Thursday, January 1, 2009

Tenants Leaving With Debt Unsettled

Source : The Straits Times, Jan 1, 2009

Crisis takes its toll on rental market

THE economic crisis is posing a new problem for landlords: tenants who break leases or even skip town without notice, leaving debts in their wake.

Property agencies told The Straits Times that increasing numbers of tenants, mostly foreign, are cutting short their leases on anything from high-end luxury apartments to Housing Board flats.

Advice on how to break leases is also making the rounds on some online expatriate forums such as, as the financial crisis takes its toll on a previously booming rental market and expats get sent back home.

The discussions on these sites range from how to renegotiate with landlords to how to find replacement tenants and even how to make a run for it.

C&H Realty managing director Albert Lu put the number of cases at about 5 to 10 per cent out of 100 rental agreements in the last few months of 2008 - compared with 'a rare few' in 2007.

ERA Asia Pacific associate director Eugene Lim said that while there were no tenants breaking leases in 2007, the firm has seen 10 corporate tenants struggle with their rent recently.

These companies, which often lease high-end apartments in prime districts 9, 10 and 11, have had to look for replacement tenants and make up the difference in rents after cutting staff numbers.

Rents themselves have also started to fall. While the official index dipped just 0.9 per cent in the third quarter following an increase of 2.5 per cent in the April-July period, agents say rents have fallen as much as 20 per cent in some areas.

PropNex agent Michael Tan, 37, who specialises in leasing prime district apartments, cited units at Cosmopolitan in River Valley. They used to go for $8,500 for a 1,300 sq ft three-bedroom home but levels have dropped about 24 per cent to $6,500 per month.

Cost-cutting measures and retrenchments mean there are fewer expats renting pricey flats, said Mr Tan.

Although agents are seeing the effects of the crisis more severely in the high-end rental market, even HDB landlords have not been spared.

Dennis Wee property agent Sally Tan told The Straits Times that two Indian nationals had skipped town without paying the last month's rent. This was six months after they signed a one-year contract to rent a three-room flat in Yishun for $1,800.

Ms Tan said the two tenants, who were working in a foreign bank's IT department, told her by SMS that they were leaving for good and left the key in the flat's letterbox.

When she rushed to the flat, all their belongings were gone and a day later, their telephone lines were terminated.

'It poses a lot of problems for agents and landlords. We also can't get the same level of rent,' she said. The same flat is now being rented for $1,600 a month.

The director of Dennis Wee Properties, Mr Chris Koh, said landlords of such tenants have little recourse as tracing them in their home country would be too costly.

Landlords can cut their losses by keeping the deposit paid by the tenant and finding a replacement as soon as possible.

If the tenant can be located, landlords can take legal action at the Small Claims Tribunal, said Mr Koh.

Breaking lease agreements does not always have to be nasty, however, said HSR Property Group executive director Eric Cheng.

Most rental contracts with foreigners have a 'diplomatic clause' which states that tenants can break the lease after a year if they have a valid reason, such as returning to their home country.

'Tenants in this case should give their landlords two months' notice so a replacement can be found,' said Mr Cheng. Even if one year is not up, tenants can still negotiate with landlords so a mutually beneficial arrangement can be sorted out, he added.

Meanwhile, agency bosses expect the situation to get worse in the next six months to a year as firms continue to cut costs and retrench staff.

The recent flood of units onto the rental market from en bloc projects where developers have postponed redevelopment, such as Fairways in Telok Blangah or Grangeford at Leonie Hill, could also contribute to the softening of the rental scene, they added.

As ERA's Mr Lim put it: 'I would say we're only seeing the beginning.'


While the official index dipped just 0.9 per cent in the third quarter following an increase of 2.5 per cent in the April-July period, agents say rents have fallen as much as 20 per cent in some areas.

Two tenants skipped town without paying the last month's rent, said property agent Sally Tan. This was six months after they signed a one-year contract to rent a three-room flat in Yishun for $1,800. The tenants, Indian nationals who were working in a foreign bank's IT department, told her by SMS that they were leaving for good and left the key in the flat's letterbox.

Developer Wins Right To Newton land

Source : The Straits Times, Dec 31, 2008

Judge gives his ruling based on concept of 'adverse possession', abolished 14 years ago

AN AGE-OLD legal concept which was abolished 14 years ago has crept its way back to influence a court case involving a multi-million dollar dispute over a plot of land in Newton.

Before 1994, in a legal concept known as 'adverse possession', a party which had used a plot of land for over 12 years without the owner's permission could lay claim to the land.

But the Land Titles Act, which came into effect in 1994, was enacted to remove such claims unless the plot of land was held for a continuous 12 years before then.

The current court dispute centres on a 234 sq m strip of sloped land on the fringe of Buckley Mansions. The plot is said to be worth at least $2 million.

