Thursday, April 9, 2009

Govt To Lower Forecast

Source : The Straits Times, April 9, 2009

Layoffs will likely cross 10,000 mark but it is better than expected

SINGAPORE's economy is shrinking further.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday said the Government is to revise downwards its growth forecast, the third change in less than four months.

Mr Lee (left) said Singapore's exports have been hit hard and the global situation is not looking any better. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LEE

However, Mr Lee does not see it slipping into the 'double-digit range'.

The further contraction stems from the continuing slide in exports caused by the global economic slowdown, he said.

The current official forecast range is -2 to -5 per cent.

The new downgrade will be out next Tuesday when the Trade and Industry Ministry releases its official forecast 'but we must expect them to revise the forecast down,' Mr Lee said.

'I think it will be poorer than we had projected in January before the Budget when we said it was between -2 to -5 per cent...But I do not think it will be in the double digit range,' he added.

Mr Lee did not elaborate but in pointing to the worsening trade figures, he cited how Japan's February exports had halved.

'Our exports went down by one-third. If you look at February and March, it's about hanging in there or even up a little bit but basically at a very low level.'

To add to the grim outlook, Mr Lee said layoffs in the first three months of this year will probably exceed 10,000.

It will be the worst ever, surpassing the quarterly peak of 8,590 in the last quarter of 2001, following the bust and the Sept 11 attacks on the US.

But, he added, 'the numbers have been better than we feared' as the Government was bracing itself for a 'very big wave' of retrenchments after the Chinese New Year festivities in February.

Mr Lee was speaking to reporters after a 90-minute tour of the labour movement's Employment and Employability Institute. He was accompanied by Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong, labour chief Lim Swee Say and several government and union leaders.

Singapore To Cut GDP Forecast

Source : The Business Times, April 9, 2009

Singapore's growth forecast will have to be revised downwards as export levels remain depressed in the current global recession, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters after his visit to NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), PM Lee said that the current forecast of a 2 to 5 per cent contraction this year will be revised down when the Ministry of Trade and Industry releases Q1 GDP figures next Tuesday. But he said he does not expect the contraction to enter the double-digits zone.

On the jobs front, Mr Lee said that the number of retrenchments hit 10,000 in the first quarter of this year, but that this was fewer than anticipated, thanks to job-saving measures such as Spur and the Jobs Credit scheme.

Asked whether additional off-budget measures are on the cards as May Day approaches, Mr Lee said that measures under January's $20.5 billion resilience package are still being rolled out and are showing results, so it would be premature to speak of additional ones just yet.

Property Transactions With Contract Dates Between March 23rd - 28th, 2009

Home Loans, Consumer Confidence In Australia Rise On Rate Cuts

Source : The Business Times, April 9, 2009

They add to global signs dubbed 'green shoots' by Fed chief

(SYDNEY) Australian home-loan approvals rose for a fifth month and consumer confidence jumped by the most since August, adding to signs a record round of interest-rate cuts and government handouts are boosting the economy.

The number of loans granted to build or buy homes and apartments climbed 0.4 per cent in February, the statistics bureau said in Sydney yesterday. Westpac Banking Corp's index of consumer sentiment gained 8.3 per cent in April.

Yesterday's reports prompted investors to boost bets that the central bank's cycle of rate cuts, which have taken the benchmark lending rate to a half-century low, may be coming to a close.

Australia's improving consumer confidence and record demand for homes from first-time buyers add to a series of global indicators that US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke described last month as 'green shoots'.

'These are positive signals for policy-makers' said Ben Dinte, an economist at Macquarie Group Ltd in Sydney. They also support the Reserve Bank of Australia's view 'that the significant stimulus already provided will support demand in the year ahead'.

Traders have reduced bets on the size of future Reserve Bank rate cuts, according to a Credit Suisse Group index based on swaps trading.

Traders forecast the overnight cash rate target will be one basis point lower in 12 months, the index showed at 3.07pm in Sydney. Late on Tuesday, they were tipping 28 basis points in cuts, and at the start of April they expected 64 basis points.

While the economies of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development face the steepest contraction in more than 50 years, recent reports have boosted speculation a recovery will begin this year.

In the United States, sales of new homes unexpectedly rose in February by 4.7 per cent, and factory inventories are falling. The rate of contraction in European manufacturing and services industries is slowing and new bank lending quadrupled in China in February as vehicle sales increased 25 per cent.

