Thursday, July 2, 2009

Singapore Rises To 18th In Global Ranking Of Retail Rents

Source : The Business Times, July 2, 2009

38% of top global retailers have presence here, CBRE survey finds

SINGAPORE moved up a notch to 18th position in a ranking of the world's most expensive retail locations at end-Q1 2009, from 19th position at end-2008, according to CB Richard Ellis's latest Global Retail Market View.

Trendy: Super prime retail rents along Orchard Rd at the end of Q2 was S$49.80 psf per month, down 3.9 per cent from the preceding quarter and 8.5 per cent lower than in the year-ago period

Singapore also emerged 11th in CBRE's ranking of the top 15 Global Retail Cities as at the end of last year. This was based on the percentage of leading global retailers present in cities. London was number one (59 per cent), followed by Paris (50 per cent), New York (47 per cent) and Dubai (46 per cent). About 38 per cent of top global retailers have a presence in Singapore, slightly lower than Tokyo (39 per cent).

The average super prime retail rental value along Orchard Road at the end of the first quarter was US$408 per sq ft per annum, or S$51.80 psf a month.

Giving an update, CBRE in Singapore said the figure for end-Q2 2009 was S$49.80 psf per month, down 3.9 per cent from the preceding quarter and 8.5 per cent lower than in the year-ago period.

'Going forward, we expect the rate of rental decline for prime space along Orchard Road to ease given the healthy demand for existing shop space as well as high pre-commitment levels seen at yet-to-be-completed malls,' said CBRE's director, retail services, Letty Lee.

About 2.5 million sq ft of new shop space will be completed here this year, followed by a further 2.2 million sq ft next year.

CBRE's Global Retail Market View shows New York remains the world's most expensive retail location, with an average rental value of US$1,800 psf per annum in the latest end-Q1 ranking. This was despite a 10 per cent year-on-year rental decline.

Hong Kong held on to second place. But Moscow overtook Tokyo to grab the third place. Paris ranked fourth and Tokyo fifth.

CBRE notes that prime retail rents have fallen in almost every region worldwide, as the global recession hits consumer sentiment and retail sales.

'Demand for retail space has declined in most markets as consumers cut back on spending and unemployment continues to rise in many countries,' it says.

'Emerging and less established markets have been most significantly affected. Buenos Aires saw the largest annual decline in retail rents year on year with a drop of 37 per cent, followed by Warsaw with a 33 per cent decline and Washington with a 26 per cent decline.

'While some markets have continued to experience year-on-year increases in retail rents, in many cases the current pressure is downward.'

URA To Release Industrial Site At Kaki Bukit Road 2

Source : The Business Times, July 2, 2009

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will launch a public tender for an industrial site at Kaki Bukit Road 2 in two weeks' time, it said yesterday. The 1.07 ha site was made available for sale through the government's reserve list system in May 2009.

Under the reserve list system, the government will put up a site for public tender only if it receives an application from a developer who commits to bid for the site at or above the minimum price which is acceptable to the government.

URA has received an application from a developer who has committed to bid at a price of not less than $5 million for the land parcel at Kaki Bukit Road 2, it said. The price works out to about $43 per square foot (psf).

The site comes with a lease period of 30 years. It is zoned for a Business 2 development, which means that it can be developed for a range of clean, light and general industrial uses.

Industrial rents will be under pressure given the broader economic outlook and weak demand for Singapore exports, said Nomura Research in a June 29 report on Singapore's property market.

'While the market appears to be pricing in a new economic optimism, the real estate sector is still faced with the dual reality of rental declines and higher yields as growth expectations are pared,' said the report. Rents could decline by 31.7 per cent over the property cycle, Nomura believes.

Foreign Investors Boost London Q2 Sales

Source : The Business Times, July 2, 2009

(LONDON) London commercial property sales more than doubled to £1.43 billion (S$3.43 billion) in the second quarter from the first, driven by more West End sales and an influx of overseas investors, a survey showed yesterday.

Property broker Cushman & Wakefield found commercial property sales in the West End, City and Docklands rose 110 per cent in the April-June period, from £679 million in the January-March leg. This compared with £2.1 billion in the second quarter last year.

