Monday, November 26, 2007

The Riverwalk For Sale

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 26 November 2007

An iconic redevelopment site at the heart of the CBD has been put up for sale.

Currently known as The Riverwalk, the 82,317-sq ft site is zoned for commercial use.

It has a gross plot ratio of up to 4.9, and has the potential to be redeveloped into an iconic commercial building with a gross floor area of about 403,351 sq ft, subject to approval and payment of development charge and land premium for the topping up of the lease.

Jones Lang LaSalle is the marketing agent for the site. - CNA/ir

Two Office Sites At Mountbatten And Aljunied Up For Sale

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 26 November 2007

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is putting up two more transitional office sites for sale to help meet the demand for office space in the short to medium term.

The two new sites are at Mountbatten Road and the junction of Aljunied Road and Geylang East Avenue 1.

The Mountbatten Road site has an area of over 2 hectares. It can yield a maximum gross floor area of 20,000 square metres.

It is located next to the future Mountbatten MRT Station along the Circle Line, which is expected to be ready by 2010.

The Aljunied Road site spans about 1.9 hectares and has a maximum permissible gross floor area of 19,000 square metres.

Both sites will be sold on short-term leases of 15 years.

The office buildings on these sites are expected to be low-rise developments of about three storeys, which can be built quickly.

CB Richard Ellis expects keen interest in the Aljunied Road parcel due to its proximity to an existing MRT station and offices in the Paya Lebar micro-market.

Knight Frank predicts that the Mountbatten Road site will fetch up to S$130 per square foot per plot ratio or about S$28 million.

It expects the Aljunied Road site to sell for up to S$160 per square foot per plot ratio or about S$32.5 million. - CNA/so

MacarthurCook Industrial REIT Makes Foray Into Japan With S$29m Buy

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 26 November 2007

MacarthurCook Industrial REIT has made its first acquisition outside of Singapore, buying the Asahi Ohmiya Warehouse in Japan for S$29 million.

It will outsource the management of the property to Atlas Partners Japan, a Japanese real estate fund and asset management firm.

MacarthurCook Industrial said the acquisition is an important first step of its expansion into Japan, in line with its pan-Asian strategy.

It expects to have 20 per cent of its portfolio to be allocated in Japan eventually, another 50 per cent in Singapore and the remainder in other major Asian industrial property markets. - CNA/ac

Hotel Revenue Hits All-Time Record As More Tourists Stay Longer

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 26, 2007

THE tourism sector is definitely roaring, as October posted a monthful of records.

First, latest figures from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) show that hotel room revenue has hit an all-time record of $178.4 million in October - a 37.1 per cent jump over the same month last year.

Average room rates hit $219 a night, a jump of 33.9 per cent - also setting a new record.

Occupancy rates, at the same time, hit 89 per cent, up 1.8 per cent over October 2006.

Yet another record was broken as 911,000 visitors, an increase of 6.2 per cent, came to Singapore last month - a new high for the month of October.

These visitors stayed longer as well, chalking up 3.3 million days, or about 3.6 days per person - a jump of 14.5 per cent.

As for the sources of these visitors, the STB said 54 per cent of them came from 5 countries - Indonesia, China, Australia, India and Malaysia, in that order.

Visitor arrivals from Indonesia, in particular, hit a new record of 215,000 in October, which the STB attributed to the Hari Raya holidays.

Mountbatten, Aljunied Office Sites For Sale

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 26, 2007

THE Urban Redevelopment Authority has announced the sales launch of 2 transitional office sites - one at Mountbatten Road, the other at a land parcel bordering Aljunied Road and Geylang East Avenue 1.

The Mountbatten site, occupying 2.12 ha, can yield up to 20,000 sqm of gross floor area. It's also located next to the future Mountbatten MRT station along the Circle Line, which is expected to be ready by 2010.

The Aljunied-Geyland East site is slightly smaller at 1.88 ha, with a maximum gross floor area of 18,885 sqm. Like the Mountbatten site, it's also located at the fringe of the city and adjacent to an MRT station - in this case, Aljunied MRT.

Both sites, said URA, will be sold on short-term leases of 15 years.

"The office buildings on these sites will are expected to be low-rise developments of about 3 storeys that can be quickly built in about a year," it added.

