Sunday, August 12, 2007

S'pore Medium Term Growth To Outperform 3-5% Forecast: SM Goh

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 11 August 2007

SINGAPORE : Singapore's economy should hit the estimated medium term growth rate of 3-5 percent.

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong is also optimistic the economy will outperform that target and that the current stock market turmoil is only temporary.

Speaking at the Marine Parade National Day dinner on Saturday, Mr Goh said with the favourable external conditions in Asia, he expects Singapore's economy to continue doing well.

The senior minister pointed out several factors that work in Singapore's favour.

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S'pore's medium-term growth to outperform 3-5% forecast: SM Goh

With China and India continuing to grow, it means more trade, tourists, investments and opportunities.

Singapore's foreign relations with neighbours are also sound.

Mr Goh said the Malaysian and Indonesian leaders both want better ties with Singapore.

But even with the positive outlook, Mr Goh cautioned Singaporeans not to take it easy because there are still challenges ahead.

Likening Singapore to being a sail boat, SM Goh said Singapore must watch for big waves to avoid a capsize.

But to sail the high seas successfully with other mega container ships like the US, China and India, will depend on a capable crew.

"We have a strong boat, a good captain, an excellent crew and hardworking, united people on board. And we are happily entering a favourable stretch. The currents are with us and the winds are rising. We should trim our sails, catch the wind and sail full speed ahead," said the senior minister.

Still, Mr Goh said it won't be plain sailing, as Singapore is part of the globalised world.

There are also concerns over the widening income gaps in the island state.

But the government is taking a serious look at this issue, with programmes like Workfare.

Other measures are also being studied such as paying a higher return on CPF savings.

Raising the retirement age and topping up CPF for the lower-income older Singaporeans.

And because Singapore has no natural resources, Mr Goh said it can only depend on its talent pool.

So, the government is investing heavily in education.

With nearly a quarter of each cohort entering university, Mr Goh said the aim is to increase the number further, either by increasing university places or even building a fourth university. - CNA /ls

Go-Kart Racing May Be A Possibility At Marina Bay

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 12 August 2007

SINGAPORE: Go-kart racing may be a possibility at Marina Bay, said Parliamentary Secretary Teo Ser Luck at the inaugural go-kart event in Sengkang West on Sunday.

But what is definite for now is that go-karting will be introduced in the heartlands, leading up to the Formula One race in Singapore in September next year.

As part of Sengkang West National Day Carnival, a street was closed to allow go-karting within an HDB estate.

Mr Teo said: "When you have a go-kart carnival like that, you will have display booths. We can then bring in the F1 literature and information to the heartlands and let them understand it better and appreciate the F1 race that's coming up next year.

"The possibility is there for any heartlands that have their roads available. We'll plan it out as soon as we can."

To make go-karting possible along the Sengkang Eastway, MPs from Ang Mo Kio and Pasir-Ris-Punggol GRCs collaborated and tested the circuit themselves.

Organisers spent about three months putting this event together and because it was using a public street near flats, they had to get permits from authorities like the Housing and Development Board and the Traffic Police.

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Go-kart racing may be a possibility at Marina Bay

The go-kart activity is expected to be introduced across the island, possibly in areas like Nee Soon South, other parts of Sengkang and even Marina Bay.

"Marina Bay go-karting is a possibility, it's a good idea, but we still need to see if the circuit itself is suitable for a go-kart vehicle and whether the public is receptive to the whole idea," said Mr Teo.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who officiated the carnival, gave the race a miss but decided to get a feel of being inside a go-kart.

And his experience showed he much preferred racing in the gaming world. - CNA/so

Mortgage, Credit Turmoil Should Be 'Manageable': IMF

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 11 August 2007

WASHINGTON : The International Monetary Fund (IMF) (Picture)said Friday that global financial market turmoil sparked by the troubled US mortgage sector and a related credit crunch should be "manageable."

The multilateral lender said global economic growth should not be derailed by the mortgage and credit jitters, which have triggered sharp falls on US, European and Asian stock markets.

"While the situation is still evolving, we continue to believe that the systemic consequences of the reassessment of credit risk that is taking place will be manageable," said IMF spokesman Masood Ahmed.

"The fundamentals supporting strong global growth remain in place, and the re-establishment of credit discipline that is occurring is a healthy development," the spokesman said.

He said IMF officials were closely tracking market developments around the globe.

The spokesman said interventions by a number of central banks, including the US Federal Reserve, which injected 38 billion dollars into the US financial system Friday, should help calm markets and soothe rattled investors.

The IMF had predicted a so-called "correction" in global credit markets, and senior fund officials have said in recent days that the financial jitters show investors are more risk averse.

"Market discipline, when it arrives, is almost inevitably uncertain in terms of timing, somewhat uneven in terms of impact and to the outside observer inevitably appears a bit messy," IMF deputy managing director John Lipsky told a meeting of Asia Pacific finance ministers last week. - AFP /ls

How A Liquidity Crunch Affects Global Economies

Source : The Business Times, Sat, Aug 11, 2007

NEW YORK) A capital crisis that roiled Wall Street on Thursday and took nearly 400 points off the Dow Jones Industrials has the potential to impact regular people on Main Street as well. Here are some questions and answers about exactly what a 'liquidity crisis' is and how it impacts global economies.

Q: What is a liquidity squeeze and why should I care if the Wall Street banks are having troubles?

A: Think of what people call 'liquidity' in the financial markets as being something like a faucet. When water pours from it at full blast, you can get a glass of water quickly and easily. But as the water pressure falls, it becomes increasingly difficult and takes more time to fill up a glass.

In periods of liquidity, there is plenty of trading, and big institutional buyers and sellers easily move into and out of stocks, bonds and other instruments. But during a 'liquidity crisis' the big banks get nervous about risk and become more cautious about doing deals and making trades. They're less likely to extend the easy credit that has fuelled the economy in the past few years, and that makes it more difficult to match buyers with sellers. That is what happened to markets around the world on Thursday.

The fallout from a liquidity crunch causes a ripple effect. The most immediate impact is that loans could become harder to get. But troubles can spread to the wider economy, hurting people's investments and endangering their long-term financial plans. If banks are not lending and no one will extend credit to anyone else, markets seize up and economic growth disappears.

Q: Why are these big firms so easily affected?