'The central London property investment market is likely to be among the first to recover in Europe, and the increase in activity is further evidence that overseas investors see value with yields at an historic high,' the survey said.

In the West End, £733 million of sales were recorded in the second quarter, up 250 per cent from the first quarter, but down from the £928 million booked in the year-earlier period.

The average lot size was £23.6 million, up from £14.7 million in the first quarter. Overseas private buyers accounted for 38 per cent of purchases, with overseas funds behind a further 22 per cent.

Clive Bull, Cushman & Wakefield's head of central London investment, said the overseas buyers' interest was piqued by a perception that the London market was relatively good value, the lack of rivalry from UK/Irish debt buyers, and the pound's weakness.

'The question exercising the minds of many investors, however, is whether this activity is the start of the recovery or some kind of false dawn,' Mr Bull said in a statement.

He said the evidence suggested this activity was a nascent recovery, citing a further £275 million of stock under offer in the West End and £167 million worth of deals that have exchanged but are yet to complete.

Yesterday, Land Securities said it had sold a key retail and office building on London's Oxford Street to a Libyan state-backed investor for £155 million. -- Reuters

HDB Resale Prices Up 1.2%

Source : The Straits Times, July 02 2009

Surprise increase in index reverses first quarter's dip to reach new high

PRICES of HDB flats have staged a surprising comeback, reversing a first-quarter dip of 0.8 per cent to rise 1.2 per cent in the second quarter and reach a historical high.

Flash estimates from the Housing and Development Board (HDB) released yesterday show the resale price index rising to 140 - a record level not seen since the current index started in 1990.

It beats the previous record set in the fourth quarter of last year when it hit just over 139.

Market analysts said they were caught off-guard by the turnaround, as many had been predicting 2 to 10 per cent declines in HDB resale flat prices for this year after a descent began in the first quarter - the first one since 2006.

Yesterday's numbers have changed expectations, with analysts reversing their forecasts for HDB flat prices to hold or increase by up to 5 per cent this year.

Industry observers attribute the latest surprise figures to three factors.

First, talk of an economic recovery has gathered momentum, backed by the recent stock market rally and brisk private property sales. This has slowed the slide in private property prices islandwide.

Flash figures capturing sales prices in the first 10 weeks of the quarter, released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority yesterday, show prices falling 5.9 per cent in the second quarter, compared to a 14.1 per cent decline in the previous quarter.

The marked slowdown in the price decline is in line with rising transaction prices evident since the strong rebound in home sales since February, said Colliers International's director for research and advisory, Ms Tay Huey Ying.

More bullish sentiment, coupled with the strength in HDB resale prices, has supported the private market, say analysts.

High HDB valuations is another key factor. HDB upgraders - buyers with HDB addresses buying private property - have been able to sell their units at high valuations and for tidy profits to fund private property purchases.

Banking executive Vic Cheow, 28, is one such HDB upgrader who recently sold a four-room HDB flat to buy a three-bed condominium unit in Jurong.

Due to the high valuations, buyers do not need to dig deep for upfront cash - otherwise known as cash-over-valuation - to purchase resale flats.

'We found selling at a profit easier as a result of this,' said Mrs Cheow.

ERA Asia-Pacific associate director Eugene Lim reports that the agency, which accounts for more than 40 per cent of the HDB resale market, saw transaction volumes surge 52 per cent in the second quarter compared to the first.

'The feeling in the second quarter is the recession hasn't been as bad as it seems,' said Mr Lim. Many sellers have become more willing to negotiate and are realistic, especially those selling larger flats, he added.

The third factor, flagged by Chesterton Suntec International head of research Colin Tan, is that demand far outstrips supply. HDB launched 7,793 new flats last year and will launch another 3,700 in the first nine months of this year.

'HDB may have ramped up the supply of new flats recently, but it's not enough and it takes too long,' said Mr Tan. 'There is still a lot of pent-up demand from a needs-based group of people. And they have no choice but to pay high prices because they cannot wait.'

A Credit Suisse report released recently notes that total public and private housing supply for 2008 to 2012 is 16,000 on average per year - 42 per cent lower than the 10-year historical average.

'This does not look excessive versus the annual average 24,000 household formations or marriages,' said the report.

But, added Mr Tan, it seems 'unnatural for prices to rise against the fundamentals of the economy', which is still in recession.

