Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Amber Road Condo Sets New Price Benchmark

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 20, 2007

THERE is still plenty of life in the property sector, if preview sales at Amber Residences apartments are anything to go by.

The Amber Road project set a new benchmark price for the area, with units going for an average of $1,650 per sq ft (psf) at a weekend preview, where showflat visitors were treated to food, drinks and live music.

Of the 114 units at Amber Residences, 74 were sold at prices ranging from $1.6 million to $3.5 million. Prices at Amber Road have risen significantly with the market this year.

The Sea View, opposite the 21-storey Amber Residences, was released in mid-2005 at just $750 psf. Sub-sales have since been done at up to $1,510 psf.

Savills Residential’s senior associate director, Ms Phylicia Ang, said the Amber Residences preview was for special guests, including the developer’s business associates.

Most of the buyers were from Singapore. They could opt for the deferred payment scheme - which added 3 per cent to the unit price - but less than half did so. Developer Voda Land was given permission to sell with deferred payment before the scheme was withdrawn late last month.

Voda Land bought the freehold Amber Lodge and the Jin Fu Apartments site in a collective sale to form the plot for Amber Residences.

‘For the price that the buyers paid, which is a benchmark for Amber, the condo has to come with quality fittings,’ said Ms Ang.

Amber Residences has two- to four-bedroom units and six penthouses, ranging from 4,133 sq ft to 6,717 sq ft. Some of the best high-floor units went for over $1,800 psf, but the penthouses, which are all still available, will be priced at around $1,900 psf, or between $8 million and $13 million.

Ginza Plaza To Get $26m Facelift

Source : The Business Times, November 20, 2007

It will be redesigned by DP Architects and renamed West Coast Plaza.

FAR East Organization will spend $26 million updating the 16-year old Ginza Plaza shopping mall.

Oasis: West Coast Plaza, which has a net lettable area of 160,000 sq ft, hopes to capture the 'breezy, easy-going spirit of the West Coast'

The mall, which will be renamed West Coast Plaza, is expected to be ready for business in the third quarter of 2008.

Vivienne Tan, president of Far East Retail Consultancy, said changing demographics in the West were a key factor in the decision to refurbish the mall.

‘As its original name suggests, Ginza Plaza used to cater to the Japanese expatriate community that lived in the area,’ Mrs Tan said.

‘But now we’re seeing a good number of other nationalities moving in. There is also a growing private residential population,’ she said.

Danny Yeo, director of retail at Knight Frank, which is marketing the mall, said rents at West Coast Plaza will range from $8 to $25 per sq ft per month (psf pm). Before Ginza Plaza was vacated, average rentals were $5-$6 psf pm, Mrs Tan said.

Billed as ‘An Oasis in the West’, West Coast Plaza, which has a net lettable area of 160,000 sq ft, hopes to capture the ‘breezy, easy-going spirit of the West Coast’. The mall has been redesigned by DP Architects.

Far East hopes to attract residents living in the West, who are generally thought to have higher disposable incomes than residents in other parts of Singapore.

A study by Knight Frank showed the West has a higher proportion of private housing (about 30 per cent) than the island-wide residential mix (about 18 per cent). Also, nine or more new private residential developments within 2km of West Coast Plaza are expected to be completed around the same time as the mall, Far East said.

Increased demand for private property and the presence of a more varied expatriate community are thought to be due to a growing number of professionals working in the area, in places such as science hub one-north.

Far East also hopes to attract students from more than 27 educational institutions within 3km of the mall, including students from the National University of Singapore.

Amber Residences Condo A Hit

Source : The Business Times, November 20, 2007

70 units snapped up within hours during private preview at $1,650 psf average.

MORE than 70 of the 114 units at Voda Land’s Amber Residences in Amber Road were snapped up within hours during a private preview on Sunday at an average price of $1,650 per square foot (psf), the agency marketing the project said yesterday.

