Monday, April 21, 2008

Is Geylang Boom Town Or Cowboy Town?

Source : The Electric New Paper, April 21, 2008

The area is fast becoming the migrant's Orchard Road. Will it bring good times or bad times?

GEYLANG is Geylang.

Messy, seedy, prostitutes and beef hor fun at 1am.

Things are different there.

One look at the bronze-skinned uncle with the gold hair and gold chain, sitting at the kopitiam like an emperor, and you will know that.

You'll know why last year, some 5,400 foreign prostitutes were nabbed - a 25 per cent increase from 2006 - and why half of them were arrested there.

Shop away: Geylang is the migrant worker's Orchard Road.

You'll know why Nominated Member of Parliament (MP) Kalyani Mehta mentioned 'rampant gambling and prostitution activities' in Geylang during a Parliament session in January, and why Geylang is a hotspot for illegal cigarette peddlers (a 153 per cent jump in arrests last year from the previous year's).

The Americans say of their sin city: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

We shrug and say the same.

Let Geylang be. Or risk seeing the vices sprout in the heartlands.

Cheap: Low rents in Geylang mean many employers put up foreign workers there.

But now, Geylang's tentacles seem to be spreading.

One month after Mr Mehta's comments, MP Christopher de Souza told Parliament that 'prostitutes operate well beyond the artificial borders of Geylang'.

Vietnamese prostitutes appearing in the upper reaches of Lorongs 42 and 44 also caused a stir among grassroots leaders last month.

Is Geylang turning into a cowboy town?

There are some who think so.

Ex-cop Davy Chan said Geylang was better-controlled in his day.

The recipient of the coveted Police Gallantry Medal was part of the organised crimes unit of the CID in the 1970s.

Geylang was one of his main areas of responsibility as it was the scene of 'one of the worst cases of secret society activity'.

'At that time, there were brothels too,' he said. 'But you wouldn't find prostitutes standing on the main street.

'There were also gambling dens, but we would learn about them only from tip-offs, not like these days when they operate in the open.'

Heavy traffic: It is Monday, supposedly the quietest day of the week. But the traffic at Geylang is packed bumper to bumper.

A police spokesman said the police 'will sustain our patrols', but MrChan said police have a harder time now.

'In the past, the lookouts have to run to a public phone when they see us,' he said. 'Now, they just whip out their handphones.'

Longtime residents of an HDB block at Lorong 3 told The New Paper on Sunday that the operators of illicit activities seem to be more brazen now.

They believe part of the reason could be the rising number of foreign workers in Singapore.


They need a place to work, a place to sleep - and also a place to play.

For many, Geylang is that place.

It's the migrant worker's Orchard Road.

Here, provision shops sell groceries in front, and fluorescent safety vests and yellow boots at the back.

The influx of new workers has turned Geylang into a boom town.

Hot spot: Geylang is a favourite haunt of foreigners, including China girls.

Most of the 10 shops The New Paper on Sunday spoke to said that business has improved in the past two years. Durian seller Wong X L, 40, who has a stall at Lorong 25A, said: 'The buzz used to stop at the lower-numbered lorongs.

'Now it has come here.'

Business at the 24-hour stall has increased by 20 per cent in the past two years, largely because of the 'zhong guo mei' or China girls.

Mr Wong said: 'The 'uncles' take their China girls here to pak tor (date), to eat durians at 3am.

'Singaporeans go home by 11pm. We cannot depend on them.'

Ms Jin Lo's handphone shop is one of about 15 such shops in the 750m stretch along Geylang Road between Sims Way and Aljunied Road. Despite the competition, it is thriving.

Her shop counts foreign workers as its main clientele. The nearby gambling dens help, she said.

'If they win money, they come and buy new handphones. If they lose money, they come and sell their handphones. Either way, we make money,' Ms Lo, 24, said.

It's this pragmatism that lubricates - and fuels - Geylang.

So let Geylang be, Mr John Gee said. The president of advocacy group Transient Workers Count Too compares foreign workers in Geylang to Singaporean communities abroad said: 'It's about finding a home away from home.

'You see foreign workers on their days off and the clean, ironed clothes they wear. Then you think of their living conditions and you realise the efforts they put into presenting themselves.'


Mr Gee added: 'Their day off is the highlight of their week and it is hard to underestimate the resentment they will feel if they are denied even that.'

Mr Jolovan Wham, the executive director of migrants' welfare group Humanitarian Organisation of Migration Economics, said Geylang is attractive because it is shunned by mainstream society.

'Singapore is small, so it's very hard for them to find a place to stake as their own,' he said.

A home away from home is fine.

But what then when it becomes sleazy?

'There must be limits,' Mr Gee said. 'But really, that happens anywhere when you have groups of men in a foreign land. It's the staple entertainment.'

Charitable attitudes. And it's not found only with the liberals.

Mr James Lai, 55, is the genial uncle with the floral shirt who runs a furnishing shop where workers buy plastic fans for their dorms.

Mr Lai said of his friends who date China girls: 'Even old men have their needs. China girls are actually helping the Government to take care of our senior citizens.'

Red-light district, budget hotel? He waved these aside.

Even a civilised country needs a place like Geylang, he argued.

It's about the food, nightlife, shopping and illicit activities, but it's more than that.

'It's a matter of yin and yang,' MrLai said. 'No other place in Singapore has such a balance, such harmony.

'The place that is truly lively is not Orchard Road. It's Geylang.'

Cooler Market Tests Their Staying Power

Source : The Straits Times, Apr 21, 2008

THEY flock in in droves during the property boom and slink out when the market is quiet. Months after the dramatic market upswing last year, the industry had an estimated 30,000 agents, at least double the number in 2005.

ERA assistant vice-president Eugene Lim

But these days, opportunists hoping to make a pile by signing up as property agents are getting scarcer, because the slump in the private home sales market is making it more difficult to close deals.

Property agencies say that the bumper recruitment figures experienced last year in the red-hot market have given way to fewer sign-ups but recruits with more staying power.

ERA Singapore, which grew by its fastest rate last year with 200 new recruits every month, signs up only about 180 new agents a month now. PropNex sees 140 new recruits each month, compared to about 200 a month last year. Smaller-scale Dennis Wee Properties takes in 60 recruits every month, down from about 100.

As agents do not clock office hours and draw no salary, few actually 'resign' when times are lean, unless they are joining another firm.

Many just return to their other jobs like sales or engineering while hanging on to their name cards as property agents so they can do the odd deal that may come along.

