Applications for HDB flats halved after new rules

Applications for HDB flats halved after new rules 


Despite this, experts say take-up rate likely to be high

By Jessica Cheam 


IT LOOKS like the time-wasters have got the message after the Housing Board tightened rules for flat applications.


The launch of 1,485 premium flats in Punggol and Sengkang closed on Wednesday with 4,050 applications – still oversubscribed but at about half the level seen before the new rules kicked in.


Some sales launches had become free-for-alls, with thousands of people who had no real intention of buying still lodging applications just to their options open.


This was evident in the actual take-up rate for flats, which was sharply lower than the number of applicants.


Apart from creating an administrative headache for the HDB, such frivolous applicants also meant deserving buyers were pushed further back in the queue.


Now a first-timer who twice rejects an offer to buy a flat at a build-to-order (BTO) or balloting sales exercise will lose his first-timer priorities for a year.


In other words, he will be sent to the back of the queue with the second-timers.



Source: Straits Times

Fitch says time to look at macro implications of sub-prime crisis

Fitch says time to look at macro implications of sub-prime crisis


SINGAPORE: With some recent US economic data surprisingly on the upside, some analysts are starting to say that the worst of the US sub-prime mortgage crisis is over.


However, international ratings agency Fitch said the repercussions could go well into the next year.


Even though low interest rates in the US and fiscal monetary stimulus will help support consumption and buffer against any US recession, Fitch is still expecting a rough ride for the world’s largest economy.


James McCormack, managing director of Sovereigns Ratings, Fitch Ratings, said: “We are looking at weaker growth and our assumption is that there is going to be a relatively short and relatively shallow recession, and by the tech meaning of that – likely two quarters of negative growth.


“It is easy to draw a scenario which is worse than that, where household growth is weaker because household balance sheets are very exposed to continued decline in US house prices and we really don’t know when that is going to end.


“But household debt numbers are extremely high and household savings rates in the US are extremely low. You combine that with a weaker labour market and weaker overall housing prices and you can easily get a scenario where consumption is much worse than we were anticipating.


“Typically, US consumers surprise us on the upside so we are not prepared to write them off just yet.”


For the whole year, though, Fitch said the US economy would be able to show some growth. So far, Fitch has forecast that US GDP will increase by 1 percent this year and the economy may grow by 1.5 to 2 percent in 2009.


Fitch said it is now time to start looking at the macro implications of the sub-prime crisis globally and in the US.


McCormack said: “I think we can say the worst of the sub-prime in terms of sub-prime adjustments are over. I think we have a better feel of what the losses are going to be in the banking sector.


“Now, we’re into the second stage or another stage of the problem – What are the other macroeconomic implications? What does this mean for credit growth in the US?


“What does it mean for credit growth globally? And what does weaker credit growth mean for the US economy? How will households respond and how will they react?”


Fitch expects growth in Asian economies to moderate this year because of the US slowdown. China and India, though, are still seen to be leading the world in terms of GDP growth.


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Polls show that hiring outlook for Singapore remains strong

Polls show that hiring outlook for Singapore remains strong


SINGAPORE: There continues to be strong demand for talent in the financial and accounting sector in Singapore, according to a series of polls conducted by global recruitment agency Robert Half International.


The global survey included 5,400 finance professionals from 18 countries.


Out of the 300 hiring managers surveyed from Singapore, 40 per cent said they would expand their finance team within the next six months, compared to the five per cent who said they would be reducing headcount instead.


Robert Half said demand for financial professionals will continue to be robust.


Tim Hird, Director, Robert Half International, said: “Certainly from what we’ve seen in the first four months of this year is a demand for talent which continues to be at a premium in Singapore across all industry sectors.


“So the natural consequence of that is that salary levels will continue to rise and expectations of employees in the marketplace continues to increase.”


And according to Robert Half, it will take a premium to attract quality talent from other firms. This could mean offering to pay potential candidates 10 to 25 per cent more than what they are currently getting.


Still, the recruitment firm said that monetary incentives are just one aspect to retaining talent, especially younger staff.


Mr Hird continued: “The expectation of the employee to have the highest quality leadership and mentorship from their direct manager is pretty much top of the list. And we would argue that that’s as important as compensation as it relates to the modern day employee.”


The survey shows that overall, Singapore companies pay higher variable bonuses than other countries.


More than 96 per cent of respondents from Singapore received annual bonuses compared to 93 per cent in Hong Kong and 90 per cent in the US. – CNA/vm


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Greater portion of wealth in Asia shifting to Singapore

Greater portion of wealth in Asia shifting to Singapore


SINGAPORE: Across Asia, household wealth is estimated to be worth as much as US$16 trillion and there are signs that a greater portion of it is shifting to Singapore.


