Tuesday, October 30, 2007

总值估计7亿元 新加坡四地段招标

《联合早报》Oct 30, 2007

新的分层地契法出台后,市场仍然推出新的住宅地段供发展商选择。昨天新上市的四幅地段,总价值估计近7亿元,可兴建300个单位。

其中,杜尼安花园(Dunearn Gardens)相信是纽顿/史格士最后的一幅黄金地段。这个位于杜安尼路的永久地契房地产,目前建有114个单位,其中96个单位(相等于83.39%的分层地契份额(share value))的屋主已经签署了集体出售同意书。

负责这宗交易的世邦魏理仕说,这幅地段的指导价格是5亿7850万元,即大约容积率每平方英尺2288元(包括3290元的发展收费)。这意味,每户单位将能分得342万元至929万元。

假设重新发展的单位面积平均为2000平方英尺,发展商将能在这幅占地9万5443平方英尺的地皮,兴建大约134个豪华共管公寓单位,收支平衡价约每平方英尺2900元。

另外,位于巴西班让的The Village,市价估计介于7500万元至8000万元,即容积率每平方英尺646元至680元(发展收费估计约1775万元)。

房地产代理齐乐行(Credo)说,这个70年代末完工的低层公寓,共建有40个单位,占地10万2642平方英尺。这是西部相当大的一幅永久地契地皮,如果能与旁边一幅占地2万平方英尺的国有土地合并,估计能重建100至120个中型公寓。

至于位于汤申路附近的View Point和实巴公寓(Shiba Apartment),市价估计分别为2050万元和1690万元,即容积率每平方英尺约792元(包括发展收费)。
  
这两个相连接的公寓占地分别为9306和7665平方英尺,如果能够将旁边一幅占地2832平方英尺的国有土地一并买下来,发展商将握有一幅总占地面积高达1万9803平方英尺的地皮。这意味,它将能兴建一栋拥有46个单位的小型公寓单位(平均面积1200平方英尺)。

老母告儿子 争店屋权益 开审半日双方可能和解

《联合早报》Oct 30, 2007

七旬老母为了两间约400万元的店屋权益,跟儿子对簿公堂。经半天审讯,诉辩双方可能和解。

起诉人高亚桃(74岁)指答辩人苏华顺(约50岁)只是以信托人的名义保管店屋,要后者撤出他的权益,但后者不肯,声称他享有两间店屋的权益,并非受托人。

起诉人指答辩人称可以等“榴槤掉下来再捡”
  
起诉人指答辩人贪婪,设法从她身上榨取金钱,她感到无助,只好提议给他38万元,作为撤出两店屋权益的条件。但答辩人不肯,要索讨120万元,还说如果起诉人拒绝,他可以等到“榴槤掉下来之后再来捡”(意指起诉人百年之后,他就可以坐享其成)。
  
起诉人有四女二子,答辩人排行第四。涉及的两店屋位于大巴窑6巷第190座组屋地面层,540号(大店屋)和518号(小店屋),市价分别为250万元和150万元。  

大店屋“新进展商行”注册在起诉人、幼女苏华晶和答辩人名下;小店屋“大鸿运88杂货”注册在次女苏华英、三女儿苏华丽和答辩人名下。
  
根据诉方的开庭陈词,1976年起诉人在万礼经营苏南发杂货店。1987年,起诉人以苏华晶取代另一合伙人苏南发的名字,把杂货店改名为新进展商行。

在重迁计划下,起诉人获建屋局分配租下大店屋。1988年,起诉人指示苏华英和苏华丽以信托名义,投标租下小店屋。1992年起诉人获准买下两店铺。
  
起诉人说,她当年已60岁,无法获得贷款。为了方便起见,她就使用苏华晶和答辩人的名字注册大店屋,贷款、房地产税、杂费等是她自己支付的。至于小店屋,她也是因为贷款的方便,才使用三个孩子(包括答辩人)的名字,所涉及的贷款等费用也全由她支付。
  
她指答辩人和其他孩子只是两间店的信托人,不是业主。前年年底,她考虑到需要为遗产分配作好准备,要求答辩人等撤出店屋的权益。
  
苏华晶和苏华丽都同意撤出,唯有答辩人和苏华英拒绝。这起诉讼原订去年7月开审,原列为第二答辩人的苏华英后来撤出抗辩,把权益转给了起诉人。
  
诉方指出,认定起诉人得靠他转移店屋“权益”的答辩人,觉得起诉人被“困”了,就变得贪心,想从起诉人身上榨取金钱。起诉人原本想给他21万元和17万元,但答辩人看到起诉人妥协,越变越贪心,竟要求120万元。起诉人既失望又难过,尤其是对答辩人的榴槤掉落之论更是气煞,因此断然拒绝答辩人的要求。  

辩方的开庭陈词指出,他从17岁开始就帮忙打理苏南发杂货店,为杂货店的生存作出贡献。他是杂货店的合伙人,并非信托人。

1992年,起诉人以39万2000元买下大店屋。他后来建议买下小店屋,因为两间店的走道可以连接。

小店屋当时以他、二姐苏华英和大妹苏华丽的名字注册,跟起诉人毫无关系,也就没有所谓的信托问题。

不过,小店屋的三个联名业主都同意,把小店屋的租金存入大店屋的户头,以便用同一个户头,摊还两间店屋的每月贷款。

2005年11月,起诉人通过律师,向答辩人表示要买下他在两店屋的权益。

诉辩双方昨天下午商谈和解的可能,没有续审,他们今天将向高庭法官陈利明说明他们的决定。诉方律师是陈木镇,辩方律师是余福和。(部分人名译音)

业内人士担心 政府推出更多降温措施

《联合早报》Oct 30, 2007

由于采用延迟付款计划(deferred payment scheme)的买家过去几个月有减少的趋势,业内人士相信,这项计划的撤消将不会造成任何长期或显著影响,而房地产股价下挫,只是短期性的市场反应,他们更担心的是政府是否还会推出更多降温措施。

业内人士透露,在近期一般的私宅项目中,采用延迟付款计划的人占总买家的30%至50%,而在过去一些“炒气”旺的项目,采用此计划的人较多,可达70%以上。

据说,过去转售活动非常活跃的项目比如滨海舫(The Sail@Marina Bay)、海天大楼(Icon),选择延迟付款计划的买家多达80、90%。

不过,业内人士指出,延迟付款计划的高峰期已过,目前已不见年初排队抢购滨海湾居(Marina Bay Residences)长长人龙的情景,报章上转售的广告也显著减少。目前一般私宅项目采用延迟付款计划的买家也有减少的趋势。

这是由于发展商提供延迟付款计划时须承担一些风险和成本,因此一般会向买家征收额外的3%至5%当作费用,一般买家宁可选择采用分阶段付款计划(progressive payment scheme)。

一名业者说:“延迟付款计划也许对投机者比较合算,但如果你计划买下房子供自住,那么分阶段付款计划可能会比较实惠,因此较受买家欢迎。”

延迟付款计划之所以受投机者欢迎,是因为买家在支付10%的首期后,可延后支付其余款项,不但成本较低,也有较长时间转卖。相比之下,分阶段付款计划则按照建筑工程进度逐步付款:买家首先得付5%的定金,在8个星期后支付另外15%,而等到地基打好了之后另外付10%,接着则依建筑进度付其余的款项。

不鼓励买家采用延迟付款计划的城市发展,其发言人受询时举例,如果通过延迟付款计划买一个价值1500万元的单位,费用是5%,所多付的75万元其实能让你负担更高层楼或更大单位,对希望买房子自住的买家并不合算。

第一太平戴维斯行销与业务开发主管邱瑞荣则指出,一些集体出售地段上重新发展的项目,买家在支付首20%之后,下一次付款要等旧建筑被拆除和打完地基,整个过程可能需要12至18个月。这与延迟付款计划,让买家在36个月后支付余款的差别不大,买家若想转卖,在分阶段付款计划下,还是有机会在等待的一年缓冲期内那么做。

他说:“多付的费用就会从你的回报里扣。目前转卖市场没有过去热,如果选择延迟付款计划,你的回报可能所剩无几。”

至于房地产股受消息打压,戴德梁行东南亚私人有限公司执行董事邓淑玮说:“我认为撤消计划对市场的影响不会太深远。等市场消化了消息冷静下来,一切应该就会恢复正常。”

她指出,主要受影响的只有未推出市场的新项目,现已推出市场的项目都不受影响,而过去周末的销售反应还是相当热烈,买家显然不受消息所动摇。

邱瑞荣表示,虽然延迟付款计划过去曾被用做销售工具,但这不是买家作出购买决定的主要因素之一。“地点、项目设计和设施、地契等还是关键的购买因素,延迟付款计划只不过是甜头。”

力宝集团就不曾提供延迟付款计划选择,虽然售卖时间稍长,但所推出的项目比如Newton One和Trillium都卖得满堂红,被抢购一空。

另外,一些买家认为,这个政策也许有助于降低一再攀升的价格,但市场人士认为这可能性不大。

邱瑞荣说:“在供不应求的情况下,私宅价格还会攀升,尤其是大众化私宅。”

鉴于房市持续发热,一些市场人士担心政府会否为了降温,而再一次在没有任何预警下突然推出降温措施。

卓登国际研究部主管陈瑞谨指出,分层地契法令修改自3月份就提出,市场已有了心理准备,然而延迟付款计划的撤消却来得突然,令一些发展商和投资者措手不及。

他说:“我认为这么做是不合理的,会让市场消化不良。何况,近几个月的炒卖交易已从今年初少了许多。”

另一名发展商则对国家发展部长马宝山上个星期关于市场过热的言论感到心有余悸。他说:“既然部长说市场出现过热迹象,下来肯定还会采取多一些降温措施。希望他们不会像这次撤消计划一样突如其来,好让市场能做好心理准备。”

灭火灭得太迟?