More detailed public and private housing data for the second quarter is set to be released at the end of this month.


Source : 《联合早报》July 02, 2009








第二季组屋转售 交易量上涨约52%







私宅价格止跌回升? 市场人士看法分歧

Source : 《联合早报》July 02, 2009









野村(Nomura)的房地产分析员Tony Darwell是另外一位相信新加坡楼价可能出现“W”字形走势的市场人士。他认为,新加坡楼市仍严重供应过剩,再加上租金正快速下跌、未来两三年的私宅单位完工高峰期,将继续对延迟付款计划(DPS)买家带来逼售和悔约压力。

上个月,楼价回升的速度相当惊人,世邦魏理仕(CB Richard Ellis)执行董事李晓和指出,第二季的新99年地契共管公寓价格的中位成交价为78万8000元,比第一季的69万6000元上升了13.2%。永久地契共管公寓的中位成交价更上升了26.6%,由73万3000元上涨至92万8000元。

OrangeTee执行董事陈道俊也说:“今年初,Marina Bay Residences的平均成交价格只有每平方英尺1625元。4月、5月开始起价,6月更飙涨到每平方英尺1900元至2000元之间。不久前,我们帮客户以每平方英尺大约2200元卖出一个单位,是今年来成交的最高价。”

同样的,今年第一季,Park Infinia @ Wee Nam的平均成交价格只有每平方英尺1194元,到了第二季已上涨至1295元。最近,一个单位以每平方英尺大约1450元成交。


Kovan Residences、Nova 88和Rosewood Suites,都是在今年四五月推出,或者重新推出的项目。当时,它们都明显调低了售价,例如Kovan Residences在今年第一季以每平方英尺均829元平成交,第二季却下跌了17%至每平方英尺692元。

Property Hunters Out In Droves Despite H1N1

Source : The Electric New Paper, June 29, 2009

NEITHER recession nor fears over the Influenza A(H1N1) virus can dampen home-buying sentiment, it seems.

WEEKEND CROWD: People at the showflat of the newly-launched Oasis@Elias yesterday. TNP PICTURE: CRYSTAL CHAN

Property hunters were still thronging showflats at newly launched condos such as Oasis@Elias and Livia in Pasir Ris.

At least 50 potential customers were at the showflats at each condo when The New Paper on Sunday visited yesterday.

However, the crowds were smaller at condos that were launched more than a year ago, such as Waterfront Waves at Bedok Reservoir Road.

Accountant Adeline Lim, 33, who bought a three-bedroom unit at Oasis@Elias with her husband, said she thought it was a good time to buy as the prices average $630 per square foot (psf).

She said: 'With so many people buying, the developer can up the prices anytime. We're really surprised at the big turnout today as we thought the recession would make people cautious about buying.'

Comparing prices

Others, like marketing manager Steven Wong, 35, were just shopping around to compare prices.

He said: 'I think it's still a buyers' market. So I'll just look at the prices and the blueprints of the units.

'I'm looking for an apartment with a sea view and a spacious balcony.'

The monthly maintenance for the facilities is $210 and those who had bought units said they thought the fee was affordable.

Mr David Soh, 30, an engineer, said: 'I swim and play tennis regularly. I also visit the gym twice a week. It's worthwhile to pay for the maintenance if you use the facilities.

'Besides, my salary is high enough to afford the fee.'

Agents from CB Richard Ellis, the appointed marketing agency for Oasis@Elias, said at least 60 units in the 388-unit leasehold development have been sold.

The Straits Times reported in March that more than 350 out of the 440 units at Livia have been sold.

Last weekend, Frasers Centrepoint sold 302 out of 330 units at its leasehold Woodleigh Close project 8@Woodleigh

The average transacted price of the mass-market project was $790 psf.

Customers at Oasis@Elias who were worried about financing were told that the developer, CEL Development, had tied up with DBS Bank to offer interest absorption schemes.

Under such schemes, the developer absorbs interest payments on the loan until completion.

Depending on the loan amount and tenure, this could work out to a few thousand dollars.

The crowds also didn't seem to be worried about the virus which has hit 454 people here as of yesterday.

Mr Soh said: 'Life still has to go on. The virus isn't really fatal unless your immunity is low. The seasonal flu can be equally bad and it's just that H1N1 is another strain of the flu virus.'


