Saturday, April 18, 2009

URA Plans To Get S'poreans Acquainted With New Developments

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 17 April 2009

The landscape of Singapore will soon look quite different as new developments spring up in the city centre and in the heartlands over the next few years.

Future skyline of Marina Bay - URA

By 2011 for instance, residents of Jurong will have more opportunities to live by the waterfront. Southern coastal areas like the Labrador Park and Bukit Chermin will also be made more accessible to the public.

These are on top of new projects coming up in the Marina Bay and Orchard Road areas.

Many of these plans were announced in recent years, but the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) wants to get more Singaporeans acquainted with them.

To do that, it is holding a series of activities and public exhibitions called "My New Singapore" from May this year.

Speaking at the URA Corporate Plan Seminar on Friday, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said: "We will show Singaporeans the plans for their neighbourhoods, bring them to see the new Marina Bay, and let them enjoy the parks and park connectors.

"I hope that when Singaporeans rediscover Singapore, we will realise what a special little city we have and perhaps, we will love our city even more."

Other activities include the Marina Bay Festival in the later part of 2010, which will comprise a series of activities and events to showcase developments in the area.

Next year, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) will also conduct a series of roving exhibitions from March till July to show how HDB neighbourhoods have evolved and improved over the years.

There will also be new plans for public housing in the future. - CNA/so

Home Sales Set To Rise In 3 To 12 months: CDL

Source : The Straits Times, April 17, 2009

PROPERTY developer City Developments (CDL) said yesterday that it expects increasing numbers of homebuyers to enter the market in the next three to 12 months.

Its optimism stems from the sale of more than 80 per cent - or 150 units - of its newly-launched development, The Arte at Thomson. CDL has put 180 units of the 336-unit project on sale.

It said The Arte was 'a record breaker of sorts', being one of the few large projects launched in the global economic meltdown 'that has tasted success'.

CDLs' statement comes on the heels of newly released data that showed 1,220 new private homes sold last month, just shy of the 1,332 units sold in February.

This makes two consecutive months with more than 1,000 units sold - the first time it has happened in a year.

First-quarter private home sales have hit 2,660 units - about 62 per cent of all of last year's new home sales.

It has led some to speculate that the market has indeed turned a corner.

CDL said that 'after absorbing news of forecasts of a steep decline in GDP growth for 2009, the upbeat in sales volume could mean that there is greater confidence that a turnaround is in sight - with a steady rise expected in the property market within the next three to 12 months'.

But analysts maintain that this level of buying may not be sustainable.

Knight Frank director of research and consultancy, Mr Nicholas Mak, has estimated that only 6,000 to 7,000 new private homes are expected to be sold this year, unless the Singapore economy and employment market improve significantly.

However, CDL's group general manager, Mr Chia Ngiang Hong, said that recent launches have shown that 'buyers are still willing to spend when they see value and see a good deal'.

Developers, prompted by the challenging economic conditions, have lowered selling prices - by between 5 to 25 per cent - and these factors have contributed to larger transaction volumes, said CDL.

Raffles Hotel Reported To Be Going On Sale

Source : The Straits Times, April 17, 2009

THE wealthy Arab owner of Raffles Hotel is reported to have put the local icon back on the market in a bid to offset billion-dollar losses racked up in the financial meltdown.

Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Taal Alsaud (next picture), who owns Raffles Hotel, is said to have put the heritage icon back on the market in a bid to offset billion-dollar losses racked up in the financial crisis. -- PHOTOS: ST FILE PHOTO, BUSINESS TIMES, ISTOCKPHOTO

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud of Saudi Arabia is said to have put a price tag of $674 million on Raffles, the iconic heritage hotel on Beach Road.

London's Times newspaper said yesterday that Fairmont Raffles Hotels International is seeking buyers for Raffles and other hotel assets, despite a severely depressed market.

If true, this is the second time in as many years that the Singapore landmark has been the subject of a sale.

However, the communications manager for Prince Alwaleed's Kingdom Holding Company, which has a controlling stake in Fairmont Raffles, said early this morning that the Prince was not seeking a buyer for Raffles Hotel.

