Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Modules - SOHO Living

Nestled in the vibrant, bohemian heart of Katong, the modules is the very first Small Office Home Office in the East. This FREEHOLD development represents a tremendous investment opportunity for all.

In the morning, take advantage of the sanctuary that East Coast Park offers from the daily hustle and bustle. The modules offers a conductive private space for work in the day, and by night, the perfect home to recuperate as you gaze at the stars from the landscaped roof top terrace.

Offering everything you need for the lifestyle you want, the modules encapsulates the very best of SOHO living.


Project Details
Project : The Modules
Developer : Shining Holdings Ptd Ltd

Address : 387 Joo Chiat Road S(427623)
Ideally located, the modules is within walking distance to prestigious educational institutions such as Tao Nan School, Haig Girl`s School, Tanjoing Katong Girl`s School and Victoria Junior College

A dining paradise, an amazing plethora of cuisines awaits to delight the most descerning taste buds and not forgetting the ambience created by the rich heritage of nostalgic Katong, you will enjoy dining like no other

The close proximity to Parkway Parade, Katong Mall and Katong Shopping Centre offers unsurpassed convenience.

Easily accessible by the ECP, PIE and Paya Lebar MRT, it is within minutes to the city.

Tenure : Freehold
Total Units : 48
Expected TOP : 31 Dec 2010
Expected Legal Completion : 31 Dec 2011

Facilities available :
•Swimming Pool
•Water Features
•Barbercue Pit
•Landscaped Roof Garden
•Coin Operated Vending Machine

Element @ Stevens Rd

The Concept of Free Living

Freedom of choice, being able to live in a manner that ascribes to particular and different lifestyles, was the concept that drove The Element@Stevens from drawing-board to raelity.

Three distinct modes for living were designed around a waterscape theme set in an idyllic tropical garden. Only three penthouses, two dyuplexes and 12 apartments were built into this environment. The common feature is the visual 'flow' - water-enhanced intimacy for all.

Propject Details
Project Name : Element @ Stevens Road
Developer : Heeton Holdings Ltd
Address : 72 Stevens Road (A Prestigious address that is just 2 minutes drive to Orchard Road)

Just a glance at the map will show that The Element@Stevens is at the epicentre of a world of action - shopping, dining, entertainment, club-life, and importantly close to some of the best schools Singapore has to offer. Not only this, but Stevens Road is still part of the `Old World` of Tanling where shady trees still domainate on the doorstep of Singapore`s precious showpiece, The Botanic Gardens

Tenure : Freehold
District : A Boutique Development in Prime District 9
Expected TOP : 30 Sept 2007
Expected Completion : 30 Sept 2010

Total Units : Exclusively 17units
2Bdrm 958sqft -3, 1012sqft - 1, 1658 sqft - 1 (5)units
2Bdrm Duplex with 11sqm Strata Void 1076sqft - (2)units
3Bdrm 1324sqft -3, 1518sqft - 1, 2379sqft - 1 (5)units
3+Study 1389sqft -3, 1593sqft - 1, 2637sqft -1 (5)units

Asking Only @ $1700/psf; Left 5 units

-Swimming Pool

Shorter New Route To The CITY

Source : Weekend TODAY, July 28, 2007

KPE will make it quicker for motorists from east, north

MOTORISTS from Kallang, Geylang and the surrounding neighbourhoods, as well as those coming from the north, will have an alternative route to reach the city when a part of the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) opens on Oct 26.

The 3km underground stretch will be a link for the areas and the Pan Island Expressway (PIE), to the East Coast Parkway (ECP).

Travel time from the East Coast to Paya Lebar area will be halved or reduced by almost 10 to 15 minutes.

And when the KPE is fully completed next year, travel time from the north-east to the city would be cut by up to 25 per cent, Transport Minister Raymond Lim said on Friday. During peak hours, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said island-wide travel time would be shortened by 6 per cent.

“Residents in Hougang, Buangkok, Sengkang and Punggol will have a more direct route to the city centre, and this will help to ease congestion on the CTE (Central Expressway),” Mr Lim said.

The KPE starts from the ECP in the south, continues under Upper Paya Lebar Road and Airport Road and connects to the Tampines Expressway (TPE). Nine km of the KPE will be underground, making it the longest underground expressway in South-east Asia.

Even as one expressway nears completion, Mr Lim said that the Government has given the green light for another — the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE). When ready by end-2013, this will link the ECP and the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE).

“It (MCE) will provide an additional high-speed link to the Marina Bay area to support the development of this New Downtown comprising the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort, the Sail, the Marina Bay Financial Centre, as well as other future developments,” Mr Lim said.

More importantly, LTA said it would allow valuable land to be used as the city area is extended into Marina Bay. Traffic will be diverted underground while a current 2km ECP stretch at Marina South will be realigned into a major arterial road.

Construction of the 5km dual five-lane MCE will start in the fourth quarter of next year and is estimated to cost $2.5 billion. The 12km-long KPE, in comparison, costs less at $1.7 billion.

The higher cost for the MCE was because construction costs have increased over the past few years, LTA chief executive Yam Ah Mee said.

LTA’s engineering group director Paul Fok said the MCE’s construction would also pose greater challenges. A 420m stretch, part of the 3.5km underground tunnel, would be built under the seabed. Engineers also have to consider the nearby Marina Barrage, where the reservoir will discharge water whenever there is a risk of looding.

To manage traffic on the KPE, two Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantries will be installed. These will only be activated when traffic speeds fall below 45km/h.

One other ERP gantry will also be installed at the southbound KPE exit, near Fort Road, which links into the west-bound ECP. A KPE web portal,, was launched on Friday by Mr Lim.

Govt Acts To Release More Flats For Rent

Source : Weekend TODAY, July 28, 2007

120 Sers units open for rent, while JTC to lease 300 units to foreigners

THOSE looking to rent HDB flats can now choose from 420 more units newly released by two government agencies.

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) will lease 120 flats meant to be demolished under its en bloc scheme for public housing. HDB said the vacated flats in Tiong Bahru Road, part of the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) scheme, will be rented out to the public on a shortterm basis.

If successful, this pilot project may be expanded to other Sers areas. The agency said it could supply between 4,000 and 5,000 such units over the next three years.

But tenancy details such as rental prices will only be revealed when HDB calls for the tender next month.

Under Sers, introduced in August 1995, old flats are demolished to make way for new ones. There have been 71 sites identified, including four this year.

In a separate release on Friday, the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) said it would release 300 units in mature estates — targeting foreigners.

These units were initially earmarked for sale but will now be diverted for use as rental flats — another first such measure. It is an addition to its Scheme for Housing of Foreign Talents, under which JTC flats are available only to employment pass holders, with some 3,500 units rented out so far.

The 300 new units will be available over the next few months, averaging about 100 units per month, through appointed managing agents, JTC said.

Located in mature housing estates such as Aljunied, Bedok and Bukit Batok, they include three- to five-room and executive-type flats.

JTC said it would peg rental rates to prevailing market prices. This information is available on As of Friday, the minimum monthly rental rates for JTC units start at $940 for a three-room unit and $1,470 for an executive flat.

While property analysts felt the market would respond favourably, Propnex CEO Mohd Ismail said much depends on the rental rates set by HDB and JTC.

Mr Eugene Lim, assistant vice-president at ERA Singapore, agreed price is crucial in the take-up, but he is optimistic that even the old Sers flats will get good responses.

He said: “The first batch is in Tiong Bahru Road. The location is quite central and would appeal to those looking for locations near the city. The Sers flats are in serviceable condition. As a short-term solution, it will work.”

