Sunday, February 10, 2008

New HDB Upgrading Scheme Won't Add Much More To Resale Prices

Source : The Sunday Times, Feb 10, 2008

The Home Improvement Programme will not boost prices of resale flats as much because upgrading is on a smaller scale, say property experts

THE Home Improvement Programme (HIP) is the newest kid on the block in the Housing Board's two-decade long upgrading scheme.

Property experts, however, say that it will have a far smaller impact on the value of flats compared to previous upgrading plans. This is because upgrading under HIP will be smaller in scale.

THE HOME IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMME AND NEIGHBOURHOOD RENEWAL PROGRAMME were devised to stretch the government dollar over many more households and to pay closer attention to residents' views. They will be rolled out soon in up to 12 locations islandwide, including Tampines. -- ST FILE PHOTO

HIP and another scheme, the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP), are devised to stretch the government dollar over many more households and to pay closer attention to residents' views. They will be rolled out soon in up to 12 locations islandwide, including Yishun and Tampines.

The outgoing Main Upgrading Programme (MUP) involved more extensive work as it overhauled the insides of flats with new toilets, extra rooms and doors, as well as the common areas of the blocks and precincts.

The MUP proved a gold mine for people like Mrs N. L. Chan, who bought her four-room flat in Holland Close for $290,000 in September 2006, when her estate was in the last throes of the upgrading programme.

Just eight months later, she sold it for $330,000 as she had to move closer to her daughter in Dover Crescent.

Such jumps in value may be harder to come by under HIP, say property agents.

The new programme focuses on the essential improvements in the flat, such as the repair of spalling concrete and replacement of waste pipes.

Once at least 75 per cent of flat owners vote for such upgrading, this essential work is compulsory, although it is fully paid for by the Government. The flat owners, however, have the option of having their doors and toilets replaced at a subsidised rate.

Meanwhile, the NRP promises to spruce up a few adjoining sites together, unlike the previous Interim Upgrading Programme Plus scheme which was conducted in one precinct at a time.

Apart from the economies of scale, the bigger budget under the amended programme would make it possible for items such as tennis courts and skating parks to be considered.

About 300,000 flats will be eligible for the HIP, while 200,000 units can undergo work for the NRP.

A third programme - lift upgrading - will run concurrently with the new schemes. This aims to give almost every HDB flat resident direct lift access to his floor by 2014.

The director of Dennis Wee Properties, Mr Chris Koh, estimates that while the MUP usually boosts a flat's value by $20,000 to $30,000 over and above what the flat owner pays for the upgrading work, the equivalent expected for flats which undergo HIP is only about $10,000.

This is because the work done will be smaller in scale.

While flats which undergo the MUP make a big impression with their additional rooms, new doors and windows, and spanking new precinct facilities around them, the improvements under the HIP may not be that noticeable.

More people, for example, are now likely to opt out of having new doors and windows to reduce their bills under the HIP.

It may not produce the 'entire fresh look' needed to raise the value of the home by much, said Mr Koh.

Similarly, the executive director of Roof Real Estate Group, Mr Dave Lau, does not expect the value of a home under the HIP programme to rise by more than 2 to 3 per cent, compared to 10 to 20 per cent under the MUP before.

But he reckoned that 'the HIP would probably make property easier to sell'.

Both programmes were devised from the feedback received during a series of forums held last year to find out what it takes to strengthen bonding within HDB estates.

During these discussions, participants wanted a greater say in how their estate turned out.

No matter the smaller increase in value, the executive director for HSR property group, Mr Eric Cheng, said that buyers can usually wrangle a better price from sellers if they buy a flat that is undergoing upgrading, compared to after it is done.

Most of the time, sellers try to hold off putting their flat on the market until after upgrading, when the new look of their estate will bolster their position at the negotiating table.