Last May, a proposed sale of Raffles Hotel to a consortium led by former Credit Suisse banker Mark Pawley failed to materialise for reasons that remain unclear. The deal was said to have been tagged at about $650 million.

The hotel is more than 120 years old and gazetted as a national monument.

Built by the Sarkies Brothers in 1887 on the site of a 10-room bungalow, the hotel expanded quickly and its fame grew far and wide, partly thanks to it being mentioned in the works of writers Somerset Maugham and Joseph Conrad.

In 2005, it was part of a hotel portfolio belonging to Raffles Holdings - since delisted - that was sold to US-based Colony Capital for $1.7 billion.

Colony Capital later merged that portfolio with Fairmont's assets to create Fairmont Raffles. Other local assets owned by Fairmont Raffles include Fairmont Singapore and Swiss�tel The Stamford.

The group has 123 hotels under the Fairmont, Raffles, Swiss�tel and Delta brands.

The Saudi Arabia-based firm is one of the world's leading hotel investors.

But industry sources told The Times the Saudi Prince is considering a range of disposals after a sharp fall in value of some of his biggest investments.

The Evening Standard in Britain yesterday said he is also looking for a buyer for the Savoy, London's most famous hotel, which could be worth more than £200 million (S$445 million). Kingdom Holding has denied this report as well.

Prince Alwaleed's investments have taken bruising hits, most notably in American banking giant Citigroup. His initial 3.9 per cent stake has plunged in value from more than US$50 a share two years ago to about US$4 today.

Last October, the Prince tried to stabilise the situation by increasing his stake to 5 per cent, but the shares have continued to nosedive.

KHC also lost a bundle of cash on its investments in Songbird Estates, the majority owner of London's Canary Wharf financial complex, Euro Disney and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

Kingdom Hotel Investments, a small London-listed vehicle in which the Prince has a 55 per cent stake, has also lost more than two-thirds of its value in the past 12 months.

Fortune magazine said his wealth has fallen from US$21 billion to about US$13 billion (S$19 billion) over the past year. - BLOOMBERG

New DBSS Project Sees Queue Days Before Applications Open

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 17 April 2009

Over a hundred people have started queuing for the latest public housing project in Simei even though bookings are not scheduled to start till Tuesday.

Artist's impression of Parc Lumiere - SIM LIAN GROUP website

Eager house-hunters have been at the Simei Road site since 8am in hope of viewing and eventually booking a unit at Parc Lumiere – a new project under the Housing and Development Board's (HDB) Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS).

They are taking no chances, especially when applications will be accepted on a first-come-first-served basis only.

Given the strong response, developers said applications may open from Saturday instead.

Four-room units at Parc Lumiere are priced between S$378,000 and S$425,000, while 5-room units are priced between S$462,000 and S$575,000.

One house-hunter said: "Price-wise, I don't have a choice! I need a house. The longer I wait, the price will keep increasing. I haven't seen a trend in prices dropping, so I have to get it. It's now or never."

Under this scheme, private developers manage the project from its design to construction and sale.

While units may come with condominium-like furnishings, the projects do not have facilities found in condominiums such as swimming pools. - CNA/so

Sim Lian Group To Launch Parc Lumiere On April 18

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 16 April 2009

Main board listed developer Sim Lian Group will launch its latest development, Parc Lumiere, by walk-in-selection on April 18.

Parc Lumiere is a public housing project under the Housing & Development Board's "Design, Build and Sell Scheme" (DBSS).

The development which is located near the Simei MRT station will comprise 360 four and five room units.

Sim Lian said the average selling price for the project is S$425 per square foot.

This translates to between S$378,000 and S$425,000 for a 4-room unit, or between S$462,000 and S$575,000 for the 5-room flat.

Viewing period for the units will begin from April 18 and home buyers can place their bookings from April 21.

Sim Lian said booking of flats will be made on a first-come-first-served basis and buyers will make payment for the units based on the Progress Payment model. - CNA/vm

Two Insurance Firms Launch Rent Protection Scheme

Source : The Business Times, April 17, 2009

AS disputes between landlords and tenants hot up, two insurance companies have launched a rent protection insurance scheme to shield residential landlords from rental income losses.

