Real News‎ > ‎2012‎ > ‎December 2012‎ > ‎

01 December 2012

1st December, Saturday




'Let cooling measures take their course'

Source: Business Times

Let the golden goose that is the real-estate sector continue laying its golden eggs.

This was the message from Wong Heang Fine, president of the Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore (Redas), who last night urged the government to allow the recent cooling measures for public housing to take their course.

Speaking at Redas' 53rd anniversary dinner, he said it was an unusual time for developers, with high global liquidity and low interest rates.

The slew of recent cooling measures already made for a safety valve to moderate the market, he said, and urged that policy makers refrain from tightening "the demand tap" any further.

Mr Wong said while Redas shared the government's intention of fostering a stable and sustainable property market, the measures penalised private developers, whose projects comprise only 20 per cent of the housing market.

Developers have come up against a "vicious cycle of rising land costs", he said.

But because land is like flour in the "bread" that developers make, they have little choice but to take part in land bids - even when these are highly competitive, he said. This is so that they can sustain their operations, retain the jobs they create and provide adequate returns to their shareholders.

Mr Wong said it may be time to rethink a balanced housing policy menu which offers affordable public housing for the majority, while ensuring that the private sector continues to play an important role.

To that end, Redas will release a paper reflecting developers' collective voice on the challenges of property development and the vision of Singapore in 2030, he said.


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Eco Sanctuary units a big draw

Source: Business Times

Almost 200 out of the 299 units released for sale in Eco Sanctuary in Upper Bukit Timah are understood to have been sold, at an average price of about $1,100 per sq ft (psf) after discounts.

The project on Chestnut Avenue, which will have a total of 483 units, began its preview on 23 November.

SP Setia is the developer of the 24-storey, 99-year-leasehold project. It clinched the site in a state tender which closed in November last year, having paid $180 million or $426 per sq ft per plot ratio for it.

The units in the condominium range from one to four-bedders and penthouses. Sizes start at 506 sq ft for a one-bedder and go up to 1,367 sq ft for a four-bedroom unit.

Eco Sanctuary, designed by ADDP Architects, has Green Mark Platinum certification for its eco-friendly features. A large portion of the space in the development - 86 per cent - is given over to landscaping, water features and facilities.

Facilities in the development will include two tennis courts, two swimming pools and a clubhouse dubbed Island Club, surrounded by a shallow water feature. In addition to a bio-pond, the development will feature a butterfly trail.


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Resale ECs close to private home prices

Source: The Straits Times

Prices of resale executive condominiums (ECs) are catching up with those of private mass market homes as the increasingly luxe features at recent ECs have boosted the profile of these homes.

The price gap between resale ECs and comparable mass market homes has narrowed to just 17.2 per cent this year, data from the Singapore Real Estate Exchange (SRX) found.

This is a sharp fall from the previous market peak of 32.2 per cent in 2007. SRX added that the price gap has been narrowing and stabilising since then. Last year, the gap was 17.4 per cent while it was 14.5 per cent in 2010.

Experts said they are becoming more popular now as many home buyers see them as value buys, particularly those that offer innovative and high-end features.

However, the price gap varies among the six suburban districts that have at least two EC projects eligible for resale here, SRX noted. For instance, the gap in District 19 - comprising estates like Hougang, Punggol and Sengkang - is the highest at 22.4 per cent. Resale ECs in this area include The Florida and Park Green.

District 18, made up of Pasir Ris, Simei and Tampines, and District 20, including EC projects like Bishan Loft and Nuovo in Bishan and Ang Mo Kio, have the lowest price gap of just 10 per cent.

The price gap is also expected to narrow further as ECs cement their reputation as being on a par with private condos.


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Pasir Panjang the next waterfront living belt

Source: The Straits Times

Pasir Panjang is best known for its port and wholesale industry facilities, and is hardly Singapore's most fashionable address.

But consultants say that both commercial and residential property in the area could make good medium-term investments.

It could become the next "waterfront living" belt, given its proximity to various west coast amenities such as science parks, business hubs and a university.

The largest new project in the district is the Mapletree Business City, a huge 1.7 million sq ft office and business park. Completed in 2010, the business hub could be a significant source of office and residential tenants, noted an analyst. Pasir Panjang is also close to Singapore Science Parks I and II and Alexandra Technopark, giving it access to an estimated 100,000 workers and residents in the vicinity, he said.

Also, the recent completion of the Haw Par Villa and Pasir Panjang MRT stations - both on the Circle Line - has helped to boost accessibility to the area.

The residential area in Pasir Panjang is mainly private homes located along Pasir Panjang Road, stretching from the university to the MRT station.

Only a handful of new residential properties have been launched over the past two years. Examples include Horizon Residences, Ria Apartments, Luxe Villa and Viva Vista.