Property developers City Developments (CDL), which bought over Buckley Mansions in September 1999, wanted to re-develop the estate and the land around it.

But CDL then learnt that the plot was not part of the property they had bought over.

Their initial checks showed that the late Mr Syed Allowee Ally Aljunied was the last known owner but a study they commissioned also showed four others had bought an interest in the property.

The company applied to the High Court to declare that the plot belonged to them and advertised in the press for any claimants to come forward.

Two people, businessman Harun Aljunied and housewife Sharifah Fatimah Aljunied, declared their interests, claiming they were trustees of the land which belonged to the late Mr Syed Allowee.

A third person, Mr Syed Noah Aljunied, also came forward, as the great-grandson of Mr Syed Allowee, to stake his claim on the land.

However, CDL's lawyers, Mr Kenneth Pereira and Mr Rajaram Muralli Rajan, argued that their clients could still benefit from the old legal concept of 'adverse possession'.

They said that CDL had bought Buckley Mansions from Kerr Leong Heng, a firm which had developed the site and had fenced in the disputed strip as part of the private estate for more than 12 years before 1994 when the change in law was made.

The lawyers also argued that the claimants were neither direct descendants of Mr Syed Allowee nor had any links with his estate.

This plot of land in Newton had apparently belonged to the Aljunied family since the 1900s.

Justice Tay Yong Kwang noted that a long-standing neighbour Lee Jit Seam had testified that since 1971, there had been a fence enclosing the plot as if it was part of the property.

The judge said that in any case, the personal representatives of the rightful owners which historical records show were four persons to whom the plot was sold, never came forward to stake their claim.

Justice Tay said that any claims by the rightful owners did not matter as CDL had a right to the land as a result of 'adverse possession'.

Lawyers The Straits Times spoke to said the argument of 'adverse possession' had not been raised in such disputes for a long time since the law was changed 14 years ago.

Mr Harun and Madam Sharifah Fatimah, who were defended by lawyers Leslie Netto and Bevin Netto, are appealing against Justice Tay's decision.

Time To Lower Home Prices

Source : The Straits Times, Dec 31, 2008

Property developers should consider this step to lure back buyers

WHEN a property boom here ends, the first casualty is usually home supply.

Sure enough, the Government put a stop to new land sales early this month, as it did in the last two downturns, making it as good an indicator as any that a property slump had arrived.

Developers have also been cutting supply throughout the year, pushing back en bloc redevelopments and putting some launches on hold indefinitely.

But though reducing supply is necessary to prevent the market from collapsing, it is clearly inadequate as a cure at this point. No land plots have changed hands for months, new launches have slowed to a trickle - and yet buyers are still not biting. Property ads have dried up and showflats are starting to resemble ghost towns.

When sales came to a standstill this year, developers blamed the financial crisis and government policy actions, such as the removal of the deferred payment scheme. But house hunters pointed to just one reason: Home prices are still too high.

The economy has shrunk for the first time since 2001, mass retrenchments are on the cards, and monthly sales of new homes have plummeted so much that experts warn total sales this year could reach an 18-year low. Yet private home prices - at least according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) price index - have not dropped by much.

In the third quarter, the URA's price data registered a fall of 2.3 per cent from the second quarter, after rising about 4 per cent in the first half of the year. This means prices in September were still higher than in January.

Anecdotally, analysts estimate that prices in the fourth quarter fell by up to 20 per cent in some developments. But prices jumped so much in the recent upturn - 31 per cent last year alone - that even if the URA's index does log an unlikely 20 per cent drop this quarter, prices at year-end would still be higher than at the start of last year, and far above the pre-boom levels in 2005.

Not all developers can cut prices for their projects without incurring big losses, especially those who bought plots at the peak of the boom last year. But developers who were canny enough to pick up land at the trough of the market have plenty of room to manoeuvre.

One example is CapitaLand's Latitude condominium at Jalan Mutiara. The developer bought the site for about $500 per sq ft (psf) in 2005 and sold units up to last month at $2,400 to $2,500 psf.

But down the road, Mutiara View is going for under $1,200 psf, while across the street, the new boutique condo RV Suites has been sold for $1,300 to $1,400 psf. According to agents, CapitaLand has quietly lowered prices recently to $2,000 to $2,100 psf.

Hong Leong's Aalto along Meyer Road is another example. The site was bought for about $410 psf in 2005, but units were sold for well over $2,000 psf last year and this year. No new units have been sold since May, according to URA data.

To be sure, there are valid reasons for developers not to cut prices.

For one thing, selling homes at lower prices could result in a fall in the valuations of their properties, which could in turn hurt their balance sheets and make it more difficult for them to raise funds in an already tight credit market. And some argue that slashing prices could also set off a price war.

But there are also compelling reasons to start lowering prices. Key among them is that the see-who-blinks-first game is clearly turning in favour of buyers. Prices are already falling, pushed down by smaller developers squeezed for cash and individual home sellers anxious to offload their units.