《联合早报》Oct 30, 2007


上星期五,是房地产界相当重要的一天。

市区重建局突然宣布撤消延迟付款计划。这意味买家将只能按照建筑工程进度分阶段付款,而不能再像以往一样,等到房子取得临时入伙准证以后才支付首期以外的款项。

不过,比这项宣布更重要的是,政府表示市场已出现过热的现象。这是私宅价格连续14季攀升,并暴涨了58%后,政府第一次明确承认市场过热,并采取行动来抑制问题。

国家发展部长马宝山说:“最新发表的房地产数据显示,过去三季的需求强劲,价格也取得约23%的增长,市场也已出现过热的迹象。我们不需要延迟付款计划来火上添油,以及鼓励投机活动。”

目前,整体私宅价格,已经几乎回到1996年的巅峰水平。其中,豪华共管公寓价格甚至创下每平方英尺5600元的天价,超越当年的水平一倍有余。

市场人士相信,延迟付款配套让买家不必投入很多资金就能买楼,无形中刺激了房地产市场、助长了炒卖活动,成全了投机分子。

以一所100万元的房子来说,炒家只需要拿出大约10%,即10万元的本钱。如果屋价在两三年内上涨50%,能够卖得150万元,那么该名炒家的10万元本钱,将能获得将近5倍的利润。

这种本小利大的方法,吸引了炒家在过去一两年内大举进场,在房地产销售活动中大气地连扫好几个单位。在一些销售红火、大排长龙的项目,甚至有人是整层楼地抢购。

市建局说,取消延迟付款计划是为了鼓励买家审慎理财,确保自己有足够的资金或有能力向银行取得所需的贷款才决定购买房地产。

这个计划确实应该取消,实际上,笔者早在去年底就已经在评论中呼吁政府管制延迟付款配套。这个计划不但鼓励过度投资(投机),而且发展商也会因为延迟付款配套,而变相在承担原本应该由银行承担的信贷风险。

问题是,这个宣布恐怕来得太迟,已浇不熄埋伏已久的火苗。

实际上,炒家大举进场的时机已过。去年,滨海舫、滨海湾居等高档项目,都吸引了长长的排队人龙,当中不少人还是一口气买下十个八个单位。

今年,尽管有卓锦豪庭、史格士广场 等重头超级豪宅项目登场,却已没有排队人潮。

实际上,大多数的“老鸟”炒家早在去年已经借助延迟付款配套进场。今年,屋价暴涨至历史新高,再加上美国的次贷问题,风险明显提高,已令当中不少人感觉“下不了手”,不但减少进场,而且还开始策划离场。这时出台的延迟付款宣布,不但对他们没有任何影响,反而还成了敲醒了他们尽快撤离的警钟,赶快把烫手山芋丢给别人,过海当神仙。

一些房地产经纪便观察到,今年来,虽然不断有新的炒家露脸,但一些“老鸟”炒家的动作已经收敛许多,明显正降低风险,减持手头上的单位,即使偶尔进场,买的单位也更有选择性。

一名“资深”炒家就告诉我,他原本买了20多个海天大楼共管公寓单位,但这一年多来陆陆续续清货,特别是这一两季加快步伐,现在只卖剩8间,即使市场现在突然转向,也不会烧着,因为之前脱手的10多个单位,已经帮他把原本投入的20多个单位的钱连本带利赚了回来。

从市区重建局的数据,也依稀可以看到炒家正策划退场的趋势。过去两季,有更多买家不等房子完工,就将之转手卖掉。这类楼花的转售活动在2004年每一季不到100个单位,占整体房屋成交量的3%。2006年下半年,这类楼花转售活动增加至总成交量的6%、7%,今年第二、三季更锐涨至12%、13%,将近1800个单位。

如果真的要抑制炒卖活动,政府或许需要出其他招式才可以,问题是经过上一轮的降温措施后,政府对重药是不是真下得了手?

UOB's Q3 Profit Rises 8.2% To $501m

Source : The Business Times, October 30, 2007

Singapore's second-biggest lender by assets, United Overseas Bank, posted a below expected 8.2 per cent rise in quarterly profit, despite strong loan growth.

UOB said that trading and investment income was hurt by mark-to-market losses from widening credit spreads triggered by the US sub-prime crisis.

The bank reported net profit of $501 million (US$345.3 million) for the July-September period, up from $463 million a year ago, but lower than a mean forecast of $516 million by five analysts polled by Reuters Estimates.

Loans grew at a double-digit pace fuelled by a property and construction boom, but the bank said it suffered from a lower contribution from interbank money market trading, a stronger Singapore dollar and mark-to-market losses on debt securities. 'The negative impact should reverse once the market regains confidence or when the debt securities mature,' it said.

Investors were hoping for a better result after DBS Group Holdings, South-east Asia's biggest lender, beat market expectations by posting an 11 per cent rise in quarterly profit on strong loan and fee growth, despite taking a small hit from credit market turmoil.

'The market is undergoing a volatile period, but the impact of the credit volatility on our core business is minimal,' Chief Executive Wee Ee Cheong said in a statement. 'We will ride out this uncertain period and continue to focus on building our core business.'

UOB, which had a smaller direct exposure to risky debt compared to DBS, made provisions for its exposure to collateralised debt obligations (CDOs) in the second quarter and July.

It made another $20 million worth of provisions against its CDO investments of $388 million. In addition it made another $46 million of mark-to-market provision against its reserves.

UOB, controlled by its chairman Wee Cho Yaw and his family, is considered the leader in the loan market for small and medium businesses and has benefited from Singapore's strong economic growth.

Shares of UOB have risen faster than its rivals in the last quarter when Singapore banks were hit by concerns over exposure to CDOs. -- REUTERS

Related Link -

http://tinyurl.com/ywos6e
UOB's news release

http://tinyurl.com/2gav68
Financial results

NZ Home Prices Slow, Inflation Fears Ease

Source : The Business Times, October 25, 2007

Central bank likely to keep key rate at record 8.25%, highest in developed world

(WELLINGTON) It has taken four consecutive interest rate increases to record high levels but New Zealand's central bank looks to have finally taken the heat out of its biggest inflation worry - the housing market.

Cooling: Housing data, showing median house prices levelling off and sales coming down sharply, suggest a slowdown has already begun. Annual price gains eased to 12.3% last month from 12.9% in August

Still, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand is unlikely to let its guard down any time soon because other pockets of the economy, including a tight labour market and a booming dairy sector, are putting upward pressure on consumer prices.

That is likely to keep the central bank's cash rate of 8.25 per cent, the highest in the industrialised world and a major draw for investors seeking high yields, at current levels well into 2008, economists say.

'The Reserve Bank is having success in the housing arena, but the problem is that the slowdown in the housing sector is just not diffusing through to the rest of the economy,' said Cameron Bagrie, chief economist at ANZ-National Bank.

'Realistically, we're going to have to see house prices fall.' A house has long been the main investment asset for New Zealanders and so a key factor for the central bank in deciding monetary policy.

Government agency Quotable Value says residential house prices have climbed steadily for nearly 20 years, barring a slight dip in 1998.

The absence of a capital gains tax, an immigration-driven population expansion and consumer-friendly lending practices have all contributed to property prices nearly doubling between 2001 and 2007.

The property market cooled briefly last year but regained strength earlier this year, prompting the central bank to resume tightening monetary policy by lifting interest rates by a total of one percentage point.

'The slowing housing market is core to RBNZ view of the economy slowing,' said Shamubeel Eaqub, director of investment research at Goldman Sachs JBWere. 'This has been a major source of inflation and activity and a major amplifier of the economic cycle. They need this housing market to slow and slow for a prolonged period of time.'

Housing data, showing median house prices levelling off and sales coming down sharply, suggest a slowdown has already begun.

The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand said annual price gains eased to 12.3 per cent in September from 12.9 per cent in August. Its figures show monthly sales have fallen for four straight months.

With lenders more risk averse following the global credit squeeze, growth in net migration easing and longer-term mortgage rates remaining elevated, many analysts think the current slowdown is here to stay.

Finance Minister Michael Cullen told Reuters in an interview last week he was also seeing appropriate signs of a slowdown in the housing market though inflation remained a concern.

The central bank forecast in September that annual house price inflation, currently around 13 per cent, would slow to around 10 per cent by the end of the year and would then continue easing through 2008. It expects prices to start falling in 2009.

The RBNZ will review its policy today, although all 17 economists in a Reuters poll predicted interest rates would remain at 8.25 per cent.

Most of the 17 economists expect the central bank to stay put at least until mid-2008 because record low unemployment, rising wages and the prospects of higher farmers' income from the global dairy boom will provide fuel for inflation. -- Reuters

Indonesian Firm To List Retail Reit On SGX

Source : The Business Times, October 30, 2007

Venture with M'sian firm to have 7 malls worth US$250m

INDONESIA'S eighth largest real estate developer, PT Perdana Gapuraprima, part of the Gapuraprima Group, is looking to list a retail real estate investment trust (Reit) on the Singapore Exchange in early 2008.

Speaking at a press conference here yesterday, president director Rudy Margono said that the Reit will be a joint venture with Amanah Raya Berhad, a company owned by the Malaysian government.

Mr Margono said that Gapuraprima is expected to inject five malls into the Reit, and Amanah Raya two. He also revealed that the assets have an estimated value of US$250 million. He expects the retail Reit to offer a yield of between 9-10 per cent. PT Perdana Gapuraprima's real estate assets are worth about US$500 million, he added.

Mr Margono also revealed that the three-to- five-year-old malls outside Jakarta are in cities like Solo and Bandung.

In August, Amanah Raya, together with Kuwait Finance House, acquired two villa apartment blocks in Reflections at Keppel Bay for about S$286 million. For Gapuraprima, Mr Margono said the retail Reit is largely a way for the group to divest its properties and use the capital for further expansion in the real estate business in the region.

Mr Margono said: 'Our vision is to be one of Asia's largest property developers, with property development projects in various countries around the region.'

PT Perdana Gapuraprima was listed on the Jakarta Stock Exchange last week and shares last traded at around 345 rupiah, up 11.3 per cent on its IPO offer price of 310 rupiah a share. The new share issue forms about 30 per cent of PT Perdana Gapuraprima's paid-in capital after the IPO.

Mr Margono said that in FY07, the group achieved a net profit of 46.9 billion rupiah (S$7.5 million) and 514 billion rupiah in revenue. He expects the yield of its Indonesian properties to be 8-9 per cent.

He added: 'We have also seen a capital gain of 15-20 per cent for our properties in Jakarta annually in the past 10 years, which we hope will instil more confidence in our investors investing in the group.'