Another 89 new flu cases

WITH 89 new cases of H1N1, the total tally is now 454 confirmed cases in Singapore.

Pending investigation: 53 other cases.

The new local cases include 10 new cases in the Republic Polytechnic cluster and seven new cases in the Maju Camp cluster.

There are also two new cases in the Tekong cluster.

In addition, there is a new cluster from an NUS Orientation Camp comprising three new cases and one previously unlinked case.

40 Tenants May Stay On At The Grangeford Under New Leases

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 30 June 2009

After a near month-long tussle, some tenants at The Grangeford may stay on at the condominium after all.

About 40 of them have expressed interest to do so under the leasing agent, Savills, although the actual number could be higher as some enter into joint-leases with others to rent whole apartment units.

Grangeford condominium

Residents had been given till 5pm on June 30 to vacate the premises after the previous landlord, Ideal Accommodation, got into trouble with the authorities for converting 140 apartments into 600 rooms.

The leasing agent, Savills, is still tallying the total number of tenants who have moved out.

The condominium owner, Cove Developments, said a few tenants have requested for an extension to move due to various reasons such as travelling, and it is considering these on a case-by-case basis.

Authorities were roped in to ensure those leaving did not take more than they came with.

Tenants told Channel NewsAsia they were warned by management that a police report would be made if they took furniture that the apartments had come furnished with.

Out of those who moved, some were unhappy with terms offered by the new leasing agent, which requires them to rent an entire apartment instead of individual rooms.

40 units have been offered at rates ranging from S$2,600 to S$3,500 per month, with a minimum lease period of six months.

Others just had enough of the hassle. Rizky Priandika, an Indonesian student, said: "There are already many problems here so we need to move out already."

Kentaro Fujiyama, an expat working in Singapore for the first time, said: "I cannot live under the contract with them. I haven't got my deposit back and the previous landlord didn't even say sorry."

Another Indonesian student, George Mason, said: "I'm really pissed off now. I've just started staying here for one month and the contract said one year for me."

Cove Developments said the tenancy agreements between Ideal Accommodation and its tenants are a private matter.

At least 10 tenants told Channel NewsAsia they plan to file complaints with the Small Claims Tribunal for deposits ranging from S$1,200 to S$1,800 paid to the previous landlord. Ideal Accommodation could not be reached for comment.

Cove Developments has declined Channel NewsAsia's request to film the interior of the condominium and the tearing down of the illegal partitions. It said that with more people expected to move out on Tuesday, it might be unsafe for the media to be around.

But it added that it is on track to completing the refurbishment of all the apartments by the July 27 deadline. - CNA/vm

Private Home Prices In Singapore Drop 5.9% In Q2

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 01 July 2009

Private home prices in Singapore have fallen for the fourth straight quarter, though at a slower pace.

Initial estimates from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Wednesday showed that the cost of private residential properties fell by 5.9 per cent in the second quarter, compared to the record drop of 14.1 per cent in the previous quarter - the steepest fall since 1975.

Observers projected that some 4,000 new private homes were sold between April and June, 50 per cent more than the previous quarter.

Strong sales volume and improved market sentiment drove prices up, narrowing the decline in the second quarter.

Donald Han, managing director, Cushman and Wakefield, said: "We are going into a scenario of an upturn. (For) the third quarter, we may look at a potential positive number.

"There is still liquidity in the market and system, looking for good yielding assets. There is still a lot of activity out there and that will continue for the next two to three quarters."

According to the latest numbers, prices for homes in the second quarter slid across the board, dipping by 6.6 per cent in the central region, 6.3 per cent in the city fringe and 2.6 per cent in suburban areas.

Going forward, experts say developers will continue to launch mass market projects starting at S$800 per square foot (psf).

Overall, prices for the second half of the year is expected to rise by up to 10 per cent, with prospects for mid-tier properties also looking up.

Liang Thow Ming, director, Residential Services, Credo Real Estate, said: "Mid-end market has basically gone to the four-digit region at this point in time. I expect mid-end (market) will start at S$1,000 (psf) upwards. There has been a lot of activity which will sustain very well. In fact, I think it may be the out performer for the rest of this year."