Tenders for the Mountbatten Road land parcel will close at 12pm on Jan 9, while those for the site at Aljunied Road will close exactly one week later on Jan 16.

More details are available at the URA's website.(

Attempt To Patent Concept Of Sky Gardens

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 26, 2007

Sceptics contend bid is like seeking copyright protection for modernism

A RELATIVELY unknown Singapore designer is defying industry experts by attempting to win a patent for his concept of high-rise gardens in apartment blocks.

ARCHITECTURAL CONCEPT: Mr Lim, a project manager who once managed Punggol Marina, is seeking a patent for his 'garden house in the sky' concept, seen here in an artist's impression. -- PHOTO: LIM TONG KAY

Mr Lim Tong Kay wants to replicate the greenery found at ground level by stacking publicly accessible gardens at alternate levels of housing blocks.

Each garden space would be about two storeys high, allowing more space and light for trees and plants.

Mr Lim, 50, is not an architect but a project manager who once managed Punggol Marina.

He submitted his 'garden house in the sky' concept to the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos) in April.

Ipos will conduct a range of checks, including those on the concept's originality, before deciding if it can grant the patent.

A patent means Mr Lim can stop others from using or copying his concept without his consent.

A decision from Ipos, which has granted 28 patents related to building design since 2004, may take about two years.

Mr Lim said his patent attempt was an effort to 'document something which is useful'.

Registering ownership of the idea, he said, would 'encourage other people to look at patents closely and look into developing the sky terrace concept'.

He wants to collaborate with developers, architects and consultants 'to advance this concept worldwide'.

Architects, however, have been quick to dismiss his ambitions.

Mr Siew Man Kok from MKPL Architects told The Straits Times: 'It is not possible for architectural designs to be patented.'

'All designs evolve from previous ideas. Can you imagine if someone tried to patent modernism?' he asked.

Mr Siew added that elements of Mr Lim's concept can already be found in existing or upcoming projects in Singapore.

Pinnacle@Duxton, a public housing project coming up in Tanjong Pagar, and some proposed precincts in Queenstown already have sky gardens at intermediate levels.

Award-winning architect Chan Soo Khian of SCDA Architects also expects the application to fail.

'I don't think it is correct,' he said, explaining that such a patent would restrict other architects' ability to explore various spatial concepts.

Intellectual property experts say, however, such a patent is technically possible.

Singapore laws do not preclude anything from being patented, Dr Stanley Lai, a lawyer from Allen & Gledhill, said.

As long as the product or method is new, inventive and has an industrial application, it has a chance, but not if it encourages offensive, immoral or anti-social behaviour.

So, while home-grown toymaker Stikfas has patented its figures' ball-and-socket design, something like a method of medical treatment would not be granted the same protection, as it would not be deemed to have an industrial application.

Although uncommon, patents for architectural concepts do exist elsewhere, such as in the United States.

Other countries, like Britain, however, do not award patents for literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, which may include architectural concepts, Dr Lai said.

Last year, 9,164 patent applications were filed in Singapore. Seven per cent were made by local parties.

In the same period, 7,390 patents were granted. Six per cent went to local parties.

Malaysian Tycoon Enters S'pore Luxury Homes Market

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 26, 2007

YTL Group plans to build top-end marina, residential projects in region

MALAYSIAN tycoon Francis Yeoh, who helms YTL Group, one of Malaysia's largest listed companies, is intent on an aggressive expansion in Asia - starting in Singapore.

The Republic is the target of the first part of his grand plan to build a series of world-class marinas and residential clusters in coastal areas around Asia.

He wants Asia to be known as the 'Mediterranean and Caribbean of the East'.

'Real estate has not seen its full glory yet in Asia,' Tan Sri Dr Yeoh said in an interview with The Straits Times recently.

'Wealthy Asians are still paying a lot for not very good homes in the West, when they should be able to find beautiful homes in the East.'

To address this, YTL is now focused on gaining entry into the top tier of Asia's property markets, starting with Singapore, he said.

YTL, with a combined market worth of about RM28.5 billion (S$12.2 billion), is a conglomerate that spans the construction, property, hotel and utilities industries. It recently teamed up with Malaysian developer LP Worlds to form a joint venture, Genesis-Alliance, which owns two projects at Sentosa Cove.