Big companies such as PropNex and ERA do routine 'clean up' operations by terminating the contracts of inactive agents if they do not seal a deal within a year.

ERA assistant vice-president Eugene Lim says that about 30 per cent of each batch of recruits have their contracts terminated this way. He adds: 'This is a very hands-on, practical job. Even if you are able to score As in a test, you may not be able to close any deals.'

PropNex says it terminates the contracts of about 70 agents every month.

According to the managing director of C&H Realty Albert Lu, the sector tends to attract professionals who are out of a job when the economy is down. These degree-holders flock back to salaried jobs the minute the economy picks up.

For many, it is still an occupation of last resort. Dennis Wee Properties director Chris Koh says: 'Do they aspire from young to be a real estate agent? I don't think so, maybe because the education system today teaches a child to study, pass his exams and get a job, not be an entrepreneur or his own boss.'

Things are slowly changing, though.

ERA's Mr Lim notices that his recruits are getting younger and more educated. They now range from 25 to 40 years of age. More hold polytechnic diplomas instead of O-level certificates.

He says: 'In this market, the people who sign up are more serious than those who come in a fast-paced market and who are attracted to it because of the short-term benefits.'

Real Estate Job Switch Saves Tattoo Artist From Going Broke

Source : The Straits Times, Apr 21, 2008

HE WAS a tattoo artist eking out a living in Far East Plaza. She was a lecturer at the Institute of Technical Education who hoped to marry him.

But they had a problem. He was dead broke.

There were some months when he made barely $800 and had to sell his precious watch collection to survive. Within six months, he parted with two Rolex watches, three Tag Heuers, one Cartier and one Omega - all for a fire sale price of $7,400.

SIMPLE LIFE: The Teems may make a lot, but they live with their new baby in a three-room flat.

Finally, he had enough.

In 2006, Mr Jude Teem, 35, traded his T-shirts and bermudas for crisp white shirts and tailored trousers and joined real estate agency PropNex as a realtor. His then-girlfriend, Ms Anthea Yeo, 33, quit teaching to do a master's degree and also help him in the trade.

Mr Teem, an N-level holder, made a list of the watches he hoped to buy back when the money rolled in and stuck it on the ceiling above his bed. Every night, he would gaze at the list to spur himself on.

'I never liked to wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers from young. It looked so weird to my friends,' he said.

But the new wardrobe was necessary as his tattoos, which run down his back and the length of both his arms, could turn people off.

Turning from artist to property agent also changed his attitude for good.

'As a tattoo artist, my clients had to see if my mood was good. As an agent, even if my mood is not good, I could not show it.'

He once persuaded a property owner to hold off selling his condominium until a year later, helping him make $200,000 in the process.

'If he had known that I was a new agent, a former tattoo artist, he would not have believed me,' said MrTeem.

While the couple have had mostly good encounters with clients, dealing with unscrupulous counterparts is another matter altogether.

They have come across agents who lend money to hard-up home owners so that they are beholden and then forced to sell their flat at an unfavourable price.

Then there are agents who under-declare the price of the flat so that only a portion of the sale proceeds is refunded into the seller's Central Provident Fund account. The rest is pocketed as cash - with the agent taking a cut.

This practice is illegal but used by sellers to 'withdraw' money from their retirement savings.

Eyes narrowing, the soft-spoken Mr Teem said: 'This money is the sellers' money. It's their future money. It's just not right (that agents take it).'

Once, Ms Yeo found out that an agent had sold his own property to a client without declaring the conflict of interest. She struggled over whether to tell the client and did so in the end.

But she said: 'Sometimes when we see other agents doing unethical things, we have no heart to report them. It's their livelihood at stake.'

Their own livelihood, meanwhile, is anything but struggling. Mr Teem said without a hint of irony that he has stopped calculating how much commission they make from each sale or tenancy deal.

'For the first few cases, we counted how much we made, like $2,000 or $800. After that, we didn't have time to count. We could close four deals in one day.'

As if on cue, Ms Yeo steps away from the interview to take a call - just one of the many which come within the hour.

The couple have celebrated their success with diamonds for her and Rolex, Cartier and Panerai timepieces for him.

But Mr Teem no longer feels the need to replenish his watch collection.

'When you can't afford it, you want it. Now that you can afford it, you feel that you don't need it.'

INSIDER'S VIEW: Rachel Lai, 38
Company: HSR property group
Experience: Seven years
Previous occupation: Air stewardess
Average monthly income: $7,000 to $10,000

'I have no issue with the low entry barriers to the industry. It's about people's rice bowls - if we have too many restrictions, then they would not be able to become agents at all.'

INSIDER'S VIEW:Mr Randy Yeo, 36
Company: PropNex
Experience: Two years
Previous occupation: Business development manager
Average monthly income: $5,000

'We should have a central registry system where we can ban agents for wrongdoings. But this may never happen because if you are top in sales, nobody can touch you. Everybody will want to hug and kiss you.'

INSIDER'S VIEW: Nancy Hawkes, late 40s
Company: KF Property Network
Experience: More than 10 years
Previous occupation: Owned a soft furnishings company
Average monthly income: Over $26,000

'The Common Examination for House Agents is difficult to pass but even if you don't pass it, you will learn a lot from it. I think it should be made compulsory.'

Converted Buildings Offer Huge Payoffs

Source : The Straits Time, Apr 21, 2008

WHEN the former Pasir Panjang ITE building at 991 Alexandra Road was put up for tender last year, property investment firm Richzone jumped at what it saw as a prize plot.

The site, opposite the PSA Building, offered 265,000 sq ft of office space in an established commercial and industrial zone.

FROM OLD SCHOOL...: The building that used to house Gan Eng Seng Secondary School required extensive work to upgrade its facilities for office use.

'It was delivered to us in a very rundown condition because it had been empty for eight years,' Richzone said.

The firm, set up by a group of property veterans, planned to turn the building into modern low-rise offices that could be leased out to other tenants.

But it ran into flooding and power problems and broke the budget because of inflated construction costs and unexpected 'invisible expenses'.

Still, the work has paid off. The first phase of offices has been fully taken up by big-name tenants, such as LG Electronics. They are paying about a third of what they would have to fork out downtown.

...TO CASH COW: Mr Lim's firm, which converted the school into offices, is confident the whole building will be rented out by year-end. His firm sub-lets the offices at $4.50 psf. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Another company, Hean Nerng, also got more than it bargained for with the former Gan Eng Seng Secondary School.

