Thursday, July 16, 2009

Home Sales Hit New Highs On Silent Buying Frenzy

Source : The Business Times, July 16, 2009

Developers sold more units in June than in 2007 peak but the momentum may not last

The buying frenzy in Singapore's property market has now eclipsed even the dizzy heights of the last property boom. Developer sales of new private homes in June hit 1,825 units - topping the previous peak of 1,723 units homes sold in August 2007 at the property market peak.

But analysts are unsure if the buying momentum can continue for much longer.

June marks the fifth straight month where the number of transactions has exceeded 1,000. To capitalise on the bullish sentiment, developers increased supply by 41 per cent month-on-month to launch 1,637 units in June.

In the first half of 2009, developers sold more than 7,300 units in all. If this momentum is sustained, new home take-up for the full year will exceed 14,000 units.

That figure could be met, some analysts said. In 2007, a record 14,811 units were sold, in what one analyst said was 'the climax of the bull run in terms of sales volume'. CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), for example, said that it is likely that the whole year's new home take-up will be around 12,000-14,000 units.

But others are more doubtful. DBS Vickers analyst Adrian Chua expects developers to sell just 9,000 new homes in 2009. That figure is itself an upgrade from his previous assumption of 6,000 units.

Colliers International's director for research and advisory Tay Huey Ying noted that June's record number of primary home sales is driven by pent-up demand from both owner- occupiers and investors, and was also helped by the fact that home prices remained largely at a discount from their peaks despite recent signs of strengthening. Official data shows that private home prices fell 14.1 per cent in Q1 2009 and another 5.9 per cent in Q2.

'As the primary market is perceived to have bottomed, people have rushed in to buy ahead of sharp price increases and the Hungry Ghosts Month,' Ms Tay said. 'Nevertheless, buyer sentiment and buying momentum remain susceptible to downside risks as well as runaway home prices as buyers remain price-sensitive, given the lack of economic and income growth.'

But analysts are encouraged by two factors: firstly, the fact that the high-end market seems to be picking up. Colliers' analysis showed that some 11 units were transacted at more than $2,500 per square foot (psf) in June, up from just three units in May. By contrast, no new homes were sold for more than $2,500 psf in the first four months of the year.

In addition, the $3,000 psf mark was breached as well. UOL managed to sell one unit at Nassim Park Residences at $3,813 psf, which is the high watermark price for the year so far. A unit in the Ritz-Carlton Residences was sold at $3,404 psf while another in The Orchard Residences was sold for $3,299 psf. In fact, seven units at The Orchard Residences were sold in the price range of $2,700-$3,299 psf.

The trend, at least, looks set to continue in July. Analysts said that several other luxury units have also changed hands so far this month.

And, secondly, some are optimistic as this rally is a bottom-led recovery, which analysts said should be more sustainable than the previous boom. The 2006-07 run-up was led by investment interest in the high-end segment.

'This time, mass market projects (supported by the relative stability of the HDB resale market, which is still seeing limited supply) are driving the market bottom- up,' said DBS Vickers' Mr Chua. 'Also, smaller units continue to be snapped up first, in contrast to the penthouses and larger units in the 2006-07 run-up. We believe the current run-up is still largely premised on affordability (with investment interest skewed towards rental yields) whereas the 2006-07 run-up was based on an investment interest premised on capital appreciation and the luxury scarcity factor.'

And there still appears to be support at the bottom. According to an analysis by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), the price gap between non-prime residential projects and HDB resale flats has come off from the peak of 67 per cent in 2007 to a low of 54 per cent in 2009. 'In our opinion, the narrower price gap is a major factor behind the bullish sentiment, especially among HDB upgraders. As long as this gap remains tight, this stream of HDB upgraders into the private residential market is likely to continue,' says Chua Yang Liang, JLL's head of research for South-east Asia and Singapore.

Rich Russians Are Back In US Property Market

Source : The Business Times, July 16, 2009

They are lured by distressed sales and the rouble's rise against the US dollar

(MOSCOW) Russian millionaires are returning to the US property market, lured by distressed sales and the rouble's rise against the US dollar, lawyer Edward Mermelstein said.

Tumbling: Closings for apartments priced over US$10m in Manhattan fell by 82% in the last year, helping bring the average co-op price down 29% from Q2 of 2008

'The way many look at the US right now is that it's a bargain,' said Mr Mermelstein, who has arranged about 300 real estate deals for buyers from the former Soviet Union since 2007.

Mr Mermelstein, 41, closed two purchases and bid for 20 more residential and commercial properties in New York and Miami for Russian and central Asia clients in the past three months, he said. That compares with no deals or offers in January, he said.

Manhattan apartment prices dropped for the first time since 2002 in the second quarter as the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc and Bear Stearns Cos caught up to property owners in the nation's most expensive urban market.

The rouble rallied about 13 per cent against the US dollar from this year's low on Feb 17 and 4 per cent against the pound sterling from a Feb 6 low.

US sellers are cutting prices 30 per cent to 40 per cent from their peak in 2007, Mr Mermelstein said in an interview here, where his firm has an office.

'All of a sudden in the last three months activity's picked up,' he said.

More than half of the 15 or so Russians he's helping find US property are new clients, he said.

'Now that oil has settled at about US$70 a barrel, there's a little bit of a comfort level,' he said.

Oil has averaged US$60.14 a barrel in New York trading since April, rising as high as US$72.68 on June 11.

Last year's plunging commodity and equity markets wiped out US$380 billion in the value of Russia's so-called Golden Hundred, according to Forbes.

Closings for apartments priced over US$10 million in Manhattan fell by 82 per cent in the last year, helping bring the average co-operative price down 29 per cent from Q2 of 2008, according to Brown Harris Stevens Co.

About 32 per cent of Q2 listings included discounts from the original asking price, according to, a property listing service.

