Thursday, August 6, 2009

URA Launches Residential Site At Dakota Crescent For Public Tender

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 06 August 2009

The government has launched a residential site at Dakota Crescent for public tender.

This comes after a developer said it would bid at least S$130 million for the site two weeks ago.

Dakota Crescent (image by URA)

The land parcel, which was made available for sale through the Reserve List System, has a site area of 1.7 hectares.

The 99-year site, which is located near Old Airport Road, can generate a maximum permissible gross floor area of 647,000 square feet.

The tender closes on September 8.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said on Thursday the selection of the successful bidder will be based on the tendered land price only.

The minimum bid price for the site is S$130 million. - CNA/yb

Balmoral, Tagore Sites For Sale

Source : The Business Times, August 6, 2009

SAVILLS Singapore has launched for sale two residential properties - the freehold No 3 Balmoral Road with an indicative price of $65 million; and an 86,402 square foot plot at No 162 Tagore Avenue, within the Teachers Housing Estate, with an indicative price of $15 million. The latter is being sold on a 99-year leasehold tenure by the Singapore Teachers' Union, which holds the freehold interest in the property.

No 3 Balmoral Road: This is a development of 11 apartments, all leased out, but Savills is marketing the property for its redevelopment potential

No 3 Balmoral Road currently comprises a development of 11 apartments, all leased out, but Savills is marketing the property for its redevelopment potential. The property is owned by an investment company and has a land area of 23,821 sq ft, a permissible plot ratio (ratio of maximum gross floor area to land area) of 1.6 and a height restriction of 12 storeys.

The site has been granted written permission by the Urban Redevelopment Authority for the development of 30 residential units. Savills said that such a development would have an estimated total potential saleable area of about 45,000 sq ft. The figure is understood to include bay windows and planter boxes. Development charge has been fully paid, up to a gross floor area (GFA) of about 41,918 sq ft, which includes 10 per cent additional GFA allowed for balconies.

The $65 million price works out to $1,705 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) based on the 1.6 plot ratio. However, inclusive of the balcony allowance, the land price translates to a lower $1,551 psf ppr. Savills said that the $65 million works out to about $1,450 psf on the 45,000 sq ft potential saleable area.

Market watchers note that Keppel Land's 18-storey Madison Residences on the former Naga Court site along Bukit Timah Road, which starts selling today, is expected to be priced at about $1,700 psf on average.

The Tagore Avenue site, although currently zoned as 'civil & community institution', has approval for a three-storey mixed landed development, allowing a potential development of either 33 landed homes or 40 cluster houses. The tender for this site closes on Sept 1 while the expression of interest for the Balmoral property closes on Sept 3.

Property Transactions For Districts 1 To 17 With Contract Dates Between July 15th - 21st, 2009

Swissotel Merchant Court Hotel May Be Sold Soon

Source : The Business Times, August 6, 2009

TA Enterprise Bhd is proposing to buy both the hotel and its business

Swissotel Merchant Court hotel in the Clarke Quay area is expected to change hands soon. Bursa-listed TA Enterprise Berhad said last week that it's proposing to buy the 476-room hotel.

On the market: The hotel was put up for sale a year ago, but a deal did not materialise then as sentiment worsened due to the global financial crisis

It did not reveal the price but market watchers say that it is likely to be in the mid-$250 million range.

TA Enterprise is proposing to buy both the hotel and its business. The hotel will be sold subject to a management contract with Swissotel, part of Fairmont Raffles Hotels International. Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels is said to be brokering the deal.

TA Enterprise - controlled by Tony Tiah and his wife Alicia - owns Westin Hotel Melbourne, Radisson Plaza Hotel in Sydney and the Aava Whistler Hotel in Canada, according to its website.

In an announcement last week, the group said that it had struck a deal with LaSalle Asia Opportunity II SARL to buy the entire issued shares of Quayside Gem Limited, which owns the hotel and business of Swissotel Merchant Court Singapore.

TA has secured an exclusivity agreement to perform due diligence on the property. The company has paid a deposit of $5 million, which will be forfeitable, if TA withdraws from the negotiations for the proposed acquisition or does not enter into a sale and purchase agreement with the seller by Aug 25, 2009.

During the exclusivity period, the seller will not sell, negotiate or solicit any invitations or bids for the sale of the hotel with any other parties.

Seller LaSalle Asia Opportunity II bought the hotel in 2006 from Fairmont Raffles Hotels International (owned by Kingdom Hotels International and Colony Capital), which had in turn acquired it as part of the entire hotel business of Raffles Holdings in 2005.

The hotel is on a site with a remaining lease of about 84 years. It was put up for sale a year ago, but a deal did not materialise then as sentiment worsened due to the global financial crisis.