Q4 distributable income for Suntec Reit up 22%

Source : The Business Times, October 30, 2007

SUNTEC Reit has reported fourth-quarter income available for distribution of $30.4 million, an increase of 22.2 per cent from $24.8 million a year ago.

For the same July 1-Sept 30 period, Suntec Reit recorded gross revenue of $51.1 million, an increase of 13.7 per cent year-on-year. Net property income was up 12 per cent up at $36.6 million while distribution per unit (DPU) was 2.122 cents, up 11.3 per cent.

The Reit’s stake in Suntec City Mall and Office Towers contributes 87.4 per cent of its net property income (NPI) and it reported that Suntec office leases were secured at higher rental rates of between $11 and $13 per square foot (psf) per month, and the committed office occupancy at Suntec City is at 99.8 per cent.

Suntec Reit also reported that the committed retail passing rent at Suntec City Mall hit a new high of $10.46 psf per month.

The Reit, which also owns Park Mall and Chijmes, reported that the passing rents there rose to $6.60 psf per month and $10.68 psf per month respectively.

Suntec Reit also recognised a revaluation surplus of $677.5 million for the quarter after independent valuations of its porfolio was valued at $4.57 billion (as at Sept 30).

On a full-year basis (Oct 1, 2006 to Sept 30, 2007), income available for distribution was $115.4 million, up 21.6 per cent from $94.9 million in the corresponding period a year ago. Net property income was up 11.8 per cent at $140.6 million and DPU was up 11.8 per cent at 8.15 cents.

Based on the closing price of $1.84 on Oct 26, Suntec Reit’s distribution yield was 4.4 per cent, up 11.8 per cent compared to the previous year.

Yeo See Kiat, CEO of Reit manager ARA Trust Management said: ‘On the acquisition front, we have entered into an agreement to acquire one-third interest in One Raffles Quay which will be completed shortly.’

Suntec Reit’s other income revenue from A&P, pushcarts and kiosks for FY07 grew 10.2 per cent year-on-year, surpassing the $6 million mark.

For its current office portfolio, 26.8 per cent of leases are expected to expire next year, with 42.6 per cent expiring the following year.

For its retail portfolio, 30.4 per cent of the leases are expected to expire next year, with 23.4 per cent expiring the following year.

Suntec Reit ended the trading day yesterday at $1.84 per share, unchanged.

Indon Reit To Be Launched Next Year

Source : TODAY, Tuesday, October 30, 2007

PEOPLE who want to park their funds in real estate investment trusts (Reit) will have another choice next year. Indonesian property conglomerate PT Perdana Gapuraprima (PGP) yesterday announced plans to list a Reit on the Singapore Exchange in the first half of next year.

“Our company has expanded very quickly in the last five years. Going public is the next thing to do,” said Mr Rudy Margono, president director of PGP.

The firm also launched its initial public offering shares, which debuted on the Jakarta Stock Exchange on Sunday.

Five of its nine retail development projects in Jakarta, Bandung and Solo, will be included in this Reit, worth US$250 million ($363.2 million). This retail Reit, which is the first for the 20-year-old company, is a joint venture with Malaysian government-owned company, Amanah Raya Berhad, PGP has plans to use the money raised to develop new residential and retail projects in Jakarta, Bali and Batam.

PGP achieved a net profit of $7.6 million and $83 million in revenue for financial year 2007.

“We are optimistic that both these figures will improve for FY08 as we expect a return yield of our Indonesian property to be about 8 to 9 per cent. We have also seen a capital gain of 15 to 20 per cent for our properties in Jakarta annually in the past 10 years,” said Mr Margono.

Hospital Site At Novena For Sale

Source : TODAY, Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is putting up a hospital site at Novena Terrace in Irrawaddy Road for sale by public tender, to help meet rising demand for healthcare services.

Novena is fast establishing itself as a distinctive medical zone, with a number of leading medical institutions, including Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

The 1.7-ha site has a maximum permissible gross floor area of about 72,350 sq m.

The URA says the site provides the opportunity for a world-class hospital development.

The medical tourism industry here has been growing at 20 per cent a year.

Olympics In The Heartlands

Source : TODAY, Tuesday, October 30, 2007

IMAGINE the adrenaline rush of witnessing a new track and fieldworld record being set at a heartland sports complex near your flat.














Or cheering an Olympic football final in Bishan and watching goals scored by teenagers who might be the next Ronaldo or Beckham.

Perhaps, you and your family might even play host to one of the 3,500 world-class athletes for a few nights.

Any of these dreams might become a reality if Singapore wins the bid to host the inaugural Youth Olympic Games to be held in 2010.

The programme promises a unique experience not just for young athletes visiting from around the world but for Singaporeans as well.

If the Games are staged here — from Aug 14 to 26 — residents will see many of the 26 sports enter the heartlands, with venues such as the Toa Payoh Swimming Complex and Bishan Stadium getting a makeover.

Among the highlights will be the opening and closing ceremonies, to be held at the floating platform in Marina Bay.

The waters around it will see canoeing, rowing and sailing events, while the international media will file their coverage of the events from the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort, to be ready by 2009.

Another uniquely Singapore aspect to the Youth Olympics bid is that unlike the Summer Games where an athlete typically heads home after his event, Singapore plans to house every competitor at the Youth Olympic Village — the National University of Singapore's $500-million student town being built at the former Warren Golf Course — for the entire 12-day duration of the Games.

This, said Permanent Secretary (Community Development, Youth and Sports) Niam Chiang Meng yesterday, would allow the visiting youth to take part in various education and culture programmes.

For instance, day trips could be organised to the Newater plant in Changi and offshore islands like Pulau Semakau and Pulau Ubin. The youth will also attend classes on racial and religious harmony and learn about the dangers of doping and over-training.

And even before the Games begin, each of the 150 secondary schools in Singapore will be twinned with the National Olympic Committees from one or two countries — so youth of the countries can interact through websites and friendly sporting competitions.

Six scholarships for young athletes — one each from Singapore and the five continents — will be awarded to pursue a course at the Singapore Sports School.

The estimated budget for all this: US$75 million ($110 million), more than double the US$30 million estimate by International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge.

To control costs, the IOC had said there should be no new infrastructure built for the Games. Existing facilities should be used, with retrofitting done where needed.

At a press conference yesterday, Community Development, Youth and Sports Minister Vivian Balakrishnan explained that every dollar would be carefully spent, and Singaporeans would benefit long after the Youth Olympics is over.

"I can give the assurance that there will be no wastage — we are not building any white elephants. All the investments we plan will end up being used by the community, the weekend warriors and so on. What 2010 gives us is a specific timeframe to synchronise all our upgrading work," he said.

About $10 million has been set aside for security costs. Safety is a crucial aspect of the Singapore bid as the athletes will be aged between 14 and 18 years old, said Dr Balakrishnan.

Finally, whether or not Singapore wins the bid — the IOC will announce the winner next February — all secondary schools here will implement a programme that teaches students about the Olympic values of respect, friendship and excellence.

With less than three weeks before the IOC announces its shortlist of candidate cities, Dr Balakrishnan urged Singaporeans to show their support for the bid.

"I hope they can see that these values reflect who they are and what Singapore stands for. The Youth Olympics is a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase what we're all about to the world," he said.

ERP: New Gantries, Rates Next Week

Source : TODAY, Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Originally due to kick in on Thursday, the implementation of electronic road pricing (ERP) at four new gantries and the extension of ERP hours at another gantry have been pushed to this coming Monday instead.















That is when ERP charges at seven gantries will also go up by 50 cents.

That means motorists entering the Central Expressway (CTE) from the Pan-Island Expressway between 8.30am and 9am will have to pay $5.

This is the highest ERP fee since the scheme was launched in 1998.

Those travelling from Ang Mo Kio to the city via the CTE could pay as much as $6.50 when they pass through two gantries during that timeframe.

The Land Transport Auth- ority said it reviews traffic con- ditions on key roads every quarter.

ERP rates are adjusted to achieve optimal traffic speeds of 45kmh to 65kmh for expressways, and 20kmh to 30kmh for arterial roads.

From Monday, ERP hours will be extended to between 7am and 11am at the CTE gantry between Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 and Braddell Road.

New gantries will also begin operations on the CTE (north-bound) in the evening, the East Coast Parkway (east-bound) in the evening and the Bukit Timah Expressway in the morning.

Upbeat On Singapore Economy

Source : TODAY, Tuesday, October 30, 2007

But Govt keeping close eye on global financial and domestic property markets, says PM

WITH 2007 drawing to a close, Singapore's economy looks set to end the year on a high.











The Monetary Authority of Singapore — which is due to release its semi-annual Macroeconomic Review and monetary policy statement today — has said that it expects the economy to grow between 7 and 8 per cent this year.

And yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told some 1,000 unionists and delegates at the National Trades Union Congress National Delegates' Conference that he was optimistic the economy would grow at "the higher end of this range".

"The outlook is generally upbeat. The economy is doing very well … With good growth, the labour market has tightened. Many reasons for unionists and workers to smile," said Mr Lee, noting the stellar job and wage growth.

But in spite of the rosy conditions, Mr Lee said the Government — whose "job is not just to smile but continue to watch for signs of problem" — is keeping a close eye on two issues: The shaky global financial markets and the red-hot domestic property market.

The stock market jitters in recent months might have started from the sub-prime mortgage woes in the United States, but Mr Lee observed that the financial markets had been "over-confident and overdue for some correction".

Said Mr Lee: "If it's not been the sub-prime mortgage, it could have been something else."

While the jury is still out on whether a recession in the US is on the horizon, Mr Lee was in no doubt that the Singaporean economy would be affected should that happen.

Even so, the Republic's economic links with China and India — which are both growing unimpeded — would "help us weather a US downturn", the Prime Minister added.

At home, Singapore faces an "acute shortage" of prime office space due to the economic boom. The Government is taking steps to increase the supply over the next two to three years, "to not just stabilise the market but … so that lots more businesses can come and set up in Singapore".

Policy-makers are also monitoring the residential property market closely — especially in terms of keeping housing affordable, said the Prime Minister.

Last Friday, the Ministry of National Development withdrew its Deferred Payment Scheme for property purchases — a move that Mr Lee said would "help to dampen excessive speculation and inject some reality into the market".

