Monday, August 31, 2009

Older Properties Find Buyers At Auction

Source : The Business Times, August 29, 2009

As prices of new homes rise, investors are turning to auctions and the resale market.

INVESTORS who are put off by the exuberant prices of late for newer properties are turning to auctions to pick up older properties that have not quite appreciated in the same way.

GOING, GOING - Two three-bedroom apartments at Four Seasons Park (left) were sold at auction this week for more than $2,100 per square foot each

Two apartments at Four Seasons Park near Orchard Road and an apartment at The Waterside in Tanjong Rhu have changed hands at auctions this week.

Colliers International sold the pair of neighbouring three-bedroom apartments at Four Seasons Park, on the fifth floor of the development's Autumn block, for more than $2,100 per square foot each.

The apartments, each of 2,260 square feet, were put up for sale by a mortgagee bank on vacant possession basis. Unit #05-01 was sold for $4.8 million or $2,124 psf, while the next door #05-02 fetched $4.84 million ($2,142 psf).

The two units were bought separately by Singaporeans.

BT understands that the same mortgagor had owned the two properties. According to caveat records, the units were purchased at $3.25 million each, one in August 2001 and the other in January 2002.

In June this year, a 3,821 sq ft unit on the 20th level of Four Seasons Park changed hands at $2,146 psf. In April, a 19th floor unit sold for $1,637 psf.

Jones Lang LaSalle at its auction yesterday sold a 14th floor unit at The Waterside condo in Tanjong Rhu for $2.55 million or $1,190 psf. It was also a mortgagee sale.

At another auction this week, conducted by DTZ, a three-bedroom apartment on the 22nd floor of Spottiswoode Park was sold for $630,000 or $496 psf. The development is on a site with a remaining lease of 66 years.

'Buyers are turning to the resale market, whether through private treaty or auction, to pick up properties that are more than 10 years old as their prices have not escalated as much as prices for newer properties,' says Knight Frank executive director and auctioneer Mary Sai.

Landed homes have also been in good demand at recent auctions. A strata bungalow, 261 Northshore, in Ponggol Seventeenth Avenue sold for $1.87 million at Knight Frank's auction on Aug 20. The freehold property's built-up area is about 5,500-5,600 sq ft. The property was sold by its owner, who is also in the midst of negotiating the sale of the next door bungalow at 263 Northshore after it was withdrawn at the same auction.

Colliers deputy managing director and auctioneer Grace Ng said: 'The frustration being faced by those shopping for landed homes is that when they make an offer, sellers often increase their asking prices, which thus becomes a moving target. In contrast, at an auction, once the seller's target price has been reached, there is certainty the property will be sold to the highest bidder.'

At its auction on Wednesday this week, Colliers sold a freehold semi-detached house at 102 Sunbird Circle, off Upper Changi Road, in District 16 for $1.98 million or $565 psf based on the land area of 3,506 sq ft. The two-storey house has five bedrooms.

At its auction yesterday, JLL sold a third level shop at Sim Lim Square for $2.95 million or $4,282 psf. The 689 sq ft shop (comprising two units - front and back) is near a lift. Sim Lim Square has about 73 years remaining lease.

Also transacted at the same auction were 16 and 18 Tanjong Pagar Road, at $2.48 million. The ground floors of the two-storey conservation shophouses are currently leased to a pub/karaoke lounge while offices occupy the upper level.

The shophouses, which have a single title, have a land area of 1,976 sq ft and have about 90 years remaining lease.

Two Stages Of Circle Line Start Ops Next Year

Source : The Business Times, August 31, 2009

All 11 stations from Dhoby Ghaut to Bartley on track to get TOP by year-end

STAGES 1 and 2 of the Circle Line are set to commence operations in the first half of 2010, while Stages 4 and 5 will open in 2011.

Stages 1 and 2 - from Dhoby Ghaut to Bartley - consist of 11 stations, of which five have already achieved temporary occupation permit (TOP), while the remaining stations are on track to achieve TOP status by the end of this year.

Preparing to roll: The above-ground works for Stages 4 and 5 - with 13 stations from Marymount (left) to HarbourFront - will be completed by end-2010


Meanwhile, Stages 4 and 5 - from Marymount to HarbourFront - consist of 13 stations. The above-ground works for these two stages will be completed by end-2010.

And in an effort to improve the bus network, from next month the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will begin consulting and gathering feedback from advisers and grassroots leaders about the bus services in their constituencies. The consultation exercise is expected to be completed by the first quarter of next year.

Speaking at a dialogue session in Bukit Panjang yesterday, Minister for Transport Raymond Lim pointed out that while the existing bus system is a good one, there is still room for improvement.

Separately, the LTA announced on Saturday that the off-peak car (OPC) scheme is being tweaked in response to feedback from motorists in hopes of making it more attractive.

Currently, the restricted usage hours stand at 7am-7pm on weekdays, 7am-3pm on Saturdays and 7am-3pm on the eve of five public holidays (New Year, Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, Deepavali and Christmas).

By end-January 2010, OPC users will enjoy unrestricted use of their cars on Saturdays and on the eve of the five public holidays. However, as a result of the extended hours, the road tax discount offered to those who opt for the revised scheme will be lowered to $500, down from $800.

Also, those who choose to drive during peak hours generally have to display a supplementary day licence which costs $20.

But in a move to make purchasing a day licence more convenient, e-licences will replace paper licences come November 23.

And instead of physically having to purchase the licence from LTA or selected outlets, motorists will soon be able to buy it online, via an SMS service as well as from AXS stations.

11 Stations Open In 2010

Source : The Straits Times, Aug 31, 2009

ANOTHER 11 MRT stations on the new Circle Line will open in the first half of next year, cutting the travel time for commuters between the east and the north as well as north-east parts of the island.

11 MRT stations on the new Circle Line will open in the first half of next year, cutting the travel time for commuters between the east and the north as well as north-east parts of the island, announced Transport Minister Raymond Lim (right). -- ST PHOTO: SHAHRIYA YAHAYA

The timeframe was announced on Sunday by Transport Minister Raymond Lim. These stations, which stretch from Dhoby Ghaut to Bartley via Paya Lebar, will spare MRT commuters the extra journey they now must make through the city centre before reaching their destination.

Also, these stops will bring the MRT for the first time to residents in estates such as Mountbatten and MacPherson.

Their opening adds to the five already in operation and marks the completion of 16 of the 29 stations on the Circle Line.

It will ease crowding on existing lines and encourage more people to take public transport, an outcome that is in line with a government masterplan to reduce travelling times and avoid road congestion.

In making the announcement, Mr Lim said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will give the actual date closer to the opening of the stations.

Meanwhile, tests are being done 'to ensure the system is reliable and safe before they open it to the public', he added.

Mr Lim was speaking at a dialogue with about 500 Bukit Panjang residents after a ministerial visit to the single-seat ward helmed by Dr Teo Ho Pin.

Commuters like bank officer Kenny Ng, 27, who lives near Lorong Chuan station, welcomed the improved connectivity, saying 'going down to town will be much easier and faster'.

By June, a train journey from Bishan to Paya Lebar, for instance, will take 17min instead of the 33min to 35min now. This is because the journey will bypass the city centre and not require a transfer.

Read the full story in Monday's edition of The Straits Times.

Development Charge Rates Cut

Source : The Straits Times, Aug 31, 2009

THE Government on Monday announced cuts of 2 to 4 per cent on average to the development charge (DC) rates that developers pay for enhancing the use of sites.

The new rates will apply from Sept 1 to Feb 28, 2010 and will apply to projects which have been granted provisional permission. The revised rates take into account current market values and are reviewed every six months.

The DC rates for commercial use, business zone comercial use as well as for hotel cum hospital use have dropped by 4 per cent, while that for non-landed residential sites is down 2 per cent, said the National Development Ministry in a statement

There are no changes to the use Groups and the number of geographical sectors.

Punggol Waterway On Course

Source : The Straits Times, Aug 31, 2009

THE development of the Punggol Waterway is progressing smoothly into the next phase and is on track to be ready by end of next year.

The Housing Board on Monday awarded a $58.9 million contract for the construction of the second part - comprising 1.8km - of the 4.2 km waterway to Koh Brothers Building and Civil Engineering Contractor (Pte) Ltd.

� The first part of the waterway, comprising 2.4km, was also awarded to Koh Brothers in January.

Since the groundbreaking in April, works on the waterway are progressing well, said the HDB in a statement on Monday.

'With the award of the construction works for Part 2 of the Waterway, HDB is committed to complete the Waterway, which is a key element to realise the Remarking Our Heartland plans for Punggol 21+, on schedule by enD-2010,' said the board.��

� Besides engineering works on the remaining 1.8 km of the waterway, a key component of Part 2 of the Punggol Waterway works will see the construction of a 10m promenade on both sides of the Waterway, which will allow residents to take leisurely stroll and enjoy other activities along the waterway when works are completed.

Besides providing fun-filled and exciting recreational activities such as water sports in the heart of Punggol Town, the Waterway sets the stage for 21,000 homes that will eventually be built along it in an environment nestled by weaving water and lush greenery.

1,142 Punggol Flats For Sale

Source : The Straits Times, Aug 31, 2009

HDB is putting on sale 1,142 units of flats at Punggol Spectra under the Build-To-Order (BTO) system today, following strong interest in the recent BTO project, Punggol Residences.

--PHOTO: HDB

The flats comprise 301 two-room units, 285 three-room units and 556 four-roomers.

The prices range from $89,000 to $109,000 for the two-room flats, $151,000 to $179,000 for the three-room flats and $234,000 to $293,000 for the four-room flats.

These are priced below similar flats in the market and are affordable to first-time flat buyers, said HDB in a statement on Monday.

Situated along Punggol Central, Punggol Spectra is within walking distance to Oasis LRT station.

The Tampines Expressway is a short drive away, thus offering good connectivity to the rest of Singapore.

The precinct offers commercial facilities such as shops, eating house and supermarket. The future Punggol Town Centre is just minutes away. Educational institutions such as Horizon Primary School and Punggol Secondary School are also located in the vicinity.

HDB said based on the income of flat applicants in the first half of this year, it is expected that first time flat buyers will only need to use between 20 to 26 per cent of their monthly household income to meet their housing loan commitments if they buy a flat at Punggol Spectra.

'This is well below the 30 per centinternational benchmark for affordable housing,' it said.

On top of a market subsidy on the selling price, eligible first-timers whose average monthly household income is $5,000 or less can also apply for an Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) of up to $40,000. The AHG can be used to offset the initial downpayment.

Including this exercise, HDB has offered about 4,800 flats under BTO and other sales exercises this year.

Flat buyers can look forward to more BTO projects ahead, said the board. These projects will be located in towns such as Punggol, Sengkang, and Sembawang.

More details will be provided when the projects are launched.

The total BTO supply for this year is expected to reach 8,000 units.

'HDB will continue to monitor the market situation closely, to ensure that there is adequate and affordable supply of public housing,' said the statement.

