Monday, June 22, 2009

7 Things To Keep In Mind Before Buying That Home

Source : The Sunday Times, June 21 2009

With a recovery seemingly in sight, experts offer investment advice.

The current rush to buy new private homes leaves businessman Alan Lim feeling cold.

That is because he recently lost $220,000 on the sale of his condo unit at The Inspira, off Mohamed Sultan Road, and is in no mood to shop for another.

He bought the unit for more than $1.4 million in 2006 as an investment and sold it in April for about $1.2 million. He wanted to sell it before the condo was completed.

Unlike Mr Lim, many other home hunters have put down money on new properties.

Sales of new private homes reached a recession-defying level of 1,668 units last month - the highest level since the property boom of August 2007.

Top sellers last month included Martin Place Residences in Kim Yam Road and The Wharf Residence in Tong Watt Road.

Buyers were drawn to the significant price cuts - up to 25 per cent lower than last year - at these projects.

Market watchers said the improved sentiment, which is in line with the recent stock market rally, has triggered a herd instinct.

But they warned that there are things to keep in mind when investing in a new apartment or house.

1 Do not rush

This is a perennial piece of advice given by industry observers and experts. In following the herd, some may end up buying a property that is 'not so good' for them, said one property expert.

Determine how much money you can spare and buy only what you can afford, they said.

If you are looking for property as an investment, you should do your research first. Units in prime areas and near MRT stations tend to be easier to rent out.

PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail feels it pays to think long term, given that the economic outlook is still unclear.

'If you can afford to buy a property now for investment, look at it only from a mid- to long-term perspective,' he said.

That means a time frame of five years and beyond. There is a higher probability that home prices will rise by then, he said.

But the HDB resale market has been more resilient, amid tight supply, with prices inching lower by just 0.8 per cent in the first quarter - the first fall since the third quarter of 2006.

2 To buy or not to buy?

Many people who entered the market recently were afraid of missing the boat, having seen how fast prices climbed in 2007.

They want to get a good bargain as they believe the market has bottomed. Their reasoning: There is little to lose buying at the bottom.

Still, if you ask Mr Leong Sze Hian, president of the Society of Financial Service Professionals, he feels it is better to wait till there are more concrete signs of a property market recovery.

The chances of reselling for a profit will be better then.

'In my view, when the market is declining in price, like now, don't buy, wait for the URA quarterly index to rebound,' he said.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) price index shows that private home prices plunged by a record 14.1 per cent in the first quarter, following a 6.1 per cent slide in the fourth quarter of last year.

Analysts expect to see a fall that is less steep in the second quarter. URA will release new data next month.

'Why take a risk and buy now? You don't have to try to catch the market at the bottom, but rather catch it on the upside - lower risk,' said Mr Leong.

Historically in a recession, the property market has never gone up, he added.

3 Check with your bank on financing

If you do decide to buy, get in-principle approval or a credit assessment from your bank to make sure it can finance your purchase.

This is particularly so if you intend to buy a resale home, now that more individual sellers have taken to raising prices.

Banks may be less conservative in lending these days but you may find that they are still not able to match the asking prices of the properties, experts said.

If this is the case, buyers will have to fork out more cash. Or they can wait, provided no one else is keen on that particular property.

4 Set aside spare cash...

Do not put all your cash into your property purchase.

Always make sure you have some left over to cover renovation and repair costs.

Determine how extensively you want to renovate the property.

HSR Property Group executive director Eric Cheng suggests setting aside 5 per cent to 7 per cent of the property purchase price for renovation.

Investors should also set aside some cash for unexpected repairs in the future.

5 ...and more spare cash

Do not rely completely on rental income to help pay the mortgage, experts said.

You may be able to buy a tenanted property, but when the tenancy ends in the next year or two, you may not be able to get the same rent.

Private home rents plunged 8.5 per cent in the first quarter, following a 5.3 per cent fall in the last three months of last year.

Many analysts expect rents to continue falling, though some believe they are stabilising.

Also, remember there may be periods of zero rental when there are no takers, said Mr Ismail.

