GuocoLand says Leedon Heights redevelopment on track

GuocoLand says Leedon Heights redevelopment on track


SINGAPORE: GuocoLand said its plans to redevelop the Leedon Heights site are progressing on track.


It has named award-winning SCDA Architects as architectural consultant, while Intaran Design has been engaged as landscape specialist.


GuocoLand, which is scheduled to take over vacant units by June, completed the en bloc purchase of the site last month.


The developer is considering allowing former owners to continue staying in their units on short-term leases.


– CNA/so.


Source: Channel News Asia

Buyers more cautious when buying new properties last month

Buyers more cautious when buying new properties last month


SINGAPORE: Homebuyers were more cautious and realistic when paying for new properties last month, according to analysts’ assessment of the latest data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority.


The figures showed the number of new properties sold in December was just half of those sold in the previous month.


After peaking at 1,800 units in August, monthly sales of new private properties have dropped to just 291 units in December – half of the number of units sold during the previous month.


Property consultants said that is not unexpected, given the global credit crunch, slowing US economy and withdrawal of the deferred payment scheme.


Tay Huey Ying, Research & Consultancy Director, Colliers International, said: “What all this does to the mind of the potential purchasers is that it becomes very grey which direction home prices are going to take. So I think a lot of potential purchasers have preferred to stay by the side in the month of December, in view of the fact that it’s the year-end holiday season.


“I guess a lot of them preferred to take a vacation and defer any purchase or any investment decisions to perhaps 2008 and very likely, after the Lunar New Year period.”


Analysts said the data showed home prices were stabilising, with luxury projects such as The Ritz-Carlton Residences achieving a median price of about S$5,088 psf for the three units sold.


According to Jones Lang LaSalle, the gap between the highest and lowest median selling prices has narrowed from 15.8 percent in October to 8.2 percent in December for the core central region.


The out-of-central region properties have also seen its median price gap drop from 14.2 percent in October to 5 percent in December. That means fewer buyers are willing to fork out significantly more than expected market prices.


Dr Chua Yang Liang, Director & Head of Research, South East Asia, Jones Lang LaSalle, said: “I call it the buoyancy level. If you look in terms of the highest median versus the lowest median, and the behaviour over the last few months, the gap has kind of narrowed in the last two months, which indicates that buyers are more conservative.”


That applies to both luxury properties in the core central region, as well as mass market properties.


Despite a slowdown in the fourth quarter, the number of units sold last year still came up to a historical record of 14,800.


Source: Channel News Asia

It was because flat deal fell through, she says

It was because flat deal fell through, she says


The drama started because she had failed to sell her flat and that she had family problems, said the woman behind the Sheares Bridge jam last week.


Tue, Jan 15, 2008

my paper


SHE held up traffic on the Benjamin Sheares Bridge for more than two hours last Thursday evening.


She had wanted to jump off the bridge.


Now she has spoken up.


A report in Lianhe Wanbao yesterday revealed that the drama started because she had failed to sell her flat and that she had family problems.


Her problems started early last year, she claimed.


Aili (not her real name) had found a buyer for her HDB flat through a housing agent, and both parties signed the option to purchase in March.


The buyer had paid a total of $5,000 as deposit.


The buyer then requested that the deal be postponed as he had not received the money from the en-bloc sale of his old flat, and was unwilling to borrow from the bank.


Aili agreed, the report said, even though she needed the money for her daughter’s Australian school fees.


Then, Aili said, the buyer applied for a first appointment with the HDB without informing her.


When she received the letter from HDB informing her of the date for the first appointment, she was unhappy and cancelled the sale.


The lawyer for the buyer then accused her of breaching the contract by stopping the sale of the flat.


A lawyer’s letter was also sent to her.


Aili, who takes care of her bedridden father and grandson, said the stress of juggling her work and family took a toll on her as well.


She said: “On top of my daughter’s school fees and the problems with the sale of my flat, I may still have to fork out more money for a lawsuit. I’m really stuck!”


Aili has been arrested for attempted suicide.


The maximum penalty for attempted suicide is a year’s jail or a fine, or both.


Source: My Paper

Ideal home is possible, if you’re patient

Ideal home is possible, if you’re patient


On looking for a flat in a red-hot market.