Mr Bernanke told CBS Corp's '60 Minutes' programme on March 15 that he sees 'green shoots' in some financial markets, and the pace of economic decline 'will begin to moderate'.

Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX200 stock index rose 7.1 per cent in March, the first monthly gain since August. Standard & Poor's 500 Index of US stocks surged 8.5 per cent last month, the most in seven years.

'Interest rates at these low levels and a recovery in housing construction will lead the economy out of recession, as in past cycles,' economists at Westpac, including chief economist Bill Evans, said yesterday.

Australia's mortgage rates are now at 'very low levels by historical standards' and, along with a surge in government spending, will provide a significant boost to the economy, central bank governor Glenn Stevens said on Tuesday.

Policy-makers cut the benchmark rate on Tuesday by a quarter point, taking the total reductions since September to 4.25 percentage points.

To prevent Australia's property market following the US and UK into a slump, the government in October tripled a grant to first-time buyers of new homes to A$21,000 (S$22,655).

Yesterday's reports suggest the measures are having an impact. First-home buyers accounted for a record 26.9 per cent of dwellings financed in February. Home-building approvals also rose in February for the first time in eight months.

Households with an average-sized mortgage of A$250,000 are paying at least A$7,000 a year less than they were six months ago, which is equal to 8 per cent of average family incomes, according to Reserve Bank calculations.

The number of Australians facing mortgage stress, or loan repayments of more than 30 per cent of their household income, has fallen by 300,000 from its peak last August, according a report by Fujitsu Consulting.

Tuesday's quarter-point reduction in the benchmark rate would have reduced repayments for those households by another A$480 a year if passed on in full by lenders. -- Bloomberg

It's A Home Buyer's Market In China, Says CBRE

Source : The Business Times, April 9, 2009

It sees pressure on China office rentals, says mass market has bottomed in HK

(HONG KONG) China's residential property is 'a buyer's market' after prices fell from last year's peak levels, Chris Brooke, CB Richard Ellis Group chief executive officer for Greater China, said in a Bloomberg Television interview yesterday.

Plenty in Pudong: 'There's particularly tremendous volume in supply coming on, particularly Pudong in Shanghai and the central business district in Beijing. That is putting a lot of downside pressure on rentals,' according to Mr Brooke

On higher first-quarter home sales in China: 'There was a lot of pent-up demand from 2008 from first-time buyers who have been holding out and waiting for prices to come off a bit. Transaction volumes were significantly up since the Chinese New Year. The issue is going to be how sustainable is that into the second quarter. There's a lot of competitive pricing going on. In some cities, there is still quite a lot of inventory to be moved. Depends on the city, could be six months or 12 months. I think we will continue to see developers cutting prices. It is definitely a buyer's market. The developers are leading the charge in terms of the discounts.'

On China's office market: 'There's particularly tremendous volume in supply coming on, particularly Pudong in Shanghai and the central business district in Beijing. That is putting a lot of downside pressure on rentals. We'll see the residential market probably recovering ahead of the office sector.'

On resort prices in the southern city of Hainan: 'The Hainan sales have been very strong. There are high net-worth individuals in China looking for a holiday home.'

On home prices in other Chinese cities: 'Guangzhou and Shenzhen have come off 40 per cent in terms of residential pricing; the general view is those markets are bottoming out. In Wuhan, Shenyang, they were at a much lower base, and so haven't come off as much.'

On office market in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore: 'In Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore, there are challenges in terms of attracting demand and high vacancy rates. In Hong Kong, there is a lot of pressure in Central on rents; Singapore as well. In Tokyo, vacancy was very low but rentals are coming down.'

On Hong Kong's home market: 'The mass market has sort of found its bottom. In the mid-market, there's also competition among developers with pricing. The mass market's probably found a level now that's not necessarily bottomed out but which is comfortable. Mortgages are more attractive and that is going to attract first-time buyers back into the market.'

On Hong Kong's luxury home market: 'In the luxury market, the high net-worth individuals who don't need to borrow see this as a good opportunity, as prices have come off 40 per cent to 50 per cent, so it's a good time to get in. We have seen a few more transactions in the first quarter but not the sort of price levels that we've seen before. We've seen a couple of good launches, so there's clearly demand in that area. At the very high end, people are adopting a wait-and-see attitude.'

