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20 November 2012

20th November, Tuesday




7,800 HDB flats reap $23m project benefits

Source: Business Times

Nearly 7,800 flats have benefited from a $23 million programme to make public housing estates more convenient for residents, said Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan.

In a blog post Monday, Mr Khaw signalled the conclusion of the Barrier Free Accessibility (BFA) programme that began in 2006 and covered the common areas of Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates. BFA works have been fully implemented in all HDB estates, he said.

Upgrading works under the programme included the installation of ramps and railings, as well as unobstructed walkways that connect the housing blocks to surrounding facilities.

Within each flat, Mr Khaw said the HDB has been incorporating universal designs since 2006 that make them user-friendly for all ages.

For example, new Built-to-Order flats now feature ramps at the main entrances and bathrooms, and wider doors for bedrooms and toilets to cater to the elderly on wheelchairs. The HDB has also started to roll out the Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme, an optional part of the HDB's Home Improvement Programme.

"Ageing of population is a definitive trend. The earlier we make HDB towns elderly-friendly, the more ready we will be in enriching the quality of life of our elderly residents," Mr Khaw wrote.


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Cooling measures deter foreign home buyers

Source: The Straits Times

Last December's cooling measures have continued to deter overseas buyers from the property market.

Foreign purchases made up just 7 per cent of the private market in the three months to Sept 30, well down from their 18 per cent share for the whole of last year, according to a consultancy.

There were just 504 purchases by non-permanent resident foreigners in the third quarter, with eight being for landed home sales.

Suburban project Bartley Residences topped the table with 18 sales to foreigners while city fringe development One Dusun Residences and V on Shenton, in the central business district, were tied for second with 14. Other mass market projects also enjoyed keen interest from foreign buyers, including Hillsta in Choa Chu Kang, Parc Centros in Punggol, The Palette in Pasir Ris and My Manhattan in Simei.

While sales are down from a year earlier, interest from some nationalities seems to be creeping back with the market share of mainland Chinese buyers - including permanent residents (PRs) - climbing again.

After an initial sharp pullback in the first quarter as the additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) of 10 per cent for all foreign purchases hit, mainland Chinese buyers overtook Indonesians in the third quarter to clinch second place after Malaysians.

Including PRs, Chinese buyers accounted for 22 per cent - or 397 units - of all purchases made by non-Singaporeans in the three months to Sept 30. This is below the 28 per cent recorded by this group for the whole of last year.

Purchases by Americans also received a boost after the ABSD was implemented as they are one of the five nationalities exempt from the extra 10 per cent tax. Americans bought 10 homes in the exclusive Sentosa Cove estate this year - Chinese buyers snapped up eight - to become the top non-Singaporean buyers group there.

The consultancy also noted that there was increased demand for landed homes above $5 million, particularly in the $5 million to $10 million price band. More good class bungalows and Sentosa Cove houses were bought in the third quarter compared with the three-month period before, it said.

The impact of the measures is more limited in the over $5 million segment as buyers have deeper pockets and are less affected by the lower loan-to-value limit or shorter loan tenor. "In other segments, demand is expected to shift towards the smaller and more affordable units as affected buyers move their budgets one notch lower," the consultancy concluded.


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Luxury properties continue to attract strong buying in Southeast Asia

Source: Channelnewsasia

Luxury properties continue to see high demand in South East Asia.

With global markets being flushed with cash, experts say more are looking at investing in high-end properties that's worth more than US$5 million.

New luxury homes now come with an added touch of class and developers are introducing even more innovative features in such properties.

For example, Helios Residences has been designed to save energy. It allows residents to enjoy the outdoors and possibly discourage them from reaching out for the air-conditioning button too often. Its Sky Terrace at Level Four and buildings are covered with vine plants, allowing dwellers to stay cool without turning on the energy guzzling air-conditioner. Glass materials made to allow light in while keeping heat out were also used.

Another example is the ensuite sky garage at Hamilton Scotts. It has a lift to park residents' cars right at their doorstep - a feature its developers boast as a first in South East Asia.

Innovative features are now the new norm in luxury properties and standards are getting higher as well.

Property investors are also zooming in on luxury brands. For instance, Asia's first Ritz Carlton Residences in Singapore was sold for S$4,128 (US$3370) per sq ft in October.

Analysts say the price is a record high for a branded residence. Buyers are usually owner-occupiers who want homes that comes with hotel services.