Scope of work for new programmes

Home Improvement Programme:

Optional improvements:
# Upgrading of toilets
# New entrance door
# New entrance grille gate
# New refuse hopper

Essential Improvements:
# Replacement of waste pipes
# Repair of spalling concrete
# Repair of structural cracks
# Replacement of bamboo pole holders or installation of laundry rack
# Upgrading of electrical supply

Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (not exhaustive):
# Letter boxes
# Residents' Corners
# Senior Citizens' Corners
- New tables and seats
- Re-painting
- Drop-off porch
- Covered linkways
- Playgrounds
- Footpaths
- Fitness corners
- Jogging tracks
- Barbecue pits
- Skating parks
- Soccer hardcourts
- Tennis courts
- Block security or surveillance systems

Less noticeable improvements

Flats which underwent the outgoing Main Upgrading Programme made a big impression with their additional rooms and spanking new precinct facilities around them. However, the improvements under the new Home Improvement Programme may not be that noticeable as they focus on essential improvements such as the repair of spalling concrete.

环球股市剧烈波动 打压房地产拍卖生意

《联合早报》Feb 9, 2008

房地产拍卖去年大受欢迎,拍卖总额在去年创下2000年以来新高,但今时不同往日,在过去一个月举行的7场拍卖会当中,仅有3场成功有项目出售。推出市场拍卖的88个项目当中,成功出售的单位总数预计仅有5个,总值约300万元,大多为商业产业。相比之下,去年初,每个月推出市场的单位数额都超过100 个,成功出售的项目有10多个。









莱坊(Knight Frank)拍卖部董事李秀萍指出,经济和房地产市场大好,使得抵押逼卖房产锐减,目前拍卖的大都为屋主。


拍卖后私下协议 交易有增加趋势


其中一个在拍卖后私下协议的项目是位于白兰森路(Branksome Road)9号的一栋洋房。这栋洋房占地1万2847平方英尺,属于永久地契,由于这个地段非常大,可重新发展为六至八个聚落式洋房(cluster housing)。



热门组屋区抽签选购 千个单位万人申请

《联合早报》Feb 9, 2008



其中,女皇镇五房式组屋的申购率最高,每间平均有20人申购,和建屋局去年在直落布兰雅推出的预购项目“Telok Blangah Towers”不相上下,当时的预购率也超过20倍。









Dennis Wee房地产经纪行董事许家荣说,与组屋预购(BTO)项目和私人组屋不同,部分待售组屋已完工,申请者可直接迁入,不用再等几年。




上月五项目获热烈回响 土管局月中再推出六个租赁国有住宅

《联合早报》Feb 6, 2008


从2月16日开始,土管局将陆续为位于三巴旺、实里达和罗尼路的洋房举办开放日,公众在开放日的三天后,就可开始投标,由于洋房的面积不同,预示月租介于1800元至6600元。土管局也表示,打算在3月份推出8个供租用的国有住宅,供公众投标。土管局在今年1月份推出的国有住宅,包括位于海特拉巴路(Hyderabad Road)和靠近杜佛路(Dover Road)的梅斯顿路(Maidstone Road)的两幢黑白洋房,以及三个位于克里门梭北道的公寓单位。租约都是两年。














London Luxury-Home Prices Jump Again

Source : The Business Times, February 7, 2008

1.1% rise in average price of units costing £2.5m or more; overall market unchanged

(EDINBURGH) Luxury-home prices in London, the world's most expensive city for prime real estate, rose at the fastest rate in four months as the overall UK market stagnated, industry reports showed.

The average price of houses and apartments costing at least £2.5 million (S$6.96 million) climbed 1.1 per cent in January from December, Knight Frank LLC said in a statement on Tuesday. There was no change in the average cost of homes across the country, HBOS plc said in a separate report.

'It is being totally led by the purchase of properties of £10 million or more,' Liam Bailey, head of residential research at Knight Frank, said in an interview. 'The number of deals done at that level in the past three months was double a year ago.'

The wealthiest property buyers don't need to borrow money to make purchases, so they're not dependent on lenders that have made it more difficult and costly to obtain mortgages, Mr Bailey said.

Britons are now buying between 40 and 50 per cent of all London homes priced at more than £10 million, up from 30 per cent a year ago, according to Knight Frank, a real estate broker based in the city.

London's most expensive new- built home was sold for £50 million last month to Hourieh Peramaa, a 75-year-old real estate entrepreneur from Kazakhstan, Sunday Times reported on Jan 27.