Said to be the first in Singapore and Asia, the product from Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) and QBE Insurance makes up for up to 12 months of lost rent (capped at $100,000) in several events, such as the tenants defaulting on payments or real estate agents absconding with rents collected.

The insurance also covers other administrative costs such as legal fees incurred in evicting tenants.

At 15 per cent of one month's rent, premium for the rent protection insurance is affordable, said JLT business development director Gerard Lee.

'Landlords and real estate agents . . . have commented that it is being introduced at the right time in Singapore.'

The insurers noted a rising number of landlord-tenant dispute claims.

According to data they sourced from the Small Claims Tribunals of the Subordinate Courts of Singapore, there were 1,137 such cases in 2008 - 70 per cent more than a year earlier.

And feedback from the real estate industry indicates that most disputes do not even reach the tribunals, the insurers highlighted.

As Dennis Wee Group director Chris Koh said, it is hard to take some tenants to task if they have simply disappeared.

With market conditions deteriorating, the insurers also felt that rent protection insurance would come in handy.

Institute of Estate Agents president Jeff Foo observed that rent defaults have increased significantly from nine months ago, and such cases would hurt landlords that rely on rental income for mortgage payments.

The new product will be distributed through real estate agents, who will get a referral fee. Coverage applies for entire tenancy periods of up to 24 months, and landlords have to bear deductibles in some cases.

Rent protection insurance has spawned premiums of over A$30 million (S$32.5 million) in Australia, JLT said.

'We believe that this product will find comparable success in Singapore and in Asia.'

Sales At City Development's "The Arte" Surpassed 80%

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 16 April 2009

City Developments (CDL) said sales at "The Arte" condominium project have surpassed the 80 per cent mark.

The developer said 150 units were snapped up in a Phase 1 launch recently with S$190 million of deals recorded.

Most of those sold went for under S$2 million.

The 336-unit freehold project at Thomson Road has been priced at an average of S$880 per square foot, with units ranging from 1,055 sq ft for a two-bedroom apartment to 4,000 sq ft for a penthouse.

CDL has also offered buyers an interest absorption scheme which allows them to defer the bulk of their purchase till completion.

New private home sales surpassed the 1,000 mark in March, the second month in a row. - CNA/vm

CityDev Sells 150 Units Of The Arte For $190m

Source : The Business Times, April 17, 2009

THE buzz continues at property launches on the island. City Developments said yesterday that it achieved about $190 million of sales from selling about 150 units at The Arte at Thomson since March 21.

The freehold project is priced at $880 psf on average. No premium is being being charged for an interest absorption scheme (IAS) that CDL has extended to buyers. The scheme means buyers pay just the initial 20 per cent to CDL and defer paying the bulk of their purchase price until The Arte is completed. However, buyers have to take up a housing loan at the point of purchase.

CDL has released 180 of the total 336 units in the project, which comprises two 36-storey high towers.

The majority of The Arte's buyers have private home addresses. Most of the units are going for under $2 million.

Over at Holland Road, Bukit Sembawang is releasing more units at its freehold Verdure from today. It has sold 14 of the 34 apartments in the five-storey project released last weekend. Verdure comprises 69 apartments, with an average price of about $1,350 psf, and six strata semi-detached homes, which cost about $4.8 million on average.

Bukit Sembawang had previously offered an IAS without charging any premium, but from today, buyers will have to pay 2 per cent more to benefit from the IAS.

Over at Tembeling Road in the Katong area, Alpha Land International is offering a small development with a total of 12 apartments. Prices in the five-storey freehold project, which is expected to be completed towards the end of this year or early next year, range from $663,840 (for an 818 sq ft two-bedroom unit) to $1.64 million (for a 2,379 sq ft four-bedder penthouse).

Alpha Land is offering an early bird discount in the form of renovation packages ranging from $10,000 to $25,000, depending on the size of the units. Tembeling Court is being marketed by Texan Associates.

Sim Lian Group will also launch its 360-unit HDB project Parc Lumiere tomorrow. Offered under HDB's design, build and sell scheme, units in the Simei development have an average selling price of $425 psf. Parc Lumiere has four and five-room flats, with four-room flats selling for $378,000-$425,000 and five-room flats going for $462,000-$575,000.