Genesis-Alliance, in which YTL holds a majority stake, was awarded the 145,442 sq ft, man-made Sandy Island in March for $89.7 million, after it bagged the Lakefront in the northern part of Sentosa Cove for the bargain price of $50.2 million in September last year.

Sentosa will be an important 'mid-point' for yachts cruising in Asia in the future, said Dr Yeoh. Hence, the need for a presence in the Republic.

'Singapore is the centre of the region, like London is the centre of Europe. Its strong infrastructure, private banking sector and cosmopolitan culture makes it an attractive destination.'

YTL's strategy is to rope in renowned architects and iconic brands to design quality homes, which will then be sold by invitation only to high net-worth individuals around the world.

It already has high-end properties, shopping malls, hotels and resorts in Malaysia, Dubai, Indonesia, Thailand and Europe, including a six-star hotel in St Tropez, France.

Sandy Island's super-luxurious villas, slated for launch next March, are designed by renowned Armani store designer Claudio Silverstrin.

Each villa, ranging from 6,000 sq ft to 12,000 sq ft and costing more than $12 million apiece, will boast a lush tropical setting, quality interior finishes, a private berth and pool among other exclusive features.

All this is meant to redefine indulgent living in Singapore and Asia. More homes in this style are on the way, he said.

The company is also eyeing Singapore's prime residential districts to build more of its high-end homes and to gain entry into the top-end of the island's property market.

'It's not too late yet,' said Dr Yeoh, adding that a slice of the pie is big enough.

'But as a new kid on the block, to survive, we must differentiate ourselves. And this is where YTL comes in - at the very top of the pyramid.'

The homes YTL builds will be eco-friendly and minimise the impact on the environment, Dr Yeoh added. 'Asia is a beautiful location. In terms of real estate, I'm looking forward to a very exciting decade ahead.'

Asia's Costliest Cities For Expats: Seoul No 1, S'pore Ranks 9th

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 26, 2007

SEOUL is Asia's costliest city for expatriates while the weaker yen has made Japanese cities more affordable, a survey released on Monday said.

The latest twice-yearly survey by human resources firm ECA International showed the South Korean capital jump one notch higher to rank seventh globally in a list of the most expensive places for expatriates over the last 12 months.

Tokyo retained its place as the second most expensive Asian city but globally, the Japanese capital dropped out of the top 10 list for the first time because of the weaker yen.

'Depreciation of the yen against most other currencies, coupled with low inflation, has significantly reduced living costs for foreigners in Tokyo, Yokohama and Kobe in recent years,' ECA International said.

Yokohama placed third, followed by Kobe, Hong Kong, Taipei, Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore, with the Chinese city of Guangzhou taking the 10th spot, the survey said.

There were 15 Chinese cities featured in the list of 39 Asian cities surveyed.

Higher food prices, along with the strengthening Chinese currency, have seen expatriates' living costs in Chinese cities go up, narrowing the gap with other more developed East Asian cities such as Hong Kong and Taipei.

'In China, soaring food, oil and grain product prices along with the strengthening yuan against the US dollar have meant that locations throughout China have pushed up through the ranking during this period,' ECA International said.

Asian rankings
Jakarta was the 11th most expensive place, Bangkok was in 18th place and Manila was in 19th place. Hanoi, in 32nd place, was judged as more expensive than Kuala Lumpur which was in 33rd place, just a notch above the Laotian capital Vientianne.

Islamabad was the least expensive among the Asian cities surveyed at number 39.

African countries ranked higher
Globally, Angola's capital city Luanda was the most expensive for expatriates.

It was followed by Oslo, Moscow, Norway's seaport town of Stavanger, Copenhagen, Kinshasa, Seoul, Gabon's capital of Libreville and Geneva. Central London was in tenth spot.

'Some people may be surprised to see African locations in the top 10,' said Lee Quane, ECA's Hong Kong-based general manager.

He said ECA's survey included items bought by expatriates that were not readily available locally which meant they were more expensive.

'In addition, the commodity boom in recent years has led to considerable currency appreciations in commodity-exporting markets, such as Angola, making it an increasingly expensive location for expatriates,' Mr Quane said.

