Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sorry, You Must Sell

Source : The Electric New Paper, January 12, 2008

Higher offer, so owner tries to back out of deal. Judge says:

THEY had signed the option form for a $3.86 million condo.

But the seller, Indonesian businessman Sukanda Sutisna, had an offer that was $90,000 higher.

Then the excuses started.

The Draycott Park condominium had termites and it was leaking, Mr Sukanda claimed.

Draycott Park condominium, near Stevens Road. -- Picture: GAVIN FOO

But despite this, the buyers, Mr Ahuja Vivek Gopaldas and another unnamed person, wanted the property.

Then came Mr Sukanda's final tactic - he claimed the buyers did not sign the option form in time.

The case went to the High Court and the judge ruled in favour of the buyers last July.


In December, he upheld his verdict after Mr Sukanda appealed.

Justice Lee Seiu Kin found that the plantiffs had properly exercised the option to buy the unit.

Justice Lee pointed out inconsistencies in Mr Sukanda's version of events.

Mr Sukanda argued that the buyers had a day to decide whether to exercise their option to buy and that this had expired by the time the buyers signed theoption.

However, this was found to be baseless, as the accepted industry practice is that interested buyers have a 14-day period to exercise their option.

Mr Sukanda also accepted the buyers' cheque of $38,600 after the 'one-day' expiry.

He had also signed the option for the buyers to buy the unit in front of the housing agent.

Justice Lee said in his judgment: 'He would have to explain why, if he had agreed to sell that property at $3.86 (million) shortly after 6.15pm on 2 Apr 2007, he would sign an option that had expired even before he signed it.

'There are, of course, other less benign reasons.

'For instance, if he had signed the option with the knowledge that it was a worthless piece of paper at the outset, his motives in accepting the cheque could be called into question.'

Justice Lee found the buyers' version of events to be more acceptable.

They said they responded to a property advertisement placed last March in The Straits Times for the Draycott Park unit.

They dealt with a housing agent called Carmen Ng Li Hua, who worked for Electronic Realty Associates.

They visited the apartment many times and decided to make an offer of $3.86million on 1 Apr last year.

Mr Sukanda had wanted to sell it for at least $3.85m.

On the same day, the buyers handed Ms Ng a cheque of $38,600 as 1 per cent of the offer price.

Mr Sukanda was to accept the cheque only if he agreed to the offer.

He was also to sign the option-to-purchase form.

Ms Ng was told by the buyers that they wanted a 14-day period from 1Apr to exercise their option to buy, should Mr Sukanda accept it.


The next day at 6.40pm, Ms Ng went to the buyers' house at Claymore Hill to deliver the signed option.

Mr Sukanda had signed it half an hour earlier at his home in Balmoral Park.

At 9.40pm that day, Mr Sukanda's daughter, Imelda, received a call from another housing agent.

The agent said a buyer from HongKong was prepared to pay $3.95m for the Draycott Park unit.

Ms Ng was aware of this offer much earlier, at 7.20pm.

But as the deal with the buyers was already settled, Ms Ng did not inform Mr Sukanda of the new offer.

On the morning of 3 Apr, Ms Ng was called to meet Mr Sukanda, his daughter and their lawyer Nicholas Loh of Legal21.

At the meeting, Ms Ng was told she had mishandled the sale and was negligent as she did not respond to the other housing agent's offer.

As a result, Mr Sukanda missed out on selling the condo unit at a higher price.

Ms Ng was then instructed to find out if the buyers wanted to exercise their option to buy the unit.

The plaintiffs said they would exercise their option to buy.

The next day, a cheque of $154,400 was sent to Mr Sukanda's lawyers by the buyers. This was payment for the deposit balance.

The cheque was later returned to the buyers by Mr Sukanda's lawyers.

They were informed that Mr Sukanda said the option expired on 2 Apr, a day after the plaintiffs made the first offer.

It was then that the plaintiffs took the case to court.

4-Room Jalan Membina Flat Sells For A Record $609 psf

Source : The Straits Times, Jan 12, 2008

It is believed to be the first time an HDB flat has crossed the $600 psf mark

A FOUR-ROOM flat at Jalan Membina has smashed the record for the most expensive Housing Board (HDB) flat ever to change hands in terms of price per sq ft (psf).

The 969 sq ft flat sold for $590,000 two weeks ago, which works out to $609 psf - believed to be the first time an HDB flat has ever crossed the $600 psf threshold.

A fabulous view towards Sentosa, and a superb location near Tiong Bahru MRT station and Tiong Bahru Plaza, are being cited as key factors for the very high price.

