Tuesday, August 26, 2008

US Existing Home Sales Up 3.1% In July

Source : The Business Times, August 26, 2008

(NEW YORK) Sales of previously owned homes in the US rose in July from a 10-year low, while the gain wasn't enough to reduce the supply of properties on the market.

Resales rose 3.1 per cent, more than forecast, to an annual rate of 5 million from 4.85 million in June, the National Association of Realtors said yesterday in Washington. The median price dropped 7.1 per cent from July 2007, and the number of homes for sale jumped to a record.

Record foreclosures have pushed property values down even more, luring some bargain hunters into the market. Still, stricter lending rules, rising unemployment and a glut of unsold houses signal the outlook for residential real estate remains grim.

'It'll be a while before we get a real recovery in housing,' Stephen Gallagher, chief US economist at Societe Generale in New York, said before the report. 'These things take time to work through. Prices have come off, so that's helping home sales a little.'

Treasuries, which had rallied earlier in the day, remained higher after the report. Benchmark 10-year notes yielded 3.79 per cent at 10.14 am in New York, from 3.87 per cent at last week's close. The Standard & Poor's Supercomposite Homebuilding Index of stocks was down 1.3 per cent at 285.21.

Resales were forecast to rise to a 4.91 million annual rate, according to the median estimate of 75 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. Projections ranged from 4.69 million to 5 million. July's sale rate was the highest since February.

Sales were down 13 per cent compared with a year earlier. Resales totalled 5.65 million in 2007.

The increase in sales wasn't enough to keep up with the surge in properties coming into the market as foreclosures mount. There were a record 4.67 million unsold houses and condos on the market in July, representing 11.2 month's supply at the current sales pace, matching the highest ever. The group has said a 5 to six month's supply is consistent with a stable market.

The jump in inventory was driven by an increase in the supply of condos as projects started one or two years ago came on the market, the Realtors group said.

The median price of an existing home fell to US$212,400 from US$228,600 in July 2007.

'We are in a very tight credit-availability condition,' Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, said at a press conference. 'Inventories continue to remain very high.' Resales account for about 85 per cent of the market, while purchases of new homes make up the rest. Sales of existing homes are compiled from contract closings and may reflect contracts signed one or two months earlier.

For that reason, economists consider new-home sales, which are recorded when a contract is signed, a more timely barometer of the market. A report today from the Commerce Department may show new home sales fell in July for the third consecutive month, according to the Bloomberg survey median.

Yesterday's report showed resales of single-family homes increased 3.1 per cent to a 4.39 million annual pace. Sales of condos and co-ops climbed 3.4 per cent to an 610,000 rate, the most since November. -- Bloomberg

Lian Beng To Pay 3 Executive Directors Profit-Sharing Bonus

Source : The Business Times, August 26, 2008

LIAN Beng Group says three of its executive directors will be paid a profit- sharing bonus based on the group's audited net profits before tax and before extraordinary items (PBT).

'Going forward ...we will be growing our foothold in the construction of ultra-luxury niche projects...' - MD, Ong Pang Aik

The trio - managing director Ong Pang Aik, Ong Lay Huan and Ong Lay Koon - will receive 4, 2, and 1.5 per cent of PBT respectively.

In a statement yesterday, Lian Beng said the first instalment of the bonus will be paid after the audited financial statement for the financial year ending May 31, 2009 is issued, depending on PBT achieved.

'Through the scheme, the group will be able to recognise and reward their contributions and services and motivate the executive directors to continue to strive for the group's long- term prosperity,' it said.

Separately, Lian Beng said its wholly owned subsidiary Millennium International Builders has been appointed the main contractor for The Ritz-Carlton Residences at Cairnhill.

The contract, worth $99.5 million, was awarded by Royce Properties, a subsidiary of Hayden Properties.

Lian Beng managing director Ong Pang Aik said: 'Going forward, apart from handling larger-scale condominium and commercial projects, we will be growing our foothold in the construction of ultra-luxury niche projects that call for specialised technical knowledge in dealing with challenging design features.'

The Ritz-Carlton contract involves a 36-storey residential block with two basement carparks, a swimming pool and communal facilities.

Construction is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2008 and should be completed by Q4 2010.

Lian Beng said the contract win will boost its order book to about $770 million.