Rising Rents May Blunt Business Edge

Source : weekend TODAY,July 28 2007

BUSINESSMEN have more to think about, following the rise in rentals for office, retail and industrial space. In the second quarter of the year, office space rentals climbed 11 per cent, up from the previous quarter’s 10.4 per cent.

For the first time, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) released two sets of figures to reflect the two-tiered office market.

Category 1 includes office spaces in the downtown core and Orchard Planning area, while Category 2, comprising 80 per cent of all office space, accounts for the rest of Singapore.

The median rental for Category 1 was $9.50 psf monthly, up from $8.48 psf in the first quarter. In Category 2, the rates climbed from $4.23 psf to $4.48 psf.

“The pace of rental increase is maintained but maybe not as high as landlords wish us to believe,” said Mr Colin Tan, Chesterton International’s head of consultancy and research.

The vacancy rate continued to fall, from 9.1 per cent to 8 per cent by the end of the second quarter.

While an extra 641,000 sq m of office space will be available by 2010, Mr Tan said: “The supply is not much because historically, we have been able to absorb up to 4 million sq ft of space in good years,” he said.

In the retail sector, overall rentals increased by 7.1 per cent, a sharp rise from the 1.4-per-cent increase in the first three months of the year.

Median monthly rentals for shop space in Orchard were $9.24 psf. Rentals in city areas outside Orchard reached $6.21 psf and beyond the city area, $4.88 psf.

Although 221,100 sq m of factory space were granted temporary occupation permits in the second quarter, the industrial sector experienced cost spikes too. Rentals for multiple- user factory space increased by 6.1 per cent.

As for the seven-fold increase in demand for business park space, Knight Frank said this was “a spillover effect from the tight office market and an rise in the relocation of value-added manufacturing facilities from other countries”.

Mr Tan said: “The performance numbers show that the market is still moving forward, but that also means Singapore is slowly losing its competitiveness if these rises are not checked.”

Up to 515,000 sq m of gross floor area for shop space is expected to be completed by 2010. Similarly by then, 280,000 sq m of industrial space is expected to be introduced.

For now, the rise will not lead to businesses packing their bags for cheaper pastures.“Business costs does not consist of only rental costs. There is labour, material, utilities, transport, and so on,” explained Knight Frank’s Mr Nicholas Mak.

For Every HIGH, There's A LOW

Source : Weekend TODAY,July 28, 2007

Clearer details in Q2 property picture

HAD you been out looking for a place to rent or buy in the second quarter of this year, you would have found a number of good deals — the hot property market notwithstanding.

For instance — going by figures from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) — one lucky owner snapped up a unit at The Raintree in Bukit Timah for $489 per square foot (psf). Units at Mariam Way’s Ballota Park were rented out for as low as $1.29 psf a month.

Or, according to the Housing and Development Board (HDB), you could have bought a 5-room flat in Yishun for $273,800, or rented a four-room flat for anywhere between $1,000 and $1,400.

On the other hand, were you a landlord, you would have profited from the 18.7-per-cent surge in private home rents in the first six months of the year.

Apartment and condominium owners made 8.4 per cent more selling their units between April and June. Landed home sellers, who saw prices go up just 2.9 per cent in the first quarter, enjoyed a 7.1-per-cent surge this time.

On Friday, the HDB and the URA released the most detailed results ever of the property landscape, to give the public a more complete picture of its highs and lows — offsetting recent media reports that have focussed on the extreme highs.

For first time, the URA published new rental sub-indices for non-landed private housing across the three regional groupings, to reflect trends in different segments of the market. The HDB also took the unprecedented step of breaking down, by town nd flat type, the median subletting rents as well as differences between resale price and market value.

THE PRIVATE HOME SCENE While overall prices of private homes went up 8.3 per cent, he URA stressed that the boom was not uniform.

Many uncompleted private residential projects in the suburban areas with “more affordable” prices were on tap, it pointed out. A “significant number” of units — 1,658 in all — languish unsold in many launched projects.

The number of new homes sold set a quarterly record of 12,897 units. But what seems significant is that speculators were not a big segment.

Sales of uncompleted homes, or sub-sales, are often used to measure speculative activity in the private home market.

Across the island, these accounted for 9.7 per cent of total sales — which pales in comparison to the 28-per-cent mark when speculation was rife in 1996 over the same period.

The bulk of the sales, or 42.4 per cent, were in suburban areas — a signal that the mass market has recovered, said a CB Richard Ellis report.

For the first time since 2005, too, price growth was led by non-landed homes in areas such as Marine Parade, Queenstown and Toa Payoh.

The en bloc frenzy, meanwhile, helped drive up private home rents by 10.4 per cent — the highest since the URA made such data publicly available, said a Knight Frank report.

But the windfall, again, was not even across the board. While the overall median monthly rental in Singapore rose to $2.17 psf, a number of properties were rented out at less than $1.50 psf.

Meanwhile, prospective homebuyers can look forward to a fat pipeline of supply over the next three years. There are 56,182 uncompleted units due to hit the market. Another 9,100 new units are expected from sites made available under the Government land sales programme and the three residential sites at Bishan, Dakota Crescent and oodsville Close sold earlier this year.

HDB flat resale prices grew by 3 per cent on the whole, up from just 1.4 per cent the previous quarter.

While record-setting prices made the headlines, overall, the median amount by which actual resale prices exceeded market value was a modest $7,000.

In fact, 30 per cent of all resale transactions were priced at or below valuation — although in some instances, such as in Clementi where executive flats were sold at a median $65,000 above valuation, prices were grossly inflated.

Overall, activity was high in the resale market, with 8,708 deals being struck — a 38-per-cent increase over the first quarter.

Rentals also remained “affordable”, despite a recent newspaper report that HDB rents had hit a 10-year high. The URA said these “very high” rents were limited to “very few” cases and were “confined to flats with special attributes”.

There was a 50-per-cent jump in the number of sublet approvals issued by HDB, after it eased up on its subletting policy in March. In all, about 14,600 HDB flat owners have approval to sublet their flats.

Given the rapid heating up of private home prices, property analysts are projecting that these could go up by as much as 30 per cent by the year’s end.

CB Richard Ellis expects a total increase of 20 to 25 per cent for the year, with the number of new home sales hitting 16,000 to 18,000.

The forecast at Knight Frank was 23 to 30 per cent, but it is rentals that are expected to boom — growing by 30 to 40 per cent year-on-year, especially in prime districts. This, said the Knight Frank report, is due to a shrinking pool of housing as a result of recent collective sales.

ERA Singapore, which specialises in the HDB market, expects flat resale prices to rise by 8 to 10 per cent over the whole year, and the number of transactions to hit over 30,000.

“Home-buyers priced out of the private property market will be looking at larger flat types ... They in turn will push those that are priced out of buying larger flats to buy smaller, four-room types,” said ERA vice-president Eugene Lim.

But, he added, “to enjoy a premium above market valuation, the property must have the X-factor”: A combination of a central location, being relatively new and “nicely renovated”, having an MRT station nearby, and being on “a high floor with unblocked panoramic views”.

For more data, go to: for private property, and for public housing.

ECP To Be Realigned For New Marina Coast Expressway

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 27 July 2007

ECP to be realigned for new Marina Coast Expressway

SINGAPORE: Part of the East Coast Parkway will soon be realigned to make way for a new expressway, called the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE), to ease congestion in the downtown Marina area.

Related Video Link - (Channel NewsAsia Video News)

The move, which was announced by Transport Minister Raymond Lim at the Intelligent Transport Systems Centre, will also free up land for more commercial developments there.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said the new expressway will be built by 2013 at a cost of S$2.5 billion.