British Home Prices Up 1.1% In July: Survey

Source : The Business Times, August 6, 2009

Demand rises on affordability and low interest rates

(LONDON) British home prices rose by 1.1 per cent in July from the level the previous month, but fell over 12 months, a survey from home-loans provider Halifax showed yesterday.

Halifax - part of the state-controlled Lloyds Banking Group - added that the prices of homes in July were 12.1 per cent lower compared with the level in the same month of 2008.

'Demand for homes has risen, albeit from a very low base, since the start of the year, driven by improvements in affordability and low interest rates,' said Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis in a statement.

He added: 'Higher demand has combined with the low levels of property available for sale to boost sales activity from exceptionally low levels and support prices over the past few months.'

According to Halifax, the average cost of a British home stood at £159,623 (S$387,548) in July 2009.

Last week, another major home-loans provider, Nationwide, had said that British house prices rose by 1.3 per cent in July from June, leaving the average cost of a home at almost £159,000.

Nationwide had also said that prices were 1.3 per cent higher so far this year and could finish slightly higher for the year as a whole. -- AFP

Domestic Investors Drive Asia Investment Deals

Source : The Business Times, August 6, 2009

H1 investment sales in region fall 58% to US$12.4b as global institutions sidelined

Domestic investors played a bigger role in Asian property investment sales in the first half of this year as global institutional investors and property funds stayed mostly on the sidelines, says CB Richard Ellis.

Domestic investors were involved in nine of the 10 largest real estate investment deals in the region in H1. The 10 biggest deals totalled US$5.1 billion - a 46 per cent drop from H1 2008.

Overall, inter-regional cross-border investment accounted for only 8 per cent of total Asian investment sales of US$12.4 billion during the first half, down from a 30 per cent share in H1 2008.

The total value of property investment deals in Asia in H1 this year was down 58 per cent from US$29.5 billion in H1 2008. In the second quarter of 2009, US$7.3 billion of deals were sealed, up 41 per cent from US$5.1 billion in Q1.

Looking ahead, CBRE Research Asia's executive director Andrew Ness says: 'Cash-rich local investors are most likely to be the main drivers of the investment market over the short to medium term, as many of them are interested in purchasing quality assets for long-term investment. However, it is possible that even domestic investors will find it difficult to find suitable investment opportunities due to the shortage of quality properties put up for sale during the current downturn.'

CBRE's figures are preliminary and include land transactions.

The biggest transaction in H1 was the sale of AIG Otemachi Building in Tokyo for about US$1.2 billion. Prime office properties continued to attract the strongest interest from investors, accounting for six of the 10 largest deals in the region.

The improved market in Q2 was driven to some extent by debt-funded investors compromising at current price levels and liquidating assets to service near-term debt obligations, CBRE says. Investor sentiment generally turned more positive as the first half of the year progressed.

Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan experienced the largest quarterly rebound in transaction volume, up 302 per cent, 297 per cent and 151 per cent respectively in Q2. There was also an increase in land acquisitions in China during the quarter, as big local developers scrambled to snap up sites in anticipation of imminent appreciation in prices.

Foreign institutional investors remained inactive, discouraged by the lack of further discounting, while local investors were more active on account of their easier access to domestic credit. India and Taiwan ended the six-month period with positive year-on-year growth of 339 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.

'The change in investor sentiment in Taiwan primarily resulted from the expected opening of the domestic market to mainland Chinese investment,' says CBRE.

'Meanwhile, the formation of a stable government in India coupled with the utilisation of Qualified Institutional Placement (QIP) by real estate companies to raise new funds provided a boost to the Indian property investment market.'

Tokyo emerged as the location with the largest number of distressed or potentially distressed real estate assets in the region in Q2. Owners came under pressure to refinance deals that have fallen to well below the original loan-to-valuation ratios prescribed by their loan covenants.

'The period saw a number of major office transactions concluded at US$50 million and above, with Japanese investors and investment institutions accounting for virtually all transactions, proving that appetite still persists in Japan for acquiring quality assets,' says CBRE.

Don't Write Off Old Bungalows

Source : The Business Times, August 06 2009

You can always ask an architect to see how rooms and spaces can be transformed with simple changes.

WHEN one buys a landed property, it is more than likely that it will come with a house attached.

Quite often, however, new owners will demolish the existing house and build a new one from scratch, adding to the money invested in the property. And at an average of $500 psf for construction cost, this can add up to quite a hefty sum. So it may pay to consider the potential of the existing old bungalow instead.

Anyone with a good eye for architecture should be able to see how rooms and spaces can be transformed with simple changes. But for those without, the best person to ask is an architect.

Transforming old buildings is something architect Mink Tan has had experience with, having won the URA Heritage Award for the Waterboat House on Fullerton Road in 2004.

