Top Stories

S'pore in 'sweet spot' as politics and policies work constructively together: PM Lee

The civil service, whose primary responsibility is to develop effective policies, must serve the elected government of the day under the Singapore system, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday.  Even so, all civil servants should remain "politically impartial" and should not campaign for or against any political party, he told some 300 officers at the Administrative Service's annual promotion ceremony.  "The civil service is not independent of the elected government, unlike the judiciary, which is a different branch of government," he said in a 35-minute speech at the Shangri-la Hotel.

Singapore Economy

The top error firms make in a downturn

Before the recent round of Budget 2016 discussions even opened, analysts cut their GDP growth forecasts for Singapore's economy to 1.9 per cent from 2.2 per cent. While that is consistent with the Ministry of Trade and Industry's (MTI) forecast range of 1-3 per cent growth, if this is realised, it would be Singapore's weakest rate of annual growth since 2009.  Struggling housing demand, weak Chinese demand and a net negative impact on the global economy from low oil prices have made an unappealing prognosis for 2016.

Singapore Real Estate

Almost 1 in 3 high-end Singapore condos sold at a loss in Q1

A S$4.3 million loss on the sale of a property would be a terrifying prospect for most people.  But that eye-watering amount is what the owner of a three-bedroom apartment at The Ritz-Carlton Residences Singapore Cairnhill saw disappear down the sink when the property was sold earlier this year.  The seller, a Chinese national who was a permanent resident here, had purchased the unit at S$3,815 per square foot (psf) in June 2013 and resold it at S$2,508 psf, a historical low. This was the most unprofitable deal for private non-landed homes in the first quarter of 2016.  And that loss-making sale was not unique. More owners of private property are selling units at a loss against the backdrop of a stagnating local economy, soft rental markets and sliding housing prices. A study by The Edge Property found that 14 per cent of sellers incurred losses in the first three months of 2016, up from 9 per cent in 2015 and 5 per cent in 2014.

New rule allowing better use of excess carpark space

In line with a drive to make Singapore car-lite, building owners can now apply to permanently convert excess carpark space - any above the required level - to commercial or other uses in the central area.  The area includes Orchard, Bugis, City Hall, Chinatown, Raffles Place, Tanjong Pagar and Marina Bay. Details were sent out in a circular to real estate professionals on April 15, the date from which it took effect.  No official figures indicate how many buildings could benefit but experts said these may include Wilkie Edge, Peace Centre, Capital Square and Anson House.  Some are strata-titled but a spokesman for the manager of CapitaLand Commercial Trust, which owns Wilkie Edge, said any conversion opportunity must be evaluated in terms of an asset's overall plan and financial feasibility. There is consistent demand for carpark space in the central area, she noted.

Companies' Brief

Higher DPU in Q4 for Mapletree Commercial Trust

Mapletree Commercial Trust (MCT) delivered a higher distribution per unit (DPU) in the fourth quarter, as the stronger performance at VivoCity mall and some office assets boosted turnover and earnings.  DPU for the three months to March 31 rose 1 per cent to 2.02 cents, up from two cents in the same period last year, said trust manager Mapletree Commercial Trust Management yesterday.  Net property income came in at $55 million in the fourth quarter, up 3.5 per cent, while gross revenue climbed 2.8 per cent to $73 million.

PLife Reit Q1 DPU falls in absence of one-off distribution

Parkway Life Reit's distribution per unit (DPU) for the first quarter ended March 31, 2016, fell 7 per cent to 2.99 Singapore cents, from the previous corresponding period's 3.21 Singapore cents, which included a one-off distribution of divestment gains.  "The DPU from recurring operations continues to grow 5.1 per cent year-on-year," said the healthcare Reit. Net property income rose 8.5 per cent to S$25.14 million. Gross revenue rose 8.6 per cent to S$26.9 million, driven primarily by contributions from higher yielding properties acquired from the asset recycling initiative completed in March 2015, higher rent from the Singapore properties, and appreciation of the Japanese yen.

Soilbuild Construction Group

The Straits Times, e-paper, page 49

Housing Development Board

The Straits Times, e-paper, page 49

Views, Reviews & Forum

Orchard malls not biting on grants for underground links

You would think that malls along Orchard Road would jump at the chance to build underground links to each other - especially when there are cash grants on offer for this.  A scheme to do precisely this has been extended, but developers are still not biting.  Even so, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is gathering feedback from industry players on how it can provide more incentives to building owners to provide underground links.  "The Government is also studying and reviewing legislation on mandating existing developments to receive new elevated and underground links," a URA spokesman said.

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

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