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23 January 2014

Singapore Real Estate News

Secondary-market deals at lowest level since 2004

Source: BUsiness Times | Property

The number of private homes changing hands in the secondary market halved from 15,678 units in 2012 to 7,695 units last year - the lowest volume since 2004, when 6,476 units were sold, according to a caveats analysis by DTZ. Last year's drop in secondary-market transactions - comprising resale and subsale transactions - was much larger than a 31.3 per cent slide in the number of private homes sold by developers in the primary market to 13,372 units.

DTZ attributed the steeper decline in secondary-market transaction volumes of private homes partly to the fact that those who own multiple properties may not be in a hurry to sell their properties, "as their replacement cost is now higher, with the higher additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) and the permanent and structural total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) framework in place", said Lee Lay Keng, head of Singapore research at the property consulting group.

"Furthermore unlike developers, individual owners are less able to offer incentives or discounts to entice buyers," she added.

- By Kalpana Rashiwala 

The Arcade put up for sale by tender

The owners of The Arcade, which include property developer City Developments, are looking to sell the 20-storey commercial development in Collyer Quay for $900 million. The 999-year leasehold development has a maximum allowable gross floor area of 303,657 square feet, but the total existing strata area stands at 157,325 sq ft.

Record bid for former Joo Chiat police station site
Top bid of $1,326.11 psf ppr is highest so far for GLS hotel sites: analysts

Source: BusinessTimes | Singapore Story

A 99-year leasehold site along East Coast Road housing the former Joo Chiat police station is believed to have drawn a new record bid for a Government Land Sales (GLS) hotel site.

A consortium comprising Master Contract Services and Keong Hong Construction placed the highest offer out of eight bidders of $352.8 million, or $1,326.11 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) in the tender that closed yesterday.

This is a record for GLS hotel sites, analysts noted, eclipsing the previous mark of $1,303.24 psf ppr for a plum site at Havelock Road last November. The top bid was also more than double the minimum committed bid of $160 million, or $601.41 psf ppr, by an unnamed developer that triggered the site for tender from the reserve list last November.

"It showed that following the implementation of the TDSR (total debt servicing ratio), private residential sentiment has cooled, and developers (and) investors are shifting interest to hotel development," said Ong Kah Seng, director at R'ST Research, of the highest bid.

- By Ong Chor Hao 

Developer offers bulk sale amid market blues

The developer of the Newton Imperial condominium has put 21 unsold units up for sale at a reduced price, in the hope that a single buyer will take the lot off its hands. The ambitious move comes amid a slowing property market beset by cautious buyers and tougher lending rules.

Raffles Medical buying hospital's adjacent site

Source: BusinessTimes | Singapore Story

Integrated private healthcare provider Raffles Medical Group is acquiring from the Singapore Land Authority a site adjacent to Raffles Hospital for $105.2 million. The 1,978.1 square metre site has a plot ratio of 5.6 and would yield a gross floor area (GFA) of 11,077.36 square metres.

The purchase consideration will be satisfied by internal resources and bank borrowings.

The total development cost of the project, including the purchase price of the site, construction costs and improvement works to the existing hospital, is estimated to be about $310 million. Construction is expected to take about 24 months.

The group said Raffles Hospital currently receives international patients from more than 100 countries, making up a third of the total patient load and contributing to Singapore's positioning as a medical hub.

- By Vivien Shiao

KepLand top ranking Asian firm on sustainability list

Source: BusinessTimes | Singapore Story

KeppeL Land has leapfrogged into Corporate Knights' Global 100 list of the world's most sustainable corporations for this year, while three other mainboard-listed firms - StarHub, CapitaLand and City Developments - improved in their rankings for corporate sustainability. Keppel Land was ranked 17th, making it the highest ranking Asian outfit.

The list of the world's top overall-sustainability performers was unveiled yesterday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Ang Wee Gee, the chief executive of Keppel Land, said: "As environmental, social and governance issues dominate global agendas, we recognise that sustainability is no longer an option, but a necessity."