Applications for the BTO can be submitted online from Monday to Sept 14.

For enquiries, the public can e-mail hdbsales@hdb.gov.sg or call the Sales/Resale Customer Service Line at 1800-866 3066 on weekdays from 8 am to 5 pm.

They can also visit the HDB Sales Office to speak with Customer Service Officers during office hours (Mon to Fri 8 am to 5 pm, Saturday 8 am to 1 pm).

Sub-Sales Triple In Second Quarter

Source : The Straits Times, August 30 2009

Mass-market and mid-tier projects are hot, but it is taking longer to sell investment properties

The upbeat sentiment in the new private home market has lured out the sellers in the sub-sale market.

Sub-sales - the sale of uncompleted homes by their buyers - of non-landed private properties tripled to 1,200 units in the second quarter, according to a DTZ quarterly report.

This time, though, it is mainly the mass-market and mid-tier projects that are popular sub-sales. In 2007, it was the higher-end projects that found favour with buyers.

Also, the sellers are taking longer to sell their investment properties.

The DTZ study found that a few mass-market projects made their way to the Top 10 list of projects with the most sub-sales. These included Casa Merah, located near the Tanah Merah MRT Station, The Centris in Jurong West and The Quartz in Compassvale.

For instance, there were 54 sub-sales in Casa Merah in the second quarter, and the median sub-sale price rose from $658 psf in the first quarter to $734 psf in July and August.

The most popular sub-sale project in the second quarter was Rivergate, located at Robertson Quay.

The median price of its sub-sale units rose from $1,200 psf to $1,400 psf, and 105 of its 545 units changed hands in the second quarter alone. Prices have since risen further - deals done in July and August ranged from $1,400 to $1,880 psf, according to caveats lodged.

Two perennial favourites are The Sail @ Marina Bay and Icon, prime projects in the central locations of Marina Bay and Tanjong Pagar respectively.

Despite being launched between 2003 and 2005, they still remain popular in the sub-sale market. Their median prices rose 27 per cent and 17 per cent respectively from the last quarter.

Sub-sale buyers tend to be true investors, said HSR Property Group executive director Eric Cheng.

Upgraders, he said, prefer not to buy sub-sales as they do not wish to pay a premium. Those who do, however, find mass- to mid-tier market projects more affordable.

Analysts say that the higher number of sub-sales could be due to the many units that were completed this year.

Ms Chua Chor Hoon, DTZ's head of South-east Asia research, says there is normally a high level of sub-sales for a project when it is nearing, or just after, completion.

'In 2006, 6,250 units were completed. This year, 11,367 units are expected to be completed,' she said.

Mr Cheng pointed out that projects sell out very quickly in today's market, and some buyers who missed out on the chance of buying a unit do not mind paying a small premium to get a unit if the price is not too far away from the launch price.

These buyers often have compelling reasons, said Mr Cheng. They might have family living nearby, or even on the same unit level.

Despite the higher number of sub-sales now, the number of properties bought and sold within a short span of time is not as high as during 1996 or 2007, said Ms Chua.

'The number and percentage of units bought and sold within a six-month period in the first half of the year is a lot less than those in 2007 and 1996,' she said.

Citing data from Realis, she said 88 units were 'flipped' in the first half of this year, compared to 517 in 1996 and 835 in 2007.

Flipping occurs when someone buys a property and resells it quickly for a profit.

'Buyers now tend not to buy another unit so quickly because they often have a choice of other surrounding units that are being sold as well,' said Mr Cheng.

'There are a lot of short-term investors who would like to resell for a profit, but might not be able to because they ask for too much. There are also a lot of launches coming up.

'Market fundamentals are not that strong even though market sentiment is, and we might see a pull-back effect,' he said.

职总大巴窑公寓推出单位卖得七七八八

Source : 《联合早报》August 30, 2009

为了应付买家的需求,大巴窑共管公寓Trevista昨天下午4时又再推出另外60个单位,将总推出单位提高至460个。

职总安居(NTUC Choice Homes)主席黄思绵昨天也到Trevista销售现场了解情况,他在下午3时接受本报访问时说:“我们对销售反应相当满意,我们推出了400个单位,到目前为止已经卖出了330个,达到了预期的水平,我们很高兴有这么多新加坡人支持我们。”

Trevista昨天第二天继续热卖,一个个小红点代表了售出的公寓单位。(邬福梁摄)

坐落在大巴窑二巷和三巷的Trevista,相当靠近布莱德地铁站。职总安居原本打算在前天的预售活动中,开放210个单位供买家选择,平均尺价为898元,后来因为销售反应非常热烈,所以在前天傍晚7时加推了190个单位。

据了解,第二批190个单位的推出价格比第一批抬高了2%至4%。第三批60个单位的价格也因为楼高和面向的关系,调高了2%。

过去几个星期来,Trevista的定价一直都是舆论的焦点。这个99年地契共管公寓前天以每平方英尺平均898元开盘,虽然有不少买家认为并不便宜,也有人认为比他们原先想象来得低。一些发展商甚至暗指职总安居破坏行情,希望Trevista赶快将单位清掉,自己的项目才有机会“动”。

据了解,房屋经纪之前开给潜在买家的指示价格是每平方英尺1100元左右,一些两卧房式单位叫价甚至达到每平方英尺1200元。

黄思绵:会确保人们负担得起

黄思绵昨天向本报重申,职总安居的创立目的是为新加坡人建造负担得起的私人住宅,因此它在定价时必须有这一层考虑。

“我们是一个合作社,不是一个纯粹的盈利机构,我们的目标是为新加坡建造人们负担得起的私人住宅,所以在拟定价格时,会根据市场的价钱做一定的调整,确保我们的单位是人们负担得起,而且质量优良的。”

由于Trevista的卖楼现场采取先到先得的方式,一些买家虽然愿意付较高的价钱,也买不到心仪的单位,所以不少人猜测,这个项目很快就会出现二手楼花。

对此,黄思绵说:“我们希望大多数买我们房子的人,都会在这里组织他们的家庭,所以希望炒作方面会比较少。由于我们的价钱,比市场报道的预测价格来得低,避免不了有些炒家要来这里做一些炒作,不过我们希望这只是少数。”

楼市从上星期四起已经进入农历七月,Trevista却偏偏不忌讳俗称“鬼节”的中元节,选择在这个时候推出。黄思绵认为,农历七月虽然是公司拟定推出日期时的一个考虑因素,不过不是最重要的因素:“根据以往的经验,我们自己的项目或其他发展商的项目,有很多也在七月推出,反应还相当不错。”

黄思绵:职总安居提供合理住屋 也为会员提供合理回报

Source : 《联合早报》August 30, 2009

职总安居主席黄思绵认为,职总安居不但为人们提供了合理的住屋,也为工会会员提供了合理的回报率,在这两方面起了很大的功用。

他表示,Trevista虽然只有590个共管公寓单位,但职总安居自1995年11月创立以来,已经兴建了5931个住宅单位。这为至少四五千个一般民众的家庭,提供了价钱比较合理的住屋。

黄思绵:单靠Trevista的590个单位,确实很难对整体楼市发挥太大的影响力,不过还是会有一定的作用。(唐家鸿摄)

对工会会员来说,职总每年也会派发将近5%股息,职总安居也在这方面让他们享受到了合理的回报率。

黄思绵昨天发表的上述谈话,相信主要回应本报两个星期前的一篇评论文章。

这篇以《杯水车薪,岂能灭火?》为题的文章提到,即使职总安居有意将Trevista的价格压低到每平方英尺1000元以下,单靠它一己之力,也不可能对最近飙涨的楼价起冷却或制衡作用。

文章指出,全国职工总会确实通过职总平价,对本地的物价起了很好的稳定作用。不过,要在房地产方面发挥同样的作用,却不是一件简单的事情,职总安居是否还会继续背负其社会使命,以人们负担得起的价格来推出Trevista?

黄思绵昨天重申,职总安居的创办目的是为新加坡人建造人们负担得起的私人住宅,它是隶属于职总旗下的合作社,并非纯粹的盈利机构,所以必须确保所兴建的房子是人们负担得起的。

在拟定价钱时,它也必须将成本考虑在内,但是它并没有特权,必须跟发展商在公开市场上一起投标地皮。“我们也必须跟其他发展商竞争买地,所以我们的土地成本跟其他发展商基本上差不多一样,我们只能尽量增加建筑效率,用不同方法来减低成本。”

黄思绵承认,单靠Trevista的590个单位,确实很难对整体楼市发挥太大的影响力,不过还是会有一定的作用,例如数百个家庭能够以低于市场预期的价钱买到房子。

他昨天也透露,职总安居的累积资金已经从最初的7800万元,累积至3亿元,这将方便它将来扩大市场权,为新加坡人建造更多人们负担得起的房子。

“不过,我们会以一贯谨慎的手法来进行未来的投资。我们肯定会再投标一些新的地段,不过我们会选择一些好的地段——地价和造价要符合我们的原则,这点我们会特别小心、谨慎,毕竟我们的资金来自各个工会。”

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Buyers Snap Up Flats At Trevista Condo In Toa Payoh

Source : The Business Times, August 29, 2009

320 of 590-unit project taken up; co-op to release more at weekend

IF it's priced attractively, it still sells. Hungry home buyers yesterday bought around 320 units at the 590-unit Trevista condo in Toa Payoh.

HOT PROPERTY - Some agents were seen armed with blank cheques from clients who had given them authorisation to book units

By around 3pm yesterday, buyers were said to have snapped up some 190 of the total 210 units released in the first phase of the preview, resulting in developer NTUC Choice Homes Co-operative releasing a further 190 units in the early evening to satisfy demand. BT understands that the price was raised by about 2-3 per cent for the second batch from the initial phase's average price of $898 per square foot (psf). However, some of the price gain also reflects the fact that units in the second batch are on higher floors and have better orientation.

While many people will baulk at this price for a 99-year leasehold project, what has been drawing buyers to Trevista is that the psf pricing is about 20 per cent lower than the closest competition from a comparable recently launched project - Far East Organization's Centro Residences next to Ang Mo Kio Hub, which was released last month at an average price of $1,150 psf. However, Trevista's units are generally bigger than Centro's so in absolute dollar quantum per unit, the price difference between the two projects may be less.

The smallest units at Trevista - studios and apartments with one bedroom plus study - were the first to sell out yesterday. Some agents were seen armed with blank cheques from clients keen to secure the better units and who had given them authorisation to book units on their behalf.

Choice Homes CEO Margaret Goh had noted on Thursday that Trevista is the first private condo to be launched in the mature Toa Payoh estate since 1996. That was when City Developments Ltd launched the freehold Trellis Towers at an initial average price of $900 psf, according to newspaper reports at the time.

With 400 units or two-thirds of the total units in Trevista released by yesterday evening, Choice Homes stopped issuing queue numbers after 9pm and told those streaming into the showflat site to return the next day.