At the end of trading yesterday, Lian Beng's share price was unchanged at 19 cents.

Eng Wah Sells 4 Properties To Founder, MD For $100m

Source : The Business Times, August 26, 2008

Sale of assets will facilitate cinema operator's reverse takeover by Transcu

ENG Wah Organization has agreed to sell four of its properties to its founder and controlling shareholder Goh Eng Wah, and his daughter, managing director Goh Min Yen, for $99.48 million.

What lies ahead? The property sale to EW.G Pte Ltd, an investment vehicle owned in equal parts by Mr Goh (above) and his daughter Ms Goh, is subject to the approval of Eng Wah's shareholders at a meeting on Sept 10

The cinema operator and film distributor said yesterday that a search by property consultants Jones Lang Lasalle for other buyers had been unsuccessful, likely due to a depressed market environment.

The sale of the four properties to EW.G Pte Ltd, an investment vehicle owned in equal parts by Mr Goh and Ms Goh, will facilitate Eng Wah's reverse takeover by Singapore-based Japanese biomedical firm Transcu first announced last year, Eng Wah said yesterday.

Disposing of the assets is a key condition for the reverse takeover by Transcu. 'If the properties are not sold, the reverse takeover will not take place,' said Eng Wah. And if the reverse takeover falls through, EW.G will not buy the properties, it added.

The property sale is subject to the approval of Eng Wah's shareholders at a meeting on Sept 10. Both Mr Goh - who has a deemed interest in 70 per cent of Eng Wah's shares and is also executive chairman of the company - and Ms Goh will abstain from voting on the transaction. That means Eng Wah's minority shareholders will have the final say on whether the sale takes place.

The four properties left in the portfolio that Eng Wah put up for sale last November are the Jubilee Entertainment Complex in Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh Entertainment Centre, Empress Theatre in Clementi and the 16th floor of Orchard Towers. A fifth property, the Mandarin Theatre at Kallang Bahru, was sold in June for $13 million to an outside party.

The search for buyers has proved controversial. Last week, the Securities Investors Association of Singapore (SIAS), which represents retail investors here, called on Eng Wah to be more transparent in the sale of its properties, asking it to 'ensure that the sale price is maximised'.

SIAS president David Gerald said at the time: 'In our view, the company must ensure that its assets are sold at a fair price and not at a sub-optimal price to the controlling shareholder.'

Yesterday, Eng Wah was keen to stress that the proposed sale price of the properties to EW.G was based on the value of the assets determined by property consultants Chesterton International and CB Richard Ellis.

Eng Wah said Jones Lang Lasalle's efforts to sell the properties since it was appointed marketing agent last November had resulted in several offers, but only one property - the Mandarin Theatre - was sold. This was 'primarily due to what Jones Lang Lasalle believes to be negative market sentiment and a depressed credit environment', said Eng Wah.

In a separate announcement, the company said independent director Foo Kok Swee has retired. Eng Wah has appointed Christopher Martin George Brown, chief executive of private real estate fund Develica Asia-Pacific and former executive chairman of Jones Lang LaSalle Asia-Pacific, as a new independent director.

Eng Wah has recently disposed of other assets, including the former Crazy Horse cabaret premises and assets, which it sold to club operator St James for $2.75 million earlier this month, and a condominium unit in Kuala Lumpur, which was bought by two of Mr Goh's nephews for RM525,000 (S$220,271) last week.

CapitaLand Shares Slide To 2-Year Low

Source : The Business Times, August 26, 2008

Funds selling down regional property stocks as outlook gets more downbeat

The stock of the region's largest listed property group is taking a sharp knock as funds bail out of regional property stocks amid an increasing bearish outlook for the sector.

CapitaLand's shares fell 13 cents or 2.9 per cent to $4.32 yesterday - its lowest level in two years. But what baffled many market watchers was the heavy selling volumes. Some 21 million stocks changed hands.

'It is not just the selling that is worrying, but the heavy volumes on the way down,' observed a seasoned dealer. 'This is heavy institutional selling, and a very bearish signal.'

Meanwhile, CapitaCommercial Trust sank 10 cents or 5.4 per cent to $1.75 on some 7.3 million units amid concerns that the office rental market in Singapore was poised for a 30 per cent drop over the next three years as supply significantly outstrips demand.