Sweet Deals To Keep Tenants From Fleeing

Source : The Business Times, April 17, 2009

Some landlords offering rents below $10 psf in choice locations to cling on to prized tenants

Commercial landlords are fighting to retain prized tenants, with some choice buildings in Raffles Place said to be offering even single-digit rental rates.

According to industry sources who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of deals, rents below $10 per square foot have popped up in lease renegotiations for buildings such as OUB Centre and Equity Plaza. Some tenants in Singapore Land Tower have also received offers of around $7 psf, they said.

Such asking rents in the heart of the business district would have been rare during the property boom. But with firms consolidating or holding back on growth after the financial crisis broke, office demand has 'weakened considerably', said DTZ in an April 1 report.

Also, 'more shadow space is emerging as companies scale down their workspace and sublease excess space' and this trend could continue, it said.

As recently as end- 2008, the average monthly rent for Grade A space was still $15 psf. This fell 18 per cent to $12.30 psf at the end of March, said CB Richard Ellis. In the same period, the average monthly rent for prime office space also dropped 19 per cent to $10.50 psf.

'Competition to retain tenants is on,' Cushman & Wakefield Singapore managing director Donald Han commented.

Few landlords responded when BT asked about rents in their buildings. One which did - CapitaCommercial Trust (CCT) - said that signing rents for its Grade A offices are in the double-digit range. The trust owns several properties such as Six Battery Road.

A Keppel Land spokeswoman said that there are 'single-digit rental rates for some buildings and double-digits for others' across Keppel Land and K-Reit Asia's office portfolios, which include Equity Plaza and a one-third interest in One Raffles Quay.

She added that the age and non-regular layout of Equity Plaza could have led to single-digit rentals in some cases, but the property did secure double-digit rates in January.

To be fair, sources said that rents under $10 psf are still under negotiation in many cases. 'It doesn't mean there have been transactions,' one pointed out.

Also, industry observers believe that only some existing tenants can benefit from these rates - these would be firms renting large spaces, taking up long leases or those with good corporate profiles.

Still, the low rents offered are putting pressure on new projects hoping to draw tenants away, sources said. They now have to propose better deals to convince companies to bear the costs and hassle of relocation.

Cushman & Wakefield Singapore estimates that around 2.4 million square feet of office space will come onstream in 2009, with more arriving thereafter. Projects taking shape include the Marina Bay Financial Centre, which Keppel Land is developing with Hongkong Land and Cheung Kong (Holdings)/ Hutchison Whampoa.

There is already talk that asking rents at the upcoming Straits Trading Building (next to Singapore Land Tower) have reached single-digit levels. Reports in the effervescent days of January last year noted that the development could fetch rents of $18 psf.

The 28-storey building is expected to receive its temporary occupation permit (TOP) in November and around 25 per cent of space has been pre-committed. According to The Straits Trading Company, asking rents range from $10 to $12 psf depending on contract terms.

Of course, rents do not tell the whole story; landlords are also giving out other incentives to retain tenants. 'We start to see more creative packaging of deals,' said Knight Frank director of business space (office) Agnes Tay. 'Some deals can involve a higher transaction price but include more rent-free months to bring down the average cost.'

A CCT spokesman also shared: 'If tenants are prepared to renew for a longer term, we would be able to offer more rental concessions.

'Tenants will also be able to save additional costs expected to be incurred if they relocate - namely, reinstatement cost for the existing space, fitting out of new premises, business disruption, moving costs, etc.'

Lower rents and more concessions will give businesses here some cost relief. As Savills noted in February, Grade A office rents in Singapore are likely to be about 20 per cent cheaper than in Hong Kong by end-2010.

As rents shot up here in 2006 and 2007, Grade A office rents actually surpassed those in Hong Kong in H2 2007 and early 2008. As an example of the rapid rise of the property market then, reports note that monthly rents at One Raffles Quay were once $4 psf when leasing began in 2004; they have since gone up severalfold.

Simei Condo-Style Flats: No Balloting

Source : The Straits Times, April 17 2009

360 four- and five-room DBSS units can be booked on the spot.

A NEW condo-style estate being launched by the Housing Board will allow buyers to secure a flat on the spot and not have to join a ballot like for other Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) projects.