Mr Lim said: "The government has given the go-ahead to build another expressway – the Marina Coastal Expressway or MCE for short. When it is completed in about 6 years' time, it will provide an additional high-speed link to the Marina Bay area to support the development of this new downtown."

The new 5-kilometre MCE will link the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) in the east to the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) in the west, so commuters who are not headed downtown can bypass the Marina Bay area.

To make way for the new expressway, the East Coast Parkway (ECP) at Marina South will be realigned and converted to a major road to serve the Marina Bay area.

Paul Fok, LTA's Group Director for Engineering, said: "Currently the East Coast Parkway runs through the new downtown at Marina Bay, with the expressway going through the downtown. What it means is that the city cannot extend beyond the expressway into the Marina Bay because from an expressway, you can't access the developments.

"With the construction of the MCE, which will be nearer towards the sea, we will be able to realign the East Coast Parkway and ensure that people can access the development from East Coast Parkway. For example, people from the Marina Sands integrated resort will be able to join the realigned East Coast Parkway because there will be traffic light junctions."

To facilitate the building of the MCE, 13.3 ha of land reclamation will be carried out at Marina East and Marina Wharf.

The MCE will be constructed mainly underground, so that land above it can be used for other purposes.

The route will comprise a 3.5-kilometre-long underground tunnel and a 1.5-kilometre road structure above ground.

The construction of the new expressway will be no easy task because part of MCE will run underneath the seabed, just 150 metres away from the Marina Barrage, which needs to be opened from time to time to allow water to flow out in the event of heavy rain.

Engineers will, therefore, have to take into consideration the large amount of water that will be released and figure out how to build the MCE safely.

The opening of phase 1 of the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway on 26 October was also announced on Friday.

This first phase will extend from the ECP at Fort Road to the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE).

The LTA said commuters can cut travelling time by 5 to 8 minutes using this new underground expressway.

Yam Ah Mee, LTA's Chief Executive, said: "The way the KPE is built – linking the northeast corridor to the city – residents in the northeast corridor will have an alternative travelling route to the city. Those who now travel along the Tampines Expressway and join the CTE will also have an option to use the KPE.

"On the other hand, residents on the western and north-western part of Singapore will also have lesser traffic on the CTE and so we expect improvement in traffic all round."

Phase 1 of the KPE will have three Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantries, but only one will be charging motorists.

The LTA said the other gantries are placed there for monitoring purposes and it will assess the traffic flow to determine if more payment should be levied after a month.

The entire KPE, stretching from the ECP to the Tampines Expressway (TPE), will open later next year.

When that happens, residents in Sengkang, Punggol and Hougang will find their travel time to the city cut by 25 percent.

The 12-kilometre-long KPE, which cost S$1.7 billion to build, is the longest underground expressway in Southeast Asia.

Since much of it is underground, the consequences of a major accident are far more serious compared to an open expressway.

Hence, the LTA is embarking on a safety education programme on the use of the tunnel.

More information on the KPE is available online at - CNA/so

Government Plans To Release More Market Data On Rents For HDB Flats

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 24 July 2007

Govt plans to release more market data on rents for HDB flats

Video Link - http:// (Channel NewsAsia Video News)

SINGAPORE: The government is planning to release more market data on rents for HDB flats soon.

This is to help potential tenants better understand the situation and make a more informed decision, said Minister of State for National Development Grace Fu, at an HDB event on Tuesday.

Rentals for some HDB flats have gone through the roof recently following the boom in the property market.

It has reportedly hit a 10-year high, with monthly rates of over S$2,000 for some flats.

Resale prices for some choice units have also ballooned.

Figures from the HDB showed that some 70 per cent of resale flats sold between April and June this year were above valuation.

While the government is not unduly worried about the spike in resale prices and rentals, it is keeping a close watch.

Said Ms Fu, "The government is not doing anything to dampen the market per se. I think we just want to make sure there's no, I would say, exuberance that's not warranted, that is driving the market.

"So we just want to make sure that there's sufficient information, and that people are making informed decisions, that's our objective."

Ms Fu said the information would cover market data, as well as the obligations involved, so that consumers know what they are getting into.

Even though it is for buyers to chase prices and sellers to inflate the asking price, Ms Fu believes the market will adjust itself if it is not supported by real demand.

Ms Fu also said that there has been much focus on exceptional cases and she hopes home buyers and tenants can look at the issue calmly.

This includes doing more extensive research on the property market and evaluating alternative options in less mature estates.

The HDB is also focusing on ensuring home buyers do not spread themselves too thinly in terms of financing.

Meanwhile, all eyes will be on the latest property prices for the April to June period, which will be released on Friday.

It is set to be comprehensive, shedding light on prices and market activity. - CNA/

Prime Office Rents Up 23% In Q2: Report

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 23 July 2007

Office space in the Central Business District has become even tighter, and dearer, according to a latest report by property consultant Cushman and Wakefield.

Average rentals for offices in the prime areas are now at an average of S$11.50 per square foot, with buildings around Raffles Place most expensive to rent, priced as high as S$12.60 per square foot.

The report shows that rental rates in prime areas have surpassed the 1996 peaks by as much as 35 per cent, with the 99 per cent occupancy and 23 per cent quarterly jump in rents unprecedented.

It says the increase is fuelled by a combination of tight supply and fast-expanding businesses, particularly among financial institutions.

Says Donald Han, Managing Director, Cushman & Wakefield, "Almost every tenant is looking at expansion, and a lot of them are looking into expanding twice, or sometimes even three times more than what they are presently having, in terms of square footage. So it's unprecedented."

This means more companies are now looking outside the prime districts to locate some of their operations.

Last month, HSBC and DBS each leased over 100,000 square feet of space in the Comtech building, off Alexandra Road, for their non-core services such as call centres.

"A lot of tenants are now looking at potential ways to reduce total occupancy costs by moving some of their back-end operations into decentralised areas, into business parks.

"If you're looking into the business parks rentals, it's only hovering at about S$3 per square foot. That is manageable. To pay S$15-S$20 per square foot is quite a high price for any big multinational corporation," says Han.

The spike in rentals has raised concerns that Singapore is becoming less cost-competitive.

To ease the supply crunch, the government has announced some measures.

It has put up for tender a short-term, or transitional, site for offices above Newton MRT station, which it says will take less than a year to develop.

"If it's successful, and I'm confident it will be, there will be more such sites that will come onto the market over the next 24 months. That helps because the supply crunch basically needs to be addressed from now till 2010, as the government sales of sites made known in the second half of this year will only come on-stream from 2010 onwards," says Han.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) says it will also release more detailed rental and vacancy data on offices from Friday, to provide a clearer perspective of the market. - CNA

Two Blocks In Jurong West Vote On Lift Upgrading

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 27 July 2007

SINGAPORE: While more than 2,000 eligible blocks in Singapore wait for new lifts which will stop at every floor, two blocks in Jurong West got their chance to vote on this issue on Friday evening.

Residents of blocks 556 and 558 will get lift upgrading if at least 75 percent of them vote in favour of it.

And they need to pay only about 12.5 percent of the upgrading costs as the rest will be absorbed by the Jurong Town Council.

Minister from the Prime Minister's Office Lim Boon Heng officiated at the polling ceremony.

He also took time to meet residents and clarify their concerns.

Polling will end next Monday.

Two Former Schools Put Up For Tender For Educational Uses

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 27 July 2007

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has offered the sites of two former schools for educational uses.