The current selldowns follow downgrades by some global houses in recent weeks.

About 10 days ago, Morgan Stanley cut CapitaLand's 12-month price target to $4.16, from $5.94, citing weak earnings for the next two years.

Morgan Stanley noted that CapitaLand's wider diversification strategy and Asian regional footprint had failed to provide some share price support on the downside. CapitaLand has significant interests in Singapore, China, Vietnam and other regional countries. The investment house's analysts Melissa Bon and Brian Wee said there were no positive catalysts, and cautioned of a possible absence of new launches for up to 18 months if the economic slowdown dragged on.

'We are inclined to be less optimistic than CapitaLand's management who expect the Singapore residential market to remain flat this year,' the report said.

Meanwhile, UBS said in a report on Friday that it expects office rentals and capital values to drop as much as 34 per cent in the next four years.

But given that it is Asia's largest listed property company, CapitaLand has a relatively large pool of global portfolio investors. And this makes it more vulnerable to massive selldowns by funds which are scrambling to cash-up in the face of a global liquidity crunch.

The stock's liquidity - which attracted institutional investors and helped fuel its bull run last year - has also turned out to be a double edged sword, contributing to its savage beating now.

The selldowns came despite the fact that CapitaLand will realise a total portfolio gain of $313 million by injecting four of its Raffles City assets in China into its 50 per cent owned Raffles City China Fund. This comprises a $183 million net gain from the dilution of CapitaLand's interest in the four Raffles City assets, and a $130 million fair value gain for Raffles City Shanghai.

Wing Tai Q4 Net Profit Slips 60%

Source : The Business Times, August 26, 2008

Property and retail group Wing Tai Holdings has posted a 60 per cent drop in group net profit for the fourth quarter ended June 30, 2008, to S$96.3 million.

For the full year, net earnings fell 40 per cent to S$229.4 million, with operating profit sliding 51 per cent to S$204.8 million due chiefly to lower earnings from the development properties division.

The group's net gearing ratio has been reduced to 0.40 time as at June 30, 2008, from 0.43 time as at June 30, 2007. Shareholders will receive a 3 Singapore cents per share first-and-final dividend as well as a special dividend of the same quantum. Both payouts are one tier.

URA Rejects Sole Bid For Tampines Condo Site

Source : The Business Times, August 26, 2008

Urban Redevelopment Authority has rejected the sole bid for a private condominium housing site at Tampines Avenue 1/Avenue 10 as the price offered was too low.

The 99-year leasehold plot, which faces Bedok Reservoir, drew a bid of about S$118 per square foot per plot ratio from Boon Keng Development Pte Ltd, a unit of Midview group, which is involved in the construction and property businesses.

When the tender for the site closed on Aug 12, most property consultants had already said there was only a slim chance of the site being awarded.

UAE Mortgage Market Seen Growing 220% In Next 3 Years

Source : The Business Times, August 26, 2008

(ABU DHABI) The mortgage market of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE) is projected to grow 220 per cent to 64 billion dirhams (S$24.7 billion) in the next three years, local newspaper Gulf News reported yesterday.

Booming sector: Foreign investors can buy property on a freehold basis in Dubai.

According to a study by the Dubai-based real estate company Bonyan International Investment Group, syariah-compliant house financing will make up more than 60 per cent of the figure

The UAE is viewed by global investors as the best market for capital gains growth, and has been identified as the only Gulf country to witness an increase in consumer confidence for the second half of this year, Bonyan said.

'This can be attributed to the UAE's pioneering move to allow foreigners to invest in local property, which created outstanding opportunities for world-class developers to attract investors to the country,' it noted.

Capital gains and income yields have been much higher in the UAE than most other international property markets, with investors acquiring investments with no personal income or capital gains taxes.

The UAE has seen a boom in its real estate sector since 2002, when Dubai, the UAE's commercial and financial hub, gave foreign investors the green light to buy property on a freehold basis.

The government of Dubai issued a 35-article mortgage law last Tuesday in a bid to regulate the emirate's booming real estate market. -- Xinhua

Japanese Developer Under Probe

Source : The Business Times, August 26, 2008

(TOKYO) Urban Corp, the property developer that collapsed in Japan's biggest bankruptcy this year, is being examined for its market disclosure, Financial Services Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said yesterday.

