Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dubai's Property Sector To Get More State Aid

Source : The Business Times, February 17, 2009

Possible merger for troubled mortgage financiers Amlak Finance, Tamweel

(DUBAI) Dubai-based real estate and construction companies could get more help from the state, a member of a Dubai committee formed to tackle the fallout of the global financial crisis said yesterday.

Tough times: Dubai's real estate sector is facing a sharp price correction and hundreds of billions of dollars of construction projects have been cancelled in the United Arab Emirates as a result of the economic slowdown

'Everyone is facing challenging times,' Omar bin Sulaiman, who is also deputy chairman of the United Arab Emirates Central Bank, told Reuters on the sidelines of a legal conference.

'You have already seen some help and I am sure you will see some more,' he said, when asked if there was any consideration being given to offering financial support for Dubai's real estate sector.

Mr Omar, governor of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Authority, declined to be more specific.

Dubai's real estate sector is facing a sharp price correction and hundreds of billions of dollars of construction projects have been cancelled in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a result of the economic slowdown.

The UAE finance ministry and central bank have together launched 120 billion dirhams (S$49.6 billion) of funding facilities to help banks cope with the crisis.

The government, meanwhile, is looking at ways to help troubled Dubai mortgage financiers Amlak Finance and Tamweel, including a possible merger.

But concerns are mounting about whether Dubai will be able to refinance debts that it accumulated to finance expansion projects during a six-year economic boom spurred by high oil prices.

Abu Dhabi's move this month to inject 16 billion dirhams into five of its banks has also raised questions about whether Dubai could take similar steps to help its banks face growing loan defaults and investment write-downs.

The cost of insuring Dubai's debt with credit default swaps has gotten more expensive in past months as investors worry that the emirate could default on its debts.

Mr Omar said that Dubai has managed to meet its debt obligations in the past. 'Of course, of course,' he said, when asked if Dubai would be able to pay back its debts.

Dubai's mostly government-linked issuers will have to refinance about US$15 billion before year-end, compared with US$5 billion in the rest of the UAE and US$15-20 billion in the rest of the Gulf, Moody's Investors Service said last week.

The UAE government, meanwhile, said on Sunday that it was planning a federal law to regulate and manage the Gulf state's debt.

Dubai-linked companies have been restructuring their businesses, consolidating operations and announcing thousands of job cuts to help them contend with an economic slowdown.

Standard Chartered said yesterday that it expected the UAE economy would contract up to 1.5 per cent in the first half of the year before returning to growth.

Mr Omar said that there were 'no job cuts planned' for the DIFC, a hub for financial companies. He added that it was not the right time for the DIFC to sell any of its foreign assets.

DIFC Investments owns a stake in Deutsche Bank. -- Reuters

Sales Of Homes In Spain Slump 26% In Dec

Source : The Business Times, February 17, 2009

(MADRID) The number of homes sold in recession-bound Spain fell 26 per cent in December compared with a year earlier, official figures showed yesterday.

The National Statistics Institute said 32,403 homes were sold in December versus 43,798 in the same month a year earlier.

Sales had dropped 35.6 per cent in November.

The number of homes sold in all of 2008 was down 28.6 per cent from 2007, with the used home market the hardest hit, recording a decline of 39.3 per cent compared with a drop of 14.1 per cent for new homes.

Spain has recorded continued falls in house sales of over 25 per cent in almost every month since the government started publishing the figures at the start of 2008.

The abrupt end of Spain's property boom last year left an excess stock of around a million homes at the end of last year, the managing director of real estate surveyor Tinsa, Luis Leirdo, said last week.

According to the surveyor, house prices in Spain were 10.8 per cent lower in January than a year earlier and could drop 20 per cent this year. -- Reuters

English, Welsh Property Prices Down

Source : The Business Times, February 17, 2009

(LONDON) Asking prices for properties in England and Wales were a record 9.1 per cent lower in February than last year at an average £216,163 (S$468,238), but prices were 1.2 per cent up on the month, property website Rightmove said yesterday.

Rightmove said that the month-on- month price rise did not mark the start of a turnaround in Britain's housing market, where prices have tumbled since late 2007 because of the darkening economic outlook and a severe shortage of mortgage finance.

'Sales are being achieved at around 25 per cent below peak prices, yet new sellers coming to market are starting out asking an average of only 10 per cent less,' said Miles Shipside, Rightmove's commercial director.