- By Grace Leong

Chinese buying of homes holding up

Private home purchases here by non-Singaporeans fell nearly 35 per cent last year. And the biggest drop, in percentage terms, among the top four nationalities came from the Indians while the smallest was from the mainland Chinese. According to a caveats analysis by DTZ, the Indians picked up 460 homes, down 52.5 per cent from 968 in 2012. The mainland Chinese bought 1,479, or just 16.9 per cent fewer than the 1,780 in 2012.

Keppel Land buys Jakarta site for $42m
It'll build a high-rise condo there with over 1,200 units

Source: BusinessTimes | Singapore Story

KEPPEL Land has acquired a residential site in West Jakarta for about $42 million.

The property group said yesterday that it would develop a high-rise condominium with more than 1,200 units, as well as about 60 ancillary shophouses, on the three-hectare site. This is part of Keppel's move to strengthen its foothold in Indonesia.

"Indonesia is one of Keppel Land's key growth markets where we will continue to build up our presence," Sam Moon Thong, president (Indonesia) of Keppel Land, said yesterday.

"We believe that Indonesia's steady economic growth, underpinned by strong fundamentals, will continue to support demand for well-located and affordable homes."

By Jamie Lee

Chinese brokerage Haitong opens S'pore office

Source: BusinessTimes | Companies Story

Chinese brokerage Haitong International Securities Group opened its first overseas office in Singapore yesterday. Lin Yong, the deputy chairman and chief executive of the group, said: "More Chinese companies are looking for opportunities to gain access to the international market in terms of capital as well as market share; we will aid them by offering tailored solutions to them."

Speaking in Mandarin from the company's office in Prudential Tower, he said the office here will act as a major bridge for Chinese industries going global, allowing for more cross-border transactions. The company has a licence for dealing in securities and trading in futures contracts from the Monetary Authority of Singapore, he said.

Haitong's Singapore office will focus on institutional clients initially and venture into the retail sector later.

By Raphael Lim

3,139 BTO flats up for sale in 5 estates

Source: BusinessTimes | Companies Story

Some 3,139 new flats across five estates have been launched in the Housing and Development Board's first build-to-order (BTO) exercise of the new year. The flats made available yesterday are spread across six projects in the non-mature estates of Bukit Batok, Jurong West, Punggol and Woodlands and the mature estate of Serangoon.

"The BTO flats are expected to be fairly well received," said Ong Kah Seng, director at R'ST Research, despite a continued moderation in resale flat prices and a falling cash-over-valuation premium.

The demand will come from cost-sensitive applicants, young couples who can afford to wait, and from buyers who are constrained by the cap on their mortgage servicing ratio (MSR) from purchasing resale flats which are generally more expensive.

- By Ong Chor Hao

Source: Channel News Asia

A total of 3,139 new flats will be offered to meet the diverse needs of first-timers, second-timers, multi-generation families, the elderly and singles.

This is the first tranche of the 24,300 BTO flats that HDB has planned for 2014.

There will be studio apartments, 2-room to 5-room flats, and 3Gen flats.

The flats will be available in four non-mature towns -- Bukit Batok, Jurong West, Punggol and Woodlands -- and Serangoon, which is a mature town.

The price (excluding grants) of a 2-room flat in Woodlands Glen at Woodlands Drive 15 and Woodlands Avenue 6 starts from S$73,000 whereas the same room-type in Punggol Vue along Punggol Way is priced from S$84,000.

A 3-room flat in Woodlands Glen is priced from S$145,000 whereas the selling price for one in Bukit Gombak Vista at Bukit Batok Street 31 starts from S$221,000.

Punggol BayView along Punggol Way will offer larger flat types -- 5-room flats from S$393,000 and 3Gen flats from S$433,000.

4-room flats are available in Woodlands Glen and Punggol BayView, with prices starting from S$234,000 and S$293,000.

Studio apartments will be available in three projects -- Golden Lavender in Jurong West, Bukit Gombak Vista and Golden Ginger along Serangoon North Avenue 1, with prices starting from S$83,000 and S$87,000.

With the start of this launch, HDB will introduce a standard suite of eco-features in all new public housing developments to help manage water, energy and waste more efficiently.