The house on Bishops Avenue in Hampstead, northwest London, has nine main bedrooms, 16 bathrooms and five reception rooms, and was acquired from Turkish businessman Halis Toprak.

Ms Peramaa plans to spend another £30 million extending and redecorating the property, the newspaper said.

Earlier in January, Lev Leviev, an Israeli diamond billionaire, paid £35 million for a house in the same district as Ms Peramaa, according to Daily Telegraph.

Indian steel entrepreneur Lakshmi Mittal owns the UK's most expensive home. He paid £57 million in 2004 for a home close to Kensington Palace in central London. Both Kensington Palace Gardens and Bishops Avenue have been dubbed 'Billionaires Row'.

January's increase in luxury-home prices was the biggest since September, when prices advanced 1.2 per cent.

For the year ended Jan 31, the gain was 26 per cent, the smallest since October 2006.

Across Britain, prices in January were 4.5 per cent higher than a year earlier, according to HBOS, the country's largest mortgage provider. Lenders are selling fewer mortgages as they contend with losses stemming from the collapse of the US sub-prime mortgage market.

Properties at the lower end of Knight Frank's prime index are now moving more in line with the UK market, said Mr Bailey.

Bonus-earners in the UK's financial industry will invest £2 billion in homes this year, compared with £5.5 billion in 2007, as they look for higher returns, Savills plc said in November. Savills and Knight Frank are the biggest brokers for prime London properties.

This year, top-quality dwellings in the UK capital will appreciate about 3 per cent, Knight Frank said on Tuesday, reiterating an October forecast. The Bank of England's ability to cut interest rates to ward off an economic slowdown may be hindered by inflationary pressures, said Knight Frank.

'It is fair to say that the issues of confidence and affordability that have so far dogged the main market may now promote a more cautious purchasing environment in the prime sector too,' Mr Bailey said.

Britain is home to about 68 billionaires, according to the Sunday Times 2007 Rich List. Many are investors from China, India and Russia who have bought homes in London for its schools, stores, theatres and restaurants.

The most expensive houses can fetch as much as £4,000 a square foot, CB Richard Ellis Hamptons International estimates. That compares with about £2,075 a square foot in New York, the broker said.

Purchasing at such prices so far isn't being inhibited by the prospect that the UK may impose an annual tax of £30,000 on wealthy individuals who live in the UK and keep their residence elsewhere for tax purposes, said Mr Bailey.

'There is a lot of interest in deals being done by super-rich foreign buyers,' he said. -- Bloomberg

Fragrance Group Buys $4m Pasir Panjang Road Site

Source : The Business Times, February 9, 2008

DEVELOPER Fragrance Group said on Thursday that it has bought a freehold property at Pasir Panjang Road for $4 million.

Fragrance said the property has a land area of 3,450 sq ft, which means that the land cost was $1,159 per square foot (psf).

The company intends to redevelop the property for commercial uses subject to the necessary conditions and approvals from the relevant authorities, it said. The acquisition is funded by internal funds.

Fragrance said that the transaction is not expected to have any material impact on the earnings and net tangible assets of the company in its 2008 financial year.

Earlier this month, Fragrance reported that net profit for its 2007 financial year more than doubled from $14.8 million to $30.4 million as turnover rose 39.2 per cent to $136.1 million.

The company attributed the increase to its property development business which contributed $112.5 million to revenue. Its hotel business contributed the other $23.6 million.

Fragrance's shares closed half a cent up on Wednesday at $0.40, the last day of trading before the Chinese New Year break. The stock has climbed 10.5 per cent so far this year.

Rising Cost Of Going En Bloc Adds To Cooler Market

Source : The Straits Times, Feb 9, 2008

New rules bump up lawyers' fees, draw out collective sale process by months

GOING en bloc is now a more costly and time-consuming business for home owners because of a new set of stricter rules implemented last October.

The rules - aimed at making the process more regulated and transparent - have bumped up the price of organising a collective sale by about 20 per cent to 30 per cent and drawn out the process by a few months, say property consultants.

Most of the higher cost comes from rising lawyers' fees, which have doubled or trebled to reflect a similar increase in workload.