Other measures will follow if necessary, he assured Singaporeans.

Currently, the Government is releasing more land for Executive Condominiums, targeted at first-time buyers whose household income exceed $8,000 and are thus ineligible for a Central Provident Fund housing grant in buying an HDB flat.

Adding that the move was a response to the "many appeals" on raising the income ceiling, Mr Lee said there "should not be a sandwich group".

"There is enough land in Singapore. There's no need for anybody to get alarmed that this is the last chance and if you don't get on, you will miss the boat," -MR Lee on the Government taking measures to ensure that there should not be a sandwiched group.

At a separate event, Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang said the economy is not overheating but the rising oil and commodity prices are causing inflationary pressure.

Adding that the Government still expects inflation to average between 1.5 per cent and 2 per cent this year, Mr Lim said: "I don't see a serious problem with overheating (in the economy) … There are some supply side constraints and we're taking steps to address them."

$40-Million Facelift For Orchard Road

Source : TODAY, Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Difficult Changes Paying Off In High Growth For S'pore: PM

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 30, 2007

Resulting achievements getting noticed by the world; Mr Lee pays tribute to crucial role played by labour

SINGAPOREANS can expect this year to end on a high note. Pointing to the 7 to 8 per cent growth forecast, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday that Singapore 'can achieve the high end of this range'.
And he praised the labour movement here for the crucial role it played in helping to seal this strong position.

This rosy state is not only drawing investments but attention too, he said, highlighting an article in the latest Economist magazine.

The weekly described Singapore as 'booming, bustling and bursting at the seams...a developed country that grows at developing country rates'.

But this was not achieved by 'coasting along', PM Lee said at the opening of the three-day National Delegates Conference of the NTUC.

He traced the many difficult adjustments Singapore made over the years - and continues to make, like the recent CPF reforms to ensure enough savings for old age.

He also highlighted the sacrifices workers made for the long-term good, like taking cuts in their pay and CPF contributions.

Unlike many countries, Singapore could introduce these changes for one major reason: It has the strong support of the labour movement.

'For this, I'm very grateful to you, and so is the Government and so is Singapore,' Mr Lee told about 1,000 unionists and observers at the event, held every four years to elect new leaders and map out NTUC's future direction.

But adapting to change is crucial for Singapore to remain competitive, he said, adding that from time to time, more major policies will be introduced.

He cited the coming Land Transport Review to improve the public transport system and measures to provide good and affordable health care.

He pointed to upcoming measures in January to tackle road congestion, as well as likely means testing in hospitals, to ensure the needy get more subsidies than the higher-income group.

As Singapore powers ahead, countries like Hong Kong seem to be watching closely, said Mr Lee.

Noting how Hong Kong cut by one percentage point its business and personal taxes earlier this month, he said: 'They didn't say so but I think they must have watched what we did in Singapore in February in our Budget.'

Singapore cut its corporate tax to 18 per cent and Hong Kong's is now 16.5 per cent.

But such cuts are not all that foreign companies look for when investing.

Referring to Norway's Renewable Energy Corporation, Mr Lee noted that Singapore beat about 200 other sites in attracting the $6.3 billion facility here to make products for generating solar power. A key factor in its decision is Singapore's skilled, reliable and adaptable workforce, he said.

Credit must be given to the labour movement for results like these, he added, because union leaders help shape - and sell - tough policies that keep Singapore competitive.

He also praised the unionists for helping to keep Singapore 'open and flexible' to adapt to globalisation.

One example he cited was the hiring of foreign workers, a point taken up by labour chief Lim Swee Say when he gave NTUC's report card.

Mr Lim said Singapore's openness towards hiring foreigners gave companies the confidence to come here, despite the tight labour market.

'Because they know (we will) complement the shortage...with foreign manpower to ensure jobs are being done.'

Looking ahead, PM Lee said the labour movement will continue to play a key role as Singapore faces the uncertainties in the financial markets sparked by the US sub-prime mortgage troubles.

It is unclear how badly Singapore will be hit if there is a recession in the US. But its links with rapidly growing China and India would help see it through, said Mr Lee.

But one thing is certain of Singapore, he said, as he ended his 45-minute address.

It is the 'winning formula' founded in the close relationship between government, unions and management.

'Let's build on it...keep Singapore always at least one step ahead of the competition. Then we can offer a brighter future for all Singaporeans.'

PM ON MEANS TESTING
'One measure which we will need to do, in particular, is to target the subsidies from the Government towards the lower-income group who need these subsidies most. That means we need means testing to achieve this.

We already have means testing in nursing homes and we now need to start to implement it in hospitals too.'

Transcript of PM's speech - http://tinyurl.com/2d2zcq

Maximum ERP Charge Goes Up To $5 From Nov 5

Source : The Straist Times, Oct 29, 2007

Third round of increases - by 50 cents - this year comes on the back of higher fuel charges.

CAR prices may be at their lowest in over a decade, but it is getting costly to drive. The Land Transport Authority on Monday announced that the Electronic Road-Pricing (ERP) rates will go up by 50 cents from Nov 5 - the third big-scale increase this year.

Motorists will have to contend with these higher ERP charges on the back of higher fuel bills. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

The latest adjustment brings the cost of entering the Central Expressway via the Pan-Island Expressway between 8.30am and 9am to a stiff $5. This route made news early this year when its ERP charge went up to $4. It was then raised to $4.50 in the middle of the year, before the latest record price.

Those who want to avoid paying $5 should wake up earlier. The charge for going through this gantry between 7.30am and 8am is $3.50 (also up 50 cents).

Central Expressway users once again bear the brunt of charges. Those passing the gantry north of Braddell Road between 7.30am and 8am will pay $2.50 from Nov 5; and those passing the gantry south of Braddell Road between 8.30am and 9am will pay $4 from that day. The $4 charge also applies to those joining the CTE from Serangoon and from Balestier.

Next, the Bendemeer Road rate will rise to $1.50, while the Thomson Road rate will go to $2 from Nov 5.

Motorists will have to contend with these higher usage charges on the back of higher fuel bills. Since June, there has been no fewer than six rounds of pump price increase, bringing the cost of two petrol grades past the $2 level.

Motorists who have been bracing themselves for the set of new gantries coming on on Nov 1 will now have temporary respite. The LTA has decided to postpone the starting day to Nov 5, to align with the new ERP rates.

The next ERP rate revision will be in November, when prices are expected to fall in line with lighter traffic because of the year-end school holidays.

ERP Rates On CTE Hit A High Of $5

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 30, 2007

THE costliest road to drive on in Singapore - the Central Expressway (CTE) - is about to get more expensive.

From Nov 5, motorists will pay 50 cents more each time they pass under an Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantry there.

The move, the third wide-scale ERP increase this year, will mean those driving cars onto the CTE from the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) between 8.30am and 9am will have to pay a record $5.

Goods vehicles and buses will have to pay $10.

This route made news early this year when its car ERP charge went up to $4. A few months later, it was raised to $4.50.

Those who want to avoid paying $5 should set out earlier. The charge for passing its gantries between 7.30am and 8am will be $3.50.

The changes were announced yesterday in the Land Transport Authority's regular review of ERP rates.

CTE users passing the gantry north of Braddell Road between 7.30am and 8am will pay $2.50 from Nov 5; those passing the gantry south of Braddell Road between 8.30am and 9am will pay $4.

Those joining the CTE from Serangoon and Balestier will also pay $4; elsewhere, the Bendemeer Road rate will rise to $1.50, and the Thomson Road rate, to $2 from Nov 5.

Motorists like chief executive Chong Gim Huat, 45, believe raising ERP rates is not the way to tackle congestion on the CTE, when the problem is that the highway cannot cope with the new population centres that have come up in the north.

He said an alternative expressway was needed, or the CTE needed to be expanded. 'ERP is good if it resolves the problem, but it does not work if the problem is due to lack of infrastructure or capacity,' he added.

Meanwhile, motorists living in the east coast and Bukit Timah who have been bracing themselves for four new gantries have a short respite: instead of being activated on Nov 1 as announced, these gantries start operating on Nov 5 now, in line with the latest rate changes.

The next ERP rate revision will be done next month.

Award Of Tender For Hotel Site At New Market Road/Merchant Road

Source : Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) News Releases, 29 October 2007

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has awarded the tender for the hotel site at New Market Road / Merchant Road to Park Regis Investments Pte. Ltd. The company submitted the highest bid in the tender for the site.

The tender was launched on 2 August 2007 and closed on 25 October 2007. The Land Parcel was offered for sale on a 99-year lease.

The particulars of the awarded Land Parcel and the successful tenderer are:







--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For media enquiries, please contact:

Ms Serene Tng
Manager, Public Relations
DID: 63293224
Email: serene_tng@ura.gov.sg

Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 30, 2007

THE property sector is agog at the Government's withdrawal of the deferred payment option for buyers. Should the industry be surprised? Dismayed? Hardly. Developers and property consultancies, not to forget flip artistes, had for a couple of months been expecting the guillotine to drop as the data showed an impressive churn rate in sub-sales of condominiums was holding even after an assurance was given of adequate supply. The fact that supply has a gestation of about two years has been the inherent weakness of moves to pace the market evenly. These have included land sales and raised development charges. National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan was the model of caution when saying the scrapping of deferred payments was called for as there were 'signs' real estate was overheating. He has to balance nurturing sentiment in a sector recovering from a decade-long slump, while punishing the cowboys whose punts drive up property prices which in turn feed through to business costs. Prowling speculators, the prime target of the move, should have been chased off months ago. They serve no verifiable market function except to warp prices and cause anxiety to serious purchasers. Speculators' influence on price in premium developments has been noted by developers. The move to discourage speculation indicates the Government figures the line between a stable market and bubble conditions is being crossed.

Would this be enough? What if the speculative element is barely blunted? The time lag between the downpayment and the first progress payments is long enough for those with a decent cash reserve to continue playing the system. Third-quarter URA data showed a drop of one-third in primary market sales over the previous quarter, part of the worldwide fallout on account of the United States sub-prime mortgage crisis. But prices still climbed by 8.3 per cent. Little wonder then that the trade might be bracing itself for the Government's use of a blunt tool, the return of the capital gains tax last seen in the 1996 boom. Such a tax used in tandem with an end to deferred payments is sure to knock out speculators. But, careful. It can be the imperceptible tip into a wholesale withdrawal by institutional buyers, foreign individual purchasers as well as local and foreign group investors who are key elements in holding real estate values. The last time it was used to cool the market, it came ahead of an unforeseen downturn. The combined effect sent the market into an unintended chill, from which it has taken a long time to recover. So, for now, watch if speculators who exhibit nothing but dollar signs and a smirk on their faces make a dash for the door.