A boutique condominium in the Novena area reportedly gave significant discounts - from over $1,300 psf down to just under $1,000 psf - after the financial crisis hit hard in October. At soon-to-be-completed developments such as City Square Residences in Kitchener Road, prices have fallen from a high of over $1,000 psf last year to less than $800 psf for some units in recent months.

Developers have said for months that they will maintain prices and ride out the storm. But the situation is set to worsen sharply for sellers as the economy contracts sharply. Even developers who can hold out are likely to find their property valuations hit anyway as prices come down throughout the market.

Lowering prices will bring buyers back into the market. Many have been waiting on the sidelines since early last year, when prices starting shooting up beyond their means.

Evania, a 35-unit condo in Upper Paya Lebar, moved 15 units last month after dropping prices from nearly $900 psf in March to just above $600 psf.

More positive news like this is exactly what is needed to restore sentiment in the market.

As for the threat of price wars, there is little basis in the argument. Prices are going to fall in any case, with or without a price war. The suggestion here is not for steep price cuts, just 'realistic' prices that will tempt buyers back into the market.

City Developments took some flak from its rivals after it priced its mass market condo Livia in Pasir Ris at an attractive $650 psf on average. But the launch was a huge success - and it has not caused a downward spiral.

Industry players have suggested that the Government step in with demand-boosting measures such as waiving, discounting or deferring stamp duty; resurrecting a fine-tuned version of the deferred payment scheme; and tweaking CPF rules to allow buyers more financing leeway.

Developers themselves have already started absorbing stamp duty and interest for selected projects, and rolled out gimmicks such as renovation allowances and vouchers for electrical appliances.

These measures might help make the buying environment more conducive, but nothing would speak more persuasively to potential buyers than a discount.

In a year when everything is going to go on sale, property developers should consider joining the crowd.

Prime Rents On Orchard Rd Dip 1.9%

Source : The Straits Times, Jan 1, 2009

First slide in 5 years; rents may shrink 5% to 10% more in first half-year: CBRE

PRIME shop rents on Orchard Road have fallen for the first time in five years as consumers tighten their belts and additional supply in the form of new malls starts flooding the market.

Rents could shrink a further 5 to 10 per cent in the first half of this year, said CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) yesterday.

A report by the real estate services firm said monthly prime rents on Orchard Road for the fourth quarter of last year were down 1.9 per cent from the quarter before.

At an average of $36.10 per sq ft, this marks 'the first time that prime Orchard Road rents headed south since the fourth quarter of 2003', said the report.

Compared with the fourth quarter of 2007, rents contracted 0.8 per cent - a stark reversal of the 5.4 per cent growth seen from 2006 to 2007, the report added.

Prime suburban rents for the fourth quarter also slipped for the first time since the second quarter of 1999.

They fell 1 per cent from the third quarter to average $29 per sq ft, and could fall a further 2 to 3 per cent in the first half of this year, said CBRE.

The firm said although retail rents 'were resilient' in previous economic downturns, they are falling this time around because of an influx of supply.

About 6.36 million sq ft of new mall space will emerge by 2012, said CBRE, with 20 to 30 per cent along the Orchard Road belt.

The famed shopping strip will see its first new malls in 10 years with Ion Orchard, 313@Somerset and Orchard Central - and all are due to open this year.

About another 20 per cent of the new space will come from the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort.

Stores that opened in the fourth quarter last year included a 8,000 sq ft Nike Store in Wisma Atria, a 3,200 sq ft Sephora store in Ngee Ann City and a 16,146 sq ft National Geographic store in VivoCity.

NTUC FairPrice opened its third hypermart in Jurong Point's new extension last month, while furniture store Ikea has undergone a $25 million refurbishment to expand its premises by about 40 per cent.

Ms Letty Lee, director of retail services at CBRE, said: 'There is keen leasing interest, especially for unconventional suburban malls like Jurong Point and Ang Mo Kio Hub, because they are in the heartlands and have a ready catchment area.

'But going forward, the increase in supply means the demand for the space will be relatively weaker.'

Although property analysts at CBRE and Knight Frank project a 5 to 15 per cent decline in prime Orchard Road rents this year, Singapore Retail Association (SRA) president Jannie Tay is tipping a 30 to 50 per cent drop.

Dr Tay, an outspoken opponent of rising retail rents, said: 'Rents have risen as much as 80 per cent in the last three years, while business has fallen from 30 to 50 per cent (in the recent downturn).

'Expectations of good times, integrated resorts and high tourism levels are gone. Retailers are negotiating directly with the landlords. At the moment, they need help to stay afloat and to survive.'

Mr Nicholas Mak, director of research and consultancy at Knight Frank, said: 'Fifty per cent is very drastic, and 30 per cent may be the limit.