'Yet, falsely optimistic New Year sellers still followed the seasonal trend and raised asking prices,' he added.

Last year, house prices rose 3.2 per cent in February as sellers readied for a seasonal increase in buyer interest.

Asking prices were most stable in London, where they increased only 0.3 per cent month-on-month, while average asking prices were just 3.5 per cent lower than a year ago at £387,988.

Wales was the worst-performing region, with asking prices down 14.0 per cent from a year earlier at £151,394. -- Reuters

Some Alexis Buyers Offer Units In SubsaleMarket

Source : The Business Times, February 18, 2009

Other developers try to ride buying wave by relaunching units at lower prices

The Alexis condo sold like hot cakes last week and now a few buyers at the fully sold project are trying to flip their units in the subsale market, notwithstanding the fact that Singapore is in the throes of its worst recession.

A better deal: Several developers are trimming prices to give buyers an incentive to commit to a purchase. This weekend, GuocoLand will relaunch The Quartz condo near Buangkok MRT Station with a price cut of nearly 10%

These buyers are seeking prices about $100 per square foot above what they had paid, translating to a net gain of around 10 per cent, property agents estimate.

Ripples from the strong sales momentum generated for the 293-unit freehold condo, comprising mostly smallish units costing between $420,000 and $800,000, spread to showflats of several other small and mid-sized developers. Some of them trimmed prices to give buyers an incentive to commit to a purchase.

The mini home-buying wave sparked earlier this month by Frasers Centrepoint's launch of its Caspian condo in the Jurong Lake District, has led other developers to speed up launch plans for new projects, or to relaunch existing ones, with a price cut.

This weekend, GuocoLand will relaunch The Quartz condo near Buangkok MRT Station with a price cut of nearly 10 per cent.

The 625-unit, 99-year leasehold project is slated to receive Temporary Occupation Permit in a few months and is left with 182 units. For a start, GuocoLand is likely to push out about 60-odd units, all three-bedders and most of which will cost below $650,000. The average price of the units to be relaunched will be about $595 psf, compared with an average price of $650 psf that GuocoLand was selling the project at during the height of the market in 2007.

The project is being marketed by CB Richard Ellis and ERA.

In the River Valley area, Fortune Development has sold 12 units at RV Suites since Saturday. The 96-unit freehold project's average price is $1,300 psf and most of the units are smallish, at about 500 to 550 sq ft and cost about $630,000 to $730,000. This brings total sales in the seven-storey project to 42 units, according to Fortune general manager Victor Soh.

Over in the Shelford Road area, East Coast Properties sold 14 units at D'Chateau @ Shelford during the weekend at an average price of about $1,000-1,100 psf. Units cost between $900,000 (for a three-bedroom apartment) and $1.7 million (for a penthouse). About half or 16 of the total 31 apartments in five-storey freehold project are now sold, said the company's managing director Alvin Ng.

Macly Capital is also said to have sold about 10 units over the weekend at Newton Edge.

Property market watchers say specuvestors may have been drawn to Alexis, near Queenstown MRT station, by developer EC Prime's decision to offer buyers an interest absorption scheme without charging any premium (usually buyers have to pay about 3 per cent more for such schemes), as well as the relatively affordable investment sums for the mostly smallish units.

However, EC Prime's director Melvin Poh refuted talk in some quarters that the company generated demand from agents who bought units, and that a substantial number of buyers picked up multiple units.

'We have checked our sales records; there were only two families that bought multiple units - one family bought five units, and the other, three units. The rest of the buyers all picked up one unit each.

'If agents from Huttons (Alexis's marketing agent) or their close relatives bought, they would have to declare to us, and so far there have been none,' Mr Poh said.

Alexis's buyers were mostly Singaporeans and EC Prime, a joint venture between Yi Kai Group and Fission Group, has given them up to three weeks to decide whether they would like to opt for the interest absorption scheme (IAS).

Buyers had to pay 5 per cent of the purchase price when they booked a unit, that is, when they were issued an option by the developer. Eight weeks later, they will have to pay up another 15 per cent, with no further payment (under IAS) until the project receives Temporary Occupation Permit in about three years.

Those who do not exercise their options will forfeit a quarter of their 5 per cent deposit. For a $500,000 unit, that will amount to $6,250.

Those who buy on IAS will have to immediately sign up for a home mortgage with United Overseas Bank, and the credit assessment is expected to sift out financially weak buyers.