A: Major financial institutions can absorb hefty losses without toppling. However, liquidity concerns cause institutions to become reluctant to lend money to other banks. Loans between banks on an overnight basis, one of the primary ways they fund their operations, have become more expensive as concerns arise about their ability to repay the loans - and that forces costs up.

Banks also bring debt offerings to the market on behalf of their clients. But if investors are reluctant to buy them, many times the banks will be left holding the debt.

Q: How do central banks inject money into the economy?

A: As an example, the Federal Reserve carried out a US$12 billion one-day repurchase agreement and a US$12 billion 14-day repurchase agreement. In a repurchase agreement, or 'repo', the Fed arranges to buy securities from dealers, who then deposit the money the Fed has paid them into commercial banks.

The cash infusion adds stability to the market, and fosters more buying and increased cash reserves. When the banks get this unexpected windfall of deposits, it increases their confidence that there is enough money to fund operations and make trades.

Q: I thought this was an American problem. What's the deal with Europe, and should we be worried about China and Asia too?

A: The sub-prime mortgage mess might be a problem in the US as risky borrowers default on their loans and banks become increasingly shy about offering credit. But it impacts European and Asian players who invest heavily in bonds and other products made up of pools of mortgages.

European investors were said to be heavily involved in two hedge funds operated by Bear Stearns that are now bankrupt after bad sub-prime bets. The announcement by BNP Paribas that it was blocking investors from taking their money out of some mortgage-exposed funds raised the spectre of a widening impact of US credit market problems.

These high-yield investments have been attractive because they offered big returns, and that caught the interest of investors globally.

Q: Aren't the bad sub-prime loans contained, and what kind of impact would this have for regular Americans if they're not?

A:. Defaults in the US$2.6 trillion sub-prime mortgage market have caused many homeowners to lose their homes, while scores of others have reined in spending to keep on top of their payments. There has been some indication that fears about the housing industry have caused borrowers to watch their wallets. And that's evident in the US economy, with retailers reporting sluggish sales figures in July. -- AP

Expect More Volatility Ahead

Source : The Business Times, August 12, 2007

Central bank intervention - delaying the inevitable?

SINGAPORE - Right from the start it's probably best to state that the US sub-prime mess hasn't yet run its course, that volatility will remain high in the days ahead and that this will create plenty of trading opportunities for short-sellers and day traders.

On the one hand, most research houses, brokers and analysts believe that plunging prices have created a conducive buying environment and are recommending clients do so - witness Credit Suisse's well-timed 'overweight' on the local banks last Wednesday for example that helped push the sector up sharply.

Similarly, BCA Research in its August 10 Global Investment Strategy stated 'market sentiment is still very fragile and emotional while investors have been spooked'.

'It is hard to predict what share prices will do in the days ahead. However, we urge clients to maintain composure. We should always be ready to buy when there is blood on the streets and dead bodies are floating on the surface'.

Add to that the increasing pressure on the US Federal Reserve to cut interest rates and we have a reasonable case for 'buying the dips'.

On the other hand, you can't help but worry that the unprecedented move by the European Central Bank and other major central banks to inject liquidity into the system last week to stave off an all-out crash in markets may have bought some time but could simply be delaying the inevitable.

Those looking to buy might wish to note recent comments by Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz who spoke of the roots of the sub-prime crisis lying in the economic and monetary policies of Alan Greenspan and George Bush after the Nasdaq crash of 2000 and of how the full effects have not been felt yet.

In a nutshell, the thesis here is that Bush's tax cuts aimed at enriching the wealthy and Greenspan's interest rate cuts at about the same time had the combined effect of inflating a huge housing bubble. This then enticed the lower-income to try and play the property game and thus led to the sub-prime mortgage crisis which is gripping markets today.

Our best guess is that even though the market has known about the problem for a good six months now, the end game is not yet upon us because the full impact has not yet shown up in US consumer spending and corporate earnings.

Clearly, short-sellers have stepped up their activities after smelling blood and in such a climate, it's best to view bounces with scepticism because they would invariably include a hefty short-covering element. As such, it's probably best to be overweight cash or to stay defensive for the time being.

For those who opt for the latter, this means looking for companies with low valuations, steady earnings, strong balance sheets and a track record of paying good dividends.

Unfortunately for hordes of retail punters, criteria such as these probably excludes most of Sesdaq and a sizeable chunk of penny stocks listed on the mainboard.

In the space of 12 trading days, the UOB Sesdaq Index for which no price-earnings ratio exists because the majority of its components have no earnings, has lost 24 per cent.

Perhaps not surprisingly among its biggest losers are those which had been earlier pushed to stratospheric heights on pure speculation - Baker Technology for example, was 55 cents on July 24 but has since collapsed by 47 per cent to 29 cents now while Alantac was 59.5 cents four weeks ago but has since crashed an astounding 71 per cent to 17.5 cents now.

Many in the market feel that the whole penny mania started with video surveillance firm LottVision which in April announced a move into the China lottery market but in May announced it expects a full-year loss for the year ended March 31.

Its shares had been jacked up to 72 cents in April but sold for 29.5 cents prior to a trading halt last week, a loss of 58 per cent.

Needless to say, few punters here caught at the top of the penny bubble would have expected the end to have come because low income American real estate punters have been unable to meet their mortgage payments.

If anything, the sub-prime crisis has served as a timely wake-up call, a much-needed reality check that valuations do matter. -- BT

IMF Says Current Market Volatility Is Manageable

Source : The Business Times, August 11, 2007

WASHINGTON - Sharp swings in world financial markets have yet to challenge the stability of the system and prompt central bank action ought ensure an orderly adjustment, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Friday.

'We continue to believe that the systemic consequences of the reassessment of credit risk that is taking place will be manageable. The fundamentals supporting strong global growth remain in place,' the IMF said in a statement.

'The IMF is monitoring these developments closely, including cross-border impacts, in the context of our broader mandate and responsibilities for the international monetary system,' it said.

Evidence that US sub-prime mortgage problems have spread to Europe sent stock markets tumbling on Thursday and central banks have since injected over US$320 billion into the banking system to protect liquidity and shore up confidence.

