Real News‎ > ‎2014‎ > ‎December 2014‎ > ‎

15th December 2014

Singapore Real Estate

Sunseap wins biggest HDB solar leasing tender

Solar photovoltaic systems to be installed at 680 HDB blocks, three HDB-owned commercial properties

Source: Business Times / Real Estate

The Housing & Development Board (HDB) has awarded its largest solar leasing tender to date. The tender was awarded to Sunseap Leasing Pte Ltd. HDB said on Sunday that it awarded the tender of 38 megawatts at optimum conditions, or 38 megawatts-peak (MWp), of solar energy on Oct 27. Called in May, the tender had attracted seven tenderers.

-By Kalpana Rashiwala

More Housing Board residents to benefit from solar power

Source: Straits Times / Singapore

RESIDENTS in some 680 Housing Board blocks in four residential towns, including Jurong East and Marine Parade, will be able to tap the sun's energy for their electricity needs by 2016.

And, for the first time, the Housing Board would not have to pay any upfront cost for the installation of the systems that convert sunlight into electricity.

Instead, the full cost of these systems, called solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, will be paid by Sunseap Leasing, the solar firm that won Housing Board's Oct 27 tender to install the solar PV systems in Jurong East, Marine Parade, Sembawang and Tampines.

"Prior to this, HDB had funded a proportion of the cost for solar leasing tenders called earlier, to kick-start the solar leasing programme," a Housing Board spokesman said in a statement.

She added that for future solar panel installation projects, the HDB will not be funding any portion of the upfront cost due to the "current sustainable business model of solar leasing".

The town councils of these estates will pay Sunseap for the power generated and consumed for services in common areas.

Under the latest tender, Sunseap will also install solar PV systems at three Housing Board-owned commercial and industrial properties: Woodlands Civic Centre, Eastlink Industrial Building in Bedok, and HDB Hub in Toa Payoh. The upcoming installations would supply 38 megawatts-peak (MWp) of solar power - the largest solar leasing tender awarded by the Housing Board since 2009. The HDB has, to date, committed to providing 54 MWp of solar PV, which will be rolled out progressively. This is enough to generate electricity for 14,000 four-room flats.

By 2020, it hopes to increase this to 220 MWp, by installing solar PV systems at some 5,500 blocks.

-By Audrey Tan

More HDB blocks to have solar panels

Solar panels will be installed at 680 HDB blocks and three HDB-owned commercial and industrial properties by end-2016.

Source: Channel News Asia / Singapore

SINGAPORE: Solar panels will be installed at 680 HDB blocks and three HDB-owned commercial and industrial properties by end-2016. It's part of the HDB's Solar Capability Building Programme - which aims at harnessing solar energy for use at more residential blocks. The solar panels will provide an alternative and renewable energy source for Singapore and are key to HDB's sustainable development efforts.

Jurong East, Marine Parade, Sembawang and Tampines are the four towns that will benefit from the latest round of solar panel installations. This is on top of the 200 blocks islandwide that will be fitted with solar panels by the end of this year.

HDB's latest and largest solar leasing tender to date was awarded to Sunseap Leasing in October. The tender also covers three commercial and industrial properties owned by HDB - HDB Hub at Toa Payoh, Woodlands Civic Centre and Eastlink Industrial Building.

Under the tender, Sunseap Leasing will bear the full cost of the solar panels - which are installed on the rooftops of the blocks. For previous tenders, HDB had funded a portion of the cost to kick start the solar leasing programme.

Sunseap Leasing's business development manager, Shawn Tan, said: "We don't collect any upfront money from our client. We come in, supply and install solar panels and sell this energy to our clients at a discounted rate of what they are currently paying to a traditional grid source."

HDB said that as larger tenders are being called, there will be economies of scale. "Based on the current sustainable business model of solar leasing, HDB will not be funding any portion of the upfront cost for future projects to install solar panels."

The solar energy that is generated will be used to power services in the common areas of the HDB blocks, and these include the lifts, staircase lighting and water pumps.

Sunseap Leasing's Mr Tan said: "The direct benefit will essentially be that the building itself will draw less power from the traditional source, as it is drawing power from a renewable source of energy. That translates directly to a reduction of carbon footprint.