'Given the economic situation, you can have individual examples of such a drop. It is possible.'

Still, on average, Knight Frank estimates prime retail rents on Orchard Road and at suburban malls will slip 5 to 15 per cent this year.

Ms Sulian Tan-Wijaya, senior director of retail and lifestyle at Savills Singapore, said: 'I'm generally in agreement with CBRE's estimates. But the question mark is how many tenants are going to renew their leases.

'They could drop out, either due to the recession or if they fail to reach agreements with landlords. It's easier to make projections once those figures are known.'

CBRE said: 'Downward pressure on rents is unavoidable. We expect re-negotiations to commence in 2009, after the Chinese New Year festivities.'

For Sale: 1,181 New HDB Flats Of All Sizes

Source : The Straits Times, Dec 31, 2008

Flats in Choa Chu Kang, Punggol will be offered under built-to-order plan

THE Housing Board is bringing down the curtains on a busy year with one more sales exercise - this time for 1,181 flats in Choa Chu Kang and Punggol.

It is offering everything from studio apartments to five-room flats, with prices ranging from $58,000 to $428,000.

The flats are being offered under the build-to-order scheme where construction begins once a certain number of sales has been achieved.

A total of 7,793 flats has now been offered under the scheme this year, with demand generally robust despite flat sales in the broader property market.

One of the latest projects is Sunshine Court on Choa Chu Kang Avenue 3, opposite the Sunshine Place neighbourhood centre, which houses a supermarket, foodcourt and shops.

It offers standard flats of 164 studios, 117 three-room and 171 four-room units, costing between $58,000 and $236,000 each.

This is the first time 30-year lease studio apartments - meant for Singaporeans over 55 - have been offered for sale in Choa Chu Kang, said the HDB.

The studios will have elderly-friendly features such as grab bars and non-slip flooring, as well as built-in wardrobes, kitchen cabinets and cooking facilities.

PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail said the flats are attractively priced at less than $250 per sq ft, for three-roomers of roughly 700 sq ft, and 970 sq ft four-room homes.

Prices provided by HDB indicate that the flats are $60,000 to $80,000 cheaper than comparable resale flats in the area.

The second project - Punggol Regalia - is at the junction of Punggol Field and Punggol Place and near the future Punggol Town Centre.

It offers premium flats with 546 four-room and 183 five-room units, priced from $252,000 to $428,000 each.

They are around $33,000 to $86,000 cheaper than similar resale flats nearby of about six years old, said the HDB.

It added that the prices mean the average household would not need to fork out more than 25 per cent of their monthly income to service their loans.

Mr Ismail anticipates strong demand for three- and four-roomers at Choa Chu Kang, as the project is in a mature estate.

At the HDB's last sales launch - Dew Spring @ Yishun - earlier this month, such flats proved very popular, attracting many more applicants than the number of available units.

So far, 487 applications have been lodged for the project's 216 three-room units and 1,452 for the 504 four-room flats; only 152 bids have been received for the 144 two-room flats.

Smaller flats are now making a comeback, as the HDB is providing a steady supply of such homes for lower-income families and those homeowners who need to downgrade during the economic slowdown.

The HDB has said it will ramp up supply to around 4,000 units over the next two years to meet surging demand.

It will also continue to build up critical mass of new homes in Punggol.

Applications can be made on the HDB website until Jan 12.

Punggol, Choa Chu Kang BTO Projects Launched

Source : The Business Times, December 31, 2008

THE Housing & Development Board (HDB) yesterday launched two new housing projects - one in Choa Chu Kang and the other in Punggol - under the build-to-order (BTO) system.

Good location: Punggol Regalia, which comprises 546 four-room and 183 five-room flats, is located near the future Punggol Town Centre

A total of 1,181 studio, three-room, four-room and five-room apartments are on offer.

With these two new projects, HDB has launched some 7,793 units under the BTO system in 2008, in towns such as Punggol, Choa Chu Kang, Sengkang, Yishun, Woodlands and Bukit Panjang.

Sunshine Court, located along Choa Chu Kang Avenue 3, comprises 164 studio apartments, 117 three-roomers and 171 four-room flats. This is the first time that studio apartments are being offered for sale in Choa Chu Kang and they will come equipped with elderly-friendly features such as grab bars and non-slip flooring.

The studios will sell for between $58,000 and $80,000. Three-room flats in Sunshine Court are priced at $121,000-$148,000, while four-room flats are going for $202,000-$236,000.

The other development, Punggol Regalia, comprises 546 four-room and 183 five-room flats. The four-room apartments are going for $252,000-$316,000, while the five-room units will be sold for $342,000-$428,000.

HDB reiterated that new flats are priced below their equivalent market prices to ensure that public housing is affordable for first-time home buyers.