He advises buyers to keep enough cash to pay for at least six months of mortgage payments.

6 Watch out for top-up calls

No investors would say 'no' to an opportunity to buy at the bottom. The problem is, no one knows where the bottom is.

Banks may do a fresh valuation right before the property obtains the temporary occupation permit, before they disimburse the loan, said Mr Cheng.

If your price today is not supported by the banks one or two years down the road, there is a possibility that you may be asked to cough up the difference in cold hard cash, he said.

7 Don't overcommit

Although Singapore remains in a recession, improved sentiment and high sales of new homes have drawn some speculators back into the market.

Developers are launching more properties. They typically hold preview sales for guests, who may also be offered discounts of around 5 per cent.

Developers may also raise their prices slightly at the proper launch.

That is when some flippers will offer to sell their units at a level a tad below the launch price, experts said.

It may seem like a bargain, but is it?

Do not be tempted to commit immediately, said Mr Cheng.

Always consider the purchase seriously - because the same risks remain.

Top-End Bungalow Prices Rise As Sales Revive

Source : The Sunday Times, June 21, 2009

ACTION star Jet Li, who recently bought a good class bungalow (GCB) in Binjai Rise for $19.8 million, will have new neighbours as the market for GCBs continues to pick up over the next few months. Property agents say they are expecting to close more deals.

The average price per sq ft for GCBs has increased by 10 per cent in the last month. -- ST PHOTO: SHARIYA YAHAYA

'I expect to sell six to eight out of the 15 good class bungalows on hand within six months,' said Mr K.H.Tan, managing director of property firm Newsman Realty.

ERA property agent George Lee is singing the same tune. He expects to sell two GCBs in the next two months, while negotiations for a couple of deals are under way for Mr Steven Ming, Savills' director for prestige homes.

It was, however, a different story at the start of the year, after the fall of Lehman Brothers which crippled the world economy late last year. Total residential investment sales, including GCBs, plunged by 60.7 per cent in the first quarter of this year from the last quarter of last year. Mr Lee had no GCB sales at the start of the year.

Home to high-profile businessmen and now, at least one international celebrity, GCBs are high-end bungalows worth at least $10 million that sit on a minimum plot size of 15,069 sq ft. There are about 2,400 GCBs in the 39 areas gazetted by the URA. Popular GCB addresses include Nassim, Cluny, Bishopsgate and White House Park estates.

Ms Drahma (in purple) has no plans to sell her Leedon Park home, even though its price may have risen by 50 per cent. With her at the koi pond are her daughter Mariska Tanijaya, two, son Mario, three, and sister Winner, 18. -- ST PHOTOS: SHAHRIYA YAHAYA

While the restrictions for Singaporeans to own GCBs are only the size of their pockets, applications by permanent residents (PRs) to buy these houses are assessed on a case-by-case basis, depending on their contribution to Singapore.

As a sign of recovery, the average price per sq ft (psf) for GCBs has increased by 10 per cent to 15 per cent in the last month, said Mr Tan of Newsman Realty.

In January, it cost $800 to $1,000 psf for a new house in District 10. Now, it has risen to between $1,000 and $1,200 psf, said the agent who is handling the sale of 2, Swettenham Road, which belongs to Mr George Quek, founder and chairman of bakery chain BreadTalk.

To yield a good investment, buyers tend to look out for GCBs that are situated in the prime districts of 9, 10, 11 and 21, on elevated land, have a wide frontage and a 360-degree unblocked view.

Despite the market recovery and assurance of high returns, one GCB resident will not be selling her house any time soon.

Ms Werny Drahma, 32, loves her 18,000 sq ft Leedon Park house which she shares with her parents, three siblings, her husband, their two children and four maids. Her father is the chairman of commodity trading firm Wilson Global Trade.

'I love that I can have my personal space,' said the Indonesian- born ethnic Chinese, who is now a Singapore citizen.

The house was registered under Ms Drahma's name in 2002. Back then, it cost her parents less than $10 million, and she estimates that the value has appreciated by about 50 per cent.