An artist's impression of the Parc Lumiere development under the Design, Build and Sell Scheme. The project will offer condo-style fittings but not facilities. -- PHOTO: SIM LIAN GROUP.

Parc Lumiere at Simei Road will have 120 four-room flats and 240 five-room units. The four-roomers, of 1,012 sq ft each, are priced at between $378,000 and $425,000. The five-roomers range from 1,152 sq ft to 1,195 sq ft and are priced at between $462,000 and $575,000. The average price is $425 per sq ft (psf).

The walk-in selection sale starts with a viewing period from tomorrow for buyers to check out the showflats and enquire about eligibility. Booking on a first-come, first-served basis starts next Tuesday. The executive director of developer Sim Lian Group, Ms Diana Kuik, said the booking date may be brought forward if there is strong interest.

Parc Lumiere will have eight 12-storey blocks and an elevated landscape deck. Like other DBSS projects, it offers condo-style fittings such as bay windows and balconies, built-in wardrobes and kitchen cabinets. But unlike condominiums, DBSS projects do not have facilities such as pools and barbecue pits.

The Peak @ Toa Payoh, a DBSS project with 1,203 units, was launched on Wednesday for sale via the balloting system. Buyers have until April 28 to apply.

DBSS projects are public housing and so are subject to rules for new HDB flats. For instance, only those who earn $8,000 or less a month can buy them.

Because DBSS homes are sandwiched in a narrowing price gap between private condominiums and HDB flats, experts have cited a $500,000 price point as the resistance level for such homes.

Real estate company PropNex's chief executive Mohamed Ismail Gafoor said there may be some buyer resistance for the Parc Lumiere five-roomers.

Other DBSS projects like Natura Loft in Bishan and Park Central in Ang Mo Kio still have units available for sale.

Recent DBSS projects take into account peak HDB prices because the developers had bought their land when the market was still fairly strong, Mr Ismail said. Sim Lian bought the Simei site last June for $137 psf of potential gross floor area.

Mr Ismail said four- and five-room flats in Simei are now valued at around $350 psf. If buyers do not mind an older flat, they can get a five-room unit nearer the Simei MRT station for the price of a four-room DBSS flat, he said.

Ms Kuik said Sim Lian should be able to complete Parc Lumiere by the first half of 2011. The developer was behind Singapore's first DBSS project, the 616-unit Premiere @ Tampines, which drew nearly 6,000 applications in late 2006.

四美私人组屋 让公众直接选购

Source : 《联合早报》Apr 17, 2009


有别于过去五个私人组屋项目,四美私人组屋“Parc Lumiere”将破天荒让公众以先到先得的方式直接选购(walk-in-selection),而不是以传统的抽签选购方式推售。


她说,集团这么做是希望真正对Parc Lumiere有兴趣的买家以先到先得的方式买到组屋,让认真的买家有更高机会购买心仪的单位。

森联集团也是负责本地首个私人组屋项目——The Premiere@Tampines的发展商。郭新玲指出,2006年10月推出的616个淡滨尼单位虽吸引近6000人抽签申购,但很多申请者其实并非认真的申购者。



Parc Lumiere建在四美路,靠近四美地铁站和东福坊购物中心。它有类似公寓的装潢,将设有凸窗(bay window)、植物槽、阳台、冷气卧房和270个停车位,并采用大量玻璃设计。组屋也将辟花园楼层(landscape deck),让居民歇息交流,享受绿意盎然的休闲生活。



四房式单位面积约94平方公尺,售价37万8000元到42万5000元;五房式的面积则介于107至111平方公尺,售价46万2000元到57万5000元。整体而言,Parc Lumiere售价每平方英尺为425元。

Parc Lumiere是否特地选择和The Peak@Toa Payoh同时推出?森联集团执行董事郭新明笑说:“这纯属巧合,我们只是按照原定计划如期推出四美组屋。”



伊斯迈也指出,Parc Lumiere售价比附近转售组屋价格高出30%左右,可能会让一些买家却步。



Dennis Wee房地产经纪行董事许家荣认为,屋价相当合理,有一定的吸引力,如果能在经济不景时期出现人龙,对房地产市场来说是个喜讯,或许预示市场将开始回暖。