"Because there's a reduction in the energy you draw from a traditional source, the tariff we charge the town council is at a discounted rate. So when they use solar energy to replace the traditional source of energy, there's some form of savings in their utility bills."

The town councils only pay for the energy that is consumed. HDB says the savings can help town councils offset the rise in energy costs, which in turn benefits residents. If it happens that no solar energy is harnessed, these common services will then fall back on the usual electricity source.

HDB said it is moving toward using solar energy on a wider scale and aims to implement the solar leasing business model in more HDB towns islandwide. It added that it will also continue to test the various types of solar energy technology to determine what is most suitable and efficient for Singapore's climate conditions.

- CNA/ir

Most expect home prices to fall or stabilise: Poll

But young people and owners of four-room flats think prices may rise

Source: Straits Times / Singapore

MOST people think the once-soaring property market here has been reined in, according to a recent poll.

Almost three-quarters expect residential prices to stay the same or fall in the next six months, based on the survey by real estate firm ERA Realty and research firm Nexus Link.

Almost four in 10 expect residential property prices to fall in the next six months, while another one-third of respondents expect prices to stay the same.

Only a quarter think prices might rise, with younger people and four-room flat owners most likely to think so.

Despite this cool sentiment, ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim said: "We do not see the results as negative." The impact of government cooling measures is being felt, but these aim to stabilise prices rather than cause a huge drop, he added.

Property prices had been on the rise since 2009, but started falling in the second half of last year for public flats, and at the start of this year for private units.

In this cooling market, 38.5 per cent of respondents think prices will fall in the next six months. Another 35.6 per cent think they will stay the same.

Expectations are similar for the longer term, with 33.8 per cent and 39.7 per cent expecting prices to be lower or the same in a year's time, respectively.

The 21-to-34 age group was the only one where more people expected higher prices.

Younger buyers might be less aware of market dynamics as they have limited investment experience, said R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng.

Similarly, four-room flat owners were the only group where more people thought that prices would rise rather than fall.

The face-to-face poll was conducted from late September till late October with a representative sample of 500 citizens and permanent residents.

Respondents were also asked about their awareness of property cooling measures. Seven in 10 knew at least one, but less than a fifth were aware of all six.

Two loan curbs were the least known: total debt servicing ratio and the mortgage servicing ratio.

These limit a borrower's total debt and the share of income that can be used to service a home loan, respectively.

The apparent ignorance of these measures could simply be an issue of not recognising the terms, said Mr Colin Tan, Suntec Real Estate Consultants director of research and consultancy. "Most people know and understand banks don't lend as much (now)."

The results show that ERA must make sure its salesmen are able to advise sellers and buyers on these "mind-boggling" measures, said Mr Lim.

Respondents were also asked about the lease buyback scheme which lets elderly HDB owners sell part of their lease back to the Government for retirement income. More than seven in 10 had heard about it, but few were keen.

Of those who knew about it, less than a quarter would recommend an eligible relative or friend to take it up. Four in 10 would not, and the rest were neutral.

-By Janice Heng

Annual values of homes reflect market rents

Source: Straits Times / Forum Letters

WE THANK Mr David Goh Chee Hoe ("Home prices down, yet property tax unchanged"; Dec 2) and Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi ("Tax-free property annual value set too low"; Dec 5) for their feedback. We also refer to last Thursday's report ("Property tax cut for one in four private home owners").

The property tax is a wealth tax, levied on property ownership. In determining the value of a property for this tax purpose, we use its annual value (AV) as determined by market rentals of comparable properties, rather than property prices.

This leads, in practice, to considerably less volatility in AVs and property tax payable, as rental values are more stable than property prices. An illustration of this: While the private residential property price index has increased by 56 per cent since 2009, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Rental Index shows an increase of 21.5 per cent over the same period.

The AV of Mr Goh's property has not been revised upwards or downwards for a few years, as the market rents of similar properties in the locality have remained relatively stable, despite a significant increase in prices of such properties over the period.

Home owners can visit the URA website (at >e-Services >Property Market >Check Rental Contracts of Private Residential Properties) to find out rental trends for private residential developments.