Sui Generis: The 40-unit condo in the Balmoral area is a joint project of UE and Kajima. 17 of the 23 units released have been sold at an average price of $2,500 psf

And elsewhere, about 70 per cent of units released at Sui Generis - a condominium in the Balmoral area being jointly developed by Singapore-listed United Engineers (UE) and Japan-based Kajima Corporation - have been sold at an average price of $2,500 per square foot (psf), UE said yesterday.

At the 40-unit Sui Generis, 17 units of the 23 released were sold through overseas previews during the past two months, UE said.

Prices fetched ranged from $2,300 psf to $2,580 psf. About 90 per cent of the units were bought by foreigners during roadshows in Indonesia and Hong Kong, UE said.

‘Given the continued foreign interest in Singapore properties, Sui Generis will tour various cities including Jakarta and Hong Kong,’ said Joseph Tan, executive director of residential at CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), which is marketing the project. Sui Generis will be launched in Singapore early next year.

CBRE said the average price of $2,500 psf is a benchmark for the Balmoral area.

‘Buyers are drawn by the good unit layout and quality of finishes, which explains why the project has achieved a benchmark sale price,’ Mr Tan said.

Sui Generis comprises mostly three and four-bedroom apartments. There are also four penthouses. The project’s name is a Latin expression that means ‘a person or thing that is unique and in a class of its own’.

At Amber Residences, the average price per unit came to $1,650 psf, with choice high-floor units being sold for more than $1,800 psf, said Savills Singapore, which is marketing the project.

‘Following the overwhelming success and strong demand for this unique development, we plan to release a few more units for this coming Sunday’s preview,’ said Phylicia Ang, senior associate director of Savills’ residential division. ‘It will then be followed by an official launch for the remaining units - including choice units - from Dec 1.’

The sales were done by private invitation only and most of the buyers were locals, Savills said.

Amber Residences is made up of a single 21-storey block with mostly two, three and four-bedroom apartments. There are also six penthouses.

The project is possibly the first on the East Coast where all units have a premium finish and fittings usually associated with high-end condominiums, Ms Ang said.

Fifteen Balestier Terrace Houses Sold For $61m

Source : The Business Times, November 20, 2007

Buyer pays $739 ppr, a record for freehold residential land in vicinity.

A ROW of 15 terrace houses in Jalan Bunga Raya have been sold for $61 million or an all-up unit land price of $739 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr) - a record for freehold residential land in the Balestier/Novena area.

Hot properties: GMG Building (left), a 12-storey freehold office block in Robinson Road, has been put up for sale. The 15 terrace houses along Jalan Bunga Raya have a total land area of 24,058 sq ft. Access to the houses is by Jalan Bunga Raya, which can be alienated by the state for about $7m, boosting the land area to 32,978 sq ft

Before the deal, which was brokered by DTZ, the highest residential land price fetched in the area was around $600 psf ppr.

DTZ said the buyer of the 15 houses is a consortium comprising Chinese developers and local partners. All owners of the houses have agreed to the sale.

The 15 homes have a total land area of 24,058 sq ft. Access to the houses is by Jalan Bunga Raya, which can be alienated by the state for about $7 million, boosting the land area to 32,978 sq ft, subject to approval by the Singapore Land Authority.
A development charge of about $263,000 is also payable. The $739 psf ppr unit land price to the developer includes these two payments it will have to make to the state and based on the enlarged plot size.

Under Master Plan 2003, the site has a 2.8 maximum plot ratio - the ratio of maximum potential gross floor area to land area - and a 36-storey height limit. DTZ estimates the plot can be developed into a new condo with about 56 apartments averaging 1,500 sq ft. ‘The breakeven cost is likely to be $1,150-1,200 psf,’ said DTZ senior director, investor advisory services & auction, Shaun Poh.

Separately, DTZ has put up for sale GMG Building, a 12-storey freehold office block in Robinson Road.

The property is being sold by Robinson Land Pte Ltd, which is currently refurbishing the block. Refurbishment work, estimated to cost about $5-6 million, is expected to be completed and the building ready for occupation around the first quarter of 2008.