Mr Motegi said he was aware of questions being raised about Urban's behaviour, without commenting more specifically on the case. The Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission will immediately take action against any company that is found to violate rules or act inappropriately, Mr Motegi told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo yesterday.

Urban first revealed on June 26 that it planned to sell 30 billion yen (S$387 million) of convertible bonds to BNP Paribas to secure operating funds and stabilise its finances. The Hiroshima-based company did not disclose the derivatives transactions that returned funds to the French bank until it issued a bankruptcy statement on Aug 13. -- Bloomberg

Capital Injection Into Firm Cheers Japan Market

Source : The Business Times, August 26, 2008

(TOKYO) Shares of midsized Japanese property firms jumped yesterday after real estate company Zecs Co said it would receive a capital injection from an investment fund, sparking hopes of further inflows to help the beaten-down sector.

The industry has seen a string of failures recently as banks tighten credit to small and medium-sized developers, which are struggling amid soaring costs and weak sales of apartments as the world's second-largest economy slows.

Zecs shares closed up 14 per cent at 8,160 yen after it said it would sell about 1.5 billion yen (S$19.4 million) worth of its preferred shares to Japanese fund J-Will Partners by the end of this month.

But even after yesterday's gain, Zecs shares are down about 90 per cent over the past three months.

'It's probably about time investors come to property firms through actions like capital injections, with the mid- to long-term view that their shares have plunged too far and may have nearly bottomed,' said Hitoshi Yamamoto, chief executive of Fortis Asset Management Japan.

'Still, a rebound (in property shares) won't happen overnight and financial institutions are not likely to change their stance.'

Among similar stocks, apartment developer Joint Co shot up 13.3 per cent to 256 yen, while Creed Corp surged 11.7 per cent to 113,900 yen.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange's real estate sector index rose 2.1 per cent, outperforming a 1.7 per cent rise for the benchmark Nikkei average although it is still down 21 per cent for the year to date.

The Tokyo bourse's Reit index added 1.9 per cent but remains down 33 per cent for the year to date.

Investors had dumped the sector in the wake of developer Urban Corp's failure this month, the biggest collapse of a listed Japanese company in six years, and the failures before that of fellow developers Suruga Corp and Zephyr Co.

The sector's troubles have also spurred moves to consolidate with apartment developers Azel and Gro-Bels announcing last week that they would merge in January to better compete amid high construction materials prices and sluggish demand. -- Reuters

Vendors Drop Prices Of Asia-Pac Commercial Properties

Source : The Business Times, August 26, 2008

These assets have been priced down by 25-100 bps in last few months: DTZ

COMMERCIAL properties in the Asia-Pacific region have been priced down by 25-100 basis points in the past three to four months, more in line with investor expectations, property firm DTZ said yesterday.

Reality check: The re-pricing of commercial assets has been greater in some markets, such as Tokyo (left) and Aussie cities

'The number is an average figure - it varies from market to market,' said John Stinson, DTZ's regional director for sales and investments and capital markets for Asia-Pacific.

Mr Stinson, who was speaking to reporters at a seminar, said the re-pricing has been greater in some markets, such as Tokyo and Australian cities.

For Singapore, it is hard to pin a number to the drop in the asking prices for commercial properties, mainly because of a low number of transactions, he added. But some sellers have marked down their commercial assets about 10 per cent, said Shaun Poh, DTZ's senior director for investment advisory services and auction in Singapore.

Mr Stinson identified Singapore as one of the 'gateway cities' that international investors will look at when increasing their exposure in the Asia-Pacific area.

'In the next two-three quarters, core (prime) products in gateway cities - Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Sydney - will see some interest,' Mr Stinson said.

In Singapore, the opportunities for investors are increasing as vendors price their assets lower, he noted.

DTZ's executive director and regional head for consulting and research Ong Choon Fah said: 'Owners are a bit more realistic now than they were previously.'

Right now, there are still more sellers than buyers in Singapore, according to a recent survey of investors by DTZ. More than 10 per cent of investors had 'selling priorities' while less than 5 per cent had 'buying priorities', the survey found.

'Buyers are sitting on their hands, waiting for the markets to adjust,' said David Green-Morgan, DTZ's Asia-Pacific research director.