Luckily, Mr Kelvin Lim, the managing director of the space resource management firm, is an old hand at converting worn-out buildings for new uses.

He was attracted by the building's size - it sits on a 290,626 sq ft plot in Raeburn Park near Outram - and its low rent.

Hean Nerng is paying about $200,000 a month, or $1.25 per sq ft (psf), and sub-letting the converted offices at about $4.50 psf. About 40 per cent of the building has been occupied by tenants that include the Marketing Institute of Singapore, the National Safety Council and several advertising companies.

A lot of work had to be done to maximise the building's potential office space. The firm also had to spend nearly $1 million to upgrade the substation to provide air-conditioning.

Mr Lim, however, is confident that the whole building will be rented out by year-end, even though demand has slowed because of weaker sentiment and because more office space has been released by the Government.

'We managed to overcome challenges greater than we had expected, so there are no regrets,' he said.


Tricky To Convert Old Schools Into Offices

Source : The Straits Times, Apr 21, 2008

Some firms leasing the buildings from Govt have run into teething problems

IT WAS an unusual proposition by the Government: Turn old, empty school buildings into functional offices fit for companies to occupy.

Firms hit by the acute office crunch last year responded warmly to the suggestion. They took up several former schools leased out by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), drawn by their attractive locations, sizeable grounds and low rentals.

TAKING SHAPE: Project manager Leong Peng Ho oversees refurbishing works at the former River valley Primary School. Behind him is one of the converted blocks. -- ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM

The offer by the Government was part of its efforts to meet the immediate needs of companies forced out of the central areas by office shortages and soaring rents. Since February last year, the SLA has tendered out 15 vacant buildings, including schools and community centres.

Experts hailed the move as prompt and quick-thinking - but some of the companies that actually took on the conversion tasks quickly found themselves mired in unexpected problems and hidden costs.

The SLA does not make public the names of companies that win its tenders, but it asked three firms to share their experiences with The Straits Times. All said that while they had expected some complications with these old buildings, they had not expected the going to be so rough.

Two ended up busting their renovation budgets tackling problems such as a lack of power supply, flooding grounds and missing blueprints.

Mr Andy Ong, the managing director of education provider ERC Holdings, had to get leaking pipes repaired at the former River Valley Primary School after they flooded the field twice.

'We had no water for three days while they were being fixed,' he said. 'We had to bring in portable toilets.'

BEFORE: The vacated premises of the former school - just five minutes from Orchard Road. -- PHOTO: ERC HOLDINGS

AFTER: The spanking new offices of ERC Holdings - all for a rent of about $2 psf. -- PHOTO: ERC HOLDINGS

The conversion process was 'nightmarish', he added. 'Every step we took was like being on a roller coaster. It was much harder than we had thought it would be.'

Property investment firm Richzone, which is converting the former Pasir Panjang ITE into modern office blocks, also ran into problems.

Heavy rains led to more water flowing in than the existing drainage could handle, so Richzone had to spend more than $1 million on 1km of new and improved drains. Another $1 million had to be spent on underground wiring and electricity. A new substation was installed, as were four lifts.

'It was not just plastic surgery, it was more like organ transplants,' said Ms Agnes Tay of Knight Frank, who worked closely with Richzone in leasing out the former school as offices.

Both ERC and Richzone ran over budget, the latter by about 30 per cent. Richzone said it now needs about five years to break even; it had estimated four originally. Meanwhile, it has to pay rent to the Government even before it collects any from its own tenants.

A third company, Hean Nerng, which specialises in converting old properties for new uses, is still within the $4 million budget it drew up for renovating the former Gan Eng Seng Secondary at Raeburn Park.

But managing director Kelvin Lim said Hean Nerng would now need longer to break even on the project because of unanticipated hiccups. For one thing, the old school had been designed to fit safety codes that are now outdated.

'Part of the school building we inherited could not be used because it adhered to old fire safety codes,' Mr Lim said.

For instance, a soundproof room in the basement that had been used by students as the school's rifle range is now just dead space because it has only one exit.

Nevertheless, having graduated from the school of hard knocks, most of the companies are now happy with their newly done-up offices and their sprawling grounds.

'Financially, it works out to be about equal to our old space, but we now have our own building and branding, and all this is unquantifiable,' said ERC's Mr Ong.

'People are amazed we're occupying such a big space in a prime location. Even if we stay only six years, it would be worth it.'

A dream come true despite obstacles

TRAINING firm ERC Holdings had to move out of its Robinson Road premises when rents there tripled.

Rather than move to an affordable but inconvenient location, managing director Andy Ong decided to tender for the former River Valley Primary School and convert it into offices.

'It's a great location: five minutes from Orchard Road, five minutes from our old office,' he said.

ERC kept 5,000 sq ft at Robinson Road, a quarter of its original space, and moved the rest over to River Valley. With 250,000 sq ft of land and 70,000 sq ft of office space, there was so much room, ERC leased out half to luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet.

The rents, at about $2 per sq ft (psf), seemed like a dream. At Robinson Road, they had come to over $3 psf and were set to rise to more than $10 psf. But the dream soured a bit for Mr Ong when he realised how much work had to be done to convert the premises. 'My to-do list had 210 items.'

As for the expenses, he said: 'The bills are still coming in. Hopefully, we will not exceed $5 million.'

Still, he said the company had 'no choice' but to take on this project. 'We would have spent $5 million in rental over three years anyway.'

Strengthening Singapore Dollar Helps To Manage Rising Costs

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 20 April 2008

Strengthening Singapore dollar has helped to manage rising costs as Singapore is dependent on imports, said Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean at a Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC event on Sunday.

At the same time, he reassured Singaporeans that the government is trying to minimise the impact of inflation through initiatives like the GST rebates, the Growth Bonus and the Workfare Income Supplement Scheme.

Mr Teo added that he remains optimistic as events and investments like the Formula One race, the integrated resorts and manufacturing, financial services will help to create jobs and maintain Singapore's economy.

But for now, the government will take steps to manage inflation.

He said: "It is not possible for us to control the price. We have to take the price of the market because we import all the products. What can we do? What has happened is that the Singapore dollar has grown stronger so the Singapore dollar is able to buy more of these products. This has helped to make the inflation a little less."
- CNA/so

St Regis A Milestone: Minister Mah

Source : The Business Times, April 21, 2008

NATIONAL Development Minister Mah Bow Tan last night commended owners of the St Regis Hotel for bringing this fine name in hospitality to Singapore.