These include eco-pedestals in bathrooms which recycle water for toilet flushing, LED lighting with motion sensor controls and regenerative lifts that help to lower energy consumption, and centralised chutes for recyclables to promote recycling.

More covered bicycle parking lots and bicycle wheel ramps will also be added to new projects to encourage residents to adopt a more environmentally-friendly mode of transport.

Application for the January BTO flats can be submitted online from Wednesday to January 28.

In March 2014, HDB will offer about 3,500 new flats in Sembawang, Sengkang and Yishun. 

- CNA/nd

All new BTO flats to come with eco-features

Source: Business Times/ Property

Singapore's push for more eco-friendly buildings has expanded from the commercial and industrial space to that of public housing, with what is to date the biggest planned rollout of 24,300 new Build-To-Order (BTO) flats with eco-features. In the first tranche of the rollout for this year, the Housing Board yesterday launched six such environmentally sustainable new BTO projects, or 3,139 BTO flats, in Bukit Batok, Jurong West, Punggol, Woodlands and Serangoon.

Starting with this launch, all future HDB BTO developments will have a standard suite of eco-features to manage water, energy and waste more efficiently.

These include eco-pedestals in bathrooms that redirect water used for hand-washing to the pedestal cistern for the next flush, thereby allowing for "greywater" recycling.

- By Grace Leong

Source: Channel News Asia

SINGAPORE: National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said Singaporeans can embrace an eco-friendly lifestyle, but proper support must be given.

Writing on the ministry’s blog on Wednesday, Mr Khaw said Treelodge@Punggol is a successful experiment that has given the Housing and Development Board (HDB) the confidence to extend eco-features to all future HDB housing projects.

Mr Khaw said Treelodge@Punggol has centralised chutes for recyclables which have collected three times the amount of recyclables compared to other HDB blocks.

The precinct also has energy-efficient features such as LED lights with motion-sensor control and re-generative lifts, which have lowered the blocks' electricity consumption.

Thus, starting from Wednesday's first BTO launch for the year, HDB will include a standard suite of eco-friendly features in all new HDB projects to manage water, energy and waste more efficiently.

The features include LED lighting with motion-sensors in common areas, centralised chutes for recyclables, and eco-pedestals in the bathrooms which recycle water for toilet flushing, among others.

Mr Khaw said the HDB wants to make going eco "convenient, natural and intuitive" for Singaporeans.

He added that this would be HDB's contribution to making Singapore greener, cleaner and healthier.

One energy expert said the energy-efficient features will have a positive impact on reducing carbon footprint in HBD blocks.

Nilesh Y Jadhav, programme director of the Energy Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University, said: "The good thing I like about them is that they are not very intrusive, like fuel cells, regenerative lifts and other things you may not even noticed that they are happening.

"The occupants or home dwellers will not notice that it's really happening in their blocks, but at the same time, they are saving energy and they are effecting carbon reductions."

- CNA/nd/fa

Two workers fall to death at construction site

Source: Channel News Asia

Two Bangladeshi workers fell to their death on Wednesday at a construction site. Police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force said they were alerted at 12.45pm to an incident at Fusionopolis Way, near Ayer Rajah Avenue.

On arrival at the worksite, police established that an industrial accident had occurred.

SCDF paramedics pronounced the two men, both in their 20s, dead at the scene.

Officers from Manpower Ministry's Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate were on-site to investigate the incident.

The ministry said preliminary findings showed the two men had fallen from the 7th storey of a building under construction.

Investigations are ongoing.

The Manpower Ministry has instructed the occupier of the construction site to stop all work involving lifting operations. 

- CNA/gn

Real Estate Companies' Brief

KepLand's Q4 profit boosted by one-off gain

Source: Business Times / Companies

Property group Keppel Land booked a net profit of $567.3 million for the fourth quarter, primarily on a one-off gain from the divestment of its stake in an Indonesian project. The profit attributable to shareholders for the three months ended Dec 31 last year was up 7.6 per cent year-on-year, and translates to an earnings per share of 36.7 cents.

