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12 November 2012

12th November, Monday




Sales down for flats worth $10m and more

Source: Business Times

Sales of luxury condos and apartments priced $10 million and above have taken a hit this year, with 33 such properties changing hands in the first 10 months, down from 57 units in the same period last year.

The 33 units transacted (in both primary and secondary markets) during January to October 2012 fetched a total $449.6 million - 44 per cent less than the $797.5 million in the same year-ago period, according to a consultancy’s analysis, based on data in URA Realis caveats database. The data was downloaded on 7 November, with the most recent transaction dated 24 October 2012. More caveats for October could be lodged in the next few weeks.

Market watchers attribute the sharp drop in big-ticket non-landed private housing deals this year chiefly to the introduction of the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD) last December aimed at cooling investment fervour in Singapore's private residential property market, especially by non-PR foreigners and corporations. These two categories of buyers have to pay the highest ABSD rate of 10 per cent on any residential property purchase in Singapore.

For the whole of last year, 63 units costing at least $10 million changed hands at a total value of $881.3 million, down slightly from 2010's showing of 74 units at $966.4 million.

During the Singapore luxury residential property market's peak-year in 2007, 164 units were sold for $2.2 billion.

The most expensive deal done so far this year in absolute dollar terms is $30.4 million, involving the sale in July in the subsale market of a 6,308 sq ft unit on the 18th floor of The Marq on Paterson Hill for $30.4 million or $4,820 per sq ft.

A more recent big-ticket transaction took place last month, when a 64th-storey single-level penthouse at Marina Bay Suites was sold by its developer for $19.3 million, which works out to $3,409 psf based on the strata area of 5,662 sq ft.

Both the Marina Bay Suites penthouse as well as The Marq unit are said to have been bought by Singaporeans.

Last year, non-PR foreigners accounted for the lion's share or 38.8 per cent of the 448 units sold at over $5 million each. In Jan-Oct this year, their share contracted to 26.6 per cent of the 282 units sold in this price band. Companies' share too dived, from 15.8 per cent last year to 4.3 per cent in Jan-Oct 2012.

Conversely, Singaporeans' share rose from 23 per cent last year to 36.9 per cent in the first 10 months of this year. Likewise, PRs' share climbed from 22.3 per cent to 32.3 per cent.

The consultancy is optimistic that foreign participation in luxury condo purchases may rise next year. "Foreigners will probably come to see ABSD to a certain extent as part of life, as a form of acquisition cost. In addition, the high-end segment has shown to be more resilient actually. Volumes have dropped, but prices have generally remained stable.

Another expert reckons that foreign buying in Singapore's luxury condo sector may well recover in the near future "but buyers will probably not return in droves" because of uncertainty on whether there will be more cooling measures.


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Up: Prices of suburban landed homes

Source: The Straits Times

Prices of landed homes in areas such as Bishan and Ang Mo Kio have surged in the past year even while those in the more central Watten Estate and Novena areas have dipped.

The price movements signal that cost-conscious buyers are increasingly shunning expensive inner-city property for more affordable homes on the fringes.

Average resale prices in District 20 - which includes Bishan, Ang Mo Kio, Braddell Road and Thomson - rose to $1,266 per sq ft (psf) of land area in the three months to 30 September.

This is up from $1,028 psf in the same period last year, according to the Singapore Real Estate Exchange (SRX) last week. The 23.2 per cent increase is well above the 16 per cent rise in overall average prices for the landed segment in the same period.

An analyst told The Straits Times: "Landed homes in more centralised areas are commanding a land rate of more than $1,000 psf, making landed homes under $1,000 psf in fringe areas more attractive, providing more value for money for home buyers."

District 16 - made up largely of Bedok, Upper East Coast and Kew Drive - recorded the next highest price rise, with values up 22 per cent in the period, while District 23, comprising areas such as Hillview, Dairy Farm and Bukit Panjang, racked up an average increase of 21.5 per cent.

But prices in prime District 11 - covering Watten Estate and Novena - dipped 0.7 per cent to $1,483 psf. It was the only landed home district that recorded an average price drop.

Another report also found that prices for landed homes in suburban areas have risen more than those in the prime districts of 9, 10 and 11.

Prices of leasehold terraced homes in suburban areas lodged the highest increase of 8.5 per cent in the third quarter compared with a year ago. This is slightly more than the increase of 7.3 per cent for freehold terraced homes. In the prime 9, 10 and 11 districts, prices of freehold terraced homes rose 4.5 per cent.

The Serangoon planning area recorded the highest number of sales in the third quarter, possibly indicating its growing popularity among buyers. About 160 landed homes were sold, 33 per cent more than the quarter before.

One analyst noted that prices of landed homes are at an all-time high.

"In the mid to long term, demand for landed housing should stay positive and prices are expected to continue to trend upwards as it is a fundamental reality that landed housing will always be scarce in Singapore's urban landscape," she added.


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JTC looking at plan for underground science city

Source: The Straits Times

Singapore’s first underground science city could have 40 linked rock caverns for research and development (R&D) facilities and data centres, a feasibility study has found.

These would be located under Kent Ridge Park in the west and up to 4,200 scientists, researchers and other professionals could work in them.

Some findings of the study - commissioned by the Government in 2009 and completed in March this year - were presented here last week during the 13th World Conference of Associated Research Centres for Urban Underground Space.

Experts at the event said other underground projects were feasible here, including a landfill to contain about 40 years' worth of rubbish.

Two papers from the science-city study presented last week focused on the technical feasibility and did not estimate cost.

The latest study, by a Swiss-Singapore consortium of two firms, built upon NTU's findings in 1999. The consortium came up with a design for 40 linked rock caverns, each about 25m high and with a cross-section of about 500 sq m. In total, the caverns would have 192,000 sq m of rentable space across three or four levels, about twice VivoCity's retail space.

The study recommended using the caverns for IT, biotechnology and life sciences R&D as well as data centres.

If other uses are considered, they should benefit from the caverns' natural advantages, said the authors. The caverns are free of noise and vibration from surface activities, such as construction, and can be "easily sealed off" to limit the fall-out of dangerous work.

The study recommended safety guidelines and ways to make the caverns comfortable. These include a fresh-air and smoke-control system, main concourse with socialising spaces and lighting that simulates daylight.

Asked about the project's future, a spokesman for government industrial landlord JTC Corporation said it is studying the findings.


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