UOL tie-up submits top bid for Simei plot

UOL tie-up submits top bid for Simei plot


By Jessica Cheam


DEVELOPER UOL Group and its joint-venture partner beat two rivals to lodge the top bid for a Simei residential site.


The mainboard-listed company and its partner Peak Century offered $236 million for the 347,000 sq ft site in the tender that closed yesterday. Their bid values the site at about $296 per sq foot per plot ratio (psf ppr).


Frasers Centrepoint was just behind at $231 million, or $290 psf, with ChoiceHomes Investments bidding $187.8 million, or $236 psf.


Market watchers said the 99-year leasehold site – with a gross floor area of 797,434 sq ft – attracted a modest number of bids.


When the tender was launched on Dec 5 by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, there was speculation that it could attract plenty of interest, given the eight bidders which lined up for a similar suburban Woodlands site in November.


Mr Nicholas Mak, director of research and consultancy at Knight Frank, said the three bids for the Simei plot, although on the low side, were still healthy and reflected a level of confidence among developers about the area.


The $296 psf price is higher than the $232 psf fetched by the Woodlands site, he said. The Simei site is near Simei MRT station, Eastpoint Mall and schools.


Mr Li Hiaw Ho, executive director of CBRE Research, estimates a break-even price of about $650 psf, and says the site’s new development is likely to sell at between $700 psf and $750 psf.


He added that the project could be well received as there were no launches for mass-market private homes in the Simei, Tampines or Pasir Ris areas last year.


‘There could be pent up demand from private home owners and HDB upgraders residing in these estates,’ he said.


Source: Straits Times

AMK site developer says its units will cost $700k or less

$727k too much for Boon Keng HDB flat?


AMK site developer says its units will cost $700k or less


Greatearth pledges to keep prices down for condo-like HDB flats


By Tan Hui Yee


A DAY after City View@Boon Keng’s launch, with homes going for a top price of $727,000, some are wondering if that is too much to pay for a Housing Board flat.


One developer, having won a bid to build similar kinds of flats in Ang Mo Kio, has pledged to make his project affordable: No single unit will be priced above $700,000.


Greatearth Developments gave this commitment yesterday during an interview about its 500-unit project in Ang Mo Kio Street 52.


Although it declined to comment on the Boon Keng project, Greatearth, which is a unit of listed firm United Engineers and which won the tender last year for the Ang Mo Kio plot, said prices will not hit those levels.


The Ang Mo Kio plot is the third such site for condo-style estates.


Greatearth director Chua Hock Tong said the firm wants to keep its homes affordable: ‘We’ll try to balance the quality and the price. We don’t want (the flats to be) beyond the reach of HDB dwellers.’


On Thursday, Hoi Hup Sunway Development unveiled its offering of condo-like flats in Boon Keng under the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS).


In a DBSS project, private developers price their flats but are bound by the general rules of public housing. This means they can sell their flats only to households earning not more than $8,000 a month.


The 714-unit City View@Boon Keng, launched for sale today, boasts 474 five-room flats priced from $536,000 to $727,000. Of these, 35 cost $700,000 and above.


The prices are the highest seen for such flats, but property agents felt they were reasonable given the project’s location on the city fringes and the views from some units.


An 11-year-old standard five-room HDB flat near the project site changed hands for $545,000 in November. Another two-year-old five-room unit sold for $630,000 last month.


Financial expert Leong Sze Hian from the Society of Financial Service Professionals said a couple earning $8,000 a month would have to be very careful about their finances if they opted for a $727,000 flat.


If they took a 30-year Housing Board loan for 90 per cent of the price, they would face about $2,600 in monthly instalments. About $780 would have to be paid in cash, because their instalments would exceed their monthly Central Provident Fund contributions.


But while Greatearth aims to keep prices affordable, Mr Chua also vowed to keep the quality up, saying the firm will not stint on the condo-like fittings that buyers have come to expect under the scheme.


Premiere@Tampines, with 616 units, features built-in wardrobes, timber flooring and bay windows. City View@Boon Keng has wall-to-wall balconies and card access to its lift lobbies.


Mr Chua promised that the Ang Mo Kio project will have similar condo fittings, if not more.


The 1.7ha plot is near to Ang Mo Kio Town Garden East and a 10-minute walk from Ang Mo Kio MRT and Ang Mo Kio Hub.


Mr Chua said the units will be oriented towards the town garden. The carpark will be designed to blend with the landscape.