Distinguished hosts and guests: City Developments executive chairman Kwek Leng Beng, Mr Mah, Mrs Cecilia Kwek, Foreign Minister George Yeo and Mrs Yeo at last night's function. Singapore is on track to achieve its Tourism 2015 goals, Mr Mah said

'The opening of St Regis reflects your confidence in the tourism industry here,' he told some 500 guests at the official opening of the hotel. 'This confidence is well founded.'

Mr Mah mentioned a host of tourism-related initiatives before concluding that Singapore is on track to achieve its Tourism 2015 goals of $30 billion in tourism receipts and 17 million visitor arrivals.

'The opening of St Regis tonight is yet another milestone.'

12 Sites To Be Made Available For Hotel Development

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 20 April 2008

In the first half of this year, 12 sites will be made available for hotel development.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said these sites would potentially yield another 6,000 rooms which Singapore needs to meet growing demand.

Mr Mah was speaking at the official opening of the six-star St Regis Singapore on Sunday, where 1,000 of Singapore's Who's Who attended the event.

At St Regis, butler service is available at all 299 rooms and suites, and guests can hire chauffer-driven Bentleys.

But the glamour is a far cry from the gloom that overshadowed the planning of the hotel when it first begun.

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Miguel Ko, president of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Asia Pacific, said: "To plan a hotel of this level of investment five years back, in the midst of SARS and a depressed hotel and real estate market, truly required someone of great determination and foresight."

The St Regis Singapore is the latest hotel to open here to meet growing demand from tourists and businessmen.

"In 2007, about 1,000 hotel rooms were added and we have projected a further increase of some 12,000 rooms in the next three to four years as new hotels and integrated resorts open," said Mr Mah.

The St Regis Singapore aims to recreate some of the glamour from the original St Regis in New York, plus a dash of the local flavour.

The original Bloody Mary cocktail was created at the St Regis in New York in 1934 and the same recipe is available at the St Regis Singapore.

But the St Regis Singapore also has its own version of the cocktail – the Chili Padi Mary. - CNA/so

Create A 'Gold Coast' At East Coast Park

Source : The Straits Times, Apr 21, 2008

I READ with interest that the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is opening up land outside the central area (for example in Balestier) for hotel development.

I commend the move. It will help meet the high demand for rooms now and in the years ahead. It will also help to ameliorate the growing congestion in the Central Business District.

The choice and location of new tourism projects are significant for Singapore. I feel we can and should do more to exploit our valuable waterfront assets.

It is noteworthy that Sentosa has made successful inroads in the tourism sector and, lately, the luxury residential market. It is not by coincidence our two integrated resorts are situated near the waterfront.

I wonder if the URA and the Singapore Tourism Board have studied the feasibility of creating our own 'Gold Coast' at the East Coast Park.

It is an exquisite diamond waiting to be cut and polished.

The land area is massive, stretching from the Big Splash to the Lagoon, with lush vegetation and trees nestling the waterfront. It has all the qualities to be transformed into a major tourism/leisure hub with an array of iconic waterfront hotels and related amenities.

Such a hub at the East Coast Park will not encroach on the present activities of Singaporeans in the area. Good planning can ensure that the interests of both tourists and Singaporeans are met.

Another idea which may seem to be a long shot is for an 'experimental eco-theme hotel' to be built at one of our major reservoirs.

Obviously, the design must blend in with the rich vegetation and tranquillity. It will offer a select group of discerning tourists, and Singaporeans, a new kind of 'natural habitat experience'.

While the two major integrated resorts, together with other exciting facilities, will undoubtedly take Singapore tourism to new heights, it will be unwise to believe that their magic will last forever.

We need to continue to innovate and reinvent to broaden our international appeal - thus staying ahead in the expanding global tourism market.

Michael Tan Jiak Ngee

S'pore Luxury Home Prices Surge 31%

Source : The Straits Times, Apr 21, 2008

Singapore had the eighth-most expensive luxury homes in the world last year

WHEN it comes to luxury homes in prime locations, Singapore had the eighth-most expensive properties in the world last year, ahead of cities such as Tokyo, Hong Kong and Paris.

Average prices of top-end properties in the Republic rose by 31 per cent to £1,197 (S$3,232) per sq ft (psf), the sixth-biggest price jump globally, according to a survey by Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank.

Their 2008 Annual Wealth Report found that the prices of luxury homes around the world increased, on average, by 11 per cent last year.

The sub-prime credit crisis led to 'falling prices, restricted financing and declines in sale volumes', which spread from the United States to Europe, but the report also noted the emergence of a new breed of super rich.

'Commodity price rises have brought wealth and created a significant number of additional new high net worth individuals in countries that benefit from a high level of natural resources - Brazil, Canada, Australia and Russia, which each added more than 8,500 additional wealthy residents in 2007.'

Rising affluence has also generated another market for second homes and holiday homes, said the report.

'We have yet to see the full impact on demand for property from the rising mass affluent population of central and eastern Europe, let alone from China, India, South Korea and other Asian economies,' it said, adding that 'the boom in second home ownership over the past decade will be nothing compared with the growth we will see over the next decade'.

The highest price growth was achieved by prime residential properties in Cortina D' Ampezzo in Italy (61 per cent), St Jean Cap Ferrat in France (50 per cent) and Antigua (40 per cent) .

Mr Liam Bailey, Knight Frank's head of residential research and author of the report, said prices grew strongly in the emerging economies, especially China and central and eastern Europe.

A second area of strong growth was in the global financial centres and second-home hot spots in France, Italy and the Caribbean, he added.

'Overall in 2007, capital growth in prime residential properties has been strongest in the main global financial centres and those with benign tax jurisdictions,' he added.

Five of the top 10 locations fell into this category, with London outperforming all other centres. It had 29 per cent growth and prices averaged £3,025 psf. Prices of properties valued over £10 million there grew by 37 per cent.

Monaco, in Europe, was second priciest at £2,877 psf and St Jean Cap Ferrat was third at £2,860 psf.

Sea View Condo Comes With A Piece Of Local History

Source : The Business Times, April 21, 2008

RESIDENTS of Wheelock Properties' new The Sea View condominium will be able to take pride in the fact that they have a classic piece of Singapore's history in their estate.

Conservation work on the stately Neo-classical style bungalow off Amber Road formerly known as Pavilion has been completed, Wheelock said in a press release yesterday. Pavilion was built in the early 1900s and was owned by the Elias family, an established Jewish family at the time. The bungalow was gazetted for conservation in 2004.