According to one industry source, lawyers 'previously charged maybe $2,000 per household, but now they can charge anything from $3,000 to $6,000'.

Among other things, the new rules now require a lawyer to be present whenever a resident signs a collective sale agreement and to explain the terms of the agreement to each resident during the signing process.

Lawyers may also have to assist the owners in vetting the minutes of sale committee meetings, as well as draft motions for the general meetings, said Ms Tng Peck Chin, the partner in charge of collective sales at law firm WongPartnership.

Another law firm, Rodyk & Davidson, said it has mostly tried to double its fees, although the actual increase varies from estate to estate.

Rodyk partner Lee Liat Yeang said the new rules now double or treble the amount of time lawyers need to put in to get a collective sale going.

'Also, looking at market conditions, prices are already quite high,' he said. 'Lawyers worry that a buyer cannot be found and nothing will materialise from all the effort they had to put in at the initial part.'

In addition to higher lawyers' fees, owners now need to bear the cost of a valuation report for the estate, previously not a requirement, said Mr Karamjit Singh, the executive director of Credo Real Estate, which specialises in collective sales.

The report can cost between $100 and $300 per owner, depending on the size of the project, he said.

Some marketing agents have also raised their fees. Savills Singapore's investment director, Mr Steven Ming, said the firm now charges about 15 per cent to 20 per cent more to make up for 'the extra effort and time'.

Mr Shaun Poh, a senior director of investment advisory services at DTZ Debenham Tie Leung, said while there has been no 'great jump' in the fees his firm quotes, there is no longer any room for bargaining.

'Previously, it was very competitive. We used to make our fee more negotiable,' he said. 'Now, if we quote a fee, we will stick to it.'

A big reason is that it takes much longer to get a collective sale going under the new rules.

One rule, for instance, provides for a five-day cooling-off period during which a home owner may still change his mind after he signs a collective sale agreement.

'Last time, consultants would meet an owner, persuade him of the benefits of going en bloc, and he could just sign the agreement,' said Savills' Mr Ming.

'Now, we have to meet them. After they agree to sign, we have to schedule another time for the lawyer to come down to witness the signing.

'If it all goes well, that's good, but if they change their mind later, we may have to go through the whole process a few times.'

In the four months since the rules were changed, not a single estate has gone up for sale under the new system.

And while the property boom last year owed much to an unprecedented collective sale frenzy, the almost silent collective sale market now is similarly contributing to the cooling property sector.

Marketing agents say plans for a sale are under way at several developments, although most are still in the preliminary stages.

Former Primary School At Pearl's Hill Transformed Into S$13m Hotel

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 08 February 2008

A former primary school building has been revamped into a hotel.

The 12-storey building at Pearl's Hill used to be the tallest school in Singapore.

The school closed in 2001 and the Urban Redevelopment Authority called for tenders to lease it out.

Vita Holdings won the bid and spent S$13 million to transform the school into a hotel with 140 rooms.

The initial budget was S$6 million but Vita Holdings said the amount more than doubled because of the need to adapt to the changing hospitality industry.

After the face-lift, the building is now called Hotel Re!

Rooms here will range from S$280 to S$700 and the hotel is slated to open by end April 2008. -CNA/vm

Long-Term Savings For Short-Term Costs

Source : The Straits Times, Feb 9, 2008

SAVINGS of up to $1,000 a year on air-conditioning bills await home owners at The Oceanfront @ Sentosa Cove condominium.

Developer City Developments, known for its green condominiums, has installed energy-efficient air-conditioners at the 250-plus multimillion-dollar flats.

Although green features such as these air-conditioners and solar-powered lighting take up 3 to 5 per cent of a building’s construction cost, City Developments says it brings long-term savings in property maintenance and emissions reduction.

It has calculated that energy savings at its Sentosa Cove condominium will total $290,000 a year or up to $1,000 per apartment.

Pursuing sustainable development - in terms of infrastructure, public education and incentives - is not cheap, but green companies and environmentalists say there are long-term gains.

Apart from green buildings, another example is solar energy. It is costly to introduce, although it is the best clean-energy option for Singapore given its year- round tropical weather.

