Monday, May 18, 2009

CapitaLand's The Wharf Residences Continues To See Strong Sales

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 18 May 2009

CapitaLand's newly released units at The Wharf Residences continued to see strong sales over the weekend, with another 24 units transacted.

The Wharf Residences (artist impression)

The developer had earlier sold 85 per cent of the 100 units launched on May 15.

All in, CapitaLand said 134 units out of the 173 unit at The Wharf Residences have been sold.

Apartments at the 999-year leasehold project are priced at between S$1,300 and S$1,600 per square foot.

The Wharf Residences (artist impression)

The developer said 8 in 10 of the homebuyers are Singaporeans, with the rest coming from China, Japan, Canada, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The Wharf Residences is located at Tong Watt Road, off Mohamed Sultan Road near the city centre.

Artist impression of The Sky Terrace (The Wharf Residences)

CapitaLand added that it will present other projects, like the proposed development at Gillman Heights Condominium site, at an appropriate time. - CNA /ls

80% Of Martin Place Residences Units Launched Sold Over Weekend

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 18 May 2009

Eighty per cent of the high-end Martin Place Residences condominums launched were sold over the weekend.

Frasers Centrepoint logo

A third of the 302 units available have been launched.

The freehold Martin Place Residences is just a few minutes from the heart of Singapore's prime Orchard Road shopping belt.

Developer Frasers Centrepoint said the units were transacted at between S$1,260 and S$1,700 per square foot.

Six in 10 buyers were from Singapore, while the rest were foreigners from countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.

Frasers Centrepoint attributed the strong response to its pricing.

The initial 28 units that were sold last year were priced between S$1,700 and S$2,000 per square foot. - CNA/yt

Analysts Say S'pore Private Property Market Could Pick Up This Year

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 18 May 2009

Brokerage DBS Vickers said the Singapore private property market could pick up this year.

In a research report, the firm said the prices of mass market private homes are likely to rise by the second half of this year if demand continues to hold.

Mid-tier private residential homes, meanwhile, could see price stability towards the later part of the year.

However, DBS Vickers added that the high-end segment will remain subdued for at least the next few months.

The brokerage noted that developers have launched more new homes for sale in April, with buyers eyeing a wide variety of projects in different locations.

Last Friday, data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority showed that private home sales for April remained strong, with some 1,200 units sold. - CNA /ls

Last-Minute Hitch Threatens Sale Of Gillman Heights

Source : The Straits Times, May 16, 2009

Buyers raised issues relating to condo's management fund

THE troubled $548 million Gillman Heights collective sale that was due to be settled yesterday was stalled by a last-minute hitch.

The sale, which has dragged on for two controversy-wracked years, was supposed to have been signed off by last night but the owners' lawyers told The Straits Times that the buyers did not complete the deal.

The sale - first inked in early 2007 - was thought to be a done deal in February after the Court of Appeal dismissed a last-ditch plea by minority owners to overturn the transaction.

The buyers - a group called Ankerite and led by property giant CapitaLand - raised some issues out of the blue on April 30 relating to routine funds held by the condominium's management.

Now, some owners at the 607-unit estate in Alexandra Road fear that the buyers have got cold feet and are using the funds issue to back out.

Earlier reports indicated that owners stood to receive between $870,000 and $950,000 for their units.

The sale - first inked in early 2007 - was thought to be a done deal in February after the Court of Appeal dismissed a last-ditch plea by minority owners to overturn the transaction.

But Ankerite's lawyers Rajah and Tann wrote to the sales committee on April 30 about money left in the management corporation's (MCST) management fund. These funds go to the buyers on completion of the sale.

Rajah and Tann wanted $750,000 transferred back into the management fund from the sinking fund and the move approved by residents at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) before the completion date.

An MCST member who declined to be named said it was 'ridiculous' to request an EGM at such short notice. Residents are usually notified weeks ahead.

He also noted that Rajah and Tann did not raise the issues until April 30 - just two weeks before the May 15 completion date and two months after the appeals court gave the green light.

Ankerite's April 30 letter also raised another contentious point - a separate on-going suit by a local contractor against the MCST.

The MCST had set aside almost $700,000 in the management fund to settle the case but Rajah and Tann requested that $2.3 million be allocated.

The MCST has since settled the suit for around $400,000. This meant it had no need to allocate the $2.3 million but it did transfer $750,000 into the management fund. This was done so that there would be 'no excuses' for the buyers not to complete the sale, said the MCST member.

