HDB carparks need a makeover

HDB carparks need a makeover

 

One reporter feels his estate’s carparks are inadequate and in need of some design upgrades. -myp

Marcel Lee Pereira

 

Wed, Mar 26, 2008

my paper

 

EVERY time I borrow my fiancee’s mother’s car for the weekend, I go back to find the nearby multi-storey carpark almost full.

 

The only available spaces will invariably be on the top deck.

 

My future mother-in-law is not going to climb five storeys to her car the next day. So, in return for using it, I’m supposed to drive it down to a lower deck in the morning – something I don’t look forward to.

 

As a soon-to-be car owner myself, I will join the ranks of drivers who feel their estate’s carparks are inadequate and in need of some design upgrades.

 

Going by readers’ complaints others, too, have faced similar problems when they go home to find parking spaces only on the least-desirable, unsheltered deck of some multi-storey carparks.

 

It costs $90 a month for season parking there – that’s what the Housing Board (HDB) charges for covered lots.

 

The fee is much higher than the $65 a month for unsheltered surface carparks.

 

Unfortunately, the number of cars at my Pasir Ris carpark seems to have grown each time I use it.

 

Unless I return at the unlikely time of 6pm on a weekend, there’s no chance of getting a sheltered parking space.

 

This, I feel, defeats the purpose of paying the extra $25.

 

Besides, there are also no surface carparks nearby.

 

Recently, a reader even suggested charging lower parking rates for the unsheltered top levels of multi-storey carparks, an indication of how residents must feel when they don’t get their money’s worth.

 

Holding a season parking label does not guarantee a choice space, however.

 

I was surprised to find out from the HDB that non-residents can pay for season parking there, too.

 

However, the HDB says priority will be given to residents of the estate served by the carpark.

 

There is no difference in the monthly season parking fee for non-residents.

 

With season parking available to so many, it is no wonder the red-painted lots are always taken up by the time I get back late at night.

 

Currently, most of the lower decks at my carpark are reserved for season parking, and the higher floors for visitors.

 

 

While it may serve season parking holders well to have more parking spaces set aside, as car ownership goes up, it is unlikely to solve the problem.

 

To be fair, however, there are limits to how many labels a household can get, depending on supply.

 

Priority will be accorded to the first vehicle of the household. Remaining parking spaces will be allocated to subsequent vehicles belonging to the same household as well as non-residents on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

However, improving the design of multi-storey carparks could go a long way in making life better for HDB residents.

 

For a start, adding shelters to the rooftop decks of these carparks will make it less inconvenient for users, especially when it rains.

 

Since 2005, the HDB has been building shelters on the uncovered roof decks of carparks where demand has, well, hit the roof.

 

It will extend this to other multi-storey carparks where suitable.

 

But, more importantly, lifts should be installed at all multi-storey carparks, and not just the taller ones.

 

This would not only encourage parking at all levels but also make it easier for older drivers, who will then be spared climbing several flights of stairs. It will even allow the disabled to use regular lots.

 

These features might eventually raise parking charges, but it is something I would willingly fork out money for – just for the sake of convenience.

 

That is why I am buying a car in the first place.

 

Source: AsiaOne

Pacific Star to woo European investors with property fund

Pacific Star to woo European investors with property fund

 

By UMA SHANKARI

 

SINGAPORE-based Pacific Star Group said yesterday it will set up a property fund with a target asset size of US$2 billion to tap the growing appetite of European investors for prime Asian real estate.

 

The Asia Fund Select Concept, managed out of Singapore and other regional offices, will invest in four new funds focused on real estate in India, China, North-east Asia and South-east Asia.

 

Investors will have the flexibility of allocating their capital to a selection or to all four country funds.

 

Frank-Rainer Vaessen, president of fund management for Pacific Star, is ‘optimistic’ the fund’s assets under management will grow to US$2 billion by end-2008.

 

He expects a ‘substantial amount’ of this will already be committed at the fund’s first closing at end-June.