On Singapore: 'The Singapore market faces a number of challenges driven by financial services, exports and tourism. The office market there was slightly protected last year due to limited supply. There's a lot of new supply coming on so we see more pressure on rentals. We've probably bottomed out in the mass market.' - Bloomberg

本月15日接受申请 大巴窑私人组屋如期推出

Source : 《联合早报》Apr 09, 2009

尽管经济前景持续不明朗,由私人发展商设计、兴建和销售(DBSS)的“The Peak@Toa Payoh”私人组屋将如期推出,本月15日在抽签选购制度下接受公众申请,售价也在昨天首次公布。

由海峡双威负责发展的“The Peak”,建在大巴窑1A巷,在大巴窑地铁站和布莱德地铁站之间,步行前往两地铁站约10分钟,附近有巴刹、邻里中心和学校。



整体而言,“The Peak”售价每平方英尺500元至510元,这比同个发展商去年推出的“City View@Boon Keng”私人组屋的520元来得低。




“The Peak”有高楼美景及公寓设计装潢如宽大阳台、凸窗(bay window)、植物槽、冷气客厅及卧房。


发展商也将为“The Peak”建造多层停车场,整个项目预计2012年8月竣工。


“The Peak”是建屋发展局推出的第六个私人组屋地段,第五个位于四美的“Parc Lumiere”私人组屋预料本月底推出。

分析员:经济虽低迷 地点优越新组屋有一定吸引力



Dennis Wee房地产经纪行董事许家荣昨天受访时说,大巴窑是成熟组屋区,地点适中,靠近市区,因此新组屋有一定的吸引力。

负责销售“The Peak”的HSR经纪行董事刘凯丽说,建屋局日后应该不会在大巴窑推出新的预购组屋,所以认为“The Peak”将获得公众青睐。

卓登新达国际(Chesterton Suntec International)研究部主管陈瑞谨之前受访时也说,以中高收入家庭为对象的私人组屋是专属市场(captive market),因此发展商何时销售组屋并不很重要,市场反应将会不俗。






林东荣也说,大众化私宅最近因价格下跌而大卖,许多消费者或转购私宅,“或许,The Peak唯一能吸引买家的是大巴窑的地点优越。”


Source : 《联合早报》Apr 09, 2009

整体楼市自去年下半年直线下滑,为更及时反映实际情况,让私人住宅、办公楼和工业厂房业主提早受惠于年值(annual values)下调、缴付较少房地产税的好处,国内税务局(IRAS)今年加速对本地房地产的重新估税工作。不过,政府组屋的年值今年将保持不变。 























高纬物业(Cushman & Wakefield)新加坡董事经理韩永利表示,业主是政府调低年值和给予房地产税回扣的直接受惠者,是否有将回扣转移给租户不得而知,缓冲企业现金指出压力效用相信有限。他建议,政府应考虑要求业主先将回扣转移给租户,才让他们获得进一步税务回扣或享受年值下调。

齐乐行(Credo)董事经理卡南吉星(Karamjit Singh)则指出,房地产税一般占租金的10%,如果业主的年值获调低20%,这只占租金的2%,要与租户共享这笔回扣不实际。

Condo-Style HDB Flats: Peak Price Of $722k

Source : The Straits Times, April 9, 2009

WILL house hunters spend more than $700,000 on a premium HDB flat with some condo-style features in Toa Payoh?

A Hoi Hup-led consortium is about to find out after offering premium five-room flats at its new The Peak project for up to $722,000.

Analysts question whether HDB flat buyers will bite, given that they are constrained by an $8,000-a-month income ceiling and are dealing with a recession.

Next Wednesday, The Peak @ Toa Payoh, boasting 1,203 units in two 42-storey blocks and three 40-storey blocks, will be launched.

The project, at Lorong 1A Toa Payoh, comes under the design, build and sell scheme (DBSS), and offers premium fittings. But unlike private condominiums, these projects do not have facilities such as pools and gyms.

The smallest units - 95 of them - are the 753 sq ft three-room flats. They are priced from $355,000 to $398,000.

The 306 four-room flats of 980 sq ft will go for $468,000 to $582,000.

The next rung up the price ladder are the five-room flats, which mostly go for $539,000 to $698,000, and range from 1,184 sq ft to 1,259 sq ft.