ECA's twice-yearly survey compares a basket of 128 consumer items purchased by expatriates in over 300 locations globally. -- AFP

Firm To Sell Malacca Centre Retail Space

Source : The Business Times, November 26, 2007

A RETAIL podium at Malacca Centre in Raffles Place has been put up for sale.

The 999-year leasehold property comprises of ground and basement floors and has direct frontages to the main road. The sellers are an investment holding company, said property firm Cushman & Wakefield, which is marketing the property.

The property has a strata titled area of about 5,000 sq ft, said Cushman & Wakefield managing director Donald Han. Market watchers estimate that it could fetch about $24 million, which works out to some $4,800 per square foot (psf).

'There are a dearth of good retail space and a lack of retail premises for sale in Raffles Place and none offers as prime a retail road frontage or location as this,' said Mr Han.

Malacca Centre retail podium presents the investor with an attractive cash-on-cash yield potentially in excess of 5 per cent per annum, he said.

The property is sold subject to existing tenancies.

A recent study done by Cushman & Wakefield showed that prime ground and basement retail retail rents and capital values are on the rise in Raffles Place due to the lack of supply.

For strata titled retail units, capital values have risen by 23 per cent since 12 months ago, Mr Han said.

At the nearby The Arcade - which is also strata titled - retail space recently transacted for between $4,900-$5,300 psf, Mr Han said.

Ground floor rents in Raffles Place have risen by 20 per cent in the past 12 months. Average gross rents for Raffles Place ground floor retail is now between $20 to $30 psf, while basement space is fetching between $15-25 psf.

Property May Be Big Gainer As Real Interest Rates Plunge

Source : The Business Times, November 26, 2007

Mounting inflation makes it tempting to borrow, but things may change in the long run

Rising inflation may be starting to worry policymakers and the man on the street, but it has had an interesting side effect. It has pushed down the real interest rate dramatically and is expected to drive the property market as buyers and borrowers take on more mortgages, which are costing them very little in real terms.

In fact, real interest rates - which a borrower pays after inflation has been factored in - have fallen sharply as prices climb and could turn negative early next year when inflation is projected to hit a high of 5 per cent, economists said.

Some of the biggest companies - which borrow at wholesale rates - are already enjoying negative interest rates, as inflation since September has risen above the key three-month interbank rate.

Inflation in September was 2.7 per cent but the three-month Sibor or Singapore interbank offer rate was around 2.5 per cent, so real interest rates are in negative territory, according to United Overseas Bank economist Suan Teck Kin.

'It's bad for the depositor,' said Mr Suan.

As OCBC's Selena Ling put it: 'There is no free lunch - our savings are also likely fetching a very low if not negative real return currently (calculated by subtracting the inflation rate from the nominal interest rates). The savings rate is about 0.25 per cent, while the 12-month fixed deposit rate is about 0.83 per cent.

But for borrowers, the effect is positive.

'High inflation is beneficial to the borrower,' said Standard Chartered Bank economist Alvin Liew. If you borrow $1 now, it will be worth less when you return it in two years.

Inflation jumped to 3.6 per cent in October, the highest since 1991, the Department of Statistics said last week. It is likely that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will let the currency appreciate faster to dampen consumer price gains. This, in turn, will lead to more funds flowing to Singapore from investors betting on currency gains, which will keep the pressure on our already low interest rates.

While the three-month interbank rate is expected to remain around 2.5 per cent until the end of this year, some economists expected it to fall to as low as 2.1 per cent early next year before recovering to 2.5 per cent later. Home loan rates typically range from 3 to 4 per cent.

Generally, low interest rates fuel stock market activity. But with people feeling jittery about equities, economists said that many could turn to property to earn higher returns, because putting it on deposit is a 'losing' proposition.

Mr Liew pointed out that Singaporeans will have quite a lot of excess cash next year. Recent reports have said that en bloc sales will result in $6 billion swishing around in sellers' accounts then.

'One of the key things about high inflation and low interest rates - from an economist's point of view - is that it will keep the property market robust for the next 12 months,' he said.

With low interest rates, mortgage credit is cheap and will support the property market, said Citi economist Chua Hak Bin.

Real mortgage rates are probably only slightly positive now, about 0.5-1.0 per cent, compared with about 2-3 per cent three years ago, Dr Chua said. 'Low real mortgage rates encourage leverage and may drive property prices higher.'