 

The umbrella fund is expected to have an internal rate of return (IRR) of about 14-16 per cent, Mr Vaessen said. Pacific Star will market the fund to institutional investors in Europe, the Middle East and the US.

 

The fund will be the first order of business for newly set up Pacific Star Europe, a Munich joint venture between Pacific Star and two individuals, Matthias Stürmer and Dirk Große-Wördemannjoint, which was also announced yesterday.

 

Under the deal, Pacific Star will own 51 per cent of the JV while the two partners will hold the remaining 49 per cent.

 

Other than the fund, Pacific Star Europe’s nine-member team will create and manage a ‘fund of funds’ – that is, a fund that will invest in other third-party funds.

 

Pacific Star believes that having an entity in Europe will strengthen and complement existing relationships with European investors and partners.

 

In future, Pacific Star Europe could also be used to facilitate European investments by Asians, Mr Vaessen said.

 

European institutional investors transacted some US$2.2 billion of property deals in Asia in the first half of 2007, according to a report by Jones Lang Lasalle.

 

And for the same period, Asian inflows into European real estate totalled US$3.5 billion.

 

Source: Business Times

MCL tops bids at $213.5m for Yishun 99-yr condo site

MCL tops bids at $213.5m for Yishun 99-yr condo site

 

Offer of $350 psf per plot ratio is 68% above the next highest bid

 

By KALPANA RASHIWALA

 

MCL Land yesterday offered almost 70 per cent more than its closest rival in a state tender for a 99-year condominium site at Yishun fronting Lower Seletar Reservoir and close to Singapore Orchid Country Club/Golf Course.

 

The Hongkong Land subsidiary placed the highest of five bids the site drew. Its price of $213.5 million – or about $350 per sq ft of potential gross floor area – was 68 per cent higher than the next highest offer, of $127 million or $208 psf per plot ratio by Peak Properties unit Peak Green. Peak Properties is controlled by the Wee family.

 

The tender drew three other bids – from Frasers Centrepoint ($109.66 million or $180 psf ppr), Sim Lian Land ($92.6 million or $152 psf ppr), and Cheung Kong Holdings unit Billion Rise, which placed what some market watchers termed a cheeky bid of $57.74 million or just $95 psf ppr.

 

Asked how he felt about offering such a steep premium for the plot, MCL Land‘s CEO Koh Teck Chuan said: ‘I bid at a price I’m comfortable with. I’m confident of making money on this project.’

 

The breakeven cost for a new condo development on the site will be about $680 psf, and MCL Land‘s bid model assumed an average selling price of $750-800 psf, he added.

 

The group plans a 480-500 unit condo development 15-16 storeys high. ‘Because the site has a long frontage along the reservoir, we can design the project in such a way that almost every unit will face the reservoir,’ Mr Koh said.

 

‘We’ve studied the site. I climbed up the nearest HDB block and the view was breath-taking. I saw unobstructed views of the reservoir and greenery.

 

‘And the site is within walking distance of Khatib MRT Station. This is a nice suburban housing location.’

 

Mr Koh pointed out that developers have adopted divergent strategies at state tenders lately. ‘Some are using the current lull to fish for bargains, while those who need to replenish their landbanks tend to bid at closer to market prices,’ he said.

 

MCL currently does not have any 99-year leasehold residential sites in its landbank, although it has a string of freehold residential projects it hopes to launch this year or next year. These are in locations like Holland Hill (in a joint venture with Ho Bee), Balmeg Hill in the Pasir Panjang area, Upper Serangoon Road, Boon Teck Road in the Balestier vicinity, Ewe Boon Road, Sixth Avenue and Seletar Hills.

 

CB Richard Ellis executive director Li Hiaw Ho said the ‘fairly robust response’ of five bids at yesterday’s tender from major and mid-size developers signals ‘developers’ confidence in the suburban segment despite the current lukewarm response to new projects’.

 

Demand for the new condo on the plot at Yishun Avenue 1/2 is likely to come from HDB upgraders and those working in the northern part of Singapore, he added.

 

Source: Business Times

Why do we love to leverage till it hurts?