Mr Mermelstein said he closed deals for US$1 million and US$3.8 million properties last month in New York and has bids for commercial real estate for US$25 million to US$50 million in the city and New Jersey. He declined to name the clients.

'In the next six months to a year we'll definitely see some high-profile transactions in terms of number and in terms of trophy assets,' Mr Mermelstein said.

A Thomas Cooley Law School graduate, Mr Mermelstein founded his firm in 1995 and worked as a real estate broker in college.

His first Russian client led to a joint venture on New York and Moscow commercial real estate.

His company now focuses on Eastern European clients seeking to invest in the US.

The increase in Russian interest in US property mirrors what's happening in other countries.

In London, luxury-home prices advanced in June for the first time in more than a year as Russian and Italian buyers took advantage of the pound's weakness, London-based broker Knight Frank LLP said on June 27. Many Russians considering buying are influenced by celebrities and financiers including Chelsea football club owner billionaire Roman Abramovich and telecommunications billionaire Mikhail Friedman, Mr Mermelstein said.

'It's a great marketing tool,' he said. 'Russians are very much of a pack- mentality.' Not everybody is ready to jump in.

Metals and banking magnate Mikhail Prokhorov, 43, named by Forbes as Russia's richest man with US$9.5 billion, isn't interested.

'Why do I need a house an eight-hour difference away?' Mr Prokhorov said in an interview here.

'I spend 90 per cent of my time here and it makes no sense to have a private home so far away.' - Bloomberg

More Mortgagee Sale Properties In H2 Unlikely: DTZ

Source : The Business Times, July 16, 2009

The firm says it could be due to banks being less anxious to foreclose

BARGAIN hunters waiting for more distressed properties to show up at auctions could be in for a disappointment.

Real estate consultancy firm DTZ believes that the number of mortgagee sale properties will not rise in the second half of the year as the open market has improved.

'The recent buying interest in the property market and stabilisation of prices across all sectors in Q2 2009 would have enabled cash-strapped owners to dispose of their properties,' says DTZ in a report released yesterday.

Fresh data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) illustrates the renewed enthusiasm among home buyers.

Developers sold 1,825 new units in June, breaking the previous record of 1,723 units set in August 2007.

In fact, after a spike in February, the number of mortgagee sale properties put up for auction has tapered off.

'The less than expected mortgagee sales in the current economic downturn could be due to banks being less anxious to foreclose now,' DTZ says.

It explains that the government has been urging banks to give debtors more leeway to service their loans.

Banks are also not rushing to foreclose on properties if they have to accept lower prices and risk ending up with too much stock.

DTZ's views on the number of mortgagee sale properties to surface differ slightly from another industry watcher's.

Colliers International deputy managing director and auctioneer Grace Ng expects to see a 'marginal increase' in such cases at auctions.

Colliers' report late last month notes that it can take six months or longer for a bank to repossess properties and put them up for auction, after owners default on their loans.

Banks may also give owners some time to sell the properties on their own.

As a result, more mortgagee sales may only enter the market in the second half of the year.

DTZ and Colliers share similar views on most other trends in the auction market.

For instance, the value of properties sold through auction has certainly picked up tremendously since last year.

According to DTZ, major auction houses in Singapore posted $72.5 million in transaction value in the first half of this year.

This already surpasses the transaction value in the whole of 2008, which was $65.5 million. In particular, buying interest soared in March and remained buoyant up till June.

June was the most active month, accounting for 34 per cent of the total number of properties sold in the first half of the year.

The proportion of properties successfully sold through auctions also rose between March and June.

The success rate in that period was 26 per cent, compared with just 5 per cent between January and February.

In A Class Of Their Own

Source : The Business Times, July 16, 2009


Some 1,000 Singaporeans are said to own the majority of Good Class Bungalows here

VERY few people live in landed homes in Singapore and even fewer live in Good Class Bungalows (GCBs), which probably explains why they are so desirable. There are about one million or so homes here. These comprise terrace houses, semi-detached houses, bungalows and of course high-rise homes - condominiums, apartments and public housing flats.

Exclusive: While it is not inconceivable that there could be more GCB areas added in the future, given the need to intensify land use in Singapore, the likelihood is slim

But GCBs stand quite far apart from all of these in that they not only have to sit on land that is of a certain size - not less than 1,400 square metres - but also have to be located in areas that have been specially designated for them. Indeed, there are estimated to be less than 2,500 GCBs in Singapore.

GCB areas were officially gazetted in 1980 with 39 areas formally safeguarded. A spokesman for the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) explained that the purpose of the gazette was to 'protect the high environmental quality of these established large bungalow areas from the intrusion of more intensive forms of housing such as semi-detached or terrace houses'.

Walk or drive around these GCB areas and often you will notice not only stately houses but stately trees as well with many protected for posterity. There are two zones in Singapore under the National Parks Board's Tree Conservation Areas with the main zone covering central Singapore where most of the GCBs are located.

To control development in these areas, URA set certain guidelines for planning purposes. For instance, the minimum plot size for any newly created bungalow within the 39 GCB areas must be at least 1,400 sq m. For this reason, a GCB plot cannot be developed to accommodate more intensive forms of housing. And unless it is at least 2,800 sq m in size, it cannot be sub-divided into two GCB plots either.

Of the GCB areas, the best known are the Nassim, Cluny, Bishopsgate and White House Park estates. While it is not inconceivable that there could be more GCB areas added in the future, given the need to intensify land use in Singapore, the likelihood is slim.

URA's spokesman said: 'In drawing up our land use plans for Singapore, we aim to provide a variety of housing options for Singaporeans, from waterfront housing to garden living to city living. This includes low-density and landed housing, such as those found within existing GCB areas. The detailed housing form for future landed housing areas will be determined when the area is ready to be developed.'

URA said that there are currently no plans to release new sites or designate new areas as GCB areas. 'Nevertheless, there is scope for the number of GCB plots within existing GCB areas to increase, for example through sub-division of larger GCB plots into several GCB plots, so long as each bungalow plot meets the minimum land size of 1,400 sq m,' URA added.