This is according to VP Bank, which is the latest bank to receive a merchant banking licence here.


The Liechtenstein-based private bank has set up shop in Singapore to target ultra-high net worth clients, both here and around the region.


Currently, Asian wealth is expanding at a rate of 7 percent annually, compared to 4 percent in Europe – a sign that Asia may overtake Europe and the United States as the wealthiest region in the world.


In Southeast Asia, wealth management revenue is expected to grow at an even faster rate of 15 percent over the next two years.


VP Bank said Singapore has already overtaken Hong Kong as the wealth management hub of Asia.


Reto Isenring, managing director of VP Bank Singapore, said: “I believe personally that Hong Kong still has a very vital role in investment banking. But on the private banking side, I see our prospects, our clients as well as our competitors moving closer to Singapore.”


VP Bank said private banking in the region is still niche and it wants to get a slice of the Asian wealth pie. It plans to use Singapore as a gateway to ultra-high net worth clients in Southeast Asia who have more than US$30 million in investible assets.


The bank estimates that Singapore alone has over US$250 billion in wealth, with the number of millionaires here increasing 21 percent to 60,000 last year.


“We clearly see a main focus on China. India is a very interesting market. Indonesia remains an interesting market. The Middle East is clearly a market which is coming and which is interested in investing in Asia, and having some of their assets booked in Asia,” said Isenring.


Currently, VP Bank manages some US$1 billion worth of customer assets in Asia and it is targeting to book US$5 billion here in Singapore over the next five years.


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Indiabulls investment trust extends IPO closing date

Indiabulls investment trust extends IPO closing date


SINGAPORE: Indiabulls Properties Investment Trust has extended the closing date for its initial public offering to June 6.


Analysts are reading the extension as a sign of a subdued market for IPOs.


Indiabulls had offered 262 million units at a range of S$1.00 to S$1.10 each.


If the units are priced at the top end of the indicative range, the IPO would have raised S$289 million.


Based on the minimum offering price of S$1 per unit, the trust has a forecast distribution per unit of 5.12 Singapore cents in 2009 and 9.82 Singapore cents in 2010.


Indiabulls is India’s third-largest property developer and is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange of India.


Its main businesses span from project management, construction services to hotels and resorts.


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Iskandar Malaysia project to go ahead as planned

Iskandar Malaysia project to go ahead as planned


SINGAPORE: The Iskandar Malaysia project will go ahead as planned, Malaysia’s High Commissioner to Singapore N Parameswaran said on Thursday.


Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi’s poor showing in the recent general elections has left investors concerned about his pet project – Iskandar Malaysia, which was launched in late 2006.


However, the High Commissioner noted that the project – a special economic zone three times the size of Singapore – will have the support of any political party that comes into power.


“There should not be any concern that any changes (that) take place in Malaysia… will… affect the on-going developments in Iskandar,” he said.


About 530 square metres of the Southern Industrial and Logistics Clusters (SiLC) at Iskandar Malaysia have been launched. According to developer UEM Land, more than 95 per cent were taken up by Singapore-based companies.


Managing director of UEM Land, Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim, said: “The opportunity is the price, the price is extremely low.”


Phase one of SiLC was completed in April 2008.


Since its launch in 2006, Iskandar Malaysia has attracted some 33 billion ringgit worth of investment. – CNA/ac


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Indiabulls extends S’pore Reit retail offer

Indiabulls extends S’pore Reit retail offer




MUMBAI – Indiabulls Properties Investment Trust said on Thursday it had extended the retail portion of its US$284 million initial public offer of shares in Singapore by a day to Friday.



The company, a unit of India’s fourth-largest developer by market value Indiabulls Real Estate, did not give a reason, but a banker involved in the deal said the extension was because the retail component, comprising 5 per cent of the total offering, was not fully subscribed.


The banker, who did not want to be identified, said 1,000 subscribers were required to close the retail portion and had reached 700.


The 353.5 million share sale in an indicated price band of S$1-S$1.10 had opened on June 2.


‘The joint issue managers, financial advisers, book-runners and underwriters have closed the book of orders for the placement tranche,’ the company said in a statement, suggesting the institutional book was covered.


Deutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch are the joint managers of the offering.


The parent Indiabulls has handed over two properties under development in Mumbai with a total of 3.4 million sq ft to the trust, the offer document showed.


Shares in Indiabulls Real Estate, whose market value has halved to US$2.5 billion in 2008, were trading 6.6 per cent lower at 385 rupees in a firm Mumbai. — REUTERS


Source: Business Times

Indiabulls Real Estate delays S’pore share sale

Indiabulls Real Estate delays S’pore share sale 



India-listed Indiabulls Real Estate has delayed a share sale by its real estate investment trust in Singapore for a day.