Law firm Lee and Lee, which is acting for the sales committee, notified Rajah and Tann in a letter seen by The Straits Times that the issues raised had been resolved even though there was 'no legal basis to claim the disputed sums'.

It also warned against delaying or deferring completing the sale of the 99-year leasehold estate.

A CapitaLand spokesman confirmed yesterday that during the 'due diligence process', it had 'raised queries relating to a number of issues'. 'With the view to...the completion of the acquisition soon, CapitaLand has been in constant discussion with the sales committee.'

Ankerite initially comprised CapitaLand, Hotel Properties and two private funds, but CapitaLand will buy up the 10 per cent holding of one private fund for $21.7 million. This will make Ankerite an indirect unit of CapitaLand.

Resident G. Kaur said some neighbours were anxious to see the deal done as they had committed to other properties, 'but for some means that they can get to enjoy living in their homes a while longer than expected', she added.

Condo-Style HDB Flats Selling Well

Source : The Sunday Times, May 17, 2009

But at prices of $500,000 to $730,000, the Design, Build and Sell Scheme units don't come cheap

Account manager Samuel Lee and his wife were among those who bought a five-room flat at Parc Lumiere in Simei.

Some 4,500 people turned up last month at the launch of The Peak @ Toa Payoh, a project built under the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS). Prices at the 1,203-unit go up to $722,000. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

Although the recently launched condo- style HDB project offers something more than a regular HDB flat, its location - more than anything else - was what sealed the $477,000 deal for Mr Lee, 27.

'Facilities-wise, it can't beat The Peak and Natura Loft,' he said, referring to two similar projects.

'It's the location. It is literally just across the road from my in-laws'.'

Thanks to buyers like him, Parc Lumiere is nearly sold out, even though its first-come, first-served sale method meant that many buyers had to brave the heat and queue for hours before they got to book a unit.

However, those keen on a condo-style HDB flat - or what HDB terms a Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flat - need not fret because there are still units available.

An artist's impression of Natura Loft in Bishan, another DBSS project. -- PHOTO: QINGJIAN REALTY

The 360-unit Parc Lumiere, for instance, has 30 five-room units left for sale, while the 480-unit Natura Loft in Bishan has more than 100 five-room units left.

DBSS projects are designed, built and sold by private developers.

They are ungated and are subject to public housing rules, such as the $8,000 household income ceiling, ethnic quota and a five-year minimum occupation period.

But unlike regular HDB flats, they offer condo-style fittings and layouts.

There are balconies, bay windows and timber flooring in the bedrooms. The kitchen comes with built-in cabinets and the rooms with built-in wardrobes.

They do not come cheap though. As HSR Property Group executive director Eric Cheng said: 'DBSS projects offer very good concepts, interior finishes and layouts, but the only problem is the price. Those with insufficient CPF savings will feel the pinch of the premium for those extras.'

ERA Asia Pacific associate director Eugene Lim pointed out that at their current pricing of $500,000 to $730,000, DBSS flats are priced just a shade below mass market condos in the range of $650,000 to $900,000. 'There is already a slight overlap,' he said.

Property agents said last month before the launch of Parc Lumiere and The Peak that there might be some resistance if DBSS flats were priced above $500,000, particularly given the recession.

Prices at the 1,203-unit The Peak @ Toa Payoh go up to $722,000. At Natura Loft, developer Qingjian Realty said five-room units are available at $590,000 to $739,000, or from $456 per square foot to $578 psf.

PropNex spokesman Adam Tan said that while DBSS projects come with designer furnishings that are typical of condominium units, buyers need to be aware of the fact that outside of one's door, the environment is like that of an HDB estate.

'There are no facilities like pools,' he said.

DBSS projects are for those who want the interior atmosphere of a condo but not the facilities and the relatively hefty maintenance charges that come with them, he added.

HSR's Mr Cheng said DBSS flat buyers are also buying a home in a conducive environment that has been carefully planned by the developer. DBSS flats are also usually in very tall blocks, and some have high ceilings typical of private flats.

Indeed, each DBSS project is different in design and size. Each will attempt to offer features that promise a bit more exclusivity than your regular HDB estate.

Parc Lumiere and Natura Loft offer elevated landscape decks. The Peak has a card-access security system at all ground-floor lift lobbies.

At Park Central in Ang Mo Kio, the rooftop garden above the carpark features a 400m jogging track.