DTZ's research also showed that across the Asia-Pacific region, investors with 'buying priorities' outnumber those with 'selling priorities' when it comes to industrial and hotel properties.

Mr Green-Morgan noted that investments into Singapore and the region are likely to continue to be driven by private equity.

In July, DTZ predicted that the value of investment transactions worldwide will fall to US$500 billion this year, from a high of US$730 billion in 2007 and US$600 billion in 2006.

The decline assumes that after a weak first half in 2008, there will be a relatively modest pick-up, likely to be driven mainly by the Asia-Pacific market.

Opportunities In Asia-Pacific Real Estate Remain Despite Weak Sentiment

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 25 August 2008

The global real estate capital market grew last year to hit US$12 trillion, but the subprime crisis has thrown a spanner in the works.

Investors are finding it tough, with liquidity drying up, yields compressing, and valuations in the US and UK dipping.

However, some analysts said that opportunities remain and may even grow, as markets approach fair value. They noted that demographics in emerging Asia also support long-term investment horizons.

Property prices around the world have suffered as investors attempt to ride out the current uncertainty in the market by holding back funds.

Ong Choon Fah, executive director and head, SEA Consulting and Research, DTZ, said: "Because there is so much uncertainty around the markets - financial markets, capital markets, equity markets - people don't really know what to think, and when one is confused, people don't want to make major decisions."

Property watchers said that yields and prices are expected to correct further on the downside in the year ahead - with some sectors hit more than others.

David Green-Morgan, Asia-Pacific research director, DTZ, said: "Potentially, industrial and retail sectors may correct more than the commercial office sectors, which tends to be more resilient... the downside tends to be less in those areas."

DTZ said that the one bright spot in the real estate market lies in Asia-Pacific, where economies have held up comparably well so far.

Mr Green-Morgan said: "At the moment, it is holding up quite well and that is due to the fact that there is a much bigger domestic market in Asia-Pacific than in previous slowdowns, and also because there is much more wealth in Asia-Pacific, than historically."

DTZ said this has kept overall property prices reasonably firm as prospects for capital growth dry up.

The focus is now on occupier fundamentals. And for this, DTZ's top picks currently include resorts in Thailand's leisure sector, and its serviced residences.

It also likes emerging markets such as Vietnam - where demographics are a key factor.

Ms Ong said: "Although Vietnam has its own set of problems, if you look beyond the immediate future, it has a huge population... it has one of the longest coastlines in Asia. So again there are opportunities there."

DTZ said that another area of interest is Indonesia, where residential prices have come off highs, coupled with a growth in infrastructure projects. - CNA/ms

Lian Beng Subsidiary To Build S$99.5m Ritz-Carlton Residences

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 25 August 2008

Homegrown construction group Lian Beng has clinched a contract worth S$99.5 million to build a high-end residential project at Cairnhill Road.

Lian Beng will build The Ritz-Carlton Residences through its Millennium International Builders unit.

The deal was awarded by Royce Properties, a subsidiary of Hayden Properties.

The project is the first luxury condominium project to be launched by The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company in Asia and will feature 58 apartment units - including two penthouses - in a 36-storey block.

It will occupy land area of some 60,000 square feet at Cairnhill Road and work is expected to commence in the third quarter of this year.

The latest contract boosts Lian Beng's order book to some S$770 million. - CNA/ms

Lian Beng Wins Coveted Ritz-Carlton Residences Job

Source : The Business Times, August 26, 2008

HOME-GROWN contractor Lian Beng Group has clinched the contract to build Singapore's most prestigious brand-name residences.

The mainboard-listed firm yesterday announced it has won a $99.5 million award to build the Ritz-Carlton Residences - the five-star hotel brand's only such project in Asia.

The Ritz-Carlton Residences has already seen some units sold at more than $5,000 psf. -- PHOTO: HAYDEN PROPERTIES

The award marks Lian Beng's entry into the high-end, luxury property market. The firm has set up a new unit, Millennium International Builders, which will build the project and focus on expanding into the luxury property market.

Lian Beng's managing director, Mr Ong Pang Aik, told The Straits Times there is a perception that ultra-luxury construction projects go only to foreign companies.

'So we're proud that a local firm has won this award. It's the first of many to come for Millennium,' he said.

