Sunday, September 30, 2007

Medical Cluster Among Proposals To Transform Yishun Estate

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 30 September 2007

Yishun estate is set for a major makeover, with proposals to turn its town centre into the hub of the north over the next few years.

Land has been set aside in Yishun for medical specialty centres or a university.

Yishun residents are also among the first to pilot HDB's new upgrading schemes that are aimed at middle-aged estates which are over 20 years old.

Tampines is another area that is designated for these schemes.

Related Video Link -
Medical cluster among proposals to transform Yishun estate

The pilot – called the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) and Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP) – will allow homeowners to choose from a menu of optional improvements that cater to their needs.

Seventy three percent of some 47,000 households in Yishun are currently eligible for HIP, which covers only improvements within the flats.

New toilets and door grilles are among the choices offered to homeowners.

An estimated 300,000 flats across the island, built in or before 1986, come under the HIP programme.

Residents could also decide on common facilities such as barbeque pits and street soccer courts under the NRP.

Around 200,000 flats in Singapore, built in or before 1989, are eligible for the scheme.

In Yishun, some 46 percent of households are eligible for NRP.

Three-quarters of the total number of households in the area have to give the go-ahead before HIP or NRP will be carried out.

HDB said upgrading would be rolled out in Yishun over a 20-year period.

One of the residents said: "My unit is getting very old already, so this programme comes at the right time."

"While the cost may be alright for some, for others I hope the government could subsidise them more on a case-by-case basis," another resident said.

Residents pay between 5 and 12.5 percent of the total bill on home improvements, depending on the size of their flats.

The government pays for the rest and will also foot the bill for new facilities in the neighbourhood.

One of the plans for Yishun is a new shopping complex that will include integrated private apartments.

Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who is also the MP for Sembawang GRC, said land that has been set aside could be used for a medical cluster around the new Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, complete with specialty centres and hotels.

He said: "Eventually when the north's population grows, the healthcare needs will certainly expand. The possibility of a cluster is highly feasible. Let's reserve the land to form a land bank, so that when market needs are expressed, we have the land to support it."

Mr Khaw also did not rule out the possibility of using the land for a future university. - CNA/so

Hot Pick: Upper Thomson Road

Source : Property Report "October 2007"

Savills Singapore predicts and reasons for its latest ‘Hot Pick’

Within 18 months, we predict that the following prices will be achieved for condominiums on Upper Thomson Road:

* S$1,000-$1,400psf from the traffic junction of Sin Ming Avenue and Venus Drive, to the junction of Braddell Road and Lornie Road

* S$800-$1,200psf from Yio Chu Kang Road to Sin Min Avenue junction

* S$600-900psf for the stretch between Mandai Road junction and SpringLeaf area to the junction of Yio Chu Kang Road

Prices for developments along the Marymount Road and the Shun Fu Road areas, like Thomson 800 and Thomson V Two, have already surpassed the key S$1,000psf psychological mark. We’ve also noticed that units at Sky@Eleven, which exceeded the S$1,200psf mark during its launch, are now transacting between S$1,400-$1,600psf in the sub-sale market. We believe the current price gap between condominiums along the 6-8km stretch of the Upper Thomson Road is not tenable. We believe the gap will soon start to narrow. The main contributing factor will be the opening of the Marymount MRT Station when it’s completed after 2010. Another plus, the area is also home to many top tier schools, including the Raffles family of schools including Ai Tong and Catholic High.

Prices in the middle stretch, between Yio Chu Kang Road and Sin Min Avenue, which is just 2km away from Ang Mo Kio Central, will appreciate in due course. The opening of AMK Hub has added vibrancy and prestige to the aging Ang Mo Kio Central. This has also led to Far East Organization paying S$601psf per plot ratio for the adjacent plot of condominium land. FEO could launch the condominium for sale sometime in the second half of 2008 at a minimum price of S$1,100 psf. The higher-floor units could enjoy panoramic of golf courses, reservoirs and the city skyline in the distance.

Values at the northern tip of Upper Thomson Road, around the Mandai Road and SpringLeaf area, will grow as home owners realise the price differential and start pushing up north. The quiet beauty – serenity of the greenery, early morning mists, fresh air and gentle rolling slopes – are often overlooked by urbanised Singaporeans.. By the end of 2008, new prices from several small project launches, including land sales in Sembawang, will re-rate the base price of this stretch upwards.