Big GCB plots do not come by often. In 1994, a plum site in the Tanglin GCB area came up for sale by public tender. The 194,000 sq ft parcel was the official residence of the Australian high commissioner at White House Park/Dalvey Road. Property valuers had estimated that the site could fetch as much as $70 million, or around $400 per square foot (psf). The site eventually sold for $98 million or $505 psf.

In 1997, developer Wharf Group sold five units of the 11-unit development of GCBs at an average of $14.1 million each. Ten years later, in 2007, a house in this development sold for $28.8 million. There have been other public tenders of large sites.

In 2000, Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) sold a 201,782 sq ft freehold bungalow site it owned since the 1960s in Jervois Road for $60 million, or slightly over $330 psf. Then in 2003, HSBC sold a 276,112 sq ft site at Bishopsgate for $69.8 million. Together, all three sites would have yielded less than 40 new GCBs.

Occasionally, individual GCB sites will come up for auction. In 2008, the Singapore Land Authority auctioned a site at Ridout Road which saw 34 bids lodged by three prospective buyers. The winning bid came in at $8.96 million or $579.55 psf. This was 22.6 per cent above the opening bid of $7.31 million or $473 psf. Being fresh government land sale sites, however, it came with a 99-year lease.

SLA also said that recently, three parcels of land have been sold under the Sale of Infill Sites programme on 99-year leases. 'The owners have to comply with URA's GCB guidelines as the land parcels are within GCB areas,' it added.

Because the environment is an important factor in GCB areas, there are guidelines that control how big the house can be. For instance, the house cannot cover more than 35 per cent of the site. This is to ensure that there are adequate green buffers between each house.

There are also more prosaic restraints - childcare centres are not allowed in GCB areas for instance. But perhaps the most important constraint on GCB ownership to note is that foreigners are not allowed to own these, thus reducing the buying pool of GCBs.

Some 1,000 Singaporeans are said to own the majority of GCBs here and are mostly intent on holding on to them as long-term investments. If you have bought one through the open market, you can count yourself lucky indeed.

Property Transactions For Districts 1 To 16 With Contract Dates Between June 24th - 30th, 2009

New Private Home Sales Up 9.4% On-Month In June

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 15 July 2009

Sales of uncompleted private homes continued to climb in June as improving sentiment in the market spurred homebuyers to snap up more units. 1,825 new private homes were sold last month – a 9.4 per cent rise from May.

The strongest sales were seen at 8@Woodleigh, a condominium at Potong Pasir, where units were sold at a median price of S$804 per square foot. All 330 units at the property were snapped up last month, accounting for almost a fifth of all private home sales.

Market-watchers said on Wednesday that June's record private home sales were largely driven by pent-up demand, with one in two buyers being upgraders from the public housing segment.

Chua Yang Liang, head, Research & Consultancy, Jones Lang LaSalle, said: "The gap between these two markets right now is at a historical low of about 58 per cent – the peak was 67 per cent. The large liquidity that was built up over the past few years is also driving the market."

Observers also noted that buyers are getting more interested in high-end apartments.

Martin Place Residence, Nathan Residences and Vista Residences, which are in the prime districts and city fringe areas, all sold between 60 and 90 units each. Median prices for these units ranged from S$1,047 to over S$1,500 per square foot.

One Devonshire, located at River Valley, sold 146 units at a median price of S$1,771 per square foot.

But some warned of signs of speculation and said a property bubble would be formed if buying is not supported by fundamental growth.

Tay Huey Ying, director, Research & Advisory, Colliers International, said: "The investors have been drawn out in a big way from the sidelines and this is on the back of home prices that remained largely at a discount, compared to the peak prices.

"I think there is a little bit of froth forming in the market at this point in time, we are seeing speculators coming back into the market although... the level of speculation has not reached a level that warrants concern."

Developers launched a total of 1,637 units in June, up 41 per cent from May.

Going forward, developers are expected to launch more mass market and mid-tier properties with marginal upturn in prices.

Market-watchers said the good sales momentum may be sustainable at between 1,000 and 1,200 units a month for the rest of the year. But they said sales volume may dip slightly in September due to the Hungry Ghosts' Festival.

With Singapore snapping out of technical recession in the second quarter, observers said this may inject more confidence in the property sector.

Overall, 7,310 units were sold in the first half of the year, surpassing the over 4,200 deals for the whole of 2008. - CNA/so

Slow, Uneven Growth

Source : The Straits Times, July 16, 2009

SINGAPORE'S economy is likely to see slow and uneven growth, rather than sharp and decisive recovery, said the central bank on Thursday.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry on Tuesday revised the official growth forecast for this year to between - 4 and - 6 per cent. -- ST PHOTO: JOSEPH NAIR

'Given that there remain stresses in the global financial system and job markets in the major economies continue to weaken, the domestic economy is likely to witness slow and uneven growth, rather than sharp and decisive recovery,' Monetary Authority of Singapore Managing Director Heng Swee Keat said at a press conference on Thursday when releasing the MAS annual report.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry on Tuesday revised the official growth forecast for this year to between - 4 and - 6 per cent.

Mr Heng said Singapore's economic recovery must be seen in the context of the sharp retraction in economic activity between the fourth quarter of last year and the first three months of this year.

He noted that businesses have started to rebuild inventories 'to levels that are more sustainable and consistent with underlying demand, which has stabilised somewhat amidst easing financial conditions.

In the domestic financial sector, several areas of activities posted gains in the second quarter.

'Improved sentiment has buoyed stock market turnover, while the latest figures for May showed that domestic non-bank loans remained firm,' he added.

Mr Heng said in tandem with the weak demand and easing domestic costs, consumer price increases are expected to be muted.

