Friday, July 24, 2009

60% Of Nex Mall At Serangoon Central Leased Out

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 23 July 2009

The upcoming suburban mall Nex located at Serangoon Central has leased 60 per cent of its lettable space.

Artist's impression of nex

Its developer Gold Ridge said retailers like Isetan, Courts and Challenger are among its key tenants.

Gold Ridge added that Isetan has secured a 53,000-square foot space, spanning three floors. This will be Isetan's first new department store in Singapore since 1995.

Another first, the developer said supermarket chains Cold Storage and Fairprice Xtra will be housed together under the same roof.

The six-storey mall will also have a wide variety of F&B and entertainment options.

To be developed at a cost of S$1.3 billion, Nex will be ready by the end of next year. - CNA/vm

Optima@Tanah Merah To Be Launched By End-July

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 23 July 2009

Property developer TID will hold a preview of its newest condominium project - Optima@Tanah Merah - before the end of this month.

Located next to the Tanah Merah MRT Interchange along New Upper Changi Road, commuters will be able to get to the city centre by train in less than 20 minutes and to Changi International Airport in about 6 minutes.

The 99-year leasehold development has 297 units that feature one-bedroom studio apartments, 2- to 4-bedroom units plus 18 penthouses which come with open balconies and terraces.

TID is a joint venture between Japan's largest listed developer, Mitsui Fudosan, and Hong Leong Group Singapore.

Its portfolio includes projects such as the St Regis Hotel and Residences, Parc Emily, Oceanfront on Sentosa, as well as The Gale, which was launched recently.

Hong Leong said interest in Optima is already building up, with over 1,000 enquiries received over the past two months.

The project is expected to receive its Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) by 2014. - CNA/al

S'pore Q2 Pte Home Prices Down 4.7%

Source : The Business Times, July 24, 2009

Prices of Singapore's private homes fell 4.7 per cent in the second quarter, less than earlier estimated.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority said in a news release on Friday that the price index of private residential property, for the three-month period ending June, dropped to 133.3 from 139.9 in the first quarter, falling for the fourth straight quarter.

Preliminary figures from the URA earlier this month showed prices easing 5.9 per cent.

It also said that house rentals were down 5.2 per cent in the second quarter after a 8.5 per cent drop in the first three months of this year. -- BT ONLINE

Bt Panjang Condo Site For Sale

Source : The Straits Times, July 22, 2009

A CONDOMINIUM housing site in Chestnut Avenue, Bukit Panjang, will be launched for sale by public tender on Thursday.

The tender period is four weeks and will close at noon on Aug 19, said the Housing Development Board on Wednesday.

The parcel was made available for sale through the Reserve List on March 26 last year.

As a developer had committed to submit a minimum bid of S$62 million, HDB is putting it up e put up for public tender.

The site covers an area of 22,700.4 sq m and can be developed up to a maximum permissible gross floor area of 47,670.84 sq m.

It is located within Bukit Panjang Town overlooking the Upper Peirce Reservoir, and it is also near the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

Eager Buyers Snapping Up Home Deals

Source : The Straits Times, July 24 2009

Lower prices, pent-up demand drive surge in sales of private homes

The current recession-defying surge in home sales is being driven by pent-up demand from local buyers with enough savings to swoop on lower-priced units and a determination to invest or upgrade.

These buyers are not acting on impulse but have been saving up for years.

Another key factor is the fear of missing the boat ahead of another property boom, The Straits Times has found after speaking to buyers and market analysts.

Last month, an all-time record of 1,825 private homes were sold, continuing a major upswing that started in February. The June figure exceeded that of August 2007 – the height of the last property boom.

On recent weekends, showflats have been crammed with families, couples and singles. Some want to buy a condo as an investment with prices still quite low; others wish to upgrade from HDB flats.

A few others have been renting condos in the hopes of picking up a bargain later, while another group is just browsing.

“I think that now is the right time,” said investor Therence Tay, an engineering firm owner in his 30s who bought a two-bedroom-plus-study unit at Changi condo The Gale on Sunday. He lives with his family in an HDB flat.

On average, such a unit is about 1,120 sq ft with a price tag of about $770,000, based on a price range of $650-$725 per sq ft (psf).

Mr Tay said in Mandarin that he had slogged for over a decade to save enough cash. “Interest is very low from bank savings now, so we might as well put our money somewhere more useful,” he said.

A company chief operating officer, who asked to be known only as Mr Chan, 51, said he is in the middle of negotiations to buy a unit at Bukit Timah Road condo Ferrell Residences, where units are 1,840 sq ft on average and cost at least $3 million.

The Singapore permanent resident is mainly using his cash savings to buy the investment property. He will live there alone; his family lives overseas.

“I missed the boat in the last boom,” he said. “By the time I decided to buy, prices were already $1,800-$2,000 psf. By then it was out of reach, and I was kicking myself very hard.”

Property consultants say a combination of pent-up demand and lower prices has sparked this strong sales streak, in contrast to the previous boom.

“The last property boom was fuelled by foreign demand for luxury and high-end homes from investors and speculators, which eventually filtered down to the mid- and mass-market segments,” said Colliers International property consultant Tay Huey Ying.

Dr Chua Yang Liang of Jones Lang LaSalle said: “Some upgraders were excluded from the market during the last property boom due to high prices and there appears to be a correction now.”