This area is attractive because it offers a slightly different lifestyle where space and landed properties are still abundant. And the area has undergone a complete 360-degree facelift since the early 1990s for upcoming boutique landed developments which are not in any way inferior in design compared to its counterparts in Districts 8, 9 and 10. For all the ‘greenies’ out there, this area is perfect.

Ritz-Carlton Joins Hayden For First Asia Residence

Source : Property Report "October 2007"

The Ritz-Carlton has selected Singapore for its first private residential property in Asia, with Hayden Properties developing the high-profile project at 65 Cairnhill Road, close to the vibrant Orchard Road shopping district. The Ritz-Carlton will train and manage the residence’s staff, who will deliver an array of services including housekeeping, a 24-hour dedicated concierge, sommeliers and doormen.

Situated on almost 60,000sqft of elevated land, the 36-storey Ritz-Carlton Residences will have 56 apartments and two penthouses. Each unit comes with designer fittings and appliances, such as Sub-Zero refrigerators, and all bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms.

Recreational facilities include swimming pools, a barbecue area, tennis courts and a manicured maze garden on the ground floor. An eye-catching feature will be three sky terraces featuring a lap pool, hydro pool, gym, coffee shop, library, wine cellar, and an open kitchen and entertainment area, managed by The Ritz-Carlton.

Hayden Properties, a joint-venture set up last October between KOP Capital and Emirates Tarian, first made headlines in Singapore as the developer behind the much-anticipated ‘car porch condo’ at 37 Scotts Road. This latest alliance with a world-renowned hospitality brand is further testament to the company’s eye for boutique, high-class developments.

“We’re pleased to work with The Ritz-Carlton and proud that The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Singapore is the first of its kind in Asia,” said Leny Suparman, Director and Head of Real Estate of Hayden Properties (pictured far left, with Ong Chih Ching of Hayden, Shawn Hill of Marriott International and Ritz-Carlton’s Simon Manning).

“This shows Singapore is recognised as a global market,” she added. “We’re confident this development will be very appealing to many who have been waiting for such a product in the market.”

Since The Ritz-Carlton Company opened its first residence in 2000 in Washington, DC, an additional 15 have since opened, and 16 more are under construction. While Singapore marks Ritz-Carlton’s first residential project in this region, the company opened the first of its 11 hotels in Asia in Hong Kong in 1993.

“The choice of Singapore as the place in Asia to launch indicates our confidence in the country as a highly desirable and sought-after location for distinctive residential projects,” said Herve Humler, President, International of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

“The Ritz-Carlton Residences aims to up the ante in high-end living by providing the legendary Ritz-Carlton experience to residents, who will enjoy the same gold standard of hospitality, encompassing the finest personal service and facilities.”

Fine Living On Four Seasons’ Floating Flagship

Source : Property Report "October 2007"

Singapore was a recent stop on the ongoing global tour for the unveiling of the Four Seasons Ocean Residences, exclusive private apartments aboard the world’s first ‘branded’ ship.

The private preview and off-plan sales of the 719-foot Four Seasons, which is being developed by BV International Ocean Holdings Ltd, took place in mid-September at an invitation-only event at the Four Seasons Hotel, organised by sales agent Savills International.

Savills, which previously helped sell units in the only comparable ship sailing today, The World managed by ResidenSea, said the response in Asia to the 13-deck, 48,600-tonne Four Seasons was staggering.

“The response in the Far East is about 10 times what it was five years ago (for sales of The World). The increasing wealth in the region is amazing,” David Vaughan of Savills told Property Report. “To get the name of Four Seasons, the top hotel operator in the world, is quite the most amazing achievement for the developers. The ship will be a moving flagship for the Four Seasons.”

Built by the Aker shipyard in Finland and set for completion in 2010, the ship will feature 112 private residences and 70,000sqft of public space, featuring four restaurants, bars, a Monte Carlo-style casino, designer retail outlets and a gourmet market.

Leisure facilities include a stunning swimming pool, a lavish 11,000sqft Four Seasons Spa and fitness centre, a jogging track, driving range and putting greens, and watersports ‘toys’, including a Riva speedboat. There will also be a business centre, tutoring facility, medical facility with a full-time doctor and an operating room, and a helipad that can be used for emergencies, as well as standard passenger transfers.