It hopes this will help respond to the need of setting up international schools.

The former Lee Kuo Chuan Primary School at Ah Hood Road is open for tender from July 20 till August 10.

It comprises a four-storey building and two single-storey buildings and is located near an HDB estate.

The SLA says the Balestier Road area has been growing in popularity among overseas investors and home owners because of its prime location and amenities.

The other site is the former Moulmein Primary School at Jalan Rajah.

It comprises a four-storey building and is also near an HDB estate.

The tender opens on July 27 and will close on August 17.

SLA says the two sites can be used to house commercial, private-funded or foreign system schools.

It says it will continue to launch more sites for tender in the last quarter of the year.

Some will be for educational uses.

Two other state properties, which were also former schools, were earlier put up for tender for such uses.

The former Rosyth School is now available for rent under SLA's RentDirect Scheme, while the site at No. 371, Tanjong Katong has been awarded to the Canadian International School (CIS) Pte Ltd.

There were 12 bids for the former Tanjong Katong Girls' School site, mostly from the education and/student hostel industries. - CNA/

Private Homes: Rents Up 10.4% In 2nd Quarter

Source : The Straits Times, Sat, Jul 28, 2007

ALL private home owners have good reason to celebrate these days, but landlords should really pop the champagne - while their tenants should drown their sorrows.

Rents rose at an unprecedented rate in the April to June period, outpacing home prices which were far from sluggish.

Official figures showed yesterday that rents jumped 10.4 per cent in the quarter, trumping the 7.6 per cent rise in the first three months of the year. They are now 31.2 per cent higher than a year ago.

This is the highest quarterly and yearly growth since the Government made rental data public, said property firm Knight Frank. It is also the first time private home rents have shown double-digit growth in a quarter, it added.

Rents this year have gone up 18.7 per cent, compared to only 14.1 per cent in the whole of last year, added consultancy CB Richard Ellis.

More important, rents rose across the board, according to new Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) figures yesterday.

Although the core central region still led the pack with a 12 per cent jump over the first quarter, the rest of Singapore was not far behind.

Rents in the city fringe areas went up 10 per cent while those in suburban districts were just behind with a 9.4 per cent rise.

Knight Frank's latest data shows that homes in the East Coast, Thomson and Bishan areas saw rents rise by 10 to 12 per cent, matching the pace in the prime districts.

But while landlords enjoy the bubbly, their tenants are far from happy with surging rents becoming a source of concern among foreign companies bringing in growing numbers of expats.

Government releases more quarterly data on rental rates

Video Link -

To help tenants get a better idea of the market, the Government yesterday released data on median home rentals, breaking it down for the first time by project.

This allows potential tenants to compare median rentals - that is, the level at which half the rentals are higher and the other half lower - of individual condominiums.

The figures showed that The Pier at Robertson, for instance, commands a median monthly rental of $6.30 per sq ft (psf), or $3,150 for a 500 sq ft unit. At the other end of the spectrum, Neptune Court has median monthly rentals of $1.56 psf, or $1,560 for a 1,000 sq ft apartment.

This new data is available on the URA website. The agency also took pains to point out that while median rents overall rose to $2.17 psf per month, there were 'a significant number of properties which were rented out at below $1.50 psf per month'.

Also, while rents are soaring, they are still some 21 per cent lower than the 1996 high, said Knight Frank.

The key reason for the rental rebound is the slew of collective sales, said experts. And as more and bigger estates are torn down, rents can be expected to surge further as displaced owners and tenants look for hew homes.

Similarly, private home prices are set for a good run.

They jumped 8.3 per cent in the second quarter to hit a level not seen since 1997. But what raised eyebrows was that prices of non-landed homes in the city-fringe areas outpaced those in red-hot prime districts.

Even in suburban areas, prices climbed 7.2 per cent - well above the 2 per cent rise in the previous quarter.

Perhaps most significantly, prices of completed homes rose more than those of uncompleted ones for the first time in at least two years.

This is a sign that the strong price rebound is due to genuine buying demand, said property consultants. Traditionally, prices of uncompleted homes tend to lead price increases because more people want to buy new homes.

Prices Of HDB Resale Flats Up For Most Types, Towns

Source : The Straits Times, July 28, 2007

HDB data, to be published every quarter, gives buyers detailed market info

GIVING THE FACTS: With the HDB market on the upswing after many years in the doldrums, the board has released a slew of information online at that breaks down data for 26 HDB towns. -- ST PHOTO:

IT'S been a long time coming, but the HDB market is on the upswing after many years in the doldrums.
Prices shot up 3 per cent in the three months to June 30 - the biggest jump since 1999 - and well up on the 1.25 per cent rise in the first quarter.

The price surge reflects increased activity in the resale market, which recorded 8,700 transactions in the quarter - 38 per cent up on the first quarter.

In the second quarter, 70 per cent of the homes sold were at prices above their official valuation.

Prices rose for most flat types and towns.

The HDB also released a slew of information on median resale prices, rental rates and cash over valuation (COV) to help keep buyers up to speed on the market.

Prudent prices for prudent home buyers and sellers
Everything's up, as expected - sale prices, transaction numbers, rental charges.

This confirmation comes from latest official data released to give Singaporeans a clearer understanding of property trends for both private and public housing islandwide.

But how do buyers or sellers make pragmatic choices based on this information?

Melissa Kok tells you how.

Video Link:

(Prices - A Clear Picture) The data - on the HDB's website - is broken down into the 26 HDB towns.

This comes after industry experts complained that the previous sales figures were grouped by region and not so effective given the way flat prices differ from one town to the next.

The new figures show median values for resale prices, COV figures and rental rates - a first for the HDB.

A median price means half of the units sold or rented above that value, half below.

It used to release average rents each quarter, but average prices can be misleading as a single large transaction can distort the overall picture. The new figures show that median rental prices are still far below some of the 'headline' prices reported in the media recently.

A four-room flat in Bukit Merah, for example, was recently reported to have been rented at $2,200 a month, but the HDB data shows the median for such flats is $1,400.

One tenant Mr S.T. Leng, 41, whose landlord recently hiked the rent of his three-room flat from $900 to $1,500 due to 'market rates', said the new information will give tenants and buyers more negotiating power.

'This will help everyone be more realistic, and has definitely come at the right time,' he said.

The figures also paint a more accurate reflection of COV values for each town.

Take Clementi. Previous figures for the western region put the COV at $8,800 for an executive flat. The truer figure contained in the new data puts it well above - $65,000.

This is more accurate, and useful for both buyers and sellers, say industry players, who welcomed the new data.

'Consumers will increasingly want such fine-tuned data and transparency will become more crucial in the market,' said PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail.

C&H Realty managing director Albert Lu said he was not surprised by the HDB market's good performance last quarter, and expects prices to keep going up, at least for the rest of the year.

HDB's new figures will now be published every quarter.

Prices Rising Across The Board In Property Market

Source : The Straits Times, July 28, 2007

Private homes the biggest winners, but HDB resale prices also up 3 per cent

THE property boom is now ringing across the country, with all segments, including the HDB market, recording rising prices.

The biggest winners were private homes, with prices up 8.3 per cent in the April to June quarter. This is on top of a 4.8 per cent increase in the first three months of the year.

The number of new homes sold hit a record 5,129 units in the second quarter, 7 per cent up on the first quarter.

Landed homes, which have not moved much over the past year, also sprang into life and registered price rises of 7.1 per cent, up from 2.9 per cent in the first quarter.

And resale prices in the HDB market rose 3 per cent, up from a 1.25 per cent rise in the first quarter.