The priciest of the lot are the 24 five-room high-ceiling flats costing between $700,000 and $722,000.

The developer - a group comprising Hoi Hup Realty, Sunway Development and Hoi Hup J.V. Development - said the flats are about $500 per sq ft (psf) to $510 psf on average. A quick calculation shows the price can go up to $594 psf.

A spokesman said The Peak is near Toa Payoh MRT station. And like the earlier City View DBSS project by the same group, The Peak offers an exclusive touch with a card-access security system at all ground-floor lift lobbies.

Buyers will also get large bay windows, Daikin air-conditioning units, built-in kitchen cabinets and wardrobes.

Still, industry watchers note that for the same price, buyers are spoilt for choice in the current market. Experts have said DBSS projects have to be priced lower than private flats as they are essentially HDB flats. They face restrictions such as an income cap, an ethnic quota and a minimum occupation period.

'Toa Payoh is a mature estate but in the current economy, there will be resistance at above $500,000,' PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail said yesterday.

Resale five-room flats in the area now cost about $450,000 on average while three-roomers go for $260,000 to $270,000 on average, though the latter are more than 30 years of age, he added.

Knight Frank research and consultancy director Nicholas Mak said The Peak's prices are comparable to those of resale executive condos (EC), which have condo facilities but also face public housing sale restrictions.

For just over $700,000, buyers can buy a private but older 99-year resale condo unit nearby, added Mr Mak.

For the same price as a five-room flat, they can buy a resale EC unit at a more distant location. In the first quarter, 94 EC deals were done at $579,000 on average.

The Peak is the fifth DBSS project. The sixth, in Simei, is expected to be released for sale soon.

Last year, three such projects were launched. City View in Boon Keng, Park Central @ AMK, and Natura Loft in Bishan have since sold the bulk of their units. The latest of the lot, Natura Loft, was launched late last year and has about 30 per cent left to sell, said developer QingJian Realty. Its five-roomers are already half sold, it said.

DBSS projects are now sandwiched in a narrowing gap between HDB resale flat prices and private condo prices.

'DBSS flats will be relevant again when the gap widens. In the meantime, these developers will just have to do the best they can,' said Mr Mak.

New Malls Offer Rent Rebates To Get Tenants

Source : The Straits Times, April 9, 2009

Move is in contrast with landlords' refusal to do the same for older malls

ANOTHER new mall is going the tried-and-tested route of getting tenants: Cutting rents.

Orchard Central, slated to open in early June, has cut rents by 10 per cent to 30 per cent for some of its tenants on a 'case-by-case basis'.

When it opens in early June, Orchard Central will be the first new mall in Orchard Road in over 10 years. To attract tenants in this economic downturn, the 213,000 sq ft mall has cut rents by 10 per cent to 30 per cent on a "case-by-case" basis. -- ST PHOTO: SHAHRIYA YAHAYA

It becomes the latest new mall to do so; Ion Orchard last month announced that it would offer rental rebates of up to 30 per cent for stores that are ready for business by the time it throws its doors open in July.

The mall, located at Orchard MRT station, has achieved 80 per cent occupancy.

Orchard Central, which is at Somerset MRT station, currently has 65 per cent occupancy. It hopes to increase this by tweaking rents.

Other new malls which have offered rent cuts or rebates include Tampines 1 and Iluma, at Bugis.

Such moves have shown results.

Tampines 1, which waived rentals for the first month, has enticed 75 per cent of its tenants to open when it begins operations today.

Tenants at the new Iluma mall, which had its soft opening last month, said they were offered the same deal, on condition that they opened on March 28.

Iluma's developer, Jack Investment, did not respond to queries on its occupancy rate yesterday. But the mall looked to be about 60 per cent full when The Straits Times visited yesterday. Another 10 per cent of the units were also furnished and looked ready to open soon.

'It's a good incentive, especially with the economy not doing so well. We don't have to worry so much about costs for a while,' said Mr Raphael Lim, the sales and operations executive at Artisan Exchange, a men's boutique at Iluma.

Such moves are in contrast with landlords' stand on older buildings. Despite a push for blanket rent reductions led by the Singapore Retailers Association, mall owners are standing firm.

Even Far East Organization, which is building Orchard Central, has resisted offering cuts to more than a handful of tenants, usually those who signed leases when rents were at their peak, or those who hold big units. Ms Susan Leng, its director of retail management, said: 'It is not equitable to give across the board rental cuts.'