10,200 Applicants Chasing After 354 Flats

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 30, 2007

I REFER to the HDB's bi-monthly walk-in selection of flats. Since a computerised balloting system was introduced, it has been extremely difficult for first-timers, like me, who have been consistently unsuccessful in the balloting.

The response has been overwhelming for the past three bi-monthly walk-in selection exercises.

The August sector C exercise saw nearly 10,200 applicants for the 354 flats on offer. The main reason was that HDB did not close applications earlier even though the applications far exceeded the number of flats by the second day of release.

It continued to allow prospective buyers to apply, and even collected an administrative fee of $10 for each application. The same thing happened in the other two selections.

Why didn't HDB close applications or shorten the time given to three working days when it was known that the number of applications had far exceeded the small number of units offered?

HDB should amend its system immediately.

George Matthews

7,750 Homes Could Still Be Sold Using Deferred Payments

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 30, 2007

Units are in projects that had approval; developers may opt not to do so though

UP TO 7,750 unsold homes could still be available for purchase under the deferred payment scheme, even though it was scrapped last week.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said these units are in developments that already have approval for the scheme, but which have not sold out yet.

On Friday night, the Government scrapped deferred payments with immediate effect, saying it was no longer relevant given the now-buoyant property market.

The scheme was introduced 10 years ago when the market was down. It allowed homebuyers to defer the bulk of a home's purchase price until it was completed, which could be up to a few years later.

But the scheme was seen as encouraging speculation, as buyers could profit by reselling their homes before completion without much capital outlay.

Now, buyers will have to make progressive payments as construction proceeds.

The ending of the scheme is seen as a way to cool the hot property market. All developments that had not obtained approval for the scheme by last Friday can no longer offer it.

As at last Friday, 320 out of 443 licensed developers had approval to offer deferred payments for their projects, said the URA yesterday.

And about 140 of these developers still have a total of 7,750 residential units left unsold, it added.

But it is now up to the developers if they want to offer homebuyers the option of using the scheme, URA said.

The units include some in Bukit Sembawang's 102-unit Paterson Suites in Paterson Road and its 123-unit Vermont on Cairnhill. Ho Bee offers the scheme for the 51 unsold homes in Turquoise, its 91-unit project in Sentosa Cove.

Buyers can also look to CapitaLand's 327-unit Seafront @ Meyer in Meyer Road, which has 68 units left.

Developers which have approval for the scheme but have yet to start sales include Voda Land, for its 114-unit Amber Residences in Amber Road.

Even before deferred payments were axed, some developers had already dropped it of their own accord or never offered it. Those that did usually added a premium of 3 to 5 per cent of a home's price to purchases under the scheme.

Many property analysts believe the withdrawal of the deferred payment scheme is likely to hit sentiment only in the short term. They point to factors such as robust demand, low interest rates and favourable sales even when developers do not offer the scheme.

Citigroup economist Chua Hak Bin said ending the scheme seems justified on prudential grounds. 'There are growing signs of speculation, price distortions and accelerating mortgage growth,' he wrote in a report.

'Risk of a property glut longer-term cannot be ruled out if the boom is left unchecked.'

UK Home Prices' First Fall In 2 Years

Source : The Business Times, October 30, 2007

Consumers struggle with record £1.4 trillion debt as rates hit 6-year high

(LONDON) UK house prices fell for the first time in two years in October, led by declines in central London, a survey by Hometrack Ltd showed.

The average cost of a home in England and Wales declined 0.1 per cent to £176,100 (S$526,800) from September, the London- based research group said yesterday. Prices in central London and the financial district fell 0.5 per cent, the most of any part of the country. Hometrack surveyed 6,000 real estate agents.

The report adds to evidence a decade-long property boom is petering out. Consumers are struggling to shoulder a record debt burden of £1.4 trillion after interest rates rose to a six-year high and a worldwide increase in credit costs threatens jobs and bonuses at banks.

'After several months of weaker buyer confidence, falling levels of demand and declining sales volumes, prices were bound to be affected,' Richard Donnell, Hometrack's head of Research, said in the statement.

House prices rose 4.4 per cent from a year earlier, down from 5 per cent in September. The report follows mixed figures for the market last month. Mortgage lender HBOS plc said prices fell last month while Nationwide Building Society recorded the strongest increase in three months. Real-estate broker Savills plc estimates that central London prices may fall for at least six months.

The housing market has sputtered since the Bank of England raised its benchmark interest rate to 5.75 per cent in July and a jump in market credit costs led to a run on deposits at Northern Rock, the first in more than a century.

The interest rate on a mortgage fixed for two years was 6.33 per cent in September, compared with 5.41 per cent a year earlier, according to the Bank of England. The central bank has raised its benchmark rate five times since August 2006.

Adding to evidence the property market is cooling, the Bank of England said yesterday UK banks approved the fewest mortgages in 26 months in September as borrowing costs increased. Lenders granted 102,000 loans for house purchase, the fewest since July 2005 and down from 108,000 in August.

As US sub-prime mortgage losses spread to Europe, London banks and investment companies may cut jobs and bonuses, which helped to fuel a tripling of house prices over the past decade.

About 6,500 bankers and fund managers may lose their jobs next year in the biggest cuts since 2000, and bonuses may fall by almost a fifth to £7.4 billion, the London-based Centre for Economic and Business Research estimated this month.

Home values in London, where one in eight people in Britain live, fell 0.2 per cent to £316,000, Hometrack said. Prices in southwest London and Hampshire in southern England declined 0.4 per cent. In Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire, they dropped 0.3 per cent.

The amount of money from City bonuses coming into the London property market will fall 60 per cent to £2 billion in the coming year, as financiers, accountants and lawyers choose to invest in hedge funds instead of housing, according to research carried out by Savills.

Prices fell in nine of the 10 regions surveyed, with only the West Midlands showing no change, Hometrack said.

The number of buyers registering with estate agents fell for a fourth month, declining 6.4 per cent, the report showed. Still, the supply of houses being put on the market is also falling, which may limit declines in prices in the next two to three months, Mr Donnell said.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling on Oct 9 forecast economic growth in the UK may slow by a third to as little as 2 per cent next year as higher borrowing costs curb consumer spending. -- Bloomberg

Five Properties Put Up For En Bloc Sale

Source : The Business Times, October 30, 2007

TENDERS for collective sales continue to be launched. The latest offerings include Dunearn Gardens near the Newton/ Scotts roads area, The Village in Pasir Panjang, and Riviera Point along River Valley Road.

Dunearn Gardens: Guide price for the 95,443 sq ft freehold site is $578.5m or $2,288 psf per plot ratio

CB Richard Ellis, which is marketing Dunearn Gardens, says the guide price for the 95,443 sq ft freehold site, is $578.5 million, which translates to about $2,288 per square foot per plot ratio, inclusive of an estimated $32.9 million development charge (DC). A new condo on the site would break even at about $2,900 to $3,000 psf, market watchers say.

The site is zoned for residential use with a 2.8 plot ratio (ratio of maximum potential gross floor area to land area). The maximum height allowed for the site is about 33 storeys. The plot can be redeveloped into a new condo with about 134 units averaging 2,000 sq ft each.

Credo Real Estate, the marketing agent for The Village, expects the freehold 102,642 sq ft site to fetch $75 million to $80 million. This reflects a unit land price of $646 to $680 psf per plot ratio, including an estimated DC of $17.75 million. Credo pointed to the possibility of the developer buying up to 20,000 sq ft of adjoining state land parcels, thus potentially enhancing the land size to 122,642 sq ft. In such a scenario, the developer's unit land price would be lowered to $578 to $607 psf ppr - based on the $75 million-$80 million price tag set by The Village's owners.

The site is zoned for residential use with a 1.4 plot ratio and five-storey maximum height.

Newman & Goh is marketing a few small sites. One of them is Riviera Point, a 14,580 sq ft plot at River Valley Road with a 2.8 plot ratio and 36-storey maximum height. Its owners are asking for $73.5 million, which works out to $1,800 psf ppr. No DC is payable.

Off Thomson Road, the property agent is marketing View Point and the nextdoor Shiba Apartments with asking prices of $20.5 million and $16.9 million respectively. These work out to around $792 psf ppr including DC.

Restoring A Genuine Property Market

Source : The Business Times, October 30, 2007

PROPERTY stocks were sent reeling yesterday following the government's announcement to discourage speculative buying in the real estate market. In contrast, bank stocks rose. The divergence in stock performance between the two market sectors comes down to this: what is bad news for speculators may prove to be good news for banks.

The scrapping of the scheme which allows homebuyers to delay payments on new property may turn out to be a positive for the financial institutions giving out housing loans, as the measure weeds out punters from genuine buyers. The deferred payment scheme introduced 10 years ago allowed buyers to make as little as a 10 per cent downpayment, and pay the rest upon completion - sometimes after a time lag of three years. This encouraged many to enter the property market. Speculators did not even take the trouble to get a loan - merely coming up with the downpayment, and selling before completion of the property.

In the last few quarters, when the market turned red hot, some observers were surprised by what appeared to be muted home loans growth. The reason was that the deferred payment scheme, which discourages the early draw-down on loans (or even taking up a loan in the first place), had diluted the impact of the booming market on housing loans. Indeed, it was common to hear, at the results briefings of the local banks, the deferred payment scheme put forward as one of the main factors for the slower-than-expected pace of home loans growth.

With deferred payment now no longer an option, more buyers will be driven to take up home loans. And loans will be drawn down progressively, with borrowers paying a certain percentage of the purchase price at various stages of completion of the property. This should be positive for the loan books of the banks.