'Alexis has drawn investors. Based on our sale prices, they could earn about 5-6 per cent yield from renting their units, given the location near an MRT station close to town,' Mr Poh said.

楼市突升温 短短四天卖出500新私宅

Source :《联合早报》February 17, 2009





发展商推出面积较小的单位,这一招果然奏效,上星期四开始预售的Alexis @ Alexandra,293个单位在短短三天内被抢购一空。由毅凯发展和Fisson Group发展的永久地契项目Alexis,虽然以1100元的平均尺价售出,但大部分的单位因面积小,总售价少过100万元。其最小单位面积是366平方英尺,售价41万2000元,而最大的1518平方英尺三房式加书房和私人游泳池单位则以167万元出售。



其他一些位于市区外围的项目也取得不错的销售成绩。位于纽顿一带的104个单位永久地契项目Newton Edge,剩余的10多个单位也在刚过去的周末售完,平均售价为每平方英尺1200元,大部分的总售价也在100万元以下。

位于武吉知马一带的永久地契项目D'Chateau @ Shelford,31个单位则卖出了一半,平均售价为每平方英尺1000元至1100元。

发展商East Coast Properties的董事经理黄俊勇告诉本报,相比过去一年,近两个星期前来展示厅的人,大多是有意购买的买家,较少是来“逛橱窗”的。

该公司的另一个项目——位于惠德里一带的聚落式洋房项目Montclair @ Whitley,也迎来近300人前来参观。

位于里峇峇利路的96个单位永久地契项目RV Suites,则以平均每平方英尺1350元的价格卖出了约10多个单位,至今已卖出40%左右。

而本周末正式推出,位于诺维娜一带的Nova 48,连同附近的姐妹项目Nova 88,也迎来了上百人前来,共卖出6个单位,尺价从900元起。其发展商乐斯太平洋位于实笼岗的The Florentine,在上周末也推出剩下的5个单位,4个单位已找到买家。

抢先成为牛年第一个正式登场的38个单位Palmera Residence公寓,则在上周卖出5个单位,总共出售32个或84%的单位,尺价介于650元至900元。


于2006年推出市场,位于东海岸路,属于永久地的PoshGrove East,发展商同荣集团在上周末重新推出剩余的12个单位,尺价880元,并成功卖出4个。



仅卖107私宅 上月楼市凄凉

Source : 《联合早报》February 17, 2009







不过,由于登场的大多都是只有数十个单位的小型项目,例如Palmera Residence(共38个单位)、Nova 48(共48个单位),以及Nova 88(共88个单位),所以无法起着带动市场的作用。



仲量联行(Jones Lang LaSalle)研究部主管蔡炎亮解释,这是因为中档和大众化领域的需求比较好,所以发展商才把焦点集中在这两方面。

例如AG资本的The Aristo @ Amber就推出14个单位,并卖出10个单位;乐斯太平洋则推出40个单位,并卖出16个单位;The Lucent也推出21个单位,并卖出8个单位。

麦俊荣指出,今年1月不但没有单位以每平方英尺3000元以上成交,连售价高于每平方英尺2000元的单位也没有。“上个月成交的单位中,尺价最高的是以每平方英尺1850元成交的一个The Vida单位。这是最近几个月来,共管公寓的最高成交尺价,第一次低于每平方英尺2000元。”


这是因为星狮产业的水之轩(Caspian)已经在过去两个周末卖出470个单位、上星期四开始预售的Alexis @ Alexandra也在短短两天半内将全部293个单位卖光。再加上Newton Edge、Nova 48、Nova 88等项目,发展商估计已在2月的首两个星期内卖出约800个单位。




Mid-Tier Glows, Luxe Fizzles Out

Source : TODAY, Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A bad month for home sales could be followed by upturn

JANUARY was a ghastly month for the private home market. Sales hit a two-year low, as the prime downtown areas saw zero launches and just about half of all units launched that month ended up finding buyers, according to official statistics released yesterday.

But even though the overall market has kicked off 2009 on a whimper, the mass-market segment may still hold up in the months including February.

According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), 107 private residential units were sold last month out of a total of 204 units launched by developers. This sale number is the lowest recorded in the last two years, said PropNex, a real estate agency.

And for the first time, there were no units launched in the Core Central Region, which comprises districts 9, 10 and 11 as well as Marina Bay and Sentosa, said Knight Frank consultancy and research director Nicholas Mak.

“This is unsurprising given that present market conditions have prompted a wait-and-see attitude, and thus resulted in the primary market activity for this sector coming to a near-halt,” said Mr Mak.

