agency in Singapore, even after its agent pool dropped by 6.6 percent to 5,947 agents in the October-to-December licence renewal period.

To further help its agents, ERA has rolled out a series of initiatives and policies, such as more professional development and market-focus programmes, as well as welfare and benefit schemes to encourage greater work motivation.

Picture Source: Real estate agents still command some of the highest-income jobs in Singapore despite challenging market conditions.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119908/top-property-agents-earn-66-more-than-average-singaporean

Expats still paying top dollar for historic bungalows

Sales of black-and-white bungalows, a type of good class bungalow (GCB), are few and far between given their limited number, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Designed after the mock-Tudor architectural style, these houses come with whitewashed exteriors that contrast with black-stained timber details. To make them more suitable for the tropics, they feature broad verandas, wide eaves and tall shutters for shade, as well as masonry piers to elevate the structure and alleviate humidity.

According to historian and academic Julian Davison, these homes combine the ‘Tudorbethan’ style of Victorian England and the colonial-bungalow style introduced in Singapore by the British Raj in India.

These properties are favoured by expatriates due to the luxurious lifestyle they offer and their large area, which start from about 2,000 sq ft for one-storey bungalows to around 8,500 sq ft to 11,000 sq ft for the more exclusive villas.

“They are the perfect answer for people looking for a bit of greenery and some space,” said Diana Chua, a Singapore guide.

However, sales are rare as only a few are privately owned, and these include most of the 100 black-and-white bungalows slated for conservation by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

The majority are currently being rented out by the Singapore government. Over 90 percent of the 500 units managed by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) are leased as homes, while some are used for commercial purposes. JTC Corporation also oversees around 150 units at the Seletar and Buona Vista industrial parks.

In addition, rents of black-and-white bungalows declined from their peak in 2010 to 2012, following the introduction of property cooling measures. For instance, monthly rents for the 33 bungalows at Mount Pleasant range from $8,600 to $23,500, said Ascott Ltd, the property manager.

Picture Source: Black and white bungalows offer a luxurious lifestyle.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119930/expats-still-paying-top-dollar-for-historic-bungalows

Colombian city wins LKY prize

Medellín, Colombia’s second largest city, has been named a 2016 recipient of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Wednesday, 16 March.

It beat out four other finalists – Auckland, Sydney, Vienna and Toronto, which will be honoured with a special mention.

“Medellín’s transformation has been extraordinary. It has gone from being one of the world’s most dangerous cities into a liveable and innovative city,” said Kishore Mahbubani, Chairman of the Nominating Committee.

“Its success gives hope to many cities in developing countries, where the next wave of massive urbanisation will take place. Medellín can become a Mecca of learning for them. We are therefore proud to award the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize to Medellín.”

The city is no stranger to this prestigious award. In 2014, it received a special mention for its creative and non-conventional urban solutions, such as the world’s first cable car system for daily commuting, library parks that also serve as social nodes in the city’s poorest districts, and escalators that have greatly improved mobility in one of its most troubled neighbourhoods.

Medellín is the fourth recipient of the accolade, after previous winners Suzhou in China, Spain’s Bilbao and New York City.

A total of 38 cities were nominated for this year’s prize. They were screened through a two-tier selection process by the Nominating Committee and a Prize Council. The finalists were chosen based on levels of leadership, innovation, as well as the impact and durability of initiatives.

The Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize comprises a gold medallion, an award certificate, and a $300,000 sponsorship courtesy of Keppel Corporation.

It will be awarded at the upcoming World Cities Summit, to be held from 10 to 14 July at Marina Bay Sands.

Picture Source: Medellín is the second largest city in Colombia.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119872/colombian-city-wins-lky-prize

Developer sales down almost 23% from year ago

New private home sales in Singapore fell by 22.8 percent to 301 units in February 2016, from 390 units in the same period last year, according to data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Tuesday, 15 March.

On a monthly basis, the sales volume fell by 6.8 percent from the 323 units sold in January 2016, even though new launches surged 31.4 percent to 209 units from 159 units previously.

According to JLL, the “slower developer sales were expected due to the Lunar New Year lull and the continuation of the volatility in the stock market from the previous month”.

By location, sales in the Core Central Region (CCR) fell to 25 units in February, just shy of the 26 units sold in the previous month, and the 30 units sold a year ago.

In the Rest of Central Region (RCR), transaction levels edged up to 82 units from 81 units in January 2016. But compared to the 185 units sold a year ago, this area witnessed the largest year-on-year decline of 56 percent.

Meanwhile, developers sold 194 units in the Outside Central Region (OCR). While this translates to a 10 percent drop from the 216 units moved in the month before, it is an 11 percent improvement from the 175 units sold in February 2015.

According to PropNex Realty, properties in the OCR accounted for 64 percent of total sales by developers, while those in the CCR and RCR made up nine percent and 27 percent respectively.

The best-selling private residential projects last month were The Panorama, where 18 units were sold at a median price of $1,211 psf, followed by Kingsford Waterbay and Principal Garden, which moved 18 and 16 units at median prices of $1,127 psf and $1,612 psf, respectively.

Looking ahead, new private home sales could fall by around 10 to 15 percent year-on-year to between 1,000 and 1,200 units in Q1 2016, the lowest level seen for the past three years, said Mohamed Ismail, CEO of PropNex.

Nevertheless, transaction volume could rebound in March due to the fairly good performance of two newly launched developments, Cairnhill Nine and The Wisteria.

For the whole of 2016, private home sales are expected to remain weak at around 8,000 units, as long as the property cooling measures remain.

Picture Source: The best-selling project in February was The Panorama in Ang Mo Kio.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119813/developer-sales-down-almost-23-from-year-ago

Economists cut growth forecast for Singapore economy to 1.9%

Economists polled by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) are cutting down their growth forecast for the economy for 2016 from 2.2 percent to 1.9 percent, the central bank’s latest quarterly survey revealed Wednesday (16 March).

“As reflected by the mean probability distribution, the most likely outcome is for the Singapore economy to grow by between 1.0 to 1.9 percent this year, below the 2.0 to 2.9 percent range reported in the last survey,” the MAS said.

Manufacturing is now expected to shrink by 2.7 percent this year, worse than the previous median forecast of a 1.2 percent contraction compared to the same quarter last year, down from 1.8 percent forecast in the previous survey. In addition, economists also forecast a slower growth in the finance and insurance sector at 3.6 percent, compared to 5.9 percent previously.

The survey also showed that economists expect the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the first quarter to come in at 1.6 percent.

Singapore’s GDP growth came in at 2 percent last year—the weakest annual growth since 2009—when it shrank 0.6 percent following the global financial crisis.

But analysts expect the GDP to expand by 2.5 percent next year.

“The most likely outcome is for the Singapore economy to grow by 2.0 to 2.9 percent next year,” MAS said.

Meanwhile, in terms of currency, economists expect the Singapore dollar to trade at S$1.45 against the greenback by the end of the year.

The survey conducted by MAS received views from 24 respondents from economists and analysts who closely monitor the Singapore economy.

Picture Source & Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119810/economists-cut-down-forecast-for-singapore-economy-to-1-9-2

21 May 2016

Temasek overtakes GIC as Singapore’s biggest property firm

Temasek Holdings has been named the biggest real estate firm in Singapore, with total assets under management at US$39.9 billion, according to the latest Estates Gazette ranking, which pulled together the world’s top 100 investors.

The state-linked investment firm overtook the sovereign wealth fund GIC, last year’s top performer, for the number one spot. Temasek has stakes in major local and regional players such as CapitaLand, M+S, Mapletree and Pulau Indah Ventures.

CapitaLand took second place with US$33.3 billion of assets, followed by GIC with US$22.4 billion, Global Logistics Properties (US$16.7 billion) and City Developments Limited (US$14.9 billion). All five companies have a combined asset value of a whopping US$127.2 billion.

To make it on the list this year, firms have to own property valued at more than US$12.4 billion, said Estates Gazette.

This year, the top 100 companies owned a total of US$3.6 trillion worth of property, a US$400 billion increase over last year’s value.

Canada-based Brookfield Asset Management, remains the global leader, with almost US$130 billion of assets.

Samantha McClary, Head of Content at Estates Gazette, said: “Our Global 100 list, which is based on real assets rather than property securities and debt, shows how big a business the international real estate market is.

“The list, now in its third year, continues to grow with new firms appearing every year. The appearance of more property owners from new locations shows just how global a playground the real estate industry is.”

Read the full list here. http://globalrealestateinsight.com/global/total-value-worlds-biggest-real-estate-firms-revealed/

Picture Source: Singapore’s top real estate investors have been revealed in the latest rankings published by Estates Gazette. (Photo: Someformofhuman/Wikimedia Commons)
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119759/temasek-overtakes-gic-as-singapores-biggest-property-firm

MAS, China central bank renew bilateral currency swap arrangement

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) on Tuesday (15 March) announced the renewal of the existing bilateral currency swap arrangement (BCSA) for another three years.

“The BCSA is a key pillar of cooperation between PBOC and MAS to strengthen regional economic resilience and financial stability,” said MAS. The arrangement aims to enhance banks’ confidence in carrying out their business in the two markets and enables both central banks to provide foreign currency liquidity to stabilise financial markets.

First established in 2010, the BCSA was first renewed in 2013, and the new arrangement is effective as of 7 March.

Under the arrangement, up to CNY 300 billion in Chinese Yuan liquidity will be available to eligible financial institutions operating in Singapore.

The renewed BCSA will also supplement the various initiatives announced at the 12th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation in October 2015 and the President of the People’s Republic of China, Mr Xi Jinping’s state visit to Singapore in November last year.

Picture Source & Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119745/mas-china-central-bank-renew-bilateral-currency-swap-arrangement

Pinnacle@Duxton prices unlikely to climb much higher

The Pinnacle@Duxton in Tanjong Pagar has recorded three transactions of above $1 million so far this year for its 5-room flats, similar to the four deals seen in the first three months of 2015.

The development has regularly made headlines in recent months. For example, a unit was sold for $1.08 million ($945 psf) in November 2015, the most expensive sale ever for a 5-room flat in Singapore. In January this year, a unit changed hands for approximately $1.07 million.

According to Eugene Lim, Key Executive Officer of ERA Realty, which helped to broker both deals, these flats commanded sky-high prices due to their unblocked, panoramic views of the city, and the Pinnacle’s status as a landmark project.

Aside from its proximity to MRT stations, another key selling point is the scarcity of such units. “Not everyone at the Pinnacle wants to sell. Those who have decided to sell are leveraging to get the maximum premium for their units,” Lim said.

Based on statistics from ERA, the two said transactions were three percent higher than the average transacted price of $977,846 for a 5-room flat at the project. But compared to older flats in the area, such as those at Smith Street and Tanjong Pagar Plaza, this translates to a premium of 25 percent to 46 percent.