The offer of Indiabulls Properties Investment Trust will now end tomorrow, instead of today.


Indiabulls is seeking to raise as much as 388 million dollars in the Singapore initial public offering.


The property trust plans to sell 353 millions hares at 1 dollar to a dollar 10 cents apiece.


Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank are arranging the share sale.


Source: 938Live

Flat-buyers: Think through options

Flat-buyers: Think through options


Thursday • June 5, 2008



Letter from :Kee Lay Cheng



Deputy Director (Marketing and Projects)



for Director (Estate Administration and Property)



Housing and Development Board






I REFER to “Building Brics for HDB” (May 27) from Wong Weng Keet.


The new flat application process aims to encourage flat-buyers to think through their housing plans and options carefully before they apply for a flat.


We would like to clarify that under the revised procedures, the priorities under the Married Child Priority Scheme (MSCP) are not “cancelled out”. Those applying under MSCP will continue to enjoy twice the chances over other applicants.


As land available in mature estates for new flat development is limited, the demand for new flats far exceeds the supply there. As such, whatever the system of allocation, flat applicants’ chances of success of securing a new flat in a mature estate are likely to be low.


Those who are interested in new flats should instead consider Built-to-order (BTO) flats in non-mature estates, where the bulk of the Housing Development Board’s (HDB) new flat supply is being offered.


To help the small number of first-time home-buyers who have been repeatedly unsuccessful in their applications for BTO flats in non-mature estates, they are given additional chances for their subsequent applications.


We thank the reader for his suggestions. HDB will monitor and review the flat application process regularly to meet the needs of HDB flat buyers, and will take his suggestions into consideration when it does so.


Source: Today Newspaper

Boom times for Macau’s casinos

Boom times for Macau’s casinos


Macau Casino Revenue May Double in Three Years, U.S. Group Says


By Kelvin Wong


June 4 (Bloomberg) — Macau, the only place in China where casinos are legal, may more than double its gaming revenue in three years, according to the results of a survey conducted by the American Gaming Association.


More than half the 23 analysts and casino executives surveyed by the group said Macau is likely to maintain its revenue growth for at least a further three years, Frank Fahrenkopf, the association’s president, said. Gaming revenue in the city grew 45 percent last year, according to government figures.


Foreign casino operators including Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Wynn Resorts Ltd. are investing more than $25 billion in the former Portuguese colony to cater for increasing numbers of affluent Chinese gamblers. Gaming revenue in Macau, which surpassed the Las Vegas Strip as the world’s biggest gambling hub in 2006, may grow 29 percent this year, according to research company Globalysis Ltd.


“This place will still be the leading market in the region in 10 years time simply because of the numbers of properties that are already here,” Fahrenkopf told reporters yesterday in Macau, where his group is helping organize Global Gaming Expo Asia 2008, which started yesterday and ends tomorrow.


The number of casinos in Macau has more than doubled to 29 since the government ended billionaire Stanley Ho’s 40-year gaming monopoly in 2002 and awarded licenses to five other operators. Annual expansion of 29 percent will more than double revenue in three years while sustained 45 percent growth will achieve the same effect in a two-year period.


Strain on Infrastructure


Macau Chief Executive Edmund Ho in April said the city will stop approving land for new casinos and stop granting new licenses. It will also limit the number of gaming tables and slot machines run by existing casino operators.


“I don’t think it is unreasonable for the government to slow down growth,” said Fahrenkopf. “Macau’s gaming growth has put tremendous strain on the city’s infrastructure in the last four to five years.”


Visitors to the southern Chinese city have surged 73 percent in the four years since 2004, when Las Vegas Sands opened Macau’s first foreign-operated casino.


Authorities in Guangdong, the closest Chinese province to Macau, on June 1 changed the maximum number of times residents can visit the city each month to one from two, the Chinese-language Macau Daily newspaper reported on May 28. This came a year after a similar policy restricting residents’ travel to Macau to curb problem gambling was lifted after being in place for a month.


Competition in Asia


Macau also faces increased competition from the rest of Asia as other markets open to casinos.


Singapore in 2006 awarded bids for two casino resorts. Japan and Taiwan are also considering allowing casinos in an effort to boost tourism.


Still, analysts say travel restrictions are unlikely to slow Macau’s growth.


“China is the single largest population base in the world,” said Dean Macomber, a Nevada-based gaming consultant who has advised operators in the U.S. and Asia. “It’s hard to ignore the raw dynamics and economics of that.” – Bloomberg


Source: Today Newspaper