By reconfiguring the spaces and adding some new ones, he converted the formerly dark and airless Waterboat House into a light and airy lifestyle F&B destination.

Similarly, when Mr Tan was shown around a 14 year old colonial style bungalow that a client was interested in, he could see that it was a building that had potential.

The large house has a built-up area of about 7,500 sq ft house and sits on nearly 16,000 sq ft of prime land. But with a house of this size and design, the rooms tend to be dark.

To address this, Mr Tan simply replaced many of the windows with French windows which are just glass-panel doors that can be opened to let more light in.

'The spaces also didn't feel right,' says Mr Tan. So he created an 'enfilade effect' by opening up the rooms and establishing view corridors that did not exist before.

By simply knocking down some of the bedroom walls to give access to existing ledges, the architect also converted 'dead space' into balconies. Even the roof of the car porch was converted into a terrace simply by introducing new doors.

In other areas of the house, like the kitchen, all it took was some space-planning to turn what was previously a small kitchen into a bigger, wet and dry kitchen.

Not all houses will be as easy to transform, especially if the house happens to be gazetted for conservation, as many of Singapore's grandest bungalows are.

Old bungalows that have been gazetted for conservation can be transformed and remodelled but strict guidelines set by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) must be adhered to.

Many of the conserved bungalows are within the Good Class Bungalow Areas of Chatsworth Park, Holland Park/Ridout Road and Nassim Road/Whitehouse Park and Mountbatten Road.

Bungalows usually consist of the main building and an outhouse for the kitchen, toilets and servants' quarters. For conserved bungalows, only the main house needs to be retained. The outhouse can be demolished to make way for new extensions to the main house.

New extensions may be permitted for additional floor area but this will be subject to Development Control guidelines, the allowable building height of the area, and the requirements of relevant technical departments.

The potential of some of these conservation bungalows also lies in the land on which it is built. Often, the land area can be large enough to be subdivided into smaller plots.

According to the conservation guidelines, in the Good Class Bungalow Areas, a concession to facilitate the subdivision of land allows for one sub-standard plot size of not less than 1,000 sq m to be considered provided the total land area together with the conservation bungalow plot is not less than 2,800 sq m.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of owning a conservation bungalow is restoring it.

Architect Chan Soo Khian of SCDA Architects has restored several conservation homes and he advises that potential conservation home owners should be happy with the overall spatial quality of the building before buying it because quite often, the buildings are too old to undergo extensive construction work. 'Quite a few of the colonial bungalows have load bearing brick walls on footings that have constrains from guidelines and a structural point of view,' he explains.

The guidelines on conservation are extensive. Apart from restoring design features in the facade, it could also include having to restore original windows, doors, balustrades and even roof tiles.

Even the existing structural system has to be retained and restored.

However, as Mr Chan points out, many are prepared to pay a premium for these old bungalows. 'The clients that buy the conservation properties do so because they love aspects of the heritage properties such as the mature landscape that usually surround the properties,' he adds.

Indeed, such bungalows fall into a niche market that is popular with discerning home buyers. It is a niche that some developers have begun to take notice of.

Boutique developer Satinder Garcha's company Elevation focuses on unique properties in very prime locations. One such property it has recently restored is at Swettenham Road.

The old bungalow was designed by Frank Brewer and built in Late Arts and Crafts style during the colonial era. Frank Brewer incidentally also built the late president Ong Teng Cheong's house in Dalvey Estate.

Mr Garcha added that these old bungalows do certainly have investment potential, more so than regular Good Class Bungalows, 'because of the rarity value and the desirability of these bungalows, especially by foreigners and now increasingly Singaporeans'.

He added that the most coveted are those which are conserved with historic value but restored and modernised with modern conveniences - offering the best of old and new.


Source : 《联合早报》Aug 05, 2009








温州炒房团 部分投资客开始出货





Office Leasing Scene - Musical Chairs With Extra Seats

Source : The Business Times, August 5, 2009

Some tenants factor in higher headcount as they move to new locations

There's a buzz in the office leasing market. Many new leasings are at the expense of space being given up in existing locations as occupiers are drawn to better-value propositions in newer buildings. But a few are taking up more space in their new locations than what they are giving up in their existing premises to cater to future increases in headcount.

'It's not all musical chairs. There's also a smattering of improved headcount numbers, even as most occupiers chase lower cost, better value locations,' a seasoned office property consultant said.

Another office consultant, Knight Frank director of office leasing Agnes Tay, said: 'I don't expect net office demand to turn positive this quarter, but the negative demand will be smaller in the second half of this year. Companies in general are more optimistic now compared to the end of last year. More of them are now taking a position on headcount and real estate requirements and a few are even making plans for future growth.'

Much of the leasing activity has centred on new buildings - including Mapletree Anson and Straits Trading Building.