The current resale prices are also a far cry from the original selling price range of between $345,100 and $439,000 for the 5-roomers during the project’s launch in 2004.

Nevertheless, Lim noted that these record flat prices are unique to the Pinnacle. “They do not represent the majority of resale HDB transactions, which are trading at around valuation in the current market environment.”

It’s also unlikely that prices of 5-room flats there will rise significantly higher or reach the $2 million mark, as home buyers could easily purchase a private apartment within the area for the same price, he said.

Looking ahead, prices of HDB resale flats are expected to remain stable, while transaction volume is expected to pick up as the reduced focus on cash-over-valuation (COV) premiums would attract buyers in immediate need of housing, or those who do not qualify for Build-To-Order (BTO) flats, added Lim.

Picture Source: Three flats at the landmark project have been sold for over $1 million in 2016.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119729/pinnacleduxton-prices-unlikely-to-climb-much-higher

900 families got a third HDB loan in 2015

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) granted a third housing loan to around 900 families last year, according to National Development Minister Lawrence Wong during a parliamentary session on Monday (14 March), reported Channel NewsAsia.

Of this, 25 percent are concessionary loans, while about 75 percent consisted of non-concessionary loans, which are based on market rates.

He explained that the agency is willing to help families obtain a third HDB housing loan, but it will only be allowed for exceptional cases, usually for households that cannot acquire mortgages from banks, but are in urgent need of such financing.

However, a requirement is that these families should have ample savings and stable incomes to repay their monthly loan instalments.

“As I said, HDB would want to assist applicants to buy a home. But HDB is also wary of people or families, who overstretch themselves, and end up with more debt. I don’t think we want that to happen just for the pursuit of buying a home,” Mr Wong added.

Picture Source & Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119707/900-families-got-a-third-hdb-loan-in-2015

JLL remains top in the region, data shows

For the fifth year in a row, JLL has been named the top real estate investment advisory firm in Asia Pacific, based on the total value of sales completed, according to data from Real Capital Analytics (RCA).

RCA is an independent body that monitors global real estate transaction volumes. JLL has been ranked in first place since RCA began releasing data in 2011.

In 2015, the consultancy advised on investment deals worth US$16.6 billion, which corresponds to a 27.8 percent market share in the region.

JLL also took top spot in the hotel sector for the fifth year in a row, with a total of US$2.9 billion in hotel sales last year, representing a regional market share of 57 percent.

“2015 was a stellar year for real estate investment in Asia Pacific thanks to continuing demand from investors wanting to buy into the growth story in the region,” said Stuart Crow, Head of Asia Pacific Capital Markets, JLL.

Picture Source: JLL is the region’s top dealmaker by volume for 2015.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119650/jll-remains-top-in-the-region-data-shows

Solid weekend sales at The Wisteria, Cairnhill Nine

Two newly launched private residential projects reported brisk sales over the weekend, an indication that units within integrated developments remain popular despite the lacklustre housing market.

The Wisteria in Yishun sold more than 80 percent, or 116 of the 138 units released for sale.

Its developer Northern Resi initially launched 108 units on Saturday (12 March), priced from $1,030 psf to $1,050 psf on average. Subsequently, another 30 units were released due to keen interest for the smaller units, leading to more sales.

“Buyers are drawn to this project because of its affordability and its convenience of being above a lifestyle mall,” said Michael Leong, CEO of Keppel Land Retail Management, the project and marketing manager for The Wisteria.

The 99-year leasehold project features 216 condominium units spread across three nine-storey towers, built on top of a two-storey shopping mall. Prospective buyers can choose from one- to four-bedroom apartments, with unit sizes ranging from 441 sq ft to1,173 sq ft.

The Wisteria is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, CapitaLand’s 268-unit Cairnhill Nine development in the Orchard area has found buyers for 70 percent, or 134 of the 200 units launched on Saturday.

The 99-year leasehold condominium is part of an integrated development that includes a serviced residence called the Ascott Orchard Singapore.

The units sold include one, two, and four-bedroom units as well as penthouses, measuring between 591 sq ft and 3,864 sq ft. The one-bedroom+guest units have been the most well-received to date, with 80 percent of the 90 apartments sold.

Around 50 percent of the project’s buyers are Singaporeans, while the rest are from Indonesia, Malaysia and China.

Commenting, a spokesman from CapitaLand said: “We are pleased with the strong response to the VIP preview and official launch, and will be stepping up our marketing efforts by having roadshows in cities such as Jakarta, Surabaya, Solo, Shanghai and Hong Kong.”

Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119608/solid-weekend-sales-at-the-wisteria-cairnhill-nine

218 HDB flats were sold before MOP in 2015

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) allowed 218 flats to be sold last year, even though the owners did not fulfill the required minimum occupation period (MOP) of five years, reported The Straits Times.

But this figure only represents around one percent of the 19,306 flats sold last year, as this practice is only permitted under “exceptional circumstances”, said a HDB spokesperson.

Valid reasons include emigration, wanting to live near a terminally ill family member, and financial problems – like the death of a breadwinner.

ERA Realty agent Ken Lee noted that “others might also need to relocate to be closer to their relatives for childcare or eldercare purposes”.

However, the majority of these special approvals were granted due to divorce.

The HDB spokesperson explained that “some divorcees may not be eligible to retain the flat upon their divorce. Since the breakdown of the marriage is beyond the couple’s control, HDB may consider allowing them to sell the flat so that they can each move on with their lives”.

According to PropNex agent James Lin, the housing board’s consideration is helpful to flat owners facing genuine hardships. “But it’s good that they are strict with these approvals. If they give everyone the green light, people will abuse the system.”

“It shouldn’t be easy to sell one’s flat early. The MOP is there to safeguard the interests of other residents,” added Lee.

Picture Source: Flat owners facing hardships can seek HDB’s approval to sell their units before the five-year MOP. (Photo: Nikki De Guzman)
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119617/218-hdb-flats-were-sold-before-mop

Foreigners shying away from US property

The US National Association of Realtors (NAR) has stated that demand from foreign buyers is weakening, with the strong US dollar and rising home prices forcing some investors to look at other countries that offer more value, reported The Wall Street Journal recently.

Many experts had predicted that foreigners would flood the US property market last year, as they seek a safe haven from the volatile global economy. Realtors revealed that the Chinese had surpassed Canadians as the top foreign buyers of US property in June 2015.

However, it looks as though this trend is reversing and more foreign buyers are now avoiding the US market, as prices in preferred cities like New York and San Francisco have increased dramatically. This has been made worse by the strong US dollar.

According to research from the NAR, the median price of existing US homes increased by 14 percent for Chinese buyers in January 2016 compared to a year ago, once currency exchange rates are factored in.

Another reason for the waning interest in US real estate is that China’s government is now cracking down on buyers who try to evade a US$50,000 annual limit on how much money they can transfer out of the country.

Previously, Chinese buyers would transfer money overseas through friends, family members or employees, but the government is now monitoring such activity more closely.

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, explained that it remains to be seen just how much Chinese demand for US homes will fall.

The country recently reported growth of more than six percent amid a tough economic climate. In addition, many Chinese residents are looking to diversify their investments, after having lost money in the stock market downturn.

Picture Source: Housing prices in US cities, such as New York, have skyrocketed.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119604/foreigners-shying-away-from-us-property

Wandervale’s sales outperform EC launches in 2015

The 534-unit Wandervale project in Choa Chu Kang, the first executive condominium (EC) to launch in 2016, has beaten market expectations after its developer managed to sell 50 percent of the units last weekend.

“Despite tepid market conditions, it was well received by the market,” said Wong Xian Yang, Senior Manager for Research and Consultancy at OrangeTee.

The good performance is unsurprising, given the lower prices of Wandevale’s units. Prices for a three-bedroom apartment start from $655,000. Based on the percentage of units sold in the first month of sales, Wong noted that it has outperformed all the seven EC launches in 2015.

However, only about 267 units were successfully transacted even though the project was more than 40 percent oversubscribed, receiving a total of 750 e-applications by the end of the application period on 28 February.

But Wong said that “a conversion rate of approximately 30 percent to 40 percent from e-applications to sales is common in the EC segment”.

He added that there could be several reasons for why more sales didn’t materialise, such as buyers changing their minds, their inability to secure an 80 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, and insufficient CPF funds to cover the next 15 percent of progressive payments.

Developed by Sim Lian Group, Wandervale comprises 130 three-bedroom, 322 three-bedroom premium and 82 four-bedroom units, spread across nine residential blocks. Unit sizes range from 958 sq ft to 1,249 sq ft, while prices average between $750 psf and $770 psf.

The 99-year leasehold EC is expected to be completed by 2019.

As to whether Choa Chu Kang will see an oversupply of EC units with three properties being developed there, namely MCL Land’s Sol Acres, Wandervale and the future launch of Qingjian Realty’s EC at Choa Chu Kang Avenue 5, Wong noted that these projects will inject a total of 2,350 units in the area.

“Sol Acres sold 259 units during the first month of launch in August 2015, and at least 10 units have been sold each month since. Likewise, we expect a steady flow of sales (for Wandervale) in the coming months.

“The introduction of another EC project by Qingjian may dilute demand, but we believe that the market should be able to absorb the additional supply, assuming that it is priced right.”

Picture Source: URA,OrangeTee Research
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119510/wandervales-sales-outperform-ec-launches-in-2015

Home price drop of over 20% unlikely, say experts

Analysts believe that private residential prices will continue to fall this year and into 2017, but the rate of decline is unlikely to exceed 20 percent, reported Singapore Business Review.

“We forecast private residential prices would dip five percent to 15 percent over 2016 to 2017 and that 2016 primary residential sales would remain muted at between 6,000 to 9,000 units,” said Eli Lee, an analyst at OCBC Investment Research.

At the same time, residential rental levels could drop by eight to 15 percent, while the vacancy rate could rise from the current 7.8 percent to around 10 percent by the end of 2017.

Nevertheless, a price correction of over 20 percent is improbable, given that demand rises as properties become more affordable, preventing prices from falling further, added Lee.

Echoing a similar sentiment is Maybank KimEng’s analyst Derrick Heng. He expects private residential prices to hit rock-bottom by the end of next year, decreasing by 13 to 16 percent from their peak.

Heng noted that developers appear to be winding down their construction activity to ease the supply glut. Data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) shows that home builders completed nearly 19,000 units in 2015, down from the projected 21,359 units for the year.

Picture Source: Private home prices could fall by up to 15 percent over 2016 and 2017.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119494/home-price-drop-of-over-20-unlikely-say-experts

PropertyGuru’s Malaysia Property Show still attracting strong interest

Speculation has been rife of late that the Malaysian property market is going to have a quiet year. Analysts anticipate that demand will remain an issue despite property prices in key areas such as Penang, Johor and Klang Valley remaining relatively stable, with house-price indices holding up.