All of the residential units are fully furnished and available in three design schemes: traditional, contemporary and maritime. Notably, Four Seasons will be the first ship in which every single bedroom has an outside deck, with wall-to-ceiling windows offering grand views of the stunning scenery, which will include everything from tropical Caribbean islands to Antarctic icebergs.

The residences are definitely for the well heeled. The majority are located on decks 6-10 and range in price from just under US$4 million for a one-bedroom apartment (797sqft) to over US$12 million for a three-bedroom apartment (2,418-2,899sqft).

On the upper decks, 11-13, there are six penthouses (2,914-7,860sqft), with prices ranging from just over US$15 million to over US$40 million for a four-bedroom triplex.

“This ship has been set up for the wealthiest people in the world,” Vaughan said. “Buyers will come from all the major areas from around the world, and will represent both old and new money, as well as everything in-between.” Ownership of units is via a 50-year leasehold, which is transferable and can be resold, while the Resident’s Association will have the right to renew at the end of the 50-year term.

The Four Seasons, which can accommodate 550 guests and 220 crew (who each have their own cabin), is scheduled to start sailing on June 1, 2010. There are hopes that Queen Elizabeth will be able to officially launch the ship later that month in Greenwich, London.

Already there is a day-by-day global itinerary planned for the first two years, with the ship in port for about 250 days a year. The ship will spend three months in Europe, followed by 11 months around the American continent, before crossing the Pacific via Hawaii to the Pacific islands, Australia and New Zealand.

From January 2012, the ship will head north to Asia, with stops in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives. It will then spend the April and May in the Seychelles and mainland Africa and finally Spain.

“The route has been planned meticulously to follow all the ocean currents. The ship will stop at all the major sports and cultural events, like the 2012 Olympics in London, Rio carnival, Monaco Grand Prix, America’s Cup, and so on,” Vaughan said.

“We expect most owners to typically use their residence for two to three months a year, although older owners, perhaps retired, may use it for six months or so. Some will live on the ship all year round. Owners can stay in touch with anyone around the world, all the time, as the communication facilities onboard are mind-blowing.”

Buyers of each apartment can nominate five people who may also use their residence. However, the policy for renting out apartments will not be finalised until all the residences have been sold and the association of owners decide on a common policy. It has already been confirmed that no outside rentals will be for less than 30 days.

“It’s a lifestyle choice, not an investment. Of all the people we’ve talked to, nobody’s mentioned income [from rental],” added Vaughan, who expected buyers to range in age from 35 to 75. “Buyers of such an apartment are more concerned with security and staying in the company of like-minded owners. There’s no desire to see many strangers aboard.”

Savills Singapore is handling all local enquiries, while the ‘unveiling’ road show will continue around the world, including an exhibition booth at Cityscape Dubai from October 16-18.

GCBs Looking Good Long Term

Source : Property Report "October" 2007

By Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop

Good class bungalows (GCB), Singapore’s most prestigious homes, are now enjoying record asking prices. In August, Glencaird, a conservation property, was sold for S$28.8 million, at S$1,308psf, well above the previous record for a GCB of S$1,091psf, which had been set in March.

But while prices for GCBs have nearly doubled over the last three years, they’re still trailing behind those of landed properties on Sentosa as well as units in high-end condominiums, which are both benefiting from the strong interest of foreign buyers. The GCB market could boom if restrictions on foreigners were ever eased. However, even without foreign buyers, professionals believe such rare properties will always offer good long-term investment prospects.

GCBs are defined as bungalows that sit on at least 1,400sqm of land within one of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) 39 designated GCB areas. There are an estimated 2,500 GCB units in Singapore, with either 999-year or freehold tenures.

Buyers of such properties are by and large Singaporeans, with only about 10-15% of plots sold this year going to Permanent Residents with special consent from the government, explains Steven Ming, Head of Investment Sales and Prestige Homes for Savills Singapore.

Not only must Permanent Residents seek consent from the Land Approval Dealing Unit (LADU) to buy any landed property but they’re also restricted by only being able to buy a property on a plot no more than 1,400sqm (the smallest size for a GCB) and cannot rent out the property.