More than 80 per cent of Straits Trading Building is said to be let out, ahead of its completion later this year.

Tenants are said to include Rajah & Tann (which is understood to be taking up at least 80,000-90,000 sq ft), overseas law firm Conyers Dill & Pearman and serviced office operator Asia-Pacific Business Centre. Colliers International is said to have brokered these leasing deals.

Rajah & Tann is expected to move from its existing premises at Bank of China Building nearby; Conyers, which is leasing a floor at Straits Trading Building, will move from Singapore Land Tower.

Over in the Anson Road/Tanjong Pagar corner of the CBD, Mapletree Anson, which received Temporary Occupation Permit recently, is said to be 35 per cent let out, with more than 100,000 sq ft leased. Tenants include AON, QBE (both involved in the insurance and reinsurance business) and a Japanese MNC, understood to be Sumitomo.

AON is moving from Singapore Land Tower, QBE from OCBC Centre and Sumitomo from Equity Plaza. CB Richard Ellis is said to have brokered the three leasing deals in the project.

Tenants are said to have been drawn to Mapletree Anson's efficient floor plates, with column-free space of 20,000 sq ft per floor allowing more effective layout of workstations.

A stone's throw away, a La Salle Investment Management fund will be completing its 20 Anson Road project in a few months.

Both office buildings have attained Singapore's highest green building certification of Green Mark Platinum.

An office developer said: 'Most of the leasing deals in the past six to nine months involve relocations or consolidation from several buildings into a single location. In contrast, 12 to 24 months ago, leasing deals involved occupiers upsizing their space requirements.'

Jones Lang LaSalle's head of markets, Singapore, Chris Archibold said: '2009 will be a negative take-up year but in terms of market activity, leasing deals will be higher in the second half of this year. A lot of relocation is being driven by consolidation or downsizing rather than expansion. Hopefully, expansion will come back next year. There are tenants with passing rents below current market rents and who are therefore looking for cheaper alternatives like new buildings in peripheral CBD locations.'

Office consultants expect office rents to continue easing for the rest of this year - but at a slower pace. The demand is still weak but there is substantial supply coming on the market in the next few years.

According to government figures, the pipeline supply for the office sector stood at about 13.3 million sq ft gross floor area as at end-Q2 2009, of which about 12 million sq ft is slated for completion by 2012.

JLL's average monthly rental value for prime Grade A Raffles Place (small space) stood at $9.50 psf in Q2 2009, about half the peak figure of $18.40 psf in Q3 last year.

GuocoLand Malaysia To Launch RM1.7b Projects

Source : The Business Times, August 4, 2009

Projects in Selangor may be completed in 2016 or 2017

(RAWANG, Selangor) Property developer GuocoLand (Malaysia) Bhd plans to roll out several high-end projects in stages at Emerald Rawang in Selangor with a total gross development value (GDV) of RM1.7 billion (S$695 million).

'Going forward, the RM1.7 billion GDV will have a bigger impact in terms of contribution. The projects are expected to be completed in 2016 or 2017,' executive director Chan Chee Meng told reporters during a media tour here yesterday.

Emerald Rawang is a joint-venture project between GuocoLand Malaysia and Hong Bee Land Sdn Bhd, with the former as the project manager. GuocoLand Malaysia is a member of the Hong Leong group.

The Emerald Rawang township comprises Emerald East and Emerald West.

Emerald Rawang sits on about 400ha of freehold land, comprising a mixed-use development ranging from link, cluster and semi-D homes to high-end bungalows.

To date, a total of 1,300 homes have been built with sales of RM375 million, Mr Chan said, adding the company has targeted another RM100 million sales by year-end on expectation of good demand for the semi-D homes.

'We plan to launch four more phases this year because it is timely due to the recovery of the market and buyers are upgrading to more established projects,' he said.

Mr Chan said several phases are planned for Emerald East with a GDV of RM268 million, with the launches expected in 2010 and 2011.

On Emerald West, he said the projects will be much bigger, with GDV of RM1.51 billion comprising semi-D, double-storey link and commercial properties.

Emerald West, on a 276ha site, will have facilities such as a jogging track, nine-hole golf course, Chinese primary school and commercial square, Mr Chan said.

Another township, called Emerald Hills, will be located on a 160ha site with more high-end projects to meet the growing demand, he said.

He also said that joint-venture partner Hong Bee Land is expected to finalise a venture with Jusco by year-end in order to set up a shopping complex near the township.

At the media tour, GuocoLand Malaysia unveiled its new sales gallery, which was set up to centralise sales activities, enhance communication with customers and showcase progress of the development.

'The show gallery is a platform for customers to receive all the latest updates on the township and promotions as well as to hold discussions with our personnel on home-ownership matters,' Mr Chan said. -- Bernama