'The benefits of the improving economy are now being seen more widely across the board, demonstrated by the mass market increases and a higher number of HDB upgraders,' said property firm Jones Lang LaSalle's regional managing director, Mr Chris Fossick.

Everything's up, as expected - sale prices, transaction numbers, rental charges.

This confirmation comes from latest official data released to give Singaporeans a clearer understanding of property trends for both private and public housing islandwide.

But how do buyers or sellers make pragmatic choices based on this information?

Melissa Kok tells you how.

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Government figures also show that demand is pushing up private home prices in most parts of the country.

Prices in central Singapore, the city fringes and suburban areas rose between 7.2 per cent and 8.1 per cent in the second quarter.

'The even performance across all a positive as it implies that there is now greater uniformity in wealth creation across all segments,' said Ms Tay Huey Ying,of property consultancy Colliers International.

The wealth of data released yesterday by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) - it included new information on housing rentals and office rents - also revealed some notable developments in the roaring market.

One was the bigger jump in prices of completed homes over uncompleted ones.

In the central core region - where the most expensive housing is found - prices of completed homes rose 8.5 per cent, compared with 7.1 per cent for uncompleted ones.

Usually, glamorous launches of prime homes attract higher prices than completed ones. But the huge number of displaced en bloc sellers looking for a roof over their heads has boosted demand for existing property.

Consultants said that because of strong leasing demand - in part contributed by owners and tenants displaced by en bloc sales - completed properties have become more attractive for investors, too.

Indeed, rents have been soaring, with some owners demanding a doubling of rent or more - and getting it.

The new figures have also cast more light on property speculation. In the second quarter, owners' sales of uncompleted homes amounted to less than 10 per cent of the total deals done.

But there was a hike in the prime central core region, where such sales accounted for 19.4 per cent of deals done. This is up from 12.4 per cent in the first quarter.

By contrast, in the second quarter of 1996 - when speculation was rife - subsales accounted for about 28 per cent of all deals.

On the supply side, 43,018 - mostly flats but with about 3,000 houses - will be built between now and 2010, the URA said. About 76 per cent of these will be completed in 2009 and 2010.

Overall, private home prices are now about 18.5 per cent below the 1996 peak and at a level similar to that in the second half of 1994.

Also yesterday, the HDB released more information on sales, including median resale prices, rental data and the amount of cash-over-valuation (COV) that buyers are paying.

It shows, for example, that the median COV for a five-room flat can reach $60,000 in Bukit Timah town, but is zero in Woodlands.

3-km Tunnel Linking PIE & ECP Opens In October

Source : The Straits Times, July 28, 2007

It is part of the KPE; new Marina Coastal Expressway also gets the go-ahead

From Oct 26 2007, motorists will be able to move between the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) and the East Coast Parkway (ECP) using a new 3km stretch of road tunnel.

Traffic from the PIE will head underground at Kallang Bahru before surfacing at the ECP near Fort Road, when the first phase of the $1.7 billion Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) opens.

The rest of the 12km expressway, which links housing estates in the north-east of Singapore to the PIE and the city, will open late next year.

Announcing the timetable yesterday, Transport Minister Raymond Lim said: 'When this happens, residents in Hougang, Buangkok, Sengkang and Punggol will have a more direct route to the city centre, and this will help ease congestion on the CTE.'

Travel time from the north-east to the city will be cut by up to 25 per cent, he added.

One person eager to make the switch from the Central Expressway (CTE) to the new KPE is MacPherson resident John Sam.

Get ready for a new addition (and a new abbreviation) to Singapore's network of expressways - the MCE or Marina Coastal Expressway.

Connecting the ECP to the AYE, the $2.5bil expressway - Singapore's most expensive - will connect the expected growth in city-bound traffic with the New Downtown in Marina Bay.

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The 49-year-old retail manager, who drives to the Central Business District for meetings regularly, said: 'If traffic along the KPE is smooth, I will definitely use that route instead of the CTE, where the ERP costs are very high and it is always congested.'

Just how much he will have to pay remains to be seen.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has installed two Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantries along the stretch of KPE opening soon, but will adopt a wait-and-see approach. LTA chief Yam Ah Mee told reporters yesterday: 'We will monitor traffic speeds along the KPE on a monthly basis. If it drops below the optimum speed of 45kmh, we will begin ERP charges.'

But charges to the city, when travelling west-bound from the ECP and south-bound from the PIE, remain. Motorists will have to pay rates ranging from $1.00 to $2.50 when taking this route between 7.30am and 9.30am.

There is also the issue of preparing motorists for driving though South-east Asia's longest tunnel, which will stretch 9km when fully completed.

The consequences of a major accident or emergency in an underground tunnel can be far more serious, Mr Lim said.

'Drivers will need to be more careful in how they drive. It will be even more important for drivers to practise safe driving habits, such as staying in their lanes and keeping alert,' he said.

LTA will roll out a public education programme over the next three months on how to use the tunnel safely and how to get out in an emergency.

More safety information can be found on the KPE website at

Just as work on the KPE winds down, Mr Lim said that the Government has given the go-ahead to start building a new 5km-long expressway, Singapore's 10th, which will link the ECP to the Ayer Rajah Expressway.

Branching off from the ECP just before the Marina Bay golf course, it will skirt the coastline and tunnel beneath the channel and under Marina South before emerging before the Marina Wharf area to link up with the AYE.

Mr Lim said: 'When it is completed in about six years' time, it will provide an additional high-speed link to the Marina Bay area to support the development of this new downtown.'

On completion in 2013, the Marina Coastal Expressway will also allow traffic to move from the east of the island to the west quickly, without cutting through the New Downtown.

First-Time URA Data Confirms Soaring Prime Office Rents

Source : The Straits Times, July 28, 2007

In move to provide more transparency, govt agency releases office rental data by location

TIGHTER SUPPLY: The vacancy rate for office space in the 22 top-end buildings in Category 1, likely to include many of those in Raffles Place such as Republic Plaza, has shrunk to 5 per cent.

THE Government has released office rental figures by location for the first time, confirming what the industry already knows - prime office rents have shot up by much more than the rest of the market.

Yesterday, it revealed median rents for two categories of offices: prime office buildings, which are highly sought-after and command high rents, and all other offices on the island.

The Government's prime office category consists of 22 top-end buildings downtown and in Orchard Road, which are fairly new in appearance and have large floor plates. While it did not give any examples, the list is likely to include top-grade buildings like Republic Plaza in Raffles Place.

In these offices, median rents of new leases rose by 13.9 per cent to $10.33 per sq ft (psf) per month in the April to June period.

For the rest of the office market - comprising more than 2,000 buildings that make up 80 per cent of Singapore's office space - median monthly rentals went up by 8.9 per cent to reach a much more modest $4.90 psf.

These lower rents are 'more reflective of the typical rental paid by office tenants in Singapore', the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) was quick to note in its statement.

As Singapore undergoes an acute shortage of prime office buildings and growing demand from expanding businesses, office rents have jumped to a level that some fear may threaten the Republic's competitiveness.

And this is why the URA has been anxious to provide more transparency as to exactly how much typical businesses are paying for office space.

Property experts said the URA's rental breakdown more accurately reflects Singapore's tiered office market and makes official data easier to compare with figures published by property firms, who use similar categories.

Yesterday's data also showed that while office rents may be climbing, as a whole they are still nowhere near the top asking rents recently reported in some buildings. At 6 Battery Road, for instance, asking rentals have reached $18.50 psf per month.

