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12 June 2013

Young families home in on balance flats

High demand as apartments are nearer completion or already built

Source: Straits Times 
By Daryl Chin Property Correspondent

MARRIED couples with young children have been snapping up the balance flats in the latest launch, Housing Board figures revealed yesterday.

More than two applicants vied for each available unit under the Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS).

The programme aims to battle Singapore's declining birth rate by giving first choice to married couples who have a child under 16, or are expecting one.

Balance flats - those left over from previous exercises - are in high demand as they are either closer to the completion date or already built. HDB figures showed there were 2.4 applicants chasing every one reserved for them under the PPS.

But it was a different story for Build-To-Order (BTO) units, which take up to three years to be completed. There were two flats for every buyer under the PPS programme - meaning almost all who applied will get one.

In the latest exercise, the scheme was extended to include those with a baby on the way. One in five PPS applicants were expecting a child according to the HDB.

Under the rules, they have to select either a balance flat or a BTO unit.

Analysts said this affected the turnout as those being built to order this time around were all in non-mature towns, and more than 10 minutes from the nearest MRT station. By contrast, many of the balance flats were in hot areas such as Queenstown, Toa Payoh and Central.

Two other schemes also made their debut in the May launch, which offered a total of about 8,000 flats and attracted almost 27,000 buyers.

The HDB doubled the quota of two- and three-room BTO flats for second-timers in non-mature estates, from 15 to 30 per cent. Five per cent of this was set aside specifically for divorcees with children below 16. In the end, 21 divorced buyers applied, which meant that all would have a chance to pick a unit.

The other programme that kicked in was the Studio Apartment Priority Scheme.

This sets aside half of the studio flats on offer for senior citizens purchasing a home near their current one, or close to their married children.

Again, buyers made a bee line for balance flats, with three chasing every unit on offer under the scheme.

SLP International head of research Nicholas Mak said: "The Government has a fine line to tread. It's clear that certain groups are getting priority, but they should also monitor the take-up to ensure that other groups are not neglected."

Afiniti condo in Iskandar sold out in under six hours

Source: Straits Times

AFINITI Residences, a condominium project in Iskandar Malaysia, was sold out within 51/2 hours last Saturday, with Singaporeans making up a quarter of the successful buyers.

Over a thousand people turned up that day at a balloting exercise for the project in Iskandar's Medini area, vying for just 88 units.

By 4.30pm, all available units had been sold.

The project, developed by Pulau Indah Ventures (PIV), a 50-50 joint venture between Temasek Holdings and Khazanah Nasional, will have 147 units.

However, 59 of these units had been set aside for stakeholders, including the developer and its partners.

Malaysians made up 72 per cent of the buyers, with those from Johor taking up 37 per cent of the units.

Singaporeans formed the next largest group of buyers, taking up 25 per cent of the homes on sale.

The remaining units were sold to Indonesian, Indian and Chinese nationals.

The homes ranged in size from 484 sq ft to 1,064 sq ft. Prices started from less than RM500,000 (S$202,000) for a studio apartment to less than RM1 million for a two-bedroom unit with a study.

This translates to RM850 to RM1,000 per sq ft, with units facing the Legoland theme park commanding higher prices.

"PIV is also in conversations with a few international property management companies to provide property management and external leasing services to buyers," the developer said in a statement yesterday.

The developer added that it is also seeing interest from corporate tenants who are keen to lease the commercial spaces in the development.

"We will be selective in the choice of tenants and stay true to our vision of establishing Afiniti Medini as an iconic wellness hub in the region for families, tourists and professionals to enrich, recharge and rejuvenate themselves," said PIV general manager Roslina Arbak.

Afiniti Residences is part of Afiniti Medini, a 2ha integrated development which will also include a wellness centre, wellness-themed shops, a corporate training centre and serviced apartments.

The entire development, which is located next to Legoland, will be completed by end-2015, with construction having begun earlier this year.


Bullish prices for Jurong condo launch

Average prices at J Gateway in new growth area tipped to hit $1,650 psf

Source: Straits Times | Money
By Cheryl Ong

THE upcoming launch of MCL Land's J Gateway in Jurong East with prices in the bullish region of $1,600 per sq ft (psf) is set to test buyers' appetite for suburban homes.

Average prices of homes at the 738-unit development are expected to range from as high as $1,650 psf for a 474 sq ft one-bedder to $1,450 psf for a 1,163 sq ft four- bedder, according to marketing agent Huttons.

International Property Advisor chief executive Ku Swee Yong said the launch price of $1,650 psf will be a record for the Jurong East area. But he said J Gateway will draw buyers as it is the first condominium to be launched near Jurong East MRT station in 10 years.

One agent said he has received over 100 queries from interested buyers in the past three weeks.

In comparison, developments launched in the area in the last few years are further from Jurong East MRT station - The Lakefront Residences, launched in 2010, is two MRT stops away while Parc Oasis is at Chinese Garden MRT station.