Keppel Land's turnover in Q4 was $505.7 million, 7.2 per cent higher than a year earlier. This was due mainly to a stronger performance from its core property trading business segment.

But gross profit fell 9.5 per cent year-on-year to $129.4 million as cost of sales rose 14.4 per cent.

- By Ong Chor Hao

Keppel Land earnings up on overseas projects, divestments

Source: Today Online / Business

Keppel Land said yesterday it remains upbeat about the Singapore private residential property market despite the precipitous fall in condominium sales last month as the sector’s fundamentals remain solid.

Keppel Land CEO Ang Wee Gee said while the total number of private homes sold by developers in Singapore will likely to ease further to between 10,000 and 12,000 this year, prices are unlikely to see a major correction. The take-up of new homes fell 32.4 per cent to 15,015 units last year, impacted by the Total Debt Servicing Ratio framework and Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty, Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) data showed last week.

“The economy is still growing and there is still demand ... The Government has also cut down the supply of sites, so that should provide some stability to the market,” said Mr Ang.

He added that the company will continue to look for opportunities in the domestic market, despite selling 14 per cent fewer units last year. Keppel Land sold 370 units in Singapore last year as cooling measures and tighter loan curbs hit demand and weeded out speculators, Mr Ang said.

Most of the sales were from its newly-launched projects such as The Glades in Tanah Merah and Corals in Keppel Bay. The group plans to launch its CBD-fringe project located near Tiong Bahru MRT Station in the first half of this year, capitalising on limited new supply in the vicinity.

“We believe that in the long term, the market will continue to grow. So, we will continue to spot the right opportunities and sites, although we’ll likely to be more selective in a slowing market,” said Mr Ang.

Keppel Land’s comments came as the company announced a record revenue of about S$1.5 billion last year on improvement from most business segments, up 55.6 per cent from 2012.

Full year net profit rose 5.7 per cent to S$885.9 million, driven mainly by China projects, property investment and the sale of its stake in Jakarta Garden City in Indonesia, although they were partly offset by lower net fair value gain on investment properties, absence of gains from the divestment of the group’s 22.7 per cent stake in Saigon Centre Phases 1 and 2 in 2012 as well as lower contribution from Reflections at Keppel Bay.

Overseas profits rose 64 per cent to S$141.1 million on greater contribution from residential projects in China, where it sold 3,870 units last year, more than double the 1,650 units sold in 2012.

Divestments from its stakes in Jakarta Garden City and Hotel Sedona Manado in Indonesia contributed S$151.8 million to overall net profit.

Moving forward, Keppel Land said it will focus on its core markets of Singapore and China and growth markets of Vietnam and Indonesia, and “invest opportunistically in markets with good growth potential” such as Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

On Tuesday, the group announced it had agreed to acquire a 3.2-hectare site for about S$42 million in West Jakarta, where it will develop a high-rise condominium with ancillary shophouses for sale.

The board has recommended a final dividend of 13 cents per share.

- By Lee Yee Nee

Sabana Reit Q4 DPU falls 9.1% to 2.19¢

Source: Business Times / Companies

Distribution per unit (DPU) for Sabana Reit fell 9.1 per cent to 2.19 cents in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Distributable income dropped 2 per cent to $15.1 million, as net property income slipped 1.8 per cent to $19.9 million. The trust attributed this to a fall in occupancy rate at the portfolio level, stemming from some properties being converted into multi-tenanted lease arrangements. This was in spite of a 15.7 per cent growth in gross revenue to $24.8 million, due to contribution from its new acquisition of the property at 508 Chai Chee Lane.

Property expenses had quadrupled to $4.9 million because of property and lease-management fees incurred for this acquisition and other property-tax expenses and lease-management fees.

- By Andrea Soh

FCOT posts jump in Q1 DPU to 2.05 cents

Source: Business Times / Companies

Frasers Commercial Trust (FCOT) posted a distribution per unit (DPU) of 2.05 cents for the first quarter ended Dec 31, 2013, up from 1.58 cents a year earlier. The jump in DPU was a result of the improved performances of its properties in Singapore, lower interest costs and and savings in distribution for the Series A Convertible Perpetual Preferred Units (CPPUs), the trust said yesterday. To date, 99.9 per cent of the Series A CPPUs had either been converted or redeemed.