Why do we love to leverage till it hurts?

 

The simple answer, according to personal finance experts, is greed. We want more of everything and leverage gets us more

 

By MICHAEL S ROSENWALD

 

IF the subprime mortgage mess has taught us anything, it is that we are leverage addicts. Nearly all of us are – from the suburbs, where we bought big houses with no money down, to Wall Street, where traders borrowed cash to make bigger bets on the housing market.

 

Financing cars for three years is so passe; we finance them for six or seven. And now we buy – or used to buy – houses with pick-your-payment mortgages. We are leveraged from here to China. US consumers spend more than 14 per cent of their after-tax income just to stay current on household debt.

 

The question worth asking now is: Why do we love leverage so much that it hurts?

 

The simple answer, according to personal finance experts, is that we want more – more money, more house, more car, just more, more, more. We often think we deserve more. Leverage gets us more. With historically low interest rates, leverage is the easiest and quickest tool to get more stuff.

 

The problem is that too much leverage has a downside that is easy to overlook. When everyone else is using leverage so successfully to get more, do we wonder what will happen if interest rates go up? Not so much.

 

This is where the simple answer breaks down. So we turn to the more complicated answer: Blame our brains.

 

That’s what Jason Zweig thinks. He’s an investing guru and journalist, and as many people wonder how we all could have been so dim-witted these past few years, he provides one possible answer in a book called ‘Your Money and Your Brain: How the New Science of Neuroeconomics Can Help Make You Rich.’

 

Mr Zweig has studied several experiments examining people’s brains when they make personal finance decisions. The results, he said, are surprising.

 

‘You would expect logically that the borrowing and spending of money would be emotionally painful to people because having money is intrinsically a good thing, and having less money would have to be worse,’ he said. ‘Going from more money to less would be painful.’

 

If only that were true.

 

‘When people borrow and spend money, it’s really the reward centres of the brain that become activated,’ Mr Zweig said. ‘When you borrow money, you are thinking not about the long-term consequences but the short-term result: You have more cash in your pocket. The pain you are going to experience down the road of having to pay – that’s in the future, it’s remote, it’s abstract.’

 

Now think about the housing boom, particularly about people borrowing way more than they could afford. ‘If I borrow a million dollars to buy a house, the fact that I can’t afford to borrow it is dwarfed by the fact that I’m getting a million dollars,’ Mr Zweig said. ‘That’s just really exciting. And the entire subprime industry acted as the credit card industry has acted: focusing people’s attention on what money can do for you right now and taking your mind off having to pay a lot of money down the road.’

 

It’s all so easy and cheap. This may sound perplexing, but money is inexpensive. Inflation levels have declined sharply since the 1970s and ’80s, pushing interest rates much lower. For example, Americans spent 10.8 per cent of their after-tax money on servicing debt back in 1982, when the federal funds rate was 14.5 per cent. But as interest rates declined, making money cheaper, our debt – and the amount we pay to stay current – shot up, peaking in 2006, when interest rates were at 5.3 per cent.

 

‘Like any other product, if its price falls, households will consume more of it,’ said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Economy.com. ‘Rates fall, so households take on more debt.’

 

In the current downturn, the leverage problems of the consumer have been closely tied to the leverage problems on Wall Street. Homeowners took out mortgages to buy houses they couldn’t afford. Wall Street then borrowed money to essentially buy up those mortgages, betting leverage would spur bigger returns. But when interest rates went up, the over-leveraging of homeowners could no longer be ignored. They couldn’t keep up with their payments. Say hello to the foreclosure lawyers. Say goodbye to the value of those mortgages on Wall Street.

 

Through it all, whether on Wall Street or Main Street, our brains were focused on gain and oblivious to risk. That needs to change.

 

Barry Glassman, a financial planner and investment manager in Virginia, recalled a conversation he had a couple of years ago with a client who was disappointed that his stock portfolio had only returned 9 per cent while the market gained 15 per cent. Mr Glassman has conversations like this all the time. It’s his job. And it’s also his job, if he’s doing it well, to talk to his clients about risk vs reward, about how much money is worth leveraging for the opportunity to earn a specific return. Clients like this one often want to bet more than Mr Glassman thinks they should.