In a June report, Goldman Sachs pointed out that the average price for a constructed top-end bungalow with a land area of 15,000sqft (about 1,400sqm) was about S$17 million. That’s 35% below that of a comparable condominium, such as a 7,500sqft unit priced at S$3,500psf, which sells for about S$26.3 million.

Slow risers
GCBs are usually viewed as a barometer of the residential property market in Singapore and it was the first residential property segment to enjoy a recovery in transaction activity back in 2003. Yet by mid-2004, the average price of land of GCBs, at S$367psf, was still down 45% from the previous peak of S$670psf in 1997 and down 24% from the average of S$479psf in 2000.

Prices started to pick up gently in 2005, rising to an average of S$395psf in the second half of the year, with some top addresses such as Bishopsgate, Jervois Hill and Cluny fetching S$550psf, up 20% on the year but still well below their 1996-1997 peak.

In 2006, prices rose further to an average of S$500psf as the market moved significantly. According to CBRE data, there were 119 transactions last year, up 40% on the year before, while the total value of transactions stood at S$1.23 billion last year, a 70% jump from 2005.

“Prices started to recover in 2005 at the time when Sentosa Cove started to release land to foreigners. This was ahead of the recovery in condominium units,” recalls Douglas Wong, Director of Grandeur Homes, PropNex Realty, who has been in the GCB market for over 10 years.

However, Wong points out that prices for bungalow plots on Sentosa surpassed those of GCBs in 2006, led by the strong demand from foreigners, assured of fast-tracked approval from the Land Dealings (Approval) Unit (LDAU). This was despite the fact that Sentosa plots are smaller and have only a 99-year leasehold tenure compared with typical freehold tenure for GCBs.

“Obviously if foreigners were allowed to buy GCBs, which are generally larger, prices would shoot up like Sentosa,” Wong says.

The last seafront bungalow plot at Sentosa Cove to be released was sold for a record S$1,473psf in May, surpassing the previous top price of S$1,308psf for plots bought in November 2006. Comparatively, a freehold bungalow on 15,075sqft of land at 63 Dalvey Road was sold in March for S$1,091psf by land area, at a total cost of S$16.45 million, the highest unit price for a GCB since 2000.

Asking prices for bungalows in coveted areas such as Nassim Road, Dalvey Estate, White House Park and Cluny Park now average S$900-$1,000psf and are expected to rise further following the sale of Glencaird.

Ming estimates that as of early September, the average GCB land prices this year was about S$675psf. “I think prices have the potential to rise another 10% before the end of the year and another 15% within the next 18 months,” Ming said.

“In general the property market is still on the move and with GCB land so scarce, I believe GCBs still have great potential for appreciation,” he added. “GCB pricing has not hit the peak yet, compared with the condos. If you consider that you’re paying $4,000psf for a condo and only S$1,100-$1,200psf for a GCB, it still holds very good potential.”

Quick turnaround
According to CBRE Research, 67 deals for GCBS were been completed to the tune of $850 million by August.

Although some buyers have been able to clock in quick resale profits, by and large, speculative activity is fairly rare in the GCB market, according to Ming. He estimated that about 10% of recently transacted GCBs have been bought and resold within a year.

One such property was 5A Bishopsgate, transacted at just under S$12 million late last year and recently resold at S$18 million. Another was 20B Nassim Road transacted for S$18.37 million in January and resold recently for S$24.1 million

“GCBs should not be viewed as a short-term investment,” Wong argues. “While some buyers have been able to flip their properties quickly and make a tidy profit, quick resales are generally more limited given that the potential pool of buyers is much smaller than for condos.

“GCBs are really a long-term investment which should give you better return and stable than equity. Ultimately, you’re buying a piece of land and there are only 2,500 GCBs, so it will always be a sought-after asset for its investment value and status.”

Although GCBs are not immune to the ups and downs of the property markets, the sector is a little bit more resilient than other property assets, notes Ming. “When you consider the profile of the buyers of these high-end properties, they can usually still afford to buy GCBs and hold them regardless of whether the stock market is falling.”

Should You Invest Your CPF Savings Elsewhere?

Source : The Straits Times, Sun, Sep 30, 2007


CHANGES to Central Provident Fund (CPF) rules have left Singaporeans with a key question about their cash - do they take it or leave it?

