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08 December 2012

8th December, Saturday




Cash premiums for resale flats near record high

Source: The Straits Times

Cash premiums for HDB resale flats have climbed to a median of $34,000 over the last two months, just $2,000 short of the record reached last year.

This has pushed the median resale flat price to $455,000 in the fourth quarter thus far, a 1.1 per cent rise from the quarter before, said the Singapore Real Estate Exchange (SRX) in its latest report.

Property agency bosses say they expect COVs to continue to rise as long as the supply of resale flats remains tight. With prices of private property still rising, more potential buyers will also find themselves priced out and turn to the Housing Board resale market.

Property experts said policy measures to curb speculation have had the effect of diminishing the number of resale units put up for sale.

In 2010, for example, the minimum occupation period before a buyer could put his flat up for sale again was raised from three years to five. This effectively shrank the resale market, and transaction volumes have dropped by about a quarter since.

In 2010, 32,000 resale flats changed hands. Last year, the figure fell to 25,000. The number for this year is expected to come in about the same or lower.

An analyst point to the policy of allowing HDB upgraders to buy private property and still hold on to their flats. "This system is not healthy, in my view," he said. "If you can buy private property, you should let go of your HDB flat back into the resale market."

What also fanned the COV flames, said observers, were recent headline-making transactions where sellers pocketed cash premiums of about $200,000.

"Sellers see these record prices being achieved, and they think they don't need to negotiate," summed up Mr Lee Sze Teck, DWG's senior manager of training, research and consultancy.


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Non-landed homes changing hands at record average price

Source: Business Times

Prices of resale non-landed private homes continued to climb, hitting a record $1,222 per sq ft (psf) on average in the first two months of the fourth quarter.

This was on the back of an improved performance from all regions here, latest data from the Singapore Real Estate Exchange showed.

Private home prices in the outside central region (OCR) rose 4.5 per cent over 3Q to $959 psf, followed by the rest of central region (RCR), which recorded a 3.3 per cent increase to $1,224 psf. Resale prices in the core central region (CCR) were up 2.8 per cent at $1,778 psf.

Transaction volumes, too, continued to climb, rising 6 per cent to 2,483 resale transactions in the October-November period versus the first two months of the previous quarter.

However, weak rental rates caused overall gross rental yields to drop to a six-year low of 3.77 per cent in the period. Average unit monthly rents fell one per cent to $3.84 psf in the first two months of 4Q, from $3.88 psf in 3Q.

Meanwhile, demand for rental shoebox units was high, with 1,328 contracts signed this year. Year-to-date transaction volume for resale shoebox units came to 198.

Shoebox units continued to draw higher rental offers in the fourth quarter to achieve average unit monthly rental of $6.65 psf, up 0.6 per cent from $6.61 psf in the third quarter.


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Buying a Queenstown flat? Prepare to fork out more

Source: The Straits Times

From his 40th-floor flat in Tanglin Halt, retiree Fong Weng Jui can see Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay and Orchard Road.

Agents have called him asking if he wants to sell.

HDB flats in the historic neighbourhood consistently break price records: In September, a flat in Mei Ling Street went for $1 million, with a COV of $195,000.

Queenstown's proximity to town plays a key role, say agents, as do its amenities such as markets, hawker centres and the nearby Ikea store.

But what differentiates it from other super-expensive mature towns like Bishan is the relative scarcity of resale units that come onto the market, says an agent who has been selling flats in Queenstown for 21 years. "People are very comfortable here, and there are many older residents who have been here all their lives and will never sell," she explains.

Of the buyers willing to put up huge amounts of cash, permanent residents are the biggest group, she notes.

But everybody has a price. Mr Fong rejected an offer of $850,000 recently. The price at which he will consider giving up his view? $1.3 million, he says.


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Sengkang EC's penthouse units snapped up in 90 minutes

Source: The Straits Times

All the penthouse units at an executive condominium (EC) in Sengkang were snapped up on its first morning of bookings Friday, in another sign of strong demand for EC projects.

The 16 penthouse units at The Topiary were sold within the first 90 minutes, said Kheng Leong, which is developing the project in a joint venture with Qingjian.

The single-storey units went for prices of between $1.3 million and $1.5 million, and are between 1,970 sq ft and 2,476 sq ft.