 

He was gentle but blunt with his client: ‘To go for 15,’ he told him, ‘is not going to help your retirement as much as losing 40 per cent would hurt your retirement.’

 

In hindsight, everything that has happened to consumers and on Wall Street in the past eight months might have been avoided – might have – by considering the risk vs reward advice from the realm of personal finance, from instructive conversations like the one Mr Glassman had with his client. ‘One needs to look at the worst-case scenario,’ Mr Glassman said. ‘We must ask, ‘What happens if we are wrong?’ ‘

 

Mr Zweig said most of us focus on what we’re getting, when we should be asking, ‘What am I giving up?’

 

‘What will this cost me? The only way to do that is you have to get the numbers and you have to look at them,’ Mr Zweig said. ‘If you don’t feel comfortable you can understand them yourself, you have to ask someone to walk you through them.’

 

He suggests consulting online calculators that can quickly total up how much something bought using leverage will actually cost in the long run. Bankrate.com, for instance, has calculators for mortgage payments and debt settlements.

 

Mr Zweig’s other idea is to ask your spouse or partner: What do we want our retirement to look like? What do we want to do? Where do we want to live? If it’s Hawaii, use photos of the beach for your screen saver. What all this will do is centre you in the future while you’re making financial decisions now.

 

Of course, it’s worth remembering – despite all the downsides to leverage – that some leverage in the economy is good. It spurs spending, which moves products, which keeps corporate bottom lines chugging along, which creates jobs and gives people spending money to keep the circle of dollars in motion. Very few people could afford to buy a home were it not for the mortgage system – used in the way it was set up, with buyers putting 20 per cent down and only qualifying for a loan amount they could actually afford.

 

Leverage is also ironic, in that to swim our way out of problems caused by too much leverage, consumers need to employ a little leverage. After the Fed lowered interest rates last week, CNBC‘s queen of financial reporting, Maria Bartiromo, appeared on ‘NBC Nightly News’ to discuss the implications. She said: ‘Perhaps that will spur us to spend money, borrow money, and get money moving again in the economy so that we can get this economy back on track.’

 

You have been warned\. \– The Washington Post

 

Source: Business Times

High Court dismisses Virtual Map’s appeal

High Court dismisses Virtual Map’s appeal

 

VM failed to explain why its maps had SLA ‘fingerprints’

 

By CHEW XIANG

 

THE High Court yesterday dismissed with costs an appeal by Virtual Map (VM) against a District Court judgment that its online maps infringed the copyright of the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).

 

Virtual Map (Singapore) provides road maps through its popular street directory.com website.

 

Low Chai Chong, lawyer for VM, told BT yesterday the company has instructed its lawyers to file an appeal with the Court of Appeal if the High Court gives permission to do so.

 

‘In the interim, VM will also be applying to stay the judgment pending the appeal,’ Mr Low said. If the stay is granted, the maps can remain on line until the appeal is heard.

 

In his ruling, Justice Tan Lee Meng said VM had ‘failed to establish why there were innumerable ‘fingerprints’ of SLA‘s works in its maps’.

 

It also failed to establish that it had created its maps independently, Justice Tan said.

 

During the hearing, SLA said numerous phantom details it inserted into its maps found their way into VM’s online maps, which showed they were substantially copies of SLA data.

 

For example, SLA had labelled a non-existent building a temple and placed it beside Block 891A, Woodlands Drive 50 in one version of its map. This ‘temple’ showed up on VM’s online map.

 

Even genuine mistakes, such as a wrongly recorded road direction arrow and mislabelled buildings, were reproduced, Justice Tan noted.

 

From 1999 to 2004, SLA granted VM a licence to use its map data to produce online maps. The agreement was ended in 2004.

 

SLA took legal action against VM in Oct 2005 when VM continued displaying maps online that allegedly infringed SLA‘s copyright.

