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22 March 2013

22nd March, Friday




3,898 BTO flats launched in non-mature estates

Source: Business Times

The Housing & Development Board (HDB) has launched close to 3,900 Build-to-Order (BTO) flats, with another 7,850 flats to be made available for balloting in May.

The four latest projects released Thursday were in three non-mature towns: Bukit Batok, Punggol and Sengkang. They will comprise studio apartments and two-room to five-room flats.

SkyPeak @ Bukit Batok is located between Bukit Batok Street 21 and Bukit Batok East Avenue 6. It has 1,430 units of two-room to five-room flats. Starting prices range from $117,000 to $411,000.

Matilda Portico is bounded by Punggol Field and Punggol Way, and offers 470 flats of four-room and five-room units. Prices start from $294,000. The final two projects in Sengkang are Compassvale Cape and Compassvale Helm.

Compassvale Cape is located along Compassvale Crescent, near Cheng Lim LRT station. It has 1,400 flats comprising studio apartments as well as three-room to five-room flats. The studio apartments are priced from $88,000, while the flats start from $189,000 for a three-room unit.

Compassvale Helm sits between Compassvale Bow and Buangkok Drive, near Buangkok MRT Station. It has 598 flats comprising studio apartments, as well as four-room and five-room units. Prices start at $88,000 for studio apartments, and $304,000 for a four-room flat.

Lee Sze Teck, senior manager for training, research and consultancy at DWG, said the flats might not appeal to some buyers as they are in non-mature estates. He expects two to three applicants for each unit at most of the projects, except for Compassvale Helm, where he predicts application rates of three to four.

Mr Lee said Compassvale Helm is near a mature estate in Hougang, which has many amenities. It is located near several schools and close to retail options, and the MRT station is less than five minutes away. Another 4,850 BTO flats will be released in May in Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Jurong West, Sembawang and Woodlands, the HDB said yesterday. This will go together with the launch of 3,000 other flats in a Sales of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise.

Some homebuyers may hold back their purchasing decision until then, Mr Lee reckons. "The recent reports on delays in construction might result in some buyers opting to wait for May's SBF launches."


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'Cut frills' to keep HDB flat prices down

Source: The Straits Times

Public housing flats can be kept affordable by offering them with minimum frills, rather than by trying to emulate condominiums, a former Housing Board chief said Thursday.

Mr Liu Thai Ker stressed that at the same time, owners should be given as much floor area as possible so that they have more leeway to organise their homes. The 74-year-old, a former HDB chief architect and chief executive officer, said: "The HDB's role is to provide the stage and it's up to the inhabitants to provide the drama."

To keep new build-to-order flats within reach, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan has delinked them from the resale market since taking over the housing portfolio in 2011.

Applauding the move, Mr Liu said the pricing of BTO flats should stand on its own. He added: "If we do this part of the work well, and with timely supply, the resale market will adjust itself."

Mr Liu also suggested having a "marginal oversupply" of several hundred units in order to control resale flat prices and ensure demand is being met. Last year, Mr Khaw hinted that he may do just that once the current backlog of demand has been sated, although he added that it might be costly.

Mr Liu added that while doing all this, it was also important to ensure that the Government's finances remained sound. "If the Government is bankrupt, nothing can happen," he said.

Each empty flat is estimated to cost HDB about $10,000 each year in interest and maintenance.


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Muted launch but 125 units at Hillion Residences sold

Source: The Straits Times

The Hillion Residences condominium in Bukit Panjang has sold 125 units since preview sales began on Monday.

Doors were open to the public Thursday but the response was muted with little sign of the sort of crowds seen at recent launches.

Developers Sim Lian Group and Sim Lian Development have released 250 flats in the first phase at an early bird discount of 3 per cent. There is also an additional buyer's stamp duty discount of 7 per cent that will be on offer until the end of business on Sunday.

Prices at the 546-unit project range from $1,226 per sq ft for a four-bedroom unit to $1,442 psf for a one-bedder.

The 99-year leasehold development will sit on a mall and be linked to the upcoming Bukit Panjang MRT station and bus interchange via air-conditioned underpasses.

About 70 per cent of the units bought were by buyers seeking investment opportunities.

The condo is expected to receive its temporary occupation permit in September 2018.


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Ho Bee leases out luxury units to ride out property troughs

Source: The Straits Times

The lacklustre market for high-end homes has prompted developer Ho Bee Group to lease out units at its completed projects.

Ho Bee has developed several pricey projects in Sentosa Cove, including Seascape and Turquoise, but sales have been hit by several rounds of cooling measures and a slowing economy.

The firm has responded by leasing out apartments, with 70 per cent of its unsold units in Sentosa already tenanted.

Ho Bee chairman Chua Thian Poh told The Straits Times: "We hope by the time the market (is all right again), we can put the apartments on the market for sale again. Especially for Sentosa, land is in limited supply. When the market (picks up), the demand for homes will definitely be there."


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Investment Sales


Spring Grove may hit market at $1b

Source: The Straits Times

The huge Spring Grove condominium in plush Grange Road could hit the market at a reserve price of $1.045 billion, now that complex ownership issues have finally been ironed out.

The 325-unit estate is on the site of the former residence of the American ambassador and has been tipped for a collective sale since owners were asked to consider forming a sales committee in February last year.

But the tricky nature of the estate's ownership threw up hurdles. The site has a 99-year lease, which started in 1991 and reverts back to the United States government at the end of the tenure as freehold land.

This threw up a number of legal issues but The Straits Times understands that these have been sorted out, with the US government working together with home owners in a collective sale bid.

If the $1.045 billion - or $1,888 per sq ft (psf) per plot ratio - land price is met, $924 million will be earmarked for owners.

The remaining $121 million will go to the US government for it to top up the lease to a new 99-year one, according to the draft collective sale agreement obtained by The Straits Times.

With the ownership issue resolved, the next step occurs on Sunday when the sale committee will ask owners at an extraordinary general meeting to give the green light for the collective sale to proceed under these terms. An 80 per cent consensus is required to mount a sale attempt.

The reserve price of $924 million for the home owners works out to a 21 per cent premium, compared with its current market value of about $727 million, the sale documents stated.

Owners of two- to four-bedroom units and penthouses can expect a reserve price of between $2.19 million and $5.6 million for each apartment or average psf prices of $2,100.

But experts say a sale is likely to be an uphill task as the premium of 20 per cent might be insufficient to entice owners to part with their homes.

Even if the development makes it to the market, the lacklustre high-end segment, the pressures of the additional buyer's stamp duty and the risk of more cooling measures have also affected developers' sentiment, they add.


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Pines Club to be redeveloped

Source: The Straits Times

The Pines Club in Stevens Road will be made over into a hotel and commercial development in an ambitious redevelopment plan.

A unit of developer Oxley Holdings has agreed to buy the 18,477 sq m estate for $318 million on a 103-year lease.

Oxley has obtained provisional permission to develop two blocks of eight-storey hotels, two blocks of two-storey commercial buildings and a four-storey clubhouse with a basement on the site, according to a company statement to the Singapore Exchange.

The club's facilities will be integrated into the new complex.


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