For example, comparable four-room resale flats in Choa Chu Kang cost $260,000-$300,000 - although they are slightly bigger - according to data provided by HDB.

Analysts said that the Choa Chu Kang property is expected to see more demand.

'I think the take-up rate will be very good,' said Jack Chua, president of property firm ERA Realty. 'The units are small, which makes them more affordable. In today's market, most people are looking for smaller units.'

This is the first BTO project in Choa Chu Kang, a mature estate, which should boost its popularity, he said.

And as for Punggol Regalia, analysts said that the good location should encourage take-up. The project is located near the future Punggol Town Centre.

Jurong To Get More Business Space

Source : The Straits Times, Dec 30, 2008

Expansion of business park will position Singapore for recovery

THE economic outlook is all gloom but the Government is already positioning Singapore for the next upturn by unveiling plans to beef up the supply of business park space in Jurong.

Its ambitious move comes even as demand in the property sector has fallen dramatically in recent months while office rents have dipped.

Industrial landlord JTC Corporation said yesterday it will develop 5ha south of the existing International Business Park. This will yield 125,000 sq m, or about 1.35 million sq ft, of rentable space.

The development will help JTC 'secure investments and anchor key companies' in an effort to better place the economy for the next upturn, it said.

Site surveys will start next month and infrastructure work, including improvements to the park's road networks, will begin in March. Two new road linkages to the Ayer Rajah Expressway and Pan-Island Expressway will be created.

Companies can lease space in the business park from 2011, said JTC.

Market watchers told The Straits Times that the Government is stimulating economic activity with the development while also seeking to avoid the kind of office space crunch that has hit businesses in recent years.

The economic boom that preceded the financial crisis saw prime office rents double to almost $19 per sq ft last year. This sparked a scramble to build more office space, including government moves to release transitional office sites to relieve pent-up demand.

While this has now led to concerns that Singapore could face an office space glut over the next two years, some analysts feel that early preparation of sites enables the market to respond faster when the economy does pick up.

Colliers International's research and advisory director, Ms Tay Huey Ying, said she did not think there would be a glut, and that this 'will help in ensuring a U-shape recovery instead of a V-shape one when the global economy recovers'.

CIMB-GK economist Song Seng Wun said government investment in public infrastructure like Jurong Island or Changi Airport during downturns has traditionally 'worked well for Singapore'.

Even though the impact on economic output 'will not be massive', such work will benefit local firms, added Mr Song.

The International Business Park - 21 land parcels of about 25ha - is Singapore's first such park. Established in 1992, it has drawn renowned tech firms such as Dell and Acer to set up shop.

JTC said a review of the park's masterplan was timely as the Urban Redevelopment Authority had recently announced a dramatic makeover for Jurong in its 2008 Masterplan.

The industrial town is to be redeveloped into Jurong Lake District - a 360ha mini metropolis of homes, hotels, shops, eateries and offices linked to the MRT via walkways and waterways.

It will consist of Jurong Gateway, the up-and-coming commercial hub of the West, and Lakeside, which is being developed as a destination for young families, with tourist attractions and parks complemented by water activities.

JTC said 'there is potential' for synergy between the expanded business park and the rejuvenated Jurong Gateway.

Collier's Ms Tay agreed that more business park space will add critical mass and 'aid in the realisation of the Government's vision for the Jurong Lake District'.

To complement the commercial developments, the surrounding housing estates will be rejuvenated by various statutory boards. This will mean upgrades to Teban and Pandan Gardens and the Faber Terrace areas in the next few years.

Singapore Economic Outlook Grim For 2009: PM Lee

Source : AsiaOne News, Thu, Jan 01, 2009

Singapore's economy is likely to worsen next year after growing just 1.5 percent in 2008, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Wednesday, urging Singaporeans to "prepare for a difficult year ahead."

"Our economy will probably contract further. More companies will be forced to downsize. So far we have not seen many job losses, but I expect more retrenchments in the next few months. We must be psychologically prepared," Lee said in his New Year's Day message to the nation.

More job losses are expected in the next few months as companies are forced to shed employees, Lee said.

"As a small, open economy, Singapore cannot avoid being hit. We earn our living by trading with and servicing the world. So the fall in worldwide demand has hit our exports, our tourism sector, and our broader economy," he said.

"We must therefore prepare for a difficult year ahead, and especially the first half of 2009.

Singapore's key markets such as the United States, Japan and Europe have fallen into recession after a crisis in the US housing market spread to the financial sector and the larger economy.

The city-state, one of Asia's wealthiest economies, went into a recession this year, although full-year growth came in at 1.5 percent, well below the official forecast of 2.5 percent and the 7.5 percent expansion in 2007.

"The outlook is highly uncertain. At each stage of this crisis, events have turned out worse than the experts predicted," Lee said.

While governments have been implementing monetary and fiscal measures and rescuing troubled financial institutions and key corporations, "no one is sure how the financial systems and economies will respond, or which policies will work," he said.