Ms Chua Chor Hoon, a property consultant at DTZ Debenham Tie Leung, noted that the price gap between HDB flats and condos has narrowed.

For instance, an executive HDB flat in a prime location like Bishan costs up to $650,000, while some suburban condos with facilities are about the same price.

HDB upgrader Abdullah Muhamad, 50, a supervisor, who has a wife and four children, said that he wanted to buy a condo for his family while prices were still affordable.

He had saved for 20 years before buying a two-room condo unit on Sunday at Oasis@Elias in Pasir Ris, which had 190 visitors that day. Units there are going for $670 psf on average. Mr Abdullah’s unit cost him about $640,000.

“We liked the facilities here, and were worried that property prices will increase further,” Mr Abdullah said.

Executive HDB flats in Pasir Ris have sold for over $500,000 in the past three months.

Also waiting for a good buy is Dr Phoon Kok Fai, 56, a professor at the Singapore Management University who is currently renting a condo.

He did not buy a unit in the last boom as he had other financial considerations on his plate then. But this year, Dr Phoon has set his sights on a Ferrell Residences unit, which he plans to move into with his wife.

“This condo is within my reach and I have the security of a good location with reasonable value. I also sense that real estate prices have bottomed out,” he said.

Many others have enough cash and are interested, but are in no rush. “In the last few weeks, buying sentiment has been very strong, but there is no panic,” said Mr Eugene Lim of property firm ERA Singapore.

“We can afford to wait,” said prospective investor Raymond Ting, 40, who works in building maintenance and lives in a condo with his wife and 10-year-old son.

“I expect prices to drop because there are so many new developments being released. What goes up will come down.”

Profile of showflat visitors


Many investors have been waiting for an opportunity to jump into the property market - but timing is everything, and they have been waiting until the price is right.

Mr Ashok Veerappan, a 56-year-old manufacturing executive, wants to buy a unit at Parc Imperial on Pasir Panjang Road as an investment. One-bedders of about 400 sq ft cost around $550,000.

Some investors are in no hurry to buy. Ms Eunice Lee, 39, a customer service professional, is keen to invest but is holding back as she expects prices to fall further.

Another investor, Mr Chan, in negotiations to buy a condo unit, said banks are paying little interest. 'Stocks are volatile but real estate is quite stable. I don't think prices will go down because external investors from countries like Indonesia and China are still there,' he said.


Many of those who are renting their current premises and other first-time buyers are also considering buying property despite the downturn.

Condo renter Sundaresan N., 46, a bank employee, recently visited The Peak @ Balmeg showflat.

A three-bedroom 1,500 sq ft apartment costs about $1.4 million.

'Rents have gone up so much, so it makes sense to buy, but I will buy only if the price is right - I have no problem waiting and trying to squeeze a lower rent out of my landlord.' He has been seriously searching for six months.

Mr Eddie Koh, 40, who owns a cleaning company, is renting a condo unit but is thinking of buying his own place to live in. 'If prices are not very high, then it's worth it, like now,' he said in Mandarin.


Some HDB upgraders want to buy property for both residential and investment purposes. Mr H.G. Cheng, a regional sales executive in his 40s, is keen to buy a unit soon and live there. 'I'll see in two to three years' time whether to rent it out or stay on. If the price is high, I'll sell it, otherwise I will live in it myself.'

He was viewing a showflat at Double Bay Residences in Simei, where units range from $850,000 for a three-bedder to $1 million for a four-bedder.

Mr E.C. Ho, 48, a construction industry worker, said his plan to buy a home is unrelated to the economy. 'We are half-upgrading and half-investing. My family of three live in an HDB flat and we are considering buying a condo now only because we didn't have enough money before,' he said.


Amid the furious buying, many people are just browsing at the showflats, curious about the recent property launches.

'We happened to see so many developments all of a sudden, and thought we might as well look for one as a long-term investment and upgrade,' said Ms Eileen Chua, a childcare centre worker in her late 40s with two teenage children.

Mr K. Leong, a 32-year-old banker who was at The Gale, is keen to buy but added: 'I'm just trying to see the market pricing. There is a perception that the economy is getting better and that is probably why everyone is buying right now.'



Source : 《联合早报》July 24, 2009


由于即将上市的Meadows @ Peirce位于贝雅士蓄水池(Peirce Reservoir)对面、Optima @ Tanah Merah位于丹那美拉地铁站旁,而Centro又位于宏茂桥地铁站旁,这个周末的“战火”可以说已由市区转移到郊外的组屋区。

据了解,位于贝雅士蓄水池(Peirce Reservoir)对面的Meadows @ Peirce,已有一些房屋经纪在上个星期天开始向买家收取空白支票。今天的特别嘉宾预售活动,将开放让那些预先将支票交给房屋经纪的买家,前往选购单位和签署文件。



据了解,一些房屋经纪目前也正如火如荼地为丰隆集团的Optima,以及远东机构的Centro Residences展开造势工作,来试探市场反应。

丰隆集团昨天发表的文告说,Optima将在本月底推出,不过有房屋经纪透露,预售活动应该会在下个星期举行。远东机构则证实,Centro Residences将在这个星期三傍晚举行预售活动,让那些预先向公司登记的买家选购单位。不过,当晚只会开放二、三卧房式单位让买家选购。

据了解,房屋经纪为Optima所开的指示价介于每平方英尺700元至900元之间,Centro Residences的指示价则介于每平方英尺1000元至1200元之间。



Centro Residences则位于宏茂桥8道,就在AMK Hub隔邻,共有329个单位。


另外,国浩置地也发表文告,它在多美歌地铁站附近兴建的Sophia Residence已经卖出了百来个单位。这个永久地契共管公寓共有272个单位,原本只开放38个单位让买家预购,由于全部单位很快就被抢购一空,公司在上个周末加推100个单位。目前,所推出的138个单位,已取得将近85%的销售率,成交价格介于每平方英尺1450元至1650元。


Mass Market Property Sector Prices Could Rise 10% By Year End

Source : , 23rd July 2009

Mass market private condominiums have seen strong take-up rates despite the recession, with HDB upgraders forming the bulk of buyers.