Take DBS Bank, for one. Singapore's biggest bank had felt the 'lag' impact of the deferred payment scheme - it said a few months ago that it was expecting a sharper spike in home loans only in future quarters, due to investors taking out loans to pay for homes purchased using deferred payment schemes. With the scheme gone now, the bank told BT that the impact of the latest measure would be positive on its books - since, without the option of the deferred payment scheme, buyers have to seek financing and draw down the loans, if they don't want to use a lot of their own cash.

The removal of the deferred payment scheme is not just positive on the loan books. For some time now, there has been growing concern that the scheme shifted the banks' risk exposure from households to corporates. With buyers paying nothing in the early stages of a project with deferred payment, developers had to borrow more from the banks - or raise funds in the debt market - to finance their projects. This increased the banks' exposure to property developers, and there is past evidence to suggest that corporates are more likely to default, should the market turn bad, than households.

According to MAS data, as at end-June, housing and bridging loans as well as loans to the building and construction sector made up nearly half of the more than $200 billion loan portfolio of commercial banks here. This has been a steady increase from the 33 per cent from about a decade ago, around the height of the last property boom. In absolute terms, housing and bridging loans were worth some $64 billion in June, compared with about $63 billion six months ago. As the Monetary Authority of Singapore had also previously said, the use of the deferred payment scheme by property developers introduces additional risks to the developers (and to the banks which finance these developers) because property purchasers under this scheme are not subject to credit checks by developers.

'This is unlike property purchasers who apply for housing loans and are subject to credit assessment by banks. MAS expects banks to exercise prudence in their financing to the property developers and be fully cognisant of the additional risks from the use of deferred payment schemes,' MAS had said then. The removal of the scheme will restore some balance, and the banks should have their exposure to households raised while lessening their exposure to developers.

The government's removal of the deferred payment scheme - and expectations of further cooling measures - could keep the property market cautious in the near term. Buyers may adopt a wait-and-see approach, and new projects could see a slower take-up rate. That could crimp home loans growth in the short term. But in the longer term, doing away with deferred payment will put home financing on a far healthier plane. 'Flippers' who buy property to resell quickly to make a fast buck will be deterred, the speculative froth will be taken out of the market, and pricing will come to levels more in line with economic fundamentals. For banks, this means genuine homebuyers and investors as customers - and that cannot be a bad thing.

Horizon Towers Sale: Battle Resumes Today At Strata Board Hearing

Source : The Business Times, October 30, 2007

Two-week session to give final word on en bloc sale application

The Horizon Towers saga goes back on the boil today when the majority owners' application for a collective sale is again heard by the Strata Titles Board (STB).

The hearing, scheduled for two weeks, will be the final word on whether the en bloc sale goes through - and on a battle of wills between the project's majority and minority owners.

The minority owners will take this final opportunity to scuttle what they say is a deal done 'in bad faith'.

Their lawyers have repeatedly said that they have plenty of objections to the sale that they have not yet aired. It is believed that these range from alleged non-compliance with the law governing en bloc sales to the sale being prejudicial to the minority owners.

'We have quite a few arrows we still haven't shot,' lawyer SK Phang, who represents a minority owners, has said.

The minority owners' objections have stalled the en bloc sale. On Aug 3, the STB dismissed the majority owners' application on the grounds that it was incomplete and the accompanying statutory declaration false, because it was missing three signature pages. This was before the STB had heard the merits of the case.

The STB's decision was then overruled by the High Court, which said this month that the missing pages did not constitute a substantial omission that prejudiced the minority owners. The court sent the application back to the STB.

Today's STB hearing picks up where the previous hearing left off in August. Over the next fortnight, the parties will call witnesses and present evidence to support their opposing claims on whether the collective sale application complies in form and substance with the law and whether the sale was conducted in good faith.

But this time majority owners are unlikely to collaborate with minority owners. At the previous STB hearing, majority and minority owners were seen hugging one another and celebrating the board's decision to dismiss the application.

Several majority owners - after signing the deal to sell Horizon Towers for $500 million in February - regretted their decision when neighbouring developments began fetching much higher prices. They circulated anonymous flyers to other majority owners, asking them to rescind the deal.

The move transformed what would have been a run-of-the-mill en bloc sale into the drawn-out battle it has become.

But this time around, it will be in the majority owners' interests to push the collective sale through. The buyers - Hotel Properties and its partners - have slapped a $1 billion lawsuit on them.

Angered by some majority owners' attempts to sink the sale, HPL and its partners filed a suit in the High Court claiming damages of up to $1 billion, saying that the sellers had failed to honour their part of the bargain.

The suit has been stayed until the STB hearing is concluded. But HPL and its partners have indicated that they could revive the proceedings if the collective sale falls through.

HPL and its partners have been excluded from the STB hearing, after their application to intervene was dismissed recently.

PM Sees Growth At Higher End Of 7-8% Forecast

Source : The Business Times, October 30, 2007

Asia's fundamentals are strong, and S'pore's links with China, India will offset US slowdown

Singapore's economy is likely to grow at 'the higher end' of the government's forecast of 7-8 per cent this year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a labour movement speech yesterday.

Mr Lee: More major policies and initiatives will be necessary from time to time to enable Singapore to stay ahead and remain competitive

Painting an upbeat picture of the economy despite the threat of a recession in the United States, as the sub-prime mortgage crisis leads to an overdue correction in the stock markets, he said Singapore remains in a strong position.

'The economy is doing well,' Mr Lee said at the National Delegates Conference of the National Trades Union Congress. 'I think we can achieve the higher end of the (forecast) range.'

While a recession may hit the US - and the ripple will spread to Singapore - the fundamentals for Asia remain robust, and China and India continue to grow rapidly, he said. 'Our links with them will help us to weather a US slowdown.'

Mr Lee said the government has also moved to provide more office space in the next two or three years and cool the hot property market, which could dampen investment.

'We will continue to monitor trends closely and take further action if necessary,' he said. 'We will make sure that the property market stays in balance over the long term.'

Mr Lee's remarks came barely three weeks after the government published preliminary figures showing that the economy expanded by a blistering 9.4 per cent in the third quarter, trumping analysts' forecasts and beating numbers racked up in the previous three months.

The higher-than-expected growth got economists in the private sector revising their full-year forecasts, with some going as high as 8.7 per cent.

With an average 8.2 per cent already secured for the first three quarters, the official forecast is very much in the bag.

Mr Lee yesterday noted that the hot economy is churning out a record number of jobs, some 114,000 in the first half of the year, while wages rose by a strong 7 per cent.

Citing a report in The Economist magazine, Mr Lee said: 'Singapore is 'booming, bustling and bursting at the seams, a developed country that grows at developing-country rates'.'

Singapore must keep adjusting and adapting to change to stay ahead - and remain competitive. Accordingly, Mr Lee said there will be more major policies and initiatives necessary from time to time.

He said the Ministry of Transport is already working on a land transport review to improve Singapore's public transport system and keep its roads free flowing, adding that 'painful measures' like Electronic Road Pricing and Certificates of Entitlement are necessary.

'Nowadays, it is not just bosses who drive cars, but also many unionists and workers,' Mr Lee said.

The Ministry of Health is also rolling out many initiatives to ensure good and affordable healthcare, he said. Measures include a portable medical benefits system and means-testing in hospitals.

Related Link -
Full text of PM Lee's speech - http://tinyurl.com/yr4hdb

Warrant Watch - Property Contracts In The Limelight

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 30, 2007

WARRANTS of property counters drew the attention of investors yesterday, following the withdrawal of the deferred payment scheme last Friday.

Homebuyers in Singapore will now have to make progressive payments in step with the construction process, instead of deferring payment till the property is completed a few years later.

The most heavily traded CapitaLand contract was a Macquarie call warrant with a strike price of $8.50, which expires on Feb 1.

That warrant closed a cent higher at 13 cents with 24.83 million units done.

CapitaLand shares ended five cents higher at $8.10.

Another active property contract was a City Developments call warrant with a strike price of $15.42, which expires on Jan 10.

The warrant finished 4.5 cents lower at 16.5 cents with 2.86 million units traded.

The share closed 50 cents down at $15.80.

A call warrant lets an investor buy into a stock or index at a preset price over a period of three to nine months.

A put warrant allows an investor to sell the stock or index at a preset price over a fixed period of time.

Real Estate Stocks Hurt After End Of Payment Plan

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 30, 2007

THE axing of the deferred payment scheme for homebuyers hit home with a vengeance yesterday when property shares dived while the rest of the market soared.

The big guns felt the most pain. City Developments fell 50 cents, or 3.1 per cent, to $15.80. Allgreen Properties was down nine cents, or 5.1 per cent, to $1.69, while Wing Tai Holdings lost 18 cents, or 5 per cent, to $3.44.

Their operations are more centred on the local market, and so they seem to be more vulnerable to a change in financing conditions.

By contrast, CapitaLand, which has extensive overseas operations, rose five cents to $8.10 after falling 20 cents initially.

Analysts remain confident that the selldown was just a knee-jerk reaction to the Government's surprise move on Friday night. It scrapped the deferred payment scheme, requiring buyers of uncompleted homes to make progressive payments rather than letting them delay the bulk of their payments.

Citigroup analyst Wendy Koh said this will likely affect only a small group of HDB upgraders who cannot afford two mortgages.

It should not affect first-time homebuyers whose 'affordability remains strong', she added.

Ms Koh also noted that the run-up in the residential property market is well-supported by strong fundamentals. These include high economic growth, rising rental rates, and a tight supply of new properties coming onto the market.

However, DBS Vickers said that removing deferred payment would dampen home sales as potential buyers might have seen the scheme as a way to come out with a smaller initial outlay in capital.

It also believed the move will curb speculative buying on high-end properties.

Equally bearish is CIMB-GK, which said yesterday that selling prices may fall by 10 to 15 per cent as the speculative froth is removed.

And the worst hit may be the mass market where buyers are 'typically more cost-sensitive and reliant on deferred payment'.

Investors will not have missed the irony of yesterday's share market action.

While property was suffering, the rest of the market in Singapore and around the region climbed, cheered by hopes that the United States Federal Reserve will cut interest rates by at least 0.25 percentage point tomorrow. Its aim: to shore up the US property market.

Property Shares Take A Beating

Source : The Business Times, October 30, 2007

Developers with inventory in prime districts may face pricing pressure

PROPERTY analysts were still busy yesterday predicting how the market will be affected by the end of the deferred payment scheme (DPS) as property shares received their expected drubbing when trading opened.