The IMF said a re-pricing of credit risk currently underway was a healthy correction and should not lead to a more serious market crash, thanks to timely action by central banks. -- REUTERS

Central Banks Act To Head Off Global Credit Crisis

Source : The Business Times, August 11, 2007

WASHINGTON/FRANKFURT - Central banks around the globe pumped billions of dollars into banking systems on Friday in a concerted effort to beat back a widening credit crisis, and they pledged to do more if needed.

In all, central banks in Europe, Asia and North America have pumped out more than US$300 billion over 48 hours in an effort to keep money flowing through the arteries of the global financial system, hoping to prevent a credit market seizure that could imperil economies.

In a rare statement of reassurance that underlined the seriousness with which it views the current bout of market stress, the US Federal Reserve said it would provide cash as needed to ensure markets functioned smoothly. The statement was the first of its kind since Sep 11, 2001, when terror attacks brought the US financial system to a virtual halt.

The Fed conducted three separate operations on Friday, pumping a total of US$38 billion into the banking system, the largest amount for any single day since Sep 19, 2001.

Markets responded positively. The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 31.14 points at 13,239.54, but in early trade had been off more than 200 points. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 11.60 points - less than one-half of 1 per cent - to close at 2,544.89.

The US central bank was not alone in its market-bolstering exercise.

The European Central Bank (ECB) injected 61.05 billion euros (US$83.61 billion), less than the record-setting 94.8 billion euros it provided on Thursday but enough to steady panicky euro-zone credit markets.

The Bank of Japan, the Bank of Canada, the Swiss National Bank and the Reserve Bank of Australia also provided funds.

The White House weighed in to say that the Bush administration's top economic officials were on the case and that the economy remained sound notwithstanding market gyrations.

Europe on Watch
Markets have been rocked for weeks by news of problems in banks and funds exposed to risky investments in US mortgage and asset-backed markets. That triggered fears that the cheap credit that has fuelled global growth might dry up.

The tremors that jolted global markets began on Thursday in France, when BNP Paribas closed three funds, sending waves of fear through European credit markets that deepening losses tied to rising US mortgage market defaults could undermine the soundness of European investment firms.

Signs that euro-zone money markets were freezing up sparked the ECB's large-scale action on Thursday.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet told a French newspaper that the central bank will 'continue to pay close attention to market developments in the coming period' and act as needed, but he stressed that price stability remained vital for growth.

A sense of panic led financial markets to rethink where interest-rate policy in the world's major economies may be heading. Investors slashed bets on euro-zone and Japanese rate hikes and came to see a one-in-three chance of an emergency cut in borrowing costs by the Fed, while fully pricing in a reduction at the Fed's next scheduled meeting on Sep 18.

While the ECB acted aggressively on Thursday to begin stemming what it saw as a dangerous tide, the Fed provided only US$24 billion in liquidity on that day.

Robert Eisenbeis, who retired as head of research at the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank in January, said the US central bank had taken the necessary steps to calm markets.

Whether market volatility was worse in Europe or not, the source of much of it had made-in-America written on it as investors worldwide scrambled to assess the fallout from the once high-flying US housing sector's sharp downturn.

Order in US markets
The Fed's efforts appeared successful at wrestling overnight US rates down closer to its 5.25 per cent target.

'The Federal Reserve will provide reserves as necessary through open market operations to promote trading in the federal funds market at rates close to the Federal Open Market Committee's target,' the Fed said, signalling a willingness to do whatever necessary to keep markets from seizing up.

Fed policy-makers had shown limited worry about credit market conditions on Tuesday as they voted to hold rates steady and warned anew about inflation risks.

Many analysts continued to believe the Fed would be able to ride out the storm.

While the central banks' concerted actions in injecting money appeared to be having some calming effect, no one thought the credit market crisis was near played out.

More sub-prime problems are likely to surface in coming weeks, said Moe Ibrahim, a fund manager with The Asia Debt Fund in Singapore, which manages about US$365 million in assets.

'There's a variety of scenarios you can envision, all the way from it being a relatively contained phenomenon to something which has much broader implications that cause the world to collapse like a deck of cards,' he said. -- REUTERS

Don’t Handicap Your Heirs When You Will Money To Them

Source : The Straits Times, Sunday 12 Aug 2007

If you plan to make a will or leave capital in trust for your heirs, you should probably consult your lawyer and tax consultant, and in many cases, your banker.

Always remember that these plans have aspects that touch sharply on investments.

From an investment perspective, the most important point is to leave out restrictions.

While it is only human to feel that, after you have gone, your hard-earned savings might not be invested with the success you have achieved, you should do your best to select an able administrator.

Once you have done that, don’t try to limit investment authority.

Your heirs will do far better, most of the time, making investment decisions on their own than having these decisions forced on them by tight restrictions.

Concepts change, and nothing is more disastrous than investments managed by a dead man’s hand.

Years ago, a friend of mine made a fortune in the way fortunes are usually made - owning just one stock. When he died, he left his estate in a trust. His son was to get the income; and his grandson the capital, upon the death of his son.

The real stickler in my friend’s will was the provision that either his original stock was to be retained or, if it were sold, the proceeds were to be reinvested only in bonds.

As it turned out, the stock that had done so well for him reached its peak and turned into a lacklustre holding. The son was left with two bad choices: (1) Hold a stock with poor prospects; or (2) sell and buy bonds that offered no hope of combating inflation during an inflationary period.

Provisions that leave income to a widow and, at her death, the capital to children, can also be a source of trouble. The widow wants high-income stocks; the children, lower-paying growth issues.

One solution would be to avoid precise provisions, and leave it to the trustee to distribute income and invade principal if necessary. This approach would usually provide adequately for the widow and also allow the trustee to invest in growth issues, thus satisfying the children.

Extracts from Gerald M Loeb’s The Battle For Investment Survival, published by John Wiley & Sons.

How Can Co-Owners Protect Their Interests?

Source : The Straits Times, Sunday, 12 Aug 2007

Q MY FRIEND and I have jointly purchased a private property. What should be documented during and after the purchase? We have a joint bank account and individual mortgage insurance. What should we do to protect each other’s interests?

A CO-OWNERS hold property as either ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’. This is called the ‘manner of holding’ in legal terms. With a joint tenancy, when one party dies, the surviving party will be entitled to the whole share of the property.