And analysts say prices of these properties could shoot up to new highs by the end of the year.

What's driving the demand for this segment in the property market, and how long will the bullrun last?

Last month, when the 8 @ Woodleigh condominium in Potong Pasir was launched, all 330 units were sold out in two weeks, making up a fifth of all private property sales for June.

Other mass market projects have also seen healthy numbers --

Livia in Pasir Ris has seen 88 percent of its launched units taken up so far, Double Bay Residences in Simei posted 89 percent and Kovan Residences recorded 94 percent.

The prices of these properties mostly range between 600 and 800 dollars per square foot, but a few new launches have priced their units above 900 dollars per square foot.

With demand reaching fever pitch, Managing Director of Reyfern Real Estate Consultancy, Reymond Fernandez, says prices of such properties could rise by as much as 10 percent by the end of the year, to record levels.

"The acceleration has been tremendous, it's been very unexpected because the economy is not doing so well, we're talking about unemployment figures increasing. Where the support level is coming from, it's hard to establish. But I think the sentiment seems positive and people are buying and they see more people buying and more people going in so the crowds are drawing more people in itself."

Independent property analyst Nicholas Mak says there are various factors propping up the strong demand -- low interest rates on housing loans, consumer optimism that the economic upturn is returning soon and a belief that an investment in real estate would be a good hedge against future inflation.

But he warns that the bullrun in the mass market property sector can only last as long as developers stay attuned to their buyers, who are mostly HDB upgraders.

"One must not forget that buyers of entry-level or mass market condominiums are very price-sensitive. Once prices go above 1.2 million dollars, such buyers tend to retreat to the sidelines or to look for cheaper alternatives."

Nonetheless, Mr Mak expects demand for mass market properties to remain at current levels for the rest of the year, especially if the economy is seen to make a sustainable recovery.

Preview Of Two Condo Projects Planned For Next Week

Source : The Business Times, July 24, 2009

One is next to Ang Mo Kio Hub and the other beside Tanah Merah MRT Station

TWO 99-year-leasehold condominium projects next to MRT stations are slated to be previewed next week - Far East Organization's Centro Residences next to Ang Mo Kio Hub and TID's Optima@Tanah Merah.

Price expectations: Market watchers suggest Optima (left) could be priced at about $750-$800 psf on average, while prices at Centro Residences are tipped to start from $1,150 psf

Prices at the 34-storey Centro Residences are tipped to start from $1,150 per square foot (psf). Far East bought the site at a state tender in September 2007 for $601 psf per plot ratio. That was a record price for suburban condo land.

Analysts reckon Far East's breakeven cost for the project could be close to $1,000 psf.

They suggest that Far East is releasing the project, which is along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8, to ride on the current home buying momentum but it may release only about 100 or so units initially and sell the rest as construction proceeds to extract higher prices progressively. The condo has a total of 329 units.

Far East is starting its preview on Wednesday evening and will release two and three-bedroom units.

A typical two-bedder of about 800 square feet could cost about $900,000, while a typical three-bedroom apartment of 950 sq ft may be priced on average at about $1.15 million.

As for Optima, beside the Tanah Merah MRT Station, market watchers suggest it could be priced at about $750-$800 psf on average.

They based this estimate on current average pricing for Waterfront Key in Bedok ($735 psf) and Dakota Residences ($900 psf) and adjusted for locational differences.

The 297-unit Optima will be a 14-storey project comprising one-bedroom studio apartments as well as two, three and four-bedroom apartments plus 18 penthouses.

Developer TID is a joint venture between Mitsui Fudosan of Japan and Hong Leong Group Singapore.

Another Hong Leong unit, Tripartite Developers, previewed The Gale along Upper Changi Road two weeks ago. The 329-unit freehold project, priced at $650 to $725 psf, is over 80 per cent sold.

With the release of Centro and Optima, the pipeline of suburban condos on 99-year-leasehold sites bought at state tenders will shrink further.

This will increase impetus on developers to trigger the release of sites on the government's reserve list, analysts say.

Already, the government has announced the release of two sites from this list this week - at Chestnut Avenue and Dakota Crescent.

US Home Resales Rise More Than Forecast In June

Source : The Business Times, July 24, 2009


(NEW YORK) Home resales in the US rose in June for a third consecutive month, spurred by tax incentives, lower borrowing costs and foreclosure-driven declines in prices.

Purchases climbed 3.6 per cent to an annual rate of 4.89 million, stronger than forecast and the highest level since October, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said yesterday in Washington. Median prices fell 15 per cent.