The co-op is expected to make further units available over the weekend to cater to demand. Trevista comprises a total of 590 units in three 39-storey towers. It is being marketed by CB Richard Ellis and ERA.

Developers sold 10,017 private homes in the first seven months of this year - more than double the 4,264 units in the whole of 2008 when home buying dried up due to the global financial crisis. The unexpectedly strong sales pick-up since February this year came about after developers cut prices. However, they have since been raising prices for some projects - and that has resulted in generally slower take-up.

Property Transactions For Districts 14 To 28 With Contract Dates Between Aug 5th - 11th, 2009

Home Buyers Ignore Ghost Month

Source : The Straits Times, Aug 29, 2009

Toa Payoh condo draws keen interest; developer releases extra units

WHAT ghost month? The traditional lull in home-buying activity during the Hungry Ghost month has been swept aside amid the current property market frenzy.

Buyers were out in force on Friday at the preview of Trevista, a new 590-unit condominium in Toa Payoh, a traditional heartland area. -- ST PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN

Buyers were out in force on Friday at the preview of Trevista, a new 590-unit condominium in Toa Payoh, a traditional heartland area. A queue had formed at least 20 minutes before the showflat doors opened at 2pm. By 5pm, all 210 units released for sale had been snapped up by buyers.

Developer NTUC Choice Homes had said it would release just those units for sale this weekend at an average price of $898 per sq ft (psf). However, the response was so strong that it released another 190 units at higher prices just after 8pm, said a spokesman. She could not say how much higher the prices were.

Of the 210 units, the two-bedders averaged $830,000 while the three- and four-bedroom units averaged $1.065 million and $1.43 million respectively under the normal payment scheme. Owner-occupiers were eyeing the bigger units while investors were mostly keen on the small units.

The 99-year leasehold Trevista, within walking distance of both Braddell and Toa Payoh MRT stations, has 44 one-bedroom units, from 463 sq ft to 721 sq ft. Other units are 861 sq ft to 2,002 sq ft.

The market was expecting big crowds at Trevista as it is the first condo to be launched in the mature Toa Payoh estate since 1996. ERA and CBRE are marketing agents. There was talk that plenty of blank cheques were collected prior to the preview. Some agents expect a sell-out.

It appears that the Hungry Ghost month from Aug 20 to Sept 18 is not an issue for these buyers even though many Taoist households in Toa Payoh burn incense during the month in the belief that this will appease the spirits. Many buyers would have been from the local area.

The property market traditionally goes into a lull during this period as some Chinese consider it inauspicious to buy a house at this time. But in recent years, practicality has often overridden superstition, agents say.

'Some developers may want to wait until the end of the ghost month to launch but those with launch-ready projects will want to capitalise on the buying momentum,' said Savills Residential director Phylicia Ang. 'There are a lot of young buyers who are not very superstitious.'

Also, when the market is slow, buyers may stick to their superstitious beliefs but when the market is hot and a good investment opportunity presents itself, they will not hesitate to jump in, lest they miss the boat, explained Ms Ang.

Another project that previewed yesterday also saw fairly strong demand. The Lenox, a freehold five-storey project along Changi Road, sold 52 units.

It has 76 units - the studio units are just 334 sq ft in size while the three bedders go up to 872 sq ft, and three shops.

Sources said it was priced around $1,000 to $1,100 psf, but the total quantum is low as the units are small.

Another freehold project, Trizon @ Mount Sinai by Singapore Land, will start its public preview today at $1,300 psf to $1,500 psf.

Some units have been sold as a staff preview and a sale exhibition in Jakarta was held recently, sources said.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Initial Phase Of Trevista Condo Going At $898 PSF On Average

Source : The Business Times, August 28 2009

This is about 20 per cent lower than Centro Residences, priced at $1,150 psf on average

NTUC Choice Homes Co-operative is pricing the initial phase of its Trevista condo at Toa Payoh, which previews today, at an average price of $898 per square foot. This is about 20 per cent lower than Far East Organization's Centro Residences next to Ang Mo Kio Hub, priced at $1,150 psf on average and released last month.

Centro Residences by Far East Organization is priced lower than NTUC Choice Homes’ Trevista condo. – Far East Organization

However, as Trevista's units are generally larger than Centro's, the price differential in absolute terms may be less.

Far East has sold only about 100 units - an outcome some market watchers see as due to price resistance.

Both projects are on 99-year leasehold.

Trevista is near Braddell MRT Station and within walking distance of shopping and other amenities at HDB Hub and Toa Payoh Central. Centro, a 34-storey project with 329 units, is right next to Ang Mo Kio Hub and opposite Ang Mo Kio MRT Station.

The $898 psf and $1,150 psf average prices for the two projects are for normal progress payment schemes. Buyers who opt for the interest absorption scheme will pay 2 per cent more at Trevista and 4 per cent more at Centro. So far, none of Centro's buyers has opted for interest absorption.

NTUC Choice Homes said yesterday that the absolute price quantums at Trevista on average are about $830,000 for a two-bedroom unit, $1.065 million for a three-bedder, and $1.43 million for a four-bedroom apartment, on a normal progress payment scheme.

The developer is releasing 210 units this weekend, comprising mostly two, three and four-bedroom apartments. The project has a total of 590 units in three 39-storey towers.

Choice Homes has invited business associates, NTUC union members and members of the public who have registered interest in the project for today's preview. The co-op is extending special benefits to union members for a 'limited period during the preview'.

Each member who buys a Trevista unit will be given 55,000 LinkPoints as well as one of three other benefits, each worth up to $6,000 - a free NTUC Income Mortgage Protection Plan; an integrated fridge; or a family cash rebate for union members living near their parents or children residing in Toa Payoh or for multiple family-purchases of units.

Trevista is being marketed by CB Richard Ellis and ERA.

Over in the Mount Sinai area, Singapore Land is previewing its freehold Trizon condo this weekend at between $1,300 and $1,500 psf. However, prices are likely to be lower for ground-floor units with private enclosed space.

SingLand is offering only a normal progress payment scheme. It is developing the 24-storey condo, which will have 289 units, on the former Himiko Court site that it bought in May 2007 for $336 million. This works out to $821 psf of potential gross floor area, including an estimated $1.07 million development charge.

职总大巴窑公寓 平均尺价未过千

Source : 《联合早报》August 28, 2009

备受瞩目的大巴窑共管公寓Trevista,售价定得比市场原本预期来得低,平均尺价不但不超过千元,而且还低于900元。

职总安居(NTUC Choice Homes)昨天宣布,将这个99年地契共管公寓的平均尺价定在898元。它将在这个周末的预售活动中,推出首210个单位供买家选购。

Trevista将在这个周末的预售活动中,推出首210个单位供买家选购。

对于这个定价,一些市场人士猜测,职总安居是否为了尽其社会责任,而特意将平均售价压低下来?

职总安居总裁吴莉莉昨天说:“我们认为这是个物有所值的定价,也是一个人们负担得起的价格(accessible pricing)。至于销售反应就让市场来决定吧!”

一名ERA产业经纪告诉记者,她的同行已经在过去几个星期收到了许多空白支票,因此她相信今天的示范单位将会“爆满”,场面也会非常“混乱”。她透露,她也在几天前收到一张空白支票,客户愿意出百多万元来预订一间两卧房式单位。

公众要明天才能参观示范单位

Trevista的预售活动将在今天下午2时优先开放示范单位给工会和基层领袖参观,3时则开放给职总会员,以及事先向房屋经纪登记的买家进场。一般公众要等到明天才能够参观示范单位。

位于大巴窑2巷和3巷之间的Trevista共管公寓,相当靠近布莱德地铁站,共有590个单位。它最近受到市场的高度瞩目,主要是因为许多市场人士相当关切,职总安居会怎么为这个市郊的99年地契共管公寓定价?

大巴窑已经十年没有新的共管公寓推出,再加上两个地铁站以外的中景峰(Centro @ Ang Mo Kio),最近以每平方英尺1150元“起跳”,创下历来邻里组屋区99年地契共管公寓的新高,令人咋舌,所以不少人关注,这个“地点大众化”的邻里共管公寓,尺价是否一点也不大众化?

在这之前,房屋经纪开给买家的指示价格,一直都在每平方英尺大约1100元左右,一些小型单位的价格甚至叫到每平方英尺1200元。

不过,本报一个多星期前的一篇评论曾指出,全国职工总会在1995年11月创立职总安居的目的,是为新加坡人提供他们负担得起,而且物有所值的房子,因此,职总安居或许会为了其社会使命,而故意压低Trevista的价格,以不超过每平方英尺1000元来发售这个项目。

根据职总安居昨天发表的文告,Trevista的两卧房式单位平均售价大约是83万元,三卧房式单位的平均售价大约是106万5000元,四卧房式单位的平均售价则是143万元。

Trevista两卧房式单位面积介于861至1249平方英尺;三卧房式单位面积介于1098至1615平方英尺;四卧房式单位的面积介于1561至2002平方英尺。

一名潜在买家(胡小姐,33岁)说:“照这个价钱来看,两卧房式单位的尺价大多应该是在960元左右,尺价在900元以下的应该是阳台比较大的单位。这个价钱虽然比我原本想象中低,不过也不便宜。”

一些读者之前也向本报反映,职总身为一家非牟利机构,实在不应该希望赚取暴利,以千元以上的尺价来发售Trevista。

本报之前的评论指出,如果职总安居以每平方英尺1100元来推出Trevista,将能赚取1亿5000万元的暴利。这是因为一些分析员估计,职总安居在这个项目的成本大约是容积率每平方英尺800元。

昨天,相关人士表示,由于Trevista的楼高达39层,停车场又建在地下,所以建筑成本会比一般共管公寓来得高,并不只每平方英尺800元,而是较接近每平方英尺850元。

职总安居这次将Trevista的实际推出价格,定在每平方英尺平均898元,远远低于市场预测,估计盈利应该是在两三千万元左右。

Friday, August 28, 2009

Median Non-Landed Subsale Price Rises 18%

Source : The Business Times, August 27, 2009

THE median subsale price of non-landed private residential properties increased 18.1 per cent from $813 psf in Q1 this year to $960 psf in Q2, an analysis of caveats by DTZ shows. It attributed the increase to more higher-end properties transacted in Q2 as well as price appreciation in the quarter.


















The most popular subsale project in the April to June 2009 period was Rivergate, with 105 units changing hands - or nearly a fifth of the total 545 units in the freehold project located in the Robertson Quay area. The project obtained Temporary Occupation Permit in Q1.

Rivergate's median subsale price increased from $1,200 psf in Q1 2009 to $1,400 psf in Q2. Caveats for subsales in July and August are starting to stream in and the deals have been done at prices ranging from $1,400 to $1,775 psf, or a median price of $1,600 psf.

The next most popular subsale project in Q2 was City Square Residences at Kitchener Road - with 57 deals done at a median price of $893 psf, up 13 per cent from the $791 psf median price on 43 units transacted in the first quarter. In July to August, three units at the freehold condominium were sold, at prices ranging from $1,000 psf to $1,104 psf.