To date, she said, some 17 of its 123 tenants have asked for help, and fewer than 10 have received cuts, which will last till October. Other landlords like AsiaMalls have indicated that they prefer to spend on promotions and advertisements to draw traffic.

Small stores, however, are crying out for help. They say sales have dipped to such an extent that they need rent cuts to stay open. They threw the word 'inequitable' into the mix as well, saying promotions and the like favour bigger players.

Meanwhile, Orchard Central - the first new mall to hit Singapore's premier shopping strip in more than 10 years - is all set for a grand opening. It organised a media tour yesterday to show off its see-through glass facade and an air-conditioned shopping 'street' within.

Among its other attractions: Singapore's first indoor rock-climbing wall and $9 million worth of artwork scattered through the mall. The 213,000 sq ft mall will have 259 shops, mostly familiar names such as Osmose and Vincent Watch.

Two More Projects Coming Onstream

Source : The Business Times, April 9, 2009

High-end Illuminaire launches this week; HDB's The Peak hits the market April 15

EL Development will launch its high-end condominium Illuminaire along Devonshire Road this weekend.

Apartments in the 72-unit project will be priced at an average of $1,700 per sq ft.

The Peak: The project is expected to be about two to two-and -a- half times subscribed by the time applications close

But because they are small - the entire development consists of one-bedroom and two-bedroom units - the overall quantum buyers will have to fork out will be kept low, said the company's managing director Lim Yew Soon.

One-bedroom units, which will be 441 sq ft or 463 sq ft, will all cost less than $800,000, Mr Lim said.

And all two-bedroom apartments, which will be 635 sq ft or 721 sq ft, will sell for under $1.25 million.

EL Development decided to go ahead with the launch as 'we cannot wait indefinitely', Mr Lim said. 'We feel the market is slowly moving now.'

Analysts say an estimated 2,100-plus new homes were sold in Q1 - the highest number since the market was hit by the US mortgage crisis in the last quarter of 2007 and more than four times the number of new units sold in Q4 2008.

Despite a pick-up in transactions, luxury apartments are not selling well. Mr Lim said the reason is that most are quite big, which means the amount needed to buy one is quite high. The small units in Illuminaire are 'more affordable', he said.

Also on the market soon will be HDB's design, build and sell project The Peak @ Toa Payoh. A consortium led by Hoi Hup Realty will launch the 1,203-unit project on April 15.

Homes in The Peak will sell for $500-$510 psf on average, said a spokesman for the consortium, which includes Sunway Developments and Hoi Hup JV Development, whose shareholders include Straits Construction and Hoi Hup Realty.

The consortium bought the site from the state for $198.82 million, or $160 per sq ft per plot ratio, in August 2008.

Most flats in The Peak - 802 of them - will be five-room units. There will also be 306 four-room flats and 95 three-room flats. Prices will be 'affordable', the spokesman said.

Three-room units will cost from $355,000 to $398,000, four-room units from $468,000 to $582,000 and five-room units from $539,000 to $698,000. There will also be about 24 'exclusive' five-room units costing from $700,000 to $722,000.

The spokesman said the project is expected to be about two to two-and-a-half times subscribed by the time applications close on April 28.

IRAS Lowers Property AV On Declines In Rental Market

Source : The Business Times, April 9, 2009

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) yesterday said it accelerated its annual review of properties to take into account the recent declines in the rental market, and has so far reduced the annual values (AV) of over 100,000 private properties.

A total of 116,200 private residential, commercial and industrial properties were reviewed in the first three months of this year, up from 31,300 properties in the same period last year.

Iras said in a press statement that 99 per cent (115,400) of properties that were reviewed had their AV lowered. This, together with the 40 per cent property tax rebate announced in Budget 2009, will result in the owners of these properties paying 45 to 60 per cent less property tax.

The AV of properties are reviewed yearly by Iras to ensure that they reflect prevailing rental market values for property tax computation.

AV is determined based on the estimated annual market rent the property would fetch if it were let out unfurnished. The property tax rate is 10 per cent of the AV of the property. For owner-occupied residential properties, the rate is 4 per cent.

Of the properties whose AV have been reduced, about 84,900 were private residential properties, while 25,300 were offices and industrial developments.