There was strong competition for the tender, with many foreign contenders, said Mr Ong.

'But we have 30 years of experience, and in recent years handled many technically challenging projects, and I believe this - and our attractive tender price - gave us an edge,' he added.

All the 56 units at the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Cairnhill will come with designer fittings and appliances.

Mr Ong said this is an opportunity for Lian Beng to expand its foothold in the construction of niche projects which require specialised technical knowledge in dealing with challenging design features.

Among the features of the property, located on the site of the former Horizon View, are a lap pool, a library, a wine cellar, a kitchen and a 24-hour concierge service managed by the Ritz-Carlton.

The 32-storey project, which offers three- and four-bedroom units and two penthouses, has already sold some units - at more than $5,000 psf last year.

Lian Beng's latest foray is a marked contrast from the basic HDB flats it started building when it was set up in 1973.

Although it still builds HDB flats, Lian Beng has moved on to private mass-market condos and commercial projects.

It has also moved selectively into property development, such as Kovan Residences, of which it has a 19 per cent stake.

This latest contract will boost Lian Beng's order book to about $770 million.

The firm recently reported a tripling of its full-year net profit to $11.9 million, up from $3.5 million a year ago, on the back of the recent building boom.

Mr Ong said yesterday that surging construction costs will not be a factor in building the Residences as the firm has already 'locked in' the supply of materials needed.

The Ritz-Carlton project is a partnership between Ritz-Carlton and Hayden Properties, which is a 50-50 joint venture between real estate firm KOP Capital and Emirates Investment Group unit Emirates Tarian Capital.

Hayden's group chief executive, Ms Ong Chih Ching, said yesterday the new partnership is 'a reflection of our belief in working with homegrown companies'.

Lian Beng said it will begin construction this quarter. The project is due for completion by the end of 2010.

Sharp Fall In Property Prices Unlikely

Source : The Straits Times, August 26, 2008

But there are more people keen to sell than buy now, says DTZ study

SINGAPORE'S property market presents plenty of buying opportunities for institutional investors now that it has cooled somewhat, according to a study by property firm DTZ Debenham Tie Leung.

But buyers waiting for a major price correction will be disappointed.

While the growth in prices may slow, there is unlikely to be a significant fall in property prices here, said Mr John Stinson, DTZ's regional director of sales and investments for Asia-Pacific's capital markets.

'Singapore hasn't had a long boom, unlike some other countries... I don't think there will be a repricing,' he told reporters yesterday at a briefing on Money Into Property, DTZ's latest research report about investing in Asia-Pacific property.

The report is directed at institutional property investors, who can have a significant impact on the property market, given that they buy and sell large numbers of properties.

Mr Stinson also said the Government's measures to boost Singapore's population could prop up demand for property and support prices.

So far, no recent transactions by institutional investors have reflected a repricing in the market, added Mr Shaun Poh, DTZ's senior director for investment advisory services and auctions.

'Sellers here have become more realistic and lowered their expectations,' he added.

But because their expectations were so high previously, this has not necessarily led to lower transacted prices, he said.

What it has actually resulted in is more investors coming back to look at properties that may have previously been overpriced but are now open to negotiation, Mr Poh said.

Currently, there are many more people interested in selling Singapore properties than in buying them, DTZ's study showed.

It polled investors and found that 12 per cent of them intend to sell their properties in Singapore soon, while fewer than 5 per cent plan to buy properties here.

This is creating a situation quite different from the one last year, when there was no lack of demand for properties but very few available for sale.

Now, growth funds and some opportunistic investors are pulling out of the plateauing Singapore market, at a time when owners - including banks, foreign firms and opportunistic funds - are becoming more willing to sell.

'There is an increasing number of buying opportunities in gateway markets such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo,' said Mr Stinson.

'Six months ago, it wasn't about whether you wanted to buy property, but whether you were lucky enough to win the race.'

Interest in Singapore properties remains high, however, especially in the logistics and industrial market. This sector still offers a 'decent return' as growth has not been as rapid as in other sectors, said Mr Poh.

Commercial assets in Singapore are also in demand to some extent, but the residential sector is likely to turn in a weak performance in the investment market this year, DTZ said in its report.

'Given the cautious economic outlook, investor focus for the rest of the year would be on occupier fundamentals in the commercial and industrial sectors,' it added.