Using today’s electricity rates, the executive director of the Singapore Environment Council, Mr Howard Shaw, calculates that it will take 10 to 15 years for such an investment to turn in a profit.

But Mr Shaw argues it makes sense given the way oil prices have moved: ‘We’ve all seen how quickly oil prices escalated in recent months.

‘Placing in renewable energy infrastructure may be a way to ensure a more secure energy supply, one that will cost us less should oil prices rise to $200 to $300 a barrel,’ says Mr Shaw.

That head start can be seen in the Scandinavian countries such as Iceland, Norway and Denmark.

These countries began developing renewable energy sources like geothermal, hydroelectric and wind power after the oil price shocks of the 1970s.

Singapore took its first steps only last March when it announced a $170 million fund to research and develop clean energy projects.

MP Charles Chong (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) cites transport as one area where Singapore can do more.

He wants compressed natural gas (CNG), which is cleaner than diesel or petrol, to power more buses and taxis here.

But his wish runs smack into one major obstacle. There are too few points where these vehicles can re-fuel. There is only one at Jurong Island, and three more will open this year at Mandai, Jalan Buroh and Serangoon North.

It is not viable to set up more because the current number of CNG vehicles is not enough to support a wider network.

Official figures show Singapore has 334 natural gas vehicles and 381 hybrid vehicles on the road.

Hybrid cars run on both batteries and petrol. They consume 15 to 40 per cent less fuel and emit fewer pollutants than conventional vehicles of the same size running on petrol.

However, hybrids cost 10 to 20 per cent more, even with the Government’s 40 per cent rebate on their open market value, which excludes the certificate of entitlement premium and road tax that a car owner has to pay.

So, what is standing in the way of Singapore going green boils down to two main factors: high prices of green products and the absence of scale to make it viable for companies to invest.

These have, in turn, impeded consumer buy-in, says City Developments managing director Kwek Leng Joo.

Public education on protecting the environment is therefore needed to make such efforts viable, he adds.


What is standing in the way of Singapore going green boils down to two main factors: high prices of green products and the absence of scale to make it viable for firms to invest.

SingPost Appoints CBRE As Consultant For HQ Building

Source : The Business Times, February 7, 2008

SINGAPORE Post is understood to have appointed property firm CB Richard Ellis to advise it on exploring options for the listed group’s headquarters building next to Paya Lebar MRT Station.

CBRE’s appointment followed a beauty parade that SingPost is understood to have conducted late last year to select a property consultant, as reported by BT yesterday.

Property industry sources told BT yesterday that the job was clinched by CBRE, which, however, has declined to comment on its appointment.

In its third-quarter results statement last month, SingPost said that it is ‘continuing to review its non- core businesses, and is also exploring opportunities in respect of SingPost Centre, including unlocking the value of SingPost Centre’.

Analysts have estimated the building’s value at around $1,000 to $1,300 per square foot of existing net lettable area, assuming full-commercial use, which would reflect a total quantum of between $1 billion and $1.3 billion. The 14-storey building is on a 352,389 sq ft site, with a remaining lease of about 73 years. It has a total net lettable area of about 1 million sq ft, of which about half is currently occupied by SingPost for its corporate office and operations including the mail processing centre.

The rest of the property is leased to a mix of office and retail tenants including HSBC Insurance, NorthWest Airlines, Symantec Corporation, Prudential (whose lease expires this year), This Fashion, Barang Barang, NTUC FairPrice and Kopitiam.

Tuan Sing’s Earnings Up 92% For ‘07

Source : The Business Times, February 6, 2008

PROPERTY group Tuan Sing Holdings yesterday announced an almost doubling of full-year earnings, thanks to the strong Singapore property market, contributions from its Australian hotels and fair value gains from investment properties .

The company chalked up full-year attributable earnings of $151.1 million for the year ended Dec 31, 2007, a 92 per cent leap from 2006’s $78.7 million.

This was despite the previous year’s earnings being boosted by a deconsolidation gain of $37.5 million after Gul Technologies Singapore Ltd became an associate.

Topline revenue dipped 12 per cent to $322.1 million due to a fall in turnover on its industrial services division, SP Corp. However, its property and hospitality turnover hit new highs.