Iras said some 99 per cent of private residential properties had their AV reduced by between 5 per cent and 20 per cent.

For commercial properties, about 92 per cent of all offices in Singapore had their AV lowered by 10-35 per cent. In the industrial sector, almost all (98 per cent) of the properties assessed had their AV reduced by 5 to 30 per cent.

Iras said yesterday that by Q3 2009, all private properties, including retail properties, would be reviewed.

As for HDB flats, based on current market rentals, their AV should be higher than the existing AV. But with the uncertainties in the HDB rental trends in the coming months, Iras has kept the AV of HDB flats unchanged for 2009. It will however continue to monitor the rental market closely.

Property tax reduced due to real estate slump

OWNERS could pay up to 60 per cent less property tax after the taxman reduced the value of tens of thousands of sites following the real estate sector's slump.

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) recently held its annual review - brought forward in the light of dire market conditions - which found that 99 per cent of assessed properties had their values reduced.

Together with the 40 per cent property tax rebate announced in January's Budget, owners of these properties will now pay 45 per cent to 60 per cent less property tax.

The values of properties are reviewed by Iras annually to ensure that they reflect prevailing rental market rates for property tax assessment.

Falling property prices and rents had prompted calls for Iras to also reduce property tax in line with market conditions.

The tax authorities reviewed a total of 116,200 properties in the first quarter.

Of the 84,900 private residential sites assessed, 99 per cent had values reduced by between 5 per cent and 20 per cent.

The total reduction in property tax payable for these homes is about 45 per cent to 50 per cent.

Of the 15,600 offices reviewed, 92 per cent had their annual values lowered by between 10 per cent and 35 per cent. This translates to a total reduction of tax liability by 45 per cent to 60 per cent.

And 98 per cent of the 9,700 industrial properties reviewed suffered a loss in value of 5 per cent to 30 per cent, translating to a total reduction of tax liability by 45 per cent to 60 per cent.

Based on current rentals, the annual values of HDB flats 'should be higher than the existing 2009' ones, but Iras is keeping them unchanged 'in view of the poor economic conditions and uncertainties in the HDB rental trends in the coming months'.

The taxman said that it would review the values of all private properties, including retail ones, by the third quarter.

Q1 Investment Property Sales Plunge To Just $153m

Source : The Business Times, April 9, 2009

Residential sector accounts for largest share or 46% of the total sales

Investment property sales shrank in the first quarter of this year to their lowest level since 1998, as fewer transactions of smaller value took place.

According to property consultancy DTZ, sales plunged 58 per cent quarter on quarter to just $153 million in Q1. They were spread over 10 deals, down from 15 in Q4 2008.

The poor Q1 showing is the third-worst ever. During the Asian financial crisis, sales dropped to $107 million in Q1 1998 and as low as $47 million in Q3 1998. Differing price expectations between buyers and sellers are making it difficult to close deals.

Knight Frank's director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said investors are wary because they expect capital values to fall further.

According to DTZ, there is 'a mismatch in bid-ask prices, hampered by tight credit and expectations of falling rents'.

The residential sector accounted for the largest share or 46 per cent of total investment sales in Q1.

Transactions included the $36 million sale of the four-storey furniture store Le Mercier House on Mohamed Sultan Road.

Two 19th-floor St Regis units also went. But the price was $2,153 per square foot - 21 per cent less than the developer received in June 2006. The office sector made up 34 per cent of Q1 investment sales.

The $27 million sale of Genesis Building in January - the first transaction involving an entire building since August last year - accounted for more than half of sales in this sector.

Investment sales in the industrial sector cooled most, DTZ said. The most significant deal was Premium Automobiles' $12 million purchase of a showroom site on Alexandra Road.

Major developers, funds and real estate investment trusts were absent from the market in Q1, DTZ said.

All investment sales also took place in the private sector, as government land sales through the confirmed list remained suspended and no reserve sites were triggered.

Although the year got off to a slow start, DTZ's senior director (investment advisory services & auction) Shaun Poh believes the investment market could pick up closer to year-end, when the economy could improve and lending conditions ease.

'The market is not short of interested investors with money on hand, looking for prime properties,' he said.

Knight Frank's Mr Mak is more cautious about outlook and expects the investment market to stay quiet for the rest of the year. 'It depends on the length of the downturn,' he said.