Nonetheless, this presents a good chance for Singaporean investors, as they can still strive to capitalise on existing opportunities in the market. This was evident at PropertyGuru’s most recent Malaysia Property Show (MPS), held last weekend at Marriott Hotel Singapore. The event saw over 430 potential buyers in attendance, eager to listen to what industry leaders had to say, as well as view prime Malaysian properties by renowned developers from across the causeway.

Malaysian exhibitors who participated in the show included UEM Sunrise, Rawhide, WCT, Andaman Property Management, Bina Puri Holdings and Hatten Group.

“Malaysia has always been the top-of-mind favourite for local investors searching for alternative investment options outside of Singapore. The multiple rounds of cooling measures have played a crucial role in boosting the attraction to properties across the causeway,” said Steve Melhuish, co-founder and CEO of PropertyGuru Group.

“Cooling measures have significantly affected the prospects for attractive investments in Singapore property. Moreover, the ringgit has fallen 30 percent against the Singapore dollar, making Malaysian properties even more affordable. Infrastructural developments, such as the upcoming Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail, have also given more reasons to invest, by not only shortening the travelling time between the two countries but also possibly growing the capital appreciation for properties located within its vicinity.”

Now in its sixth year, MPS is part of PropertyGuru’s international events platform, which showcases properties from cities across Asia, leveraging on the popularity of online property searches and actual investments, to enable investors to make quicker yet smarter decisions.

Melhuish said, “The latest edition of PropertyGuru’s Malaysia Property Show has once again proven to be a hit, with immense support seen from the steady number of visitors over the weekend. We are looking to host more investor events in the coming months.”

Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119427/propertygurus-malaysia-property-show-still-attracting-strong-interest

Eye on Yishun: Ward of the north

As an HDB estate, Yishun is only 40 years old, but is one of the most popular towns in northern Singapore, thanks to the convenience afforded to residents by its accessibility and many amenities.

And though it is a fully developed residential estate with its own MRT stations (Yishun and Khatib), Yishun is continually being improved. From shopping and dining to education and housing, the estate seems to be in a state of constant development. Unsurprising, perhaps, when one considers the two words synonymous with Singapore’s reputation: growth and progress.

Drawn to the north

Ken Chan, Sales Manager at DTZ Property Network, explains Yishun’s appeal: “Yishun is one of the middle-aged housing estates that are being progressively rejuvenated by the HDB. It is also part of the URA’s Master Plan development for the northern region.

“The ongoing developments will make Yishun more well-connected by transportation. At the same time, they will provide many exciting lifestyle choices for residents.”

But even in light of its recent and current developments, Yishun, which was once a quiet, rural part of Singapore, still has much to offer its residents in terms of nature.

The Lower Seletar Reservoir is a splendid place for a relaxing evening stroll, and the three little-known waterways (the Seletar, Khatib Bongsu and Simpang rivers) are perfect for water sports and trekking on weekends.

Parks include the Lower Seletar Reservoir Park, Yishun Park and Nee Soon East Park; the former has a small water sports rental facility and occasionally sees dragon boat competitions held there.

For those who prefer the indoors, there are plenty of shopping, F&B and entertainment options to enjoy, be it with family or friends. Northpoint Shopping Centre is right next to Yishun MRT station, while Asia’s first multiplex, Golden Village (GV) Yishun, now boasts wheelchair-friendly berths and three 3D digital halls to cater to a wide variety of moviegoers.

Furthermore, Chong Pang City in Neighbourhood 1 has everything one could need: shophouses, a hawker centre, a market, supermarket, department store, drugstores and convenience stores.

Essentially complete

Apart from food, shopping and entertainment, Yishun’s eight neighbourhoods also have schools, community clubs and centres and country clubs, as well as medical and sports facilities. The Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH), named after the late Khoo Teck Puat after it received a hefty $125 million donation from his family, is located in the Yishun Central Area, next to Yishun Polyclinic. It boasts 590 beds amid comprehensive healthcare and specialist medical services and facilities, as well as a recently added feature that overlooks Yishun Pond.

The latest healthcare facility to have been developed in the area is the Yishun Community Hospital (YCH), which opened in late December last year. With approximately 425 beds, YCH’s primary purpose is to accommodate post-surgery patients from KTPH while they recover.

There are seven community clubs and two country clubs (SAFRA Yishun Country Club and Orchid Country Club) in Yishun, as well as the Yishun Stadium and Sports Hall and Yishun Swimming Complex.

Schools such as Ahmad Ibrahim Primary and Secondary, Chung Cheng High School (Yishun), ITE College Central and Yishun Junior College are also located in the region.

Reputable residences

Yishun has plenty of residential developments, from HDB flats to condominiums and executive condominiums (ECs). The area has been consistently popular amongst buyers, and developments such as The Wisteria and North Park Residences have been attracting a great deal of attention.

Chan says of the two aforementioned 99-year leasehold projects: “The Wisteria and North Park Residences are built by very reputable developers. The latter, for example, is known for its well-planned functional residential design.

“At the same time, both The Wisteria and North Park Residences are two of the newest local projects to feature the latest mixed development concept. Retail shops and restaurants in The Wisteria, for instance, are not sold as strata-titled units, giving the developers good control of the retail tenants’ marketing mix, and enhancing the overall value of the residential and commercial components of the project.”

Furthermore, North Park Residences will also be one of the first private residential developments to be integrated with a community club linked to the Yishun MRT station and bus interchange. Residents will be spoilt for choice when it comes to lifestyle options, as there will be over 500 retail and F&B outlets and healthcare establishments located just below their homes.

Where and how much

Yishun is an ideal place for both home buyers and sellers. It all simply boils down to two things: price and location. The former, when set at a price that takes into consideration the house’s market value, the seller’s asking price range and the buyer’s offered price range, can attract genuine buyers overnight.

Chan says, “We can observe from the well received Wisteria and North Park Residences that the correct pricing of a home really determines its selling power. For homeowners looking to sell, price your home right, and it will literally sell overnight.

“As for homebuyers, it’s always about location. A location generally popular with tenants / residents, either for transport convenience or a close proximity to lifestyle amenities or schools would be a great start. And of course, a website such as PropertyGuru.com will make searching for that dream home so much easier.”

Positive prospects

With all its ever-changing and constantly improving amenities and infrastructure, Yishun’s foreseeable future looks bright. Residents have easy access to food, shopping, entertainment, healthcare, education, recreation, nature and sports, making Yishun highly convenient and therefore, attractive.

Chan is positive about the estate’s prospects: “I think Yishun is progressing towards (becoming) a very liveable suburban region in the north. Transport links are well integrated and lifestyle amenities are abundant. The latest mixed-use commercial and residential projects certainly support the transformation of Yishun into a rejuvenated and choice residential region.

“The residential market in Singapore and Yishun may be undergoing some adjustments in tandem with the global economy at the moment, but in the longer term, the attractiveness of Yishun as a choice home will ensure it will be a shining star in the future.”

Picture Source: Completed in 1986, Lower Seletar Reservoir is located to the east of Yishun New Town. (Photo: Balaji Dutt M V, Wikimedia Commons)/PropertyGuru Analytics,URA
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119371/ward-of-the-north

One of the most affordable homes above a lifestyle mall

Special Advertising Feature

Offering thoughtfully-designed residential spaces, state-of-the art facilities, as well as a good mix of retail and F&B shops under one roof, The Wisteria presents itself as the ideal space for live and play.

In recent years, mixed-use developments, which encompass both commercial and residential units in a single complex, have become increasingly popular, with a growing number of developers starting to roll out mixed-use developments across the island. This comes as no surprise, as the fast growing population in land-scarce Singapore has resulted in a surge in demand for homes and amenities alike.

Those looking to invest in a mixed-use development that offers utmost convenience, easy accessibility, as well as a slew of amenities within one location, should look no further than The Wisteria – a mixed residential and retail development in Yishun.

Jointly developed by Northern Resi Pte Ltd and Northern Retail Pte Ltd, the development comprises 216 residential units, which are built on top of the Wisteria Mall – a unique lifestyle mall comprising F&B and retail shops. There is a good mix of one- to four-bedroom apartment units that range in size from 441 sq ft to 1,171 sq ft. Discerning home buyers and investors will like that most units come fully outfitted with a fine selection of kitchen and sanitary fittings from reputable brands such as Electrolux and Hansgrohe, as well as a well-edited selection of fittings.

The 216 residential apartments will be spread across three blocks and will occupy the 4th to 12th floors, while the retail units will be housed within basement 1 and level 1 of the development. The lifestyle mall, with over 100 units of F&B and retail offerings, are held under one strata-owner, who will operate and manage the entire mall.

Smart living

One of the main highlights of The Wisteria is no doubt the in-built home automation system – ABB-free@home system – that is installed in each residential unit. With this innovative system, residents can intelligently control virtually any device in their home – lighting, air-cons at the dining / living area and master bedroom, and even main door locks via their smart devices.

Spaces to relax and retreat

Residents can expect to be spoilt for choice when it comes to leisure and relaxation pursuits. Equipped with an array of state-of-the-art facilities, fitness enthusiasts can choose to take a refreshing dip in either the 50m free-form lap pool or sweat it out at the aqua gym and gymnasium. For those who prefer to just sit back and lull the afternoon away, there are also plenty of spaces for you to do just that including the wine pod, jaccuzi, water lounge, steam room, sun deck and leisure deck among others. The specially designed BBQ Pavilion is also ideal for intimate parties or even just a spontaneous evening dinner outdoors.

A host of amenities and conveniences

Among the advantages of living in a mixed-use development, convenience ranks high on the list. And when it comes to convenience, The Wisteria – located at the juntion of Yishun Avenue 4 and Yishun Ring Road – is truly unbeatable. The development is situated within close proximity to various transportation links including Khatib MRT station and the Seletar Expressway (SLE), which make travelling to other parts of the island a breeze. The future North-South Expressway (NSE) will also reduce travelling time to and from the city – the NSE will connect the city centre with towns along the north-south corridor – Woodlands, Sembawang, Yishun, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Toa Payoh.

The star of this integrated residential and retail development has to be the Wisteria Mall, which offers residents a slew of dining and shopping options at their doorstep. Housing a handful of specialty cafes and restaurants, a FairPrice Finest supermarket, Kopitiam food court and many other lifestyle shops, residents will be able to indulge in an array of gastronomical delights and shop for their daily necessities without even having to set foot out of the development.

For families with school-going children, the development is located within a stone’s throw away of several established educational institutions, such as Chongfu Primary School, Naval Base Primary School and GEMS World Academy.