This has led to a loss of business and consumer confidence, he said, warning against expectations of a quick recovery.

"Quite likely the global recession will be followed not by a quick rebound, but by several more years of slow growth," he said.

Next year's national budget, which has been brought forward to January, will focus on helping Singapore firms so that workers can keep their jobs, the premier said.

"We will introduce measures to help them (companies) with their business costs, including rental and wage bills. We are also studying further financing support for companies," he said.

The government will do its best to help workers keep their jobs and retrain those who have been laid off, he said, adding this will be done by helping businesses through the crisis. - AFP

分析师:私宅办公楼售价和租金 明年至少再退低一两成

Source : 《联合早报》December 31, 2008



由于银行收紧贷款的情况料在短期内不会改善,加上本地经济持续恶化,失业人数料将增加,莱坊(Knight Frank)研究部主管麦俊荣预计,私宅、办公楼或工业厂房等的售价和租金将继续下跌10%至15%,而零售商店的租金也会下降10%至15%。



戴德梁行(DTZ)也预测,私宅价格在明年将进一步下滑15%至20%。华侨银行投资研究(OCBC Investment Research)则认为,在未售出的库存增加,以及一些在延迟付款计划下无法偿还剩余款项的人需贱卖脱售下,高档私宅可能在明年下跌15%至20%,中档私宅预计下跌5%至10%,大众化私宅则有组屋提升者支撑,预计将大致持平。




今年售出新私宅 数目18年来最低






争取到不错销售成绩的莉雅苑(Livia)、Clover by the Park、Concourse Skyline和达高轩(Dakota Residences)等都是以较低的平均尺价售出。除Concourse Skyline以外,这些项目的尺价都在1000元以下。





不单是新私宅受冲击,转售市场也遭池鱼之殃。去年“炒气”最旺的滨海舫(The Sail @ Marina),面向滨海湾的高楼海景单位成交价今年初曾突破每平方英尺3000元,但目前价格已滑落至1300元到1900元。


新私宅展示厅 周日不见一个人影







Orchard Rd Rents Fall 1.9% In Q4: CBRE

Source : The Business Times, January 1, 2009

This is the first time these rents have headed south since Q4 2003

PRIME Orchard Road rents fell 1.9 per cent quarter-on-quarter to an average of $36.10 per sq ft per month (psf pm) in Q4 2008, property firm CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) said yesterday.

It is the first time these rents have headed south since Q4 2003, it said. They also contracted 0.8 per cent year-on-year, reversing their 5.4 per cent growth in Q4 2007.

Prime suburban rents dipped a more moderate one per cent quarter-on-quarter to an average of $29 psf pm in Q4 2008. The last time quarterly suburban mall rents contracted was Q2 1999. For the whole of 2008, they grew one per cent.

'Retail rents were resilient in previous economic downturns (such as Sars, and the Asian Financial Crisis) due to limited supply then,' CBRE said in a report released yesterday.

'But going forward, weak demand is likely to coincide with an increase in supply. As such, downward pressure on rents is unavoidable. We expect renegotiations to commence in 2009, after the Chinese New Year festivities.'

The main danger to rents, analysts say, is the new supply of retail space set to kick in over the next two years. According to CBRE, known supply for 2009-2012 is 6.36 million sq ft, with most of this - 80.5 per cent or 5.13 million sq ft - completing in 2009 and 2010.

'Developers and landlords, especially those with developments along Orchard Road, face increasing competition from the imminent supply of new malls, shops within the integrated resorts as well as refurbished shopping centres,' CBRE noted.

Retailers are now more resistant to further rental increases, as local consumers, spooked by the prospects of unemployment and lower wages, have cut spending, it said. In addition, the economic recession has led to a drop in tourist arrivals.

In the light of this, CBRE reckons that prime Orchard Road rents could contract 5-10 per cent in the first half of 2009. At prime suburban malls a 2-3 per cent decline is likely, it said. Suburban rents will fall more moderately due to a ready population catchment, steady demand for basic necessities and comparatively less competition from new supply.

However, some resilient retailers could take the opportunity presented by lower rents and costs to expand their retail network, CBRE said.

'Certain trades will continue to thrive, despite the gloomy outlook. Supermarkets, hypermarts and F&B in suburban malls might emerge more hardy, particularly those with unique F&B themed eateries,' it said.

Property Transactions With Contract Dates Between Dec 15th- 20th, 2008

Slide In US House Prices Hits Record Pace

Source : The Business Times, January 1, 2009

Record 18% fall in October in key cities was sharper than forecast

(NEW YORK) Home prices in 20 major US cities declined at the fastest rate on record, depressed by mounting foreclosures and slumping sales.