The upkeep of the house - including electricity bill and maintenance for swimming pool, koi pond, aquarium and garden - comes to several thousand dollars a month.

The Drahmas' sprawling home is the result of her father's hard struggles, she said.

'My father came from a small town in Indonesia and was very poor. He had only high school education. But by perseverance, he managed to make it big by his 30s,' said Ms Drahma.

S'pore's Web Access Ranks 2nd

Source : The Straits Times, June 19, 2009

WASHINGTON - SINGAPORE, where 88 per cent of homes have broadband, South Korea and Taiwan are among the top five countries in terms of access to the high-speed Internet, according to a survey released on Thursday.

Singapore ranked second on the list with household broadband penetration of 88 per cent. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

The United States, where just 60 per cent of households had broadband as of last year, ranked 20th in the survey of 58 countries by Boston-based Strategy Analytics.

Five of the top 10 countries or territories in the survey were in Asia and the firm predicted the broadband subscriber base in the Asia-Pacific region will grow on average by a further 15 percent a year between 2009 and 2013.

Strategy Analytics said South Korea's highly urbanised population and its government-backed broadband policy accounted for its 95 per cent rate of broadband penetration.

Singapore ranked second on the list with household broadband penetration of 88 per cent, followed by the Netherlands (85 per cent), Denmark (82 per cent), Taiwan (81 per cent), Hong Kong (81 per cent), Israel (77 per cent), Switzerland (76 per cent), Canada (76 per cent) and Norway (75 per cent).

Among other Asia-Pacific nations, Australia ranked 11th with 72 per cent, Japan ranked 16th with 64 per cent, New Zealand ranked 25th with 57 per cent, China ranked 43rd with 21 per cent and Malysia ranked 44th, also with 21 per cent. Thailand ranked 51st with seven per cent, Vietnam ranked 52nd, also with seven per cent, the Philippines ranked 53rd with five per cent, India ranked 57th with two per cent and Indonesia ranked 58th with one per cent.

Strategy Analytics acknowledged that measuring broadband penetration has been a subject of controversy with arguments being made over whether it should be measured by household or per capita.

'Broadband rankings are often the subject of great debate and hand-wringing,' said David Mercer, vice president of Strategy Analytics.

'Though our rankings may differ from those of other organisations, it is because we are looking at the appropriate metrics,' he said. 'In far too many cases, people are looking at the wrong things,' said Ben Piper, a Strategy Analytics analyst.

'Residential broadband is overwhelmingly consumed on a household basis - not individually,' he said. Reporting broadband penetration on a per capita basis misses the mark, and can provide grossly misleading results.' -- AFP

Little Japan In Singapore

Source : The Straits Times, June 19, 2009

JAPAN is not all about sushi, sake, and sakura and a new cultural centre set up here hopes to get more Singaporeans aware about the intricacies of the culture.

'Innovation and tradition' is the main theme of the Japan Creative Centre (JCC) and it will showcase Japan's 'soft power', such as pop culture and traditional arts, besides creating a space for people to experience the charms of Japan.

The Centre will be located at the start of Orchard Road and is estimated to open on November this year.

This initiative is a result of Japan-Singapore summit meetings held in March and November 2007. An agreement was reached to set up the centre in Singapore as a base for disseminating information on Japan and its culture.

On Thursday night actress and singer Dawn Yeoh was officially appointed as the Goodwill Ambassador of the Japan Creative Centre.

As a Goodwill Ambassador, she will support the JCC and its activities, as well as share her personal thoughts and experiences after every JCC event in a blog on the centre's website.

The centre is expected to open in November 2009.

波东巴西附近一公寓项目 两百余单位两天卖出九成

Source : 《联合早报》June 21, 2009




8@Woodleigh公寓项目昨天吸引大批公众前往订购。 (蔡家增摄)






由星狮地产(Fra- sers Centrepoint)推出的8@Woodleigh位于兀里弄(Woodleigh Close),由五座15层楼高的建筑组成,它将在2013年8月取得临时入伙证。



星狮地产的另一个项目Martin Place Residences,在5月份就有很突出的销售成绩。