Taking it means trying to invest it somewhere else in the hope of better returns. Otherwise, they could leave the money with the Board.

Financial advisers and insurance agents are naturally pushing the first option, and they are stepping up efforts to persuade Singaporeans to invest their CPF savings.

Under the new rules, which will take effect on April 1, a CPF member will not be allowed to invest the first $20,000 of his CPF Ordinary and Special accounts savings under the CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS).

Money already invested through the CPFIS will not be affected. A member can still use Ordinary Account (OA) funds for housing, CPF insurance and education schemes.

This explains why financial advisers and insurance agents are keen to get Singaporeans to invest their CPF savings with them.

And the campaign has been intense.

Intensified efforts

SECONDARY school teacher Shirley Phua, 40, said: 'My adviser has been trying to convince me to invest my CPF savings. He says his recommended unit trusts will give a better return than the CPF guaranteed rates.'

Ms Phua might be in safe hands if she takes a medium- to long-term view and her adviser constructs a diversified investment portfolio.

Other CPF members might not be so lucky if they encounter unscrupulous advisers and agents employing tactics such as the promise of 'instant cash' if CPF money is invested in unit trusts.

Classified newspaper advertisments are offering 'instant cash' of 1 per cent, or $1,000, for every $100,000 invested. One such ad reads: 'Fast cash. Use CPF to assist you.'

Market observers say the ads are a clear sign that some unscrupulous agents are still trying to make a quick buck by inducing CPF members to make unsuitable investments using cash that is earmarked for their retirement.

It is estimated that 10 to 30 per cent of advisers and agents are offering cash rebates - a practice that contravenes CPF policy.

Cash rebates or freebies are in effect a premature withdrawal of CPF savings and a violation of CPF Board rules.

Not surprisingly, the topic of higher interest returns was one of the most controversial during the recent Parliament debate.

It also made its rounds in Internet chatrooms and forums. One popular website, for example, had this comment: 'Once the money is in CPF, it is considered gone. There is no flexibility, you can't invest elsewhere to take advantage of opportunities.'

It was referring to the first $20,000 of a CPF member's savings in the OA and Special Account (SA).

Key changes

LAST month, the Government announced changes to the CPF that are aimed at ensuring Singaporeans will have sufficient lifetime savings.

CPF members will receive additional interest of 1 percentage point on the first $60,000 in their accounts.

This means an interest rate of 3.5 per cent will apply to the first $20,000 in the OA; a rate of about 5 per cent will apply to the next $40,000 in the Special, Medisave and Retirement accounts (SMRA).

Other changes include delaying the drawdown age for the Minimum Sum to 65 in 2018 and a new longevity insurance scheme.

From Jan 1, there will be a new interest rate on CPF savings. While the OA rate, which is pegged to bank rates, has been a guaranteed 2.5 per cent, the SMRA rate has been 1.5 per cent higher at 4 per cent.

Under the new system, the SMRA rates will be pegged to the previous 10-year Singapore Government Securities (SGS) rate plus 1 percentage point.

The average SGS rate is now 3 per cent, so the SMRA rate would be 4 per cent - the SGS rate of 3 per cent plus 1 percentage point.

To help members adjust to the floating rate, the Government will pay out a minimum of 4 per cent on the SMRA for the next two years.

This 4 per cent floor will also apply to the first $60,000 in the combined CPF accounts that enjoy a higher interest rate.

After two years, the 2.5 per cent floor rate will apply for all accounts as prescribed under the CPF Act.

Expert views

MOST financial advisers, such as Mr Leong Sze Hian, the president of the Society of Financial Service Professionals, recommend that people should invest in higher-return assets to maximise their nest eggs.

Mr Leong said a diversified global portfolio has a 'very high probability' of achieving annual returns of 6 per cent over a five- to 10-year period.

'The longer one's time horizon is, the higher the probability is and the lower the risks are,' he pointed out.

The chief executive of wealth management firm dollarDEX, Mr Chris Firth, told The Sunday Times that, for long-term investors, 2.5 per cent or 3.5 per cent a year is not a good return.

'Even 5 per cent can be beaten in the long run with a good balanced fund or diversified portfolio without too much risk,' he said.