The developer spent $1.3 million on conservation, retrofitting and furnishing the 5,000 sq ft double-storey clubhouse which will house two games rooms, a multi-purpose room with a pantry and a function room.

The extensive work done includes both the external and internal structure. Some key features include a panoramic 12-panel stained glass above the grand entrance and cast iron railing on the verandahs of both floors.

'We volunteered to conserve the house as we felt that it was worth preserving a piece of history. The architecture of the house is seen as key to the charming character of the Amber Road/Katong area,' explained Wheelock Properties (Singapore) director Tan Bee Khim.

Wheelock has also invested almost $500,000 on two art installations at the clubhouse. Both works by renowned local artist Kumari Nahappan spell life and energy for the space and provide visual focal points and vibrant colour contrast to the seamless landscape of water and greenery.

Gulf Arabs Stop Buying Foreign Assets - For Now

Source : The Business Times, April 21, 2008

Global credit crisis promises more bargains later

(DUBAI/ROME) Gulf Arab exporters awash with cash from record oil income have put the brakes on foreign asset buys as the global credit crisis promises more bargains later and the political spotlight falls on how they invest.

Economists say the battle against domestic inflation in the world's top oil-exporting region is capping spending at home, leaving sovereign funds that invest much of the surplus oil revenue struggling to find a profitable home for their money.

'They are doing a little bit of hoarding right now while they take stock of the situation,' said John Sfakianakis, chief economist at SABB Bank, HSBC's Saudi affiliate. 'For two years they were on a buying spree. But there is an anticipation by sovereign wealth funds that financial assets will depreciate further as credit turmoil spreads in the West.'

Acquisitions outside of the region by Gulf Arab buyers more than tripled to US$89.13 billion in 2007 compared with the year earlier, according to London-based research firm Dealogic.

But buys slowed to US$19.8 billion in the first quarter, down over 30 per cent from the fourth quarter despite some big-ticket deals that helped shore up Wall Street financial institutions.

Growing sovereign fund acquisitions have raised concern among US lawmakers about foreign influence and control over assets and questions as to whether investments are politically motivated. This may have made Gulf funds more cautious.

Aside from political scrutiny, funds have also taken some pain from their investments and are treading carefully until they get a better idea of whether the credit crisis has hit its nadir.

Citigroup and Merrill Lynch shares have lost about 20 per cent each since Kuwait's sovereign fund and Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal agreed in January to invest at least US$5 billion in the US banks.

'After initial forays, they've gotten their fingers burnt quite badly,' said Ala'a al-Yousuf, chief economist in London at Gulf Finance House. 'It showed that the worst was not over and they were a bit too hasty in buying into these institutions.'

The massive transfer of wealth into the region from higher oil revenues has already unleashed startling economic growth among the Gulf's core Opec members. Gulf country economies doubled in size from 2002 to 2006.

With crude prices reaching a record US$117 a barrel, Gulf oil and gas revenues look set to come in at a new record this year, touching US$435 billion versus about US$380 billion last year, according to SABB estimates.

The price of US oil futures has averaged US$99.60 a barrel to date in 2008, up from US$72.36 last year.

But government spending at home has not risen at the same pace as revenues in the Gulf as officials look to avoid swamping their economies, where they are already battling decades-high inflation. Currency pegs to the US dollar have forced central banks to cut interest rates in line with the US Federal Reserve even as they struggle to contain rising prices.

Migrant workers in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have rioted over the erosion of wages due to the declining dollar and inflation.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, should see oil revenues grow to around US$235 billion this year, up nearly 12 per cent from about US$210 billion last year, SABB data showed.

Despite the bonanza, spending in the kingdom - contending with inflation at a 27-year high - has been prudent, said Brad Bourland, chief economist at Saudi-based Jadwa Investment.

'Saudi government spending has risen about 15 per cent per year, which is much less sharply than oil revenues have risen,' Mr Bourland noted. 'I don't see many examples of spending inappropriately; it's well-targeted, mostly on social needs in health and education, and infrastructure.'

With Gulf investment funds commanding around US$1.5 trillion of foreign assets, according to Mr Bourland's estimates, Gulf investors are struggling for other places to park surplus cash. -- Reuters

Leng Beng Breaks The Mould With Business Budget Hotel

Source : The Business Times, April 21, 2008

No frills property at Mohamed Sultan Rd offers high-tech facilities

A 'business budget hotel' may sound like a contradiction in terms. But hotel and property tycoon Kwek Leng Beng is finalising just such a concept - and it's aimed at executives who don't want the frills but who do require high-tech amenities in their rooms.

The first such hotel here will be a 370-room property that will open at Mohamed Sultan Road early next year. It is being developed by Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (M&C), the London-listed hotel arm of City Developments Ltd (CDL), which in turn is the listed property arm of Singapore's Hong Leong Group.

Elaborating on the new concept, Mr Kwek, executive chairman of Hong Leong Group, said: 'It is high-end and I have called it 'high-end budget', so it sounds like a contradiction. But I would like to clarify. This niche is aimed at executives who want no frills but require high-tech amenities in their rooms which must meet certain standards, four-star or even up to five-star; they do not need the grand ballrooms or large function rooms or F&B outlets that may add to their bills unnecessarily.'

Yesterday was a proud day for Mr Kwek, 67, as he witnessed the official opening of St Regis Singapore, which will be his flagship hotel in Singapore. 'We have many hotels around the world - M&C has 112 - but none as luxurious as this one. Normally, it takes a hotel about three years to stabilise earnings. However, for St Regis Singapore, I'm confident we can stabilise in a year's time.'

The 299-room hotel, said to be worth about $1.2 million a room, as well as the next door 173-unit St Regis Residences, were developed by a joint venture involving CDL, Hong Leong Holdings Ltd and TID Pte Ltd. TID is a partnership between the Hong Leong Group and Japan's leading real estate company Mitsui Fudosan.

To date, 157 of the 173 units at St Regis Residences have been sold.

'The planning for a branded hotel and residences concept in the same development took about five years,' Mr Kwek said.

'I am quite excited, because this development was not acquired, but conceptualised and built from scratch.'

Mr Kwek started the group's first hotel, what is now known as Copthorne King's, at Havelock Road, in 1970. 'When I was younger, I was bolder. In the early 1990s, the international hotels sector was competitive but it is very much more so today. There are more and bigger private equity funds among the major international players. The financial landscape is also much more different than when we went international over 14 years ago, or when we opened our first hotel more than 30 years ago.'