Median subsale price at Casa Merah, a 99-year leasehold condo near Tanah Merah MRT Station, has gone up from $658 psf in Q1 to $691 psf in Q2 to $734 psf in July to August. The latest price is 11.6 per cent above the Q1 level. Twenty subsales were done in the project in July to August - probably helped by the sellout preview of Optima @ Tanah Merah nearby a few weeks ago.

Over in the Buangkok MRT vicinity, 11 units were sold at The Quartz in the subsale market in July to August at a median price of $699 psf, 15.7 per cent higher than the Q1 median subsale price of $604 psf.

In the Katong area, the median subsale price for One Amber rose from $830 psf in Q1 to $1,015 psf in July to August - or a 22.3 per cent price gain. In the same period, the median subsale price for Icon in the Tanjong Pagar area appreciated 26.2 per cent from $1,144 psf to $1,444 psf.

Subsales are secondary market deals in projects that have yet to obtain Certificate of Statutory Completion.

Homes Of Over $1.5m Cut Bigger Slice Of Q2 Deals

Source : The Business Times, August 27, 2009

They make up 22% of total transactions, compared with 10% a quarter earlier

Improved sentiment in the private residential sector has filtered from the mass market to the upper tiers in the second quarter of this year, an analysis of caveats shows.

The proportion of caveats in Q2 for private housing transactions above $1.5-million was bigger than in Q1.

A study by DTZ shows that 22 per cent of transactions in Q2 were for deals above $1.5 million, compared with just 10 per cent in Q1.

Also, the number of transactions in the $1,500-1,999 per square foot (psf) range jumped more than 10 times, from 34 units in Q1 to 369 in Q2. And the number of deals for units costing $2,000 psf or more rose from just 10 in Q1 to 67 in Q2.

Another indicator of activity spreading to the higher end of the market is that a quarter of caveats lodged in Q2 were for properties in the prime districts 9,10 and 11, up from 14 per cent in Q1.

Buyers with private addresses accounted for 56 per cent of private home purchases in Q2, up from 44 per cent in Q1. This reflects a spillover of buying from the mass market to the upper tiers, DTZ said.

Conversely, HDB upgraders' share of caveats lodged for private home purchases slipped from 56 per cent in Q1 to 44 per cent in Q2.

'HDB upgraders have been able to participate in the current home buying wave due partly to the wealth effect brought about by rising HDB resale prices,' said DTZ South-east Asia research head Chua Chor Hoon.

'As well, wages went up in the past few years prior to the stagnation and wage cuts seen last year and this year. As a result, prices of entry-level private condos are generally still quite affordable for HDB upgraders.

'But if developers keep on increasing prices, mass-market private condos will become less affordable again to HDB upgraders.'

DTZ's analysis shows that 75 per cent of total private housing deals involving buyers with HDB addresses were at or below $1 million in Q2, down from 87 per cent in Q1.

Also, 37 per cent of buyers with HDB addresses picked up properties in the $600,001-800,000 band in Q2. In contrast, 60 per cent of buyers with private addresses purchased units costing above $1 million.

DTZ found that buyers with HDB addresses acquired smaller homes than buyers with private addresses.

It said that 77 per cent of purchases involving HDB upgraders were for homes up to 1,400 sq ft, compared with 52 per cent of transactions by buyers with private addresses in Q2.

The property consultancy also said that 88 per cent of purchases by HDB upgraders were for homes outside districts 9, 10 and 11. HDB upgraders bought mostly mass-market condos. Their most popular picks were Mi Casa in Choa Chu Kang and Double Bay Residences in Simei, with respective median selling prices of $633 psf and $663 psf.

Looking ahead, Ms Chua reckoned that activity will continue to filter to the upper levels of the private housing market for the rest of this year in tandem with a general improvement in the Singapore economy.

'As well, most economies seem to have seen their worst and are improving,' she said. ' That will help to bring back more foreign buyers to the Singapore property market.'

Some market watchers said that whether the upper end of the market sees more transactions hinges partly on developers' willingness to launch more high-end and luxury projects.

But Knight Frank executive director (residential) Peter Ow reckoned that the likelihood of a significant pick-up in launches over the next few months in these segments is slim.

'We can see that for the mass-market and mid-tier projects, the take-up rate slows when developers raise prices,' he said.

Property Transactions For Districts 1 To 22 With Contract Dates Between Aug 5th - 11th, 2009

2 GCBs At Queen Astrid Park To Be Auctioned

Source : The Business Times, August 27, 2009

They are to be sold together as the land is yet to be divided into 2 titles

Two good class bungalows (GCBs) at Queen Astrid Park will be auctioned together by TM Asia Life Singapore as part of its plan to dispose of non-core assets.

'We are seeking offers in excess of $36 million, which works out to $890 per sq ft of the land area,' said Irinn Lee, auctioneer and director at Credo Real Estate, which will conduct the auction.

'Going by recent sales of GCBs and the condition of the houses, which overlook lower-lying bungalows, we believe they may even be knocked down at auction well above $36 million.'

The bungalows - numbers 29 and 29A Queen Astrid Park - sit on a sprawling 40,453 sq ft site.

They are for sale to one buyer as the land is yet to be sub-divided into two titles.

The bungalows were built around 1999 and each has a built-up area of about 8,500 sq ft. The auction will take place on Sept 24.

Ms Lee said that the values of GCBs in Queen Astrid Park have held up well, even during down markets.

In June last year, a 10-year-old house at No 1 Queen Astrid Gardens, on a 15,680 sq ft site, was sold for $20 million or $1,276 psf.

And in November last year, an old bungalow at No 25 Queen Astrid Park, on 38,549 sq ft of land, was sold for $31.8 million or $825 psf.

Sales of GCBs have picked up over the past few months as high-net-worth individuals stepped up purchases.

The action started in April when $56 million of GCBs were transacted. It gathered steam in May and June, when $188 million of deals were done each month.

Then in July, more than 20 GCBs changed hands for more than $300 million.

In contrast, GCB sales totalled only $27.5 million in the first quarter of this year.

GCBs are the premier form of housing in Singapore.

They are confined to 39 designated areas and there is an estimated total stock of about 2,500 units only.

More Buyers Now Going For Pricier Homes

Source : The Straits Times, Aug 27, 2009

THE property boom is fast spreading to the upper reaches of the market, with more people buying premium-priced homes, according to data from property consultancy DTZ.

The DTZ data highlights that 25 per cent of property hunters snapped up homes in the prime 9, 10 and 11 districts in the second quarter, up from 14 per cent in the first quarter. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

The firm's analysis of caveats lodged shows that 22 per cent of total private home sales in the second quarter were for homes priced above $1.5 million, compared to 10 per cent in the first quarter.

Buyers living in private residences bought 4,651 homes between April and June, more than the 3,710 homes purchased by HDB-based buyers. DTZ said that this showed a spillover of demand from the mass market to the mid- and higher-tier segments.

It is a turnaround from the first quarter, when HDB upgraders and first-time buyers outnumbered buyers living in private homes. Seven in 10 buyers of new private homes in the first three months of the year had Housing Board addresses.

















The DTZ data highlights that 25 per cent of property hunters snapped up homes in the prime 9, 10 and 11 districts in the second quarter, up from 14 per cent in the first quarter. It was the first time in 11/2 years that sales in prime districts exceeded 20 per cent of total sales.

DTZ head of South-east Asia research Chua Chor Hoon said: 'We have definitely seen more investors coming back in recent months... As private home prices have corrected 10 to 33 per cent from their 2007 peak to the lows of the first quarter of 2009, Singapore households have ploughed savings accumulated during the prosperous years in 2004 to 2007 into the property market.'

Resilient HDB resale prices have created a wealth boost for HDB upgraders, causing the proportion of buyers with HDB addresses in the second quarter to reach 44 per cent. Though a smaller proportion than in the first quarter, this was well ahead of the 29 per cent seen in 2006 when the market started to pick up, notes DTZ. HDB upgraders and first-time homebuyers typically buy into mass market condominiums, which are usually lower-priced homes in suburban areas.

In the second quarter, about 75 per cent of buyers living in HDB flats bought homes for less than $1 million. Nearly half spent from $600,001 to $800,000. In comparison, some 60 per cent of buyers living in private homes bought units costing more than $1 million.

A larger group of buyers living in HDB flats bought smaller units of 1,400 sq ft or below. This can prove to be more affordable as the total quantum price can be relatively low, even if the per sq ft price is on the high side, experts said.

Keen buying interest spilled into the secondary market, with sub-sales of non-landed homes trebling to 1,200 units in the second quarter. The sub-sale price of these homes rose 18 per cent to $960 per sq ft (psf) from $813 psf, said DTZ.

Foreign buyer numbers rose, but they still bought only 15 per cent of private homes priced above $1,110 psf in the second quarter, compared with 29 per cent for the whole of 2006. Such buyers are increasingly moving to mid-tier properties on the city fringes, DTZ observed.

Ms Chua predicted more units to be transacted at $1.5 million-and-above in the current quarter, as more projects in the $1,500 psf to $2,000 psf price bracket came onto the market in July and August.

But if private home prices continue to move far ahead of HDB resale prices, HDB upgraders could be forced to pull back, said Jones Lang LaSalle's head of research for South-east Asia, Chua Yang Liang.

Foreign Buyers Warm To Mid-Tier City-Fringe Homes

Source : The Business Times, August 27 2009

Q2 resurgence sees Indonesians pick up 5 times the number they bought in Q1

Foreign buying of private homes rose in Q2 but is not back in full force in terms of its share of higher-priced transactions, according to a caveats analysis by DTZ. The quarter also saw a resurgence of purchases by Indonesians, who were the top buyers in the upper-tier segments.

Foreigners, excluding Singapore permanent residents (PRs), made up only 15 per cent of those who bought private homes costing over $1,110 per square foot (psf) in Q2 2009, much lower than their 29 per cent share in 2006 when the property market began to heat up.

In terms of absolute price quantums, too, non-PR foreigners made up 14 per cent of total transactions done at above $1.5 million in Q2 2009 - considerably below the 20 per cent figure in 2006.

'The profile of foreigners has changed gradually over time. They are increasingly moving to mid-tier homes located at the city fringes,' DTZ said.

Knight Frank executive director (residential) Peter Ow said the trend is also due to several city-fringe projects being launched recently in locations such as Novena and Holland Road at prices that foreign buyers have found attractive.

'Their prices are about 30-40 per cent lower than prime Orchard Road properties with similar-quality finishes. And most of these projects are near MRT stations and often 10 minutes' drive to Orchard Road,' he added.

DTZ's analysis showed that homes in the prime districts of 9, 10 and 11, as well as district 15, accounted for 47 per cent of total private homes bought by non-PR foreigners in Q2 - much lower than a 62 per cent share in 2006.