Investors Warm To Cooling Condo Prices

Source : The Business Times, April 9, 2009

Sharp 40% drop in luxury Orchard Rd condo prices from peak in H2 2007 is making some investors sit up and take notice

The sharp slide in high-end residential property prices is beginning to show up on the radars of serious investors.

From their peaks in the second half of 2007 to the first quarter this year, transacted prices of luxury condos in the prime Orchard Road belt have fallen by about 40 per cent.

This is the steepest islandwide decline in condo prices and the potential buying opportunities that this is opening up are not lost on investors keen on buying multiple units.

Credo Real Estate's analysis of URA Realis' caveats shows the average price transacted at St Regis Residences has fallen 38 per cent from $3,411 per square foot in H2 2007 to $2,099 psf in Q1 this year.

At Ardmore II, the average transacted price has slipped 43 per cent, from $3,073 psf in H2 2007 to $1,761 psf in Q1 2009.

Over the same period, Cairnhill Crest's average price declined 36 per cent to $1,430 psf in Q1 2009.

'The projects we selected were those that we believed stood as good proxies for their respective locations, and ideally have some history (that is, not launched recently),' said Credo's managing director Karam- jit Singh.

'Transaction volumes were thin in Q1 this year; there were only three luxury projects in the Orchard Road belt with at least two transactions each in the first three months of this year. It's not an ideal situation, where we would want to pick from a larger basket of transactions. But this study still serves to point towards where the market has been heading,' he said.

Credo's analysis also showed that, on average, condo prices in Sentosa Cove in Q1 2009 were about 30 per cent below H2 2007. In the city centre, the average price decline in the same period ranged from 22 per cent (for Icon) to 34 per cent (for The Sail @ Marina Bay).

In what Credo dubs the 'mid-prime segment' - covering River Valley, Bukit Timah, Novena/Thomson and Katong - it said average price declines generally ranged from about 20 to 30 per cent. Suburban condo prices generally fell less than 10 per cent.

'The analysis shows the greater price volatility in the prime districts, which also presents opportunity for greater upside when recovery sets in, compared with suburban condo prices, which tend to move in a more subdued fashion,' said Mr Singh.

The bigger price drops in the Orchard area have led to a narrowing price gap between the high-end and low-end segments. 'At some point, not too far from now, buyers will start upgrading from one tier to the upper tier,' Mr Singh reckons.

'What the price convergence illustrates is the buying potential of prime properties. It will pay - whether at this point in time or not very far off from now - to bet on prime,' he added.

The price declines have surfaced on the radars of potential investors - individuals, families and some property funds - who are studying top-notch prime- district projects, with a medium-term investment horizon. 'Some have capacity to take about 10 units, some 20 units. Some have budgets of more than $100 million,' according to Mr Singh.

CB Richard Ellis executive director Jeremy Lake said high-net-worth individuals here as well as in a three-hour flight radius from Singapore are among the key players actively looking for property investments here. 'Some are keen on investing in offices; some in residential - most would go for the high-end, where prices have corrected the most,' he added.

Mr Singh said acquisitions would be funded largely with equity. 'Right now, they're monitoring the big picture - homing in on a good time to make a swoop, which projects, at which prices,' he added.

Mr Lake adds: 'Some investors are willing to commit sooner rather than later, compared with a few months ago when everybody wanted to wait and found pricing to be unattractive. Now, some investors think pricing is good enough to go.'

Market watchers say the likelihood of deals being struck will also depend on the threshold of sellers, who could include individuals who are stretched from holding multiple condo units as well as developers of projects with low-cost land or who just want to clear unsold units.

DTZ senior director Shaun Poh says some private bankers are trying to arrange consortiums for high-net-worth clients and are sourcing for property investments of about $20-50 million per consortium. 'Their main target would be high-end condos; some may also be interested in commercial properties. The banks will also provide financing for the acquisition.The mandate given to these private bankers is to look for opportunities priced 20-30 per cent below current values,' he said.

However, Mr Singh's advice is: 'It's close enough to the bottom that it makes sense to buy at this stage, rather than buy when it has turned the corner - by which time the number of competing buyers will be greater.'

Cheat Conned 127 People

Source : The Straits Times, April 8, 2009

PAYBACK has come in the form of a jail term for a serial rental-scam artist, Eric Heng Jit Siang, who conned 127 people, mainly foreigners and permanent residents.