The gain in sales confirms Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's remarks this week that the worst housing slump in eight decades appears to be moderating. A record drop in household wealth, due in part to the plunge in property values, and mounting unemployment are among the reasons that rebounds in housing and the economy are likely to be drawn out.

'We have finally bottomed out,' said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh. Improved affordability 'is stalemating the drag from higher unemployment'. Mr Hoffman forecast sales would rise to a 4.9 million pace.

Economists forecast existing sales would rise to a 4.84 million rate from a previously reported 4.77 million for May, according to the median of 68 projections in a Bloomberg News survey. Estimates ranged from 4.7 million to 5 million.

The Labor Department earlier reported that first-time applications for jobless benefits climbed by 30,000 to 554,000 in the week ended July 18. The number of workers filing claims had dropped by 93,000 over the previous two weeks, reflecting changes in the timing of mid-year auto shutdowns to retool for the new-model year.

Stocks gained and Treasury securities fell after the report. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.4 per cent to 967.67 at 10.21am in New York.

June traditionally is one of the top sales months of the year as families prepare to move before the start of the next school term, according to the NAR. The group adjusts the figures for these seasonal variations in order to facilitate month-to-month comparisons. -- Bloomberg

Another Reserve Site Draws Bid

Source : The Business Times, July 23, 2009

Dakota Crescent condo site gets $130m offer; Chestnut Avenue plot put up for tender today

FOR the second time in less than a week, the Government has received an offer for one of its condominium sites - after a 10-month drought during the recession in which it was unable to sell any residential land.

Yesterday, the Urban Redevelopment Authority said it has received a minimum bid of $130 million for a 1.7ha site at Dakota Crescent, near the upcoming Dakota MRT Station on the Circle Line.

This comes just three days after an unnamed developer offered $62 million for a land parcel at Chestnut Avenue in Bukit Panjang on Monday.

Both sites are on the Government's reserve list, which means they are available for sale but are not put up for public tender until a developer pledges to put in a minimum bid.

The Chestnut Avenue site will be put up for tender today, while the Dakota Crescent site will be launched for tender in about two weeks.

The $130 million minimum bid that will be put in for the Dakota site works out to about $200 per sq ft (psf) of the potential gross floor area, which is about 650,000 sq ft, according to veteran property consultant Nicholas Mak.

He expects that when other bids come in during the tender, they could reach $350 to $370 psf of gross floor area, or $227.5 million to $240.5 million.

'The site is fairly attractive because of its proximity to the upcoming Dakota MRT Station,' he said, adding that the apartments that will be built on it can cater to HDB upgraders as well as investors on a tighter budget.

But Ms Tay Huey Ying, director for research and advisory at property firm Colliers International, said developers may not be overly keen on the site and probably only mid-sized and larger developers would bid for it.

She believes developers will stay cautious and limit their interest to sites that cost less than $150 million and that are located in the suburbs or the city's fringes, where demand is strong now.

No state-owned residential land has been sold since September last year, when a site at the junction of New Upper Changi Road and Tanah Merah Kechil Avenue was awarded for $84 million.

Even that site was on the Government's confirmed list, which means it was put up for sale at a fixed date regardless of whether developers had expressed any interest in it. The last time a developer has proactively put in a bid for a reserve-list site was almost two years ago, in November 2007.

But property consultants say developers could now be looking to replenish their land banks, given that they are now selling more new homes to buyers who are returning to the market in droves.

Developer GuocoLand, for instance, said yesterday that it has sold 117 of the 272 units in one of its projects, Sophia Residence in Mount Sophia.

It had released 38 units initially and sold them all, so another 100 units were made available during the project's official launch last weekend, GuocoLand said in a statement. Selling prices range from $1,450 to $1,850 psf, and all the studio and two-bedroom units - which start from about 600 sq ft - have been sold.

Six in 10 of the buyers so far are Singaporeans. The rest are permanent residents as well as foreigners from Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Myanmar, China, Australia and Europe, the developer said.

Only 20 per cent of buyers took up the interest absorption scheme that allows buyers to defer the bulk of their payments until their units are completed. The rest opted for the normal progressive payment scheme at a 2 per cent discount.

Finding That Jewel Of A House

Source : The Business Times, July 23, 2009


While most bungalow plots are in the central and eastern districts, they can be found anywhere in Singapore

IT'S not called house hunting for nothing. But if you find a gem of a home, the effort will be very much worthwhile.

Some of the more rewarding finds are big bungalow plots in areas outside central Singapore which, for one reason or another, have so far escaped redevelopment.

By definition, a bungalow here has to be on a site no smaller than 400 square metres and no less than 10m wide. This may be small compared with a Good Class Bungalow (GCB) - 1,400 sq m minimum - but it's twice as big as a semi-detached plot and five times as big as an intermediate terrace (Type II) plot.

Most people associate bungalow plots with the few GCB areas in prime central districts. But at the turn of the 20th century, many of Singapore's wealthy businessmen chose to build homes on the seafront - and it's here that many of these bungalow plots still exist.

One such area is the East Coast. Propnex CEO Mohamed Ismail says Mountbatten and Siglap are good hunting grounds, where such plots may start around $700 per sq ft. 'They make good investments because of the limited supply,' he adds.

A large bungalow site in Mountbatten that was sold in recent years was Chan's Ville, which belonged to the late Chan Ah Kow, patriarch of one of Singapore's leading sports families.