 

Last August, District Judge Thian Yee Sze ruled for SLA, awarding costs and compensation.

 

She also ordered VM to destroy or deliver up all infringing material. VM then appealed to the High Court.

 

Source: Business Times

Landmark Tower goes en bloc again, at lower price tag

Landmark Tower goes en bloc again, at lower price tag

 

LANDMARK Tower, a 99-year leasehold residential site in Chin Swee Road, is up for collective sale again – this time with a lower asking price.

 

The property was first put on the market in July last year with an indicative price of about $300 million – but there were no takers.

 

That price worked out to $1,471 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr), including a charge to top up the site’s remaining tenure to 99 years.

 

This time, the sellers are asking $270 million, which works out to $1,324 psf ppr, including a $28 million charge to top up the tenure.

 

No development charge is payable.

 

The 60,821 sq ft site has a 3.7 plot ratio that would give a developer a total gross floor area of 225,038 sq ft to play with.

 

‘The successful buyer can redevelop the site to accommodate a high-rise condominium development comprising 220 apartment units of about 1,000 sq ft each,’ said Ho Eng Joo, executive director of investment sales at Colliers International, which is conducting a public tender for the project.

 

‘With the recent success seen for the sale of state land, we are optimistic that this site – given its strategic location – will be highly attractive to developers and investors who are looking to secure a prime site on the fringe of the central business district,’ he said.

 

If the asking price is met, owners will get an en-bloc premium of about 70 per cent, Mr Ho said.

 

Landmark Tower is now a 38-storey residential development comprising 139 apartment and penthouse units.

 

The tender closes on April 15 at 3pm.

 

Source: Business Times

Bt Panjang, Jurong West sites go on reserve list

Bt Panjang, Jurong West sites go on reserve list

 

By UMA SHANKARI

 

HDB has released two land parcels under the government’s reserve list system – a condominium site at Bukit Panjang and an executive condominium (EC) parcel at Jurong West.

 

The 99-year leasehold Bukit Panjang site in Chestnut Avenue is thought to be the more attractive of the two.

 

The parcel is 244,300 sq ft and has a 2.1 plot ratio – yielding a maximum gross floor area of 513,100 sq ft.

 

Ku Swee Yong, director of marketing and business development at Savills Singapore, estimates the site can fetch $190-$200 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr) – which works out to $97.5-$102.6 million in all.

 

But Nicholas Mak, director of research and consultancy at Knight Frank, is more bullish – he estimates that price should be in the region of $220 to $280 psf ppr.

 

This works out to $112.9-$143.7 million in all.

 

‘Units in the proposed development will enjoy views of Cheng Hua Garden and the Lower Peirce Reservoir,’ Mr Mak said.

 

Units can fetch average prices of $720-$750 psf, he said.

 

Both analysts said 400-450 units could come up on the site.

 

Elsewhere, the EC site in Jurong West Street 42 has an area of some 183,000 sq ft and a 3.0 plot ratio – giving it a maximum gross floor area of 549,000 sq ft.

 

For this site, Mr Ku expects $125-130 psf ppr.

 

Mr Mak, on the other hand, estimates the price will be in the region of $120 to $160 psf ppr.

 

He said the site is expected to attract fewer than five bids if put up for tender.

 

About 420-500 flats can be built on the site.

 

Both plots are offered through the reserve list system, under which a site is only offered for public tender if the government receives an application with a committed bid at a price deemed acceptable.

 

‘It is good that the two sites are being offered under the reserve list,’ Mr Ku said.

 

‘In today’s uncertain market, this lets developers who are looking to build up their landbanks trigger the sites, rather than selling at a time when the market response might be poor.’ he said.

 

Source: Business Times

High Court rejects Airview Towers’ collective sale

High Court rejects Airview Towers‘ collective sale

 

By Joyce Teo

 

A SINGLE home owner has managed to persuade the High Court to reject the $202 million collective sale of Airview Towers in the River Valley area.

 

The sole objector, Mr Ken Lee, 52, a business consultant, pulled off the victory by representing himself in court against the might of top Singapore law firm Harry Elias Partnership.