More expensive luxury apartments averaging between S$3,000 and S$4,000 psf may also be placed for sale, though on a selective private preview basis.

Market watchers say foreign investors will take positively to the latest figures. And they expect some foreign buyers to return in the next six to eight months, with the majority of them likely to be looking at properties above S$5 million.

A minor recovery was also seen in the resale prices of public flats.

The Housing and Development Board said preliminary data showed that the resale price index rose 1.2 per cent between April and June, to an all-time high of 140 points since records began in 1990.

This was a 1.2 per cent price increase in the second quarter, reversing a dip of 0.8 per cent in the previous quarter.

Property agents say this is on the back of greater job security and realistic home prices.

For the whole year, observers expect resale prices of public flats to go up by some three to five per cent.

The figures captured transaction prices in the first 10 weeks of the quarter. The data for the full second quarter will be released on July 24. - CNA/yb/yt

URA Flash Estimate Falls 5.9% In Q2 Pte Home Price Index

Source : The Business Times, July 1, 2009

The official price index for private homes slipped 5.9 per cent in second quarter 2009 over the preceding quarter, according to a flash estimate released on Wednesday by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

The Q2 drop is smaller than the 14.1 per cent quarter-on-quarter decline in the index in Q1 this year.

URA also released on Wednesday the flash estimates of the price changes in the three geographical regions for Q2.

Prices of non-landed private residential properties decreased by 6.6 per cent in Core Central Region, 6.3 per cent in Rest of Central Region and 2.6 per cent in Outside Central Region in Q2 over Q1.

In comparison, for the first three months of this year, prices of non-landed private residential properties posted quarter-on-quarter drops of 16.2 per cent in Core Central Region, 17.0 per cent in Rest of Central Region and 7.3 per cent in Outside Central Region.

HDB Flash Estimate Up 1.2% In Q2 Resale Flat Price Index

Source : The Business Times, July 1, 2009

The Housing & Development Board's (HDB) flash estimate of the resale price index for HDB flats in second quarter 2009 rose 1.2 per cent over the preceding quarter. This reverses a marginal quarter-on-quarter drop of 0.8 per cent registered in Q1.

The resale price index for the full Q2 2009, along with more detailed public housing data for the period and upcoming new flat supply, will be released at the end of this month, HDB said in news release.

HDB Resale Prices Up

Source : The Straits Times, July 1, 2009

PRICES of HDB flats staged a surprising comeback, rising 1.2 per cent in the second quarter after dipping 0.6 per cent in the first quarter this year.


Flash estimates from the Housing Development Board (HDB) on Wednesday showed the resale price index rising to 140 - an all-time record high.

Market analysts attribute this increase to the continued demand for HDB resale flats, where cash needed to buy a flat, or cash-over-valuation (COV), has come down since the global economic fallout began last year.

'The popularity of resale flats is holding well against new project launches and design and build projects by private developers,' said PropNex Chief Executive Mohamed Ismail.

'Further, feedback from the ground is that demand in the matured estates far exceeds supply.'

Singapore's private home prices fell for a fourth straight quarter as the economic slowdown weighed on demand. -- ST PHOTO: STEVEN LEE CT

Meanwhile, the slide in private home prices has abated, falling 5.9 per cent in the second quarter, compared to the 14.1 per cent decline in the previous quarter.

More detailed private and pubic housing data for the second quarter will be released at the end of July.

Private Home Prices Dip 5.9%

Source : The Straits Times, July 1, 2009

SINGAPORE'S private home prices fell 5.9 per cent in the second quarter, which was an improvement from the record 14.1 per cent fall in the first quarter.


Initial estimates released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Wednesday also showed the decline in non-landed home prices was the lowest in the suburban areas.

Prices in this segment fell just 2.6 per cent, compared with a 6.6 per cent slide in the core central areas and a 6.3 per cent fall in the city-fringes.

The residential property market has been witnessing a boom of late, with buyers flocking to showflats to buy uncompleted homes.

Although the economic climate here remains weak, sales of new private homes have been strong and the resale homes market has also improved.

'The strong buying phenomenon in the market is partly due to new competitive pricing for some projects, the recent stock market rally, signs of an economic turnaround and pent-up demand,' said Mr Eugene Lim, ERA Asia Pacific's associate director.