The 55,000 sq ft site was acquired by SC Global for about $11 million in 2004, which worked out to be just $200 psf. In 2005, it was reported that the developer would add four bungalows to the site and sell them for about $5 million each.

About the time Chan's Ville was sold, another bungalow in Mountbatten was sold for $11.8 million or $305 psf for the 38,662 sq ft site. And this site was redeveloped too.

Indeed, with many waking up to the opportunity for redevelopment, the number of large sites on the East Coast has been dwindling.

Still, there are other areas to hunt in, and Mr Ismail suggests Upper Thomson and Braddell Road.

Donald Han, managing director of Cushman & Wakefield, reckons there are about 20,000 detached houses in Singapore, not counting GCBs. Many are in District 15, but other areas include Sunset Way, Jalan Binchang, Westlake estate, Eng Neo Avenue, Faber Park and Serangoon Gardens.

But as Mr Han points out: 'There is hardly enough supply to cater to demand.'

This demand comes from the desire of many Singaporeans to own a landed home.

As an investment, however, landed properties generally give a lower yield of 2 per cent per annum, compared with 3 per cent or more for condominiums, as bungalows are not as easily leased. 'But landed properties tend to be closer to the hearts of owner occupiers and investors alike,' Mr Han says.

William Wong, managing director of RealStar Premier Property Consultant, believes that while most bungalow plots are in the central and eastern districts, 'there are quite a number of them and they can be found anywhere in Singapore'.

Occasionally, bungalow plots in unusual locations are offered by the government.

In 2007, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) auctioned a 4,477 sq ft bungalow plot in Sembawang. After closely fought bidding, the plot sold for $940,000 or $209 psf.

Of course, Sembawang may not be quite the same as Queen Astrid Park - but not many will want to pay between $700 and $1,000 psf for a bungalow plot in a prime district.

What is important to note is that landed housing areas are strictly protected by urban design guidelines. For instance, if you do buy a GCB, you can be sure a condominium is not going to be built on the plot next to yours.

The same cannot be said about plots outside landed housing areas. Indeed, if you happen to come across a detached house sandwiched between condominiums, chances are the area has been gazetted for high-density living.

So before buying landed property - especially if it is outside a safeguarded landed housing area - make sure you check the zoning. This will reveal what can be built. For instance, Mr Wong says mixed zoning means that either terraced, semi-detached or bungalows can be built.

Another important consideration is height restrictions in particular areas. This can significantly alter the redevelopment potential of a site, especially if you intend to build a three-storey house when only two storeys are allowed.

In some instances, landed properties may be in areas that have been rezoned with higher plot ratios. A plot ratio of 1.4 is enough to see neighbourhoods of landed homes slowly redeveloped into apartment buildings. This means that even if most of the properties on the street are landed homes, any of them can be redeveloped as a high rise if the plot is big enough. Of course, for some this represents a windfall.

Steven Ming, Savills director for prestige homes, says the GCB market is extremely active. 'And we can similarly expect demand for detached houses, even those outside GCB areas, to remain strong as well,' he says. 'Recent strong sales have been fuelled by vast liquidity, availability of cheap finance and a general belief that the worst of the global crisis is over and that the panic-selling phase has passed.'

Mr Ming believes that if current buying momentum continues, detached house prices can be expected to appreciate 10-15 per cent during the rest of the year.

KepLand To Launch Two Projects Soon

Source : The Straits Times, July 23, 2009

Bukit Timah, Cairnhill Circle projects to cash in on market optimism

TWO new residential projects will soon be launched by property developer Keppel Land (KepLand) in an indication of the rebound in market sentiment.

The firm has yet to launch any residential projects this year, unlike other developers which have launched projects week after week in recent months to capitalise on the new-found optimism.

Madison Residences

KepLand said yesterday it will be launching luxury projects Madison Residences in Bukit Timah and The Promont at Cairnhill Circle in the next two months.

This comes only four months after it made the decision to defer the construction of Madison Residences in March, citing weak market conditions.

The Promont is due for completion this year, said the firm.

Group chief executive Kevin Wong said yesterday at its financial results briefing that as markets in the region improve, 'we will accelerate our project launches in Singapore, China and Vietnam to achieve faster returns'.

The firm posted a 10.4 per cent increase in net profit to $58.2 million for the three months ended June 30, compared to the same quarter last year.

Revenue came in at $250 million for the second quarter, up 34.4 per cent from a year ago due to progressive sales from launched projects in Singapore such as Park Infinia at Wee Nam and The Tresor at Duchess Road.

Keppel Land's growing footprint overseas also helped to boost turnover, as sales from projects in China and Indonesia were registered.

Overseas earnings accounted for 30 per cent of net profit, compared to 18 per cent for the same quarter last year, said KepLand.

The firm is determined to expand its presence in China, recently announcing its proposal to delist Evergro, a China-focused property group, to merge both entities.

It had offered 29 cents per share - a 16 per cent premium over Evergro's last traded share price of 25 cents on the Friday before the announcement.

Shareholders can also opt for one new Keppel Land share for every seven Evergro shares they own. This plan will allow KepLand to 'tap on combined operational expertise, industry knowledge and extensive networks' for expansion in China, said Mr Wong.

KepLand had raised some $708 million in a fully subscribed, nine-for-10 rights issue at $1.09 a share in June.

This has improved the firm's borrowing position, and it is now looking for land to buy, said its finance chief Lim Kei Hin.