Veena Bharwani


Tue, Jan 15, 2008

my paper


I AM engaged to be married this year but ironically, instead of bouncing off the walls with happiness, I’m feeling particularly unlucky.


The reason: fighting to buy the ideal first flat in the wake of a red-hot housing market.


To sum up my fiance and my losing battle so far, we have passed over eight flats in the resale market because sellers asked for a cash-over-valuation (COV) amount way beyond our budget; over $40,000 for each of the houses we viewed in Serangoon and Bishan.


Our latest battle is competing with more than 3,000 couples for one of 714 coveted queue numbers for a chance to

buy a flat at City View @ Boon Keng, the second public housing project to be built by private developers under the Housing Board’s Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS).


Applications for these apartments that will close on Jan 16.


There are more than 3,102 applicants, which gives us a one-in-five chance of securing a queue number.


If we do get a queue number, we will then be faced with the reality of buying one of the more undesirable units on the first few floors, which is also not cheap. A five-room unit on the first floor of these flats costs

about $536,000.


We’ll also have to find alternative living arrangements for two years until the project is completed in September 2011.


HDB flats have been going at very high prices in the past year.


The booming market has seen some sellers demand as much as $100,000 in COV of a flat, putting many young couples like myself out of the running.


The most expensive four-room HDB flat in history was sold two weeks ago for $590,000. This works out to be $609 per sq foot for the flat, located near Tiong Bahru.


Here’s more depressing data for fellow house hunters: more than 17,000 new citizens plus more than 50,000 new permanent residents as of December 2007 have potentially joined the pool of people looking for a HDB flat currently


The reality is clear – we young couples are the biggest losers in the current burgeoning housing market.


Perhaps it is time to manage our expectations. We are advised to either sacrifice our comforts and wait for at least two years for HDB’s new flats to be built, or bite the bullet and buy a cheaper and smaller flat in outlying areas.


Parents and even politicians keep telling us to stop expecting to score the perfect first home in a good location at an affordable price in the current market.


Speaking about the issue in November last year, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said: “If you cannot afford a big flat, then buy a smaller flat.


“If you can’t get a new flat, then get a resale flat. In life, we make trade-offs all the time.”


But, while our choices seem limited, many things can change for us young couples looking for a house this year.


While HDB flat prices enjoyed a spectacular rise with a 17.4 per cent gain last year – the strongest growth in a decade – market watchers say a repeat this year is unlikely.


The prices for HDB homes in the fourth quarter of 2007 dipped 5.6 per cent, from the strong 6.6 per cent rise in th third quarter, following a slower overall economic growth in the fourth quarter.


This, some investors say, is partly due to the global fallout from the United States sub-prime mortgage crisis and concerns over a possible US recession, which could have hurt investor confidence.


So fellow young couples, that ideal home might still be a possibility, if you can be patient.


I, for one, will not be compromising any time soon. I’m waiting to see if the tables will turn in our favour in the next few months.


Source: My Paper

Hotel rates to surge 29%: Study

Hotel rates to surge 29%: Study


Tuesday • January 15, 2008


Hotel room rates for corporate customers are projected to surge 29 per cent in Singapore this year, with demand expected to continue to outstrip supply despite a planned increase of 8,850 new rooms in 2007 and 2008, according to an American Express report yesterday.


According to the Amex 2008 Asia-Pacific Corporate Hotel Rate Projections and Market Forecast, hotels in Singapore will enjoy a sustained high occupancy rate averaging 81 per cent this year, driven by robust demand from tourist and business travellers.


With major events such as the Singapore Airshow next month, the World Gourmet Summit in April and the first night-time Formula One Grand Prix in September, the city-state is poised to build on its record number of arrivals. Last November, Singapore welcomed 837,000 visitors, setting a new record for the calendar month, according to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). This is despite average room rates here marking a new milestone of $226 a night — the highest ever in any month and up almost 30 per cent in annual terms, the STB added.


Room rates are also expected to rise sharply in the rest of the Asia-Pacific region this year, according to the Amex report. Corporate rates are forecast to increase 17 per cent in Hong Kong, 21 per cent in Beijing, 36 per cent in Delhi, 40 per cent in Mumbai, 20 per cent in Kuala Lumpur and 7 per cent in Tokyo.