As you are friends, it is likely you would want to hold the property as tenants in common and apportion the shares in a predetermined manner. For instance, one of you can hold 30 per cent and the other 70 per cent. If one of you dies, the deceased’s share will be given to his or her beneficiaries in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act or under the terms of his or her will.

If you purchased the private property from individuals on the open resale market, you would have been granted an option to purchase by the sellers.

You should contact your lawyers before paying the option fee, which is usually 1 per cent of the purchase price, and before obtaining the option from the sellers.

The lawyers can ensure that the terms of the option are not unfavourable to you. They can also check the title. A search can ensure that the seller has not granted options to other parties.

In addition, the lawyers can run a bankruptcy search on the sellers, to ensure that the sellers are not bankrupt.

Under the usual terms, you are required to pay the option fee - 1 per cent of the purchase price - to obtain the option signed by the seller. Generally, you are required to exercise the option within two weeks from the date of the option. This involves sending a cheque for the balance of the deposit: 4 per cent or sometimes 9 per cent of the price.

The signed and witnessed acceptance copy of the option is then sent to the seller’s solicitors.

When signing the acceptance copy of the option, add a clause to say whether you are holding the property as joint tenants or tenants in common.

If you do not do so, you should sign a manner-of-holding form at your lawyers’ office.

If you do not instruct your lawyers as to the manner of holding, the presumption will be that you are holding the property as joint tenants.

After you pay the 1 per cent booking fee and have obtained the option, you must see a lawyer to work out your financing, exercise the option on your behalf and enable legal documentation for completion to be drawn up.

Payment of the balance of the deposit is usually made in the name of the seller’s law firm as it would hold this balance as stakeholders.

If you and your friend hold the property as joint tenants and you happen to die at the same time, the legal presumption is that the younger person survives the older person. In other words, if your friend is younger than you are, the property would pass to your friend’s beneficiaries.

It is advisable to make a will in case you do die simultaneously. You can choose who your assets go to and name your executor.

Joint bank account

Instruct your bank that withdrawals from your current account need two signatories and that the account should not be linked to ATM cards.

Individual loan insurance

It would be advisable to take up mortgage loan insurance as well that would cover the event where one of you dies and that would enable the whole loan to be repaid.

Kim Cheong King Ying Partner Low Yeap Toh & Goon

*Advice provided in this column is not meant as a substitute for comprehensive professional advice.

Horizon Towers Sale Deadline Expires

Source : Sunday Times, 12 Aug 2007

Owners will not extend sale deadline but will appeal against STB’s dismissal of the sale

The legal battle over the Horizon Towers collective sale entered a new stage when majority owners decided not to extend the sale agreement that expired yesterday.

Instead, the sales committee will appeal against the Aug 3 decision of the Strata Titles Board (STB) dismissing the $500 million sale on technical grounds.

If the appeal succeeds, another sale application can be made to the STB, but not under the terms - and price - of the old agreement as that died yesterday.

Yesterday’s decision - after two days of intense legal meetings - could also fend off a threatened lawsuit from the intended owners, Hotel Properties Limited (HPL), Morgan Stanley Real Estate and Qatar Investment Authority.

Committee member Joyce Tan said last night: ‘We heard many views from home owners who are anxious over the prospect of litigation.

‘The feeling was that they did not do anything wrong, but they are faced with potential lawsuits with huge claims against them.’

The intended buyers have threatened to sue the majority owners for lost profits - estimated at between $800 million and $1 billion - from the project that would have been built on the Leonie Hill site.

They also wanted the sale deadline extended by four months and the STB decision appealed. Both moves could have cleared the way for the sale to go ahead - but at the original $500 million price many owners now feel is inadequate.

If the sales committee’s appeal succeeds, it will re-submit its sale application.
It is not clear why the committee decided against an extension, but it hopes that its appeal will show that it cannot be faulted for not getting the paperwork right.
But if it wins the appeal, Horizon Towers cannot be sold to the HPL group under the existing agreement as it lapsed yesterday.

Owners will be back to square one and have to negotiate a new deal, and presumably a higher price.

The Grangeford next door was sold en bloc earlier this month at double the asking price per square foot (psf) achieved by Horizon Towers in February.

Many owners realised earlier this year that they had sold at a bargain price and even those who signed the sales agreement ended up backing the minority owners in their bid to unwind the deal.

If the sale had gone through, the owners of the 199 flats would have pocketed $2.3 million while the 11 penthouse owners would have walked away with $4 million or more each.


‘We heard many views from home owners who are anxious over the prospect of litigation. The feeling was that they did not do anything wrong but they are faced with potential lawsuits with huge claims against them.’MS JOYCE TAN, Horizon Towers sales committee member

HDB Resale Market Statistics

Source : The Straits Times, Sunday, 12 Aug 2007

Resale Price Index

What it is

This is an index that shows the overall price movement of resale HDB flats, with the fourth quarter of 1998 as the base period when the index started at 100.

The index is calculated using resale prices by date of registration.

The example below shows that, in the second quarter, HDB’s index grew by about 3 per cent over the previous quarter - the strongest growth in almost a decade.

This shows a general increase in prices across most flat types and towns.

Why it is important

The index reflects price appreciation across time.

It allows both homebuyers and owners to track overall price movements of the market, and reflects the general sentiment of the HDB resale market.

Median Resale Prices by Town and Flat Type for Resale Cases Registered in 2nd Quarter 2007

What it is

Median prices are provided for resale transactions of a particular flat type in a given housing estate.

What the median price tells you is that half of the units were sold above that value, and the other half below that value.

Instead of the median price, HDB used to provide the average price each quarter, but this was misleading as a single large transaction can distort the overall picture, HDB said recently.

Why it is important

These figures give a more accurate picture of what the typical price of a flat is in reality, in contrast to much-publicised ‘headline’ prices for flats with exceptional conditions such as good views and location - for instance, the five-room flat at Kim Tian Place that sold for $720,000 in June.

Buyers can use this figure as a gauge of average prices, and sellers can manage their expectations, using this to decide on realistic asking prices.

Cash-Over-Valuation is the difference between the Resale Price and Market Value of the flat. refers to the sum of cash that needs to be paid by a buyer over and above the market valuation of a flat.

What it is

Cash-over-valuation (COV)
What the median COV indicates is that half of the units were sold for a COV above that value and half below. The latest HDB data for the second quarter shows 30 per cent of all resale cases were transacted at or below valuation, with an overall median COV of about $7,000.