For this year, CPI inflation is now expected to come in between -0.5 per cent and 0.5 per cent, taking into account recent developments in global commodity prices, he said.

On the monetary policy, Mr Heng said: 'Notwithstanding the sharp rebound in the economy in the second quarter, growth remains below trend and inflationary pressures continue to be muted.

Current policy stance remains appropriate

'WE ASSESS that the current policy stance remains appropriate to support the economic recovery and ensure medium-term price stability, which in turn underpins confidence in the Singapore dollar.'

The central bank in April said it would adjust the trading range for the Singapore dollar, a move economists say effectively devalued the currency.

The next monetary policy review will be in October.

Going forward, Mr Heng said the MAS will focus on:

- shaping and adopting new international regulatory standards

- strengthening the corporate governance of financial institutions

-enhancing the Standing Facility and strengthening the Singapore Government Securities auction system

- bolstering investors' confidence in our financial system.

Local banks are also conducting more detailed stress tests internally and the results will be used in their capital planning, he said.

The monetary authority plans to implement changes on its regulatory framework over the next two years as global standards are raised, he said.

But the central bank will maintain a 'balanced approach' and will avoid 'over-swinging the regulatory pendulum,' said Mr Heng.

MAS also plans to review its deposit insurance regulation to provide 'adequate protection to depositors,' and will consider raising the coverage limit for deposit insurance.

It also plans to 'enhance' a standing facility for financial institutions and accept AAA-rated Singapore-dollar debt as collateral for the facility, which allows the institutions to borrow directly from the central bank.

Record Private Home Sales

Source : The Straits Times, July 16 2009

1,825 sold in June even higher than during peak of the boom in Aug 2007

IT WAS another electrifying month for the private home market, with sales last month surpassing even levels seen at the height of the boom two years ago. The recession-defying numbers for yet another month point to surging confidence among buyers and sellers, and signal that the worst is likely over.


Developers sold 1,825 units last month, up from the 1,673 moved in May and almost 100 more than the number shifted in August 2007, the peak of the boom. Even more remarkable, the April to June sales of 4,714 units surpassed the total of 4,264 new private flats sold last year, said CB Richard Ellis.

It felt like the good old days were back for developers last month, with 1,637 units launched, 475 more than in May, Urban Redevelopment Authority data showed on Wednesday. That was the second highest number of launches since August 2007. Values are also responding to the heightened activity, with median prices at some projects last month higher than in May.

Property consultants cite the continued strong demand since February and June's record sales to tip that the worst appears to be over. Some also expect a price recovery soon.

Colliers International's Tay Huey Ying reckons that last month's record number of primary home sales was driven by pent-up demand from both owner-occupiers and investors. This was helped by prices that remained largely at a discount from peak prices, even if they may have strengthened recently.

City-fringe homes were the most popular last month, with 867 sold, including the 330-unit 8@Woodleigh in Woodleigh Close, which sold out at a median price of $804 per sq ft. The only sell-out project in June, its small, affordable units were a key attraction, experts said.

The return of interest in high-end deals priced above $2,000 psf was also noted last month, said CBRE Research.

A unit in the Ritz-Carlton Residences went for $3,404 psf, while one in The Orchard Residences was sold for $3,299 psf. These made up the 23 high-end deals last month, up from 15 in May. That is still a very small number, but 'a sign that there are high net worth individuals out there who are prepared to buy investment-grade properties despite uncertainties in the economy', said Mr Li.

The narrower price gap is a major factor behind the bullish sentiment, especially among HDB upgraders, said Dr Chua Yang Liang, the firm's head of research for South-east Asia and Singapore. Its number-crunching shows that the price gap between non-prime residential projects and HDB resale flats are now similar to 2004. 'As long as this gap remains tight, this stream of HDB upgraders into the private residential market is likely to continue,' he said.

Nevertheless, these buyers are very price-sensitive. 'There is some upward price movement, but there is no shortage of supply,' said one expert. DTZ's head of South-east Asia research, Ms Chua Chor Hoon, added: 'As the economy has not recovered, and many have taken pay cuts or were retrenched, demand, especially in the mass-market segment, is likely to be sensitive to price increases.'

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

卖出1825个新单位 私宅销售6月创最高纪录

Source : 《联合早报》July 16, 2009





上个月最热卖的项目,是星狮地产的8@Woodleigh,全部330个单位在短短10天之内被抢购一空。One Devonshire和Nathan Residences也相当抢手,分别在上个月卖出143和83个单位,即超过九成的单位。

世邦魏理仕执行董事李晓和说:“最引人注目的是,6月的高档私宅成交量回升了。一个Ritz Carlton Residences单位以每平方英尺3404元成交,一个Orchard Residences单位则以每平方英尺3200元成交。瑞吉居也有3个单位以每平方英尺2300元至2500元卖出。”







昨天受访的市场人士说,楼市在这两个星期来继续延烧,例如丰隆集团的The Gale共管公寓在上个周末火速卖出215个单位,远东机构的远景居(Vista Residences)和Silversea也已卖出180多个单位。




上半年房地产拍卖创佳绩 总值7200万元 超越2008年全年

Source : 《联合早报》July 16, 2009







蔡楚芬表示,买家主要为现金充足(cash rich)的本地投资者。他们相信经济危机最黑暗的时期已过,楼市也即将触底,因此希望在拍卖会上捡便宜。


今年上半年,买家对私宅最感兴趣,在拍卖会上找到买家的私宅占成功拍卖项目的56%,而买家主较青睐位于中央商业区的私宅。比如坐落于麦卡南街(McCallum Street)的The Clift以及丹戎巴葛地铁站上方的凯联大厦(International Plaza)就获得买家热烈出手开价。由戴德梁行负责拍卖的一间The Clift的19楼单位,共来回喊价25次,以104万元成交出售。

过去半年在拍卖会上取得最高售价的相信是由仲量联行于上个月底负责拍卖的芬禧路(Fernhill Road)空地。据了解,一名本地买家以640万元标下这幅占地7232平方英尺,属于永久地契的地段,而他希望在这个地段上建设一栋五层楼高私宅,准备自住。







Record Homes Sales In June

Source : The Business Times, July 15, 2009

DEVELOPERS sold a whopping 1,825 units of new homes in June, up from an already-high 1,673 units in May.