These fundamentals include, for example, the quality of the buildings and their tenants.

While repricing is not an apparent risk in Singapore's property market, the Asia-Pacific region is facing an average repricing of 25 to 100 basis points, or 0.25 per cent to 1 per cent, Mr Stinson said.

The markets that will be the worst hit include Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Subsale Property Gains Top Out At $4.2m

Source : The Business Times, August 26, 2008

But Cosmopolitan penthouse seller nurses $463,400 loss

The biggest profit in absolute dollar terms from a subsale deal in the first seven months of this year was $4.2 million, reaped for a 22nd-floor unit at The Grange.

It was offloaded in the subsale market in April for $11 million, compared with a $6.8 million purchase price in September 2005 paid to the developer.

In fact, on an average basis too, The Grange has seen the most profitable subsale deals this year, with the 13 units sold in the project between Jan 1 and July 31 generating an average profit of slightly over $2 million per unit.

In percentage terms, the average subsale gain at The Grange worked out to 52 per cent, according to Savills Singapore, which analysed caveats for subsale transactions from Jan 1 to July 31 captured by the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Realis system as at Aug 19.

The biggest subsale loss was $463,400 for a penthouse unit at The Cosmopolitan at Kim Seng Road. It was sold in April for about $2.3 million, against the $2.8 million purchase price paid in July last year.

Other projects with sub sale losses included two units at Soleil @ Sinaran, four at City Square Residences, three at Citylights and one each at One St Michael's, Park Infinia at Wee Nam and Marina Bay Residences.

Percentage-wise, some of the biggest subsale profits were recorded for The Sail @ Marina Bay. The seller of a unit on the 49th floor reaped a 178 per cent return when he disposed of it in May for $1.43 million, compared with the $510,400 he paid to buy the apartment from the developer in late 2004.

Owners of 14 other units at The Sail also doubled their money or more, when they sold their properties in the subsale market this year. However, there was also a unit in the development that chalked up a $63,000 subsale loss.

Among prime district projects, profitable sub- sales included a 17th floor unit at St Regis Residences, which yielded a handsome $2.78 million return for its seller in June, after a two- year holding period. A sub- sale deal at The Orchard Residences also generated a $1.44 million profit.

Over in the waterfront housing district of Sentosa Cove, four subsales of The Azure condo resulted in gains of at least $1 million per unit. One unit, in fact, generated a $3 million profit for a two-year-plus holding period.

However, the owner of another unit in the 99-year leasehold condo incurred a $106,000 loss when he sold his unit in the subsale market in April for about $3.4 million after a 10- month holding period.

Analysts note that, given the current weaker market sentiment, profits from subsales can be expected to shrink in the days ahead, or there may be even more loss cases, particularly for those who bought at the peak of the market in the first half of last year.

Savills Singapore director of marketing and business development Ku Swee Yong suggests that there is no reason for panic selling if investors consider that interest rates are still very low.

'So owners who have not lost their jobs can still afford to hold on to their mortgages,' he said.

Also demand for rental properties should increase by early 2009 as the Marina Bay Sands resort boosts its employment drive ahead of its planned opening late next year.

A seasoned developer highlighted the fact that subsale transactions, whether at a gain or loss, are still taking place, is a good thing.

'There's diversity of different sellers, with varying financial strengths and abilities to hold, and similarly, there's a diversity of buyers. There's still liquidity out there. That's a good thing.

'If we didn't have this diversity of behaviour and ability to buy, sell or hold, we'd have a very uni-dimensional and monolithic market.

'That wouldn't be a good thing because, then, you may have everybody wanting to sell at the same time (and nobody wanting to buy). Then the market would grind to a halt,' he said.

Property Subsales - Who Wins And Who Loses

Source : The Business Times, August 26, 2008

For those who sold in the first seven months of this year, close to 97% came out ahead

Sentiment in the Singapore property market is now far from bullish, but data shows that nearly 97 per cent of those who have sold private apartments and condos in the subsale market in the first seven months of this year have made profits.

Only 3 per cent incurred losses, an analysis of caveats by Savills Singapore shows.

For those who turned a profit, the average gain per unit came to $417,563 or 36.5 per cent. Generally, the longer the holding period, the bigger the gain.