The total number of private homes bought by both PRs and non-PR foreigners more than trebled from 497 units in Q1 to 1,678 units in Q2.

The most popular projects among non-PR foreigners in Q2 were Rivergate (33 purchases), The Arte (31 units), Martin Place Residences (26 units) and The Lakeshore (23 units).

Among PRs, their top picks were The Arte, Martin Place Residences, The Lakeshore, Mi Casa and Melville Park.

The second quarter saw a big resurgence in Indonesian buying. They picked up 349 units in Q2, almost five times the 70 units they bought in Q1. As a result, Indonesians accounted for 21 per cent of private homes bought by foreigners and PRs, up significantly from a 14 per cent share in Q1.

However, they still trailed Malaysians, who made up the lion's share or 29 per cent of purchases by foreigners and PRs. Mainland Chinese accounted for 15 per cent and Indian citizens, 12 per cent.

Although Indonesians made up about one-fifth of total private residential purchases by PRs and non-PR foreigners, they bought one-third of homes costing above $1,110 psf that were picked up by foreigners and PRs in Q2.

In terms of absolute price quantums, Indonesians also had a one-third share of total purchases by PRs and non-PR foreigners done at above $1.5 million in Q2.

优质洋房市场续升温

Source : 《联合早报》August 27, 2009

优质洋房(Good Class Bungalow)市场进一步升温,又有两栋位于荷兰路一带的优质洋房,将被推上拍卖台寻找买家。

负责这项拍卖活动的齐乐行(Credo)说,两栋位于爱士特女皇园(Queen Astrid Park)29号和29A号的优质洋房,占地4万零453平方英尺,必须卖给同一名买家,因为它们还没有申请分割成两张独立的地契。

两栋即将拍卖的爱士特女皇园优质洋房,必须卖给同一名买家,因为它们共同拥有一张地契。(Credo提供)

这两栋别墅的业主是TM亚洲人寿(TM Asia Life),这家保险公司持有这两栋别墅已数十年,它在1999年重建了这两栋别墅,目前两栋别墅的楼面各约8500平方英尺,都拥有泳池。

拍卖会将在下月24日举行。齐乐行透露,它希望以3600万元以上,即每平方英尺890元来帮业主卖出这两栋别墅。“从最近优质洋房的交易情况,以及这两栋别墅本身的条件来看,我们相信拍卖会上的出价可能远远超出3600万元。”

它认为,这两栋别墅非常适合大家庭居住,例如两个兄弟可以联手买下这两栋别墅,一个分占一栋,以便彼此照应。它也适合投资者自己住一间,另外一间租出去。

齐乐行指出,在39个优质洋房区内,爱士特女皇园是最受欢迎的其中一个区。即使是雷曼兄弟倒闭后的楼市低潮期,这一区的优质洋房价格仍然持高。例如2008年11月,位于爱士特女皇园25号的一栋老洋房仍然以3180万元,即每平方英尺825元成交。

2008年6月,一栋位于爱士特女皇园1号、只有10年屋龄的洋房,则以2000万元,即每平方英尺1276元成交。

市场人士说,本地优质洋房市场是在今年4月开始“动”起来的,单单4月份就有总值5600万元的优质洋房成交,5月和6月的交易总额都各别攀升,7月份更进一步飙涨至3亿元以上。

市场估计,过去七个月来,本地已有大约50栋优质洋房转手,交易总值超过8亿元。齐乐行董事经理卡南吉透露,今年来优质洋房价格估计已经攀升了10%至20%。

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another Reserve List Site Triggered For Release

Source : The Business Times, August 25, 2009

Developer has undertaken to bid at least $200 psf ppr for Serangoon condo site

For the fourth time in about a month, a 99-year leasehold site on the government's reserve list has been triggered for release, as developers seek to replenish their landbanks with suburban condo land after the run-up in home sales.

Market watchers expect more successful applications from developers for the launch of reserve-list sites in the coming months. The latest plot is attractively located at Serangoon Ave 3. It is right next to Lorong Chuan MRT Station and not far off from the Australian International School.

A developer, not named so far, has undertaken to bid at least $83.7 million or about $200 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) for the site, which consultants say can be developed into a condominium with about 300-370 units, depending on units sizes and mix.

Consultants polled by BT generally expect top bids for the plum site to be in the $350-450 psf ppr range, with resulting breakeven costs of about $700-850 psf and target selling prices of $800-1,100 psf on average.

DTZ's head of SE Asia research Chua Chor Hoon notes that units in the Goldenhill Park Condo and Amaranda Gardens nearby have transacted at about $810 psf to $950 psf in the past three months. She projects top bids of about $370-450 psf ppr for the latest plot and reckons that the bidders could be eyeing average selling prices of $1,000 to $1,100 psf when the project on the site is ready for launch in about a year.

Urban Redevelopment Authority will launch the tender for the site in about two weeks. Competition will be hot, with more than 10 bids expected.

Last week, the tender for a condo plot at Chestnut Avenue - less attractively located than the latest land parcel - pulled 13 bids and a much-higher-than-expected top bid of $280 psf ppr by a City Developments and Hong Realty tie-up. The two other reserve list sites triggered recently and whose tenders have yet to close are a condo site at Dakota Crescent and a commercial and residential plot at the corner of Yio Chu Kang and Seletar roads.

Knight Frank executive director (residential) Peter Ow says a condo on the latest plot next to Lorong Chuan MRT will appeal to investors looking to rent out apartments to Australian expat families, given the site's proximity to the Australian International School.

'There's also a good base of demand from HDB upgraders in the Serangoon and Ang Mo Kio vicinities. In addition, some of those living in the surrounding landed estates may be keen to buy a condo unit for their children or as investment,' he adds. Mr Ow expects the highest bids for the land parcel to be about $350-$450 psf ppr, reflecting a breakeven cost of $700-850 psf.

A condo on the plot will be just one station away from Serangoon MRT, where the 'nex' mall is coming up. 'The site is in an established housing estate, with both landed homes and condos, and is also near neighbourhood schools,' observed Ngee Ann Polytechnic real estate lecturer Nicholas Mak. His projection of top bids at $240-315 psf ppr, however, was the lowest of the four property market watchers polled by BT yesterday.

Colliers International executive director (investment sales) Ho Eng Joo, who forecasts top bids in the $350-400 psf ppr band, expects developers to trigger more sites for launch from the reserve list.

The government will release a site in this list for tender only upon successful application by a developer that undertakes to offer a minimum price that is acceptable to the state. Still available on the reserve list are sites that can yield condos near Bishan, Bartley and Bedok MRT stations. Also on offer are plots in places like Yishun, Tampines, Upper Thomson, Jalan Jurong Kechil and Upper Changi Road North.

While developers did not buy residential land last year during the global financial crisis when home sales dried up and funding was tight, they enjoyed a sudden, strong run-up in homes sales between February and July that has left even many developers surprised.

This has had the effect of shrinking the supply pipeline of mass-market homes, especially those on 99-year leasehold sites bought at state tenders. This has tempted developers generally to raise prices across various tiers of the market. However, lately some buyers have started to respond by withdrawing to the sidelines again either because they are priced out or they feel prices are starting to run away again.

A good gauge of affordability and resistance levels will emerge later this week when NTUC Choice Homes previews its 590-unit Trevista condo in Toa Payoh.

Prime Home Prices May Rise 18% By End 2010: UBS

Source : The Business Times, August 26, 2009

The analysts say mass launch prices have hit 2007 peak, and may stagnate

LAUNCH prices for new private homes rose 10 per cent and 18 per cent in prime and mass districts respectively in the first half of 2009, according to UBS Investment Research.

On the back of this, analysts Regina Lim and Michael Lim now expect prime prices to rise 18 per cent from here to 2007 peak by end 2010, as interest continues to improve and foreigners start to buy. However, luxury prices are not expected to reach the $4,000-$4,500 per square foot (psf) levels seen in 2007. By contrast, mass launch prices have reached the 2007 peak due to fervent buying by locals and prices could stagnate at current levels, the analysts said in an Aug 24 report: 'For mass market launch prices, we believe they could stagnate at current levels after rising around 20 per cent in 2009.'

UBS' research also showed that most of the demand for private homes this year came from local buyers. In the first seven months of 2009, developers sold over 10,100 units, mostly in mass market condominiums where buyers were largely Singaporeans.

'In H1 2009, we saw a sharp increase in buyers who currently live in public housing (HDB),' said the report. For new sales, 54 per cent of buyers had HDB addresses, compared with 24 per cent in 2007. For resale transactions, 44 per cent of buyers had HDB addresses, compared with 22 per cent in 2007. In addition, a large portion of non-Singaporean buyers were permanent residents.

Looking ahead, UBS believes that demand for prime residential units will grow as interest grows among foreigners. 'We saw signs of improvement for prime units in Q2 2009,' said the report. 'In Q2 2009, resale transactions in the prime districts increased more than five times to 230 a month, from 42 a month in Q1. Prime resale transactions now make up 24 per cent of all resale transactions, compared with 16 per cent in Q1 2009 and 30 per cent in Q1 2007.'

The price growth that UBS expects will be supported by low completions supply, the analysts said. UBS expects the total number of homes to be completed from 2009 to 2015 to be around 16,000 per year - similar to the levels in 2000-2008.

'We believe this is not excessive, if we expect population growth to be 2.4 per cent, which translates to around 116,000 persons per annum,' said the report. 'We believe that supply is reasonable and we expect rental growth in 2009-2015 to be at least 5 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) as completions are similar to 2000-2008, yet population growth is expected to be 15-20 per cent higher.'

However, other analysts here are less bullish. RBS Singapore analyst Fera Wirawan said recently that residential property prices could fall 10 per cent to 20 per cent over the next 12 months on back of anti-speculative measures, falling rental yields and increasing supply.

Based on her analysis, prices of mass-market homes are now at peak 2007 levels, while prices of mid-tier and high-end homes are just 8 per cent and 22 per cent off their peaks respectively.

Leng Beng Lays Down Marker With Chestnut Bid

Source : The Business Times, August 26, 2009

Toppish price may send inadvertent signal to restart confirmed list sales

EVEN as the dust settles on Hong Leong Group's top bid at last week's tender for a 99-year condo site at Chestnut Avenue, a discussion in some circles now centres on whether Hong Leong overpaid for the site.

As expected, Housing & Development Board said yesterday evening it has awarded the site to Sunny Vista Developments (a subsidiary of City Developments) and Hong Realty.

The two companies are part of the Hong Leong Group and teamed up to place the top bid of $143.68 million, which works out to a much-higher-than-expected land cost of $280 psf per plot ratio (psf ppr).

Some rival developers believe Hong Leong's breakeven cost may be around the $600 psf mark and its projected average selling price near the $700 psf level. Sources, however, suggest the group may have been eyeing a much higher average price, in the high-$800 psf range, when it cast its bid.

That would set a benchmark for a 99-year leasehold condo in the area.

