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22 December 2012

22nd December, Saturday




Property agent charged with referring clients to moneylender

Source: The Straits Times

A property agent Friday became the first to be charged with illegally referring clients to a moneylender under tough rules designed to clean up the industry.

Ghazali Mohamed Rasul is also accused of receiving kickbacks in return for setting up the deals. The 38-year-old allegedly introduced four of his clients to Mr Partippan Sivasanjaran of AM Credit. Two of them took loans of $5,000 each from the licensed company, while a third borrowed $7,000.

Referring clients to moneylenders is illegal under real estate industry rules designed to avoid situations such as agents acting against their clients' interests and going for a quick sale. If found guilty, he faces a maximum sentence of a year in jail and a $25,000 fine on each charge.

He is the first registered agent to be prosecuted for moneylending-related offences by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA).

Industry observers said the courts must send a strong signal to make sure agents do not step beyond their professional boundaries - and possibly make their clients' financial situation worse.

Since October 2010, the agency has barred 10 people with a history of involvement in unlicensed moneylending activities from registering as agents.


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District 13 hottest for private homes

Source: The Straits Times

A look back at private home prices this year reveals a market that is mostly higher but with notable falls in some areas.

District 13 - MacPherson, Potong Pasir and Braddell - and District 21 - Upper Bukit Timah, Clementi Park and Ulu Pandan - were red-hot.

Average resale prices for non-landed homes in District 13 topped the table this year - surging 25 per cent to $1,270 per sq ft (psf) in the three months to December from that a year earlier, data from the Singapore Real Estate Exchange (SRX) found.

District 21 came a close second, with a 24 per cent hike in average resale prices to $1,197 psf from $967 psf before.

But the city centre and city fringe areas seem to have performed the worst, with the three districts that experienced lower prices in those areas.

District 7, covering the Middle Road, Golden Mile and Bugis and Rochor areas, saw the largest dip of 4 per cent. Prices fell to $1,333 psf in the fourth quarter.

Private home prices in District 4, which includes Sentosa, Telok Blangah and HarbourFront, fell 3 per cent to $1,780 psf, while prices for prime District 10, which includes the Bukit Timah, Holland Road and Tanglin areas, eased 0.4 per cent to $1,752 psf.

All in all, however, prices in most districts posted gains.

Fourteen of the 26 districts with sufficient transactions to be analysed by SRX enjoyed growth of up to 10 per cent over the year. Another seven saw prices rise by 10 per cent to 20 per cent, while the two sizzling districts lodged increases of more than 20 per cent.


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Old estate still sought after

Source: The Straits Times

It’s one of the country's oldest towns but Queenstown remains a keenly sought place to live thanks to its dress circle spot on the city fringe.

Analysts said buyers can expect steady capital appreciation, while landlords will have their pick of locals and expatriates keen to move in.

Queenstown homes are predominantly public housing, with a handful of condominiums.

Landmark private projects include the 775-unit The Anchorage, a freehold estate opposite furniture retailer Ikea, and 99-year leasehold Queens, which has 772 units and is on the doorstep of Queenstown MRT station.

There have been few new projects completed over the past five years.

One is the freehold 293-unit Alexis @ Alexandra, which was launched in February 2009 and obtained its temporary occupation permit (TOP) this year. Most of the flats in this condo are shoebox apartments: There are 114 one-bedroom units of just 366 to 527 sq ft. This condo appeals to investors who want to capitalise on rental demand from singles or young couples, said Savills research head Alan Cheong.

A couple more launches could be on the way as two sites in Queenstown were recently released under the Government Land Sales programme.

One is a choice plot next to Queenstown MRT station, released on the confirmed list earlier this month and tipped to fetch more than $500 million. Another is on Stirling Road, next to the Queens condo, and could yield 1,100 units. It is on the reserve list, so will be put up for tender only if a developer makes an acceptable initial offer.


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New condos go beyond pool and gym to sell

Source: The Straits Times

Facilities such as swimming pools, playgrounds and gyms used to be the stock standard amenities in condominiums. But these days developers are spicing up their offerings.