One Devonshire is a prime project that managed to attract buyers for 146 units out of 152 units released. The median price achieved was at $1771 psf. -- PHOTO: ALLGREEN

The monthly take-up has surpassed the boom-time high of 1,731 units recorded in August 2007.

Data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority on Wednesday also showed that developers launched 1,637 units last month, up from 1,162 units in May.

Sentiment improved considerably in June, leading many to jump into the market.

8@Woodleigh stands out for having sold out all 330 units within days. The project achieved a median price of $804 psf. -- PHOTO: FRASERS CENTREPOINT

The top sellers in June were 8@Woodleigh in Woodleigh Close, One Devonshire in Devonshire Road and Vista Residences in Jalan Datoh.

Among them, 8@Woodleigh stands out for having sold out all 330 units within days. The project achieved a median price of $804 psf.

Also, One Devonshire is a prime project that managed to attract buyers for 146 units out of 152 units released. The median price achieved was at $1771 psf.

HORIZON TOWERS RULING - All Owners To Get Slice Of $1.9m Pie

Source : The Business Times, July 15, 2009

Right to interest not dependent on actual outcome of sale: Court

ALL 210 owners at the Horizon Towers condominium will get a share of a $1.88 million sum which is the bank interest earned on a $50 million deposit from the estate's failed collective sale.

The Court of Appeal decided that 33 of the estate's minority owners, who did not agree to the collective sale in 2007, will also be eligible for a slice of the $1.88 million pie. This will work out to each owner getting about $8,900, depending on the size of the unit.

The en bloc sales committee of the estate had decided that the $1.88 million would be divided only among those who voted for the sale.

But the Court of Appeal, which disallowed the en bloc sale in April, said the sales committee was not entitled to split the money only among the majority.

The $1.88 million sum is the interest earned on a $50 million deposit which property developer HPL, which wanted to buy the estate for $500 million, placed after an agreement with the estate's sales committee in 2007.

Judge of Appeal V.K. Rajah, writing the court's decision, said the $50 million deposit was meant for all unit owners at Horizon Towers.

Justice Rajah said that in the case of a successful sale, all owners, not just those who agreed to the sale, would get part of the interest earned as part of the contractual arrangements. In an aborted sale, the same should also apply, he said.

Justice Rajah added that whether the collective sale failed in the end or not was 'irrelevant', as the right to the interest is an accrued right and not dependent on the actual outcome of the sales and purchase agreement.

He was also disappointed with lawyers from Drew & Napier who had 'confused beneficial rights with contractual rights' in advising the sales committee to keep the interest for the majority owners.

Industry players said this was the first time the country's highest court has ruled on how such interest monies should be dealt with in aborted collective sales.

Horizon Towers' collective sale was one of the longest disputed collective sale sagas in Singapore. The whole affair spanned more than two years and went back and forth between the Strata Titles Board (STB) and the High Court a couple of times before finally being decided in the Court of Appeal.

In the judgment published on Monday, the Court of Appeal also ruled that both HPL and the estate's majority owners should equally share the legal costs for the second High Court hearing, as well as the Court of Appeal hearing. The costs for the second STB hearings were to be borne solely by the majority owners.

The Court of Appeal also made the unusual move of allowing two minority objectors who did not participate in the final appeal to be given 80 per cent of the costs incurred in the second STB and High Court hearings.

Justice Rajah said the court was mindful that the significant costs incurred 'at every step of these bitterly fought, convoluted and labyrinthine proceedings' would have led some to forgo the appeal. 'We cannot lose sight of the fact that the non-appealing parties together have (with the appellants) been literally driven from pillar to post in their arduous efforts to protect their homes.'

Although there were 33 objectors to the sale at the start, 13 pursued the case in court, and five continued the matter all the way to the appeal, said one of the final objectors, Mr Hendra Gunawan, 53.

'We are happy the court has allowed us to protect our homes by giving this judgment,' said the investor.

But he said he was a bit disappointed because he was hoping to get more costs awarded to them.

He estimated that the sum he would finally get would not exceed more than 30 per cent of the amount he personally spent on the case from the start, although he did not give the exact amount spent.

Majority owner Mamata Kapildave Dave, 40, said she accepted the costs outcome as fair and was waiting for the sums to be worked out.

Tender For Collective Sale Of Dragon Mansion Launched

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 14 July 2009

The tender for the collective sale of Dragon Mansion has been launched, the first such sale this year.

The property is located at 18 Spottiswoode Park Road.

In a statement, CKS Property Consultants said it has obtained consent from more than 80 per cent of the owners to proceed with the sale.

The collective sale is expected to achieve in excess of S$120 million or S$1,020 per square foot per plot ratio. This includes the development charge of about S$400,000.

The redevelopment site has a land area of about 42,000 square feet and it is designated for residential use with a plot ratio of 2.8.

CKS Property Consultants said the new development could potentially build up to 36 storeys, accommodating some 120 units of 1,000-square foot apartments.

The tender will close on August 11 at 3pm. - CNA/vm

Far East Scheme Helps New Entrepreneurs

Source : The Business Times, July 15, 2009

Tenants pay for space in its malls with preference shares, not rent

FAR East Organization has launched a scheme that allows budding entrepreneurs to pay for space in its malls with preference shares instead of regular rents.

A first for Singapore retail market: Far East Organization will allocate up to 5 per cent of rental space at six of its malls for the Rental Space for Equity Programme including Orchard Central (left)

Under the Rental Space for Equity Programme - a first for Singapore retail market - selected tenants will sign a two or three-year lease with Far East. To pay for space, the tenants will issue redeemable, convertible, cumulative, preference shares (RCCPS) to the company in lieu of monthly base rent. The shares come with a cumulative dividend of 4 per cent per year.