'The pace of rental increases has been maintained but may not be as high as the landlords wish us to believe,' said Mr Colin Tan, associate director at Chesterton International. 'But it cannot be denied that rents are increasing...We should be more worried about the future.'

Indeed, the rise in rents is still gaining speed. Across the island, rents were up 11 per cent in the second quarter, on top of the 10.4 per cent increase in the previous three months.

Similarly, prices of offices that are bought, as opposed to rented, are going up. They rose 8.9 per cent in the second quarter, more than double the 4.3 per cent rise in the first quarter.

As office rents and values climbed, vacancy rates dropped across the board. They have now shrunk to 8 per cent, a level not seen since 1996, said property firm Knight Frank.

By office type, vacancies fell to 5 per cent in the prime category, and to 8.7 per cent for the rest of the market.

Market experts expect the office shortage to continue into next year and boost rents and prices further.

The office squeeze has boosted industrial property, which some companies have turned to for cheaper offices. This pushed up prices of multiple-user factory space by 8 per cent in the second quarter, double the 4 per cent rise previously. Rents rose 6.1 per cent, from 4.6 per cent.

As for shops, rents rose by 7.1 per cent in the second quarter, compared to only 1.4 per cent in the first quarter. Prices went up 4.6 per cent, from 1.7 per cent in the first three months.

The URA also gave median monthly rents of shops by location.

Future Singapore MRT-LRT System_Map (Unconfirmed)

Stratits Time Impression of Future Downtown Line

A Propose Version Of Future MRT (Not Confirmed)

Propety Transactions Lodged Between 23 -28 May 2007

Property Transactions With Contract Dates Between 2nd -7th July 2007

Property Transactions Lodged Between 28 May - 5 June 2007

SLA Puts Up Two Schools For Tender

Source : The Business Times, July 28, 2007

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has put up two more schools for tender - the former Lee Kuo Chuan Primary School and the former Moulmein Primary School.

Both properties can be used either for educational or office purposes.

SLA said in a press statement yesterday that the two properties can help to meet the need for international schools in Singapore.

The tender for the former Lee Kuo Chuan Primary School, on Ah Hood Road in the Balestier area, closes on Aug10. The site has a land area of 17,635 sq m and a gross floor area of about 11,176 sq m.

It comprises a four-storey building and two single-storey ones.

Allowable uses include commercial school, private funded school, foreign system school and office.

The former Moulmein Primary School, on Jalan Rajah, has an estimated land area of 13,927 sq m and a gross floor area of about 9,094 sq m. It houses a four-storey building. It can be put to use as an office and commercial school or foreign systems school.

SLA said two other state properties, also former schools, were earlier put up for tender.

The former Rosyth School is now available for rent under the Authority's RentDirect Scheme. Allowable uses include commercial school, foreign system school, arts, dance or drama studio, and childcare or student care kindergarten.

The former Tanjong Katong Girls' School was recently awarded to the Canadian International School.

The tenure is on an initial term of three years and is renewable on terms up to 2015.

SLA has been offering an increasing number of state properties for use as commercial schools, kindergartens and childcare centres.

As at June30, 105 properties were being used for these purposes

Govt okays plan for new $2.5b Marina highway

Source : The Business Times,July 28, 2007

Phase One of KPE to open to traffic on Oct26: Raymond Lim

WHILE announcing that the $1.7 billion Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) will open in October, Transport Minister Raymond Lim yesterday unveiled plans for the new Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE).

Mr Lim said Phase One of the KPE will be opened to traffic on Oct26, while the rest of the expressway will be ready by end-2008.

The 12-km-long KPE stretches from the East Coast Parkway (ECP) at Fort Road to the Tampines Expressway.

Nine kilometres of the KPE consists of an underground tunnel, making it the longest underground expressway in South-east Asia, with its lowest point being 22m below the Geylang River.

Phase One is the section from the ECP to the PIE.

'With the KPE, motorists from Kallang, Geylang and the surrounding neighbourhoods, as well as those coming from the north, will have an alternative route, besides the PIE and CTE, to reach the CBD,' said Mr Lim.

He added that when the rest of the KPE is completed, residents in Hougang, Buangkok, Sengkang and Punggol will have a more direct route to the city centre. This will ease congestion on the CTE and cut travelling time from the north-east to the city by up to 25 per cent.

Mr Lim was speaking during a visit to the newly renovated Intelligent Transport Systems Centre on River Valley Road.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) monitors and manages the island's traffic flows from this state-of-the-art centre.

Mr Lim also announced that the government had approved the construction of the $2.5 billion MCE.

The 5-km, dual five-lane expressway will connect the KPE and ECP to the AYE, with direct connections to the Marina South and Straits View areas. A section of the project - 3.5km - will be underground and underwater.

LTA will start construction next year and finish by end-2013.

'When completed in about six years' will provide an additional high-speed link to the Marina Bay area to support the development of this New Downtown comprising the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort, the Sail, the Marina Bay Financial Centre, as well as future developments,' said Mr Lim.

A total of 13.3ha of land reclamation will be carried out at Marina East and Marina Wharf to facilitate the building of the MCE, and part of the expressway will run along reclaimed land.

URA's New Office Data Draws Mixed Reaction

Source : The Business Times,July 28, 2007

IN an unprecedented move, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has created its own index involving a basket of about 22 prime office buildings it now calls Category 1 to track median rents for prime office space, and Category 2 representing everything else.

Category 1 represents 20 per cent of all office space, and it shows that median rents increased by 12 per cent to $9.50 psf based on lease commencement date and 13.9 per cent to $10.33 psf based on contract date between April and June.

Although property consultants that BT spoke to welcomed the new data, a variance in figures was noted. Most had reported that prime rents had increased by around 20 per cent in the second quarter of this year (quarter-on-quarter) with average prime rents ranging between $10.50 psf to $13 psf.

Explaining the difference, a spokesman for the authority said: 'URA only uses IRAS (Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore) records of all actual contracted rentals in the computation of the data, whereas, from what we know, some property consultants use estimates of achievable rents in addition to actual contracted rentals in the computation of statistics.'

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Click here for URA's release on Q207 real estate statistics

The URA did not name the buildings in Category 1 but said that these were 'largely consistent' with those selected by property consultants. For Category 2, median rents rose 5.9 per cent to $4.48 psf based on lease commencement and 8.8 per cent based on contract date respectively.

Colliers International director for research and consultancy Tay Huey Ying said: 'URA could probably improve on (the categories) further by spelling out the specific buildings to avoid ambiguity. In addition, Category 2 is a rather broad definition and information related to office space in this category may not be too meaningful to the general public.'

Ms Tay added that Colliers had more than 70 office buildings in its Grade A office basket while its data shows that prime office rents in Raffles Place increased 19.4 per cent to $12.69 psf in the second quarter. It also reported that prime rents in Hong Kong increased 5.8 per cent in the same quarter and were $10.25 psf. Giving an idea of what the Category 2 median rents might fetch, Nicholas Mak, Knight Frank's director of research and consultancy, said: '$4.50 could get you space in Tampines or Woodlands.'

There were other variances in data. CB Richard Ellis recently reported that the vacancy rate in the core and fringe CBD areas dropped to a new low of 2.7 per cent and 3.8 per cent while Grade A vacancy stood at 0.5 per cent.

The URA data show that vacancy fell to 5 per cent for Category 1 and 8.7 per cent for Category 2 in Q2.

CBRE's executive director for office services, Moray Armstrong, declined to comment on the figures but said the next two to three years could be 'difficult'. He added: 'This is a time to avoid sensationalism and take on a practical and sober view of what is happening in the market.'