The flats are expected to be launched for sale in the second half of the year. Construction is due to start between April and June and wrap up by late 2012.


Source: Straits Times

Flaws likely if en bloc choice left to owners

Flaws likely if en bloc choice left to owners


I REFER to the letter, ‘Owners decide what is fair compensation in en bloc sales’ by Ms Janet Han of the Singapore Institute of Surveyors & Valuers and Ms Radha S. Khoo of the Ministry of Law (ST, Dec 29), and regret that both writers overlook the potential flaws of leaving it to owners rather than lawmakers to decide.


Distribution of collective property sale proceeds based on area is fundamentally fair because every square foot counts. Especially when the intrinsic value of each square foot is computed as an aggregate of area, premium for high floor level, unit design, open view and so on.


This computation could be further translated into a fraction of 100 per cent value of the condo development at first launch. The denominator shall form the basis of each unit expressed as 0.0012345678 per cent of total. This constant shall become the thumbprint of intrinsic value of that unit for future distribution.


Placing 50 per cent weight on share value goes against the principle of fair distribution of assets. It is a guide for conservancy charges calculation. Moreover, it is too coarse a unit compared to a square foot basis for reverse computation. Condo units are sold by area and not by share value.


The criteria that constitute the value of each property unit should remain integral with the condo. For example, an 1,100 square foot unit at the second floor facing the road costs less than a similar unit on the 28th floor facing a swimming pool or with a sea view. The differential in values of similar area units in a condo development should not disappear in collective sales.


We can see the flaws in these examples when owners follow the guideline of 50-50 on area and share value. Should owners of second floor units get the same amount of proceeds as owners of 28th floor units in a collective sale?


We should not allow the dynamics of property prices to distort the intrinsic value further with owners coming into the fray.


When the law says compensation of collective sales should be based on the thumbprint of each unit, at least one bone of contention is gone.


Paul Chan Poh Hoi


Source: Straits Times

Horizon Towers minority owners appeal against Strata board ruling

Horizon Towers minority owners appeal against Strata board ruling


Estates like Finland Gardens, Regent Court are caught in similar legal battles


By Joyce Teo


JUST as the long-running saga over the Horizon Towers collective sale looked about to end, another chapter is unfolding – and other similar disputes are looming.


The minority owners opposing the $500 million collective sale have appealed to the High Court against a ruling last month by the Strata Titles Board (STB), which had permitted the deal to go ahead.


Now, it has emerged that Horizon Towers is not the only condominium caught in a legal battle over a collective sale.


Owners at other estates such as Finland Gardens are also embroiled in similar tangles. The majority owners of the 48-unit estate in Siglap have filed an appeal on the instructions of buyer Sing Holdings – after the STB threw out the $49.5 million sale application in late November.


Another case, that of Phoenix Court, may go to the Court of Appeal, said an industry source who declined to be named. The STB tribunal that heard the Horizon Towers case said it had been guided by the Phoenix Court case. An objecting couple appealed against an STB decision to approve the Phoenix Court sale. The High Court upheld the STB order on Nov 9.


Over in Serangoon Road, Regent Court owners are preparing to file an appeal in the High Court against an STB decision to grant the $34 million sale, sources said.


Also, owners at Airview Towers in St Thomas Walk have filed an appeal in the High Court against an STB decision to reject its collective sale on a technicality.


The sale of Horizon Towers at Leonie Hill was finally approved by the STB – which had earlier thrown out the sale – on Dec 7 after a lengthy hearing, much sweat and tears, and nearly a year after the deal was inked.


The transaction hit a snag after some owners felt the $500 million price, which works out to $810 to $820 per sq ft (psf) on average, was not enough in a fast-rising market. Neighbouring The Grangeford was sold en bloc last June for just over $1,800 psf.


The dispute descended into acrimony and the STB then threw the sale out on a technicality before an earlier High Court appeal which resulted in a fresh STB hearing.


Horizon Towers became the first collective sale where majority owners were slapped with a lawsuit for alleged breach of contract. The suit was lodged by the buyers: Hotel Properties, Morgan Stanley Real Estate and Qatar Investment Authority.


Over the past two days, three sets of minority owners or objectors filed appeals with the High Court. The owners had a month after the STB ruling to appeal, and yesterday was the final day. They now await a hearing date – expected within three months.


One minority owner said even if the High Court appeal failed, he would take the case to the Court of Appeal. If this happens, the deal could be delayed by another three months. ‘My chances of winning may not be high but I will exhaust all legal means to protect my home,’ said the owner, Mr K.K. Then, 53.