It was in the non-prime districts that demand was relatively rosy. Mid-tier and mass-market projects saw their January take-ups rise 50 and 30 per cent respectively from December, Mr Mak said.

“Close to 90 per cent of all the transactions that took place were at below $1,000 psf,” noted PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail. “This goes to show that there are still buyers for projects in the outer areas ... as long as the quantum value is reasonable, probably not exceeding the $800,000 mark.”

Analysts expect pent-up demand for mid-tier projects to pick up from this month,particularly from HDB upgraders as the resale market for public housing is still healthy.

Two developments have already seen good take-up. Alexis near Queenstown MRT was launched last Thursday and within three days, sold all of its 293 units at an average price of $850 to $1,150 psf. Over in Jurong West, the Caspian condominium has sold 470 out of 712 units at an average of $600 psf.

This means that the sales volume for this month is likely to reach 1,000 units if developers continue to offer the “right product at the right price”, said Colliers International’s research and advisory director, Tay Huey Ying. That would be “a level not seen since August 2007 when developers sold some 1,723 new units”, she said.

“More developers may be encouraged to ride on this buying wave and launch their projects in the second half of the month,”Ms Tay added.

Pricing, however, will be an influential factor. Jones Lang LaSalle’s research head in South-east Asia, Dr Chua Yang Liang, said projects that enjoyed stronger demand in January could have been given a boost by the easing of median prices.

For example, The Aristo@Amber in the Katong area sold at $990 psf last month – down 1.2 per cent from $1,002 in December. Nova 88’s median pricing also softened 4.2 per cent from $988 to $947 psf. Both enjoyed good sales: At The Aristo@Amber, all 10 units launched last month sold out and another four unsold units from previous months were also taken up, while Nova 88 in the Balestier area sold 16 units out of the 40 units launched.

“There is no doubt that there is an economic downturn but despite this, projects like Caspian and Alexis are faring well in the subdued market, showing that there is cash out there,” said Mr Donald Han, managing director of consultancy Cushman and Wakefield.

Private Home Sales At New Low

Source : The Straits Times, Feb 17, 2009

Only 107 units sold last month, but sales for February good so far

THE property market continues its downward spiral with only 107 new private units sold last month - the lowest monthly total since data was made available in 2007.

Industry watchers say the diminishing number of units sold in the market reflects an increased anticipation for prices to fall from potential buyers. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

A lack of launches from developers was partly behind the anaemic figure, which was well under the 131 sales in December and the previous low of 118 sales in October.

About 204 units were launched last month, up from 157 in December, but lower than the 12-month average of 518 units. No new prime projects were launched last month.

'An ominous pall of uncertainty is hanging over the industry,' said Knight Frank director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak.

'The diminishing number of units sold in the market not only reflects a heightened sense of prudence, but also an increased anticipation for prices to fall, thus causing potential buyers to stay on the sidelines.'

Last month's top sellers included Nova 88 in Balestier and The Aristo @ Amber, which sold 16 units and 14 units respectively.

The stronger demand for these projects could be down to their improved affordability, with median prices having eased slightly, said Jones Lang LaSalle's head of research for South-east Asia, Mr Chua Yang Liang.

But while last month was something of a dead loss, sales this month are already looking up, thanks to two successful launches.

The 712-unit Caspian - a short walk from Lakeside MRT station in Jurong - has racked up sales of 470 units since its release earlier this month. Prices at the 99-year leasehold condo started at $580 per sq ft (psf), and are now at $600 psf.

The 293-unit Alexis @ Alexandra, released for sale last week, is said to have been 100 per cent sold by last Saturday.

It was priced at $850 to $1,100 psf, but most of the units were small, and so came with a relatively low absolute price.

Prices ranged from $450,000 for one-bedroom units to nearly $1.8 million for the penthouses.

'Certainly, there is renewed confidence in the market for properties that are priced right, as many HDB upgraders and investors are able to pick up such units at a lower quantum,' said Mr Mohd Ismail, chief executive of PropNex, which co-marketed Caspian with ERA.

CBRE Research executive director Li Hiaw Ho said the success of the two projects could be attributed to their good locations, competitive prices and a creative mix of units.

The tie-up between banks and developers to offer the interest absorption scheme also helped stimulate sales, he said.

Some property consultants expect February to register the highest number of monthly transactions since late 2007.