Why it is important

Again, these figures give a more accurate indication of the premium that buyers are paying for HDB flats. It disregards the high COVs paid for flats in exceptional circumstances.

Buyers can use this figure as a gauge when buying, and sellers can use this as a starting point in deciding their asking price.

Number of Resale Applications Registered by Flat Type

What it is

This figure gives an indication of the volume of flats transacted, according to flat type.

Transactions grew 38 per cent from 6,300 last quarter to 8,700 this quarter.

Why it is important

It shows how hot the HDB resale market is, and what sort of flats are available to meet the location and flat type preferences of flat buyers.

It also reflects general market sentiment.

Individual resale transactions

What it is

This search engine enables members of the public to find out the transacted prices of individual flats by block and flat type.

Detailed enquiries can be made at bb33/ispm051p.nsf.

Why it is important

Individuals can get specific information relevant to their own situations.

Click Here For Individual Transacted Prices :-

Individual Resale Transactions -

More Details, Please visit Housing Development Board Website at

HDB Subletting Market Statistics

Source : The Straits Times, Sun, Aug 12, 2007

Median subletting rents by town and flat type

What it is

Median prices are provided for rental rates by town and flat type registered in that quarter.

What the median price tells you is that half of the units were rented above that price and half below.

Why it is important

These figures give a more accurate picture of subletting rates for HDB flats, by town and flat type.

They discount rare cases of flats that fetch high rents due to special attributes.

The data is based on rents that landlords themselves have declared when filling out HDB subletting application forms. Still, HDB believes it serves as a useful reference for prospective tenants.


Number of subletting approvals by flat type

What it is

It shows the number of approved flats available for rent by flat type.

Why it is important

This is the first time HDB has released such data. It paints a detailed picture of how many rental HDB flats are available for potential tenants.

HDB data shows a 50 per cent increase in the number of subletting approvals, from 2,400 cases in the first quarter to 3,600 in the second quarter.

HDB also says there are currently about 14,600 HDB flat owners who have been given approval to sublet their flats on the open market.

Dark Clouds Over Asian Bourses On US Credit Woes, STI tumbles

Source : The Straits Times, Aug 10, 2007

Traders on the floor of the Philippines Stock Exchange look on as stocks sank amidst worries over fresh US credit jitters. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Singapore share prices closed 1.64 per cent lower on Friday as investors rushed for the exit amid fears the US subprime mortgage crisis is spreading, dealers said.
The Straits Times Index fell 53.99 points to 3,359.18.

The benchmark index had plunged by more than 100 points earlier in the day before regaining its balance. The central bank said it was ready, if needed, to intervene to stabilise the financial market.

Analysts say concerns over the US subprime mortgage market overshadowed local news the economy had grown a better-than-expected 8.6 percent in the second quarter, prompting the government to raise the full year growth target to 7.0 to 8.0 per cent from 5.0 to 7.0 per cent.

'Its all an issue of confidence now,' said CIMB-GK research head Song Seng Wun said.

'Yes, the economy did well in the second quarter but that's in the past. This current volatility in the financial markets could potentially impact gross domestic product in the final quarter.'

'But having said that, the good thing is fundamentals remain strong, and our financial institutions are in a much healthier state than any time before.'

Banks led losses, with DBS Group down 4.6 per cent, United Overseas Bank fell 3.3 per cent and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp slipped 4 per cent.

US subprime concerns
US shares plummeted on Thursday amid fresh credit fears linked to the troubled subprime US mortgage sector.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 387.18 points or 2.83 per cent to close at 13,270.68.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 56.49 points or 2.16 per cent to 2,556.49 and the broad-market Standard & Poor's 500 index tumbled 44.38 points or 2.96 per cent to 1,453.11.

Investors were spooked by the signs from abroad that the crisis in the US subprime loan sector, which provides mortgages to people with poor credit histories, is spreading to the global financial sector.

European jitters
Adding to the jitters was an announcement by French bank BNP Paribas that it had suspended three funds exposed to the US subprime sector because it could not value them fairly, due to a 'complete evaporation of liquidity in certain segments of the US securitisation market.'

Other Asian stocks also slumped broadly.

KUALA LUMPUR - At closing time on Friday, there were 104 gainers 835 losers and 160 counters traded unchanged on the Malaysian stock market.

The KLCI was at 1,287.70 down 25.69 points, the Second Board Index was at 107.49, down 1.79 points and the FBMEmas was at 8,726.83, down 172.54 points.

Turnover was at 1.059 billion shares valued at RM1.953 billion (S$0.85 nillion)

HONG KONG - Hong Kong share prices closed sharply lower on Friday, down 2.88 per cent, as fears of a global credit crisis from US subprime mortgage problems dominated trading throughout the day, dealers said.

They said the injection of liquidity by the US Federal Reserve the European, Japanese and Australian central banks into financial markets to ease credit concerns did not reassure investors.

Instead, the move was interpreted as an admission of the gravity of the problem.

The Hang Seng index closed down 646.65 points at 21,792.71, off a low of 21,661.05 and a high of 21,860.13.

For the week, the index was down 745.73 points or 3.31 per cent. Turnover was HK$65.46 billion (S$12.66 billion).

Trade on the local bourse was suspended at 2.45pm Singapore time due to a typhoon warning.

TOKYO - Tokyo stocks fell more than 2 per cent to its lowest close in almost 5 months on Friday as fears about spreading US subprime mortgage woes sparked selling of financial stocks and prompted investors to take profits in banks, shippers and other recent gainers.

Selling spread across the board, but some bucked the bearish trend. Fast Retailing Co Ltd jumped more than 3 per cent after Nomura Securities said the firm's decision to withdraw from its bid for Barneys New York was favourable.

'Japanese stocks are being sold in sympathy with falls in US and European stocks,' said Nagayuki Yamagishi, a strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities Co Ltd.

'What we are seeing is unwinding of carry trades, and as a result, commodity, oil and stocks are being sold. The only financial instrument that is being bought is bonds,' he added.

The Nikkei shed 406.51 points or 2.37 per cent to 16,764.09 while the Topix index declined 2.96 per cent to 1,633.93 after a brief 3 per cent tumble. -- REUTERS, ST

Central banks move to calm panicky money markets
TOKYO - MAJOR central banks swept in to calm credit markets spooked by mounting losses.