'Depending on the client's situation, I would advise investing CPF money in approved equities and bonds, regardless of the floor rate. Still, clients need to recognise the risks involved.'

Ipac financial planning's senior vice-president, Mr Scott Mitchell, said that if a member would need his savings in the short term, say, five years, then it made more sense to leave the funds in the CPF account.

Mr Firth said that for low-risk clients or those with short-term needs, the CPF floor rate returns could be seen as a risk-free investment.

Mr Joseph Chong, the chief executive of financial advisory firm New Independent, noted firmly that CPF members should leave the first $20,000 of their OA and SA savings with the Board.

'The Government is giving very good, risk-free rates, essentially protected against inflation. At 3.5 per cent, it's the real rate of return plus 1 per cent. Let this form a crucial part of your bond portfolio,' he said.

Ms Anne Tay, OCBC Bank's vice-president for group wealth management, noted that CPF members need to find an investment that pays at least 3.5 per cent - the CPF rate - for the first $20,000 in OA savings if they plan to take the cash from the Board.

'If you can find an investment that has a good track record of consistently beating the 3.5 per cent return mark, invest your money. Make it work harder for you,' Ms Tay advised.

As for the next $40,000 in the SMRA, she said it made sense to invest this money in products with consistent performance records that beat the hurdle rate of 4.5 per cent.

She is assuming that even if the 10-year Singapore government bond falls to 2.5 per cent, the new SMRA formula would give you 2.5 per cent plus 1 percentage point plus 1 percentage point - for a total of 4.5 per cent.

Ms Tay calculated that if the first $60,000 is left with the board, it will grow to $92,000 based on the new changes and a 10-year horizon.

If a member is prepared to take on the risks associated with higher returns, say, 7 per cent a year over 10 years, the amount will grow to $118,000. This means a difference of $26,000.

Over a 20-year period, the difference between leaving the amount with the Board and investing at 7 per cent a year would snowball into $93,800.

Potential risks

AS WITH most financial investments, there are risks involved in investing CPF savings.

Statistics showed that between 1993 and 2004, nearly three out of every four people who had invested under the

CPFIS ended up worse off than if they had just parked their money in their CPF accounts.

It is believed that these Singaporeans got burnt because of a lack of financial education.

Mr Patrick Lim, the associate director of financial advisory firm PromiseLand Independent, highlights some potential risks and concerns:

* Investing in products that are not diversified and not tailored to a CPF member's risk profile.

* Investments that come with high fees and sales charges. High fees will eat into returns.
One reason for the poor returns of unit trusts in the past has been the high cost of investing. That is why the front-end sales charge for CPFIS-approved unit trusts has been capped at 3 per cent since July this year.

* The investment time horizon of CPF members.

* Other changes to the CPF that could affect investments.
Investing a lump sum now could mean timing the market wrongly.

Mr Lim says: 'This might be significant if we remember that many CPF members invested at the peak of the bubble in 2000.

'Many of their investments are still 'deeply under water'.'

Prices And Rentals Rising Fast In Upper East Coast

Source : The Straits Times, Sun, Sep 30, 2007

THE buzz in the property market these days is all about the price recovery in the suburban areas.

Cheaper private homes on the outskirts of town are seeing a rebound in prices and rentals, as the strong market sentiment at the top end filters down.

PRICES FOR AQUARIUS BY THE PARK (left) at Bedok Reservoir and The Summit along Upper East Coast Road have risen by more than 30 per cent since January. -- ST FILE PHOTO
Homebuyers have started turning out in force for these entry-level condominiums. Many have sold en bloc and are seeking replacement units.

Apart from the central Orchard Road area, a popular collective sale district is the East Coast, which has seen nearby Upper East Coast Road become one of the biggest hot spots for home seekers.

Some projects in the district, which stretches from Upper East Coast Road to Bedok North Avenue 4, have rocketed in price, by up to 65 per cent, since January.

Figures from consultancy Savills Singapore show that overall home prices in the area climbed by 20 per cent to 65 per cent between January and August, depending on the specific street.

This compares with a rise of about 10.3 per cent for all suburban areas in the first six months of this year, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

But Savills' director of business development and marketing, Mr Ku Swee Yong, was quick to add that some of the Upper East Coast projects have seen such large jumps in price because of 'collective sale rumours'.