‘This prime office building will be sold, completely refurbished and with vacant possession, which would allow investors to take advantage of current favourable office rental rates,’ Mr Poh said.

‘It’s also an excellent opportunity for end-users seeking a corporate HQ with naming rights. The property is expected to fetch about $2,600 psf over the total strata area of 54,832 sq ft, working out to a total amount of $142.6 million.’

Robinson Land, whose shareholders include the Buxani Group of Singapore and some overseas investors, bought GMG Building last year for $48 million or $875 psf of strata area.

Refurbishment work, which started recently, will boost the building’s net lettable area (NLA) to 54,895 sq ft, about 5 per cent higher than the previous NLA. There is not much redevelopment.

The refurbished building is being sold through an expression of interest exercise that closes on Dec 5.

Orchard Road Prime Rents 4th Highest In Asia

Source : The Business Times, November 20, 2007

ORCHARD Road prime rents have hit $325US psf per year, making it the world’s 14th most expensive area for shopkeepers. By contrast, annual prime rents for sites on New York’s Fifth Avenue are $1US,500 psf, or $922US for sites on the Avenue des Champs Elysees, in Paris.

Orchard Road is also the fourth most expensive shopping location in this region - after those in Hong Kong (Causeway Bay - $1US,213 psf/year), Tokyo (Ginza - $683US psf/year) and Seoul (Gangnam Station - $431US psf/year).

A report by Cushman & Wakefield (C&W) shows that Singapore’s busiest shopping street did slip one place from its previous 13th position last year but attributed this to the strength of the euro over the Singapore dollar.

C&W’s report tracks retail rents in the world’s top 231 shopping locations across 44 countries. Its data show that annual prime rents increased by 11.3 per cent for Orchard Road while in the top three most expensive locations in New York’s Fifth Avenue, Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay and Paris’s Avenue des Champs Elysees, rents increased by 11.1, 6.97 and 14.5 per cent respectively.

At the fourth and fifth most expensive locations - London’s New Bond Street ($814US psf/year) and Tokyo’s Ginza - annual rents increased by 20.95 and 4.8 per cent respectively.

Although C&W expects retail rents in Singapore to continue their upward trend, it noted that rents in other cities have increased faster, notably in India. It believes that this will help make Singapore more competitive and maintain its attractiveness as a retail destination in the region.

Rental growth across Asia as a whole increased by 23.8 per cent. C&W head of retail services (Asia Pacific) Sebastian Skiff said: ‘Of particular note is the robust performance in Tokyo driven largely by lack of supply. India saw particularly strong growth, with rents nationally up 53.5 per cent.’

He also noted that Australia, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong saw solid growth from already relatively high bases.

On the demand for prime retail space, C&W’s global head of retail, John Strachan, said: ‘We are seeing the emergence of a line-up of global shopping destinations, whether Fifth Avenue in New York, Causeway Bay in Hong Kong or Avenue des Champs Elysees in Paris, where retailers are using flagship stores in prestige locations to leverage the value of their brands.’

Globally, Chicago’s Oak Street was the location with the biggest rental increases in local currency. Rents for prime properties doubled in one year.

This was followed by rents in New Delhi’s Ansal Plaza and Connaught Place which saw annual increases of 87.5 per cent while rents in St Petersburg’s Nevsky Prospekt increase by 81.8 per cent.

S'pore Q3 GDP Grows Annualised 4.3%

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 19, 2007

SINGAPORE'S economy grew at an annualised, seasonally adjusted rate of 4.3 per cent in the third quarter, well below market expectations.

The figure compares with an advance estimate, which had been based largely on data from July and August, of 6.4 per cent issued last month.

From a year ago, the economy expanded by 8.9 per cent in the three months to the end of September, compared with an advance estimate of 9.4 per cent, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a press release on Monday.

The median of a Reuters poll showed that economists had expected third-quarter growth to match the government's advance estimates.

An economist at ING Financial Markets, Tim Condon: 'I think there was a slowdown in retail sales and probably private consumption which caused the slowdown on the expenditure side.'