Troubled times: The 20-city index is down 23 per cent from its 2006 peak; 14 of the 20 metropolitan areas showed record declines in the year ended in October

The S&P/Case-Shiller index declined 18 per cent in the 12 months to October, more than forecast, after dropping 17.4 per cent in the year through September. The gauge has fallen every month since January 2007. Year-on-year records began in 2001.

The financial market meltdown that has reverberated around the globe has prompted banks to curb lending, signalling that the housing slump would persist for a fourth year in 2009. Falling property values have eroded household wealth, causing consumers to pare spending and deepening what is projected to be the longest recession in the post-war period.

'We're seeing a shift to a housing market that is driven by a poor economy rather than a housing market that's driven by oversupply,' said Guy Lebas, chief economist at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Philadelphia. 'The credit problems that hit in October exacerbated the speed of it.'

Economists forecast that the 20-city index would fall 17.9 per cent from a year earlier, according to the median of 21 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Projections ranged from declines of 17 per cent to 18.4 per cent.

Compared with a year earlier, all areas in the 20-city survey showed a decrease in prices in October, led by a 33 per cent drop in Phoenix, a 32 per cent decline in Las Vegas and a 31 per cent drop in San Francisco.

Dallas posted the smallest 12-month decline, at 3 per cent, followed by a 4.4 per cent drop for Charlotte and a 5.2 per cent fall in Denver. New York City posted a 7.5 per cent drop.

'The bear market continues,' David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P, said in a statement. The declines in Atlanta, Seattle and Portland surpassed 10 per cent for the first time, he said.

Robert Shiller, chief economist at MacroMarkets LLC and a professor at Yale University, and Karl Case, an economics professor at Wellesley College, created the home-price index based on research from the 1980s.

The 20-city index is down 23 per cent from its 2006 peak. Fourteen of the 20 metropolitan areas showed record declines in the year ended in October.

Home prices decreased 2.2 per cent in October from the prior month after declining 1.8 per cent in September, the report showed. The figures aren't adjusted for seasonal effects so economists prefer to focus on year-over-year changes instead of month-to-month.

Six cities, including Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, Minneapolis, Tampa and Washington, had the largest one- month drop on record.

Other housing reports this month have shown property values are deteriorating even faster as foreclosures climb. Home resales, which account for about 90 per cent of the market, dropped in November and median-home prices fell 13 per cent from a year earlier, the most since records began in 1968, the National Association of Realtors said last week. Foreclosures and so-called short sales, or purchases at less than the value of the outstanding mortgage, accounted for 45 per cent of last month's home purchases, the agents' group also said.

Case, the co-founder of the pricing index, said on Tuesday that the high concentration of foreclosure sales in Florida, California, Nevada and Arizona led the drop in the overall price index.

'Auction sales are a big deal and they are concentrated, 54 per cent, in four states,' said Case in an interview with Bloomberg Television from Wellesley College, in Wellesley, Massachusetts. 'They are down a lot. They are driving the aggregate index down.'

The share of mortgages delinquent by 30 days or more and those already in foreclosure rose to all-time highs in the third quarter, the Mortgage Bankers Association said on Dec 5.

Declines in home construction have subtracted from economic growth since the first quarter of 2006. Weak housing construction is likely to remain a drag on the economy until sales and prices improve. -- Bloomberg

Financial Crisis Kills Ukraine Building Boom

Source : The Business Times, January 1, 2009

Outlook is bleak with high job losses, bankruptcies

(KIEV) Dozens of unfinished buildings dot the Kiev skyline, their abandoned hulks embodying the damage that the world's financial crisis has inflicted on Ukraine.

Grim future: The lives of many Ukrainians are in tatters after the currency went into freefall. Half of the housing and consumer credits are denominated in dollars and repayments are now much more expensive

Silent building sites point to the end of a golden era in which construction boomed, only to be replaced by bankruptcies, tens of thousands of job losses and crippling debt repayments for consumers in the former Soviet republic.

Ukraine has secured a US$16.4 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. But its outlook is bleak, with the president and prime minister constantly bickering, a gas row brewing with Russia and signs of public discontent growing.

'Ours is probably the most important, yet deprived, sector. It is, therefore, worst hit by the crisis,' said Oleksander Omelchenko, a member of parliament and former mayor of Kiev. 'Forty per cent of construction sites have virtually been put on hold. But the authorities just don't understand that halting projects ends up being more expensive than completing them.'

The construction sector has, like the vast steel industry, been sent reeling by the economic crisis.

It once provided 1.5 million jobs and drew vast numbers of workers into the prosperous, bustling capital from stagnant hinterlands. An end to affordable credits and a sharp drop in the value of the hryvnia currency has brought an abrupt end to that.

Construction companies say prospects are dire and call on the government to shoulder its share of the blame.