Tenants can choose to redeem the RCCPS after one or two years or at the end of the lease period. When redeeming the shares, they will pay all the rent they owe, as well as the 4 per cent a year interest they accumulated.

Alternatively, the RCCPS may be converted to ordinary shares, which means Far East will own a stake in the retail business. The choice will be left to tenants.

Far East will allocate up to 5 per cent of rental space at six of its malls for the scheme - Central, Far East Square, Orchard Central, Pacific Plaza, Square 2 and West Coast Plaza.

The programme aims to encourage the entry of new brands and retailers into the retail scene here.

Far East Organization's executive director of investment properties Eddie Yong said the group has always supported businesses in its own way.

'We always want the best for our tenants and to see them grow,' he said. 'That is why we are responding to the needs of the market with the Rental Space for Equity Programme. We see it as a pro-active partnership by lowering the entry barrier for prospective tenants who have exciting brands or concepts.'

Target participants include vendors with new brands, existing retailers who want to expand and budding entrepreneurs who want to get a headstart.

For first-time entrepreneurs, Far East has identified an audit firm to help them form their new company and will help defray these administrative expenses.

This Year's First En Bloc Sale Hits The Market

Source : The Business Times, July 15, 2009

Owners of 72-unit freehold property on Spottiswoode Park Road are hoping for $120m

Dragon Mansion on Spottiswoode Park Road has been put up for collective sale - the first development to be launched for en bloc sale this year.

The owners are hoping for $120 million - or $1,020 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) - for the freehold project, including a development charge of about $400,000.

The en bloc market here has shown little sign of life since the onslaught of the global economic crisis. A total of 116 collective sales were completed at the height of the property boom in 2007, but the figure fell sharply to just eight last year. And no sites have been bought en bloc since the start of the year.

Analysts said that the owners of the 72-unit Dragon Mansion could have chosen to market their property now to ride on the current upswing in sentiment in the residential market.

'As the outlook for the residential property market improves, land values will rise and sellers might find it viable to sell collectively to get a premium for their properties,' said Karamjit Singh, managing director of Credo Real Estate.

If the sale of Dragon Mansion goes through, it will be the first property to be sold en bloc in 2009. However, market watchers said that the asking price is steep.

For comparison, said one market watcher, one can look at the June 2007 collective sale of nearby Oakswood Heights on Spottiswoode Park Road at the peak of the property boom. Then, UOL paid $132 million for the 63,700-sq-ft freehold site, which worked out to $740 per psf ppr.

Dragon Mansion has a land area of 41,874 sq ft and is designated for residential use with a plot ratio of 2.8. The new development could potentially yield a maximum gross floor area of 117,000 sq ft, which translates to an estimated 120 units of 1,000 sq ft each, said CKS Property Consultants, which is marketing the property.

Consent has been obtained from more than 80 per cent of the owners to proceed with the sale. The asking price is based on the 'limited availability of such freehold residential land near the central business district'.

More projects could be launched for collective sale in the rest of the year, analysts said.

Credo's Mr Singh said that owners of some projects are now checking to see if it is the right time to launch a collective sale: 'They don't want to start too early. They are hoping to time it right.'

En bloc transactions may return in a significant fashion when the unsold supply pipeline falls, said Credit Suisse in a June 19 note. This comes about as developers deplete their existing land banks and need to replenish them.

'On a current run rate of 1,200 developer units sold per month, land bank replenishment may happen in the next three months,' said Credit Suisse property analyst Tricia Song.

In 2006 and 2007, demolitions created an artificial vacuum in supply due to 'en bloc fever', resulting in a steep hike in rents and prices amid a population boom. In addition, owners of older properties with higher redevelopment density ratios get more on a per unit space basis, creating a wealth effect in the property market.

However, the caveat emptor this time could be oversupply of prime housing from previous years. Nevertheless, the trend bodes well for land prices and real estate owners, Ms Song added.

33k Flats To Be Upgraded

Source : The Straits Times, July 14, 2009

$1 billion to be spent to speed up improvement to homes

THE Government is ramping up a programme to spruce up older HDB flats over the next three years - a move that is expected to benefit 33,000 households.

In all, 300,000 households islandwide are eligible for the improvements. -- ST PHOTO: STEPHANIE YEOW

It will spend about $1 billion to speed up the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) to take advantage of lower construction costs and to create more work for the construction industry, Senior Minister of State (National Development) Grace Fu said on Monday.

'It is a good time not only because there is manpower, materials and capacity in the construction industry, but it is also for us to benefit more residents and give more jobs to the industry,' she said after visiting the first block of 103 flats at Yishun Street 21 completed under HIP.

The nationwide upgrading initiative, announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the 2007 National Day Rally, covers flats built in 1986 or earlier. It provides for optional improvements within a flat such as new toilets and metal grille gates, as well as compulsory upgrades such as repairs for spalling concrete and ceiling leaks.

In all, 300,000 households islandwide are eligible for the improvements. More than 13,000 have been selected in the past two years from estates such as Tampines, Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio. This year, at least another 8,000 households will be selected.

It is timely to expand the programme as construction costs, as reflected in bidding prices, have fallen by about 10 per cent to 15 per cent, Ms Fu said. The decline is in line with estimates by analysts that bidding prices would drop this year compared to last year.

But plans to ramp up HIP raised the question of whether residents can afford it, given that the economy is in recession.

Responding, Ms Fu said she did not think there would be a problem as government subsidies were 'very significant'. 'Residents generally pay about 5 per cent to 12.5 per cent depending on the room type. On top of that, they can use their CPF or they can even discuss paying by instalments through CPF,' she said. According to the HDB website, cost estimates range from $630 for a one- to three-room flat, to $1,575 for an executive flat.