'The general price increase is nowhere near 65 per cent overall,' he said.

Rentals in the Upper East Coast have also soared, supporting the price increases. Average asking rents jumped 13.7 per cent in July and August, on top of a 4.7 per cent rise in the previous three months, said Savills. They average $3.07 per sq ft (psf), or about $3,000 for a 1,000 sq ft unit.

Mr Ku noted that the Upper East Coast is benefiting from a spillover in demand from nearby Districts 14 and 15, which include Marine Parade, Katong and Telok Kurau.

Several estates there have gone en bloc, forcing the sellers to seek new homes. Many of them have been priced out of the increasingly expensive East Coast properties, so they have shifted their focus to cheaper homes further east.

This situation is similar to that in town, where city-fringe areas such as Newton and Novena have benefited from the record number of collective sales in the Orchard Road area and its surroundings, said Mr Ku.

He added that even more developments in the vicinity are expected to go en bloc soon. These could include Ocean Park, Rich East Gardens, Bagnall Court and the two Eastern Lagoons.

Apart from the collective sale draw, Mr Ku noted that the Upper East Coast profits from its proximity to Changi Airport and East Coast Park, as well as various golf courses, including Tanah Merah Country Club and Laguna National Country Club. All these are attractive to 'mobile professionals', he said.

He predicts that by the end of next year, new benchmark prices will be achieved for the area. These could go up to $1,100 psf for the Bedok South Avenue 3 and Bedok Camp areas, and up to $1,700 psf from Siglap Centre to Bedok South Avenue 1.

One Degree 15 Marina Club At Sentosa Officially Opens

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 29 September 2007

Dubbed as Asia’s finest Marina, One Degree 15 Marina Club located at Sentosa was officially opened on Saturday in a colourful ceremony attended by Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang.

A sculpture was unveiled to mark the occasion which symbolised a new beginning for the club as it would be helping to steer Singapore into becoming the hub for recreational boating.

The Club has berthing facilities for mega yachts, and will complement the nearby Sentosa Cove's integrated Marina residential lifestyle.

Two days of festivities will be held to herald the occasion.

"I am sure that this upscale Marina and waterfront residential enclave will serve as magnet to those from around the world who have a passion for premium oceanfront and boating lifestyle. In time, we will see a thriving Sentosa Island complemented by the developments across the cruise bay at the HarbourFront and Mount Faber.

This unique blend of new and refreshed leisure offerings will enliven and generate greater buzz in the entire southern waterfront precinct, making it a great resort destination to live, work and play," said Mr Lim. -CNA/vm

Bayshore Park Holds EOGM To Elect En Bloc Sales Committee

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 29 September 2007

Bayshore Park condominium, a 21-year-old estate with over 1,000 apartments, is exploring the possibility of an en bloc sale.

It took a formal step on Saturday by holding an extraordinary general meeting to elect an en bloc sales committee.

With changes to the Land Titles Strata Act expected to kick in next month, what happens to potential en bloc sale properties that are caught in-between these changes?

After the two-hour meeting, an 11-member en bloc sales committee was confirmed by residents at the development.

But will such processes hold when the amended Act is enforced?

Related Video Link -
Bayshore Park Holds EOGM To Elect En Bloc Sales Committee

Lee Liat Yeang, Partner, Rodyk & Davidson, says: "I think it is advisable for an estate which is contemplating an en bloc sale to wait till the new legislation is fully enforced before they proceed, because it is necessary for them to understand the intricate processes that the government has prescribed in the new legislation."

But according the law firm Khatter Wong, the formation of the en bloc sales committee on Saturday by the residents is lawful and will comply with the amended act.

The changes to the act, which are aimed at providing more safeguards and transparency for all owners, will come into effect next month.

And there is a reason why residential properties like Bayshore Park are not waiting until the amended act is enforced.

Mr Lee says: "They are rushing for it. It could be because from a commercial point of view, they're concerned there could be many other projects in the vicinity who may also be thinking of going for en bloc sale. And perhaps they want to kick-start the process quickly."

And its newly-formed en bloc sales committee will no doubt be busy getting the necessary 80 percent support it needs for the en bloc sales process to move forward. - CNA/ch