Great investment potential

The position of The Wisteria is further strengthened by its proximity to nearby commercial clusters such as Woodlands Regional Centre, Seletar Regional Centre and the upcoming Seletar Aerospace Park.

Seletar Aerospace Park, which is envisioned to be a world-class dedicated aerospace regional facility, is expected to create about 10,000 jobs upon its projected completion in 2018, while the Woodlands Regional Centre, which is part of a larger commercial belt called the North Coast Innovation Corridor, will house the first business park cluster in Singapore’s northern area.

In short, residents of The Wisteria can look forward to a wealth of job opportunities near where they live. The 99-year leasehold development is expected to receive its temporary occupation permit (TOP) in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Picture Source: Facade of The Wisteria and Wisteria Mall.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119458/one-of-the-most-affordable-homes-above-a-lifestyle-mall

Strong property potential for northeast Singapore

With the first quarter of 2016 well underway, property seekers were keen to find out about current property market statistics and what these data trends could tell them about the outlook for the local property market. This interest was reflected by the large crowd at the Kingsford Waterbay show suite, where the latest edition of PropertyGuru’s Guru Talk was held.

Guru Talk is a series of property knowledge empowerment seminars aimed at providing a comprehensive Guru View of the property market. The edition held on 27 February 2016 saw Eugene Lim, Key Executive Officer of ERA Realty Network, providing some highly regarded insight to the local property scene, as well his expert predictions for the rest of the year.

Giving attendees a holistic view of Singapore’s property market, Lim covered vast ground, sharing his views on data trends across both the government and private housing sectors.

Broaching the topic of the HDB resale market first, he pointed out that though prices had been on the decline for two consecutive years, this trend stopped in the last quarter of 2015. In fact, prices saw an increase. This, however, does not mean a quick price rebound but rather, price stabilisation.

“Property prices have been trending downwards over the last two years but what is interesting to note is that the price decrease stopped in the last quarter. In the final quarter of 2015, based on HDB statistics, prices have edged up by 0.1 percent.

“Is this going to carry on? Are we expecting a price rebound? As a homeowner, you would most definitely want to see that. However, the government has been ‘balancing’ the market with increased supply. We see that the HDB has been launching a lot more new flats, especially in mature estates. They will not be flooding the newer estates anymore, so on a high level, all this points to the stabilisation of HDB resale prices.”Continuing with his coverage of the local property market, Lim went on to speak about the private residential sector, where he pointed out trends similar to the HDB resale market — the rate of year-on-year price decrease had slowed down, indicating price stabilisation, something reflected in price points from recent months.

Continuing with his coverage of the local property market, Lim went on to speak about the private residential sector, where he pointed out trends similar to the HDB resale market — the rate of year-on-year price decrease had slowed down, indicating price stabilisation, something reflected in price points from recent months.

“Year-on-year, we see very little change (in private residential price points), which means the market has started to stabilise. The rate of decline has actually slowed down and monthly prices are quite stable. Now, with all the moderations in the market, you’ll find that price lines plotted across a monthly chart have stabilised, and the prices in the private property market are expected to maintain a status quo, ” Lim said.

He cautioned: “One thing we need to be aware of is that we are a very small country, and as a small country, we are a ‘price taker’. Any external shock will affect Singapore today, more so than in the past, as we continue to be a very open market.”

When asked to look into his crystal ball Eugene mentioned that the northeast region holds good potential for property investments, citing reasons such as the rise of nearby business and industrial parks, and estates in the region, like Hougang, which is part of the Remaking our Heartlands (ROH) programme. Furthermore, the Cross Island Line, which will cut through the region, will be complete by 2030.

As a bonus, fengshui master Jet Lee, Principal and Founder of Yi-Culture, shared with attendees his views on how fengshui can be involved in a property purchase. He also gave his Singapore property market outlook, while boldly predicting the lifting of certain cooling measures by Q3 2017.

Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119432/strong-property-potential-for-northeast-singapore

Small island, big plans

It is often said that a man’s reputation precedes him. In the case of Cui Zhengfeng, owner of Kingsford Development, part of the impression I had of him prior to our first meeting was that he took great pride in his work.

After all, he had decided this interview was to be conducted at the Kingsford Hillview Peak showflat in Bukit Batok, and seemed rather pleased that I had arrived slightly early to view the condominium, which happens to be Kingsford’s first project in Singapore.

Another trait that stood out was his ambitious streak. Though English is still the main challenge for the Chinese national, the language barrier has not stopped him from expanding the company’s operations from China to not only Singapore, but Australia as well. He says he relies on a translator when it comes to doing business with English speakers, and reading English-language documents.

In person, he comes across as friendly and chatty, eager to commence the interview and share his experiences with us. Speaking in Mandarin, his excitement is evident in his hand gestures, rapid speech and tone of voice.

From regiments to residences

A Shenyang native, Cui joined the army at the age of 18, before taking a job as a tax officer at age 30. Not long after, he decided to use his pension fund to invest in factories, venturing into property development in 2000. He eventually came to Singapore and, finding the market favourable, decided to start developing property here. Last year, the business expanded to Australia, though Singapore remains Kingsford’s primary focus, apart from China.

Cui says of his real estate journey so far: “It’s not an easy business. 20 years ago, there was no Kingsford, and you cannot study to become a CEO. In this industry, there are many responsibilities (because) what you sell is not just a product, but a family’s dream.”

Service-oriented strategy

When it comes to Kingsford Development, Cui is happy to talk about its portfolio. The company focuses mainly on China, Singapore and Australia, and its biggest undertaking so far is a 460,000 sq m project in China. After entering the Singapore property market with Kingsford Hillview Peak, it embarked on its second condominium development here, Kingsford Waterbay.

Throughout the interview, Cui emphasises repeatedly that in order to further build Kingsford’s brand, its priority must be to “help aspiring homeowners fulfil their dreams and get their dream homes”.

He says: “I am more concerned with service than with profit. I want Kingsford to have lasting power and a long legacy, and in order to achieve this, I must constantly provide high-quality homes for my customers.

Cui’s ambitions are clear. He says resolutely: “Kingsford is looking at the whole world. From China to Singapore to Australia, we keep up with the goings-on in all countries. Our main operations are in China, while Singapore is our base for overseas operations; Australia is the next country we have decided to explore, and have set up our business there.”

Uniqueness amid commonality

So what sets Cui apart from other prominent names in the real estate business? Well, he believes one must first determine what he shares with his industry peers before he can determine his unique selling point.

“In order to understand the difference between oneself and others in the same industry, we must first find common ground with them. We share the same goals and pursuits: to excel in our work and develop our businesses.

“More time must be focused on the quality of the property and your employees’ performance. We must respect every project and every person. And for us, as a young company, we need to learn from our predecessors and competitors, retaining the positive so we can be more professional and eventually, overtake them in the industry.

“What sets me apart is my dogged determination to succeed. I choose not to give up but to persevere, because the qualities of the head of the company represent the qualities of the company itself. Perhaps this statement is a little dramatic, but there is some truth to it. Once I have set my mind to something, I will do whatever it takes to achieve it. I am also grateful to my staff for their support.

“Kingsford is also unique because instead of being profit-focused, we focus on providing quality homes for our customers.”

Looking to the future

Going forward, Cui certainly has grand ambitions for Kingsford. He has plans for the business to expand into Vietnam and India, largely due to their recent respective GDP growth of over six percent. He is also eyeing Canada and New Zealand as potential candidates for Kingsford’s expansion.

The company still has over 600 units to sell in Brisbane, Australia, after which he will observe the market before making further decisions.

Back home in China, Kingsford is working on a development in Cui’s hometown of Shenyang. It will launch at the end of the year, and with 10,000 units and an area of 800,000 sq m, is purported to be 10 times the size of Kingsford Waterbay.

When asked for his predictions for Singapore’s housing market, he immediately gives an answer with which many Singaporeans are likely to disagree: “Even though home prices in Singapore are high, they should not be reduced. Doing so will hurt the economy and in turn, the people of Singapore.”

However, he does feel the government should relax the cooling measures. He explains, “Like Singapore, the Chinese government has been introducing many of its own measures and policies to cool the market. But because of the long period of government control of the market, even removing the measures now will not encourage more people to buy.

“Now it has to introduce another set of measures to encourage them to enter the market. The same might happen here if the government does not relax or remove some of the measures soon.”

Lessons and challenges

Cui’s foremost challenge is the language barrier he faces outside of his homeland. He says this was particularly trying when he first set up shop in Singapore. While he has not yet learnt the language, he still insists on handling all his research and documents personally, with a translator on hand to help him.

After 15 years in the business, his advice to younger property entrepreneurs is this: “It is most important to maintain the enthusiasm you had at the beginning. It is your career’s driving force. You must always remember why you started the business, and what your beliefs are.”

Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119423/small-island-big-plans

Phnom Penh: Asia’s next top city

Cambodia’s real estate market is heating up, especially in its capital Phnom Penh, with foreign developers from China, Singapore, Taiwan and Korea looking to expand their footprint in the fast-growing city.

For Singaporean developers, restrictive cooling measures in the city-state, as well as the passing of legislation some years back allowing foreigners to own Cambodian property, have been the main pull factors for companies such as Oxley Holdings, Teho International and TA Corporation to develop large-scale commercial and residential projects in Phnom Penh.

Under the Foreign Ownership Property Law, foreigners can own upper-floor units, but not ground floor units, and up to 70 percent of a condominium project.

According to property consultancy CBRE, this restriction has little impact on foreign buyers, considering that apartments are usually not built on the ground floor.

Outperforming the neighbours

In its inaugural Cambodia Real Estate Highlights report, Knight Frank said it expects the country’s economy to grow at an average of seven percent year-on-year until 2018, outperforming other economies in the region. Much of the growth will come from the manufacturing, agriculture, tourism and construction sectors, with the latter helping to boost the fledgling property market.

Today the city of Phnom Penh is a hive of building activity, “dotted with mid- to high-rise projects under construction”, says Sofia Perez, Research and Consultancy Manager at Knight Frank Cambodia.

She notes that “11 condominium developments were launched in H2 2015, which will add 1,768 units to the existing stock”, in contrast to the 2009 and 2010 period, when only 732 condo units were put up for sale.

Over the next four years, Knight Frank expects the supply of new residential apartments in the city to surge by a whopping 641 percent. Meanwhile, CBRE believes that Cambodia’s condominium market offers great potential, and expects over 9,000 units to enter the market between 2015 and 2018.

However, with thousands of units expected to be ready in the next few years, some analysts are warning of a possible oversupply.

“There are growing concerns about a potential oversupply in the near future, with many anticipating supply to quickly outpace demand. This can be attributed mainly to limited local market demand coming from high-net-worth individuals and expatriates living in Cambodia, which has forced many developers to target the overseas market,” said Perez.