Unlike regular flats, DBSS projects may offer premium appliances. Natura Loft, for instance, offers rain showers and Electrolux cooker hobs, while The Peak offers Daikin air-conditioning systems.

Currently, there is just one other vacant DBSS site in Bedok Reservoir Crescent, but the Government has yet to launch it for sale.

Although falling private-home prices have presented low-end home buyers with more options, some have their hearts firmly set on a DBSS project.

Mr Lee, for instance, compared Parc Lumiere to a Melville Park condo apartment but decided against the smaller unit in the latter.

'I've also considered the resale value. When the Tampines DBSS project came out, people said the price was very high. Now, based on the experience of the Tampines DBSS, I don't think we will lose out.'

In late 2006, the first DBSS project, Premiere @ Tampines, drew nearly 6,000 applications for 616 flats priced from $138,000 to $450,000. Housing prices have risen since.

But whether DBSS buyers can make a profit on resale will depend on how the mass market moves, said ERA's Mr Lim.

For DBSS flats to be resold at say $600,000 to $850,000, mass market condo prices will need to move up higher to between $800,000 and more than $1 million, he said.

'This is possible if there is another economic boom that brings all-round prosperity and the whole property market moves up across all categories,' said Mr Lim.

'Whether it can happen in seven to eight years, it is difficult to predict. If it does happen, it will likely be a window period for these DBSS flat owners to make the resale profits. Usually, the best time to sell a new flat on the resale market is when it is about five to eight years old. Thereafter, prices may dip again.'

Private Home Sales Strong

Source : The Straits Times, May 16, 2009

Demand for mid- to mass-market units sees more homes launched

SALES of new private homes continued to boom in April, almost matching the frenetic pace of activity set in both February and March this year.

Artist impression of The Arte. -- PHOTO COURTESY OF CITY DEVELOPMENTS

Some 1,207 units were sold during the month as more were launched by developers keen to take advantage of increased buying momentum, partly fuelled by stock market rises. This compares with sales of 1,220 units in March and 1,332 in February.

Last month, developers launched 1,083 new homes, up from 832 in March, according to data released yesterday by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

The latest figures mean that developer sales for the first four months of the year equate to around 88 per cent of all such sales last year. The two best-selling projects in April were Mi Casa in Choa Chu Kang and The Arte in Jalan Datoh. Buyers picked up 115 units of Mi Casa at a median price of $639 per sq ft (psf), while 110 units of The Arte were sold at a median price of $903 psf.

Suburban projects remained the most popular. Some 523 suburban units were sold during the month, down from 559 units in March and 840 in February.

In April, the lowest-priced non-landed deal was in Bayou Residence, where a unit with a rooftop garden was transacted at just $300 psf.

The month saw increased launches and sales activity in the core central region. Some 339 homes were launched there - five times the 70 units in March and the most since September 2007.

Certain prime projects with median prices from $1,156 psf to $1,703 psf were popular with buyers, said CBRE Research. It pointed out that projects such as the sold-out 72-unit Illuminaire On Devonshire, RV Suites and Attitude At Kim Yam were successful because of the low absolute quantum price per unit - they comprised mostly small-format units of 330 sq ft to 720 sq ft.

Ms Jacqueline Wong, head of residential at Jones Lang LaSalle, said: 'Buying appetite is returning for new developments that are reasonably priced. For example, Verdure by Bukit Sembawang on Holland Road, with a median price of $1,416 psf, roughly translates to below $2 million for a home in Holland Road.'

Said Mr David Neubronner, executive director, residential at Credo Real Estate: 'The perception of the market is changing. Certain quarters feel that prices may not go down very much from current levels. Some new launches this year started selling at slightly lower prices to soak in demand, but they are now raising their prices by a little.'

Still, some of those who launched earlier at higher prices continue to cut.

Yesterday, CapitaLand released 100 units at the 999-year leasehold The Wharf Residence off Mohamed Sultan Road at $1,300 psf to $1,600 psf. To entice buyers, it is waiving stamp duty and offering interest absorption. Prices are down from a range of $1,429 to $1,708 psf in the third quarter of last year.

CBRE Research executive director Li Hiaw Ho said: 'Based on the price range of the units sold in April and May, we are seeing a stabilisation of prices in contrast with the 14.1 per cent quarter-on-quarter record decline in the first quarter.'