Subsale deals are seen as a proxy for the level of speculative activity in the market. On average, those who had bought their units in 2004 and sold them in the subsale market this year made the biggest gain, averaging nearly $692,000, or an 84 per cent profit. They are followed by those who had picked up units in 2005, who recorded an average gain of about $645,200 or 62 per cent from selling their homes in the subsale market this year.

In absolute dollar terms, the smallest average gain of around $175,600 was by those who bought their units this year, reflecting a holding period of just a few months.

The profit or loss in the calculation is the difference between sale and purchase prices and does not take into account stamp duty and other expenses.

'The fact is that longer holding periods allow for larger gains, shorter holding periods for smaller gains. This is consistent with the fact that real estate is a long-term investment. Investors with short exit time frames should look for alternative instruments,' said Savills Singapore's director of marketing and business development Ku Swee Yong.

Savills' analysis was based on 1,040 caveats for subsale transactions from Jan 1 to July 31 this year captured by Urban Redevelopment Authority's Realis system as at Aug 19. Of these, 821 had previous caveat records dating back to 2003 and Savills compared the latest subsale price of each unit with the earlier price paid by the seller to work out the profit or loss.

Citylights, Varsity Park Condo and The Sail @ Marina Bay had the most subsales in the first seven months of this year - 63, 47 and 45 respectively. The Sea View and City Square Residences had 30-plus subsales each. Park Infinia at Wee Nam, The Calrose, Icon and The Raintree each had 20-odd subsales.

Subsales, often seen as a gauge of speculative activity, refer to secondary market deals in projects that have yet to receive their Certificates of Statutory Completion. This may be anywhere from three to 12 months after the project receives its Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP).

Market watchers note that many of the projects topping the subsale chart this year had either received TOP or are close to receiving TOP. Some of the units that changed hands in the subsale market could have been purchased on deferred payment schemes from developers in the past. Typically, such schemes run out when the projects get their TOP and that is when buyers have to pay the chunk of the purchase price to developers.

The deferred payment scheme was scrapped in October last year to discourage speculative buying.

Of the 25 loss cases for subsale deals done this year, sellers of about half the units had themselves bought theirs in the subsale market, while the other half had made direct purchases from developers. For instance, the four units sold in the subsale market at a loss this year at City Square Residences had all been picked up in the subsale market last year.Looking ahead, Savills' Mr Ku expects subsales to maintain at current levels, that is, about 150 units a month. Those who want to sell now will have to expect lower profits, he said.

'Whether in good or bad times, there will still be subsale losses from people being forced to make untimely sales due to corporate liquidation, bankruptcy, divorce,' Mr Ku added.

In cases where investors are sitting on potential losses, Jones Lang LaSalle Singapore's head of residential, Jacqueline Wong, said: 'My advice to my clients, who are usually foreigners, have bought in prime districts and are well off, would be, 'If you can, hang on. It will be just a temporary paper loss. Singapore has a lot of things going for it in the mid term'.'

Another seasoned property consultant said: 'A lot will depend on your entry price vis-a-vis other owners, especially in a big development. If a lot of them bought at say $1,000 psf from the developer and you got your unit later for $1,800 psf in the subsale market from an earlier buyer, you're in a disadvantageous position. If the market dives, the earlier buyers could offload their units at much lower prices than your cost price.

'On the other hand, everybody may be in the same boat. Say, if you've bought into a small project of 30 units and everyone's bought at about the same price, and if there's not much competition from surrounding projects, chances of prices going down substantially may be lower because everyone's locked in at the same threshold.'

如何挑一张 不会让自己后悔的地毯?

Source : 《联合早报》August 23, 2008

近年,许多人都喜欢在家中摆地毯,为家居营造一种暖暖的cosy feel。问题是,市面上地毯那么多,地毯大小不同,颜色千变,图形更让人眼花缭乱。












一般来说,不大/长于2.7m的沙发,建议使用1.7m X 2.4m的地毯;如果是更大的家具,一张2m X 3m的地毯已绰绰有余。



你也可在一些比较小的空间摆地毯,例如睡床的前头或旁边,可使用比较小型(90cm x 160cm)的地毯。



































大巴窑私人组屋发展地段 成价比文庆宏茂桥碧山低

Source : 《联合早报》August 23, 2008