“Taiwanese, Chinese, Singaporeans, Japanese and Malaysians are some of the main overseas investors buying the majority of the residential units.”

In addition, Knight Frank revealed that many developers are looking to increase sales by offering incentives such as upfront discounts, furniture packages and guaranteed rental returns.

Condo prices up; still much cheaper than in S’pore

The recent launches of a few major projects have pushed prices of condo units upwards, noted Perez. But prices are still significantly lower compared to Singapore. For instance, high-end units in central locations are going for more than US$279 psf (S$386 psf), with some penthouses priced at US$465 psf (S$643 psf), said the consultancy.

As for rentals, high-end condominiums in the city centre can command anywhere between US$1,345 (S$1,859) to US$4,500 (S$6,219) for one- to four-bedroom units, according to figures from the fourth quarter of 2015, added the consultancy.

Meanwhile, property investors have been recording rental returns of between five and seven percent, and capital growth of between five and 7.5 percent per annum.

Foreign property firms move in

As confidence in the property market continues to grow, more real estate agencies are expanding into Cambodia to support marketing efforts. US-based Century 21 opened a representative office in Phnom Penh in 2014, while global firm Savills joined forces with Cambodia’s Keystone Property Consultants last year.

Property developers from Singapore are also recognising Cambodia’s great potential for growth.

“We are of the view that Cambodia’s property market exhibits the right fundamentals for growth: a robust GDP supported by foreign investments, translating into rising demand for office space; and the rising affluence of Cambodia’s young middle class, translating into demand for quality residences,” said TA Corporation’s Executive Director and CEO Neo Tiam Boon.

The group just launched The Gateway, a mixed-use development located in Phnom Penh’s central business district that comprises 299 strata-titled office units and 572 one- to three-bedroom apartments. It also comes with guaranteed rental returns of 12 percent over two years for the residential units, and 16 percent for the office units.

Currently, about 30 percent of the residential apartments and 40 percent of the office units have been sold or reserved. Aside from Singapore, the project will also be marketed elsewhere in Asia, including Taiwan and China.

Oxley Holdings is also seeing strong interest for its two mixed-use developments in Phnom Penh, The Bridge and The Peak.

So far, almost 100 percent of the residential units and more than 70 percent of the Soho apartments at The Bridge have been sold, said Oxley.

The developer also revealed that phase one of The Peak, comprising 507 residential units in Tower 1, is close to 50 percent sold. The 55-storey freehold project features two residential towers with a total of 1,014 units, a 15-floor office tower and a 300-room hotel, all above a five-storey retail podium.

Property buyers of residential units at The Peak are guaranteed a 12 percent net rental return for two years, subject to conditions.

“We have a good mix of local and foreign buyers for both The Bridge and The Peak. Cambodian buyers contribute close to 50 percent of the total sales. Other than Singaporeans, Taiwanese and Malaysians also form part of the foreigners who buy at these two projects,” a spokesperson for Oxley told PropertyGuru.

CITY FAST FACTS
(PHNOM PENH)

Population: Approximately 2.2 million

Total area: 678.5 sq km

Currency: Cambodian Riel

GDP per capita (Cambodia): US$1,220 (2015)

GDP growth: 7.5 percent (2016)

Future transport: Public train service by 2020

Home prices: S$255 psf to S$319 psf

Distance from Singapore: Approximately 1,140 km

Summary of major property related issues and taxes associated with real estate investment in Cambodia: http://bit.ly/1XgLTCh

INTERNATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

Take a peek at these two Cambodian mixed-use developments bound to entice Singaporean buyers.

NEW PROJECTS

The Gateway
Russian Boulevard, Phnom Penh

Type: Mixed-use development
Developer: TA Corporation
Tenure: Freehold
Facilities: Swimming pool, gymnasium, function room, barbecue pavilions
Nearby Key Amenities: Universities, foreign embassies, medical facilities, shopping and dining outlets
Nearest Transport: Major roads linking the Phnom Penh International Airport and the city centre
Starting Price: US$152,300 (S$210,927)

The Gateway by TA Corp is the developer’s first large-scale project in Phnom Penh. It consists of a 36-storey tower with 299 strata-titled office units, and a 39-storey apartment block with 572 residences, which sits on top of a retail podium.

The residential component features one- to three-bedroom apartments, with unit sizes ranging from 560 sq ft to 1,184 sq ft.

The Gateway also promises 12 percent returns on apartment rentals and 16 percent returns for offices. Slated for completion in 2019, the development is located adjacent to the Cambodian Prime Minister’s Office in the central business district.

The Peak
Samdech Hun Sen Road, Phnom Penh

Type: Mixed-use development
Developer: Oxley Holdings
Tenure: Freehold
Facilities: Infinity pool, yoga room, games room, sunset viewing deck
Nearby Key Amenities: AEON Mall, Naga World Hotel, convention centre, foreign embassies
Nearest Transport: Royal Railway Station, Phnom Penh International Airport
Starting Price: US$175,000 (S$242,377)

The Peak is the second development by Oxley Holdings in Phnom Penh. The 55-storey mixed-use project features two residential towers with a total of 1,014 units, a 15-floor office tower and a 300-room hotel, all above a five-storey retail podium.

The residential unit types range from studio apartments to one, two, and three-bedroom units and penthouses, each measuring between 463 sq ft and 1,970 sq ft. It faces the Mekong River and is close to Naga World Hotel and Aeon Mall.

The developer has guaranteed a 12 percent net rental return over two years for buyers of The Peak, subject to conditions. The development is expected to be completed in 2020.

Picture Source: View of central Phnom Penh./Knight Frank Research
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119476/asias-next-top-city

Budgeting tips for aspiring homeowners

1. Determine your type

First and foremost, there are two things to establish: the type of house you want, and your buyer status. Are you looking at a HDB flat, a condominium or a landed home? Are you single, or buying together with your spouse or spouse-to-be? Are you a Singapore citizen, permanent resident (PR), or foreigner? Regardless of your marital status or nationality, you can buy a condo or landed home if you are at least 21 years old. If you are single, you are eligible to purchase a HDB flat only if you are at least 35 years old; married or engaged couples can buy HDB flats as long as they are at least 21 years old. However, do note that foreigners cannot buy HDB flats, and PRs can buy HDB flats only if they are resale units.

2. A buyer’s duty

As a home buyer, you will be subject to a Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD), which is tax payable on the house’s selling price or market value, whichever is higher. The system of payment is as follows: one percent on the first $180,000 of the price agreed upon by both buyer and seller, two percent on the next $180,000 and three percent on the rest of the price. This applies to all buyers, regardless of nationality and marital status.

If you are a PR, you will be subject to five percent Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD), whether you want to buy public or private housing. Foreigners buying private property will be subject to 15 percent ABSD.

3. Doing up your living space

Most new homes come with standard fittings, such as bathroom and kitchen fixtures. Many condos even come with wardrobes, cooker hoods, washers and more. However, you would still have to set aside a budget for furniture and décor. Your budget will depend on where you want to shop and whether or not you are planning to hire an interior designer. The former will likely cost less, but requires more time and effort on your part. The latter will cost more due to the design firm’s services, but you will spend less time shopping.

If you are buying a house from its current owner, you may wish to renovate it. This is the costliest, most time-consuming option; be sure to hire a reputable contractor and, if you so choose, a reliable interior design firm as well.

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Rental woes in our residential market

When we go out and speak to real estate agents, many of them tell us they need to work harder now, because of sluggish transactions in the real estate market. Many of them were used to earning a month’s income from one or two transactions, but had to turn to the rental market and work a lot harder, since commissions were smaller.

From afar, Singapore’s residential rental market looks like a bright spot in a lacklustre real estate industry. For both the HDB and private rental market, transactions actually moved upwards, even as sluggish sales led to many agents exiting the industry. Early indications this year also point towards the rental market doing brisk transactions as well.

Volume however, is only one part of the equation. The other is price.

Figure 1 shows the volume and median rental transactions per month over the course of 2014 and 2015 for the non-landed private residential market. Between 2014 and 2015, the number of transactions actually increased 10.4 percent, with the two year high taking place in Aug 2015.

However, prices are on a clear downward trajectory, with the year ending on a two year low of a median $3.29 psf per month across the island. While January this year did see upward movement, this is likely to be seasonal, as transactions pick up after the year-end holidays. January 2016’s overall median rental price is a 6.3 percent year-on-year decline from January 2015’s, an early indication that doesn’t bode well for rental prices this year either.

For landlords, this is a worrying trend. Singapore’s private residential property market traditionally has low yields due to our high prices. With rental rates heading south, net yields are likely to compress further, or even become

negative. For landlords dependent on rental income to pay for their mortgages, cash flow issues might force their hand and they might need to offload their assets at a time when property sales are soft.

The HDB rental market tells a similar story. Rental volumes started seeing increases in 2014, and stayed consistently high in 2015, hovering around the 10K mark per quarter, while rental prices slipped 5.6 percent over the past eight quarters (see Figure 2). 2016’s first quarter numbers will only be published this April, but what we hear from the ground is that rents remain soft, and tenants are driving hard bargains.

HDB landlords, in general, face less pressure compared to their private counterparts. Many HDB landlords are upgraders who chose to hold on to their units for rental income instead of selling them to get capital for their private property purchases. These landlords are often in a more stable financial position, especially for those who purchased their second properties after the implementation of the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR). This is because their bank loans were calculated with more stringent criteria, and they are unlikely to default on their loans, even if their HDB units remain untenanted.

Explaining the numbers

The HDB and private non-landed residential market are seeing similar transaction and price trends, because the underlying macroeconomic causes are the same.

On the one hand, we are seeing an exuberant supply of housing units hitting the market. In 2015, over 48,000 residential units were completed and entered the market. This year, that number is expected to rise to over 51,000.

This is because in 2011 and 2012, the government set about increasing the supply of Build to Order (BTO) flats to meet the demands of couples and young families, who were unable to get a unit during the ballot. At the same time, they were priced out of the resale market, with HDB sellers generating tons of froth by chasing ever higher cash-over-valuations (COV). This has alleviated somewhat, with the authorities ceasing to measure COV.

In the private market, overly optimistic land bids by developers and record high enbloc sales also led to a huge supply of private units being launched for sale. We are now seeing the fruits of those efforts today, with construction completing and keys being handed over.

The entry of all these units into the market has led to an embarrassment of riches for tenants when it comes to unit choices. This gives tenants plenty of clout when it comes to tenancy renegotiations, with rental prices being pushed downwards. Landlords must learn to budge quickly, or risk having untenanted units. Private condo landlords, especially those who are highly leveraged and need rental income to stay afloat, would quickly find themselves stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place.

While the supply of housing stock is seeing sharp increases, the supply of tenants is taking a hit.