Separately, in a statement released yesterday, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the STB said, as a general rule, hotel developments on sites zoned for hotel use in the Government’s Master Plan cannot be converted to other uses.


Source: Today Newspaper

More time for Leedon owners?

More time for Leedon owners?


Tuesday • January 15, 2008


Rachel Kelly



Property developer GuocoLand is considering allowing the former owners of Leedon Heights condominium to stay on in their units for a limited period — a goodwill gesture at the request of those who want more time to find replacement units.


The 23-year-old development off Farrer Road was sold to GuocoLand in a collective sale last year for $835 million. Together with a $40-million development charge, the price works out to $1,062 per square foot per plot ratio.


Said Mr Karamjit Singh, the managing director of Credo Real Estate: “Most developers prefer to get on with their demolition work so as to be able to market their projects and, usually, contractually, the owners are allowed up to six months.


“Recently, some developers with large projects have build show flats in an obscure corner and allowed existing occupants to stay on while the projects are being marketed.”


This appears to be what GuocoLand may do. In response to queries, GuocoLand said it believes the land parcel is large enough for it to undertake its marketing initiatives without inconveniencing the residents.


Leedon Heights sits on 48,525 sq m of land with a plot ratio of 1.6, which can accommodate buildings of up to 12 storeys.


Said Mr Nicholas Mak, director of Knight Frank: “It’s very unusual for developers to lease back to their owners after the collective sale.


“For developers to do that — I think that has happened before during the Asian financial crisis — it would usually mean the developer feels that the primary sales market is rather weak and is not ready to support the kind of selling price they have in mind.”


According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority, there were almost 65,400 private residential units in the pipeline last September. Some 41,600 are slated to be completed by 2010. — CHANNEL NEWSASIA


Source: Today Newspaper

Atrium@Orchard put up for sale

Atrium@Orchard put up for sale


Tuesday • January 15, 2008


Atrium@ Orchard, a prime office building in Orchard Road comprising two office towers of seven and 10 storeys, was put up for sale yesterday by the Singapore Land Authority.


The 99-year property sits on a site of 9575 sq m and has net floor area of about 34,620 sq m. It is linked directly to Dhoby Ghaut MRT Interchange station that serves the North-South and North-East MRT lines and the future Circle Line. The building is fully let out to companies, including Temasek Holdings, Barclays Capital and MTV Asia.


CB Richard Ellis executive director of investment properties Jeremy Lake said pent-up demand for Grade A office assets from foreign and local investors and absence of new office supply coming up in Orchard Road will fuel rental growth. “We expect bids above $2,700 psf on the net lettable area to be received,” he said.


CBRE is handling the sale through an expression of interest, which will close at 4pm on Feb 22. — Cheow Xin Yi


Source: Today Newspaper

Stuck with charges and no flat

Stuck with charges and no flat


Tuesday • January 15, 2008


Letter from TAN SHAU JIE


BUYING a flat is indeed an eye-opening experience.


As Singapore permanent residents, my sister and I decided to buy an HDB flat.


We exercised the Option to Purchase and paid a deposit of $2,000 to the seller.


After the application was submitted to the HDB, I received a cancellation of appointment letter, stating that the seller had backed out. It happened to us twice within six months.


Although the sellers returned the deposit (after numerous lawyer’s letters), we had to fork out the bank cancellation charges amounting to $5,500 due to the two failed transactions and other miscellaneous fees.


We can only recover the amount from the sellers by suing them, which would cost $4,000 or more each in lawyers’ fees.


On both occasions, the sellers refused to refund our deposits.


According to the HDB website, if a seller refuses to refund the deposit, the buyer can take legal action or settle the dispute through mediation.


The fee for engaging a lawyer is higher than the deposit claimed.


Furthermore, we had to bear the bank loan cancellation charges amounting to over $5,000, even though it was never our intention to cancel the purchase.


Buyers, it seems, are in a no-win situation. We did not get our flat and ended up paying various charges.


Can a third party keep the deposit until the transaction is completed to protect the interests of both parties?