In keeping with the prevailing market rents, the AVs for about 26 per cent of private residential properties will be reduced from Jan 1 next year, while about 1.4 per cent will have their AVs increased.

The AVs of the remaining private residential properties will remain unchanged. We have also reduced the 2015 annual values of HDB flats by 3 per cent to reflect the dip in HDB market rentals.

In determining AVs for a property based on market rentals in the same locality, we take into account differences among the homes, for example whether a home has been newly built, or has a swimming pool, leading to higher market rentals.

Mr Chan suggested raising the tax-exempt AV band for owner-occupied properties. The tax-exempt AV was raised from $6,000 to $8,000 this year, as part of a more progressive property tax regime, allowing most owner-occupied properties to enjoy tax savings.

For example, three-room HDB flat owners will pay a property tax of $1.60 to $49.60 for next year, about $42 lower than what they paid two years ago.

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore will continue to monitor and reflect prevailing market rental conditions in its assessments of annual values.

Kelly Wee (Ms)

Director (Corporate Communications)

Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore

Keppel's ex-senior director dies, aged 65

Source: Straits Times / Singapore

A LONG-TIME stalwart of conglomerate Keppel Corp, Mr Teo Soon Hoe, has died.

The Straits Times understands that Mr Teo, who was also chairman of telco M1, died yesterday after a six-month battle with cancer.

Mr Teo held the position of senior executive director at Keppel before his retirement in June.

Keppel had announced in May that Mr Teo, 65, would continue to represent it as its nominee director on the boards of the Tianjin Eco-City companies and K1 Ventures.

He also continued to represent Keppel Telecommunications and Transportation as its nominee director on the board of M1.

Keppel T&T is a substantial shareholder of M1, holding a 19.34 per cent interest as of Feb 25, according to M1's latest annual report.

Mr Teo started his career with Keppel Group in 1975, when he joined Keppel Shipyard.

He climbed the corporate ladder and was seconded to various subsidiaries of the Keppel Group.

He was also Keppel's finance director from 1985 to 2011.

He left behind his wife and two children, a son and a daughter.

-By Mok Fei Fei

KOP Properties posts Q2 loss of $4.5m

It sinks deeper into the red, seven months after backdoor listing on SGX

Source: Straits Times / Money

THE moribund property market has dragged real estate firm KOP Properties deeper into the red, just seven months after it went public on the Singapore Exchange via a backdoor listing.

KOP posted a net loss of $4.5 million for the three months to Oct 31, sharply down from a profit of $473,000 the previous year.

This was even worse than the $3 million it lost in its first quarter ended July 31 this year.

Second-quarter revenue plunged 41 per cent to $4.1 million from the preceding year.

KOP is known for developing upscale condominiums such as Hamilton Scotts in Orchard, whose units boast "sky garages" that let home owners park their cars next to their living rooms.

It said in a statement that revenue fell mainly because of lower property sales from its real estate development and investment arm.

Its Ritz Carlton Residences luxury project in Cairnhill did not sell any units in the quarter, it noted. The project has sold 21 out of 58 apartments since its launch in 2007, with the most recent new sale having been in January last year, according to data from Squarefoot Research and the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

However, KOP's hospitality unit and entertainment division helped to cushion the drop in property sales, the firm added.

KOP began trading in May this year after it completed a $150 million reverse takeover of Catalist-listed Scorpio East Holdings. A reverse takeover involves an unlisted business being injected into a struggling listed company. It inherited its entertainment division from the former Scorpio East.

KOP is now pinning its hopes on developing real estate projects with an entertainment or lifestyle component.

One development is a $2.8 billion integrated indoor winter resort in Shanghai called Winterland Shanghai, on an 18ha site.

Raising capital for that project was one reason KOP wanted to go public. Chief executive Leny Suparman said in an interview recently that it was still in talks with potential partners to fund the development.

KOP's shares closed flat at 16.2 cents on Friday.

-By Melissa Tan

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

Spain rebuilding again after housing crash of 2008

Source: Business Times / Real Estate

French mall battered by consumer spending crisis

Source: Business Times / Real Estate