During the quarter, gross revenue slipped 3 per cent year-on-year to $28.77 million, as the weaker Australian dollar and lower occupancy for Central Park offset a 7.5 per cent increase in gross revenue for its Singapore properties.

Net property income fell 4 per cent to $22.12 million, because of the Aussie dollar, Central Park's occupancy and an absence of income from properties in Japan that were sold in October 2012.

- By Nisha Ramchandani

CapitaMall Trust Q4 DPU rises 15.3%

Source: Business Times / Companies

The retail scene is changing with some retailers choosing smaller units in a bid to control headcount and rental costs, CapitaMall Trust (CMT) said yesterday as it unveiled higher fourth-quarter payout for its unit-holders. For the three months ended Dec 31, 2013, distribution per unit (DPU) rose 15.3 per cent year on year, from 2.36 cents to 2.72 cents, payable on Feb 28. The annualised distribution yield is 5.74 per cent based on CMT's closing price of $1.88 per unit on Tuesday.

This was on the back of distributable income rising 18.3 per cent to $94.4 million, said the real estate investment trust (Reit), Singapore's oldest and largest by asset size.

Wilson Tan, chief executive officer of CapitaMall Trust Management Limited, the manager of CMT, said that retailers opting for smaller spaces give CMT the option of recalibrating its unit space and tenant mix.

- By Mindy Tan

12% higher Q3 DPU for MCT

Source: Business Times / Singapore Markets

Mapletree Commercial Trust (MCT) posted a distribution per unit (DPU) of 1.865 cents for its third quarter ended Dec 31, 2013, up 11.9 per cent from 1.667 cents the previous year. Distributable income was $38.7 million, up from $31.2 million a year ago. Gross revenue grew 22.4 per cent to $68.4 million, while net property income (NPI) rose 24.9 per cent to $49.4 million, as a result of positive contributions from VivoCity, PSA Building (PSAB) and new revenue from Mapletree Anson following its acquisition in February 2013.

Global Economy & Global Reat Estate News

Global economy not out of the woods yet, warns IMF

Despite overall favourable outlook, important downside risks still a concern

Source: Business Times / World

THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) yesterday said that the global economy is on the mend but warned that it is "not yet out of the woods" given threats of deflation in advanced economies and of capital flow volatility affecting emerging economies.

Advanced economies - the US especially - must be weaned only slowly off the massive monetary easing that has been underpinning their recovery while also stimulating capital flows to emerging economies, the IMF said in the latest update of its World Economic Outlook.

As recovery takes hold in advanced economies, a "main challenge will be to normalise monetary policy", the report suggested.

"While some of this expected normalisation has already been priced in both long rates and exchange rates, we can expect complex capital movements across countries for some time to come.

- By Anthony Rowley in Tokyo

IOI Properties set for overseas income boost

But building M'sia townships remains its bread and butter

Source: Business Times / Property

IOI Properties Group, the developer which joined Malaysia's benchmark index on Tuesday, wants to broaden its income sources with foreign revenue and more investment properties, its new chief executive officer said. Contributions from the group's maiden projects in Singapore and China are expected to start coming on stream this financial year, 35-year-old Lee Yeow Seng, a son of billionaire Lee Shin Cheng, said. This is expected to generate about 30 per cent of all revenue in the next three years, he said.

"The group is also building a wider portfolio in its investment holding segment to provide a more stable recurring income stream," said Mr Lee. Malaysian "township development will still be our bread and butter business", he added.

IOI Properties relisted last week after 74-year-old billionaire Mr Lee divided IOI Corp into separate palm oil and real estate businesses, headed by different sons.

- From Kuala Lumpur

Aspial to build Melbourne's tallest tower

Source: Business Times / Companies

ASPIAL Corporation Ltd has acquired a freehold development in Melbourne for A$42.3 million (S$47.6 million), and plans to turn it into the tallest building in the city that will offer a gross floor area of more than a million square feet of residential and commercial space.