'The survivors will be not merely the strongest, but those with the instincts and experience to survive,' said Mykola Tolmachyov, co-owner of TMM, one of Ukraine's biggest companies. 'No one anticipated a crisis of this magnitude. To be honest, we have yet to feel all the consequences and authorities have not taken the steps that could make things easier.'

Shells of unfinished tower blocks with cranes standing idle, piles of unused bricks and paneless windows can be seen in suburbs on the eastern bank of the Dnieper River.

'They said our flat would be ready in the first quarter of 2007. For 11/2 years, I've been getting letters saying it is postponed,' Oleksander Nesteruk, 35, said while standing in the snow outside the unfinished structure. He has invested US$80,000.

Officials say that 80,000 construction workers have lost their jobs last year and expect a similar number in 2009. Tens of thousands of jobs will go in related sectors.

'By the end of 2009, we can expect a further 75,000 to 80,000 job losses,' said Vasyl Kuibida, Minister of Regional Development and Construction. 'And there will be a drop in housing construction projects of something like 40-50 percent.'

Alexander, 43, who came to Kiev from central Ukraine, is one of many workers milling about the railway station, an impromptu labour exchange where news of building jobs circulates.

'In summer there was still work to be had,' he said. 'Now it's just not realistic to even think about it.'

The economy shrank 14.4 per cent and industrial output fell nearly 30 per cent year-on-year last November as demand for steel exports dried up and thousands were sent on unpaid leave.

The hryvnia went into freefall. At one point last December, it stood at half its September value before regaining some ground.

That alone has left the lives of many Ukrainians in tatters.

Half of the housing and consumer credits are denominated in dollars and repayments are now much more expensive. One top official predicts that consumers will default on 60 per cent of bank loans, plunging the banking system into disarray.

Viktor, saddled with a US$100,000 mortgage, says that the new rate has 'created a dramatic situation for people like me'.

'A lot of people are ready to go into Independence Square and stage a revolution,' he says, referring to the mass 2004 'Orange Revolution' protests against election fraud. 'We don't want to do this. But there are people with one, two, three children.'

The construction sector has been hit harder than most. A 13 per cent drop was recorded over 11 months and active work is proceeding at 36 of 186 building sites in the capital.

Five thousand sites stand idle across the country of 46 million.

A proposal to issue one billion hryvnias in state-guaranteed mortgage bonds - to allow completion of 250,000 square metres of housing - was welcomed by the industry, though some officials said that it was tantamount to a 'drop in the bucket'.

But like other policy initiatives, it has been sidelined by months of bickering between President Viktor Yushchenko and his former ally, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

'If all decisions already agreed on are carried out in this fashion, there is little hope of emerging from the crisis,' said Oleksander Shlapak, the president's top economic adviser.

The government has approved details of credits to be authorised for construction projects, providing for loans to be financed jointly by contractors and banks.

Parliament has barred banks from raising mortgage interest rates and repossessing property. Further measures to kick-start the industry include a proposal to help buyers with down payments and to ease the tax burden for contractors.

Another proposal would have the central bank sell US$200 million to banks every year at a favourable exchange rate to help cover bad mortgages. Banks say the idea is a good one, though it would not cover all debt and could be open to abuse.

Contraction and regrouping in the industry look inevitable.

'Dozens of companies just don't know if they can carry on as they have been all but cut off from all forms of finance to enable them to complete their projects,' said Stanislav Dubko, head of Ukraine's credit rating agency.

Many officials say the real shot in the arm for the industry will come from Ukraine's biggest development project - the 2012 European soccer championship to be co-hosted with Poland.

That project, already plagued by rows over organisation and delays in stadium construction, calls for hotel construction and modernising of road, rail and air travel networks.

'Euro 2012 will be the chief means of influencing the construction sector,' said Mr Kuibida. 'It is clearly our government's priority to carry out its programme for the event.' - Reuters

England, Wales Home Prices Dip In Nov

Source : The Business Times, January 1, 2009

(LONDON) More bad news for Britain's ailing housing market came out on Tuesday, as government figures showed that house prices in England and Wales fell by 12.2 per cent in November compared to the same month a year ago - the biggest drop since the price survey began in 2000.

Average house prices also fell 1.9 per cent from the previous month, the Land Registry said in its house price survey.

The average home in England and Wales now costs £161,883 (S$337,500), down more than £20,000 compared to November 2007.

The Land Registry said that sales volumes have also fallen dramatically over the past year, with an average of 48,599 house sales going through each month in the June to September period - less than half the average monthly sales volume of 115,697 a year earlier. The registry said that it did not yet have sales volume figures for October and November.

Several recent forecasts suggest that UK house prices will decline even further through next year. Hometrack, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and Rightmove plc have all predicted that house prices in Britain would fall by around 10 per cent in 2009.

Two other leading British research groups - Nationwide and the Council of Mortgage Lenders - decided not to publish house price estimates for 2009 because of market volatility. -- AP