The last record, reported only days ago, was set by an executive flat in Mei Ling Street with a much larger floor area of 1,614 sq ft, which sold for an eye-popping $890,000, or $552 psf.

Smaller flats usually command higher psf prices - if the Mei Ling flat had been sold at the same $609 psf price as the Jalan Membina flat, it would have fetched $983,000.

Ms Mylene Kwan, 33, a PropNex housing agent who brokered the latest deal, told The Straits Times yesterday that the buyers were a middle-aged couple who recently sold a Queenstown executive flat and needed a new home.

The flat, in Block 21, had a valuation of $475,000. It is a five-year-old unit on a high floor of the 30-storey block, said Ms Kwan.

'The flat was quite attractive, well-maintained, relatively new, and quiet.' The sellers, a couple aged over 50, declined to be interviewed.

The latest record stunned some industry players.

Knight Frank director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said the price was 'unusual' - even 'irrational' - given that buyers spending more than $600 psf were typically looking at mass market suburban condos.

'With this price now, you could buy a 99-year condo at outlying estates,' said Mr Mak.

HDB's latest data show four-room units in the same area sold for $415,00 to $495,000 late last year.

Mr Mohamed Ismail, head of property agency PropNex, said the flat's location was likely to be the main factor. 'If bigger five-room, executive units at prime locations sell at this price, HDB prices will push towards the $1 million mark,' he said.

Mr Eugene Lim, assistant vice-president of ERA Singapore, said this was very unlikely. He was not surprised at the price as smaller units usually get higher psf prices.

Mr Ku Swee Yong, director of marketing and business development at Savills Singapore, said the sale was likely to be a 'one-off' event. It was likely the result of a 'ripple effect' from the private sector, where recent en bloc sales have flooded the market with cash-rich homebuyers looking to downgrade to an HDB home.

Record deals

# Location:Jalan Membina
Flat type: Four-room
Price: $590k for 969 sq ft
Price (psf): $609

# Location: Marine Parade
Flat type: Five-room
Price: $750,888 for 1,300 sq ft
Price (psf): $577

# Location: Mei Ling Street
Flat type: Executive
Price: $890k for 1,614 sq ft
Price (psf): $552

5 New ERP Gantries Built Outside City Area

Source : The Straits Times, Jan 12, 2008

Mostly in residential areas, they will be activated only when traffic flow worsens

MOTORISTS can expect to pay more to use the roads over the next few months when five new ERP gantries - mostly in the heart of residential areas - are up and running.
The gantries are in Upper Bukit Timah Road (outside Hume Park), Toa Payoh Lorong 6, Upper Boon Keng Road, Kallang Bahru Road and Geylang Bahru Road.

READY: This new ERP gantry at Toa Payoh Lorong 6 is one of five which will be switched on when traffic flow falls below 'optimal speeds', says the LTA. -- ST PHOTOS: BRYAN VAN DER BEEK

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said these gantries will be switched on when traffic flow falls below 'optimal speeds' - defined as 45kmh to 65kmh for expressways and 20kmh to 30kmh for non-expressways. Sources expect the ranges to be raised this year, which means Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) could be implemented on more roads - even in the evening.

Some residents are already voicing concern over why the new gantries are in their neighbourhoods.

Commenting on the gantry outside Hume Park, Bukit Timah resident Bervyn Lee, 43, said: 'The road here can get jammed. But will a gantry solve the problem?

'My feeling is that it will just redistribute traffic around,' the director of sports culture at the Singapore Sports Council added.

Toa Payoh resident Tony Chan, 68, a retiree, wanted to know why the Lorong 6 gantry was at the entrance to the residential area.

The LTA spokesman said the new gantry plugs a gap in an outer ERP cordon that seals off non-expressway routes into the city. He said if gantries were at exit points of Toa Payoh, more residents in the estate would be affected.

But the spokesman added that 'the new gantries are built because traffic conditions on these identified roads may soon deteriorate below the optimal speed range'.

When the new ones are operational, the motoring public will have more than 60 gantries to navigate. Indications are that more will come as the Government shifts the taxation burden from vehicle ownership to usage.

Gantries in the residential heartland will also have an impact on those who take taxis.

Cabbies tend to avoid ERP-controlled roads because of the extra cost incurred. Hence residents in Toa Payoh, for instance, might find it difficult to hail a cab in the morning when the Lorong 6 gantry is switched on.

'To many drivers, ERP is a big deterrent,' said cabby Myke Purba, 62.