The retiree said he and his wife have been drawn unwillingly into the sale process. He said he never had the intention to sell his home as it is something money cannot buy.


The objectors are believed to be aggrieved by the STB decision as they feel the hearing was not fair.


At the STB hearing late last year, a key point of contention was that the sale committee sold the estate at the reserve price even though it knew the market had already moved up.


The reserve price of The Grangeford was revised higher before the Horizon Towers deal was inked. But the sale committee stuck with the $500 million price, which was a reserve price set in 2006.







Saying a collective ‘no’




Over the past two days, three sets of Horizon Towers minority owners filed appeals with the High Court. They now await a hearing date.


The objectors are believed to be aggrieved by the STB decision as they feel the hearing was not fair.


A key point of contention: The sale committee sold the estate at the reserve price even though it knew the market had already climbed.


The reserve price of neighbouring The Grangeford was revised higher before the Horizon Towers deal was inked. But the sale committee stuck with the $500 million price, which was a reserve price set in 2006.




One minority owner, retiree K.K. Then, 53, says that even if the High Court appeal failed, he would take the case to the Court of Appeal.


If this happens, the deal could be delayed by another three months.


‘My chances of winning may not be high but I will exhaust all legal means to protect my home.’


He says he never intended to sell his home as it is something money cannot buy. ‘My wife and I feel we are victims of the collective sale system.’


Source: Straits Times

Today Forum: A young S’porean’s housing dilemma

Today Forum: A young S’porean’s housing dilemma


Weekend • January 5, 2008


Letter from Lim Jie Yi


In October last year, my fiance and I balloted for a flat at Telok Blangah Towers.


There were more than 7,000 applicants for the 210 four-room units. We went to see his MP for West Coast GRC (my fiance lives one street away from the new development) and voiced our concerns.


The MP helped us with a letter to the Housing and Development Board (HDB) stating that the both of us live within 2km of the development, and to look into our application as we really want to live near our parents.


Twice, the HDB wrote back with the reply that they could not help us, and suggested that we buy a resale flat.


When the balloting results for the Build-To-Order flats were released on Wednesday, I was devastated at my queue number — 3,539. This effectively means that my fiance and I have zero chance of getting a flat directly from the HDB.


Does the HDB really know the situation we young Singaporeans are facing?


If we had cash at hand, we would have bought a resale flat or private property. How can we get a flat directly from the HDB?


Source: Today Newspaper

Today Forum: Do we want to be No 1 for population density?

Do we want to be No 1 for population density?


Weekend • January 5, 2008


Letter from JOHN LUCAS


With a population of 4.48 million people, Singapore is ranked fourth in the world for population density, and this is only slightly less than Hong Kong’s.


Almost everyone will agree that overcrowding degrades the quality of life.


Waiting in line for a long time, waiting in traffic, or not being able to find a place to park do not add to the quality of life. In the past couple of years, it has become almost impossible to find a parking space at any shopping centre in Singapore during the weekend. The same is true at the East Coast Park, Botanic Gardens and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.


Take a stroll through West Mall on a weekend, and you will see the extent of overcrowding. Once the casino, hotels and private homes are finished on Sentosa Island, VivoCity will be also be filled to the brim.


Buses and the MRT are jammed with commuters for hours during the morning and evening peak hours, and car traffic is already very heavy.


Can you imagine what it will be like when the population increases to 6 million people? All these problems will worsen, but it will be too late then, and the result will be some very undesirable conditions.


I am bewildered why people do not express their concern at the push for a bigger population. The financials that will come with a population of 6 million people may be sound, but the cost to the quality of life may not make that justifiable.


Singapore is already breaking financial records worldwide, so does it really need to push harder? Do we really want to be number one for population density?


Source: Today Newspaper

Hong Leong launches luxury East Coast homes

Hong Leong launches luxury East Coast homes


Weekend • January 5, 2008


Cheow Xin Yi



Hong Leong Holdings, the privately-held property arm of conglomerate Hong Leong Group, has officially launched Aalto, a luxury residential development at Meyer Road.


The freehold development sits on a 12,500-sq-m site and comprises two 27-storey blocks. It boasts unblocked views of the sea from the apartments, all of which are served by private lifts.


About 60 per cent of the 196 units have been sold since a soft launch last September. The remaining units — on the middle to upper floors — are priced at $1,800 to $1,900 psf.