In the HDB resale market, prices even rose 1.2 per cent on strong demand, reversing a marginal 0.8 per cent fall in the first quarter.

URA's initial estimates are based on caveats lodged during the first 10 weeks of the quarter. Updated figures will be released four weeks later.

Facelift For 3 Centres

Source : The Straits Times, July 1, 2009

THREE hawker centres at Block 1 Jalan Kukoh, Block 79/79A Circuit Road and Beo Crescent Market/Food Centre - will close for upgrading from Wednesday and reopen in the first half of next year.

The facelifts, to cost a total of $6.8 million under the National Environment Agency's (NEA) Hawker Centres Upgrading Programme (HUP), will inject a new lease of life to the centres, which are over 35 years old. Stallholders can also look forward to better hygiene conditions.

Improved ventilation, spatial enhancement and upgraded toilet faciities are some key aspects of the upgrading works at the three centres.

Other fundamental scope of works includes replacement of sanitary and plumbing pipes, electrical rewiring, change of floor and wall tiles, improvement in lighting conditions as well as provision of better fire safety features.

To offer patrons better convenience, all three centres will also be upgraded with elderly and handicap-friendly features such as ramps to enhance the existing barrier-free accessibility.

�During the upgrading period, stallholders from the three centres may apply to operate temporarily at available vacant stalls in other non-upgraded centres, said NEA.

� The NEA currently manages 109 hawker centres. To date, 74 hawker centres have been upgraded under HUP.

Some hawker centres that are currently undergoing upgrading include Tekka Centre, Block 628 Ang Mo Kio Ave 4 and Block 270 Queen Street.

HK Banks In Mortgage War

Source : The Business Times, June 30 2009

Mortgage rates are lowest in 19 years in face of slower demand for credit

(HONG KONG) Hong Kong high school teacher Chris Poon's dream of buying his first apartment was dashed in last December when banks refused to fund more than 50 per cent of the HK$3.5 million (S$657,650) purchase.

Tough times: Average net interest margins for Hong Kong's banks will narrow by as much as half a percentage point this year from 2008, say analysts

Mr Poon, 33, tried again in May and got a loan covering 70 per cent of the price for the 700 square foot apartment in Hong Kong's Sai Wan Ho district from BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) Ltd. The mortgage rate was 2.25 per cent, down from the 3.5 per cent that Mr Poon was discussing with lenders last year.

Mortgage rates in the city are the lowest in at least 19 years, as far back as records are available, to offset slower demand for other types of credit during Hong Kong's worst recession in a decade. Among developed economies, only Japan offers similarly cheap loans, as its central bank has kept interest rates below one per cent for the past 14 years, said Leland Sun, founder of Pan Asian Mortgage Co.

'Hong Kong banks are killing themselves with the low rates,' said Mr Sun, whose Hong Kong-based firm advises homebuyers.

Average net interest margins for the city's banks - the difference between what they charge for loans and the cost to fund them - will narrow by as much as half a percentage point this year from 2008, said Lee Yuk-kei, an analyst at Core-Pacific Yamaichi International Ltd in Hong Kong.

The aggregate margin declined to 1.62 per cent in the first quarter from 1.78 per cent in the previous three months, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority reported. At New York- based JPMorgan Chase & Co, the largest US bank by market value, the net interest margin climbed 37 basis points to 2.76 per cent in the first quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.

Banco Santander SA, Spain's largest bank, said that its net interest margin rose to 3.34 per cent in the first quarter from 3.05 per cent three months earlier.

Thinner margins will slow any recovery in Hong Kong bank profits this year, Core-Pacific's Mr Lee said. First-half results 'are likely to be weak' because of pressure on loan profitability and weakening demand for credit, Citigroup Inc analysts Simon Ho and Franco Lam wrote in a June 16 report.

The combined pretax profits of Hong Kong banks declined 28 per cent in the first quarter from a year earlier, according to figures submitted last month by the central bank to lawmakers. By contrast, first- quarter earnings at JPMorgan and Citigroup in the US and Deutsche Bank AG in Germany increased amid lower credit-market writedowns and higher trading profits.