And analysts say the premiums can be as high as 30 percent compared to a non-branded property in the same area.


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The Index strata offices seen going for at least $2,400 psf

Source: Business Times

Investor interest in the strata office market is expected to go up a few notches in coming weeks as Far East Organization gets ready to release The Index at Robinson Road/Cecil Street. Talk in the market is that strata offices in the 99-year-leasehold project next to Capital Tower will start from around $2,400 per sq ft (psf).

The Index will also have some medical suites on the lower floors and these are expected to be priced from $3,500 psf.

Business Times understands that the top eight levels of the 31-storey tower will offer larger whole-floor office units of 10,548 sq ft per floor. Levels 10 to 23 will house 136 smaller office units ranging from 592 sq ft to 1,442 sq ft.

Medical suites will be located on the third to fifth levels. In all, there will be 50 such units ranging from 613 sq ft to 1,345 sq ft. The medical suites will have a floor-to-floor height of 4.5 metres and the office units, five metres - higher than the three to 3.5 metres for typical offices.

Far East is also setting aside some space in The Index for civic and community institutional use, which will be exempted from the calculation of the building's maximum approved gross floor area.

At street level, there will be separate double-volume lobbies for the offices and medical suites, accessed through a fully sheltered plaza that will be landscaped. There will also be two food-and-beverage outlets with outdoor dining areas and a shop unit - which are expected to be made available for sale.

Far East group is dedicating three basement levels to car parking lots.

A Platinum Green Mark building, The Index will feature a roof garden and pool on the ninth floor.


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More pressure seen on S'pore office rents

Source: Business Times

An estimated 7.2 million sq ft of net lettable area (NLA) is expected to come onstream in Singapore's central business district (CBD) over the next five years amid softer economic conditions, exerting further pressure on rental rates.

Core projects include the Duo and Marina One, two mega mixed-used developments which will add nearly 2.5 million of prime commercial space when completed in 2017 by a joint venture involving Singapore's Temasek Holdings and Malaysia's Khazanah Nasional. Work on the Duo in Ophir and Marina One in Marina South is scheduled to start next year.

In the immediate term, recently completed or soon-to-be completed projects will add to price pressures given the additional supply in a climate of tepid economic growth. These include the Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC) Tower 3 and One Raffles Place Tower 2 - providing some 1.6 million sq ft this year - and South Beach Development which is scheduled to be finished in 2016.

Then there are the new commercial buildings outside of the CBD which will add another 2.1 million sq ft of NLA.

Landlords will continue to face competition from completed but not yet fully leased developments (e.g. MBFC Tower 3, One Raffles Place Tower 2 and Asia Square Tower 1), as well as secondary supply from returned space and also shadow space, which has been estimated at around 500,000 sq ft.

In the immediate and shorter term, rental rates are likely to come under further challenge.


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Investment Sales


Former St Joseph's Convent site put up for lease

Source: Business Times

Eleven Hillside Drive, the site of former CHIJ St Joseph's Convent School, has been put up for lease by its newest owner.

The 81,467 sq ft plot of land with a gross plot ratio of 1.4 has a 103-year lease and has been approved for residential use.

The marketing agent said the property is suitable for companies or organisations seeking a long-term lease. "Potential lessee includes educational institutions, subject to approval by relevant authorities," he said.

Though the owner, who had recently acquired the site, is leasing out the premises for recurring income instead of redeveloping it, the marketing agent did not rule out the possibility of the full sale of the site. "We also reckon that the new owner will consider an outright sale of the property if they receive a suitable offer."


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International Markets


London home prices continue to rise on demand from foreign buyers

Source: Business Times

London home sellers increased asking prices for a third month in November as the city's wealthiest areas continued to lure overseas buyers, a report said.

Prices in the UK capital increased 1.2 per cent to an average £483,709 (S$942,485). Properties in the city's nine most expensive districts - where average prices exceed £600,000 - surged 3.4 per cent. Nationally, values fell 2.6 per cent.

London's most expensive districts are attracting investors looking for safer investments and luxury home values are now 16 per cent higher than their previous peak in March 2008, according to a property consultant firm. International buyers accounted for 41 per cent of London houses bought for at least £1 million in September.

The property market may be supported next year by the Bank of England's Funding for Lending programme, aimed at boosting credit availability. Still, the report also showed that only 17 per cent of sellers are willing to spend money to make their property over to attract bids, even if it means they would get a higher price.


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