'That said, Singapore is still growing at a very rapid pace and above the government's estimates of what they see as a steady growth rate.'

Manufacturing expanded 10.5 per cent in the third quarter from a year earlier, while construction grew 17.7 per cent.

The financial services sector grew 19.9 per cent, partly due to a strong performance in financial services such as private banking and asset management.

The government also narrowed its 2007 growth forecast range to 7.5-8.0 per cent , from 7-8 per cent range announced earlier. Last year, the economy grew 7.9 per cent. -- REUTERS

S'pore 'Disappointed' At M'sia's 'Baseless' Allegations On Pedra Branca

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 19, 2007

DEPUTY Prime Minister and Law Minister S Jayakumar has called Malaysia's allegations in the two sides' dispute over Pedra Branca 'baseless' and 'distracting'.

He was speaking on Monday at the International Court of Justice at The Hague in the Netherlands on the first of a two-day round of rebuttals for the Singapore side, after both countries had presented their main arguments to the Court in the past fortnight.

'During Singapore's first round oral pleadings, we have focused our presentations purely on legal and factual issues in dispute between the parties,' said Prof Jayakumar.

'We have carefully avoided mentioning extraneous matters that may affect the integrity of the proceedings before this honourable Court. In view of the good relations between the two countries, we had expected Malaysia to do likewise.'

He added: 'We are therefore surprised and disappointed that Malaysia has in her oral pleadings, made a series of allegations and insinuations against Singapore. These are of a nature which, unless rebutted, would impeach or diminish Singapore's integrity or could impress on the minds of the Members of the Court that there could be dire consequences for relations in the region if the dispute were decided in favour of Singapore.'

Such 'extraneous and prejudicial remarks', said Prof Jayakumar, include:

- an insinuation that Singapore may have concealed a letter from the Court;

- an allegation that Singapore is subverting the existing legal order, and that stability in the region will be affected if sovereignty over Pedra Branca is awarded to Singapore;

- an attribution of sinister motives to Singapore;

- an accusation that Singapore moved its navy belatedly to Pedra Branca and used aggressive methods to assert Singapore's claim; and

- a gratuitous 'offer' to continue respecting Singapore's 'right' to operate the lighthouse should Malaysia win the case.

So Singapore, Prof Jayakumar stressed, is 'compelled' to point out 'how baseless and tendentious Malaysia's allegations are and to set the record straight'.

Architects 'Reinvent Skyscraper' With Beijing Tower

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 19, 2007

BEIJING - BUILDING a skyscraper should be challenge enough. Ole Scheeren wants to reinvent the concept.

Ole Scheeren (above) who is the chief architect behind the new headquarters for China's state broadcaster has created a project that is both a feat of engineering set to dominate Beijing's skyline and a radical social statement. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

The chief architect behind the new headquarters for China's state broadcaster has created a project that is a both a feat of engineering set to dominate Beijing's skyline and a radical social statement.

'We wanted to think of a skyscraper that would not fall into the trap of racing for height, of trying to dominate the skyline by being the tallest,' Mr Scheeren told Reuters.

'We thought against the verticality of the needle, against this very simple principle of hierarchy,' he said from his Beijing offices, overlooking the massive construction site.

What his firm, Rem Koolhaas' Office for Metropolitan Architecture, created instead is what Mr Scheeren describes as a 'loop folded in space' - two towers sloped together and joined by a gravity-defying canopy equivalent to 80 storeys in height.

The building is among several projects in Beijing as the city reinvents itself for the 2008 Olympics and gains a reputation in the process as a playground for architectural ambition.

Norman Foster is behind the city's new US$3.6 billion (S$5.2 billion) airport terminal, French architect Paul Andreu has created its National Grand Theatre, a futuristic, dome-shaped bubble, and Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron are building the main Olympic stadium, dubbed the 'bird's nest' for its interlaced steel beams.

China's emergence as the world's fourth-largest economy, and the recognition that came with being awarded the Olympics, created a momentum that allowed for the projects, Mr Scheeren said.