For the first half of this year, net profit was down 15.8 per cent at $95.1 million from the same period last year because of poorer first-quarter sales arising from lower revenue recognition for projects in Singapore and overseas.

Overall, turnover was down 13.8 per cent at $395.6 million compared to the first half of last year.

Earnings per share for the half-year ended June 30 was 8.2 cents, down from 11.1 cents previously.

Net asset value per share stood at $2.29 as at June 30, compared to $3.39 as of Dec 31, 2008.

Keppel Land shares closed five cents up at $2.54 yesterday.

Sophia Residence Sells 85% Of Released Units

Source : The Business Times, July 23, 2009

GUOCOLAND Group's Sophia Residence has drawn a strong response from property buyers here, with 85 per cent of its 138 released units sold thus far.

The 138 units included 100 units that were released during the official launch of the development last weekend. GuocoLand said it decided to release 100 units as the initial 38 units released earlier during the preview were all snapped up.

The units sold were a mix of studio, two-, three-, four-bedroom and penthouse units with selling prices ranging from $1,450 to $1,850 per sq ft.

The development features 272 freehold units. All studio and two-bedroom units have been snapped up, said GuocoLand.

Margaret Thean, executive director of real estate agent DTZ, pointed to Sophia Residence's 'extremely attractive' location as the key draw.

Sixty per cent of the buyers are Singaporeans, while the rest are permanent residents and foreigners.

ERA president Jack Chua said that 'foreign buyers are buying the units for their children' due to the property's proximity to institutions of learning, such as the Singapore Management University.

Additional units will be released this weekend.

Housing Market Shows Classic Recovery Signs

Source : The Business Times, July 23, 2009

Subsales and foreigner purchases up in Q2; HDB upgraders' share falls

Three classic signs of a recovery have emerged in the Singapore housing market. Subsales and foreign buying have accelerated while the share of HDB upgraders in the private home buying pie has declined.

The number of subsale deals for private homes has more than doubled from 414 in Q1 this year to 1,041 in Q2 and the median subsale price has also risen 18.1 per cent over the same period to $959 psf, based on Jones Lang LaSalle's analysis of caveats lodged for private homes captured by URA's Realis system as at July 17.

HDB upgraders' share of total caveats, which had been increasing for six consecutive quarters since Q4 2007, slipped in Q2 this year as purchases by those with private addresses rose at a faster clip. This could be because Q2 saw more mid and mid-upper projects launched, compared with predominantly mass-market launches catering to upgraders in Q1, says Knight Frank chairman Tan Tiong Cheng.

The number of caveats for private homes lodged by foreigners, including PRs, nearly tripled - from 496 in Q1 to 1,418 in Q2. The increase outpaced a 103.9 per cent rise in Singaporean buying. As a result, foreigners' share of private home buying rose from 15.5 per cent in Q1 to 20.5 per cent in Q2. The most popular districts among these buyers were Districts 9, 10 and 15 while the more sought-after projects included Rivergate and Martin Place Residences (district 9), The Arte (district 11), The Lakeshore in Jurong and Mi Casa in Choa Chu Kang.

'Singapore properties are more affordable today than they were during the peak. Foreigners, like local buyers, are finding value in the local property market and looking at the upside potential,' says JLL's head of South-east Asia and Singapore research Chua Yang Liang, adding that the positive economic growth in China, India and Indonesia had nudged their citizens into investing here. He also observed a rise in purchases by Myanmar buyers.

Malaysians were the top buyers of homes in Singapore in Q2, making up 29.3 per cent of total caveats lodged by foreigners, followed by Indonesians (20.3 per cent share), mainland Chinese (14.9 per cent) and Indians (12.1 per cent).

Foreigners were drawn to prime district projects like Martin Place Residences in the primary market and Rivergate and Seaview in the secondary market in Q2, said CB Richard Ellis executive director (residential) Joseph Tan.

JLL's head of residential Jacqueline Wong has seen more high networth individuals from India, Hong Kong and China looking to make their maiden property investments here. 'They are not PRs and are looking at apartments 3,000 sq ft and above in the Orchard Road belt. They're drawn by value; prices in the luxury sector are today about 15 to 25 per cent below the 2007 peak levels,' she said.

Going ahead, foreign buying is expected to gain momentum, if the property recovery and regional economic upturn continue.

In the subsale market, the most popular projects transacted in Q2 were Rivergate (95 units), The Centris (46 units) and City Square Residences (45 units). Rivergate and Phase 2 of City Square Residences obtained Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) in March, and Centris, this month.

The median subsale price in Rivergate has risen from $1,200 psf in Q1 to $1,400 psf in Q2 and that for The Centris increased from $587.50 psf to $625 psf. City Square Residences' median subsale price rose from $791 psf to $893 psf and that for The Sail @ Marina Bay, from $1,321 to $1,623 psf.

Subsales are secondary market deals in projects that have yet to obtain Certificate of Statutory Completion. This could be three to 12 months after the project gets TOP. Market watchers note that there's typically more sales activity around the time that projects receive TOP.

'There are buyers who like to have the finished product because it's ready for immediate occupation or renting out,' says Knight Frank chairman Tan Tiong Cheng. Sellers who bought for investment, especially on Deferred Payment Scheme, can also cash out.

Analysts reckon that with a significant number of private homes heading for completion in the next 18 months, more subsale transactions can be expected.

