Real News‎ > ‎2014‎ > ‎July 2014‎ > ‎

19th July 2014

Singapore Real Estate

MOM reviewing code of practice for workplace safety

Source: Channel News Asia / Singapore

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is reviewing the existing Code of Practice for Workplace Safety and Health (WSH). Industry consultation on the draft Code will begin this month and is expected to be finalised by the end of the year.

Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin made the announcement at the WSH Awards ceremony at Marina Bay Sands on Friday (July 18).

Some 190 recipients were recognised at the event for their commitment to workplace safety. Together, those companies achieved an injury-free period totalling more than 364 million hours which translates to the safety of 147,000 workers last year.

Addressing some 1,200 guests from industries such as construction, manufacturing and hospitality, Mr Tan said the revised Code of Practice will take a holistic approach by integrating personal health with the traditional work and safety health risks.

It will move away from form-filling and a theoretical approach to focus more on implementation on the ground, and it will also allow for companies to reduce risks at the source.

Mr Tan added a simpler Risk Management Guide will be developed and both the revised Code and the Guide will be launched early next year.

"Virtually most incident reports I read -- whether fatalities or serious injuries -- every one of them could have been prevented.

“Sometimes it's a system level fault, sometimes it's the individual who was just lazy and did not take the necessary precaution or sometimes the management level did not do their part -- but usually a combination of all three.

“Since the introduction of the mandatory risk assessment in 2006, we have tried to raise awareness and we see many companies in Singapore have made progress in improving WSH. However, investigations into the various incidents revealed that more must be done to make the risk management process more effective,” said Mr Tan. 

- CNA/nd

More failing to repay mortgages on time

Source: Straits Times 

More private home owners are not making their mortgage payments on time, figures from the Credit Bureau of Singapore show. The number of borrowers with delinquent mortgages - accounts that have not been paid for more than 30 days - hit 4,186 in May, up 20 per cent from the 3,340 a year earlier, the Credit Bureau told The Straits Times.

Freehold condo in Canada launching in Singapore today

Source: Straits Times

A condominium being developed in Vancouver is being launched in Singapore today. The 57-storey Vancouver House will be the third tallest building in the city when it is completed in 2018, said its Canadian developer Westbank.

Vancouver House launches in Singapore

Source: Business Times / Wealth

DEVELOPERS from far afield are tapping the Singapore investor market, following on the heels of those from London, Australia and Malaysia.

The latest is Canadian luxury developer Westbank Corporation, which launches freehold condominium Vancouver House for sale here today. Prices start from about C$400,000 (S$462,570) for a studio unit. Average per square foot prices range from C$800 to C$2,000.

Out of 388 units in the 52-storey tower, 30 units are reserved for the Singapore market, said Westbank's marketing director Michael Braun. These include one-bedroom units of about 40 sq metres to three- and four-bedroom units of about 250 sq m.

-By Sheena Tan

HDB releases 3,841 flats in latest BTO exercise

The Housing and Development Board is offering 3,841 new flats in six projects located in the non-mature towns of Punggol, Sembawang, Woodlands and Yishun, and the mature town of Toa Payoh under the July 2014 Build-To-Order exercise.

Source: Channel News Asia / Singapore

SINGAPORE: The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has launched 3,841 new flats in six projects across various locations on Saturday (July 19).

They are in Punggol, Sembawang, Woodlands, Yishun and the mature town of Toa Payoh. This is the fourth Build-To-Order (BTO) exercise this year.

One of the more attractive launches is Kampung Admiralty, the new integrated development in Woodlands.

It is a special one-stop hub offering two blocks of studio apartments with amenities such as a medical centre, eldercare facilities, a hawker centre and retail shops. The 104 flats designed for the elderly and costing at least S$91,000 are likely to see good demand.

Mohamed Ismail, PropNex CEO, said: "Such studio apartments do allow Singaporeans who are older to be able to dispose of their existing flat and yet live so comfortably near all other amenities that are provided, and cash out from the capital appreciation of the past."

Another popular project is Toa Payoh Apex with 557 flats available in both 3- and 4-rooms. On the first day itself, the 4-room flats have been oversubscribed by more than 1.3 times as at 5pm Saturday.

Ng Siew Yee, a prospective home owner, said: "It's very central. So, it's accessible to anywhere that I want to go, and also it's nearer to my workplace."

The other projects are Park Grove @ Yishun, which consists of 48 units of Three-Generation flats purpose-built for multi-generation families.

Sembawang's Sun Natura meanwhile offers 848 units comprising 2-, 3- and 4-room flats. In Punggol, there are two BTO projects -- Matilda Court and Waterway Sunray -- with 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-room flats.

In the second half of this year, HDB will offer another 12,700 BTO flats across various towns. HDB has announced the transition to a more sustainable BTO building programme after ramping up supply for three years.

The backlog of first-timer applicants has been cleared, and the application rate has been stable ranging from 1 to 1.7 times in the first half of 2014. Property analysts expect the application rate to continue to be stable for the rest of the year.

Mohamed Ismail said: "If you look at it from the first-timer's subscriptions in the last couple of BTOs, it has been proven that most of them have got their needs taken care of. Therefore, moving forward from now, not only for the next two, but moving forward for the coming years, the first-timer's subscription (rate) will be well below two, and soon in years ahead it will be less than 1.5."

HDB expects to launch another 4,510 BTO flats in Bukit Batok, Hougang, Jurong and Kallang/Whampoa in September.

In addition, 3,000 units will be available in the second Sales of Balance Flats (SBF) in November to augment the housing supply. 