Total loans in Hong Kong fell 0.5 per cent in April from March, sliding for a seventh straight month as an increase in mortgage lending failed to compensate for a drop in demand for credit among individuals and small and medium-sized companies, according to the central bank. The value of mortgage loans approved by Hong Kong banks rose for a sixth consecutive month in May to HK$28.1 billion, the highest since January 2008.

Banks cut home-loan rates in the city by 15 to 40 basis points in May to an average 2.08 per cent, data compiled by Hong Kong- based mReferral Mortgage Brokerage Services show. That's the lowest level since records began in 1990, according to mReferral.

'With these kinds of mortgage rates, banks aren't really making much money,' said Dominic Chan, a Hong Kong-based analyst at BNP Paribas Securities Asia Ltd. 'But for them, it's probably still better than putting money in, say, US Treasury notes.' The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell to 3.54 per cent on June 26 in New York.

Mr Chan has a 'buy' rating on BOC Hong Kong Holdings Ltd, Bank of East Asia Ltd and HSBC Holdings plc, and a 'hold' on Hang Seng Bank Ltd.

The Hang Seng Finance Index, which tracks shares of the city's biggest lenders, fell 17 per cent during the past 12 months, matching the benchmark Hang Seng Index's performance.

Bank of Communications Co, the Chinese bank 19 per cent owned by London-based HSBC, started offering mortgage rates on June 10 priced at as much as 3.25 percentage points below its prime rate, which stands at 5.25 per cent. The prime rate is the benchmark banks use to calculate what to charge for mortgages.

'This is probably one of the lowest mortgage offers in history,' said Patrick Chow, head of research at property agency Ricacorp Ltd in Hong Kong, referring to the Bank of Communications rate. 'We've seen lower offers in the past, but they only applied to specific new projects or were given only to select clients.'

HSBC, Hong Kong's biggest bank by branches, began a new mortgage plan in March offering a fixed 2.18 per cent interest rate in the first year and a floating rate of 1.75 per cent below the prime rate thereafter. BOC Hong Kong, which has the largest share of the mortgage market, announced a similar plan later that month, with rates as low as 2.16 per cent the first year.

'This mortgage price war will go on,' Peter Wong, head of the Hong Kong unit of HSBC, said at a June 11 briefing. 'Both corporate and personal lending has slowed down lately, and a lot of banks have switched their focus to the mortgage market.'

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc, Japan's largest bank, charges about 2.48 per cent for a variable mortgage in its home market. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate in the US was 5.42 per cent on June 25, up from 5.38 per cent a week earlier, according to Freddie Mac, the McLean, Virginia-based mortgage buyer.

The decline in Hong Kong mortgage rates has spurred a recovery in the housing market, with home sales rising 42 per cent by volume in May, the biggest increase since February 2008, data compiled by the government's Land Registry show.

Prices for so-called mass-market homes, or those smaller than 1,000 sq ft, increased about 10.5 per cent in the two months till May 31, after falling almost 25 per cent during the second half of 2008, according to Hong Kong-based Centaline Property Agency Ltd.

Falling money market rates have underpinned the mortgage price battle. The three-month Hong Kong Interbank Offered Rate fell as low as 0.33 per cent on May 21, the lowest since January 2005, as the city's central bank cut borrowing costs and spent US$23 billion defending the currency's peg to the US dollar.

At 0.36 per cent, the Hibor is 84 basis points lower than the equivalent London Interbank Offered Rate. The spread was 60 points on April 22, just before the Hibor began to plunge.

'Last year, the banks sounded like they didn't really want to lend me any money,' said Mr Poon, whose mortgage plan from BOC Hong Kong was 2.75 per cent below the bank's prime rate. 'This time, it felt like they've got a price war going. Every bank I went to tried to tell me they could offer better deals than the others.' - Bloomberg

“双钥匙”公寓受欢迎 星狮地产计划再推出

Source : 《联合早报》July 1, 2009


考虑到一些买家有上述需要,星狮地产公司(Frasers Centrepoint Homes)创造了“双钥匙”(Dual Key)单位,把三个卧房式单位隔成一个两个卧房式单位以及一个“小型公寓”(studio apartment)单位。两个单位属于同一张地契,虽共享一个门厅,但各有一个入口和一套钥匙,单位内也有各自的厨房、客厅、餐厅和厕所。