The Olympics 'was really a catalyst that I think propelled ambition and development in a very particular way'.

'I think these are also buildings that might not have been possible anywhere else in the world, starting from their magnitude, but also to their actual architectural formation and expression,' said the 36-year-old German.

Social ambition

The project for China Central Television (CCTV) will incorporate 475,000 square metres in a single structure, making it the largest in the world after the Pentagon.

The design is so complex that a decade ago computational tools were not sophisticated enough to support the engineering.

For Mr Scheeren, it's not the architectural tricks that count.

'It's easy to look at the building as an accomplishment of engineering,' he said. 'But for me, what is more important than that is the social ambition this project pursues in the way it brings people together.'

The finished building will incorporate all the elements of television-making in one structure, from production studios and newsrooms to executive offices.

A pathway open to visitors will follow the loop of the building up to the canopy - where the glass-floored overhang will allow a view over the city from a dizzying 160m - before looping back down through the second tower.

The radicalism of a project that aims to do away with traditional hierarchies and open itself to the public seems surprising for a state broadcaster more known for staid programming than innovation.

But Mr Scheeren says the project is being driven in a part by a desire within CCTV to use it as a tool to develop and change the company, which will be broadcasting from the building by the time the Olympics open on Aug 8.

The firm has assembled a 400-person team for the project that is 50 per cent Chinese and 50 per cent international, a decision that Scheeren says grounds the building in its cultural context of Beijing.

It also sets the stage, he says, for more to come.

'While there are a series of these large projects being designed by foreign architects, I think we also see simultaneously a new generation of Chinese architects that emerges with an incredible education and an incredible ambition from their side to reformulate their own beginnings.' -- REUTERS

Property Boom Expected To Continue

Source : The Business Times, November 14 2007

Robust economy, jobs growth, strong housing demand and en bloc sales proceeds are key drivers, say KU SWEE YONG and ZENG ZHEN

THE bullish sentiment in Singapore's residential market continued into 2007 from where it left off in 2006. In the first nine months of this year, the market recorded a total of 29,331 sales transactions worth some $52 billion. This represents a year-on-year increase of 89 and 116 per cent respectively.

The demand for high-end residential housing has been growing at a feverish pace over the past two years and although the stock market plunge may have affected investor sentiment, new benchmark prices continued to make headlines over the past two quarters. Rising fast to support the high-end residential sector are the mid-tier and mass market segments, which have picked up significantly since early 2007 with record prices set at several project launches. Strong economic outlook, coupled with higher salaries and bigger bonuses and rapid jobs growth have brought new impetus for investors, home owners and speculators to upgrade and/or to purchase.

Comparing average prices with those at the end of 2006, the average price for homes in the super luxury market segment (luxury developments which crossed the $2,500 psf mark in Q4/2006) jumped 42 per cent to $3,700, while the high-end market segment (luxury developments in Districts 1, 4, 9, 10 & 11) rose by 36 per cent to $2,076 per sq ft. The average prices for both mid-tier and mass market developments have also risen by more than 50 per cent, albeit from a lower base, to $1,250 per sq ft and $700 per sq ft respectively.

One major market driver is en bloc sales, which have been very active since early 2005. However, with the prolonged US sub-prime credit woes, hikes in development charge rates and the tightening of en bloc sales legislation, the en bloc sizzle has taken a breather from the end of the third quarter of this year.

This has been a phenomenal year for en bloc sales. Since January, some 95 en bloc sales with a total value of $11.3 billion were transacted, compared to 65 transactions totalling $7.5 billion for the whole of 2006.

The displaced tenants and owner-occupiers from these properties have contributed to the overall increase in rentals and capital values of homes in the mid-tier, mass and public market segments.

Notwithstanding the stock market shock in the third quarter, the buying momentum is expected to resume between next month and early 2008 given the wave of purchases from displaced en bloc-owners who are expected to collect their money and buy a replacement home around this time. This time round, the mid-tier and mass market segments will lead the way with a strong growth, lending solid fundamentals to prices in the high-end and luxury sectors.