Mr Kwek acknowledged that the opening of the two integrated resorts will boost Singapore's meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions business and pose a challenge to existing hotels and upcoming ones, but the market segments they cater to are not necessarily the same.

'They will help make Singapore a tourism hub and ensure that Singapore is a key destination,' he said. 'Not forgetting that we have the new giant aircraft A380, and the increased popularity of budget airlines, so Singapore will have increasing numbers of visitors.'

He also said that talent is a key challenge ahead for the Singapore hotel industry. With India and China opening up, their hotels are taking up a significant portion of the global hotel talent.

'Labour cost, which is a concern by itself, is bound to increase,' he said. 'In Singapore, because land is scarce, construction costs are high, and prices of building materials such as steel are also rising, so there is a challenge if one plans to build budget hotels, a sector which will be much needed here.'

High Home Prices In S'pore Send Buyers Abroad

Source : The Sunday Times, Apr 20, 2008

Investors check out posh units in cities like London, where values have fallen

As the global credit crunch drags on, home prices are falling all over the world, from Britain and Spain to India and Australia.

But in Singapore, property values are proving stubbornly resilient. Private home prices continued to climb 4.2 per cent in the first quarter of the year despite plunging sales and market pessimism.

From an investor's point of view, properties outside Singapore might look more attractive now, agents say.

'The Singapore market has risen substantially over the last two years, and we don't see it dropping dramatically in the short term,' said Mr Sean Parker, the sales director of JL Property Group, which sells overseas properties here.

'But the benefit of that has been that Singaporeans can leverage some of the gains they've made on property here and redistribute them to other areas.'

More and more Singaporeans are looking to markets such as London, New York, Dubai and Australia for investment options, he added. The group has sold more than 100 properties since Christmas, most of them in Australia.

'We think this is going to be one of our biggest years in a long, long time,' Mr Parker said. 'We've seen a significant jump, not just in sales, but also in Singaporeans seeking information to become better-educated investors.'

In a city such as Melbourne, he said, the highest-end properties go for A$1,000 (S$1,269) per sq ft (psf) - a far cry from the $5,000 psf record in Singapore.

Given the current market uncertainty and turmoil, Ms Doris Tan of DST International Property Services advises investors to consider more established markets such as London and New York.

In London, the new Chelsea Apartments in the fashionable Chelsea district has one-bedroom flats that go for �1 million (S$2.7 million) each. That is about the price of a similar unit at Scotts Square in Scotts Road here.

Over in New York, US$1 million (S$1.4 million), or less than US$1,000 psf, secures a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan's posh Upper West Side or its smart TriBeCa district. In Singapore, that budget would get you only into Holland Village.

There is also a growing trend of older, wealthier Singaporeans buying investment properties that double up as luxurious holiday homes, said Mr Ku Swee Yong, the director of business development and marketing at Savills Singapore.

'They're not just investing,' he said. 'They also want to enjoy the properties they buy, so they're more willing to look at resorts and villas in Thailand and other areas.'

But despite growing interest in foreign properties, not all Singaporeans are out hunting for investment bargains now, Mr Ku added.

'Most people are affected by the bad mood now. They just clam up and pay down their home loans rather than invest,' he said. 'But once the sentiment improves, it's likely people will start comparing - if prices here are $3,000 psf, why not buy in Thailand for $600 psf?'

However, he also cautioned that each market holds its own particular risks for investors.

'In New York or Australia, it might be tax issues, but in Phuket or Bali, it could be procedures Singapore buyers are not familiar with,' he said.

'For our customers who buy Thai and Indonesian properties, they almost always can't get loans and have to pay in cash.'

LONDON: Exclusive condos along the Thames

St George Wharf, London

Touted as London's most exclusive riverside apartments, Aquarius House is the latest instalment in a new large-scale development along the Thames known as St George Wharf.

The 14-storey tower, expected to be completed in 2010, sits next to Vauxhall Bridge on London's South Bank. The increasingly gentrified neighbourhood is near the Houses of Parliament and a gay village.

St George Wharf itself offers on-site facilities such as a supermarket, dry cleaners, a medical centre and restaurants.

Prices for the 85 one- and two-bedroom apartments in Aquarius House start at �399,000 (S$1.06 million), or �800 per sq ft (psf).

Over here in Singapore, apartments overlooking the river at trendy Robertson Quay have been sold recently at prices ranging from $1,300 psf for Robertson 100 to over $2,000 psf for The Pier at Robertson.

SHANGHAI: Inner-city living in an ultra-hip district

Xintiandi, Shanghai

You could be Chinese actress Gong Li's neighbour in this brand-new condo in Shanghai's stylish Xintiandi area, all for the same price as an apartment in Holland Village.

Residence 8 offers one- and two-bedroom units as well as 14 penthouses, each featuring furniture from Italian design giant B&B Italia and Bang & Olufsen audiovisual systems.

Each of the 308 apartments also comes with Poggenpohl luxury kitchens, built-in Gaggenau appliances and 47-inch LCD TV sets.

Gong Li will be one of the development's first residents when it is completed next year.

The units range in price from eight million yuan (S$1.55 million) to 13 million yuan (S$2.5 million), averaging 9,290 yuan per sq ft (psf).

Xintiandi, Shanghai's ultra-hip pedestrian district, carries echoes of Holland Village, where apartments are going for $1,200 to $1,600 psf.

HONG KONG: Pricey areas but always sought after

Tai Hang district
Hong Kong

Hong Kong may be the only Asian market where high-end home prices have skyrocketed as much as in Singapore in the last year.

Recently, the ever-popular pursuit of luxury homes in the financial hub has intensified, given tight supply and investors keen to seek safe capital havens.

The traditionally pricey districts of Tai Hang and Jardine's Lookout have the highest occupancy rate. Prices rose 8.5 per cent in the last quarter of last year and rents 3.1 per cent, noted CB Richard Ellis.

Until recently, Jardine's Lookout held the record for the priciest penthouse, a HK$33,000 (S$5,722) per sq ft (psf) unit at Cheung Kong's luxury project The Legend.

Nearby, brand-new units at Jardine Summit go for HK$12,000 to HK$13,000 psf or at least HK$14 million each, a level similar to that for units at Cairnhill Crest here.

Rents are also comparable, at HK$35 to HK$45 psf.

JAKARTA: Luxury living in a mix of choices


This US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) mixed development by the Lippo Group boasts the tallest tower in Indonesia and three blocks of luxury apartments. Each block is targeted at a different market, and units are sized and priced accordingly.