The units on the lower floors sold earlier were priced at an average $1,500 psf, according to data posted on the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s website. Two penthouse units sold in November topped $2,500 psf.


Foreigners bought about half of the units sold so far, according to Hong Leong Holdings.


For the other units snapped up by Singaporeans, Housing & Development Board upgraders made up about 5 per cent of the purchases, the developer said.


Expected to be completed by Nov 2012, Aalto is close to attractions such as the Kallang Leisure Park and East Coast Park.


Source: Today Newspaper

Horizon Towers saga revived as opposing owners appeal against sale order

Minority retort


Horizon Towers saga revived as opposing owners appeal against sale order


Weekend • January 5, 2008


Loh Chee Kong



JUST when some prayed it was all over, the owners of Horizon Towers (picture) could be in for more sleepless nights — exactly a month after the Strata Titles Board granted the sale order for the contentious $500-million deal.


That decision would have brought a closure to the long-running saga, but for unhappiness among minority owners with the ruling.


On Thursday and Friday, these dissenting owners filed appeals against the board’s decision, just meeting the one-month deadline to do so.


Lawyers representing all three groups of minority owners, who had contested the deal, told Today they had submitted the originating summons to the High Court. But they were tight-lipped about what the grounds of appeal were, as they were preparing the affidavits which have to be submitted in a week’s time.


Today understands, however, that some minority owners were still sore over the price of the deal and what they alleged was a breach of duties on the sale committee’s part in not securing a better deal.


Sale committee chairman Lim Seng Hoo did not relish news of the appeal. “We were unsure if the minority owners would appeal, so we didn’t expect it. But we felt we would cross the bridge when we got there,” he said.


On the prospect of another protracted legal tussle, Mr Lim said: “Litigation is not something anyone is pleased to be involved in but unfortunately, this seems to be the trend for en bloc sales in Singapore.”


The lawyers for consortium Horizon Partners Pte Limited (HPPL), which is buying over the site, declined comment as they had not been served the legal papers.


The en bloc process for Horizon Towers began in May 2006 when a sale committee was formed to collect signatures for the Collective Sale Agreement.


A deal was sealed eight months later but since then, has been fraught with controversies. Some majority owners tried to back out of the sale, after witnessing how neighbouring properties such as Grangeford revised their reserve price upwards to reflect the booming property market.


At the height of the wrangle last year, the majority owners managed to stave off a $1-billion lawsuit HPPL had brought against them for loss of profits, when they successfully appealed against the board’s original decision in August to throw out the deal over technical irregularities.


Back then, the High Court overruled the board and sent the case back to it, which culminated in the approval of the sale order.


Today understands that the minority owners would have to apply for a court injunction to halt the sale which, as things stand, should be completed by the first week of March.


And it remains to be seen if HPPL will revive its lawsuit against the majority owners — it will be withdrawn only upon the completion of the sale.


Whatever the outcome of the latest appeal, the case can still be brought to the Court of Appeal, which will be the final avenue for the condominium’s owners, said lawyer Philip Fong.


Added Mr Fong, who represents some of the minority owners: “There must be a resolution at some point in time.”


Source: Today Newspaper

Hong Leong Group approaching property launches with caution

Hong Leong Group approaching property launches with caution


CDL may consider putting off redevelopment




THE Hong Leong Group, which includes Hong Leong Holdings (HLH) and City Developments Ltd (CDL), appears to be taking a cautious approach to new property launches amid the fallout from the US sub-prime crisis.


After selling about 60 per cent of the 196-unit Aalto at Meyer Road since August 2007 through soft launches, HLH has decided to officially launch the development at an average price of $1,800-$1,900 per square foot (psf).


And asked about future launches, including those on en bloc sites like Lucky Tower in Grange Road, CDL, which has one of the biggest landbanks here, said that it may consider putting redevelopment on hold.


‘Depending on construction schedules, where there are opportunities we may consider other alternatives like short-term leases,’ a CDL spokesman said.


According to CB Richard Ellis, CDL alone could have about 2,800 residential units ready for launch this year.


With this sort of figure, it makes sense for developers to tread carefully, with some preferring to test the market first.


HLH’s Aalto will only be officially launched this weekend but monthly data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority reveals that sales began as early August last year.


According to the data, about 60 units were sold at a median price of $1,597 psf that month. The highest price achieved was $2,470 psf while the lowest was $1,389 psf.


A month later, HLH sold one unit at $1,570 psf, followed by 49 units in October at a median price of $1,632 psf. In November, it sold six units at a median price of $2,052 psf.