For next year, the residential market in Singapore is expected to remain strong with all segments looking set to continue growing supported by robust domestic economy, jobs growth, wage growth in both the public and private sectors, strong housing demand from expatriates relocating to Singapore and reinvestment of proceeds from en bloc sales.

The general market consensus is that supply will tighten due to a short- term supply crunch in 2008, as the expected demolitions from en bloc sales outstrip the completion of new projects. The tightness in supply will be exacerbated by the need to fill job vacancies which stood at close to 40,000 by mid-2007 with unemployment standing at 1.7 per cent in September 2007.

An estimated 10,000 units from en bloc sales are also expected to be demolished in 2008 while TOPs from new projects are expected to re-supply only 8,000 units. (This is largely due to the few construction starts back in 2003 and 2004 when economic confidence was low, which resulted in low completion numbers in 2007 and 2008.)

Furthermore, there is also the potential risk for a slower pace of construction of residential properties arising from the strong competition for resources in the construction sector. This is largely due to the fact that several of these mega projects are also scheduled for completion within the next three to four years. Some of these mega projects include the two integrated resorts, BFC, petrochemicals plants in Jurong Island, public infrastructure such as the Circle Line and Circle Line Extension, common services tunnel in Marina Bay, sports hub at Kallang, and Gardens by The Bay.

On the demand side, there are several significant events that could spur investments into Singapore. The first is next September's Formula 1 night race, which will bring international attention to Singapore starting from February, when the F1 season begins.

The weakening US dollar, strengthening Sing dollar, reduced confidence in US markets and political uncertainties as several key regional countries will be holding their general elections soon, could encourage more high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) from around the region to park some of their wealth here.

The strong Singapore property market has also caught the eye of fund managers from Europe, the Middle East and Japan who have been investing in Asian real estate; and Singapore will benefit from that allocation in 2008 and beyond.

The high-end market is expected to remain steady with average prices likely to rise by another 15 to 20 per cent to hit an average of $3,000 per sq ft. With such strong demand, it would not be to far-fetched to expect some units in super luxury residential projects to cross the $6,000 per sq ft mark.

Developers will continue to raise prices for luxury high-end apartments with superior product quality, such as more spacious surrounding, and designer fixtures and fittings. At the same time, the replacement cost of land, whether from en bloc sales or government land sales, will continue to go up.

Meanwhile, Singapore's status as a global financial centre, tax-friendly environment, strong currency and liquidity in the local market will keep attracting investment interest from the fast-growing private banking sector which, in turn, are attracting HNWIs to the region as well as expatriates entering Singapore's job market.

While the high-end market takes a slower growth next year over an increased baseline, the mid-tier and mass markets will surge in 2008 due to strong demand and spill-over effects from the high-end market. Twelve months ago, we proclaimed that 2007 will be the year of resurgence for the mass market. We were spot on. We now know that the resurgence is backed by solid fundamentals and we expect this sector to soar in 2008.

Assuming two-thirds of home owners, who sold their properties en bloc in the first nine months of 2007, will buy replacement homes, we could expect to see some 4,300 buyers with a budget of approximately $7.5 billion looking for homes in the first half of 2008.

Soaring high-end prices and supply crunch in prime districts have forced some buyers to turn their attention to mid-tier projects. In addition, public and private sector wage rise backed by robust domestic economy, tighter job market will also drive up demands from HDB upgraders or families exceeding the HDB income ceiling, particularly in the mass market segment.

Strong demand could also push mid-tier prices up by another 20 to 40 per cent to between $1,500 and $2,000 per sq ft for the whole of 2008. Areas that will benefit from the rise in the mid-tier market include Balestier, Bukit Timah, Novena, Thomson and Upper East Coast.

As many of the mass market areas are still relatively undervalued, it is expected that prices will grow strongly, up by between 30 and 50 per cent from a low base, with average prices reaching around $1,000 per sq ft.