Echoing a similar view, R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng said while prices at the new condominium are "slightly on the high side", its prime location is a top draw for buyers.

Mr Ong believes the makeover of Jurong East will draw buyers. "I would think that a lot of buyers are excited about projects in new growth areas. I would suppose Jurong East is able to offer that."

Based on the Government's Master Plan 2008, the 70ha Jurong Gateway encompasses amenities such as the Jurong East MRT station, existing and upcoming malls like Jem, J Cube, Westgate and Big Box, and Ng Teng Fong Hospital.

In due course, a new hotel will be developed in Jurong Gateway - a site there was bought for $238.2 million in November by Resorts World Singapore, a unit of Genting Singapore.

Jurong Gateway is one of two zones - the other being Lakeside - that make up Jurong Lake District.

Other consultants say prices at 99-year leasehold J Gateway are not far off from what other condos are also asking.

Savills Singapore research head Alan Cheong pointed out that some units at recently launched The Trilinq at Clementi, just one MRT stop away, sold for $1,500 psf. He said: "If you adjust for J Gateway's location within the new Jurong Lake District, you would think the range of $1,450 psf to $1,650 psf is definitely expected."

If J Gateway has a successful launch, this will likely have a ripple effect on prices of homes in the Jurong East area, said Mr Cheong: "It's like disturbing a quiet pond. With one mega launch like this, it will certainly create waves around the region."

Prices of units at Keppel Land's The Lakefront Residences in the Lakeside area are at $1,434 psf for a 495 sq ft unit, and are expected to inch up, said Mr Cheong.

That in turn, might lift resale prices of older condominiums such as Parc Oasis, which are at $1,022 psf for a 1,076 sq ft unit.

"Gone are the days where you can find anything below $1,000 in the suburban areas at new launches," he noted.

Quick tips for home buyers

Source: Straits Times | Money

INTERNATIONAL Property Advisor chief executive Ku Swee Yong gives some tips on what buyers should consider before dropping off a cheque at an Iskandar showroom.

Research the project's developer
Has the developer delivered good-quality homes or has it abandoned projects before? Does the developer intend to continue managing the property after it is completed? The overall quality of property management in Malaysia is not very high, so a few years after completion, the common and exterior areas might deteriorate quickly unless the developer plans to keep up the maintenance.

It is also good to check which law firm is representing the developer and whether it is a reputable one. There have been cases of lawyers running away with home buyers' initial booking fees and buyers having to fork out the fees a second time.

Compare prices
You should compare the price of your unit against recent transactions in the area. Also, see how it compares with prices of similar units in Kuala Lumpur's central areas. Kuala Lumpur is where the jobs and expatriates are, whereas Iskandar is still in its infancy.

Examine your finishings
The practices in Malaysia are very different from Singapore's, so it would be good to check these off your list: Are the kitchens fitted with cabinets, a cooker hood and a hob and other appliances such as an oven and a microwave oven? Do the bedrooms come with wardrobes? Are air-conditioners included?

Examine the special packages
What is the price of the unit before and after rebates? When is the rebate given? Do you have to apply for a home loan based on the full price or on the net price after rebates?

Check on the development
Has construction begun? For completed properties, have strata titles already been issued? If the land title is leasehold, when will the lease begin? Or when did an existing lease start?

Scout the surrounding area
If you are planning to buy a property for investment purposes, you should find out if it will be near offices, as such locations are more likely to attract tenants and rental income.

Study the empty lots around your unit. There could land adjacent to your investment which could be developed such that your view may get blocked.

There were many buyers who bought the new launches at Puteri Harbour and they were sold based on the good views of the marina and yacht club.

Subsequently, there were a few more projects on the plots of land in front which blocked the views of the projects that were sold earlier.

Bukit Timah Soho sales off to a slow start

Source: Straits Times | Money

THERE has been a muted response to the launch of The Siena development with just 13 of 30 Soho (small office, home office) units sold.

Developer Far East Soho, which held the official launch at the weekend, said in a statement yesterday: "Units sized between 538 and 850 sq ft (one- and two-bedder apartments) were the most popular."

The 99-year leasehold project in Bukit Timah has 54 flats in all - 18 one-bedroom units, 28 two-bedders and eight with three bedrooms.

They range in size from 538 sq ft to 980 sq ft.

Prices for the smallest unit in the five-storey project start from $1.3 million, or about $2,416 per sq ft.

The flats have layouts that allow buyers to try out different configurations.

"For example, entrepreneurs can have the flexibility of separating their work space from the (living area) in the day (with) sliding doors," said Far East Soho.

"At night, the work area can be transformed into a space for entertaining guests or the family living area with just a few simple adjustments."

The Siena is near the Botanic Gardens MRT station on the Circle Line.

The station will also be on the upcoming Downtown Line which is due for completion in 2015. It will run from Bukit Panjang to the Promenade station near the Millenia Walk mall.

The Siena is also near Nanyang Primary School and St Margaret's Secondary School.

It expects to get its temporary occupation permit in 2016.