Japan's central bank injected one trillion yen (S$12.9 billion) into the money markets on Friday to try to ease a sharp liquidity squeeze caused by problems in the US subprime mortgage sector.

The injection followed the European Central Bank's move on Thursday to pump a record 94.8 billion euros (S$198.1 billion) into the eurozone banking market as lenders struggled for funds in a flight to safety from the growing defaults in the US home loans market.

The US Federal Reserve made a more modest US$24 billion available to US commercial banks on Thursday.

Central banks in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines also intervened to sell US dollars on Friday, traders said, as their currencies succumbed to selling of risky assets as worries about the credit markets escalated.

'I heard they sold dollars at 45.75 and I am still seeing offers at that level,' said a trader in Manila, referring to intervention in the Philippine peso .

The peso fell nearly a per cent from Thursday's close before being supported at the day's low of 45.75.

The ringgit fell to an end-June low of 3.48 per dollar before suspected central bank intervention, and the high-yielding rupiah hit its lowest in a year.

'They did intervene around the 3.4780/90 levels,' said Suresh Ramanathan, a strategist at CIMB Bank in Kuala Lumpur.

Meanwhile, a senior Bank of Korea official said the central bank would not supply dollars to ease what it regarded as a lack of short-term supplies in the market.

Singapore's central bank said it stood ready to supply funds to the market if needed.

'Better to offer ample funds':BoJ
The BoJ's injection is up from 400 billion yen the bank pumped into the financial system on Thursday and the highest since it offered one trillion yen on June 29.

A BoJ spokesman said the central bank had 'judged it would be better to offer (ample) funds.' 'They needed to stabilise money market interest rates,' said Hiromichi Shirakawa, chief economist at Credit Suisse in Tokyo.

'This increase in interest rates globally is reflecting the increasing credit risk of some financial institutions,' he said.

The main concern is that if the banks and investment houses become increasingly reluctant to provide funds, the broader economy as a whole will slow since businesses will not be able to finance their operations.

If that happens, there could be a destructive knock-on effect as spending and employment fall, running the risk in a worst case scenario of a recession, where growth turns negative.

Normally, central banks would then cut interest rates but if lenders remain worried about possible exposure to US home loan securities that could be worthless, then they will only want to lend at higher rates.

Not monetary loosening
Mr Shirakawa, a former BoJ official, said the BoJ's move should not be confused with a monetary loosening to support economic growth.

'It's not yet a support to the real economy. The decision is to reduce concern in the market in terms of liquidity drying up,' he said.

A plunge in global share prices spilled over into Asia on Friday as worries grew that problems in the US sub-prime mortgage sector for risky borrowers are spreading beyond the US property market.

US banks have suffered a sharp rise from defaults on high-risk mortgages and it is feared that losses by other banks and investment funds that are exposed to the US housing market could cause broader financial problems.

Pre-emptive ECB move
Kenichi Yumoto, vice president at the forex sales department of Societe Generale in Tokyo, said he believed 'the ECB acted to stem risks pre-emptively.

'The move, with a record amount, however, may have fanned a market sentiment that they are heading to a crisis,' Mr Yumoto added.

But the move by the Bank of Japan is 'appreciated", he said, arguing the decision to follow the lead of the ECB gave investors a sense of policy consistency.

US President George W Bush also sought to calm fears that a credit squeeze would shake economic growth, telling a news conference both the global and US economy were strong.

'I'm told there is enough liquidity in the system to enable markets to correct,' Mr Bush said. -- AFP, REUTERS

$500 Million Horizon Towers En Bloc Sale Off

Source : The Straits Times, 11 Aug 2007

THE $500 million Horizon Towers en bloc sale is off for now.
Majority owners of the Leonie Hill development have decided not to extend the collective sale agreement, which expired on Saturday, by another four months.

Instead, the sales committee will appeal against the decision of the Strata Titles Board made on Aug 3, dismissing the collective sale on technical grounds.

The surprise decision which went in favour of the minority owners, was the first in seven years after a week-long hearing.

Horizon Towers was pledged to be sold to developer Hotel Properties (HPL) and a Middle Eastern fund in January for $500 million.

It was then the biggest collective sale in dollar terms.

But The Grangeford next door was sold en bloc earlier this month at double the asking price per square foot (psf), prompting unhappy Horizon Towers residents to band together to reverse their sale.

Even those who signed the original Horizon sales deal ended up backing the minority owners in their bid to unwind the sale.

Had the sale gone through, each of the 199 flat owners would pocket $2.3 million and the 11 penthouse owners at least $4 million each.

But now the majority owners are threatened by an unprecedented lawsuit of between $800 million and $1 billion for alleged breach of contract.

On Monday, the buyers - Hotel Properties Limited (HPL), Morgan Stanley Real Estate and Qatar Investment Authority ? sent a letter of demand asking that the owners push back the completion deadline by four months and file a fresh application for a collective sale order.

Since then, there had been several meetings with lawyers both with owners and the sales committee.

Procedure & Documentation In A Rental Transaction

A. The Renting / Leasing Process:

Inorder to provide better service and to be more efficient and effective, we need to know your needs and requirements.

1. Your Comfortable Range of Allocated Sum For Leasing Your Desired Lodging ?.

This should be within a $500-$1000 difference in range i.e between $3500-$4000 or $4000-$5000

Budgeting yourself will also evaluate the location and size areas of the apartments or houses that are suitable for you

Generally, it is advisable for new expatriate families to start out in a condominium as it provides a household spouse a readymade communal network to rely on for support. The added security is also a plus point to consider as well as the facilities inside the condominium.

2. Size & Number of Rooms ?

Our Singapore Local Terminology, e.g 3+1 means 3 Bedrooms plus a small maid/utility room and not 4 Bedrooms. (However it is different in the case of HDB flats where 3 Bedrooms only comes with 2 Bedrooms, to find out more details for HDB layout, pls visit the Housing Development Board (HDB) website @

3. Location ?

Deciding on the right location is very important and it will determine the convenience for you and your family.

