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18 October 2012

18th October, Thursday




New mobile app for verifying estate agent licences

Source: Channelnewsasia

The Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) has launched a mobile version of its online Public Register of Estate Agents and Salespersons.

Called "CEA@SG", the new mobile application is CEA's first app for devices running on iOS and Android platforms.

It features the same search functions as those offered on the Public Register on CEA's website (

With the app, members of the public can now access the Public Register on the go to verify the licensing details of estate agents and the registration information of salespersons.

It can be downloaded for free at the Apple App Store and Google Play.


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Buyers in Asian cities more open to shoebox units

Source: Business Times

Property buyers in Asian cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan have been quicker to embrace designer shoebox apartments than their counterparts in old-world cities such as Sydney, London and New York.

In Singapore, the lure of such apartments - defined as units of below 500 sq ft - comes from their higher per-sq-ft values.

A research report said shoebox units are worth S$1,547 psf, giving them a 33.5 per cent premium over all non-landed property values. When rented out, such units command significantly higher rates; the average rent is now above S$6.50 psf a month, versus S$4.20 psf a month for units of between 501 sq ft and 1,500 sq ft.

While the take-up for new shoebox units - which averaged 803 units per quarter in the first half of the year - has been healthy, the supply and sales of such units are expected to wane, with the Urban Redevelopment Authority stepping in to restrict the maximum number of such units on development plans, said the report.

Demand for these tiny apartments has also risen in Hong Kong in the last few years.

Labelled "boutique luxury residences", these units of between 250 sq ft and 350 sq ft of saleable area have price tags exceeding HK$20,000 (S$3,130) psf. Given that many of these projects are located in Hong Kong's traditional luxury residential areas, investors can enjoy rental yields of 3 per cent, compared with other luxury residential properties in the same areas, which generate yields of less than this.

In addition, such projects have the potential for value appreciation, given their limited new supply in these areas.

Cities in the old world, on the other hand, are still ambivalent about shoebox apartments.

Sydney as an example; there, lenders remain reluctant to lend against units measuring under 500 sq ft. London has no direct equivalent of the shoebox model seen in Singapore and Hong Kong, but a developer there called Pocket Living has pioneered the small-apartment market, offering studio flats of between 250 sq ft and 300 sq ft and one-bedroom apartments of between 380 sq ft and 480 sq ft.

These developments have been very popular with buyers, but have drawn limited buy-in from local authorities; various restrictions on ownership and sale are in place. In Pocket Living's Westminster scheme, for example, all sales and future sales of such flats must be approved by the Council and sold to "qualified" buyers at not more than 80 per cent of market value.


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Punggol resale flats fetching good prices

Source: The Straits Times

Resale prices in Punggol have risen faster than the national average this year, data shows.

And analysts say this trend will accelerate, spurred on by the HDB announcement on Tuesday of comprehensive plans for the area.

According to data-crunching firm Singapore Real Estate Exchange (SRX), which collates sales by major property agencies, median resale prices in Punggol this year have gone up 3.7 per cent, compared with the overall median figure of 2.3 per cent.

The bulk of the increase comes from larger flats as not many of the three-roomers have hit the resale market yet, said Dennis Wee Group spokesman Lee Sze Teck. Based on his data, four- and five-roomers which sold for about $500,000 last year are worth about $530,000 now, representing a 6 per cent jump.

"One reason for this is that flats in the area are newer. Sellers have also been pricing the increased development of the area into the cash over valuation (COV)," he said, referring to the cash component that is paid above a flat's valuation to entice the seller.

"Punggol today, compared to five years ago, is a totally different place," another analyst said. "With more infrastructure and amenities to be built in the next 15 years, we can expect property prices to increase so long as economic and employment fundamentals are progressive."

New flats sold by the Housing Board in the area have also gone up in price, in tandem with the area's development, analysts say.

As a rough estimate, a four- room premium flat cost up to $254,000 in 2007, while a premium counterpart in a sales launch this year is selling for up to $379,000.

One analyst said: "Punggol's trump card of water and seafront living is a formidable lure for potential flat buyers. Flats there are able to provide waterfront- style living, which other towns are unable to provide." He expects higher demand for these projects, translating into buyers paying a premium when the flats hit the resale market.

But another analyst said that higher resale prices will be tempered by the supply that is coming on-stream in the area.


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Sentiment improving for strata shops, offices

Source: Business Times

Close to $1.3 billion of strata retail units have changed hands so far this year, almost double last year's $685 million.

As for strata office deals, the figure has crossed the $1.6 billion mark since January, compared with $1.4 billion for the whole of last year, going by an analysis of caveats captured by the SISV Realink and URA Realis systems.

With more people who had invested earlier in strata commercial space now enjoying attractive gains in price, sentiment has improved, and demand for this type of property has picked up in the last six months.

The report said that the fundamentals got the trend going: Firstly, cooling measures in the residential property sector caused a diversion of interest to other sectors; secondly, the low interest rates on savings has meant that there was little point in leaving cash in the bank, and thirdly, the banks are charging low rates on commercial mortgages.

Caveats for strata commercial transactions this year are coming not only from new projects under construction such as Eon Shenton, Oxley Tower, Paya Lebar Square and PS 100, but also from resale deals in older developments such as The Adelphi, International Plaza, Lucky Plaza, Sim Lim Square and Parkway Centre.

While buyers of strata office or retail units in new projects under construction may be opportunistic and take a shorter-term view, those buying units in completed projects would generally have a medium- to long-term outlook, whether they are buying for own occupation or for investment reasons.


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Investment Sales


Bungalow plot in Chee Hoon Ave up for sale

Source: Business Times

A 14,000-sq-ft bungalow plot in Chee Hoon Avenue has been offered for sale by public tender with an indicative asking price of between $20.5 million and $21.5 million.

This translates to $1,454 to $1,525 per sq ft (psf) of land area.

A two-storey detached house with an attic sits on the plot in the Chee Hoon Avenue Good Class Bungalow Area (GCBA). The property is owned and occupied by a renowned art collector.

The District 11 property is near shopping establishments such as Coronation Shopping Centre and Serene Centre as well as within a one-kilometre radius of Nanyang Primary School.

Meanwhile, a record price in terms of psf of land area was set recently for a bungalow in a GCBA.

A freehold property at Leedon Park was sold for $2,115 psf based on land area of 15,600 sq ft, amounting to $33 million. The bungalow has two storeys and a basement. It comes with six bedrooms and a pool.

The seller is seasoned bungalow investor George Lim, who developed the property, which has obtained BCA's Greenmark Gold Plus award. The property was completed last year.

The tender for the Chee Hoon Avenue site closes on 14 November at 3pm.


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