This is the jewellery and property group's second major overseas acquisition, coming just weeks after it announced its first overseas foray in the Australian city.

Aspial, in a statement, said it intends to build a 312-metre-tall residential and commercial tower that will be Melbourne's tallest building when completed.

Currently, the property on the 28,255 sq ft plot of land is a freehold, low-rise commercial building. It sits at the corner of Southbank Boulevard and City Road in central Southbank - a high-density residential precinct where most people live in multi-storey apartment buildings a stone's throw from Melbourne's Central Business District, said Aspial.

- By Felda Chay

BlackBerry to sell most of its Canada property

Source: Business Times / World

BlackBerry, the struggling smartphone maker, plans to sell most of its Canadian real estate to raise cash for its turnaround plan.

BlackBerry is working with CBRE Group to sell vacant properties as well as occupied space it would then lease back from buyers, according to a statement on Tuesday. The assets cover more than (280,000 square metres, the amount of office space in the 104-storey One World Trade Center skyscraper in lower Manhattan.

Chief executive officer John Chen, who took over in November, is revamping the company's strategy to outsource manufacturing and return the target market to business users instead of consumers. Mr Chen is working to steady the company after it ceded most of its smartphone market share to Apple and Google. "This initiative will further enhance BlackBerry's financial flexibility, and will provide additional resources to support our operations as our business continues to evolve," Mr Chen said in the statement.

BlackBerry jumped as much as 6.4 per cent in late trading after closing at US$9.93 in New York. Through Tuesday's close, the shares have climbed 33 per cent this year.

- From Toronto

PE firms shift focus from German homes to offices

Source: Business Times / Property

Blackstone Group LP, the private-equity firm that cashed in on Germany's booming housing market last year, plans to join the ranks of investors shifting money into the country's commercial properties, where financially strapped owners are under pressure to make deals.

Investors from insurers and pension funds to buyout firms last year spent the most on German offices, stores and warehouses since 2007, broker Savills plc estimates. Blackstone and its competitors want to join the acquisition spree even as values increase.

"Residential is getting too expensive and they're using the peak to liquidate," said Fabian Klein, the Frankfurt-based head of German investments at CBRE Group Inc. "There's clearly more interest from opportunistic investors" in commercial property deals.

Private-equity firms accounted for 3 per cent of the 30 billion euros (S$52 billion) that investors paid for German commercial real estate in 2013 and that will probably climb to 10 per cent this year, London-based Savills said. Demand is rising in anticipation of new properties becoming available as banks and cash-strapped owners sell distressed assets.

From Berlin

Japan to trigger rebound in inner-city property prices

Source: Business Times / Property

Japan wants to trigger a jump in inner-city property prices by loosening building restrictions in test zones under Abenomics, a government adviser said.

"Central-city property prices will likely rise when various plans are announced," Tatsuo Hatta, 70, a member of a government council on special economic zones, said last week. The economic impact from the urban-planning changes will be "extremely big", he said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to sustain an economic rebound that risks losing steam in April when a sales-tax increase will damp consumer spending. While Mr Hatta's comments offer some insight into the government's plans for special economic zones, investors are still waiting for fuller details of Mr Abe's growth strategy in what Goldman Sachs Group calls a "critical year" for Abenomics.

Home prices in Tokyo are around 120,000 yen (S$1,470) to 150,000 yen per square foot, Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle said last year. That compares with about 280,000 yen to 400,000 yen in Hong Kong and 200,000 yen to 250,000 yen in Singapore, it said.

From Tokyo

Princeton's urban homes find few takers

Source: Business Times / Property

 A development in downtown Princeton, New Jersey, was intended to entice wealthy buyers with the promise of luxury living in a vibrant downtown setting.

Yet since 2012, only a handful of units have sold.

By most calculations, the 100-unit complex of rentals, condominiums and townhouses should be a model for new urban development. With units adjacent to Palmer Square, the elegant homes are a short walk from dozens of shops and restaurants and the vaunted gates of Princeton University.

But only seven of the 48 homes have sold, including a 3,200-square-foot townhouse that went for US$1.855 million. The rentals leased quickly and several more will be released onto the market this month, including two duplexes listed for US$8,600 a month.