Property generated revenue of $49.8 million against $17.8 million a year ago, thanks to the strong property sales and higher rental income from the group’s investment properties . The segment recorded a profit after tax of $97.8 million, compared to $38.4 million in 2006, much of it from a net gain on the fair valuation of investment properties of $84.6 million in 2007 (compared with $39.6 million in FY2006).

Tuan Sing’s property division’s profit contributed about 64 per cent of the group’s total profit for 2007.

Its Australia-based Grand Hotel Group (GHG) chalked up a profit of $74.8 million, including the group’s share of the fair value gain on GHG’s assets portfolio. After deducting takeover charges, investment costs and provision for deferred tax, Tuan Sing’s investment in GHG generated a net profit of $51.0 million, representing about 34 per cent of the group’s total profit for the year.

Tuan Sing’s retail business, centred around TS Planet Sports Pte Ltd, which owns 60 per cent of golf products distributor Pan-West, recorded a 17 per cent rise in revenue to $63.4 million and a net profit of $1.4 million.

Looking forward, Tuan Sing said the strong FY2007 performance and improved balance sheets would enable it to further broaden its earning bases and position itself to continue with its pursuit to improve future growth and profitability. But it warned of greater uncertainty arising from the US sub-prime woes and the slowdown of the US economy.

Meanwhile, the group is said to be seeking suitable partners to redevelop its prime commercial property centred around Robinson Towers and two adjoining buildings in the Robinson Road-Maxwell Street area.

Together, this ‘island’ of three properties has a total built-up plot ratio of 10 times, comprising a total floor area of some 12,500 sq m, or some 134,000 sq ft. Tuan Sing’s valuation of these properties , done two years ago, was $154 million.

Property insiders reckon that this cluster could be worth well over $300 million in current market conditions.

The latest record high profits boosted its earnings per share to 13.3 cents, from 6.9 cents, while net asset backing per share rose to 38.4 cents from 22.5 cents a year ago.

Annualised return on equity improved to 44 per cent from 36 per cent in FY2006.

SLA Puts 6 Houses Up For Rent

Source : The Business Times, February 6, 2008

THE Singapore Land Authority (SLA) is releasing four bungalows and two semi-detached houses on its open bidding system from Feb 18.

This follows SLA’s January open bidding exercise which saw 75 bids for five state-owned residential properties . One of these properties , a bungalow at Hyderabad Road, was awarded at a monthly rent of $20,258, 50 per cent or over $6,700 above SLA’s guide rent.

SLA deputy director of land lease (private) Teo Cher Hian said: ‘The keen response to the launch of the open bidding system for residential state properties shows that the rental market for residential properties is still buoyant.’

Four of the six properties being made available this month are in the Seletar Airbase vicinity. Guide rents for a semi-detached house, with 127 sq m of built-up area, is $1,800 a month while guide rents for a bungalow with 197 sq m of built up area is $3,400 a month.

There is also a larger house with 670 sq m of built-up area available on Gibraltar Crescent in the Sembawang area with a guide rent of $6,600 a month and a smaller house at Lornie Road with 206 sq m of built-up area with a guide rent of $3,900 a month.

Giving an idea of possible bid rents, Knight Frank head of corporate leasing (residential) Ervin Scully said that the semi-detached house could see bids come in at between $2,300- $2,800 a month. This is assuming that the new tenant will have to install his own appliances, lights, window treatments, air-conditioning units, wardrobes and the like.

Assuming the house at Gibraltar Crescent has three-bedrooms, servants quarters and land area of about 12,000 sq ft, Mr Scully estimates the winning bid could be between $8,000 - $9,000.

Mr Scully said that generally, the rental market has stabilised since last year. ‘We are not seeing the same kind of frenzy anymore,’ he added.

While there is still demand for rental homes, Mr Scully said expectations were also more, ‘realistic’. He added that generally, rents could continue to rise by about 10 per cent this year.

SLA expects to put out eight more properties for rent in March and about 36 units in total by the first half of this year.

Viewing for the February batch of properties is on 16 Feb. More details on the schedules and guide rent can be found at SLA’s SPIO website.