Prices start at US$90,000 for a 947 sq ft unit at The St Monaco Tower - less than a Housing Board flat would cost in Singapore. The luxury part comes in at the top end of the project: A 14,000 sq ft penthouse at The St Moritz Tower is going for US$10 million, making it the country's largest and most expensive penthouse.

Jakarta is seeing a rise in the supply of high-end homes that has led to prices flattening out. But The St Moritz is part of an upcoming trend of large mixed developments that have proved very popular.

PHUKET: Villas with guaranteed rentals

Laguna Phuket, Phuket island

In Singapore, $2.5 million is barely enough to buy a semi-detached house in the East Coast.

In Phuket, that could get you a 4,000 sq ft, fully furnished villa with a private lap pool and jet pool.

Located next to the Laguna Phuket Golf Club, with beaches, restaurants and spas nearby, the villas are strictly for investment purposes.

Banyan Tree rents them out to tourists on behalf of the owners, who get part of the rentals. Rents average US$1,800 (S$2,432) a night.

Buyers can choose a 6 per cent fixed return or 33 per cent of the net room revenue. They also get to use the villas for 60 days a year.

Most of the villas have been sold. Those still available range in price from US$1.7 million (S$2.3 million) to US$3 million (S$4.1 million).

You Can Take A Cash-Out Loan From Your Home

Source : The Sunday Times, Apr 20, 2008

Homebuyers have emerged the clear winners as lenders slash interest rates to grab new customers and retain existing ones.

As a mortgage war breaks out among Singapore banks, homebuyers have emerged the clear winners as lenders slash interest rates to grab new customers and retain existing ones.

Rates have plummeted to less than 2 per cent. This means borrowers are effectively getting free cash as sky-high inflation means their future repayments are worth a lot less than the initial loan.


That is great, of course, for young couples buying their first home and moneyed investors looking to take advantage of the cooling property market. But they need not be the only ones reaping the spoils of the rate-cut battle.

Those of us who already have a roof over our heads but are not ready to take the plunge on another property can still benefit from the rate slashing that is going on.

If you have a private property that is at least partly paid up, you can consider taking a loan, using the paid-up bit of the house as collateral. Often called a home equity loan or a cash-out loan, this facility is pretty much like a mortgage, with similar rates and terms.

But instead of using the money to pay for a house, you can use the cash any way you like - whether to splurge on a new BMW, pick up some undervalued stocks or finance that one-man business which you run out of your study.

As mortgages are just about the cheapest loans available in town, this slightly off-beat idea could yield some interest savings.

It is also one way to cash in on the recent property boom without selling your house. If you own a house that is now worth more than what you had bought it for, banks will be willing to lend you more money than before as the collateral base has grown.

These property-backed loans are common in developed countries, from the United States to Australia.

But bankers say conservative attitudes towards credit and a certain sanctity Asians ascribe to their homes mean relatively few people, in Singapore and in the region, have taken advantage of this cost-saving option.

So far, equity loans in the local market are used mostly by entrepreneurs as a cheap way to finance anything from business expansions to day-to-day transactions. But with mortgage rates so low - and they may fall further - it might be time to take another look at tradition.

Ignoring absurdly low first-year teaser rates, home loans are now going for between 2 per cent and 3 per cent in interest charges. Add a small premium that is typically charged, and equity loan rates are now around the 3 per cent mark, say bankers.

This is clearly cheaper than unsecured credit lines, where rates go into double digits. It is also cheaper than loans for small businesses, which typically face rates of between 7 per cent and 8 per cent.

What about car loans? At 2.5 per cent, they look cheaper. But interest for these is charged on the full loan amount throughout the tenure of the loan. In contrast, regular loans charge interest based on the outstanding principal as the loan is repaid. The effective rate for a car loan is thus roughly about twice that of the advertised rate.

Standard Chartered Bank general manager for lending, Mr Dennis Khoo, says that for a $40,000 loan stretched over six years, interest savings could come up to about $2,000, if one took up a home equity loan instead of a regular car loan.

Sounds good. So, how does one go about getting an equity loan? How much can one borrow?

The process is largely similar to that for a regular mortgage.

Take, for example, a $1 million house. A bank would typically allow for total borrowings on the house of up to 80 per cent of the property's value - or $800,000.

If there is an outstanding mortgage of $300,000, the biggest equity loan that can be granted would be $500,000. But if the home owner had also used $200,000 of his Central Provident Fund savings to pay for the house, the maximum would be $300,000. This is because if there is a default and the house is sold off, proceeds will first go towards repaying the mortgage and replenishing the owner's CPF account, before they can be claimed by the equity loan provider.

Besides home valuations, banks will also look at the borrower's income to make sure he can service the monthly instalments, given his existing financial commitments.

But before you dash out to the nearest bank branch, remember that while they are cheap, equity loans should not be taken recklessly. To cop a familiar slogan: Low interest does not mean no interest.

In fact, more caution is needed as what is at stake may be the home that you live in. Furthermore, bankers warn that a property market downturn may prompt lenders to pull back on the loan as the value of the collateral falls.

If anything, the ongoing financial crisis is a stark reminder of what happens when credit is abused.

The lure of cheap credit, along with a housing boom, led American households to overspend massively in the past decade. Now that the housing bubble has burst, they are finding themselves a lot shorter on cash, with a great number struggling to keep their homes from being repossessed by their lenders.

The point is that one should not let the promise of 'a good deal' override prudence and common sense.

The equity loan is best seen as a way to reduce financing costs that you would have incurred anyway. Taking on an unsustainable financial burden just because it is cheap can turn out to be a costly decision.

So be shrewd with your borrowing, but be wise with your spending as well. Or else, you may find that splashing out on that flashy convertible may leave you all washed up - and without a roof over your head.

Before You Refinance Your Home Loan...

Source : The Sunday Times, Apr 20, 2008

The current downward trend in home loan rates provides a compelling reason for home owners to review their mortgage packages. Lorna Tan looks at five things to consider when refinancing your home loan

WITH interest rates in Singapore still falling and the property market turning quiet, banks are now gunning for the mortgage refinancing business.

Refinancing means replacing your current mortgage with another that comes with lower interest rates. This can be done with the same bank or by switching to another bank.


Many home owners are now considering this because the Singapore Inter-bank Offered Rate (Sibor) has fallen from over 3 per cent to below 1.3 per cent. Sibor, the rate at which banks lend to one another, is a key component used in setting home loan rates.