Figure 3 shows the number of Employment Passes (EP) and S Passes (SP) approved over the past four years, as well as their rate of growth. EPs are for foreign professionals, managers and executives, and require a minimum income of $3,300 per month, while SPs are for mid-level skilled staff, with a minimum of $2,200 a month. Over the past three years, the rate of growth has remained low, due to widespread angst among locals against foreign labour coming in to Singapore.

For landlords dealing with increased competition from the increased housing supply, the reduction in foreign workers entering the country is a double whammy, making it harder for rental stock to be absorbed. The problem is also compounded by a less than optimistic global economic outlook, with several firms in the finance and oil and gas sectors announcing layoffs.

For expatriate workers who remain employed, many see compensation packages being localised, and are seeing housing allowances being reduced or even removed altogether. With lower budgets to be spent on housing, many expatriates need to seek cheaper rental alternatives, i.e., moving from private condos to HDB rentals, or negotiate for lower monthly rents.

While this explains the falls in rents we are seeing, it doesn’t necessarily explain why rental transaction volumes are on the rise. The reason, however, is a lot more depressing for landlords than the numbers might otherwise tell us. What the numbers indicate are actually the number of contracts signed by tenants, which landlords are required to declare for tax purposes. The number of contracts signed, therefore, have increased, because contracts are being signed more frequently, with tenants signing shorter-term contracts of one year or even less.

Traditionally, tenants sign two-year contracts, locking in rental rates for the period, allowing landlords to have some surety in their cashflow expectations. With one-year contracts, tenants have more leeway to negotiate their rental contracts downwards, or move to a cheaper alternative if their landlords refuse to budge. At the same time, with job security somewhat in flux, shorter contracts offer more wiggle room if they need to break their leases.

What can landlords do?

It is a tenants’ market, and landlords need to recognise that. For landlords that have holding power and who are able to absorb the reduced yields, they should be open to negotiating and reducing their rents. The key is to keep the units tenanted, even if they need to make concessions, in order to minimise what they need to fork out.

With most market watchers predicting that the property market will see the start of a recovery this year (provided the global economy doesn’t drag it down), landlords might want to relook their portfolios. Landlords who are overleveraged might need to bite the bullet and offload some properties, even if the capital appreciation is not yet where they would like it to be.

Alternatively, if a long term tenant is hard to come by, investors may choose to switch tack by using services like AirBnb to rent their units to tourists. In general, yields are better than long term tenancy, but there is a lot more hassle in managing the unit due to the turnover frequency. AirBnb, is also frowned upon by the authorities, and landlords should be aware that they are operating in a legal grey area. At the same time, the factors that would make a unit popular with tenants are the factors that would make them popular with tourists. If one’s unit has less cachet with tenants, it might be hard to attract tourists as well.

Quick tips for investors

No salesperson would ever tell you that the unit or project they are selling has no or low investment potential. It is therefore up to the individual investor to make their own assessment about the rental potential of their property. In general, investors are advised to look out for potential cachets of tenants within the vicinity, and should have a unit that is within walking distance to an MRT station. Walking distance is generally defined as 500 metres, or a five- to 10-minute walk.

In general, when looking out for areas with a larger potential tenant pool, it is also advised that landlords look for diverse industries and sources. For instance, investors like the Changi Business Park area, because of the technology, finance, and retail businesses in the area, as well as the faculty, students and staff of the Singapore University of Design and Technology (SUTD).

In Singapore, the government also publishes the Masterplan online. Investors should always refer to it and be familiar with what the government has planned for the future, to determine their potential capital appreciation, and what the tenant pool will look like in the future.

When looking at an investment unit’s price, it is also important to keep in mind what kind of rental pricing levels one would need to set. Most investors would want to set at a level that would be able to minimally cover their monthly mortgage payments. They should factor in their maintenance charges and other ownership fees as well. After doing the maths, if the desired rental sum looks far too outlandish when compared to the current rental prices, it might be better to walk away from the project, especially if holding power is an issue.

Picture Source: URA,PropertyGuru Analytics
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S’pore still the world’s most expensive city

Singapore has retained its status as the world’s most expensive city for a third consecutive year. However, its lead over the next two cities, Zurich and Hong Kong, has narrowed, according to the latest Worldwide Cost of Living Survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Geneva and Paris round out the top five cities, followed by London, New York and Los Angeles. The rankings list tracked 133 cities.

Despite Singapore topping the list, the report revealed that prices in the city-state were lower in some categories, such as basic groceries. Prices are 33 percent higher in Seoul, followed by Hong Kong (28 percent) and Tokyo (26 percent).

However, Singapore is considered more expensive in other categories.

“It is the most expensive place in the world to buy and run a car, thanks to Singapore’s complex Certificate of Entitlement (COE) system. Transport costs in Singapore are 2.7 times higher than in New York. Alongside Seoul, Singapore is also a very expensive city in which to buy clothes and pay for utilities,” stated the report.

The EIU survey compares more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services. These include food, drink, clothing, household supplies and personal care items, home rents, transport, utility bills, private schools, domestic help and recreational costs.

New York was used as a base for city-to-city comparisons; it has an index set at 100.

The purpose of the survey is to help human resources and finance managers calculate cost-of-living allowances in order to put together compensation packages for expatriates and business travellers, said the EIU.

Read the full report here. http://worldwidecostofliving.com/asp/wcol_WCOLHome.asp

Picture Source: Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit
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URA revises rules for property developers

In a bid to promote accountability and protect the interests of home buyers, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) recently revised the criteria for issuing sales licences for home builders, reported The Straits Times.

First, the minimum paid-up capital or deposit for those applying for a licence, has been raised from $1 million to between $1 million and $4 million, depending on the project’s size.

Those intending to build and sell a housing project with up to 50 units must have a paid-up capital of $1 million, $2 million for developments with 51 to 200 units, $3 million for projects with 201 to 400 units, and $4 million for larger developments.

Second, developers can no longer cite non-residential projects in the track record, to be submitted as part of their sales licence application, as commercial and industrial projects differ from residential developments.

According to Nicholas Mak, Head of Research and Consultancy at SLP International, this would prevent some smaller players in the industrial sector from venturing into the housing market.

Third, the number of units that a developer can be allowed to build will depend on the size of the completed developments specified in the track record.

If a company has completed fewer than 10 units, it can only obtain a sales licence for a new housing project with less than 50 units. Those who have constructed 11 to 50 units are permitted to build fewer than 200 units. Those with 51 to 100 units under their portfolio are eligible for developments with less than 400 units, while firms that have built over 100 units have no restrictions.

This new rule will safeguard buyers from developers who want to launch many units, but don’t necessarily have the experience, said Augustine Tan, President of the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (REDAS).

Finally, for developers applying for a sales licence based on the track record of their companies, at least one of its directors involved in the previous project must remain in his or her position.

“Developers can always disappear from Singapore after taking profit… But if they have a couple of people who are qualified directors, these people would hopefully behave more responsibly and can be held accountable,” noted Ku Swee Yong, Chief Executive, Century 21.

The changes will apply to all new licence applications received from 1 April 2016 onwards.

Picture Source: Construction in Singapore.
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More Singaporeans now living in condos: survey

More Singaporeans now own their own homes, according to results of the latest General Household Survey released by the Department of Statistics (Singstat) on Wednesday (9 March).

In 2015, homeownership among resident households reached 90.8 percent, up from 87.2 percent in 2010. Chinese households recorded the highest rate of homeownership at 93.1 percent, followed by Malay (86.9 percent) and Indian (84.1 percent) households.

Around 80.1 percent of households in Singapore lived in HDB flats last year, down from 82.4 percent in 2010. Four-room flats remain the most common property type, with 32 percent of households residing in them, followed by five-room and executive flats (24.1 percent), and three-room flats (18.2 percent).

The proportion of households who live in condominiums and other apartments also rose to 13.9 percent last year from 11.5 percent in 2010, while the percentage of those who stay in landed properties dipped from 5.7 percent to 5.6 percent.

Meanwhile, there were more singles among younger age groups. Between 2010 and 2015, the proportion of singles among residents aged 25 to 29 increased from 54 percent to 63 percent for females, and from 74.6 percent to 80.2 percent for males. For those aged 30 and above, the figures remain unchanged.

There were also more households with elderly members. The proportion of households with at least one resident aged 65 and above rose from 24.1 percent in 2010 to 29.1 percent last year.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s resident population reached 3.9 million in June 2015, comprising 3.38 million citizens and 0.53 million permanent residents (PRs).

The survey was conducted from May to July 2015. Of the 33,000 housing units selected for the initial sample, 27,804 households responded, translating to an overall response rate of 87.4 percent.

Read the full report here. http://www.singstat.gov.sg/publications/publications-and-papers/GHS/ghs2015

Picture Source: Apartment blocks in Singapore.
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PropNex bucks trend with $200m in commissions

Despite Singapore’s sluggish property market, PropNex Realty saw gross commissions soar to a record high of $200 million in 2015, while transaction volume surpassed 40,000 for the first time.

In a statement, the real estate agency said its strong financial results were achieved against a backdrop of rising interest rates, softer economic growth, falling prices and transaction volumes, oversupply worries and higher vacancy rates.

Developers also face hefty extension charges for unsold units, while the exodus of property agents continues. During the latest license-renewal period with the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), the number of registered agents and real estate agencies fell by eight percent and four percent respectively from 2014’s numbers. Only 1,299 new agents joined the industry in 2015, versus 3,006 in the previous year.

In recent years, PropNex, which has a stable of over 6,000 agents, has been appointed as the marketing agency for more than 40 local projects.

Of these, there are still around 7,500 unsold units, which the company plans to help clear, including private condos, executive condominiums (ECs), landed homes, as well as commercial and industrial properties.

Meanwhile, PropNex has proposed a number of tweaks to the government’s property cooling measures. These include easing the loan-to-value (LTV) limits, reducing the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) for local and foreign buyers, and raising the mortgage servicing ratio (MSR) for EC buyers to 45 percent, from the current 30 percent.

These recommendations are based on feedback and observations gathered from its 200,000-plus transactions since 2009.

PropNex believes that now is a good time to calibrate some of the cooling measures, as home prices have become more affordable, non-performing loans were at just 0.4 percent as at Q3 2015, and there is looming oversupply.

Speculative activity has also lessened, with quarterly sub-sales at just three to four percent of last year’s total volume. Furthermore, foreign demand has declined, with expatriates accounting for just eight percent of the overall volume in 2015, down from about 18 percent in 2011.

Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119250/propnex-bucks-trend-with-200m-in-commissions

Prime properties now more affordable: JLL

Prime residential property in Singapore is significantly more affordable now than in the rest of the world’s best cities, according to the latest JLL report.