Source: Today Newspaper

UEM Land targets S’porean home buyers

UEM Land targets S’porean home buyers


Wants M’sian govt to ease limits on foreign owners


Tuesday • January 15, 2008


UEM Land, overseeing Malaysia’s biggest property project, wants the government to ease limits on foreign purchases to aid the company’s plans to attract Singaporeans seeking cheaper homes outside the city state.


Foreigners can now only own half of the properties in any Johor resort development, and the limit is 20 per cent for other residential projects, UEM managing director Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim said.


“We’ve got a backlog of foreign buyers who want to buy but we cannot sell” to them, Mr Wan Abdullah said. “The Prime Minister wants the region to be investor-friendly and international in content. So, how are you going to attract international investors if you have quotas?”


UEM is the biggest developer of the 24,000-acre Nusajaya city project in the Malaysian southern state of Johor, which the government is redeveloping to boost economic growth and woo RM382 billion ($167.5 billion) of investments to the region in two decades.


Private home prices in Singapore soared 31 per cent last year to the highest in 11 years, the city state’s Urban Redevelopment Authority said on Jan 2.


The government last year sought to bolster the Johor projects by relaxing investment rules, accelerating approvals and making it easier for foreigners to buy properties in the country.


The quotas are still a drag on Johor, Mr Wan Abdullah said.


About 60 per cent of UEM’s foreign buyers are Singaporeans and most of the rest are expatriates who work and live in Singapore, he said.


“Because of spiralling prices in Singapore, they start to look somewhere else near,” Mr Wan Abdullah said..


Source: Today Newspaper

Space surge may slow Orchard Rd rent rises

Space surge may slow Orchard Rd rent rises


Almost 2m sq ft to be added between now and 2011


By Fiona Chan


AN IMPENDING surge of new shop space in Orchard Road may put the brakes on the growth of retail rents along the shopping stretch.


Almost two million sq ft of new retail gross floor area is set to open in the area between now and 2011, said property firm Knight Frank.


That is about one-third the current retail space on Orchard Road and double the size of Ngee Ann City.


Most of it will come from new malls, with two – Ion Orchard and Orchard Central – due to be completed this year. They are the first new malls to open in Orchard Road in a decade.


Some consultants say the huge increase in retail space in the next few years may make it hard for mall landlords along the prime shopping belt to keep raising rents at the current pace.


But they add that more outlets may not lead to oversupply as long as shopper demand and tourist numbers keep growing.


Knight Frank’s deputy managing director Danny Yeo said the new malls could achieve benchmark rentals, but some older properties may feel the heat.


Monthly rents along Orchard Road grew at a slower 2.6 per cent to hit $45.50 per sq ft at the end of last year, said Knight Frank.


It expects islandwide prime retail rentals to rise a smaller 10 per cent to 15 per cent for this year, down from last year’s 22.1 per cent.


This is mainly due to the influx of new space. This year alone, 930,000 sq ft of new shops could come up in Orchard and Scotts Roads, said consultancy DTZ Debenham Tie Leung. Besides the new malls, the additional space includes extensions to existing buildings.


The latest to jump on the bandwagon are Paragon Shopping Centre, as well as Specialists’ Shopping Centre and the adjacent Hotel Phoenix. They revealed upgrading plans last week.


Experts lauded these plans. ‘This is a chance for older malls to revamp, or introduce new retailers, or change their concepts,’ said Jones Lang LaSalle retail director Daisy Loo.


Wisma Atria, for one, added several new stores last year. Some are from first-time retailers in Singapore, such as Australia’s Cotton On, French footwear label Schu and Brazilian fashion store Beijaflor.


Mall owners say that they welcome the new shopping centres, and do not view them as competition.


‘Our belief is that the number of shoppers to Orchard Road will increase significantly with the new supply,’ said Ms Amy Lim, general manager of pro- perty management at Macquarie Pacific Star.


CapitaLand Retail, which is building Ion Orchard, also sees minimal conflict between the new and old malls.


Chief executive Pua Seck Guan said most of the retailers that Ion Orchard is drawing in are not moving from existing Orchard Road locations. Sixty per cent will be new to Singapore, trying new concepts or opening a flagship store.


Source: Straits Times