Hong Leong Group executive chairman Kwek Leng Beng said in a written reply to BT: 'We can see potential in an area where some others may not... We are very familiar with this locality... There is now a lack of good and affordable residential developments in the vicinity. We are confident that there is a vibrant market there.'

The tender attracted 13 bids and marked the first time in about a year that the government had sold land for private residential development. Clearly, developers are famished for land after a stretch of strong housing sales over the past six months. The Chestnut Avenue plot in the Bukit Panjang area was on the government's reserve list when it was triggered for release after a successful application by a developer that undertook to bid at least $62 million or about $121 psf ppr.

Here are some indicators of Hong Leong's bullishness. Its bid was 2.3 times the minimum price. Seven of the 13 bids were bunched in the $169-182 psf ppr range; the winning bid was 54 to 66 per cent above this.

Hong Leong's bid was 11.3 per cent higher than the next highest offer of $251.60 psf ppr placed by rival Far East Organization. The site is not near an MRT station but one advantage of its location is that units on the upper floors of a condo on the site will enjoy views of the nature reserve next to Upper Peirce Reservoir. Hong Leong's new project on the site is expected to be profitable, but it remains to be seen just how high a price it will be able to achieve.

The aggressive winning bid has set the stage for toppish bids at next month's tender for a 'hotter' site at Dakota Crescent next to an MRT station, fronting Geylang River and much closer to the city. It will also raise pressure on other reserve list sites that are triggered. In other words, land prices are set to escalate. Ditto for the prices at which developers later market new projects on these sites.

Mr Kwek insists that the outcome of the Chestnut Avenue tender shows the reserve list system - where the government launches a site for tender only upon successful application by a developer - is working well. 'The property market has still not fully recovered yet and although the economy is improving, it has not recovered too,' he added.

Last October, the government suspended sales of sites on the confirmed list, where sites are launched for tender according to scheduled dates. Instead, it has offered sites solely through the reserve list; this market-led approach was thought to be suitable amid the housing sales slump at the time.

However, in the first seven months of this year, developers sold a stunning 10,017 private homes - more than double the 4,264 units they sold in the whole of 2008. This has enabled developers to flex their muscles. Prices of mass-market condos today are about 10-15 per cent higher than the lows of Jan-Feb 2009, according to one developer's estimate.

One reading of last week's tender result is that some developers do not believe the pace of land sales from the reserve list will be fast enough for them to replenish their mass-market housing landbanks - despite the fact that three such sites had already been triggered in the one month preceding last week's tender close. And the likes of Mr Kwek thus need to bid aggressively to get their hands quickly on some much-needed land.

Here's a possible signal he may have inadvertently sent to the authorities, who are keen to assure the home buying public there is enough supply of private homes and land: please expedite the release of more land.

There may be a case now for government to transfer a few of the nicer sites from the current reserve list to the confirmed list, and start launching them soon. It could also replenish the reserve list.

But selling land only through the reserve list - where government waits for a developer to apply for a site and undertake to bid at a minimum price acceptable to the state before it launches the site - can take some time.

It may be opportune for government to take the unprecedented step of restarting confirmed list land sales midway through the current suspension for H2 2009.

Time is of the essence now as developers run out of land to build entry-level private condos on. And keeping the dream of upgrading to a private condo within reach of HDB upgraders is an important part of the Singapore housing story.

Irish PM Hints At Moves Beyond Property Tax

Source : The Business Times, August 25, 2009

(DUBLIN) A tax on Irish property is not a done deal as part of efforts to squeeze the burgeoning budget deficit, Prime Minister Brian Cowen said in an interview.

'I'm not wedded to property tax,' Mr Cowen told the Sunday Independent: 'But I don't want that to be suggested that we are not prepared to take the decisions that need to be made if that is what is deemed necessary. We have very low taxes on property in this country, if any.'

Ireland's Commission on Taxation has finished a government-sponsored report on possible changes to the system of taxation starting next year and local media have reported that it has recommended introducing a property tax based on each home's value to replace a stamp duty tied to property sales.

Ireland is targeting 1.75 billion euros (S$3.6 billion) in additional tax revenues and 2.25 billion euros in spending cuts next year on top of existing measures unveiled as part of a five-year austerity plan to get its deficit, proportionately the worst on the euro zone, under control.

Mr Cowen, whose popularity levels are at record lows amid dissatisfaction over his handling of the economy, faces a slew of tests in the autumn, including a second referendum on the European Union's reform treaty, the creation of a 'bad bank' to deal with the financial crisis and another tough budget.

'There are a lot of difficult political decisions coming down the line,' he said in a rare interview.

Mr Cowen's Fianna Fail party suffered a rout in local and European elections and two parliamentary deputies recently jumped ship in protest over hospital cuts but the 49-year-old said he was confident he had the support of his colleagues.

'The party knows there is a job of work to be done by government. People are going to have their say in terms of what the position should be,' Mr Cowen said.

'But at the end of the day, we have to close the gap between what taxes are coming in and what is being spent. If we don't do that, we put the whole future at risk.' - Reuters

HK Home Sales This Year Past '08 Total?

Source : The Business Times, August 25, 2009

(HONG KONG) Hong Kong's sales of new private homes in the first eight months of 2009 may have exceeded those during all of last year, Centaline Property Agency Ltd said.

The number of new non-government-built residential units changing hands may have risen to 10,926 from 9,955 for the whole of 2008, Centaline, one of the city's biggest real estate agencies, said in a report on Sunday.

Last year's figure was the lowest since 1996, the realtor said in January.

Home sales in Hong Kong, where luxury residences are Asia's second-most expensive, are being fuelled by record low mortgage rates and near-zero interest payments on bank deposits.

Victor Li, deputy chairman of Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd, the city's second-largest developer by market value, said on Aug 13 that the local property market is 'healthy' and his company may raise prices if sales improve.

The value of new private homes sold may be HK$65.5 billion (S$12.2 billion) in the first eight months, 15 per cent less than the HK$77 billion for 2008, the agency said.

Total housing sales rose for the fourth month in July, Land Registry figures show. Transactions rose 62 per cent to 12,023 from July 2008.

The government agency has not published August data and does not break down deals by new or existing homes. -- Bloomberg

Demand For Mass Market Homes Stable: Wing Tai

Source : The Straits Times, August 26 2009

Chairman is upbeat but expresses uncertainty over high-end segment

SINGAPORE'S property market looks set for recovery, although the ride ahead is not likely to be smooth, according to the chairman of property developer Wing Tai Holdings.

Wing Tai Holdings has sold at least 144 units at the Ascentia Sky development at $1,200 to $1,300 psf. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Mr Cheng Wai Keung, speaking yesterday at Wing Tai's full-year results briefing at Fairmont Singapore, said the mass market segment had probably stabilised and he was cautiously optimistic about the mid-end segment.

The only market area he was not so bullish about was at the high end, where recovery was uncertain in the absence of a global recovery.

Mr Cheng said demand - particularly for mass market homes - had soared in recent months.

Since July 1, Wing Tai has sold 269 units worth $575 million at Belle Vue Residences in Oxley Walk, Ascentia Sky in Alexandra Road and Floridian in Bukit Timah.

This compares with sales of 100 residential units worth $208.5 million for the 12 months to June 30, the end of its financial year.

Liquidity and pent-up demand, particularly in the mass market, had been driving sales, said Mr Cheng.

The economy in Asia and Singapore is not in as bad a shape as people had expected at the beginning of the year, he added. Also, retrenchments have not been as severe as initially thought.

However, the worry of a possible W-shaped recovery remains, said Mr Cheng.

'I would like to say that the market has recovered but, being a cautious person, I cannot believe that it's a V-shaped recovery,' he said.

'The fact remains that the general economy in the West has not recovered. The real economy in the West - which is the engine for the world economy - has far from recovered.'

Mr Cheng mentioned that the property market recovered around 1999 and 2000 from the Asian financial crisis, only to crash again, but quickly added that this time, the whole world had put in place stimulus packages to re-ignite growth.

Wing Tai's chairman stressed that the property market was very sentiment-driven. 'What I can say is that the mass market has probably recovered,' he said.

He pointed out that mass market homes represented good value given that their prices three months ago had still not recovered their 2007 peak.

The high-end segment - where Wing Tai is a keen player - is another story, he said, and required a lot more wealth than is being generated by the economy now.

Wing Tai did manage to sell a few units at Belle Vue for $2,400 per sq ft (psf) recently, although the condo units' average pricing is close to $1,800 psf - which is easily 10 to 15 per cent below the level it would have priced the units at during the 2007 boom, said Mr Cheng.

It has disposed of just under 100 units at the 176-unit Belle Vue. It has also sold at least 144 units at the 373-unit Ascentia Sky at $1,200 to $1,300 psf.

Wing Tai has three other high-end projects in the pipeline. It has no plans yet for these launches, though it may start construction.

Wing Tai reported a 91 per cent drop in net profit to $21 million for the full year ended June 30, mainly due to fair value losses on investment properties of $88 million.

Revenue was up 18 per cent to $507.3 million.

Excluding the fair value losses, net profit was at $108.9 million, down 31 per cent from a year ago.

The group has recommended a dividend payout of four cents - comprising a first and final dividend of three cents and a special dividend of one cent.

This is down from the six cents paid the previous year.

Earnings per share plunged 91 per cent to 2.7 cents for the full year, while net asset value per share was $2.03 at June 30 and unchanged from a year ago.

In this financial year, Wing Tai expects to collect further sales proceeds of $185 million when The Riverine by the Park and Casa Merah are completed.

Its shares closed three cents higher yesterday at $1.81.

Serangoon Site Gets $83.7m Bid

Source : The Straits Times, August 25 2009

It is fourth residential plot triggered for sale since last month

ANOTHER suburban residential site on the Government's reserve list has been triggered for sale, signalling rising developer confidence.

Yesterday, an unnamed developer put in the minimum acceptable bid of $83.7 million, or some $200 per sq ft (psf), for a 1.39ha site in Serangoon Avenue 3.

MAP: LAND PARCEL

Property consultants expect to see tender bids coming in at much higher levels because the site is in an established residential area near an MRT station. The 99-year leasehold site is near Lorong Chuan station - one of the first five stations to open on the Circle Line - as well as the Australian International School.

It has a maximum gross floor area of 38,857 sq m, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority, and can accommodate an estimated 370 housing units.

Nearby condominiums include Chiltern Park, Chuan Park and The Springbloom.

Colliers International director of investment sales Ho Eng Joo expects to see about 10 developers bidding for the site.

'Sentiment is very strong and there are no sizeable private sites available for en bloc sales. Developers are thus going for the government sites as they need to replenish their land banks.'

Strong demand at recent suburban launches has shrunk the pipeline of such condos, Mr Ho added.

Cushman & Wakefield managing director Donald Han said developers are now in a more buoyant mood and looking to replenish their land banks.

'We have been seeing site after site being triggered since July; it shows that the reserve list is working and helping to provide a steady stream of supply.'