“Singapore ranks amongst the top global cities, together with London, New York, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Forbes named Singapore the fourth most visited city globally. Mercer ranks Singapore the top city in Asia for quality of living and the fourth most expensive city in the world for expatriates,” said Regina Lim, JLL Singapore’s National Director for Advisory and Research for Capital Markets.

Still, prime home prices here are considerably lower than those in the aforementioned markets. Prices in Hong Kong are now 165 percent higher than Singapore, while prices in New York and London were higher by 80 to 90 percent in 2015, compared to a price advantage of just 10 to 30 percent in 2010.

Lim noted that the prices of prime residential properties here fell 20 percent from their peak in 2011 by 20 percent to S$1,991 psf in Q4 2015.

Among all the asset classes in Singapore, this segment has corrected the most in the last four years. On the other hand, office, retail and industrial property prices have fallen by just four to six percent, while prices of suburban homes have dropped by 12 percent.

On real terms, prime home prices here were also more affordable in 2015 than they were in 2003. Although last year’s prices were 70 percent higher than those recorded around 13 years ago, the median household income in Singapore has risen by 90 percent since then. Based on JLL’s estimates, prices are now equivalent to 5.6 years of income, versus 5.9 years in 2003.

In addition, the consultancy expects rents for such homes to rise after 2016 due to their limited supply, despite the existing the property cooling measures and sluggish transaction levels on the prime residential market.

There is also room for more growth, as rents are currently 40 percent below 2008’s levels and just eight percent above 2000’s levels. In contrast, Singapore’s median household income has risen 100 percent in the last 16 years.

Looking ahead, JLL believes there will be more opportunities to buy prime residential units in wholesale terms.

“For prime residential units completed in 2012, several developers have transferred unsold units to 100 percent Singapore-owned entities, or sold them in bulk at lower prices in 2014 to 2015. This further suppressed prices in a challenging market. We think developers could seek to sell around 1,000 units in bulk from 2016 to 2018 if the market does not improve expediently,” Lim added.

Picture Source: Singapore’s prime residential property is now more affordable than in other top global cities. (Photo: Erwin Soo, Wikimedia Commons)
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S’pore named best city for young professionals

Singapore was named the world’s best city for young people, in terms of employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, according to a study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by the Citi Foundation, reported The Guardian.

Based on the Accelerating Pathways Youth Economic Strategy (YES) Index 2015, the city-state took the top spot in the rankings, considering factors like employment growth, availability of quality jobs and the ease of starting a new business.

“There does not appear to be any discrimination against young people, and the working environment is safe (in Singapore),” said the report.

The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) also works together with employers, unions and the government to create awareness and facilitate the adoption of fair employment practices for all.

“However, the cost of living in Singapore is high, and the youth cited this as a top concern in a 2014 poll conducted in the city (Mass Media Research survey).” Furthermore, over 60 percent of the youth surveyed have considered moving abroad to realise their employment and education objectives.

Meanwhile, Toronto was ranked second in the same category, followed by Hong Kong, Miami, and Chicago. Taipei landed in sixth place, with New York, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur and London trailing behind.

The YES Index assessed the economic environment for the youth in 35 cities across the world by measuring the drivers and enablers that can improve their economic situation. The research was conducted between January 2015 and May 2015.

Read the full report here. http://www.citi.com/citi/foundation/programs/pathways-to-progress/accelerating-pathways/downloads/Citi-Foundation-Accelerating-Pathways-Youth-Economic-Strategy-Index-2015.pdf

Picture Source: A new study has named Singapore the top city worldwide for young professionals. (Photo: Bahnfrend, Wikimedia Commons)
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15 May 2016

NParks seeks design ideas for Jurong Lake Gardens

Singapore’s National Parks Board (NParks) is inviting consultancies to take part in the concept design plan for Jurong Lake Gardens (JLG) Central and East.

A key requirement is that the ideas must integrate well with the design guidelines for JLG West and the surrounding area.

JLG West is the new name for Jurong Lake Park. JLG Central consists of the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, while JLG East comprises a five-metre wide promenade fronting the new Science Centre and the northern part of Jurong Lake.

The Science Centre will be relocated next to the Chinese Garden MRT station, and will come with green roofs and landscape terraces.

The entire development must complement the existing Jurong Gateway area, the commercial hub of Jurong Lake District. The design must also incorporate green features, through the use of water and energy efficient practices, and recycled and renewable materials.

Another consideration for the appointed consultant will be to take into account the suggestions gathered by NParks in May 2015.

“Common suggestions included preserving the tranquillity of the area, retaining existing nature and biodiversity hotspots, provision of ample basic amenities, accessibility for elderly and the handicapped, affordable food and beverage options, and careful traffic planning to mitigate potential road congestion,” said the agency.

Interested consultants must submit their proposals by 25 April. Five firms will be selected for the second and final stage of the tender in June, with the winner to be announced at the end of this year.

Construction of JLG West will commence in April and is expected to be finished by 2018, while JLG Central and East will be progressively completed from 2020 onwards.

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HK home sales plunge 70% from last year

The number of residential transactions in Hong Kong plunged by 70 percent on an annual basis last month, as buyers shunned the housing market amidst falling prices and economic uncertainty, reported Bloomberg.

According to government data, only 1,807 units were sold in February compared to 2,045 in the previous month. This is a far cry from the 6,027 transactions recorded during the same period last year.

“The newspapers keep on saying the market is going down and buyers think they can get a cheaper house half-a-year later or one year later, and so are waiting,” said Centaline Property Agency salesperson Thomas Fok, who hasn’t sold a single unit at the city’s upscale Mid-levels West district this year.

In addition, home prices fell 10 percent from their September peak due to worries over China’s slowing economy and the plan by Hong Kong authorities to raise the supply of residential units in the next five years. Local officials also reiterated that the existing property cooling measures will remain in place.

As such, BOCOM International Holdings’ analyst Alfred Lau believes that home prices in the city could fall by 30 percent in 2016.

Given this challenging environment, Sun Hung Kai Properties slashed its sales target in Hong Kong by 18 percent to HK$27 billion for the whole of 2016. Sales by New World Development also plunged 79 percent during the first half of its financial year to HK$2.8 billion, which is just 28 percent of its full-year target.

Despite the challenging situation, some developers still see opportunities in Hong Kong. For instance, Goldin Financial Holdings’ Chairman Pan Sutong feels that prices of luxury homes will remain resilient, especially for those located in areas with limited supply.

Earlier this month, his company submitted the winning bid of HK$6.38 billion for a land parcel in the posh neighbourhood of Ho Man Tin, where a subway station is being built.

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Ascott to open serviced apartment in one-north

Serviced residence owner-operator The Ascott Limited has secured a serviced apartment at one-north business park through a lease awarded by JTC Corporation. The 50-unit property is currently operating and will be rebranded to Citadines Fusionopolis Singapore from 1 April 2016.

“With its choice location within the Fusionopolis, and its spacious loft apartments that appeal to expatriates on long stay, we are confident that Citadines Fusionopolis Singapore will further strengthen Ascott’s business in Singapore,” said Anthony Khoo, Ascott’s Head of Singapore Cluster.

The units feature high ceilings, separate living and dining areas, a kitchen and bedroom. The serviced residence is located within the 30ha Fusionopolis precinct of one-north business park, Singapore’s R&D hub that is home to over 400 companies.

It is also close to Star Vista shopping mall, National University Hospital, Singapore Polytechnic, and the one-north MRT station.

Following the opening of Citadines Fusionopolis, the 220-unit Ascott Orchard Singapore is expected to welcome guests in early-2017.

Situated within the Orchard Road shopping belt, the prime serviced residence is within proximity to the Orchard and Somerset MRT stations. It will be directly linked to Paragon shopping mall via a covered link-bridge and forms part of CapitaLand’s latest integrated development.

With the opening of Citadines Fusionopolis and Ascott Orchard, the company will have more than 1,000 units in Singapore, making it one of the largest serviced residence operators here, shared Khoo.

He added that the city-state is one of Ascott’s best performing markets after China, France and the UK. Its local properties have been achieving strong occupancy of above 80 percent.

Picture Source: Citadines Fusionopolis Singapore. (Photo: JTC)
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Johor to become an economic powerhouse

With four ongoing large-scale projects, Malaysia’s Johor state is set to become the next economic powerhouse in the country behind Klang Valley, reported The Star Online.

These mega developments comprise the multibillion-ringgit Forest City, the oil and gas facilities in Pengerang, the double-tracking project between Gemas and Johor Bahru, and the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR).

“All these projects, together with good planning not just coming from Putrajaya but at the district as well as grassroots levels, I am sure that Johor’s future is bright despite the uncertain global economy,” said Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak.

In fact, the state attracted RM31.1 billion in investments in the manufacturing sector last year, which accounted for 41.6 percent of the country’s total investments, based on data from the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA).

“Johor is an important state for the government. And I do believe that the state is in good hands and its aspirations to become a new economic powerhouse will soon become a reality,” he noted.

Najib also expressed his optimism that Johor’s Iskandar Malaysia will continue to flourish as it has attracted over RM200 billion in investments since its creation in 2006.

He said this after unveiling the Johor Strategic Economic Growth Plan (PPSJ) and Iskandar Malaysia Comprehensive Development Plan ii (CDPii) at Educity’s Indoor Stadium on Sunday (6 March).

Under the PPSJ, all 10 districts in Johor will have the chance to receive investments by showcasing their unique products to a larger market, ensuring that all areas will benefit from the state’s economic growth.

Picture Source: View of Johor Bahru.
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Johor’s Forest City given duty-free status

Forest City in Johor is set to become a duty-free zone, announced Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak at the project’s opening ceremony today (6 March), which was also attended by Johor’s Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar.

Other packages unveiled include corporate tax incentives for qualified companies, or companies with Iskandar Development Region (IDR) status involved in the tourism, education and healthcare sectors.

Being a green development, there will also be corporate tax incentives for green developers and green development managers, and a waiver on company equity restrictions for foreign investors to claim these incentives.

Comprising four man-made islands in the Johor Strait, near the Tuas Second Link, the S$58.3 billion Forest City township is being developed by Country Garden Pacificview (CGPV), jointly owned by Chinese property giant Country Garden Holdings and Johor’s Esplanade Danga 88.

In his opening remarks, Datuk Md Othman Yusof, Executive Director of CGPV, said: “This is a historic occasion not only for Country Garden, but also Malaysia, and most importantly for Iskandar and (the) local people. We are confident that Forest City will immensely benefit our local economy, creating jobs and new business opportunities for all.”

By 2035, Forest City is expected to create 220,000 jobs for Malaysians in the finance and e-commerce sectors.

Agreements have already been signed with global partners including Shattuck St. Mary’s School and UIW/Christus, the fourth largest medical group in the US, to collaborate on international schooling and to provide residents with world-class medical services.

