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21 March 2013

21st March, Thursday




Review of rules for estate agents being finalised

Source: Business Times

The Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) is finalising its review of regulations for agents with input from stakeholders, according to Senior Minister of State for National Development Tan Chuan-Jin.

Among the issues that the working group looked at were how to avoid conflict of interest and association with moneylending; dual representation; co-broking arrangements; and usage of prescribed estate agency agreements.

The Code of Ethics and Professional Client Care and the Code of Practice will also be tweaked.

The group is also looking into ways to promote greater use of a resolution mechanism for disputes between agents and consumers.

The agency is working with the Infocomm Development Agency (IDA) and other partners to enhance operations and productivity for estate agents through IT solutions. More than 200 agents are expected to benefit as these measures are rolled out in the next six months, Mr Tan said.

Separately, CEA is developing practice guidelines for sales people's behaviour and conduct towards one another.


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Hillion Residences in Bukit Panjang launched

Source: Business Times

Hillion Residences is set to be Singapore's first mixed-use development in the west to integrate residential living with amenities such as a retail mall and a fully air-conditioned bus interchange.

The development in Bukit Panjang will be launched by Sim Lian JV Pte Ltd today.

It will be built above the retail mall and transportation hubs and linked to them by walkways. The private condominum spans three residential blocks and consists of 546 units which range from one-bedroom units to penthouses.

The site is located on an area of approximately 204,000 square feet with a leasehold of 99 years.

It is scheduled for completion in 2015 and is slated to receive its Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) in September 2018.

Phase one will see 250 units released for sale and will have an early bird discount of 3 per cent and an additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) discount of 7 per cent.

The sales gallery will be located at Petir Road and will be open between 10am and 7pm daily from today onwards.


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Rents for prime Orchard Rd space up in Q1

Source: Business Times

Average rents for prime Orchard Road shop space rose for the first time in over a year in the first quarter, and are expected to hold steady for the rest of 2013 even as supply comes onstream, said a consultancy.

The property services company said that average rents in prime Orchard Road rose 2 per cent to $32.20 per sq ft (psf) in the first three months of this year.

This marks the first time that an increase was recorded since the third quarter of 2011, when average rents for shops on levels with the heaviest traffic along Orchard were $31.60 psf.

The rise in average rent follows the series of asset enhancement initiatives undertaken by several of the large Orchard Road malls in the last two years. Rents have risen as a result. This, combined with the limited stock of quality Orchard Road space, accounted for the rise in average rents this quarter."

Malls such as Wisma Atria revamped their premises, while CapitaMall Trust completed The Atrium - an extension of Plaza Singapura - at the end of last year. Three malls - ION Orchard, Orchard Central and 313 Orchard - also took advantage of their lease renewal periods in the past year to reposition themselves.

Food & beverage operators dominated the scene for new store openings along Orchard Road in the first three months. Overall, European retailers continued to be a major player in the Orchard Road retail scene, with Korean and Japanese brands following suit.

This year, some 328,000 sq ft of retail space will spring up along Orchard Road. This will come from Orchardgateway, which is expected to add 172,000 sq ft of space in the fourth quarter, and the completion of the asset enhancement exercise at The Heeren, which will yield 156,000 sq ft of space in the third quarter.

The space, along with the completion of the repositioning exercise of Suntec City Mall and Marina Square "may put some pressure on rents".

For prime suburban space, rents remained unchanged in the first three months from the end of last year, averaging at $29.75 psf.

A substantial amount of space is expected to come onstream in the suburbs, with nearly 1.6 million sq ft of space expected by the end of 2013 following the completion of malls such as Bedok Mall, and JEM and Westgate in Jurong.


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Unequal rent treatment makes retail 'monotonous'

Source: Business Times

The global trend of offering lower rents to big brands has enabled them to dominate the retail scene here. A report on the retail sector has found that these big brands receive deep discounts from mall managers, while small and mid-sized retailers are subjected to rents at market rates.

On average, the big brands pay almost two-thirds lower than the market rate per sq ft, it said.

Not surprisingly, big global brands now dominate prime city centres and suburban areas globally, and this has been at the expense of smaller local brands.

Ian McGarrigle, chairman of the World Retail Congress, said that such a trend could be detrimental to Singapore's image as a shoppers' paradise. "I think the joy of discovering local brands is so important," he said, emphasising the importance of fresh mix of retail brands in maintaining Singapore's attractiveness as a global shopping destination. "Mall operators should encourage local retailers through incentives like more attractive rental packages to have that mix, because everyone benefits."


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Investment Sales


Investment sales of hotels slip to $1.45b last year

Source: Business Times

Investment sales of hotel real estate in Singapore slipped from $1.58 billion in 2011 to $1.45 billion last year, according to a property consultancy.

One of the reasons that fewer deals were closed was the pricing gap between buyer and seller expectations.

The bullish medium- term outlook for the hotel industry here also means that current owners were keen to hold on to their assets.

Major transactions which took place last year included Klapsons The Boutique Hotel ($360 million), Hotel Grand Pacific ($210 million), and Hotel Windsor ($163 million).

Last year, the industry-wide average room rate climbed to $261 from $247 in 2011 while the average occupancy rate was flat at 86 per cent. Revenue per available room rose to $226, up from $214 previously.

The report projects that hotel room inventory is slated to grow by over 20 per cent to 53,000 by 2015. The compound annual growth rate of 6.5 per cent is slightly higher than the Singapore Tourism Board's (STB) expected tourist arrivals growth rate.

Nearly half of the new supply will stem from the mid-tier hotel category.

This could put some pressure on room and occupancy rates.

The report also highlighted that Singapore's tourism industry could benefit from a weaker economic climate as top visitor-generating markets such as Indonesia, China and Malaysia could eschew pricier long-haul trips in favour of intra-Asia travel.


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Middle Rd commercial building going en bloc

Source: Business Times

Bright Chambers, a commercial building located at 108 Middle Road, has been put up for collective sale by tender.

The nine-storey commercial development comprises eight units with a total strata area of 34,972 sq ft and land area of 5,263 sq ft. The site has a plot ratio of 7.94, and is zoned for commercial use.

The 99-year leasehold site has a remaining term of 60 years. The indicative price is $45-50 million.

The tender for the Bright Chambers building closes on 18 April at 3pm.


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