JP Morgan's Chris Gee : Pricing power is shifting very firmly away from developers

A report by OCBC Investment Research forecast tough times for the residential sector - but not everyone was gloomy.

The OCBC researchers said: 'The significance of the current government move is that it is targeting at the demand side of the equation while previous measures (since end-2006) were mainly supply side . . . Demand-side measures historically tend to have severe repercussions on demand and hence pricing.

'We thus see the latest action (and subsequent action if speculation continues) to be negative on the residential sector.'

A seasoned property consultant said: 'The withdrawal of DPS will affect speculators, who have been focusing mainly on high-end homes but who have also filtered into mid-market projects as seen in One North Residences and The Rochester. However, even genuine home buyers and investors whose budgets are stretched by the rapid price appreciation will be affected. Sales volumes will come off.'

CIMB-GK Research said: 'We believe developers with inventory in the prime districts could face pricing pressure as punters retreat. Developers are also likely to bear the brunt of greater financial prudence exercised by genuine home buyers as they no longer have the luxury of time to build up funds for repayment.'

The government's announcement on Friday of the immediate withdrawal of the DPS means an end to the system in which private property buyers could buy units in uncompleted developments with just a 10 or 20 per cent downpayment, with the payment for the rest of the purchase price in some cases postponed until the completion of the project.

CIMB said in its research note yesterday: 'We believe this move is aimed at discouraging speculative activity and is also a preventive measure to keep mass-market price escalations in check.'

There will be no new DPS developments available, although developers which have already obtained approval to offer the scheme for a project may continue to do so.

One development that seemed to be benefiting over the weekend from its approval for DPS was United Industrial Corporation's (UIC) Park Natura, a five-storey freehold condo in the Toh Tuck area near the Bukit Batok Nature Reserve. The condo has an average price of about $1,000 per square foot. UIC is said to have sold more than 60 units over the weekend in the project, which has 192 units in total.

The developer is offering a partial deferred payment scheme where buyers pay an initial 10 per cent, with progress payments needed only after one year.

On the stock market yesterday morning, the Singapore Properties Equity Index fell as much as 2.1 per cent from Friday's close to 1,545.16 points. It later recovered to end at 1,557.52 points - just 1.3 per cent lower than Friday's finish.

City Developments lost 50 cents to close at $15.80, followed by SC Global Developments which eased 35 cents to finish at $5.50. Singapore Land lost 25 cents, closing at $9.85.

'Purer developers with sizeable residential inventories are likely to be the most affected,' CIMB said.

'Stocks under our coverage with revalued net asset values that are particularly sensitive to asset price changes include Allgreen, Bukit Sembawang, City Developments, Ho Bee and UOL. We estimate that every 10 per cent change in residential prices will result in 5-10 per cent changes in stock valuations for these companies.

'The sector is currently under review . . . we expect to lower our residential selling price assumptions by 10-15 per cent in the upcoming results season in view of mounting uncertainties in the property market,' CIMB said.

Citigroup said that the DPS withdrawal has 'probably removed the champagne from the party' since property prices have been fuelled to some extent by the availability of deferred payments, which account for more than 70 per cent for some projects.

'Sentiment will likely weaken in the short term, particularly in the luxury segment. Longer term, fundamentals, including strong economic growth, immigration and low interest rates will likely be supportive of property prices,' the report said.

But other analysts, like JP Morgan's Chris Gee, said that he was recommending investors to be underweight on the sector even before Friday's announcement.

'Pricing power is shifting very firmly away from developers because they now have more products to sell,' he said. 'But they're not just competing among themselves for buyers but also with specu-vestors who've bought properties since 2005 and who can offer buyers properties that will be physically completed sooner than those that will be launched by developers in the near future.'

S'pore Property Stocks Fall After Scrapping Of Deferred Payment

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 29, 2007

PROPERTY stocks fell in morning trading on Monday, following last Friday night's news that the Urban Redevelopment Authority will scrap the deferred payment scheme to slow down the overheating in the property market and escalating real estate prices.

City Developments was the biggest loser of the session, followed by SC Global Developments. City Developments dropped 60 cents, or 3.68 per cent, to $15.70, while SC Global fell 35 cents, or 5.98 per cent, to $5.50. CapitaLand dipped 5 cents, or 0.62 per cent, to $8.

Despite this, Singapore's Straits Times Index, rose 27.06 points, or 0.72 per cent, to 3798.61, boosted by gains in banks. DBS rose 50 cents, or 2.27 per cent, to $22.50. UOB rose 1.39 per cent to $21.90, and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp gained 0.6 per cent to $9.15. Together, they contributed 14.75 points to the measure. Of the STI's main components, 22 gained, 17 fell and eight were unchanged.

STI's rise is in line with other Asian bourses, fuelled by mounting expectations of a cut in US interest rates. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index continued its spectacular run from Friday. It soared 1086.75 points, or 3.57 per cent, to 31491.97.

STI closing

SINGAPORE share prices closed 1.3 per cent higher Monday as investors cheered strong corporate earnings for the third quarter, dealers said.

The Straits Times Index gained 48.23 points to 3,819.78 on volume of 2.64

billion shares valued at 3.16 billion Singapore dollars .

Risers outnumbered decliners 533 to 284, with 856 issues unchanged.

'Investors are looking at the (possibility of US interest rate cuts) but corporate results have also been quite good, providing firm support,' said Mr Chan Wai Chee, research head at Phillip Securities.

'Earnings are good, and the money supply growing at double-digits for some time now will continue to support future earnings.'

South-east Asia's biggest bank DBS Group rose 30 cents to 22.30, United Overseas Bank was up 40 cents to 22.00 and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp was flat at 9.10.

Singapore Airlines fell 10 cents to 19.70 and Singapore Telecom dipped eight cents to 4.08. Keppel Corp rose 20 cents to 14.70.

Among the property stocks, CapitaLand advanced five cents to 8.10, Keppel

Land was steady at 8.35 and City Developments eased 50 cents to 15.80. -- AFP

Orchard Road Set For A Pedestrian-Friendly Overhaul

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 30, 2007

1 vehicle lane to make way for wider walkways in $40m makeover

CARS will have to make way for pedestrians along a stretch of Orchard Road as part of a $40 million makeover of Singapore's premier shopping belt.

Work on the changes will start in February and be complete in April 2009.

Related Video Link - http://tinyurl.com/2e5zv3
The great Orchard Road revamp



In rapidly changing Singapore, even iconic shopping haven Orchard Road is not exempt from upgrading, with its pedestrian mall all set for a $40-million makeover.

But it may not all be hunky dory. The famous shopping street may also face possible traffic problems, with the planned closure of one of its four lanes.


By then, the extreme-right vehicle lane will become part of a wider pedestrian mall in the 270m stretch from the front of the new Ion Orchard and Wisma Atria.

Another 150m stretch in front of the Meritus Mandarin will also be given a wider walkway, but the Land Transport Authority has not decided whether this will also involve closing down one lane of the road or just a narrowing of the existing five lanes.

Besides the widening of the walkways, the makeover will also introduce new plants, ambient lighting, new paving for walkways and new street furniture.

Spaces such as the one created in front of Wisma Atria by the closing down of one vehicle lane will give pedestrians places to rest and catch performances.

More than seven million tourists visit the shopping belt annually, making it by far Singapore's most popular attraction.

The overhaul was announced as early as 2004 to prevent Singapore's premier retail street from losing its shine.

Plans included the sale of vacant sites for new malls, sprucing up the pedestrian experience and wooing more exciting retail concepts to set up shop there.

Sites like Orchard Turn and Somerset Turn, since sold, are being developed.

And yesterday, Singapore Tourism Board revealed details of how a walk down the shopping street will be made more pleasant.

STB's assistant chief executive for leisure Margaret Teo said that lighting fixtures will be installed to illuminate Orchard Road's lush greenery.

Three distinct zones, characterised by flower, forest and fruit themes, will also be created from Tanglin Mall down to Le Meridien, to add variety.

Retailers along the strip hailed the news of the makeover.

Hilton Singapore's director of sales and marketing Ailynn Seah, referring to the excitement whipped up over Marina Bay with the coming of the integrated resort and the Formula One race, said: 'A lot of attention has been put there of late. But these changes will put Orchard Road back on the map.'

Paragon's deputy general manager of marketing Patrina Tan added that although this is a 'good starting point', 'eventually, good service levels at the shops are what will set us apart'.

When asked how the loss of one vehicle lane would affect traffic flow down the busy road, the Land Transport Authority's director of community partnership Chandrasekar Palanisamy said it would not affect traffic adversely, since the right-most lane is now not used much anyway.

Knight Frank's director of retail Danny Yeo said that if one lane of traffic could be shut down, features like a tram or cable car to transport people from one end of the strip to the other could also be incorporated. Better signs are also needed, he said.

'Tourists now think of Orchard Road as just Orchard MRT station. But that is not it. There is Somerset MRT too, an area which will become very powerful once the new developments there open.'

Orchard Rd Headed For $40m Facelift

Source : The Business Times, October 30, 2007

More room for arts and cultural events; mall enhancement tender due in Nov.

ORCHARD Road is set for a $40 million facelift that will include state-of-the-art lighting, additional spaces for arts and cultural events and a more engaging pedestrian mall, in a bid to attract more local and foreign visitors.

The rejuvenation plans, which was initially outlined in 2005, were rolled out yesterday by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), ahead of a tender for the main mall enhancement construction work. The tender will be called early next month.

Orchard Road already attracts more than seven million foreign visitors each year and the STB is confident that the makeover will push up the number of visitors. 'Amid a rapidly changing global landscape, Orchard Road needs to go one notch up in order to boost its standing as Singapore's prime shopping and lifestyle hub,' said Margaret Teo, assistant chief executive (Leisure) for the STB.

The Orchard Road enhancements are the collective work of the STB, the National Parks, Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), which worked with Cox Group (Australia) to create the designs and plans. The Orchard Road Business Association and several stakeholders of Orchard Road were also consulted.

Three zones have been identified - Tanglin, Orchard and Somerset - which will feature flower, forest and fruit themes respectively. All three zones will boast enhanced road and pedestrian mall lighting to emphasise the trees and foliage. In addition, multi-functional lampposts and street furniture such as granite benches, stainless steel-clad waste bins and bollards will be installed.