The Topiary has 700 units with a mix of two-, three- and four-bedders, as well as dual-key apartments. The smallest unit is 753 sq ft and the cheapest is a $580,000 two-bedder.

Kheng Leong said in a statement that 225 units were sold in four hours.

The next EC project expected to be pushed out before the end of the year is Forestville in Woodlands.


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Sentosa Cove prices inch up again

Source: The Straits Times

Buying interest has crept back into the exclusive Sentosa Cove estate, which boasts some of the most expensive waterfront homes in Singapore, after a lull in sales last year.

But market activity in the millionaires' playground is still far from its heyday a few years ago.

Developers have sold 65 apartments so far this year, more than the 55 units for the whole of last year. This is, however, still well down on the 141 units sold in 2010, according to caveats lodged with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). On the landed property front, 23 homes have changed hands so far this year, largely in line with last year's total of 24 transactions. But despite the uptick, the market was again down from the 62 landed homes sold in 2010.

Experts note that the landed and non-landed segment of Sentosa Cove are two distinct markets that do not necessarily move in tandem.

The landed segment of the market has enjoyed new price records this year even though sales volumes have only held firm. Average prices for landed homes have risen 6 per cent from $2,097 per sq ft (psf) of land area to $2,216 psf this year, according to the URA caveats.

Average prices for non-landed transactions this year however have dipped 3 per cent to $2,254 psf from $2,324 psf a year earlier.

Experts say that landed homes at Sentosa Cove remain in demand as it is the only area that non-permanent resident foreigners can pick up such units. The 99-year leasehold apartment units, however, face stiffer competition as there are many freehold alternatives in the prime districts of 9, 10 and 11 on the mainland that overseas buyers can take their pick from.

An analyst expects the Sentosa Cove market will likely stay "relatively quiet" next year. "Occupancy rates are still low because many investors buy homes there for the long term and they might hold the property without leasing it out... And so investor interest remains muted because they don't see the buzz on the island," he added.


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Strata offices enjoy good demand

Source: Business Times

An office floor at Samsung Hub along Church Street has been sold for nearly $39.4 million or $3,000 per sq ft based on its strata area of 13,132 sq ft. On psf basis, this marks a fresh high for the building, which is in the Raffles Place area.

An Asia-based investor is said to be buying the 16th floor of the 30-storey building. Business Times understands it plans to occupy the space.

The floor just transacted was sold by a partnership between the Buxani Group and offshore investors advised by Mukesh Valabhji of Seychelles-based Capital Management Group.

The Buxani-Capital Management Group tie-up is now left with four of the six floors it clinched in the building from OCBC Properties in 2007 for $122.44 million or $1,560 psf. The six floors added up to 78,490 sq ft.

Market watchers say the record price just achieved at Samsung Hub reflects the still strong sentiment for strata offices.

All eyes now are on Far East Organization's upcoming launch of a new project with frontage on Robinson Road and Cecil Street. Located next to Capital Tower, the 99-year leasehold development will have offices and medical suites - primarily for sale. The project was originally named The Index but it will now be known as SBF Center, after the Singapore Business Federation, which will be a major occupier. However, it has yet to be decided whether SBF will buy the space or lease it from Far East.


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YCH building $200m Jurong logistics hub

Source: Business Times

YCH Group Friday broke ground for its $200 million logistics hub in Jurong West.

Called Supply Chain City, the facility will be a warehouse, in addition to housing YCH's headquarters, research activities, a training academy and lifestyle amenities for its employees and customers.

It will provide about 1.5 million sq ft of warehousing space and half a million sq ft of office space, paving the way for YCH's customers to integrate their front and back-end operations to maximise efficiency, said YCH chairman and chief executive Robert Yap.

The new building, to be completed by late 2014, will automate the process of storing and retrieving goods and reduce the amount of warehouse space required. It will use technology such as radio-frequency identification so that YCH can provide flexible, scalable supply chains to its customers, said Mr Yap.

The training academy in the facility is intended to promote the sharing of best practices in the logistics industry, and would work towards feeding the industry with a supply of talent, he added.

YCH will kit out Supply Chain City with amenities for its employees and customers, such as lush landscaping, alfresco dining and possibly medical and childcare facilities.


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