And if the US cuts interest rates aggressively, it may fuel asset inflation, he added.

Citi's US economics team expects another 100 basis points cut, taking the US federal funds rate down to about 3.5 per cent by the end of Q3 2008, he said.

But all three economists cautioned against over-leveraging given the clouded economic outlook, and they expected inflation to moderate in 2009.

'Debt servicing/repayment ability as well as degree of leverage of the borrower should be considered together when determining how much one should borrow,' said Mr Suan. 'Real interest rate may not be the sole criterion.'

The government is also watching the property market closely, he noted.

DBS Bank spokeswoman Karen Ngui said: 'Consumers should be mindful that home loans are a long-term commitment and should not just consider the immediate interest rate outlook.'

ADB Warns Sub-Prime Fallout Could Get Worse

Source : The Business Times, November 23, 2007

FALLOUT in Asia from the US sub-prime mortgage crisis, through financial and other channels, may prove heavier than expected, the Asian Development Bank warned in a report published yesterday.

This came as a Bank of Japan Policy Board member cautioned that the impact of the crisis is likely to be long-lasting, and is also on the heels of US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's warning that US financial defaults could accelerate next year.

Strong economic growth and improved financial systems, plus limited exposure to US sub-prime mortgages, have helped limit the regional impact from global credit problems, the ADB said. But 'though there are no signs of widespread problems in emerging East Asia, downside risks to regional economic and financial market trends remain and wider ramifications cannot be ruled out', it suggested.

Prolonged global financial market volatility, a rise in risk aversion and re-pricing of credit risk could lead to a reversal of capital flows into Asia, Jong-Wha Lee, head of the ADB's Office of Regional Economic Integration, said in the Bank's latest Asian Bond Monitor publication.

The ADB called for improved transparency in credit markets through better valuation and accounting of off-balance sheet instruments, strengthening of risk management and enhancing the enabling environment for local currency bond markets. It also urged stronger regional cooperation in monitoring and regulating financial markets and in developing financial institutions' risk management techniques.

The ADB's comments echoed the increasing concern being voiced in various quarters about the spreading impact of the sub-prime crisis. Bank of Japan Policy Board member Seiji Nakamura said yesterday that problems were taking longer to settle than expected and that their impact could broaden from here on.

Mr Paulson also cautioned this week that potential US financial defaults would be markedly bigger in 2008 than this year as less creditworthy mortgages are exposed.

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation) has calculated that some US$890 billion of poor credit quality mortgages will need to have their interest rates reset next year. Cumulative losses in the US$200 billion to US$300 billion range from the mortgage market crisis 'seem feasible', as a result, it has suggested.

Following a series of write-offs by leading US banks, Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group on Wednesday reported a near 50 per cent drop in first-half profits owing to losses of 24 billion yen (S$320.4 million) on sub-prime related investments and on its credit card unit.

Other Japanese banks have also declared significant sub-prime related losses this week. Mizuho Financial Group, another of Japan's three megabanks, booked the largest loss related to recent financial market turmoil. It took 70 billion yen of losses in the first half of the current financial year while the third megabank, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, took losses of 32 billion yen in the first half while indicating that these could rise to 87 billion yen for the full year.

Can't Get A flat? Couples Are Just Too Choosy

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 26, 2007

I REFER to the report, 'No (HDB flat) = No (wedding)' (ST, Nov17).

I have been living in Bukit Merah for more than a year.

My parents live in Bukit Timah, my in-laws live in Toa Payoh, and my workplace is in Jurong.

Our home is nowhere near any of our parents'. However, we still picked this place because we were glad that we managed to get a new unit.

Even if the Circle Line is completed, we are not close to any MRT station. I have to board three buses to reach my workplace. Otherwise, it is two buses and one MRT ride.

There are newly-weds who want a home in a prime location, at a cheap price, and they also want to live near their parents.

The Government cannot meet all their demands.

I have seen TV interviews where such couples complained about not getting a flat of their choice. They also complained that resale flats were too expensive, even though both spouses were working and should be earning more than $6,000 a month.

Well, everyone wants a cheap and good deal, but how realistic is it?

Unfortunately, there are newly-weds still living in their own world.

Have they considered living with their in-laws first? Has this become an alien concept?

There must have been many picky couples who gave up their queue numbers in the HDB sales exercises.