A short stretch of the pedestrian mall outside ION Orchard and Wisma Atria will be widened through a one-lane reduction. 'The section of Orchard Road before the Scotts Road junction has only three lanes of traffic moving forward into a four lane road segment.

'This does show capacity for smooth traffic movement. Likewise, there is a two-lane right-turn movement from Paterson Road into Orchard Road. A two-lane right-turn movement into a four-lane road will not lead to unnecessary delays.

'From a lane-balancing concept, the suggested lane reduction can be supported,' said Mr Chandrasekar, director of community partnerships for the LTA.

Preliminary work to divert underground cables and telecommunication lines began last month, but work on the pedestrian malls will kick off after Chinese New Year next year. The work is expected to be completed by April 2009.

URA Releases Novena Site For Private Hospital

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 30, 2007

1.7ha plot of land is part of govt plan to meet patients' future needs.

A 1.7HA site in Novena to build a private hospital was yesterday released for tender by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).




















It is the first time in 31 years such a site has been put on the market, since the site of Mount Elizabeth Hospital was sold in 1976.

The move is part of the Government's plan to release more land for medical facilities, to meet both the needs of the population here, and rising demand for medical services by foreigners.

More than 410,000 foreign patients were treated here last year, a 15 per cent jump over the previous year.

The Novena site, along Irrawaddy Road and opposite Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), will be leased out for 99 years.

The URA said in a statement yesterday that the new hospital's total floor area cannot exceed 7.2ha, and that at least 35 per cent of the area must be used for inpatient wards.

Its retail element, such as its gift shops and food & beverage outlets, can occupy up to 5 per cent of the area, while the remaining space has to be used for facilities like operating theatres and medical suites.

The tender will close on Feb 15, with the hospital expected to be completed by 2015.

The hospital will seal Novena's reputation as a medical hub, given that the neighbourhood includes TTSH, the National Neuroscience Institute, National Skin Centre, upcoming Renci Hospital and Novena Medical Centre.

Mr Nicholas Mak, director of research and consultancy at Knight Frank, put the price of the site at between $600 million and $670 million.

As its stated use is very specific, he expects few bids to come in, and bidders will probably be hospital operators.

Raffles Medical Group, which runs Raffles Hospital, indicated interest, but said it needs to review the documents.

A spokesman for Parkway Group Healthcare, which runs Gleneagles, Mount Elizabeth and East Shore hospitals, said the group is 'thrilled' by the news because of the demand for more local and foreign patient beds.

Parkway already runs a day-surgery centre in nearby Martaban Road. It will open a 465 sq m radiology clinic at Novena Medical Centre next month, and a laboratory in the same centre later.

A site at one-north in Buona Vista, also slated for a private hospital, has not been put up for tender yet. And earlier this month, the URA awarded a Race Course Road site to Singapore Health-partners, but it is for a hotel-cum-hospital project.

URA Launches First Hospital Site In 30 years

Source : The Business Times, October 30, 2007

THE Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) yesterday launched a hospital site at Novena Terrace/Irrawaddy Road for sale by public tender. URA said that the last hospital site launched was at Mount Elizabeth in 1976.

URA said that it worked with the Ministry of Health to identify the new site. The news comes after Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in December that four possible sites for hospital development had been identified. He said three of the sites were near existing public hospitals and a fourth was in the north.

The 1.7 ha Novena Terrace/Irrawaddy Road site, near Novena MRT Station, has a maximum permissible gross floor area (GFA) of about 72,350 sq m. At least 35 per cent of the GFA is to be set aside for hospital in-patient wards.

A maximum of 5 per cent of the total GFA may be for retail uses such as gift shops and food and beverage outlets.

Knight Frank director (research and consultancy) Nicholas Mak said that hospital sites are a 'specialised play', and he does not expect more than five bids. Knight Frank estimates that the winning bid could be in the region of $600 million to $670 million. This works out to be about $770 to $860 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr).

'I expect that the future development could be a combination of hospital as well as strata-titled medical suites that could be put up for sale,' Mr Mak said.

The URA said Singapore has experienced 'exponential growth' in international patient numbers over the last few years, with more than 410,000 visitors in 2006.

'Growing at a rate of 20 per cent per annum, Singapore expects to receive about one million international healthcare visitors by 2012,' the URA said.

Healthcare sites do appear to be in demand. In September, a consortium called Singapore HealthPartners put in the highest bid of $265.3 million, or $431 psf ppr, for a hospital-cum-hotel site in Race Course Road. Also in the market for hospital sites could be healthcare real estate investment trusts like Parkway Life Reit and First Real Estate Investment Trust. According to its website, URA has fielded questions on whether a trust can be considered a developer for the site.

Govt Watching Property Market 'Carefully': PM

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 29, 2007

It is committed to keep housing affordable for all Singaporeans.

THE Government is watching the property market 'carefully', and taking steps to ensure that it does not over-heat.














PM Lee Hsien Loong(above) stressed that the government will make sure that the property market stays in balance over the long term. -- PHOTO: AP

Among other things, it will step up supply of office space over the next two to three years, and build more Housing Board flats to meet the strong demand, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday.

To those are worried that they might have 'missed the boat' in the current residential property boom, his advise to them is: Don't worry, there is enough land for affordable housing for all Singaporeans.

Speaking at the NTUC National Delegates Conference at the Orchid Country Club, Mr Lee highlighted two particular segments that are 'of concern' - prime office space and residential property.

Rentals of prime office space have shot up due to strong economic growth, he noted.

The financial and business services sectors are expanding, while many new businesses are moving in from the region and the West.

'They want to grow their business in Singapore and we're unable to meet it,' said PM Lee.

To ease the office space crunch, he said the Government is taking steps to increase the supply.

'We hope we'll be able to inject more office space into the market over the next two or three years - not just to stabilise office space market but provide the capacity so that lots more businesses can come set up in Singapore and grow our economy,' he said.

The Government is also closely tracking the residential market to ensure that it stays in balance over the long term.

The withdrawal of the deferred Payment Scheme, announced by the National Development Ministry last Friday night, is one such measure 'to dampen excessive speculation and help to inject some reality into the market,' said the Prime Minister.

'The Government is committed to keeping housing affordable for all Singaporeans,' he promised.

To that end, the Housing Board is building more flats. The Government is also releasing more land for executive condominiums - which also addresses the problem of middle-income households that do not qualify for HDB flats.

Said Mr Lee: 'We're convinced that we will be able to provide good housing for all Singaporeans over the medium to long term.'

'There is enough land in Singapore. There is no need for anybody to get alarmed, that this is the last chance, and if you don't get on, you'll miss the boat.'

Keeping Watchful Eye On Property Market

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 30, 2007

THE Government is watching the property market 'carefully' and taking steps to ensure it does not overheat.

It will inject more prime office space into the market over the next two to three years, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

And for those worried they have 'missed the boat' in the current residential property boom, he had this message: Don't worry, there is enough land for affordable housing for all Singaporeans.

Speaking at the NTUC National Delegates Conference, Mr Lee highlighted two property segments 'of concern': prime office space and residential property.

Office rents have soared with strong economic growth, he noted. The financial and business services sectors are expanding, while many new businesses are moving in from the region and the West.

'They're wanting to grow their business in Singapore and we're unable to meet it,' said Mr Lee.

To ease the squeeze, the Government will increase supply. 'We hope we'll be able to inject more office space into the market over the next two or three years, not just to stabilise the office space market but provide the capacity so lots more businesses can come set up in Singapore and grow our economy.'

In the home market, Mr Lee noted the scrapping of the Deferred Payment Scheme for buyers of upcoming private homes.

No longer can they just fork out 10 or 20 per cent of the price and defer payment of the rest till the project is done. Now, they have to make periodic payments as construction progresses.

Mr Lee said the move will 'help to dampen excessive speculation and inject some reality into the market'.

He reiterated that the Government 'is committed to keeping housing affordable for all Singaporeans.'

The HDB is building more flats. The Government will offer more land for executive condominiums to help middle-income families who do not qualify for HDB flats.

'We're convinced we will be able to provide good housing for all Singaporeans over the medium to long term. There is enough land in Singapore. There is no need for anybody to get alarmed that this is the last chance and, if you don't get on, you'll miss the boat,' said Mr Lee.

Looking ahead, the Government will continue to 'make sure the property market stays in balance over the long term', he added.

PM Lee Pledges Further Action On Property If Necessary

Source : The Business Times, October 30, 2007

He says Friday's measure will inject some market reality

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday said the government will continue to monitor property market trends closely and take further action if necessary.

His remarks come shortly after Friday evening's announcement on the scrapping of the deferred payment scheme for property purchases, which Mr Lee described yesterday as a step that will 'help to dampen excessive speculation and help to inject some reality into the market'.

Touching on various facets of property in Singapore, Mr Lee said that the government will also inject more office space into the market over the next two to three years to boost supply for the sector, which is facing an acute shortage of prime office space because of strong growth.

The government is also releasing more land for executive condos (ECs), a hybrid of public and private housing, Mr Lee said in his speech at the NTUC National Delegates' Conference yesterday morning.

'But more fundamentally than the ups and downs of the property cycle, the government is committed to keeping housing affordable for Singaporeans, for all Singaporeans,' he stressed.

'We will continue to monitor the property market carefully and watch the trends and if necessary, we will continue to take more action. And therefore we will be able to make sure that the property market stays in balance over the long term.'

To keep public housing affordable, the Housing and Development Board is building more flats. And to cater to the aspirations of Singaporeans who aspire to own a private condo unit, the government will step up the supply of land for ECs. This housing form was first introduced in 1996, at a time when private home prices were running away.

ECs cater to the 'sandwich' class of home buyers who cannot afford private housing but whose monthly household income is high enough to disqualify them from buying new flats in the public housing segment.

However, as the property market slumped and private home prices fell, the need for ECs diminished and the government stopped selling land for EC development. But the Ministry of National Development has re-introduced ECs into the Government Land Sales Programme, with a plot in Punggol that will be made available through the reserve list next month.

Related Link -
Full text of PM Lee's speech - http://tinyurl.com/yr4hdb