Heng would pose as the owner of a property seeking to rent it out, milking the tenant for a deposit on the rent, and then pulling a disappearing act.

Eric Heng Jit Siang (left) conned 127 people, mainly foreigners and permanent residents. -- PHOTO: SPF

Using both landed properties and flats he had rented, the 33-year-old conned over $242,500 in rental deposits between last April and January out of 127 people.

He was jailed on Wednesday for six years and three months after pleading guilty to 40 counts of deception and three of other crimes.

The court heard that he rented 10 properties across Singapore, got hold of the keys and then placed advertisements in newspapers and in train stations seeking tenants.

When people responded to his advertisements, he posed as the owner of these properties and arranged to show them the units.

When the tenancy agreement was signed - and each unit was 'rented' out to more than one house-hunter - he collected money from each of them as a deposit on the rent or the utility bill.

The victims only realised they had been taken for a ride when they tried to move in and realised that they were not the only ones who had 'rented' the place. Heng then made himself scarce.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Moses Tan pushed for a deterrent sentence, saying the offences were 'deliberate' and not made in 'a moment of folly'.

In sentencing, District Judge Eddy Tham reprimanded Heng: 'What you have done is despicable. It has caused a lot of anxieties to these people.'

Read the full story in Thursday's edition of The Straits Times.

Seletar Camp Residents Quit After Rent Hike

Source : The Straits Times, April 07 2009

Many move out as monthly rent trebles to $3900.

A GROUP of Seletar Camp tenants, many of them long-term residents, have chosen to move out en masse because of a steep increase in rent.

About 15 out of 47 affected households, mostly clustered around Mornington Crescent, Edgware Road and Sussex Gardens, have decided not to renew their leases after their landlord, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), trebled their rent.

Motorcycle-riding instructor Soh Leng Huat, whose family has lived there for 12 years, was told in September that upon renewing his lease in January, his rent would be $3,900 instead of the usual $1,200 per month.

As a result of the rent hike, units are emptying out in a neighbourhood coveted for its unique bucolic feel.

These homes are unaffected by the upcoming aerospace hub, with construction resulting in nearly half of the 378 black-and- white colonial homes in Seletar Camp to be razed.

The 47 households are among a growing number of people living in government-owned properties who have been hit with drastically increased rents recently.

In December, residents at Chip Bee Gardens in Holland Village petitioned their landlord, JTC Corporation, after their rents nearly doubled.

The Seletar residents have followed in their footsteps and 31 residents sent a petition to SLA requesting lower rents earlier this year, questioning the SLA's timing.

Said musician Rick Smith, a 56-year-old Singapore permanent resident: 'The government said that in times of difficulty, they would help to reduce the crunch. But here you have residents, some of whom have had pay cuts, who have seen increased rent for government- owned property.'

In response, the SLA's spokesman said that the statutory board, which oversees land use in Singapore, charges rent 'based on the prevailing market rate'.

The Straits Times understands that there is usually a one-month gap between valuation and the SLA's decision on the new rate.

The spokesman added that it has reacted to the recent softening of the property market by lowering guide rents for available Seletar Camp units by 40 per cent in the last six months.

After the tenants' appeal, the SLA reduced rent by between a few hundred dollars and a thousand dollars in some cases.

But such concessions are not enough for those walking out, as they say that they still cannot afford the revised rates.

新组屋需求不受经济放缓影响 小型组屋季度销售 每单位7.7人申购

Source : 《联合早报》Apr 08, 2009




榜鹅预购组屋项目 每单位2.7人申购

另一个销售计划则是上个月推出的榜鹅预购组屋项目(BTO)。这个名为“The Nautilus @ Punggol”的组屋项目今天截止申请。截至昨天下午5时,519个四房式和五房式单位共获得1397份申请,平均每个单位有2.7人申购。



Dennis Wee房地产经纪行董事许家荣说,无论经济好坏,以低收入者为对象的二房和三房式组屋一向都有一定需求。随着经济的放缓,更多屋主可能面对经济困难,决定大屋换小屋,以致小型组屋的需求增加。 


以“The Nautilus @ Punggol”来说,106个五房式单位获得较热烈的反应,共吸引380份申请,平均每个单位有3.6人申购。413个四房式单位则获得1017份申请,平均有2.5人申购每个单位。