A spokesman for HLH said: ‘The units released during the soft launch were mainly units on the lower floors, hence the average price for the units sold during the soft launch was lower than for the six units sold in November, which were on the higher floors. We are opening up high-floor units for the official launch and henceforth the estimated average price for the whole development will be at $1,800-$1,900 psf.’


Knight Frank’s director of research and development Nicholas Mak reckoned that the pricing for the official launch is on the ‘aggressive’ side but said that because more than half the development has been sold, the developer can afford to test the market with higher prices. ‘Developers can choose to price high and sell at a slower pace, or price low and sell at a faster pace,’ he said.


Pricing developments too high can be a ‘gamble’, depending on how the US sub-prime crisis plays out, he added.


HLH said that 50 per cent of the buyers so far are Singaporeans, with about 5 per cent thought to be HDB upgraders. The remaining buyers are foreigners.


HLH said that it is still allowed to offer deferred payment to Aalto buyers and about 40 per cent have taken this up.


Source: Business Times

Minority owners want High Court to overturn STB decision


Minority owners want High Court to overturn STB decision


This again throws successful completion of en bloc sale in doubt




(SINGAPORE) The Horizon Towers saga is far from over. In fact, it’s starting anew. Disgruntled minority owners have banded together to appeal against a decision by the Strata Titles Board (STB) last month to approve the en bloc sale of the development.


All nine of the minority owners who originally opposed the collective sale have appealed to the High Court to overturn STB’s decision – doing so yesterday, on the last possible day.


What this means is, the successful completion of the collective sale of Horizon Towers is again in doubt, pending the outcome of the appeal.


The High Court is scheduled to hear the minorities’ objections on Feb 1.


STB’s approval of the en bloc sale was delivered on Dec 7, just days before a Dec 11 deadline for which the sale had to be finalised. The entire sale process is expected to be completed in March.


Lawyers for the minority owners have told BT they will consider applying for a stay of conveyancing proceedings – that is, delaying the completion of the sale – if the outcome of their appeal is not known by then.


The grounds of the appeal filed by the minority owners yesterday are similar to their original objections, heard by STB last year.


The minority owners are appealing against STB’s decision on the grounds that the board erred in law by approving the sale and ordering minority owners to be bound by a sale and purchase agreement signed by the majority owners.


The minorities contend that the en bloc sale was conducted in bad faith and prejudiced their interests. They say the then-sales committee had failed to do its duty to ensure the best price was obtained – by failing to ensure the property was properly marketed and failing to ensure the best offer was procured.


The Horizon Towers sales committee agreed to sell the Leonie Hill development to a consortium led by Hotel Properties Ltd (HPL) for $500 million in February last year. The minorities argue that this price is too low, saying property prices had already begun to climb significantly at the time the deal was inked and there had been other offers, above $500 million, for the development.


They said this was a breach of duty, a result of conflicts of interest on the part of some of the sales committee members, lawyers and sales agents who handled the deal.


The minorities also argue that STB prevented them from fully presenting their case when it refused to subpoena former sales committee chairman, Arjun Samtani. The minorities say Mr Samtani acted in bad faith and influenced the sales committee’s decisions. They say he was motivated by self-interest because he bought an additional unit in Horizon Towers during the initial stages of the collective sale talks.


Six of the nine minority owners objecting to the en bloc sale are represented by Senior Counsel Michael Hwang and SK Phang. The remaining three are represented by Harry Elias Partnership (HEP).


HEP is appealing on grounds similar to those put by Mr Hwang and Dr Phang – but it is also arguing that there was no fair hearing by the STB, in that the board rushed the hearing and failed to give adequate reasons for its decision on Dec 7.


STB only said then that it had been guided by recent case law and parliamentary debates on rules governing collective sales, and that the minorities had failed to prove their claim that the transaction was carried out in bad faith. The board will release the detailed grounds of its decision later.


HEP partner Philip Fong told BT: ‘It’s an unfortunate situation the minorities have found themselves in – in which one is deprived of one’s rights to one’s home, having been told to give up one’s home without being told exactly what the reasons are for such a decision.’


The Horizon Towers case has dragged on for almost a year – and is the most closely watched collective sale transaction ever in Singapore, given its dramatic twists and turns.


The majority owners – some of whom were said to have aligned themselves with the minorities when property prices started climbing – have been accused of trying to renege on their agreement with HPL and its partners, and face a potential $1 billion lawsuit from the buyers.


Source: Business Times