4. Fully or Partially Furnished or Unfurnished ?

a. Partially Furnished - units usually comes with all fixtures, i.e lights, air-conditioning, curtains, built-wardrobes, kitchen cabinets, cooker hob, cooker hood, refrigerator, washer, oven and sometimes with optional items such as mircowave oven, dryer and dishwasher etc. Basically items inside the Kitchen and Laundry Area.

b. Fully Furnished - units have all items found in partially furnished units, and with additional items like bedroom sets, lounge set and dinning set, TV, etc. To put it "in-a-nutshell", basically you just need to move in with your suitcase.

c. Unfurnished - a bare and empty unit. Usually New Project, with only Hood and Hob, Lightings.

5. Commencement Date ?

No point we show you the properties that are still tenanted and is available only 1-2 months later, if you require an immediate occupation unit. Or in another scenario we show you an already vacant unit, but you only require them 2-3 months later. Some owners will not hold the unit for you, especially in this booming period, as supply are limited

6. Term of Lease / Tenure ?

This refers to the length of the lease from commencement to demise. Lease usually range from 12 to 24 months (1 to 2 years), with or withour an option to renew for another 12 months to 24 months. For Renewal of Lease, Landlord usually require you to give a 2 or 3 months’ advance notice of your intention.

Most landlords will not accept leases that are less than 1 year. However Short lease like 1-3 months do available, but usually comes with a price or the unit might have the intention of selling vacant, Owners moves back for own stay, or the project is En Bloc which is very common during this En Bloc Frenzy Period, in other words, you do not have the option of renewing the lease if it is the latter case.

In Singapore, the standard lease period is more than 1 year, with or without an option to renew the lease. The lease renewal is usually for another 1 to 2 years. For the lease renewal option, the landlord would normally require that you give

7. Company (Corporate) or Personal Lease ?

Company Lease - Signed under the Company's Name with the Company ROC's Number (Registry of Company) stating the name of the occupier/occupiers listed in the Tenancy Agreement (TA)

Personal Lease - The occupier in this case is also the actual signatory of the TA

*Most Landlords prefer corporate lease as it is harder for a company to break a lease without answering to the legal consequences but personal lease are becoming more acceptable nowadays.

B. Procedure & Documentation In A Rental Transaction

After you have decided to rent your ideal property and you will need to prepare the following:

- Photocopied passport
- Photocopied employment pass
- One month’s rental for the good faith deposit

Your agent will then prepare the necessary documents for you such as the Letter of Intent and Tenancy Agreement.

1. Letter of Intent

The Letter of Intent, LOI for short, is a letter proposing your intention to lease the property. It will also state your requirements to the landlord. You should take note of the following:

a. Diplomatic Clause
This clause is to safe-guard you in the event that your employment is ceased or you are transferred to another country such that you can terminate the lease after 12 months by giving 2 months notice. Thereafter, the security deposit will be refunded to you. Please note that most landlords will only include the diplomatic clause if the lease is more than a year.

2. Good faith Deposit
This is the booking deposit; usually the amount is one month’s rent. After the landlord signed the Letter of Intent and accept this deposit, he cannot rent the property to other party. This deposit will become part of the security deposit or advance rental after the Tenancy Agreement is signed.

3. Security Deposit
The amount of the security deposit is usually stated in the Letter or Intent. The standard practice in Singapore is usually one month’s rent for every year of lease. It will only be payable upon signing of the Tenancy Agreement. When the lease term ends, the deposit will be refunded without interest. However, the landlord reserves the right to deduct from the deposit all costs and expenses arising from the tenant for breaching any of the covenants stated in the Tenancy Agreement.

4. Your Requirements

Ensure that all your requirements and requests are clearly stated in the Letter of Intent. For example, such as requesting a new sofa, new bed or new washing machine etc. After the landlord had signed the Letter of Intent, he is bound by the Letter to provide you the requests.

5. Tenancy Agreement

After the Letter of intent is duly signed, the landlord’s agent will prepare the Tenancy Agreement. Any legal fees incurred for the drawing up of the agreement is usually borne by the tenant. However, if the landlord’s agreement is acceptable, there will usually not be any legal fees involved. You will need to prepare the rest of the security deposit and advance rental upon signing of the Tenancy Agreement.
- For 1 year lease - 1 month’s deposit and 1 month’s advance rental.
- For 2 years lease - 2 month’s deposit and 1 month’s advance rental.

6. Stamp Duty

Tenants are required to do the stamping of TA. Submit the TAs for e-stamping once the Landlord has signed.

Formula : - Rounded up to the next whole $

(Annual Rental/250) x 1 or 2 or 4 (*Depending on Lease Period) + $2 (Duplicate Copy - 1 for Owner, 1 for Tenant)

*For Lease of 1 yr or Less - Multiply by 1
For Lease of 1 yr to 3 yrs - Multiply by 2
For Lease of more than 3 yrs - Multiply by 4

e.g A mothly rental of $5000 for a period of 2 years

[($5000 x 12) / 250] x 2 + $2 = $482 Stamp Duty

7. Agent's Professional Fee

Rental for All Types of Properties including HDB Flats and Rooms)
-Landlord : Minimum One Month’s Gross Rental as Professional Fees for Lease up to 24 months

-Tenant : Minimum One Month’s Gross Rental as Professional Fees for Lease up to 24 months

(P.S : For Private Property, Monthly Rental above $2500, Tenant are not require to pay the agent's fee, however a token of appreciation may be given instead if you find the agents's service satisfactory.)

8. With The LOI or TA signed by the Landlord, the tenant can appply for utilities, Cable Vision and telephone line, etc.

Individual Tenants can apply online at or Require FIN (Employment Pass or Work Permit No.)

Corporate Tenants have to apply via hardcopy at Singapore Power Building (Next to Somerset MRT Station). Requires Company ROC Cert, Photocopy of NRIC of person in charge (the signatory for the TA)

9. Taking Over the Property

The landlord will prepare an Inventory List on or before the day of handing over. Check the items listed in the inventory. Check all electrical appliances, air-con, lightings, water heater etc. If there is anything unsatisfactory, do not panic; note it down on the inventory. Even brand new houses have defects, therefore be understanding and allow the landlord to rectify it within a reasonable period.

The Boulevard Residences (BLVD)

Taking luxury living to new heights from London to San Francisco, services once the preserve of privileged guests at the world’s most prestigious hotels are now featured in premier residential developments sited in elegant urban locations.