In addition, a duty-free shopping mall will be ready by the end of this year at Fisherman’s Wharf on Island 1, the first phase of Forest City. There will also be a five-star boutique hotel.

Meanwhile, the condominium units and high-rise coastal residences on Island 1 have already been launched for sale in Singapore, China and Malaysia. Unit sizes range from 753 sq ft to 1,862 sq ft, with prices averaging around RM1,200 psf (S$400 psf).

Forest City is Country Garden’s largest real estate project outside China. The group currently has more than 300 projects globally.

Picture Source: Artist’s impression of Forest City.
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Residential land prices down 5.8% in 2015

The price of land sites in Singapore for prime residential and office projects did not change in the second half of 2015, according to Knight Frank’s latest Prime Asia Development Land Index.

But for the entire year, residential land prices in the city-state fell by 5.8 percent, while office prices grew by six percent.

“The soft demand in the housing and office rental markets as a result of both domestic and external economic challenges coincided with strong supply pipelines to weaken the demand for land,” said Knight Frank.

“Firms in Singapore continued to face challenges from economic restructuring in the face of weak demand, while home buyers’ confidence was hurt by the prospect of rising interest rates and volatility in financial markets.” The residential cooling measures were also a factor in curbing demand, added the consultancy.

The most recent prime development land transaction in Singapore was the sale of a site at Alexandra View to Tang Skyline for $376.9 million in November, which is expected to yield about 400 homes.

Meanwhile, prices of residential sites in Asia rose by three percent in H2 2015, up from 1.2 percent in the previous six months. Tokyo and Phnom Penh led the region, with prices shooting up by 14.8 percent and 26.2 percent respectively for the year.

Knight Frank’s index tracks land prices in 13 major cities across Asia.

Picture Source: A land parcel in Singapore. (Photo: Nikki De Guzman) – Knight Frank
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07 May 2016

Strong Indonesian interest for Cairnhill Nine

A significant number of condo units have been reserved at the 268-unit Cairnhill Nine development in the Orchard area, after its developer CapitaLand held a VIP preview in Jakarta on 20 to 21 February, reported The Business Times.

Potential buyers deposited cheques to secure the units they were interested in, but they may still cancel their bookings.

According to Tata Goeyardi of Religare Capital Markets, Indonesians were attracted to the luxury condominium’s direct linkage to Paragon shopping mall, which features a medical centre on top. The project is also close to Mount Elizabeth Orchard hospital.

The apartments are also spacious, with sizes ranging from 592 sq ft for one-bedders to 2,013 sq ft for four-bedders.

Another selling point is the competitive pricing. Average prices range from $2,400 psf to $2,500 psf, and large units could go for as low as $2,200 psf. In comparison, prime freehold properties within the vicinity are selling for $2,600 psf to $2,700 psf on average.

Although this is a 99-year leasehold development, Indonesians were not put off by its tenure, unlike Singaporeans who mainly favour freehold properties, said Goeyardi.

“What surprised us is the willingness of Indonesians to purchase, even with the 15 percent Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) for foreigners. This has created a new hope for the residential market in Singapore.”

According to a spokesperson for CapitaLand, Cairnhill Nine will be officially launched on 12 March, and the developer plans to hold another round of viewings by appointment this weekend.

If it’s unable to sell all the units by 31 March, it intends to market the project in other Indonesian cities like Surabaya, and even in Hong Kong.

Picture Source: Artist’s impression of CapitaLand’s latest development at Cairnhill.
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Singapore developers buoyed by Chinese demand

Amidst the lacklustre residential market in Singapore, the earnings of local developers have been boosted by strong sales in China’s largest cities, reported Nikkei Asian Review.

For instance, CapitaLand’s revenue surged by 21.3 percent year-on-year to US$3.41 billion (S$4.73 billion), driven by robust residential transactions in China. Despite the country’s softer economy, sales increased two-fold to US$2.36 billion (S$3.27 billion).

City Developments Limited (CDL), another major developer, has also reaped rewards for venturing into key Chinese cities.

For the 2015 financial year, CDL China sold 13 villas in Shanghai and nearly 700 units in Suzhou, with total sales amounting to 1.6 billion yuan (S$340.74 million). The company’s net profit inched up 0.5 percent last year to S$773.3 million.

“There have been signs of improvement, with increased buying activity in certain cities such as Shanghai and Suzhou after the government lifted several cooling measures and relaxed loan restrictions in 2015,” CDL said in a statement.

While the Chinese economy is not as vibrant as before, home builders have profited by focusing on first-tier cities, like Beijing and Shanghai, which are seeing higher growth than the rest of the country.

According to Joe Zhou, JLL’s Research Head for China, “residential sales volumes across 20 major cities in China shot up by 28 percent in 2015. Prices in Tier 1.5 and 2 cities are also gaining momentum”, but third- and fourth-tier cities are still saddled with excess supply.

The Chinese prefer to invest in first-tier cities as the quality of the properties there are generally superior to those found in other urban areas. Also, there’s limited investment opportunities in the country, explained David Ji, Knight Frank’s Head of Research and Consultancy for Greater China.

Chinese cities are categorised into tiers based on their population, gross domestic product and other factors.

Picture Source: Artist’s impression of Lotus Mansion, a residential development by CapitaLand in Shanghai.
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No respite from mounting extension charges for developers

Property developers forked out $24.9 million in extension fees last year for failing to dispose of all the residential units in their developments within the mandated period, reported The Straits Times.

While this is lower than the $29.98 million recorded in 2014, a recent report from Swiss bank Credit Suisse forecasts that extension charges could rise significantly this year.

Based on Qualifying Certificate (QC) rules, overseas developers are required to offload all the units in their private residential projects within two years of receiving the Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP). Otherwise, they must pay extension charges pro-rated to the percentage of remaining units.

The Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rules, implemented in December 2011, also stipulate that developers need to build, complete and sell all units within five years of buying the land. If there are any unsold units, they would be penalised with a 10 percent levy, which was subsequently increased to 15 percent for land plots purchased from 12 January 2013.

According to estimates from Credit Suisse, the total QC and ABSD charges could soar to $226 million in 2016 and $1.3 billion next year.

In particular, the jointly developed Nouvel 18 by CDL and Wing Tai could take the biggest hit this year, with charges amounting to $38.2 million if all of its 156 units remain unsold. This is followed by $15.2 million for China Sonangol’s TwentyOne Angullia Park near Orchard Road, and $14.6 million for Wing Tai’s Le Nouvel Ardmore at Ardmore Park.

However, experts feel that the figures reported by Credit Suisse could drop as they only cover unsold units as of 31 December 2015.

“The QC fees estimate is based on the assumption that developers do not sell any more units. That’s unlikely. As they continue to move units, the fees payable will drop.” Likewise for the ABSD charges, said Ku Swee Yong, CEO of Century 21 Singapore.

Wong Xian Yang, OrangeTee’s Senior Manager for Research and Consultancy, reckons that developers with more unsold units may pursue other means of selling their projects instead of just reducing prices. They may consider bulk sales, which is being done for iLiv@Grange.

Property firm Heeton Holdings has been seeking a buyer to purchase the 30-unit condominium. If it fails to secure a deal by October 2016, it will have to pay its second QC extension.

Picture Source: Luxury apartments in the Orchard area. (Photo: Cheryl Marie Tay)
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New overseas projects launching in Singapore

Two new overseas properties are set to launch in the city-state this weekend (5 to 6 March). Homegrown developer TA Corporation will unveil its first large-scale project in Phnom Penh, while Chengdu Galencia will showcase Chelsea Residences, the first one in Singapore from a mainland Chinese developer.

TA Corp’s twin tower project, called The Gateway, was officially launched last Sunday (28 Feb) in Cambodia’s capital.

It consists of a 36-storey tower with 299 strata-titled office units and a 39-storey apartment block with 572 residences, which sits on top of a retail podium. The residential component features one- to three-bedroom apartments with sizes ranging from 560 sq ft to 1,184 sq ft.

Indicative prices start from US$247,000 (S$346,467) for the office units and US$152,300 (S$213,631) for the residential units.

The Gateway also promises 12 percent returns on apartment rentals and 16 percent for the offices.

“We are of the view that Cambodia’s property market exhibits the right fundamentals for growth: a robust GDP supported by foreign investments translating into rising demand for office space; and rising affluence of Cambodia’s young middle class translating into demand for quality residences,” said TA Corp’s Executive Director and CEO Neo Tiam Boon.

Currently, about 30 percent of the residential apartments and 40 percent of the office units have been sold or reserved. Aside from Singapore, the project will also be marketed elsewhere in Asia, including Taiwan and China.

Meanwhile, Chengdu Galencia said the launch of Chelsea Residences was timely as there are growing Singaporean (private and institutional) interests in China.

Located within the heart of Chengdu’s High-Tech Park, the development will be operated like a serviced apartment, and comprises 430 high-end fitted units. Prospective buyers have the choice of one- to two-bedroom units, from 947 sq ft to 1,453 sq ft. Prices start from RMB1,653 psf (S$352 psf).

Chelsea Residences forms part of the developer’s integrated development known as “Chinese Financial Centre”. With a gross development value of more than RMB4 billion (approx. S$1 billion), it consists of four towers, a five-story commercial centre, and four levels of underground parking spaces.

It is within proximity to a subway station, the offices of 300 Fortune 500 companies, and over 2,000 foreign SMEs.

The Gateway’s launch will be held at the Hilton Singapore Hotel, while the exhibition for Chelsea Residences takes place at Raffles City Convention Centre Level 3.

Chelsea Residences is slated to be completed in December 2017, while The Gateway is expected to be ready in 2019.

Picture Source: Artist’s impression of The Gateway in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
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Wandervale’s prices start from $655,000 for a 3-bedder

Sim Lian Group has released prices for the 534-unit Wandervale executive condominium (EC) in Choa Chu Kang, the first major property launch this year.

In a statement, the group said prices start from $655,000 for a three-bedroom unit, $753,000 for a three-bedroom premium unit, and $896,000 for a four-bedroom unit. The project has an average price of $755 psf.

“Wandervale is competitively priced against other ECs in the market,” said Sim Lian. The EC units range in size from 958 sq ft to 1,249 sq ft, across nine residential blocks.

Located near Choa Chu Kang MRT station, Wandervale was more than 40 percent oversubscribed, receiving a total of 783 e-applications over 11 days.

The showflat at Choa Chu Kang Avenue 3 saw more than 5,000 visitors during the e-application period, which ended on 28 February.

According to Sim Lian, potential buyers were mainly attracted to the location, spacious units and overall design of the project.

The balloting and sales booking exercise for the EC starts on 5 March at the showflat.

The 99-year leasehold project is expected to receive its TOP by 2019.

Picture Source: The showflat at Wandervale. (Photo: Yasmin Beevi)
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