Areas likely to see the most significant price gains include Upper Paya Lebar, Hougang, Ang Mo Kio, Upper Thomson to Mandai, Clementi, West Coast, Jurong East, Upper Bukit Timah and Bedok.

There are several projects in the high-end and super luxury markets to keep an eye on in 2008, such as the Ritz-Carlton Residences at Cairnhill, Hilltops at Cairnhill, Paterson Suites at Paterson Road, and The Marina Collection and The Quayside Isle in Sentosa Cove.

We would also be monitoring The Cascadia and Floridian at Bukit Timah, and the development by CDL in Thomson Road for signals of strength in the mid-tier market.

For the mass market segment, it will be the developments at Simon Road and Bedok Reservoir and Park Natura at Bukit Batok.

In the landed property sector, international attention-grabbers in Sentosa Cove could be launched in 2008.

The rental market is also expected to strengthen. Based on robust demand and limited supply being completed, coupled with the withdrawal of properties in the prime districts through en bloc sales, rentals are likely to hit new highs.

Rents in prime districts will increase by 20 to 30 per cent next year, to an average of $6 to $8 per sq ft per month. The trend of existing tenants in prime districts moving out to fringe or suburban areas will continue, and this will support the annual 50 to 80 per cent growth of the suburban rental markets, at average rents of $4 to $5 per sq ft per month.

Though the property market continues to exhibit strong performance, there are several factors which could affect the residential sales market. Factors such as prolonged uncertainties in the global equity markets, further property measures imposed by the government to cool the market, rising oil prices and high inflation rate could possibly dampen investors' sentiment and confidence.

Increased operating costs due to rising residential and office rents have also sparked concerns about the erosion of Singapore's attractiveness for MNCs.

The Singapore government targets a long-term economic growth of 4 to 6 per cent per annum. We have been making basic changes to diversify our economy, through the IRs (conventions/exhibitions, Universal Studios theme parks), through investments in R&D and intellectual property, through continued liberalisation of funds management, private banking and insurance industries. This re-positioning of Singapore as a vibrant, global city will continue to support the residential market.

Singapore is undergoing a structural upwards re-rating of the property market. Barring unexpected shocks, property prices will continue to rise for at least three years, and if the IRs deliver their performance, another five to seven years. And even if there were a downturn in the property sector beyond 2012, the authors believe that bottom prices then will still be higher than the prices of 2007.

Given the factors outlined above, what might be the opportunity cost of doubting the continued growth in this market and staying on the sidelines and waiting for it to drop?

Ku Swee Yong is director of marketing and business development; and Zeng Zhen assistant manager, research & consultancy, Savills Singapore

S'pore's Q3 GDP Grows 4.3% From Q2

Source : The Business Times, November 19 2007

Singapore's economy grew at an annualised, seasonally adjusted rate of 4.3 per cent in the third quarter, final Government data showed on Monday.

But the trade ministry on Monday slightly increased its forecast for 2008, with growth seen at 4.5-6.5 per cent, above its previous forecast of 4-6 per cent. The forecast range for 2007 was narrowed to 7.5-8 per cent from 7-8 per cent.

'The lingering effects of the sub-prime problems in the credit markets and a more generalised weakening of the housing market will dampen consumption in the US,' the ministry said.

The figure compares with an advance estimate, which had been based largely on data from July and August, of 6.4 per cent issued last month.

From a year ago, Singapore's economy expanded by 8.9 per cent in the three months to the end of September, compared with an advance estimate of 9.4 per cent.

Earlier this month, the Singapore government delayed about $2 billion (US$1.4 billion) worth of building projects to 2010 and beyond to cool Singapore's booming construction sector.

The government last month also withdrew a scheme that allowed property buyers to delay payments for homes in a bid to cool the property market.

Manufacturing expanded 10.5 per cent in the third quarter from a year earlier, while construction grew 17.7 per cent. The financial services sector grew 19.9 per cent, partly due to a strong performance in financial services such as private banking and asset management. -- REUTERS