Today, this level of service and luxury comes to Singapore by way of The Boulevard Residences (BLVD). The BLVD is not only an assent to living well but a defining experience of consummate quality and style.

Tucked away from the bustle of Orchard Road, yet presiding over its skyline, the BLVD is a study in urbane sophistication. Two slender 36-storey towers linked by a sky bridge are clad in full-height glass curtain walls to provide uninterrupted views of the cityscape without. Boasting four super-luxurious penthouses, two with its very own swimming pool in the sky, and 42 dream apartments, every unit is accessed via a private elevator that takes the resident from a plush lobby directly to his haven.

From your oasis of calm, you can watch the bustling city below your lofty perch. Just across from this address, the best shopping experience of Orchard Road beckons. The world’s leading fashion labels and designer couture are within short reach when ever you need that special outfit for the evening. When your stomach yearns for the finest Chinese fare, the Four Seasons Hotel’s acclaimed Jiang Nan Chun restaurant is just a hop across Orchard Boulevard. Fine dining, movie theatres, the trendiest gymnasiums and spas are all within walking distance. The term ‘a good neighbour’ has never held such promise.

Inside the BLVD, life settles into contentment and tranquility. Space is not a luxury, but a given. Each apartment measures an average of 2,034 square feet and has living rooms that face only north or south directly. This obviates the intense heat and glare from the rising or setting sun while affording a panoramic view of the pulsating world outside.

Finesse is about the things big and small that escape your attention when the world around you comes together so well. With a prime address in the heart of the city comes with the attendant traffic noise and its cacophony. But you won’t notice any of it as you’d be above it all; BLVD apartments are thoughtfully built from the sixth storey upwards to set you apart from the elements that might distract you from living well. You’d also be ensconced in the comfort of its fully air-conditioned interior without ever seeing the vents or hear its murmur. You are blissfully unaware, left only to savour the splendid life.

A dip in the pool is no less a unique experience. Residents look over a canopy of trees to the city-spread below while lazing at the infinity edge of the 28-metre lap pool that is cantilevered outwards from the third storey. A fully-equipped gymnasium is located on a higher level at the sky terrace, providing the elevation for that perfect workout. Cooling breezes waft the sky terraces constantly, caressing you as you walk bare foot over the generous timber deck after a pilates session. Next to it, the viewing lounge and generous greens provide a lush sense of the tropics in the very heart of the city. And for those special occasions that demand a party, the lounge and outdoor timber-decked areas are the perfect venue to entertain your guests.

Developer: SC Global Developments and Guocoland Group
Location: Cuscaden Walk (District 10)

Map Source :

Tenure : Freehold
Completion Date : 2006
Total Units : 46 in a 36-storey 180m Tower

Unit Information:
Full curtain wall with glass fins and panoramic view for living room. All apartments have living rooms with balconies facing either directly north or south
Residential units from 6th floor upwards

Standard Rooms:
3 bedrooms about 2034 sqft (42 units)
2-level Penthouse (2 units)
3-level Penthouse (2 units) ~ with private swimming

-3-Storey High Entrance Drop-Off Lobby with Water Feature Background
-2 Levels Of Sky Terraces with Fitness Area Complete with Fitness Equipment, Viewing Lounge, Gardens and Open Function Spaces
-Cantilevered Lap Swimming Pool @ Level 3
-Function Room and Outdoor Function Area Next To Swimming Pool
-Children's Pool and Playground
-BBQ Area with Trellis
-Private Lift Access To All The Units

The BLVD itself is a work of art. Its arresting structure is laced with the signature glass fins and a perforated metal screen that runs the entire height of both towers. This metal screen ingeniously encloses a stairway that is by day a porous sheath that catches light from various angles and in the night emits the ethereal glow of soft candlelight as a lantern, marking out its place in the resplendent night sky of Orchard Road.

Befitting its stature, BLVD offers many of the impeccable services and experiences that have come to be expected of a luxury hotel. The concierge would ensure your reservations are in order for that perfect night out. A valet would arrange for your deliveries to be safely sent up to your apartment. As you step out from your car and into the plush lobby for the elevator ride that takes you directly up to your haven in the sky, you’d not have a care in the world.

Paterson Residence @ Paterson Hill

Paterson Residence. An exclusive residential development for modern city living, Paterson Residence has 110 units housed in a 24-storey apartment block and 6 units of three-storey townhouses, with full amenities including a clubhouse and basement parking facilities.

The design and architectural expression of the project is contemporary and deliberately understated. The clean lines and rationalised clarity creates a sharp contrast against the increasingly complex and varied lifestyles of many today. The tropical landscaping, cascading swimming pools and landscaped terraces complement the clean and sleek architecture to provide a quiet refuge from the stress of urban living. The high-rise units are accompanied by panoramic views, while each townhouse boasts its own private roof garden.

Developer: Guccoland
Location: Paterson Hill (District 9)

Map Source :

Tenure: Freehold
Expected Completion Date: 2008
Site Area: 83,000 sqft
Total units: 110

Type of Units:
1 bedrooms ~ 710 sqft
2 bedrooms ~ 969 sqft
3 bedrooms ~ 1313 sqft
4 bedrooms ~ 1496 sqft
Deluxe 4 bedrooms - 1658 sqft
Junior Penthouse ~ 2000-2700 sqft
Duplex Penthouse ~ 4800 sqft
Strata Houses (Terraces and Semi-Ds) ~ 3800-4100 sqft

Facilities:-Infinity-Edged Pool with Underwater Chaise Lounge
-Kids' Wading Pool
-Tennis Court
-Spa Pool with Underwater Chaise Lounge
-Outdoor Jacuzzi
-Putting Green
-Water Feature
-Clubhouse with Gymnasium, Multi-Purpose Room
-BBQ Pits
-Air-Con Lift Lobby @ Every Floor

One of the remaining freehold land parcel in Orchard Road. Encapsulating style and glamour of city living at its best. A premier address in District 9. A mere 5-minutes walk to Orchard MRT station, and the Landmark Orchard Turn development that will house a signature 50-storey complex and one of the largest mall on Orchard Road.

All said and done, Orchard Road and the city will always be the place to live. There are limited brand new residential developments in Orchard Road, let alone one such exquisitely furnished and superbly located.