- CNA/fa/nd

City-fringe estate set for rejuvenation

Source: Straits Times 

The mature estate near King George's Avenue in Jalan Besar will get a new lease of life now that a plot of land there has been earmarked for public housing, consultants said. They added that although resale activity in the ageing district has slowed in recent years, that could mean more opportunities to find a bargain ahead of the area's rejuvenation.

Real Estate Companies' Brief

IPOs from property, film companies draw strong interest

Source: Straits Times 

Two initial public offerings (IPOs) that closed this week drew strong interest from retail and institutional investors alike. They were China property company First Sponsor Group and Korean theatrical film producer Spackman Entertainment Group.

Caution needed on Sino Construction

Source: Straits Times 

The quiet stock market conditions of late have failed to dampen the meteoric rise of Sino Construction, a loss-making S-chip in the construction and civil engineering sector that is transforming itself into a mining play. Sino Construction used to be a thinly traded counter - it could go for weeks at a time without a single share changing hands on the market.

Rent and savings lift CCT's Q2 results

Source: Straits Times 

Higher rents and savings from lower interest rates helped CapitaCommercial Trust (CCT) post healthier second-quarter results. Distribution per unit (DPU) for the three months to June 30 came in at 2.18 cents, 5.3 per cent higher than for the same period a year ago, said CapitaCommercial Trust Management, manager of the office landlord yesterday.

CCT sees CapitaGreen income boost from '16

Trust's distribution per unit rises 5.3% year-on-year to 2.18 cents in Q2

Source: Business Times / Companies

CAPITACOMMERCIAL Trust (CCT) is expecting its CapitaGreen office project, which is due for completion by the end of the year, to start contributing to its distributable income only from 2016.

CCT said this yesterday as it announced its second-quarter financial results, with news of a 5.3 per cent year-on-year increase in distribution per unit (DPU) for the April-June period.

The trust owns 40 per cent of MSO Trust, the entity that holds the CapitaGreen project, a Grade A office development coming up on the former Market Street Car Park site.

-By Kalpana Rashiwala

Centurion Corp

Source: Straits Times

Centurion announced its maiden foray into Britain earlier this week with the proposed acquisition of three student accommodation assets in Manchester and one in Liverpool, with a total of 1,906 beds, for $164.5 million.

Cement manufacturers seek approval for merger

Source: Straits Times

Two of the world's biggest cement manufacturers and suppliers are seeking regulatory approval for their merger to be cast in stone at the Singapore level. Swiss company Holcim and French firm Lafarge, both with subsidiaries here, are seeking the green light for their partnership following a blockbuster deal at the parent company level.

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

Can the number of super tall buildings afford to go up and up?

Source: Straits Times

New report is raising questions about whether the sky is the limit for so-called super tall skyscrapers flourishing in China. The CBRE report noted that the country is dominating the scene for these buildings of more than 300m - and that a potential oversupply could loom. It said Asia is now home to 55 per cent of the total number of "tall" office buildings globally.

China home prices dip in June

Analysts expect further falls even as Beijing tells local govts to take steps to stabilise markets

Source: Business Times / Wealth

CHINA'S new home prices fell in June from May for a second straight month and are expected to continue declining - a challenge for Beijing if prices fall too sharply and weigh further on the broad economy.

The signs of a turn in home prices coincided with property data published on Wednesday which showed real estate investment slowed in the first half of 2014, while sales and new construction slipped.

Some analysts now expect deeper price falls in coming months as many developers experience sliding sales and an acute funding shortage - even though official figures showed home sales improved slightly in June from May.

-From Beijing, China

Blackstone targets US$100b in core property

Source: Business Times / Wealth

BLACKSTONE Group may have US$100 billion of low-risk real estate under management in a decade as the firm expands beyond distressed properties, chairman and chief executive officer Stephen Schwarzman said.

"The core-plus asset class is about three times the size of what we're doing in the opportunity class," he said on Thursday on the New York-based company's second quarter earnings call. 

If Blackstone can continue to generate strong returns, "you could look at a business like this over a 10-year period and have US$100 billion under management".

Core real estate includes high-quality, well-leased properties such as prime office buildings, apartment towers and shopping malls. Core-plus refers to similar assets that might need a little extra work to boost values. Blackstone aims for net returns of 10 to 12 per cent with core-plus real estate, Mr Schwarzman said.

-From Seattle, US

U.K. First-Time Buyers Surge to Highest Since 2007, Halifax Says

Source: Bloomberg / Luxury

The number of first-time U.K. home buyers rose to a seven-year high in the first half of 2014, according to a Halifax report that showed new homeowners spend about a third of their disposable income on mortgage payments.

In the first six months of the year 144,500 people bought their first home, according to the mortgage unit of Lloyds Banking Group Plc. That’s up 25 percent from the same period a year earlier and is the biggest increase since the first half of 2007, before the financial crisis.

While the number of new buyers has increased, they’re spending less on mortgage repayments, the report showed. First-time homeowners spent 31 percent of their monthly disposable income paying off mortgages, compared with a peak of 47 percent in the first half of 2007, Halifax said.

Bank of England officials took action last month to limit mortgage lending and prevent an unsustainable build up of consumer debt after record-low interest rates and government incentives raised the prospect of a bubble. BOE Governor Mark Carney has said the housing market poses the biggest threat to Britain’s recovery.

“The resurgence in the number of first-time buyers getting on to the housing ladder has been buoyed by improving economic conditions, rising employment levels as well as government schemes,” said Craig McKinlay, a mortgages director at Halifax. They accounted for 46 percent of all home purchases in the first half, he said.

Today’s report also showed how prices varied regionally, with first-time buyers paying 306,354 pounds ($522,058) for a property in London and 110,410 pounds in the North. The average age of new homeowners is 32 years in London, compared with 28 years in Wales and the North.

-By Jack Aldane