Treats that have been a mainstay at luxury projects are being offered in the mass market estates as firms strive to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive environment.

The eCo in Tanah Merah, which launched in September, has community plots for residents to grow fruit and vegetables as well as a rain garden to collect and recycle rain water. Echelon in Alexandra View, a mass market project that previewed this month, comes complete with a sky gym, a yoga terrace and spa lounges.

Residents of selected units at Heron Bay, an executive condominium project in Upper Serangoon, will be able to unwind in their own private pools that come with jacuzzis. The developer of CityLife, an upcoming executive condominium in Tampines, is counting on resort-style amenities to reel in buyers. It is offering features like a concierge service, a 100m infinity pool and a variety of landscaped aromatherapy and sky gardens.

Not to be outdone by their mass market peers, developers of luxury homes have also had to up the ante.

The Marq at Paterson Hill has homes featuring en suite cantilevered lap pools that offer views of Orchard Road. Residents at Hamilton Scotts in Orchard Road can drive right to their doorsteps with the help of an elevated parking system that takes cars to en suite sky garages attached to individual units.

Property experts said it is likely that as more developers offer stand-out features and brand- name fittings, buyers may come to regard them as the norm.

An analyst said this could have two implications: "One will be the increased construction costs and the flow through effect of (higher) sales prices. "Two, it suppresses the rate of price and rental increases for older projects that do not come with such bells and whistles."


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2012 record year for property market

Source: Channelnewsasia

Despite six rounds of cooling measures in the last couple of years, the private property market continued its uptrend unabated in 2012.

Although data for December is yet to be out, but both sales volume and prices of new private homes have already surpassed previous highs.

Experts said more cooling measures may be implemented if home prices do not show signs of easing. But with the current low interest rates and access liquidity in the market, property investors are finding it easy to finance mortgage loans, and this may drive demand and home prices higher going forward.

For the first half of next year, the GLS programme will put up 12 private residential sites including five for executive condominium projects put up for sale. These will yield some 14,035 private and executive condominium units.

But since 2011, the total number of units yielded from the government land supply has been getting less - from 14,300 units for GLS H1 2011 to 14,100 units for GLS H1 2012 and 14,035 units for H1 2013.

One analyst said: "The assessment is 16,000 to 18,000 units for 2013. Compared to 2012, which our assessment and forecast is up to 22,000. In terms of price wise, we don't foresee that in 2013 there will be any quick correction. But on the other hand, we don't think there will be runaway prices. We foresee that prices will trend upwards but at a slow steady pace."

Another trend that will see the property market cooling in 2013 - capping the total number of units that can be built on a site for non-landed private residential developments outside the central area from 4 November 2012, reducing the number of investors looking to buy a property that requires less capital.


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Investment Sales


Bungalow site, mixed-use building sold

Source: Business Times

A 12,933 sq ft residential site in Pasir Panjang Road with an old bungalow on it has been sold to a unit of Ley Choon Group Holdings for $13.23 million.

In Balestier Road, Techkon Group has picked up Leong On Building - a mixed-use commercial and residential development - for $92.3 million. This works out to $1,470-$1,498 per sq ft of potential gross floor area - depending on the mix of the commercial and residential quantum in the redevelopment project, and inclusive of development charges.

Leong On Building, a six-storey industrial building at 520 Balestier Road, was built in the 1970s. It is being sold by a low-profile family. Under Master Plan 2008, the site, which is on 21,219 sq ft of land, is zoned for commercial and residential use with 3.0 plot ratio, which means it can be built up to a gross floor area of 63,657 sq ft. In-principle approval from Singapore Land Authority has been obtained to amalgamate an adjoining state land of about 830 sq ft with the property just sold.

Techkon, which is involved in the construction business and developed Westech Building in Pandan Loop, is expected to redevelop the Balestier property into a new mixed development - comprising apartments and most likely, shops - for strata sale.

At 241 Pasir Panjang Road, Ley Choon has bought an old bungalow built in the 1930s and which used to face the sea before the West Coast Highway was built. The site is zoned for residential use with 1.4 plot ratio. The buyers are looking at redeveloping the property into either strata landed units or apartments.


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