Ms Fu said residents not only enjoyed subsidies under HIP, but also the convenience of having all the improvements done at one go. As an indication that the changes were well-received, she noted that 99 per cent of residents surveyed gave the thumbs-up to their upgraded Block 228.

Ramping up the upgrading plans also applies to the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme. This provides facilities such as letterboxes and covered linkways based on residents' feedback. This year, 13 precincts - each of which typically has eight to 10 blocks - will be picked under the programme.

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

S'pore's Recession Eases

Source : The Straits Times, July 14, 2009

SINGAPORE'S economy grew for the first time in a year in the second quarter, led by the biomedical and electronics sectors, suggesting the city state was emerging from its worst ever recession.

The economy soared 20.4 per cent in the three months to June compared with the first three months of the year on a seasonally adjusted annualised basis, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said, while raising its forecast for 2009.

Gross domestic product (GDP) was now expected to contract 4-6 per cent for the year from an earlier projection of 6-9 percent, the ministry said, while warning that any recovery would be weak due to the fragile global economy.

It was the first quarter-on-quarter growth in five quarters. Singapore slipped into a recession in the second half of last year after two successive quarters of contraction.

Compared with the previous year, however, output in the June quarter was down 3.7 per cent, indicating that the export-driven economy remained weak.

'I guess technically the recession would have ended, the economy is growing again,' said David Cohen, an economist with research house Action Economics.

'Growth won't be very strong but it should remain in an upward trajectory,' he told AFP.

'The Singapore economy registered a stunning turnaround in the second quarter, much is in line with our expectation,' DBS Group said in a research note.

Despite the quarter-on-quarter growth, the trade ministry cautioned that 'the outlook for the rest of the year remains largely unchanged - of a weak recovery susceptible to downside risks.'

It noted that rising unemployment and reduced consumer spending in its major export markets like the United States and Europe reflected the continued weakness in the global economy. Mr Cohen said however he was cheered by the second quarter numbers.

'I think this will be the first in a series of upbeat GDP reports for the second quarter from Asian economies,' he said, noting that China and South Korea would also be announcing their growth data in the next two weeks.

'Maybe this will provide some reassurance to the markets which have been jittery in the last few weeks about the sustainability of the recovery. It shows that Asian economies have turned the corner in the second quarter.' -- AFP

Retail Initiative For Tenants

Source : The Straits Times, July 14, 2009

MAJOR landlord Far East Organisation has come up with a novel way to help tenants defer rent for up to three years.

Far East Organisation launches first Rental Space for Equity Programme to bolster exciting new retail brands and concepts. --PHOTO: FAR EAST ORGANISATION

Here's how it works: Tenants register online and go through an evaluation process before being selected. Those chosen will 'sell' company shares, which are based on their monthly base rent, to Far East Organisation each month.

Sales are capped at 49 per cent of their paid up capital, or $500,000, whichever is lower.

The catch? They buy back the shares they have sold - not more than three years later - at an interest rate of 4 per cent.

Alternatively, if both parties agree, co-ownership can occur.

Far East is the first mall owner to offer such a scheme. Other mall operators, like Orchard Turn Developments and Asia Malls, have resorted to rental rebates and waivers to help tenants open on time.

The scheme, said Far East Organisation, aims to attract budding designers who want a headstart, international retailers with new concepts and existing retailers who want to expand.

Only 5 per cent of rental space in six of its malls - namely Central, Far East Square, Orchard Central, Pacific Plaza, Square 2 and West Coast Plaza - will be allocated to this scheme.

This comes up to 45,000 sq ft. Depending on the size of each lot, this is expected to cater to about 90 tenants.

It is a support programme, said Far East Organisation's executive director of investment properties Eddie Yong. 'Running a business is like a marathon,' he said. 'We are just providing a helping hand to get them off the starting block or encourage them to start the race, by easing cash flow constraints.'

He stressed: 'It is not our intention to own or run our tenant's business.'

Mall Owner Offers Shares-For-Rent Plan

Source : The Straits Times, July 14, 2009

Tenants can sell firms' shares to Far East in lieu of rent for 3 years

A LEADING landlord has come up with a novel way to help eligible tenants defer rent for up to three years.

New tenants of Far East Organization may be able to sell shares of their companies, worth their base rental amounts, to their landlord each month. --ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

New tenants of Far East Organization may be able to sell shares of their companies, worth their base rental amounts, to their landlord each month.

They will have to buy back the shares not more than three years later, at an interest rate of 4 per cent per annum.

Alternatively, if both parties agree, Far East will become a co-owner of the companies.

Sales are capped at 49 per cent of their paid up capital, or $500,000, whichever is lower.

Tenants have to register online, at, and go through an evaluation process before being selected. Current tenants who want to expand can also apply.

Far East is the first mall owner to offer such a scheme. Other operators, like Orchard Turn Developments and Asia Malls, which run ION Orchard and Tampines 1, offered rental rebates and waivers to help tenants open in time with the opening of the malls.

Far East said the scheme is aimed at budding designers who need a headstart, international retailers with new concepts and existing retailers who want to expand.

Only 5 per cent of rental space in six of its malls - namely Central, Far East Square, Orchard Central, Pacific Plaza, Square 2 and West Coast Plaza - will be allocated to it. This comes up to 45,000 sq ft. Depending on the size of each unit, the scheme would cater to about 90 tenants.

'It is a support programme,' said Far East Organization's executive director of investment properties Eddie Yong. 'Running a business is like a marathon. We are just providing a helping hand to get them off the starting block or encourage them to start the race, by easing cash flow constraints.'

He stressed: 'It is not our intention to own or run our tenant's business.'

In fact, business owners like 28-year-old Sam Su see the scheme as a possible way to snag a good location at deferred rents.