Buyers with HDB addresses accounted for 44 per cent of total caveats lodged for private homes in Q2, down from the 56 per cent share in the preceding quarter.

The fall in proportion of purchases by HDB ugpraders was due to a bigger Q-on-Q jump of 174 per cent in Q2 in caveats lodged by those with private addresses, compared with a 70.8 per cent increase in caveats lodged by those with HDB addresses.

The most popular projects among HDB upgraders in Q2 were Mi Casa, with 145 caveats at a median price of $630 psf, followed by Double Bay Residences (106 units changed hands at a median price of $665 psf) and The Arte, (87 units transacted at $899 psf median price).

The share of HDB upgraders may slip further in coming months as the proportion of mass-market developments among project launches lessens as developers release more upper-end condos.

Rents In Spain Fall On Real Estate Glut

Source : The Business Times, July 23, 2009

Owners who need to sell their property but can't are being forced to lease

(MADRID) Arancha Ibarra considers herself one of the lucky victims of Spain's housing collapse.

After struggling to find a buyer for her renovated two-bedroom apartment in Madrid for two years, she found a tenant for 750 euros (S$1,540) a month, becoming one of the 1.5 million second-home owners thrust onto the country's rental market.

The number of properties for rent in Spain climbed 55 per cent in the past two years to 3.3 million, the highest since the Ministry of Housing started collecting the data in 2004. Rents in cities, including Madrid and Barcelona, are falling for the first time in seven years with declines of as much as 8 per cent, according to Madrid- based property research firm Idea

'Those who need to sell but can't are being forced to lease,' said Fernando Encinar, co-founder and head of research at, Spain's largest real estate website with 308,000 listings for rent and purchase. 'We haven't seen this number of properties for rent since the 1950s.'

Spain built about 29 per cent of new homes in the EU from 2001 to 2007, even as it represented just 9 per cent of the population. The resulting glut of 1.5 million unsold houses and apartments sparked the end of a decade-long real estate and construction boom that accounted for about 20 per cent of the country's gross domestic product in 2007.

The ensuing housing slump has tipped the economy into the worst recession in 60 years with the unemployment rate climbing to 19 per cent, the highest in the EU. Home sales fell by more than a third in the 12 months through May, the latest government data show.

Rents in Madrid and Barcelona jumped 28 per cent and 56 per cent, respectively, in the five years to 2008, driven by a jump in house values. Home prices rose 120 per cent from 1997 to 2007, pricing many Spaniards out of the market.

This year, rents declined 4.2 per cent to 12.3 euros a square metre in Madrid and 8 per cent to 12.6 euros in Barcelona, Idealista reported.

After two years of trying to sell her 70 sq m air-conditioned apartment in Madrid, Ms Ibarra rented it after receiving just one offer of 162,273 euros, 33 per cent below her asking price.

'The rent barely covers the mortgage, but doesn't pay the council tax and maintenance,' she said during an interview in Madrid. 'It was the best price I could get and I can't afford to sell at a loss or leave it empty.'

Owners of vacant homes also have to pay a yearly tax that is equal to 1-2 per cent of the property's value.

Spaniards are not the only ones saddled with empty homes. The nation's banks lent about 318 billion euros to domestic real estate companies and also were forced to accept billions of euros of real estate assets in exchange for cancelling debt with insolvent developers, according to Fernando Rodriguez de Acuna, president of RR de Acuna & Asociados, a Madrid-based industry research company founded in 1980.

'Those assets are sterile, or constantly falling in value, so the banks have to get them off their books or else they will damage their balance sheets in coming years,' Mr Acuna said.

Banco Santander SA, Spain's biggest bank, together with its consumer unit Banco Espanol de Credito SA, has 4.1 billion euros of property assets after taking real estate from failing developers.

Santander put 1,800 homes up for sale in January and sold 500 of them as at May, a company spokesman said. He declined to provide a breakdown of the bank's residential and commercial real estate assets.

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, the Spanish lender that bought 490 million euros of real estate in the first quarter, forecasts that the amount will will climb to one billion euros by the end of the year. Caja Madrid, the country's second largest savings bank, has about 600 homes for rent and is offering as many as 1,500 for sale at discounts of as much as 40 per cent.

Mr Acuna estimated that the slump in the Spanish residential property market will last seven years, prolonging the recession until 2013.

'Recovery is going to depend on when people can purchase homes again, which in turn depends on employment,' he said during an interview at his office in Madrid.

Mr Acuna estimated that the economy will contract by 4 per cent in 2009 and 2010, by 2 per cent in 2011, and one per cent in 2012. Growth will be zero or minimal in 2013, he said.

The Spanish government has forecast that the economy will shrink by 3.6 per cent this year and 0.3 per cent in 2010, and then grow 1.8 per cent and 2.7 per cent in 2011 and 2012.

Unemployment in Spain may reach 20.5 per cent by the end of 2010, according to estimates from the European Commission.

'Redundancy is having a huge impact on home sales, hence many people are turning to renting,' said Ben May, an economist at Capital Economics Ltd in London. -- Bloomberg

Another Condo Site To Go On Sale

Source : The Business Times, July 23, 2009

URA gets offer for 99-year leasehold site on reserve list at Dakota Crescent

For the second time this week, a 99-year leasehold condo site on the government reserve list has been triggered for launch.