The numbers are however difficult to ignore.

Chesterton International head of research and consultancy Colin Tan estimates that average absorption rate since 2005 to Q2 2007 has been about 565,000 sq ft per quarter or about 2.26 million sq ft per annum. Supply of 641,000 sq m from H2 2007 to 2010 however, translates to about 6.899 million sq ft or about 1.97 million sq ft per annum. 'This is not much because historically we have been able to easily absorb up to four million in good years,' he said.

'There are some consultants and media who are guilty of exaggeration, but you also shouldn't be giving people a false sense of security either.' Perhaps the best indication of market sentiment will come from those directly involved with leasing, and Cushman & Wakefield managing director Donald Han said: 'Some tenants will not consider leasing outside of Category 1 because it is a totally different proposition.'

JTC Defers Sale Of Its Flats

Source : The Business Times,July 28, 2007

JTC Corporation - Singapore's biggest industrial landlord - will temporarily suspend the sale of its flats under its scheme to house foreign talent, and will, instead, retain them as one of the rental housing options for employment pass holders, it said yesterday.

'This is to help meet the current strong market demand for rental housing,' the company said.

CMT's Q2 Net Income Up 27.6% to $48.8m

Source: The Business Times, July 28, 2007

The Reit's strong Q2 showing is due to good revenue growth

CAPITAMALL Trust (CMT) yesterday said that distributable income for the second quarter ended June 30, 2007, rose 27.6 per cent year-on-year to $48.8 million, boosted by higher rents and earnings from its newly acquired stake in Raffles City.

Distributable income for the same three months in 2006 came to $38.3 million. CMT bought 40 per cent of the Raffles City retail and office complex on Sept 1 last year.

Distribution per unit (DPU) increased by 12.6 per cent to 3.12 cents, from 2.77 cents for 2006.

For the first six months of 2007, CMT recorded a 26.2 per cent jump in distributable income to $95.7 million while DPU rose 11.5 per cent to 6.12 cents.

CMT, which is the largest real estate investment trust (Reit) in Singapore, has an asset size of about $5.7 billion. The trust said that it owns 13 per cent of the private retail stock by net lettable area in Singapore.

The trust's strong second-quarter showing was underpinned by good revenue growth as most of its malls performed better than expected in the second quarter, it said.

Net property income for the three months rose 36.2 per cent to $67.1 million, mainly due to revenue of some $16.3 million from CMT's Raffles City stake. Another $6.4 million increase in revenue came from other malls mostly due to new and renewed leases as well as higher revenue from IMM Building which benefited from asset enhancement works.

'We remain confident of the acquisition opportunities in Singapore and have raised our target asset size to $8 billion by 2010,' said Hsuan Owyang, chairman of CMT's manager.

In the second quarter, the trust said it will pay some $290.3 million for three local suburban shopping malls here.

The Reit may also buy 50 per cent of Ion Orchard, a mall its parent company CapitaLand is developing with Hong Kong's Sun Hung Kai Properties along the Orchard Road shopping belt.

CapitaLand's stake in the mall, which is expected to be completed by end-2008, is worth more than $1 billion, Pua Seck Guan, chief executive of CapitaLand's retail arm, told reporters yesterday.

The trust also plans to spend $169 million upgrading its malls this year, and another $127 million in 2008.

Amid a broad market retreat, CMT's shares fell 12 cents to close at $3.64 yesterday. The stock has climbed 25.1 per cent since the start of the year.

MCL Land Net Gain Falls 53% To US$3m

Source : The Business Times, July 28, 2007

PROPERTY company MCL Land yesterday reported a 53 per cent slide in its half-year net profit to US$3.2 million.

Revenue for the six months to June 30 was US$133.9 million, compared to US$4.1 million for the year-ago period.

Singapore-listed MCL said first-half revenue was mainly attributed to its development The Metz which was completed in April 2007 with a loss that had been fully provided in prior years. The group, a member of the Jardine Matheson group under Hongkong Land Holdings, also said its interim net profit included a US$800,000 fair value adjustment for a non-current asset held for sale.

Underlying profit for the group for the first half of this year was US$2.4 million, down 64 per cent.

The net profit mainly represented a US$3.7 million gain on the completion of the Kuala Lumpur Suburban Centre shops in Malaysia and the write-back of a US$800,000 provision.

The 2006 comparative largely comprised a gain of US$3 million arising from a land sale and the write-back of provisions of US$3.3 million, said MCL.

Earnings per share for the group were 86 US cents for 1H2007; underlying earnings per share were about 65 US cents.

Shareholders' funds were US$439 million at the end of June, US$10 million lower than at the prior year-end, following the dividend payment in May.

Sale proceeds from development projects over the same period reduced net debt from US$262 million to US$217 million. This lowered net gearing to 49 per cent at June 30, 2007 from 58 per cent at end-2006.

MCL chairman YK Pang said: 'The prospects for the residential property market in Singapore are expected to remain buoyant for the remainder of the year.' He added that the level of MCL Land's overall profit for 2007 would depend on whether The Calrose was completed before the end of the year or in early 2008.

The Metz obtained its Temporary Occupation Permit in April, while the 56-unit Mera East will contribute to profit for the year following completion in the third quarter.

MCL also said its US$29.7 million offer to purchase all units of Casa Nassau and an adjoining bungalow at Upper East Coast Road has been accepted by a majority of owners.

Core Central Home Rents Up 12% In Q2

Source : The Business Times,July 28, 2007

Rising sentiment filtering down to other areas

Some say that rentals for private homes islandwide have never risen so much from one quarter to another over the past decade.

Not surprisingly, it was the Core Central Region (CCR) - which includes prime districts 9, 10, 11, Downtown Core (including Marina Bay) and Sentosa - that posted the biggest increase in rents for condos and private apartments in Q2 over the preceding quarter. They rose 12 per cent.

But the buoyant demand for housing in the prime areas continued to filter down to the rest of the market in Q2, as reflected in a 10 per cent rise in URA's rental increase for the Rest of Central Region (RCR) and a 9.4 per cent hike in the Outside Central Region (OCR).

OCR covers suburban mass-market locations like Woodlands, Clementi, Jurong, Hougang, Tampines and Bedok, while RCR includes areas like Bukit Merah, Queenstown, Geylang, Toa Payoh and Katong.

Knight Frank said that, based on its research, rentals for properties in the East Coast, Thomson and Bishan areas grew by a strong 10 to 12 per cent quarter-on-quarter in Q2 this year, matching the rental growth seen in the CCR.

'Noticeably, more foreign companies and expatriates are becoming more concerned with rising housing rentals and costs. Nonetheless, their top priority is to be able to enrol their children in international schools here, where the supply of teachers and space for students is far more inelastic when compared to rental properties,' Knight Frank director (research & consultancy) Nicholas Mak said.

URA's 12 per cent rental index hike for the CCR in Q2 was much higher than a 7.6 per cent gain registered in Q1.

CB Richard Ellis executive director Li Hiaw Ho said: 'The slew of en-bloc sales in the past two years being concentrated in the CCR has led to a shortage of apartments for rent in the region, as reflected in this region leading the pack in terms of the increase in the rental index for non-landed properties in Q2.

'This uptrend is expected to continue as developments which have been collectively sold give way to redevelopment. Some of the major en-bloc sales in the prime area in Q2 include Leedon Heights, Himiko Court, Elmira Heights and Fairways Condominium.'

URA's overall rental index for private homes in Q2 was up 10.4 per cent from the preceding quarter, and 31.2 per cent higher year-on-year.