'It is pretty attractive because rental is the largest cost when it comes to opening a business here,' said Mr Su, who owns T.S. Rarity, a men's apparel store at 45 Haji Lane. 'Take away rental, and cash flow will be eased a great deal. I will take it if the location is good.'

The owner of Don's Pie, a popular pie shop located in the business district, is also mulling over the option. Mr Don Lim, 50, was forced to close down two outlets after 'rental killed (my) business'. He now has one outlet near Far East Square.

'With this scheme, I can wait till business is good before I pay rent,' he said.

Analysts say that the scheme could be a way for the property developer to keep rents high.

'The motivation of this scheme is to maintain rents and fill up the shopping centre,' said Mr Colin Tan, director of research and consultancy at real estate consultancy Chesterton Suntec International. 'Landlords will not have to reduce rents because tenants unable to afford market rent can now do so with such a scheme.

'Many landlords are reluctant to lower rent because if word spreads, it will be hard for them to demand high rents from those who can afford it.'

The Singapore Retailers Association's executive director Lau Chuen Wei said it would help companies with cash flow.


FAR East's executive director (property services) G.L. Yap explains:

The scenario

# An eligible tenant signs a two- or three-year lease for a 1,000 sq ft unit at $15,000 per month ($15 psf).

The process

# The tenant will be instructed to set up a new company.

# Each month, he will issue company shares - named Redeemable, Convertible, Cumulative Preference Shares (RCCPS) - in lieu of rent. The value of each share depends on the structure of the company. Share issues will be capped at 49 per cent of the paid-up capital, or $500,000, whichever is lower.

# The tenant can opt to buy back the shares after a set period or after the lease expires at the original selling price plus interest of 4 per cent per annum. Alternatively, he can convert the RCCPS into ordinary shares at the current market value of the company.

# He will now start paying the rent in cash.

If the business fails at any time, the losses will be shared among shareholders - including Far East Organization - in proportions based on the structure of the company.

$120m Target For First En Bloc Site This Year

Source : The Straits Times, July 15 2009

Dragon Mansion is the first en bloc launch in Singapore in about nine months.

PROPERTY market observers are probably rubbing their eyes in disbelief but it is true: an en bloc sale is under way at asking prices akin to boom times.


It is the first tender in about nine months and reflects improved buyer sentiment although the sale launched yesterday will certainly test that sentiment, given the price levels it is shooting for.

The freehold Dragon Mansion at 18 Spottiswoode Park Road, near Outram and Tanjong Pagar, has an asking price of about $120 million or $1,020 per sq ft per plot ratio. This is significantly higher than the transacted enbloc sale prices in the area during the 2007 boom. If this price is achieved, the estate's owners will get around $1.7 million for each of the 72 units.

The estate has a land area of 41,874 sq ft and can be redeveloped into about 120 apartments of 1,000 sq ft in size.

Dragon Mansion owners had wanted to sell collectively at the height of the boom in mid-2007 but their attempt was delayed when collective sale rules were tightened later that year. They had to restart the process at the beginning of last year but they also revised up their price.

In the Spottiswoode Park area, developer UOL bought the 92-unit Spottiswoode Apartment en bloc for $79.5 million or $732 per sq ft per plot ratio in April 2007 - a price that was above earlier indicative sale levels. It later bought Oakswood Heights for $132 million or $740 psf per plot ratio.

Property experts said the Dragon Mansion price target of some $1,020 per sq ft is more suitable to the boom times.

Mr Nicholas Mak said the market is not ready to support such prices as the buyer will have to sell the redeveloped units at more than $1,800 psf.

'There is still a disparity between today's land levels and the price in 2007 when most of the en bloc sales were priced,' said Credo Real Estate managing director Karamjit Singh.

'Owners will need to adjust their price expectations. The market is looking up but it's still a question mark whether land prices will go back to boom time levels,' he said.

Owners at Laguna Park in the east have high expectations as well and Credo Real Estate might launch the estate for collective sale next month.

The asking price is at $1.2 billion. The development obtained the 80 per cent approval from owners late last year but the price they are hoping for was decided back in late 2007.

Credo will launch other en bloc sites this year if the estates can obtain the 80 per cent approval soon, Mr Singh said.

En bloc deals shot through the roof in 2007 when 111 transactions worth a record $12.4 billion were sealed but sales fell through the floor last year with only seven sales worth $371 million done, according to CB Richard Ellis.

Ms Chia Mein Mein, manager for investment at CKS Property Consultants, said Dragon Mansion obtained the required 80 per cent approval to sell early this year but it waited for a good time.

'It's because of the run-up in property prices recently. Recent launches are doing very well. Some developers have sold off their existing stock and are looking to land bank at this point,' she said.

'We think there's a window of opportunity now as we really don't know how long this rally is going to last.'

Meanwhile, new unit sales remain robust. There has been a flurry of project releases and demand has been strong. The 272-unit Sophia Residence in the Mount Sophia enclave sold nearly 85 per cent of 88 units released at a weekend preview at $1,500 psf on average.

Singaporeans accounted for 60 per cent of the buyers, with the rest being permanent residents and foreigners.

These buyers included the previous owners of Sophia Court, who sold the site en bloc to developer GuocoLand.

首批新组屋 使用中空墙壁隔房间

Source : 《联合早报》July 15, 2009

当盛港芬微阁(Fernvale Court)的居民在一两个月后搬进组屋时,或许不会察觉这批新组屋有什么不同,但其实它是本地采用可持续建筑方式的标志之一。










中空墙壁也能支撑重物和承受重击,稳固度和安全性与混凝土墙壁一样。中空墙壁经过多轮测试,可承受的重量符合安全标准,即使在墙上挂上多台40寸液晶电视机(LCD TV)也没问题。






Source : 《联合早报》July 15, 2009

股市的回弹带动了投资情绪的好转,第二季本地的大宗房地产交易(investment sales)比第一季增加了两倍,为10亿9000万元,不过仍然比去年同期的低了77.6%。