However, while the mass and mid-markets have found their equilibrium, high-end developers may still have to lower prices if they want to sell now, said Mr Neubronner.

Property experts warned that April's pace is unlikely to be sustained, given that Singapore remains in a recession.

'Many homebuyers are purchasing new homes in the hope that the property market would recover shortly,' said Knight Frank director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak.

Mr Neubronner added that prices could possibly hover around current levels for the next 12 months.

Dr Chua Yang Liang, head of research, South-east Asia, at Jones Lang LaSalle, added: 'Until there are clear signals of a stabilisation and underlying positive growth in the real economy, the residual pent-up demand alone cannot be expected to lift the residential market in the long term.'

Gillman Heights En-Bloc Deal Is On

Source : The Straits Times, May 18 2009

Gillman Heights owners can heave a sigh of relief now that the estate’s buyers Ankerite have confirmed that the group will go ahead with the purchase of the development.

Property giant CapitaLand, majority shareholder of Ankerite, told The Straits Times in a statement last night that “lawyers of both parties are working towards May 22 to complete the purchase of the site”.

Its latest move follows a report in The Straits Times over the weekend that Ankerite had failed to complete the sale by its due date, last Friday.

This caused anxiety amongst some owners at the 607-unit estate in Alexandra Road, who feared that the buyers got cold feet, as some owners had committed to buying other properties.

Earlier reports indicated that owners stood to get between $870,000 and $950,000 for their units.

The sale – first inked in early 2007 for a record $548 million at the height of the property market boom – has been dogged by controversy as minority owners fought at every turn to overturn the sale.

It was finally thought to be a done deal in February after the Court of Appeal dismissed a last-ditch plea by minority owners to reverse the transaction.

However, just two weeks before the sale completion date, on April 30, Ankerite raised some issues. Two points of contention were: a sum of $750,000 transferred out of the estate management fund; and separate monies allocated for a lawsuit against the estate’s management corporation (MCST) by a contractor who built the estate’s clubhouse and swimming pool in 2002.

MCST members said these issues were raised “at the last minute”, but Ankerite clarified yesterday that it took time to carry out the “due diligence process” and access to relevant documents was granted by the MCST only on Apr 23 and Apr 24.

Ankerite said the sales committee lawyers Lee and Lee notified them that these issues were resolved on the afternoon of May 15 – the sale completion date. However, Rajah and Tann wanted proof that the outstanding lawsuit had been settled, and only received a copy of the settlement agreement on Saturday, May 16.

“With this settlement agreement...the lawyers are working to complete the purchase as soon as possible,” said Ankerite’s lawyers.

MCST chairman Kok Chong Weng said he was glad to hear a date has been set to complete the deal, but added that residents might be looking at options to see if any compensation can be claimed for the delay.

Meanwhile, chief executive of CapitaLand Residential’s Singapore operations Patricia Chia said in a statement yesterday that “going forward, we are looking at presenting our other projects such as the proposed development at the Gillman Heights Condominium site at the appropriate time”.

CapitaLand Sells 80% Of Wharf Residence

Source : The Straits Times, May 18 2009

Homebuyer sentiment continued to hold up over the weekend, with units of CapitaLand’s The Wharf Residence selling fast.

The property giant launched 100 units last Friday, of which 85 were snapped up that same day.

Photo source: Bloomberg; Photo caption: CapitaLand.

The Wharf Residence is a 999-year leasehold condominium, located off the hip Mohamed Sultan Road, comprising four residential towers and 13 conservation shophouses.

Over the weekend, CapitaLand released more units and sold another 24. During its launch last year, 25 units were sold. The weekend sales bring the total number of units sold to 134, as of 4pm yesterday.

With 173 apartments in the development, CapitaLand has chalked up a respectable tally of nearly 80 per cent sold.

In a press statement yesterday, CapitaLand said that it sold the units at an average price of between $1,300 and $1,600 per sq ft (psf). Prices are down, lower than the range of $1,429 psf to $1,708 psf seen in the third quarter of last year.

Another selling point could have been the stamp duty absorption and interest absorption scheme.

Ms Patricia Chia, chief executive of CapitaLand Residential Singapore, said that four out of five of the homebuyers were locals. The rest of the buyers hailed from Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Japan, Canada and Vietnam.

She added that the heritage homes will be launched for sale soon.

The sales of The Wharf Residence suggest that the healthy performance of the property market, as seen by the strong showing in new private home sales last month, is set to continue.