But this performance is likely to be a one-off for now, said Mr Mak, who added that sales could begin to slow to a more sustainable pace.

Mr Li said: 'While the Singapore economy remains in recession, the continued moderation of prices should encourage potential buyers to come forward.'

That could drive first-quarter sales to 1,000 to 1,200 units, he said. Last year, developers sold just 4,287 new homes, down from a record 14,811 in 2007.

Property Players Look Beyond Black January

Source : The Business Times, February 17, 2009

Some see light at end of tunnel for home sales volume if pricing is right

As they say, it is always darkest before the dawn. So it may be with the 107 private homes that developers sold last month.

The number is the lowest since the government started making available monthly home sales data in June 2007, and could mark the nadir in sales volume, property industry players reckon.

House-hunting season has just begun for the year, and buyers are expected to scoop up units in projects with appealing locations, as developers continue to price projects attractively, especially in the mass-market segment. Interest absorption schemes being offered by developers will help ease home purchases in the months to come, property consultants say.

In the first two weeks of this month alone, developers are estimated to have sold around 800 to 850 private homes, mostly from the newly launched Caspian and Alexis condos; even assuming there are no other major new launches for the rest of February, the full month's tally is expected to reach around 1,000 units. This would be the highest monthly sales figure since August 2007, notes Colliers International director Tay Huey Ying.

Home buyers can expect more offerings soon. UOL Group is said to be readying for launch next month its Double Bay condo in Simei; Far East Organization and Frasers Centrepoint, too, are expected to release a new batch of units at Waterfront Waves in Bedok in March. The latest units, which will mostly have pool views, are expected to be priced in the low-$600 per square foot (psf) range and be more appealing price-wise than the average $750 psf for reservoir-facing units released last year.

The number of 204 private homes that developers launched last month was higher than the December 2008 figure of 157 units.

'Going forward, there'll be periodic bursts of launch activities as there would be some buyers willing to commit to a purchase if they believe the price is affordable,' says Knight Frank director Nicholas Mak.

DTZ senior director (research) Chua Chor Hoon predicts developers will launch 5,500 to 6,500 private homes this year, mainly in the mass-market segment. Primary market home sales could come in at about 5,000 to 6,000 units - higher than last year's 4,264 units.

DTZ forecasts that prices in the mass-market segment could slip about 10-15 per cent this year, after a 10.5 per cent fall last year. It is predicting bigger price drops of 15 to 20 per cent for the prime districts and about 30 per cent in the luxury segment this year.

Colliers' Ms Tay says: 'Pent-up demand is expected to surface in the coming months, albeit buyers' cautious stance amid the grim economic outlook will contain demand to properties worth below $800,000 as evidenced by the good take-up for the 712-unit Caspian (in Jurong Lake District) and the 293-unit Alexis at Alexandra Road.'

Frasers Centrepoint Homes chief operating officer Cheang Kok Kheong, who estimates developers could sell 5,000-odd private homes this year, says: 'The three key factors that will affect home sales in 2009 will be interest rates on housing loans, jobs and pricing.'

Knight Frank executive director Peter Ow says there's probably more leeway for developers to price new projects attractively than to chop prices of a project already on the market as they will face pressure from earlier buyers

In any case, chopping prices is not always a cut-and-dry affair for a developer, as a property consultant points out: 'It's a delicate balance. If you cut prices just a little, people may not buy; but if you cut too much, you may frighten off potential buyers.'

Urban Redevelopment Authority's data yesterday on developers' launches and sales showed that overall median prices for most private residential projects continued to ease in January over the preceding month 'as developers were more realistic in their pricing in the hope of maintaining demand', according to Jones Lang LaSalle's head of research (SE Asia) Chua Yang Liang. For example, the median price for The Aristo @ Amber eased 1.2 per cent month on month to $990 psf in January. Nova 88 in the Balestier area too saw its median price soften 4.2 per cent to $947 psf, while Rosewood Suites in Woodlands recorded a 16.7 per cent contraction in median price to $545 psf in January.

'This analysis doesn't factor in price differentiation as a result of differences in the unit's orientation, floor level, size, etc,' Dr Chua adds.

Property consultants were not surprised by January's weak homes sales, attributing it to the Chinese New Year festivities and potential buyers being further drawn to the sidelines with their eyes glued to the Singapore Budget announcement.

Only 13 units were sold in the Core Central Region last month; Rest of Central Region and Outside Central Region had similar shares, at 49 and 45 units respectively.