'This is the highest quarter-on-quarter, and year-on-year growth since URA made rental data available to the public. Nonetheless, as of Q2 2007, private residential property rentals are still about 21.4 per cent lower than the all-time high in Q1 1996,' said Knight Frank's Mr Mak.

The Subsale Train Gathers Speed

Source : The Business Times,July 28, 2007

Shadow of speculation on record home sales, prices

The prices are climbing but developers are poised to sell more private homes than ever before. There is also evidence to show that speculative activity has been accelerating by the quarter.

The property mania that has gripped Singapore of late has been captured in hard, official numbers.

Developers sold 9,385 uncompleted private homes in the first six months of this year, less than a thousand units shy of the record 10,363 units sold through all of last year, according to latest official figures. Market watchers expect the eventual sales for 2007 to range between 14,000 and 18,000 units, assuming that the US sub-prime mortgage woes do not have a contagion effect here.

As expected, the prices have been rising fast. The Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) price index for private homes shot up 8.3 per cent in Q2 over the preceding quarter. This means that the index has risen 13.5 per cent for the first six months of this year.

A straw poll of property consultants by BT suggested that the full-year price increase could come in between 23 and 30 per cent. So prices still have between 8 and 15 per cent to climb in the second half.

The downside risk remains from the correction in the US sub-prime market. 'Unless this spreads into global financial markets, the Singapore property market is unlikely to be affected in the immediate term,' Jones Lang LaSalle's head of research (South-east Asia) Chua Yang Liang says. 'Meanwhile, we are watching the market very closely,' he added.

One aspect that bears watching is the surging speculative activity. Subsales islandwide jumped 67.4 per cent to 1,254 units in Q2. More than half the subsale deals in Q2 were in the Core Central Region (CCR), which includes districts 9, 10, 11, Downtown Core (including Marina Bay) and Sentosa.

Islandwide, subsale deals accounted for 9.7 per cent of the total private housing deals in Q2. During the same period last year, such deals made up just 2.6per cent of the pie. Still, the latest figures are way short of speculative fever that raged in Q21996, when 28 per cent of total private residential transactions involved subsale deals.

Knight Frank director Nicholas Mak reckons that the share of subsale deals will continue to grow gradually but is unlikely to reach the levels seen in 1996. 'Back then, the ease of getting 95 to 100 per cent bank financing for property purchases was a key reason fuelling speculative activity. Nowadays banks are more cautious,' he says.

Going forward, subsale activity may find another engine. It may be driven not so much by the prospect of big, instant gains but by those who bought their homes on deferred payments and reach the point where they have to pay the bulk of their purchase price, says DTZ Debenham Tie Leung executive director Ong Choon Fah. 'So rather than fork out more money, they may just sell their units since the market has gone up so much in the last couple of years or so since they bought them,' Mrs Ong reckons.

Subsales involve projects that have yet to receive a Certificate of Statutory Completion, while resales, which are also secondary market transactions, cover completed developments.

The total number of resales jumped 40.2 per cent quarter on quarter to 6,514 units in Q2. This brought total secondary market transactions in Q2 to 7,768 units, up 44 per cent from the preceding quarter and, according to Knight Frank, a level not seen before in the private property market.

Also interesting is the breakdown in the price index for non-landed homes by regions. In all three regions - CCR, Rest of Central Region (RCR) and Outside Central Region (OCR) - the price gains in Q2 over Q1 were higher for completed homes than for uncompleted ones, reversing the general trend seen for at least the past couple of years.

'The trend reversal seen this quarter across all markets is reflective of the urgent demand for completed residential properties for immediate occupation by those who have sold their homes through en bloc sales looking for replacement properties,' Colliers International director Tay Huey Ying said.

In tandem with URA's earlier flash estimate, non-landed homes in RCR (including places like Bukit Merah, Queenstown, Geylang, Toa Payoh and Katong) posted the biggest price gains in Q2, with an overall (both uncompleted and completed homes) increase of 8.1 per cent, followed by CCR (up 7.9 per cent ) and OCR - which covers suburban mass-market locations like Woodlands, Clementi, Jurong, Hougang, Tampines and Bedok - rising 7.2 per cent.

Ms Tay argues that the price recovery in this region can be attributed not just to a general filtering-down effect from the higher-priced tiers, but also to investors buying units in older developments with en bloc sale potential such as Neptune Court, Ivory Heights, Lakepoint Condominium and Clementi Park.

DTZ's Mrs Ong reckons that the rate of price gains may moderate in the second-half. 'Developers who bought their sites through en bloc sales in 2006 and earlier, before the surge in land prices seen this year, can probably sell their new projects without setting benchmark prices. Developers are likely to be more sensitive in pricing their projects so aggressively until things are clearer.'

HDB Resale Market Picks Up Pace In Q2

Source : The Business Times, July 28, 2007

Public housing sees filter-down effect from private property market

SHAKING off years of stagnation, the HDB market gained momentum in the second quarter of 2007, as it saw a 'filter-down' effect from the red-hot private property market.

Data released by the Housing Board yesterday showed that the number of HDB resale transactions in the second quarter climbed to 8,700 - up from the 6,300 in the first three months of the year.

HDB's resale price index also rose at a relatively faster clip from April to June, climbing some 3 per cent - up from 1.3 per cent in the first quarter. The index was boosted by the majority of flats fetching more than their market valuations.

As much as 70 per cent of all resale HDB flats fetched more than their valuations in the second quarter, HDB said. The overall median cash-over-valuation (COV) was about $7,000. Analysts said that all the signs are pointing towards a recovery in the HDB market.

'Some 70 per cent of flats are selling above valuation - it seems that the market is seeing an upswing,' said Eugene Lim, ERA assistant vice-president.

PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail welcomed the 'modest' increase as the HDB market has been lagging behind the private property market for the last few quarters. 'The current price index (108.0 points) is no match for the peak in 1996 (136.9 points), but is good news for most HDB owners,' he said.

Market watchers said that the increase in HDB resale prices was largely expected as the market is seeing a 'filter-down' effect caused by rapidly rising private home prices.

'Home buyers who are priced out of the private property market will be looking at the larger flat types like the 5-room and executive flats,' said ERA's Mr Lim.

'They, in turn, will push those who are priced out of buying larger flats into buying smaller flats like the 4-room units.'

Official data shows that private home prices have climbed 13.5 per cent since the start of the year. Property analysts said that one reason for the heightened demand is the recent slew of en bloc sales in the private property market.

En bloc sellers have been snapping up HDB flats as replacement private homes get more expensive.

HDB's data identified Bishan, Bukit Merah, Bukit Timah and Marine Parade as four HDB resale 'hot spots' where buyers are willing to fork out significantly more COV for their flats.

These areas, which are closer to town, might be more popular with en bloc sellers used to living near the city centre, analysts said.

With the release of the new data yesterday, the Housing Board also upped the ante by giving median rental figures for HDB flats for the first time ever.

The data was released to counter recent reports that certain flats were being sub-let at very high rents. Such cases, HDB said, were very few and confined to flats with 'special attributes'. While HDB flat rentals have risen, they remain affordable in most cases, data shows.

Median rents range from $1,000 to $1,400 for a 4-room flat and $1,100 to $1,500 for a 5-room unit. Executive flats are going for anywhere between $1,100 and $1,900.

More HDB homeowners have jumped on the sub-letting bandwagon. The number of sub-letting approvals climbed to 3,600 in the second quarter, from 2,400 in the first quarter.

For the full year, HDB resale prices could climb by 8-10 per cent, analysts said. Resale volume for the whole year is expected to come to 30,000-33,000.