Bids for the Serangoon Avenue 3 plot are likely to range from $100 million, or $240 psf per plot ratio (ppr), to $132 million, or $315 psf ppr, predicted property consultant Nicholas Mak, who is expecting between five and 12 bidders.

Mr Han and Mr Ho are more bullish about price and are expecting bids to come in at as high as $350 psf and $400 psf respectively.

With such bids, break-even levels may range from $600 to $700 psf, and the successful developer could be looking to sell the new units at $750 to $850 psf each.

The Serangoon Avenue 3 site - the fourth plot for residential use triggered for sale since last month - was made available for sale via the reserve list system.

Under this sale method, a site goes up for tender only if developers indicate interest by committing to a minimum bid.

Last week, a tender for a suburban condo plot in Chestnut Avenue attracted an impressive 13 bids of which the highest was at $280 psf of gross floor area.

The response was stronger than expected given that the site is located at quite a distance from the nearest LRT station.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Serangoon Site For Tender

Source : The Straits Times, Aug 24, 2009

A RESIDENTIAL site in Serangoon Avenue 3, with a committed bid of $83.7 million from a developer, will be put up for public tender.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said the land parcel was made available for sale through the Reserve List System on Aug 27 last year.

Under the system, the Government will put up a reserve list site for public tender if it receives an application from a developer who commits, by signing an agreement and paying a deposit of 5 per cent of the bid price, to bid for the site at or above the minimum price which is acceptable to the Government.

With a site area of about 1.39 ha, the 99-year leasehold land earmarked for residential development can generate a maximum permissible gross floor area of 38,857sqm.

URA would not release the the name of the developer who has committed to the minimum bid.

URA will launch the public tender for the site in about two weeks. The tender period will be about four weeks.

More details of the land parcel are available on the URA website at http://www.ura.gov.sg/sales/SerangoonAve3(27Aug08)SerangoonAve3-intro(T).html.

Tianjin Eco-City On Track

Source : The Straits Times, Aug 24, 2009

THE global economic crisis has not derailed the progress of Tianjin eco-city, Singapore's joint venture with the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin.

The 11/2 year-old project to turn a 30 sq km barren plot of land into a buzzing, environmentally friendly city has notched 85 investment deals totalling 14 billion yuan (S$3 billion), Tianjin Mayor Huang Xingguo said at a press conference in Singapore on Monday.

The global economic crisis has not derailed the progress of Tianjin eco-city, Singapore's joint venture with the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin. --PHOTO: KEPPEL CORP

Mr Huang is part of a delegation of Chinese officials, led by China's Vice-Premier Wang Qishan, who are in Singapore for an annual series of high-level bilateral meetings. They wind up their visit today.

The next step for the eco-city is to garner more high-quality investments and to get its management software right, Singapore's National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said at a separate press conference.

'Physically, the eco-city is now beginning to take shape and form. Where before it was just barren land (full of) salt pans, I think now you'll see grass, trees (and) buildings,' said Mr Mah.

Physical hardware aside, both sides also agreed to step up cooperation on softer aspects of the development, such as sharing knowhow relating to the management of public housing.

Mr Mah and Mr Huang are both key players in the development of the Tianjin eco-city, which China and Singapore formally agreed to develop in Nov 2007. They co-chair a joint business council on cooperation between Singapore and Tianjin.

Three of the eco-city's highest-profile deals so far are with major property developers in East Asia: Japan's Mitsui Fudosan, China's Shimao Property Holdings and Taiwan's Farglory Group.

Such high-quality investments will help the eco-city meet its long-term target of creating up to 60,000 jobs over the next decade and providing homes to about 350,000 people.

Read the full story in Tuesday's edition of The Straits Times.

薪水追不上房价 中国“80后”置业难

Source : 《联合早报》August 24, 2009

28岁的郑华清最近与太太在北京五环路边买了一套70平方米的房子,25万元(人民币,下同,5万3200新元)的首付和手续费,是汇集了自己和太太过去四年里累积的积蓄,以及双方家长的“赞助”才凑成的。

近年来,在中国房地产价格涨幅领跑薪金涨幅的情况下,像郑华清夫妇这对“80后(1980年后出生)”购房新人的背后,常常有三个家庭在支撑,即:双方父母拿出首付,子女自己完成按揭,或俗称的“四加二”买房模式。

市场人士指出,促成这轮楼市异常火爆的“罪魁祸首”为宽松的信贷政策。(中新社)

以北京为例,刚毕业的大学生每个月收入为3000元左右,而新盘房价每平方米都得上万元。

即使是二手房,在北京五环以内要买一个60多平方米的两居室(即有两个睡房),至少要50多万元,而首付加上装修,没有30万元是不够的。

“啃老族”、“房奴”也是“月光族”

市场人士指出,促成这轮楼市异常火爆的“罪魁祸首”为宽松的信贷政策。(中新社)

月入6000元的郑华清告诉本报:“这么高的房价有几个不是靠父母的?即使这样,买房后,我们夫妇俩接下来20年除了是‘房奴’外,还成了‘月光族’。”

然而,不是每个“80后”都像郑华清那般幸运。家境没那么理想,又或者不想当“啃老族”的,就只好认命,选择租房来解决基本的居住问题。

来自南京的葛欣(30岁)就与当公务员的丈夫住在公租房里,去年底看到北京楼价回落时,他们开始等待时机进场,不料今年三四月份,楼市又出现快速逆转。转眼间,北京各处楼盘都上调价格,夫妇俩只好打消买房的念头。

葛欣说:“今年初我们还在四处找房子,眼见售价离我们能承担的水平越来越远,我们现在索性不看房了。”

中国国家发展改革委、国家统计局上个星期公布,7月份全国70个大中城市房屋销售价格同比上涨1.0%,涨幅比上月扩大0.8个百分点。这是今年以来该数据环比连续第五个月、同比连续第二个月上涨,涨幅也有逐步加大的趋势。

在北京,搜房网新盘数据监控中心的数据显示,房价在过去半年内最高涨幅达82%。在房价超出“80后”负担能力范围的情况下,北京房地产中介机构中大恒基提供的数据显示,7月份北京二手房购买人群中,80后的比例为近年来最低,仅29.63%,比2008年下降了逾10%。

房子贵得离谱不单在北京。官方数据显示,中国70个大中城市里,二手住宅售价于7月份上涨的有42个,其中涨幅最大的是深圳,达9.6%。广东省政府发展研究中心副主任李惠武本月初说,他两个月1万6000元的工资都买不起一平方米的房子。当地每平米的房价一般超过2万元。

市场人士指出,促成这轮楼市异常火爆的“罪魁祸首”为宽松的信贷政策。全球金融危机以来,中国政府鼓励银行多放贷,为市场输入“便宜”的信贷,而房价和股市的快速上扬又刺激了大量投机资金进入楼市和股市,使得中国原本今年内要放出的5万亿元的贷款“预算”,在头几个月就很快用尽。据中国媒体报道,截至今年6月,银行所放出的贷款总额已超过7万亿元。

除此之外,在中国政府动用4万亿元“保增长、扩内需”下,房地产是其中一个推动经济增长的引擎。为了刺激房地产市场,中央和地方政府,在过去一年里不断推出各种辅助政策,其中包括将新房的首付从三成减少至两成、减少购房时的印花税、减少或免去其他的房地产相关税收。

官方的上述动作是希望看到房价上升后能带动建筑业,制造更多的就业机会,进而增加消费者的信心,拉动国内消费市场。不过,在个人薪金追不上房价的情况下,高涨的房价却成了消费的最大阻力。

研究地产经济的北京资源学院企业管理学院院长阎雨受访时指出,环球和中国的经济情况其实没有太大的改善,但一些地方的楼价目前已超过2007年的高峰水平,显然,现在的房价严重偏离了正常的价值。

阎雨认为,同样类别的房子,北京的房价要比美国贵一倍以上:纽约近郊300平米的独栋别墅,现价为60至80万美元(人民币560万元),同样规格的房子在北京,却需要人民币1000万元。

虽然中国政府过去一个多月来已开始采取一些措施控制楼市火爆的情况,阎雨仍担心楼价远远超出一般市民负担能力,可能带来社会不稳定的问题。

阎雨说:“现在的社会越来越脆弱,一个小事件就可能引发国家安全问题。为确保社会和谐发展,政府有必要居安思危,采取更果断的手法。”

他指出,房地产业存在的种种腐败行为,比如相当显著比例的“灰色成本”,不仅增加了广大购房者的经济负担,也使中国房产业和社会走上畸形发展道路,肥了一些人,却苦了下一代。

动辄上百万元的房子,让“80后”望之却步。与长辈不同,“80后”已不再享有单位分房制度。此外,他们在国家经济和生活水平蒸蒸日上的环境中长大,但恐怕没想到自己踏入社会后,要进一步提高生活水平却如此困难,到了谈婚论嫁的年龄连基本住房都无法拥有。他们的自信心难免受挫,甚至感觉自己挤不进时代发展的大潮。

如果广大的“80后”长期陷入买房难的尴尬境地,这一问题有可能会和大学生、农民工就业问题一样,成为政府需要伤脑筋的又一个难题。(上篇)

绝望中突发奇想

眼见楼价直冲云霄,买房梦越来越遥不可及,一些人已到了绝望的地步,甚至认为中彩票的几率要比筹足钱买房的可能性来得高。

《京华时报》近日报道,最近北京有一名网民因没钱买房、又不想做“啃老族”而突发奇想,在论坛上发帖召集1500人,每人出100元,凑齐首付买房,然后大家通过抽奖、摇号等方式来决定房子归属。有参与者称,这比中彩票的几率大多了。

发起这个千人集资买房行动的26岁网友“可乐事多了” 说: “反正也买不起房子,何不撞一下运气?结婚也不差这100块钱。”

此外,网上目前还流行一种较为可行的购屋方式——“万人购房团”。购房团理念很简单,多人合伙买房就能跟开发商讨价还价。这样的团在北京、深圳、西安、兰州、济南都能找到。

Monday, August 24, 2009

Vacancy Rate A Key Statistic

Source : The Sunday Times, August 23, 2009

Residential property buyers should zoom in on this in the URA quarterly release

Every quarter, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) releases data on supply and demand in the residential property market.

In this year's second-quarter release, there were 16 annexes filled with many charts, ratios and other statistics. Multiply this by the historical releases, and the amount of data could be mind-boggling.

So, what should one focus on in this buffet of figures? For me, it is the vacancy rate. Residential property buyers should zoom in on this key statistic. It can be found in Annex E-1 of the release.

The vacancy rate is the number of vacant units divided by the total number of available units in Singapore. Previously, the vacancy rate was also expressed by the URA in the inverse way - as the occupancy rate. This is the number of occupied units divided by the total number of available units.

The vacancy rate is important because there is a positive correlation between the occupancy rate and prices. From intuition, this makes sense - a fuller 'Hotel Singapore' would result in higher rents, and thus capital values. The occupancy rate was 94.1 per cent in the second quarter.