From New York

Swiss home prices reaching level of '89 bubble

Source: Business Times / Property

Prices in Switzerland's booming housing market are approaching a level last reached in 1989, shortly before a slump in values that hurt the economy for years, UBS said.

Residential-property values are about 5 per cent lower than the market's peak when adjusted for inflation, the Swiss bank said in a report on Tuesday. Even so, price increases slowed to less than the 10-year average last year because of rising long-term interest rates and tougher mortgage-lending standards, UBS said.

"Despite slower momentum, valuations in the Swiss owner-occupied housing market have reached a high," UBS economists Claudio Saputelli said. "This has further increased the risk of a correction."

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has sounded the alarm about the property market overheating in a bid to prevent a repeat of the real estate crisis of the 1990s.

From Zurich

Burning issue for new homes

Source: Straits Times

The Man Behind Brooklyn’s Edge Waterfront Property

Source: Bloomberg

Douglaston Development Chairman Jeffrey Levine discusses developing Brooklyn’s waterfront and the borough’s real estate renaissance with Pimm Fox on Bloomberg Television’s “Taking Stock.”

Silicon Slopes Beckon as U.S. Buyers Shun Costly Homes

Source: Bloomberg

The allure of Silicon Valley never grabbed Steve Brain. While well-paying jobs sometimes tempted the Seattle-based engineer, the Bay Area’s sky-high home prices always broke the spell.

In the end, Brain was lured by a job -- in Utah -- where real estate was more reasonable. He and his family traded their tree-lined street for panoramic mountain views and a job near Provo in 2012. Moving to California that year, even when U.S. home affordability was at a record, would have meant paying double for a smaller place, he said.

“The value just wasn’t there,” said Brain, 44. “I had to start thinking about where that put us by retirement. Throwing another couple million into housing just didn’t make sense.”

As the residential real-estate market and the economy rebound, home prices and borrowing costs are rising, while income gains lag behind and new mortgage rules make getting a loan more costly. If forecasts bear out, the National Association of Realtors’ affordability index will fall this year by the most in data going back to 1970.

-By Lorraine Woellert

Starwood Sells Miami Hotel to Qatar’s Al Faisal for $213 Million

Source: Bloomberg

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Inc. (HOT), the owner of the Sheraton and W brands, sold the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort in Miami to a unit of Qatar’s Al Faisal Holding Co. for $213 million.

Starwood will continue to manage the property, which includes a 27-story ocean front hotel with 207 rooms, the Stamford, Connecticut-based company said today in a statement.

“The sale of this trophy asset marks another step forward in Starwood’s pursuit of an asset-light strategy as we look to sell owned real estate at the right time to the right owners,” Simon Turner, president of global development, said in the statement. “We continue to see strong interest in our remaining assets from investors around the world.”

Increasing wealth and travel demand will boost Starwood’s revenue in 2014, the company said in its Oct. 24 earnings report. Growth in hospitality helped Blackstone Group LP (BX)’s Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (HLT) raise $2.35 billion last month in a record initial public offering for the industry.

-By Patrick Gower

German Home Construction Seen Increasing to Highest in 12 Years

Source: Bloomberg

German home construction will rise to the highest in 12 years in 2014 as an increase in the country’s workforce and low borrowing costs fuel demand, according to two industry groups.

About 250,000 residential properties are expected to be completed, the ZDB and HDB construction associations said in a statement today. That’s in line with a government target.

“The upward trend in home construction is based on a need for catching up, as well as robust employment data and rising incomes,” the groups said in the statement.

German home construction in big cities has been lagging behind demand as the population grows and people move to areas where jobs are easier to find. The government says 250,000 new homes are needed each year.

Investment in home construction will rise by 5 percent to 35.3 billion euros ($48 billion) this year, the associations said. That will lift spending on all development projects in Germany to about 98.6 billion euros, 3.5 percent more than in 2013.

In 2013, Germany built 225,000 homes with an investment volume of 33.5 billion euros.

-By Dalia Fahmy