Prices for new sale properties rose by about 13 per cent over the past year, with all transactions for private homes coming from Ria Apartments and Horizon Residences.

One bonus is that Pasir Panjang is cheaper than its neighbour, Telok Blangah. The average price of new sale and resale private homes in Pasir Panjang is estimated to be about 25 per cent and 22 per cent lower, respectively, than those in Telok Blangah.

As for the rental market, rents at freehold condo Parc Imperial, completed in 2010, range from $3,100 to $3,300 a month for a shoebox unit of 420 sq ft, translating to a gross yield of about 5 per cent.

An analyst said the residential projects in Pasir Panjang would likely appeal to buyers who prefer developments with fewer units. But he noted that smaller projects tend to have higher maintenance fees and may not have full condo facilities, making them less appealing to tenants.


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Rising EC prices due to increase in quality and demand, say analysts

Source: Channelnewsasia

Analysts have attributed rising Executive Condominium (EC) prices to strong demand and rising quality of EC projects.

Prices for ECs have risen by 10 to 20 per cent in the last two years, since the government re-introduced them to increase the supply of flats for middle-income home buyers.

ECs are typically priced 20 to 30 per cent cheaper than private homes in the mass market segment. However analysts say EC prices appreciate once resale restrictions are lifted after 5 years.

Market watchers say over 3,300 EC units have been launched in the first 10 months of 2012.

Competition in the segment is also expected to remain stiff.

Analysts have also said that EC prices could continue to increase as developers launch more attractive projects.

However they added that developers will also be mindful that ECs cater to households earning up to S$12,000 a month.


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Robinson Towers' redevelopment begins

Source: Business Times

Tuan Sing Holdings has formally begun the redevelopment of Robinson Towers, the annex and the International Factors Building into a single commerical and office development.

Tenants were served with termination of lease notices of six months Friday.

The redevelopment is estimated to cost around $200 million, including development charges to tap additional gross floor area (GFA). The proposed project, comprising an office tower and a retail podium, will have a total GFA of about 257,300 sq ft.

Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and Architects 61, the building will be completed in 2016 and will be three times the height of the existing tower.


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Victoria St/Ophir Rd hotel site released on GLS reserve list

Source: Business Times

A hotel site at the junction of Victoria Street and Ophir Road has been made available for application under the reserve list of the Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme.

The site (formerly Victoria Street Wholesale Centre), is a 99-year leasehold plot, and is about 82,057.5 sq ft. It has a maximum permissible gross floor area of about 344,649.3 sq ft. The maximum building height for the development is 20 storeys.

An analyst expects the top bid to come in between $1,000 and $1,100 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr). This estimate is based on the assumption that a four-star hotel with 550-650 rooms, together with a retail component, is built.

He added: "We foresee that the site will be popular, considering recent bids for hotel sites at record prices. The top bid for the recent Jurong Town Hall Road hotel site was $1,167 psf ppr, and another close by Victoria Street/Ja- lan Sultan site was $994 psf ppr."

Lee Sze Teck, senior manager of training, research and consultancy at DWG, said he expected the trigger price for the site to hit a new record, in the range of $1,200-1,300 psf ppr.

Assuming the development is at least a four-star hotel with supporting commercial activities, the positioning of the hotel, coupled with the location of the site and general optimism in the market, could support such pricing, said Mr Lee.

The land parcel is located near the Ophir-Rochor Corridor, a new growth area envisioned to become a mixed-use cluster with office, hotel, retail, entertainment and residential uses. It is close to the main Bugis shopping area, the Kampong Glam Conservation Area, and the upcoming mixed development DUO by M+S Pte Ltd, which comprises hotel, Grade A office, residential and retail uses.

It is situated a short walking distance from the existing Bugis MRT Station and the upcoming Bugis Downtown Line that is slated to be ready next year.


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International Markets


Tax talk slows London luxury-home price rise

Source: Business Times

Luxury-home prices in central London rose at their slowest rate in more than two years in November as investors delayed purchases ahead of possible new property taxes, according to a consultancy.

The average price of a house or apartment in the UK capital's most expensive neighbourhoods climbed 0.4 per cent from October, according to an index compiled by the London-based broker. That's the smallest increase since October 2010, when prices fell 0.2 per cent.

The government is weighing an annual charge of as much as £140,000 on properties owned by offshore companies and may charge capital gains tax on the sale of luxury homes by non-residents who aren't naturalised.

Sales of properties valued at more than £2 million fell by a third in the quarter through September compared with a year earlier. The biggest decline was in the £2 million-£5 million range, which dropped by 44 per cent, the consultancy said.

The consultancy compiles the Prime Central London Index from its own appraisal values of a sample of properties in the 13 most expensive central London neighbourhoods.


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