Unfortunately, prices tend to lead changes in the occupancy rate by two to three quarters. The key, therefore, is to figure out how the vacancy is likely to change. So, how does the vacancy rate look going forward in the next two years?

The clues are in the URA data, HDB policy and the mechanics of supply and demand.

According to URA data, an additional 8,100 private homes on average have been occupied every year since 1995, notwithstanding three severe economic downturns. With the recovering global economy, we should at least see this number next year.

The opening of the integrated resorts next year, which will attract more foreigners, may push this number even higher.

Here again, the published vacancy rate delivers another nugget, as URA's Annex E-1 shows how it is derived. Despite numerous completions in the first half of the year, the vacancy rate was steady as the number of homes occupied increased by 4,774 in the first half of the year - 2,616 in the second quarter and 2,158 in the first quarter.

This took place despite Singapore's worst recession since independence. It also proved wrong the projections made by a foreign investment bank that hundreds of thousands of foreigners were expected to leave Singapore, thereby affecting occupancy.

This strong underlying demand is probably driven by immigrants. From data published by the Singapore Department of Statistics, growth in the resident population has been driven by the growth in the number of permanent residents (PRs).

From 2000 to last year, the number of citizens grew by 0.6 per cent annually, while that of PRs grew by 5.8 per cent. PRs have been growing at an average rate of almost 22,000 per annum, and they need a roof over their heads.

On the supply side for private residences, there will be only 5,233 completions next year, according to Annex E-2 of the URA quarterly release. Here, I have used expected completions of units under construction and ignored those that are still being planned. It is unlikely that developments which have not broken ground can be completed in 15 months.

This shortfall will push the rental vacancy rate down. I estimate that this will fall from the current 5.9 per cent to below 4.9 per cent.

The last time this happened, in early 2007, rents and capital values moved quite a fair bit. Moreover, unlike in 2006, the cushion of unsold HDB flats is probably no longer available.

Supply relief will come only in 2011, with 9,339 units expected to be completed. As for 2012, it is too early to tell, given the possibility that some developers might complete their recently launched projects early. Hence, the next 12 months appear to signal good times for the residential property market, and perhaps this is what investors and speculators have concluded too.

Speculative interest will wax and wane depending on market conditions. Speculative interest is important because it provides liquidity. It makes it easier for buyers and sellers to perform transactions. And with more transactions, the fair value of an asset is reached more quickly.

Nevertheless, if one feels uneasy about the current rally and is hesitant about investing in a property, there will be other opportunities.

In the investment world, another bus will always come along. In the near term, the United States property market is an opportunity. Investors may want to check out funds that include this bombed-out sector.

In the longer term, Singapore office properties should offer compelling value by 2011, when the oversupply drives vacancy rates up.

The writer is chief executive of financial adviser New Independent. Readers should seek independent advice before making any investment decisions.

Ghost Month Won't Spook Buyers

Source : The Sunday Times, August 23, 2009

Developers go ahead with launches, hoping buying fervour will overcome superstition

Strong buying momentum in the property market is expected to hold up a traditionally slow month of sales in August as the Hungry Ghost Month - the seventh month of the lunar calendar - kicked in last Thursday.

For non-superstitious home buyers, the good news is developers seem to be going full steam ahead with launches.

The property market typically goes into a lull during this period, which ends on Sept 18 this year, as many Chinese consider it inauspicious to make housing commitments, move house or start renovation work at this time.

But practicality often overrides superstition, especially when buyers are presented with attractive options.

Property consultant Nicholas Mak, who is also a Ngee Ann Polytechnic real estate lecturer, said developers would likely want to 'capitalise on the buying momentum and current positive sentiment' and push the projects out.

One keenly watched upcoming launch is NTUC Choice Homes' Trevista, located at the junction of Toa Payoh Lorong 2 and Lorong 3.

The developer told The Sunday Times that the launch will go ahead next weekend, and market watchers are anticipating crowds to swamp the showflat despite the Hungry Ghost festival.

This is primarily due to the popular location of the 590-unit leasehold condominium.

Mr Mak noted that it has been more than 10 years since a condominium was launched in Toa Payoh. 'I won't be surprised if there is a long queue. If it is attractively priced, buyers will bite, regardless of superstition,' he said.

Trevista's marketing agents ERA Asia-Pacific and CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) say the indicative price has not been disclosed by the developer, but Mr Mak reckons it might be priced in the $900 to $1,000 psf range, similar to city-fringe property prices.

The project of three 39-storey blocks will offer the interest absorption scheme, where buyers can postpone the bulk of payment until completion, which is expected to be late 2012.

Elsewhere, in Balestier, estate agents have started marketing special previews for freehold condominium Prestige Heights, developed by the Fragrance Group.

The 18-storey condominium will offer 154 units and is said to be priced from $1,100 psf.

The seventh month weighed heavily on August sales figures last year - only 325 private homes were sold by developers - but this was also coupled with the impact of the global financial crisis.

It is expected to have far less impact this year.

While analysts are predicting that this month is unlikely to match July's stunning figure of 2,767 private units sold, sales will still be healthy, they said.

CBRE executive director of residential Joseph Tan estimates that 1,500 units will be sold this month.

This number includes units that are sold from projects that are currently being marketed as well as new projects that will be launched over the rest of the month.

This number also takes into account that some transactions will spill into September, especially for projects that are launched this week.

The 1,500 level is healthy, considering that since market sentiment improved in March, the monthly sales from March to June ranged between 1,200 and 1,800 units, said Mr Tan.

ERA's associate director, Mr Eugene Lim, observed that the profile of buyers has been changing over the years.

'Things literally came to a standstill five to 10 years ago during the seventh month, but buyers now are younger and are less superstitious,' he said.

But Mr Mak feels the Hungry Ghost Month will still have an impact to a certain extent.

'There are some buyers who will still be reluctant to make big commitments,' he said.

One certainty, he added, is that the period is unlikely to affect prices as developers will not revise prices downwards given the current optimistic sentiment in the property market.

CBRE's Mr Tan said there will be 12 to 15 projects launched during the lunar seventh month this year, including re-launches.

'Generally, if it is a good product, at any time of the year, it will be able to sell,' he said.

1 Semi-D + 1 Cluster House = 1 Flat And $700k Loss

Source : The Straits Times, August 22, 2009

In mid-1990s, many made mistake of thinking prices would keep going up

IN 1995, Mr Zachary Tsai (not his real name) paid nearly $1.3 million for a second house. A general manager with a manufacturing company in his early 40s, he earned a five-figure salary and lived in a semi-detached house he owned in Upper East Coast with his wife and four children.

But pressured by his 'rich and successful' friends, he decided to pool his hard-earned savings of $300,000 with his sister to put down a deposit on a three-storey cluster house in Kew Gate, a 31-unit leasehold development in the Upper East Coast area.

Intending to sell it about 10 years later, and confident of being able to repay the mortgage and make a handsome profit, he took out a 90 per cent bank loan.

Any thought that he would lose his job and house prices would drop like a stone never occurred to him. But the unthinkable became an unpleasant reality.

In 2001, after his employer merged with another company, he lost his job.

He managed to cover monthly payments on the loan with the remnants of his savings, but that did not leave much for his family.

Desperate to make ends meet, he tried to sell the cluster house in which his sister and mother had been living, but for two long years was unable to do it.

Although he managed to secure a new job in 2003, his salary barely covered the monthly payments. Then the Sars crisis hit and property prices plunged further, recalls Mr Tsai, who is now an operational manager in his late 50s. He eventually disposed of the house at a bank foreclosure sale in 2003 for $680,000 - almost half of the original value and $300,000 below valuation. In total, he lost about $700,000 on the house.

The Tsais, who had to sell their semi-detached home to pay off the debt, now own and live in a five-room HDB flat - also in the Upper East Coast area - bought with Mr Tsai's Central Provident Fund savings. 'I've dreamed of owning private property again and going back to a semi-D. But next time I'm not going to think twice - I'm going to think three or four times,' Mr Tsai says.

Home owner M.K. Kung, 42, has also been hit by shrinking values.

She purchased a two-bedder at Yio Chu Kang condo Seasons Park in 1996 with her husband for about $700,000. They are still living there with their child, but she reckons the apartment is now worth only $650,000 or less.

'We have been thinking of upgrading, but it's not easy to sell something when you know you're going to make a loss on it,' says the public accounting executive.

Mr Tsai and Mrs Kung - along with thousands of others - had bought into what PropNex chief executive officer Mohamed Ismail terms 'the myth that prices would only keep going up'.

'Prior to that we had little experience of prices being crushed. Queueing up for two, three days was common, and queue spots were changing hands for $15,000 to $30,000,' he says. Some property analysts draw parallels with the upbeat market we have today, but are keen to point out differences between the last property crash and today's situation.

DTZ's head of South-east Asia research Chua Chor Hoon says: 'The market right now is reminiscent of 1996 in atmosphere with the queues, the packed showrooms and good take-up rates for popular projects.

'But the level of speculation now has not reached the feverish state seen in 1996 and it's still too early to tell whether it will turn out the same way.''

Dr Chua Yang Liang, head of Southeast Asia research at Jones Lang LaSalle, agrees: 'It seems that there is a market euphoria that is quite similar to that in 1996...but the market fundamentals are quite different.'

What may cut the danger of another crash is the fact that properties in many areas are still worth less than at the time of their launch, while others have made only relatively small gains. Prices still have a lot of catching up to do, just to make up for inflation over the years.

Recent transaction data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority website shows that suburban properties launched in 1996 lost more value over the past 13 years than those in prime districts, some of which have actually risen in value.

Prices at Seasons Park, where Mrs Kung lives, have fallen from $610-$670 per sq ft (psf) at launch to around $520 psf now. And Hougang Green units now fetch around $520 psf, down from their average launch price of $560 psf.

At Ardmore Park in Orchard, however, the 2,885 sq ft apartments, launched at an average of $1,850 psf in 1996, have been selling for $1,976-$2,513 psf since August last year.

'The average price of resale leasehold suburban properties in the second quarter of this year was about a quarter below that in the second quarter of 1996; whereas the average price of resale freehold properties in prime districts in the second quarter of this year was about 5 to 10 per cent above that in the second quarter of 1996,' Ms Chua points out.

Ms Tay Huey Ying, director for research and consultancy at Colliers International, explains: 'Prime district prices recovered in the property boom of 2007 but the mass market recovery came later and was short-lived due to the United States sub-prime mortgage crisis.'

Current launches in suburban areas, such as Optima in Tanah Merah and Centro Residences in Ang Mo Kio, have sold for about $810 psf and around $1,170 psf respectively, on average. These are record prices in their districts.

Asked whether such new launches are overvalued, Dr Chua says: 'It's hard to tell now. There are no signs pointing to a major correction...but I don't think the current rate of price increase is sustainable if it is not supported by economic growth.'