 

The High Court upheld a decision of the Strata Titles Board (STB) last October to throw out the sale application as the minimum 80 per cent approval had not been met in the required time.

 

Mr Lee said the case showed that the system is fair and considers the views of minority owners.

 

Bukit Sembawang Estates was the prospective buyer. Unit owners would have reaped about $2 million each.

 

The court case centred on just two out of the 100 units at Airview Towers, which made the crucial difference between the approval level rising above or falling below 80 per cent.

 

These two new owners had bought their units during the collective sale process from owners who had signed the agreement – but the new owners failed to sign the agreement in time.

 

Justice Lee Seiu Kin, in a judgment dated March 19, concluded that the two flats should not be counted. The owners of the two units, whose signatures were originally counted as part of the 80 per cent had, in effect, not signed in time, he said.

 

That meant the condo did not meet the minimum requirement for the sale to go ahead of 80 per cent of share values within 12 months of the first signature.

 

As a result, he threw out the appeal against STB‘s dismissal of the sale application.

 

He said the 12-month timeline for the 80 per cent minimum requirement is a ‘substantive’ condition put in place by the legislature to protect the legitimate rights of the minority.

 

The plaintiffs, three owners, argued that the owners of the pivotal two units agreed all along to the sale. Their failure to sign was due to ‘mistake or inadvertence’ and so was a technicality.

 

But the judge ruled that non-compliance with the timeline is not a mere technicality.

 

He said safeguards were built into the Land Titles (Strata) Act, allowing for the consideration of all objections of minority owners, and other factors. ‘Timing is important because the longer the process is dragged out, the greater the likelihood that market conditions will change.’

 

Numerous owners agreed to the sale after the 12-month period. Mr Lee said he objected only over concerns that the sale process was not being done properly – which was some time last June after he had rushed out to buy a replacement unit.

 

‘I had nine objections but only one was found necessary to halt the sale,’ said Mr Lee.

 

He added: ‘I respect the majority’s wish to sell, but they should be mindful of the minority’s rights to their homes.

 

‘That means they have to sell it at a proper en bloc price and do it properly and legally.’

 

An owner who signed the agreement after the estate’s sale tender was launched said he is ‘very happy’ it did not go through.

 

‘I was misled into signing the (agreement). I was told they had launched the tender and 80 per cent have signed,’ said Mr Foo Feng Yin, 54.

 

‘I am very grateful to Mr Lee as I feel that the sale wasn’t done in a transparent manner. The proceeds are also not enough for me to find a replacement unit in the same area.’

 

Listed Bukit Sembawang won the tender last April. It was planning a 36-storey condo on the site and an adjacent site, Chez Bright Apartment, that it bought in an en bloc sale in 2006. It could not be reached for comment yesterday.

 

Property consultants said the firm is unlikely to take the case further.

 

‘Chez Bright can be developed into a small upmarket development,’ said Savills Residential director Ku Swee Yong

 

‘Given today’s tighter credit terms and slower pace of sales, this decision is probably a positive for Bukit Sembawang.’

 

Source: Straits Times

Hotel room rates hit record high for second month

Hotel room rates hit record high for second month

 

Average room rate $256, up by 8% from January, driven by boom in visitor arrivals

 

By Lim Wei Chean

 

HOTEL room rates in Singapore have registered an all-time high for the second consecutive month, driven by a record number of visitors.

 

Average room prices last month shot up to $256 per night, some 8 per cent higher than January’s record of $237, according to figures released by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) yesterday.

 

The average price is higher than the latest tally available for Hong Kong, which pegged rates in the territory at $222 in January.

 

While Singapore is still nowhere near cities like New York, Mumbai and London, industry watchers believe a booming tourism sector could push the average room price above $300 within the year.

 

‘The psychological barrier now is $300 and I think that will be broken during the Formula One Grand Prix period,’ said Dr Donald Han, managing director of property consultancy Cushman & Wakefield. ‘But that kind of price cannot be sustained in the long term.’