Urban Redevelopment Authority said yesterday it has received a successful application for the 1.7 hectare site, which is located at Dakota Crescent and is next to the Dakota Residences condo being developed by Ho Bee.

The developer that successfully applied for the latest plot to be released has undertaken to bid for the site at a minimum $130 million, which works out to about $200 per square foot of potential gross floor area.

This is 62 per cent lower than the $524 psf per plot ratio (psf ppr) that Ho Bee paid for its site in June 2007. Ho Bee launched Dakota Residences at an average price of about $970 psf last year.

It relaunched the project a few months ago at an average price of about $900 psf. URA's monthly developer sales figures for June show a total 27 units were sold in the project during the month at a median price of $870 psf.

Knight Frank chairman Tan Tiong Cheng reckons the top bid for the site could be about $350 psf ppr, which would work out to a breakeven cost of of slightly below $700 psf. 'Bidding should be hot.

'The site is next to Dakota MRT station and fronts the Geylang River. And it's in a proven location,' he added.

Based on URA statistics, Ho Bee had sold about 60 per cent of the 348-unit Dakota Residences as at the end of last month.

Earlier this week, the Housing & Development Board (HDB) said it will launch the tender for a 99-year leasehold site for a condominium development at Chestnut Avenue on the reserve list after receiving a successful application.

Following up on that announcement, HDB said yesterday that the tender for the site will close at noon on Aug 19. That plot was also from the government's reserve list, and its launch follows a successful application by an unnamed party undertaking to bid at least $62 million at the tender, which works out to $120.83 psf ppr.

Mr Tan expects developers to trigger launches of more residential sites from the government reserve list, as it offers a good source of land for developing entry-level condos catering to HDB upgraders.

'Right now, a lot of developers are focusing on the mass market; they've seen a recovery in the low end and it seems a safer bet. They may already have enough stock of high-end sites,' he added.

Locations of residential sites in the second-half 2009 reserve list include Tampines, Jalan Jurong Kechil, Upper Thomson Road, Bishan St 14 and Serangoon Avenue 3.

Property Transactions For Districts 1 To 16 With Contract Dates Between July 1st - 7th, 2009

Facelift For Parkway Parade

Source : The Straits Times, July 23, 2009

Works to help mall compete with those in East, Orchard Rd

PARKWAY Parade, one of the first suburban malls in Singapore, is undergoing an extensive $15 million revamp. The renovations will add an annex block and an alfresco dining area to the popular shopping centre in Marine Parade.

Parkway Parade, which turned 25 in March, sees about 1.7 million shoppers each month. -- PHOTO: NP

The revamp, which began three months ago and is set to be completed in October, will integrate part of the mall's ground-floor area - previously occupied by tenants like fast-food restaurants Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken - with its 720 sq m outdoor refreshment area.

Before the changes, the outdoor area housed food outlets and cafes such as Long John Silver's and Starbucks.

When completed, the new wing will be air-conditioned and will feature new tenants, including an outlet of the Western casual dining chain New York New York and Pu Tien Restaurant, which serves Heng Hua cuisine.

To cater to Singaporeans' love affair with food, more food and beverage outlets will be added and the alfresco dining area will be set up on the second level of the new wing. The rest of the mall will also be spruced up.

New floor tiles will be added to make it look brighter, while waterless urinals will be installed.

Parkway Parade, which turned 25 in March, sees about 1.7 million shoppers each month.

The main reason for the revamp, said its property manager Lend Lease, is to allow the mall to 'stay ahead of the competition...especially in the face of increasing competition from malls in the East and the others in the Orchard belt'. Several new shopping centres have opened this year, including Tampines 1, Orchard Central and Ion Orchard.

Parkway Parade, which has six floors of shops and a 17-storey office tower, opened in 1984. Once touted as the biggest shopping complex here, with a total floor area of 123,000 sq m, it was very popular at the start. However, when MRT trains began running in 1987 - making it much easier for Singaporeans to travel from the suburbs to areas like Orchard Road or to other suburban malls - the centre lost some of its sheen.

Lend Lease, which took over management of the mall in 2000, carried out development works seven years ago, bringing in new tenants like Giant Hypermarket and upgrading parts of the centre. Retailers at the mall are hoping the latest upgrade will give business a shot in the arm.

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

US Existing Home Sales Rise

Source : The Straits Times, July 23, 2009

WASHINGTON - SALES of existing homes in the United States rose for the third consecutive month in June, suggesting that the troubled housing market may be hitting bottom, private data showed on Thursday.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said existing home sales rose to an annualized rate of 4.89 million units in June, up 3.6 per cent from May.

Sales were brisker than the average analyst forecast of a 4.83 million pace.

In May, sales of existing homes - by far the largest segment of the US housing market - had climbed in the first back-to-back monthly increase since 2005.

The June sales number appeared to confirm the stabilisation, down a mere 0.2 percent from a year earlier.

'The increase in existing home sales occurred in all major regions of the country,' said Lawrence Yun, the association's chief economist.

'We expect a gradual uptrend in sales to continue due to tax credit incentives and historically high affordability conditions.'

The NAR said total housing inventory at the end of June slipped 0.7 per cent from the preceding month, to 3.82 million homes available for sale.

That represents a 9.4-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 9.8-month supply in May.

Prices also showed signs of stabilizing. The median price of existing home sales was 181,600 in June, 15 per cent lower than a year ago but up from 174,700 in May. -- AFP