Some home owners have taken the bait. At HSBC Singapore, for example, refinancing applications have increased by more than 50 per cent in number over the past three months. Other banks, such as United Overseas Bank, have been circulating new refinancing packages by mail to home owners.

But before you take the plunge, you should be aware that refinancing a mortgage comes at a cost. Penalties could be imposed if you terminate your housing loan early with your existing lender, and you could incur legal fees if you refinance the loan with another bank.

Mr Dennis Ng, the founder of mortgage consultancy portal, reckons that if you are paying 3.5 per cent or higher on your home loan, you should be able to enjoy savings in interest by refinancing the loan.

He has worked out that, based on a 30-year loan tenure, refinancing an outstanding loan amount of $215,000 to a lower interest rate of 2.2 per cent, down from the current 4.5 per cent, would result in interest savings of about $14,730 over three years.

Balance your options

A mortgage with a lower interest rate might seem more attractive, but before you refinance your loan, consider these factors:

# Lock-in period
# Penalty for early loan redemption
# Conversion fee
# Legal subsidy
# Choice of fixed, variable or interest rate-linked rates
# Cash rebates
# Flexibility to make partial loan redemption
# Free fire insurance
# Affordability

Five things to note before you switch

1 When you should consider refinancing

Scenario 1

The savings outweigh the costs of refinancing. In other words, do your sums first.

Scenario 2

You do not plan to sell your property within the next 12 months.

Maybank Singapore's head of consumer banking, Ms Helen Neo, said it does not make sense to refinance if you plan to sell your home in the short term.

'Home owners have to pay redemption fees, and even refund legal subsidies or cashbacks to the banks,' she said.

Mr Dennis Ng, the founder of mortgage consultancy portal, added you typically need to give three months' notice to your existing bank before switching. If you sell your property within nine months, say, you will enjoy interest savings for only six months. Your savings might not be much higher than the refinancing costs.

2 What refinancing will cost you

With the same bank

# Within the lock-in period Check if your package has a lock-in period. During this time, usually two to three years, you have to pay a penalty if you withdraw your loan. It's usually 1-1.5 per cent of the outstanding loan amount.

Also, there is a conversion fee of $500 to $1,000.

# Outside the lock-in period The cost is just the conversion fee.

With another bank

With banks pulling out all the stops to garner a larger slice of the home loans market, it is worth your while to shop around. DBS Bank, for example, has customised packages that subsidise penalty payments, while Standard Chartered Bank (Stanchart) is repricing home loans down for existing customers on selected packages.

OCBC Bank's head of consumer secured lending, Mr Gregory Chan, encourages customers to talk to their lenders first before leaving for another bank. This is because the actual charges incurred could vary depending on various factors, which could include the time till the lock-in period expires and the customer's business relationship with the bank.

# Within the lock-in period

Besides having to cough up a penalty for early loan redemption, you will have to refund the subsidy on legal costs provided by your current bank.

Capped at $2,000, the subsidy is calculated based on 0.4 per cent of the loan amount, plus the cost of the $500 stamp duty. Most banks will offer a subsidy of up to $2,000, depending on the loan amount.

If your loan amount is, say, $500,000, the bank is likely to have given you a subsidy of $2,000.

# Outside the lock-in period

Normally, you don't need to pay your current bank penalties or administrative fees.

However, you might have to reimburse the bank for freebies you received when you first took out the loan. These could include legal subsidies, free fire insurance on the property and promotional shopping vouchers, said Citibank Singapore's business director, Mr Tan Chia Seng.

Whether you are inside or outside the lock-in period, refinancing a home loan with another bank means incurring legal fees again.

3 Which home loans benefit you most

There are more than 113 different home loan packages in the market.

# Fixed rates

Depending on your 'risk tolerance', you can consider locking in your loan at the current low interest rates for the next two to three years. This means going for fixed-rate loan packages in which the rates are fixed for the first two to three years.

# Pegged rates

If price transparency is a must and you believe interest rates are likely to remain low in the next 12 months, you can consider packages with rates pegged to the Singapore Inter-bank Offered Rate (Sibor) or other benchmark rates as you will automatically enjoy lower loan rates when interest rates fall further.

Said OCBC's Mr Chan: 'If fixed cash flow and protection against interest rate hikes are of utmost importance, our fixed-rate packages would be more appropriate.'

# Zero penalty for switching

Those who are thinking of selling their property in the next two to three years should choose a package with a shorter penalty period or one with no penalties attached. For a loan amount of $500,000, you would save $7,500 if you chose a package with no penalties attached over one that imposes a penalty charged at 1.5 per cent of the loan amount, said Mr Ng.

4 Which expenses you have to budget for

Rates don't stay depressed forever. When refinancing, do not underestimate other expenses in a lower interest rate environment only to find yourself unable to pay your debts and monthly instalments when rates rise later, said Mr Dennis Khoo, the general manager of wealth management at Stanchart.

Borrowers should ensure they are not over-exposed to debt repayments. Set aside enough cash to cover at least six to 12 months of all necessary expenses such as utilities and phone bills, he said.

5 Which packages offer favourable incentives

There are more than rates to consider when refinancing.

# Partial loan repayment

Pick a package that does not penalise you for partial repayments. This means you can lower your overall loan balance whenever you wish to redeem part of your loan.

# Free loan conversion

If your property is still under construction, ask for a package with a 'free loan conversion'. This lets you switch to a package with lower rates when you get your temporary occupation permit.

# Rebates

If a package offers a cash rebate, check if it is refundable and if there will be any additional penalty charges should you withdraw within the lock-in period.

# Free fire insurance

Some lenders throw this in.

超越东京和香港 新加坡豪宅亚洲最贵

《联合早报》Apr 21, 2008


根据花旗私人银行(Citi Private Bank)和莱坊(KnightFrank)发表的全球财富报告,去年,新加坡的豪宅价格暴涨了31%,达到每平方英尺1197英镑(约合3240新元)。这在全球主要城市中排名第八,在亚洲则高居第一。



莱坊新加坡研究部主管麦俊荣说,去年乌节路一带推出的一些优质豪华共管公寓项目,包括瑞吉居(St Regis)和卓锦豪庭(Orchard Residences),推动新加坡最顶尖的豪宅价格,平均上涨至每平方英尺3500元左右。





这份报告也指出,豪宅价格和流动资产达一百万美元的高身家人士(High Net Worth Individuals)之间有非常密切的关系。


莱坊私宅研究部主管贝利(Liam Bailey)说,一旦人们手头宽裕了,往往会购买第二间房子作为投资,或买一间休闲用途的度假屋。