 

For hoteliers like Crowne Plaza Changi general manager Mark Winterton, the latest spike is ‘fantastic news’.

 

Last month, 811,000 visitors entered Singapore, a record for February, according to STB statistics. The charge was led by Indonesians (125,000), Chinese (121,000), Australians (52,000), British (51,000) and Malaysians (50,000).

 

The boom helped room revenues for all of Singapore to reach an estimated $174 million in February, a 43.5 per cent jump from the same month last year.

 

The rate spurt has not been confined to exclusive hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton Millenia or Fullerton. Even three-star properties like Windsor Hotel in MacPherson Road say they are doing a roaring business.

 

Boutique hotel Link Hotel in Tiong Bahru has been operating for barely five months and is already more than 80 per cent full on most nights.

 

Its general manager George Chen said: ‘New hotels generally have problem filling up their rooms. But demand in Singapore is so strong that there is no such issue.’

 

Although rising room rates are a good thing, Mr Winterton, whose hotel in Changi Airport Terminal 3 opens in May, had a cautionary word about the increases.

 

‘We must not get too greedy and start pricing ourselves out of the market.’

 

Source: Straits Times

Yishun condo site draws record bid of $213.5m

Yishun condo site draws record bid of $213.5m

 

MCL Land‘s offer for 99-year plot almost 70 per cent higher than the next bid

 

By Fiona Chan

 

A YISHUN condominium site drew a higher-than-expected top bid when its tender closed yesterday, belying expectations of a property market slide.

 

Developer MCL Land offered $213.5 million for the 99-year leasehold plot, which works out to about $350 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr) – believed to be a new benchmark for Yishun.

 

Property consultants said this could translate into the finished project selling at record prices for the area, even as home buyers are now holding out for lower prices in a subdued market.

 

Mr Nicholas Mak, director of research and consultancy at Knight Frank, estimated that the end units for the Yishun project could be priced from $830 psf up to almost $900 psf.

 

This would be almost double what the 99-year leasehold Orchid Park Condo down the road is fetching. Four units at the 14-year-old development have been sold there this year at an average price of $460 psf.

 

MCL Land‘s bid pipped four others and came in almost 70 per cent higher than the next bid, from Peak Green, at $127 million, or $208 psf ppr.

 

Frasers Centrepoint, Sim Lian and Hong Kong‘s Cheung Kong also tabled offers ranging from $57.7 million to $109.7 million, or $95 to $180 psf ppr – which some consultants said were ‘unrealistically low’ bids. They had predicted bids of between $200 and $300 psf ppr.

 

But Mr Li Hiaw Ho, executive director of CBRE Research, said the response was ‘fairly robust’ and signalled ‘developers’ confidence in the suburban segment despite the current lukewarm response to new projects’.

 

‘Should the United States enter a mild recession and the sub-prime problems clear up, sentiment for suburban homes should improve after June, bringing demand and upward price momentum back to the market.’

 

Experts described MCL Land‘s offer as ‘extremely bullish’ and suggested that the developer may be short on land bank in the mass market segment.

 

MCL Land said in its latest financial results that it bought some sites last year, including Holland Hill Mansions and Dynasty Court Garden 1 in Sixth Avenue. Its land bank can now yield 780 units with a total gross floor area of 1.4 million sq ft.

 

The Yishun site is at the corner of Yishun Avenues 1 and 2, and is 10 minutes’ walk from Khatib MRT Station. It is next to Yishun Stadium and overlooks Lower Seletar Reservoir.

 

‘The site is good in that frontage to the reservoir is fantastic,’ said Mr Ku Swee Yong, director of marketing and business development at Savills Singapore. ‘I agree you should pay a premium for this site, but this seems to be a very significant premium.’

 

Separately, HDB yesterday put two more sites up for sale through its reserve list system.

 

One is a 182,986 sq ft plot at Jurong West Street 42 for executive condos, while the other is a 244,341 sq ft condo site at Chestnut Avenue in Bukit Panjang.

 

Source: Straits Times