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22 January 2013

22nd January, Tuesday




Stamp duty fraud lands ex-property agent in jail

Source: Today

A former property agent was Monday jailed six months for forgery, cheating and counterfeiting stamp certificates.

Andrew Sng Chin Lee, 43, who was an estate agent with HSR International Realtors, pleaded guilty to four charges under the Stamp Duties Act.

The father of three was also guilty of another three charges of cheating and forgery. Four similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing. Sng committed the offences between July and October 2011.

He collected S$865 worth of stamp duties payable from four tenants for four rental transactions and pocketed part of the money.

Sng, who was facing financial problems at the time of the offences, then created four fake stamp certificates and presented them to the landlords, agents and tenants. Sng also forged documents on tenancy and termination of lease to deceive a landlord and a tenant into forking out a total of over S$21,800 in transaction fees.

He has made S$14,500 in restitution for the police charges.


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7,000 new flats for parents with young kids

Source: The Straits Times

Married couples with young children can take their pick of new Housing Board flats from a stock of at least 7,000 units reserved for them this year.

This will be the allocation from the 23,000 Build-to-Order (BTO) flats being planned for this year in mature as well as non-mature towns, said a Ministry of National Development (MND) spokesman.

Now, 30 per cent of flats in new BTO projects will be kept for parents who have not received a housing subsidy and whose child is younger than 16.

But this is just part of the total stock. The other part will be made up of unsold flats in soon-to-finish BTO projects. As many as 50 per cent of these units will be set aside for them. The MND is unable to provide immediate figures.

Explaining the new move, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said young parents can be given priority because there are enough new flats for each and every first-time buyer.

Another reason he gave is the growing number of engaged but yet-to-marry couples getting a flat during balloting when they can wait, while some married couples with young children are not as lucky although they want a home immediately.

Besides priority in buying, the new Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme will make it easier - and cheaper - for young parents to rent. HDB will offer 1,150 three- and five-room flats in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Jurong West and Queenstown for rent.

These are primarily HDB flats emptied for the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers), where old blocks of flats are redeveloped to optimise land use.

The rents of these unfurnished flats range from $800 to $1,900 a month, depending on location and size. This is up to 40 per cent below market rent.


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Property developers to get more creative: analysts

Source: Channelnewsasia

Property analysts said developers will probably have to get more creative in order to move sales after the introduction of new cooling measures recently.

One developer told Channel NewsAsia that it is planning to complete its condominium project a year ahead of schedule to entice buyers.

The developer of La Fiesta, EL Development, hopes to deliver the new units a year ahead of schedule by June 2016.

Lim Yew Soon, managing director at EL Development, said: "Initially, we are thinking of starting in April, May. We will speed up our construction progress, we intend to commence construction in March, early March. By completing our project earlier, we believe we will be able to draw buyers who are looking for self-occupation."

Meanwhile, analysts said many developers have offered extra discounts to cushion the impact of the increase in Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD).

Beyond current projects, analysts expect developers to work at right sizing units and maximising space usage or explore other property segments.

Creativity aside, analysts said developers must be careful that their marketing activities do not contradict the intention of the cooling measures.


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Buyers snap up shop space in Alexandra Central

Source: Business Times

Monday's launch of Alexandra Central attracted a huge crowd of buyers, many of whom are likely to have migrated from showrooms of residential properties into retail space.

A source said one shop space on the upper floor of below 200 sq ft drew 150 cheques from potential buyers. Overall, all but two of the 116 units - which ranged between 10-103 sq m (108-1,109 sq ft) in size and cost as much as $7,000 per sq ft (psf) for space on the first level - were sold by the end of the day. Units on the second and third floors were marketed at about $5,600 and $4,400-$4,800, respectively.

Market watchers attributed the keen investor interest partly to the cooling measures imposed by the government on the residential market.

But some felt that prices were a tad on the high side, even though the quantum paid for some units may be low because they are small.

One consultant said: "Frankly, the $7,000 psf price tag for ground floor space sounds very expensive. I remember it wasn't even that high for Bugis Cube, which is located in a much better area."

Bugis Cube is a freehold development along North Bridge Road. Launched last year, its retail units fetched between $2,900-$6,900 psf.

In contrast, Alexandra Central, a 99-year leasehold hotel and retail development, is not located near any MRT station. Sitting at the junction of Alexandra Road and Jalan Bukit Merah, it is next to Ikea @ Alexandra and opposite Queensway Shopping Centre. Anchorpoint Shopping Centre is a stone's throw away.

It is being developed by construction and property group Chip Eng Seng Corporation, and comprises three floors of retail space and a 13-storey hotel.


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International Markets


London home prices continue to increase

Source: Business Times

London home sellers flooded the market in January and pushed up asking prices in the biggest new-year increase since 2008, a report said.

Asking prices in the capital rose 3.6 per cent from the previous month to an average £480,890 (S$938,447). Prices rose 9.7 per cent from a year earlier, the biggest annual increase since February 2010. Nationally, prices rose 0.2 per cent.

The number of new properties hitting the London property market rose 29 per cent from a year earlier. If that becomes a trend, it could help to better balance supply and demand and slow house-price growth. Demand in London has boosted values and helped the city outperform the rest of the country over the past year.

Nationally, prices rose 2.4 per cent in January from a year earlier to an average £229,429.

New sellers in London will raise prices by 3 per cent this year, less than the 6.8 per cent increase recorded in 2012. Across the UK, both values and property transactions will increase in 2013, the report said.


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