In our case, there were 50 more applicants ahead of my husband and me, but they must have chosen to give up their chance of selecting a flat. That was how we managed to get our new flat.

The queue numbers given out by the HDB are more than the number of units available. However, there are still available units even after the end of the selection procedure. So the remaining units are put up for sale again.

Those who have decided to take the flats either don't mind settling for a lower-floor unit, or a further location from work, or from their parents' homes. This should be the mindset of couples looking for a new flat.

My advice is: Don't be too picky and expect too much. Don't start complaining to your MP when you cannot get a flat. Especially if you had a queue number, but chose to give it up.

Jenny Yap Chen Ni (Ms)

Those Still There Ask : Why Build Showflat Now?

Source :The Electric New Paper, November 26, 2007

Not all Waterfront View residents have moved out, but construction work has begun

THE clear glass panels of this soon-to-be-ready showflat glisten in the sunlight.

Inside, workers are busy putting together the interior.

Nearby, a sign has been put up advertising the condominium coming up on the site soon.

Moving in: Fixtures for the showroom lying on open space in the estate. - Pictures: Mohd Ishak

But unlike most show flats that sit on vacant plots of land, this one is at the entrance to the still-existing Waterfront View along Bedok Reservoir Road.

And its residents have yet to move out completely.

The estate made news last May for being one of the first to go en bloc at a time when property prices were still low.

The owners of the 583 units at this former HUDC estate each got $660,000 from the collective sale last May to FCLPeak, a joint venture between Frasers Centrepoint and Far East Organization.

The residents were given up to 29Nov to leave their units.

While most of them have already moved out, some are still living there.

Resident Mark Smith, 42, a technology executive, estimated that about a fifth of the residents are still around.

And some cannot help but find the showflat at the entrance offensive.

A 58-year-old retiree, who wanted to be known only as Janice, said: 'It is as if the developer can't wait for us to get out. Building the show flat while we are still here is really too much.'

Affront to residents: The showroom taking shape in front of the blocks of flats at Waterfront View.

She has lived in the estate for 22years and said she was the first owner of a unit there.

She said work on the showflat started about two weeks ago.

Mr Smith, who is in the process of moving to an executive flat in Pasir Ris, said the developers have a right to build the showflat because 'it is their property now', but he felt nevertheless that it was an unwelcome sight.

'I already feel lousy for having to move and the showflat is a sore reminder of the low rate we got from the en-bloc sale,' he explained.

'Friends who visit us ask why the developer is building the showflat while we are still living here.'

Madam Belinda Lee, 47, a resident there who will be moving to an apartment in Tampines, agreed.

The housing agent said: 'We are not sensitive people, but we are still living here. It's not very polite to build it now, even though we understand the developers are rushing to catch the current hot prices.

'The place already looks like a ghost town, then it gets muddy too because they carried out soil testing.

'We are still paying maintenance fees, but with everyone moving out, there's no one to speak up on this matter,' she said.

Still, she is too busy and stressed with her own moving to get upset over it.

She added with a laugh: 'It would be really strange if the showflat is completed and potential buyers come for a viewing while we are still living here.'

A spokesman for Frasers Centrepoint said that in its contractual sales and purchase agreement with residents, there is a mutual agreement that they have up to 29 Nov to vacate the premises.

'They were also duly informed of works on-site, and all safety precautions and environmental concerns have been taken into serious consideration,' the spokesman said.

'The management has put up notice to inform residents of all works at the site. To date, all arrangements have been goingwell.'


For the residents, leaving the estate is memorable for all the wrong reasons.

MrSmith compared the condo to 'an evacuation site'.

Ms Janice agreed, saying: 'On the past few Saturdays and Sundays, the area felt like an abandoned refugee camp.

'You see the trucks come and go, people leaving, the piles of abandoned furniture and broken glass on the ground.

'It breaks my heart to see the place going to ruin.'

Another original owner, Mrs Nancy Lim, 71, a retiree, said she is 'very heartbroken' to leave.

'But I decided to move now, before the deadline, because it is a little scary living here now that all the neighbours I know have left,' she said.

The estate has taken on a desolate air. Fewer than 10 cars were in the carpark of the east wing when The New Paper on Sunday visited a few days ago.

A few residents are still in a tight spot as they have yet to get keys to their new homes and are still hoping for an extension of the 29 Nov deadline to move out.

Ms Janice has bought a new condominium unit at Lorong Chuan to live close to her parents, but she will get the keys only nextyear.

She said she has no choice but to pay for her furniture to be stored elsewhere and move in with her daughter for at least twomonths.

But she said she would return to take a look at the completed showflat out of curiosity.

'I still love this area, and I want to keep my options open. I would want to move back to this area eventually,' she said.


Mr Colin Tan, 47, the head of research and consultancy at property consultancy Chesterton International, said this is not the first time that a showflat has been built on-site before the old building has been demolished.

'In this case, I sympathise with the residents still living there because the price they got from the en-bloc sale is considered low, given the current market conditions.

'Building the showflat now is like rubbing salt into their wounds.'

But Mr Tan added that it is understandable why the developers are doing this.

'Property prices have movedup quite rapidly and theyare trying to capture the market while the conditions are still buoyant.'



Four condominiums called the Waterfront Collection will be built on the site of Waterfront View, along Bedok Reservoir Road.

Frasers Centrepoint and Far East Organization announced plans to launch Phase One, Waterfront Waves, onTuesday.

Waterfront Waves will have 405 units, half of which will be three- and four- bedroom units.

Property consultants believe prices may start at $700 per sq ft.

October Inflation Hits 16-Year High Of 3.6%

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 24, 2007

Figure surprises economists, who say Govt may do more to cool economy

CONSUMER prices rose at their fastest pace in 16 years last month as food, housing and transport costs all accelerated their rate of increase.

Inflation hit 3.6 per cent, resuming an upward trend after September's 2.7 per cent breather.

Yesterday's figure caught out virtually every economist in town - 'I almost fell off my chair,' said DBS Bank's Irvin Seah - and sent them scrambling to raise forecasts.

Last month's number beat all estimates in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. 'We thought we had a high forecast at 3 per cent as the market was at 2.8 per cent,' said HSBC's Robert Prior-Wandesforde.

Analysts said the Government may do more to cool the red-hot economy, but the pain of rising living costs will be felt for some time as these measures do not have an immediate effect.

'This is way beyond market analyst expectations,' said Mr Seah. 'We knew inflation would go up. We just didn't know it would come so quickly.'

Monthly inflation figures going forward are likely to track last month's figure, as prices seldom fluctuate sharply unless there is a significant change in the economic environment. For instance, noodle prices that were raised last month are unlikely to come down any time soon.

Yesterday's Department of Statistics figure follows Monday's new inflation figure from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

It forecast inflation to hit 3.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent next year, up from an earlier estimate of 2 per cent to 3 per cent. The figure is expected to be 2 per cent this year.

Inflation is rising across Asia as oil and food prices increase. China, for instance, reported that prices last month rose the fastest in a decade.

In Singapore, a 2 percentage point hike in the goods and services tax in July is bumping up prices even more.

Food costs, which make up the biggest part of the consumer price index, surged as dairy products, eggs, meat and poultry became more expensive. Eating out was 3.2 per cent more costly, too.

Transport and communication, the next big item, rose as spiralling oil prices lifted petrol costs for cars and buses.

High energy prices have also sent electricity rates up twice since July. This and higher rentals bumped up housing inflation to 2.3 per cent.

Health-care costs, which make up just 5 per cent of the index, were up 6.2 per cent.

Mr Prior-Wandesforde said the Government may consider more cooling measures after recent initiatives to dampen the housing market and delay several major construction projects.

If inflation does hit 5 per cent early next year, as suggested recently by Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang, the MAS may move to let the Sing dollar strengthen even faster, as it did last month. A stronger local currency can help counter price rises in imported goods.

But these measures take time to kick in, said Mr Seah. He suggested that the Government provide more help to low-income families in next February's Budget.

But Mr Prior-Wandesforde said help may not come as wage growth may be strong enough to enable the poor to cope with the price rises.

For people like freelance publisher Chiam Choon Yong, it is belt-tightening time. The 44-year-old father of four has been hit by increases in petrol costs - up about 10 per cent to $500 a month - and utility rates - up from $140 a month to $160.

'We just have to be more economical and stay away from things like seafood and exotic fruits,' he said.