60% of apartments launched in Shanghai Yanlord Riverside City Phase 3 sold

60% of apartments launched in Shanghai Yanlord Riverside City Phase 3 sold


SINGAPORE: Mainboard-listed Yanlord Land Group said 60 per cent of the first batch of 130 apartment units, launched in Shanghai Yanlord Riverside City Phase Three, were sold during the opening weekend earlier this month.


This translates to an initial sale of 77 units.


The average selling price per square metre rose 13% to about RMB 39,000, compared with the RMB 34,500sqm in Phase Two sold in January this year.


The total contracted pre-sales proceeds during the opening weekend of the launch amounted to approximately RMB 670 million. – CNA/vm


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Danger of ‘substantial downturn’ has faded: Bernanke

Danger of ‘substantial downturn’ has faded: Bernanke 

WASHINGTON – DESPITE a recent spike in the unemployment rate, the danger that the US economy has fallen into a ‘substantial downturn’ appears to have waned, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Monday.

Addressing a Fed conference in Chatham, Massachusetts, on Monday night, Mr Bernanke said a government report last week showing the unemployment rate rising from 5 per cent in April to 5.5 per cent in May – the biggest one-month jump in two decades – was ‘unwelcome.’


However, the Fed chief said other forces should ‘provide some offset to the headwinds that still face the economy.’


The Fed’s powerful doses of interest rate cuts, the government’s US$168 billion (S$230 billion) stimulus package, further progress in the repair of problems in financial and credit markets, a gradual ebbing of the drag from the deep housing slump and still solid demand from abroad for US exports should help the economy over the remainder of this year, he said.


Although economic activity is ‘likely to be weak’ during the current April-to-June quarter, Mr Bernanke said ‘the risk that the economy has entered a substantial downturn appears to have diminished over the past month or so.’


Last Friday, fears were rekindled that the country could be headed for a deep recession after the unemployment rate zoomed and oil prices registered their biggest single-day leap.


However, Mr Bernanke said, ‘Recent incoming data, taken as a whole, have affected the outlook for economic activity and employment only modestly.’


Still, soaring energy prices are a double-edged sword for the country. Oil prices closed on Monday at US$134.35 a barrel, down from last week’s high of US$139.12 a barrel. They risk putting a further damper on growth as well as spreading inflation through the economy, Mr Bernanke said.


High inflation

‘Inflation has remained high,’ largely reflecting sharp increases in the prices of globally traded commodities, Mr Bernanke said. ‘The latest round of increases in energy prices has added to the upside risks to inflation and inflation expectations,’ he said.


The Fed is paying close attention to the extent to which consumers, investors and businesses believe prices will rise in the future, he said. If consumers, investors and businesses believe inflation will continue to go up, they will change their behaviour in ways that aggravate inflation, turning it into a self-fulfilling prophecy.


The Fed ‘will strongly resist an erosion of longer-term inflation expectations, as an unanchoring of those expectations would be destabilising for growth as well as for inflation,’ Mr Bernanke said.


Mr Bernanke spoke on Monday evening to a conference on understanding inflation and the implications for Fed policymakers in setting interest rates. The forum was sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. His comments on the economy’s outlook were fairly brief and were part of a larger, mostly academic speech.


Last week, Mr Bernanke sent his strongest signal yet that the Fed’s rate-cutting campaign was probably over for now because of growing concerns that soaring oil and other commodity prices – along with a weakened dollar – are aggravating inflation.


To help brace the economy, the Fed dropped rates in late April to 2 per cent, a nearly four-year low, continuing a rate-cutting campaign that started last September.


Many economists believe the Fed will hold rates steady at its next meeting on June 24-25 and probably through much, if not all, of this year. However, some believe inflation could flare up and force the Fed to begin boosting rates later this year or next year.


Inflation forecasting

Inflation forecasting is important to Fed policymakers when determining the best course on interest rates. Even with extensive research over the years, much remains to be learned about both inflation forecasting and inflation control, Mr Bernanke said. And there are areas where additional research could prove helpful.


Policymakers and analysts often have relied on information from commodity futures markets to help shape inflation forecasts, Mr Bernanke said. In recent years, though, information from futures markets has ‘underpredicted commodity price increases … leading to corresponding underpredictions of overall inflation,’ he said.


The ‘poor recent record’ on that front raises the question of whether policymakers should continue to use this source of information and, if so, how, Mr Bernanke said.


Despite the recent record, Mr Bernanke said he didn’t think it was reasonable to ignore information about supply and demand culled by futures markets. However, it does seem reasonable, he said, to treat such information as highly uncertain.


Working to make economic data timelier and more accurate also would be useful to policymakers trying to divine inflation’s direction.


Moreover, it would also be helpful for policymakers to know more about how people’s inflation expectations are influenced by Fed interest rate actions, Fed communications and economic developments such as oil price shocks.


‘Much evidence suggests that expectations have become better anchored than they were a few decades ago, but that they nonetheless remain imperfectly anchored,’ Mr Bernanke said. — AP


Source: Straits Times

HDB launches 382 BTO flats for sale at Marsiling

HDB launches 382 BTO flats for sale at Marsiling


THE Housing Board offered 382 flats for sale at Marsiling under the Build-To-Order (BTO) scheme on Tuesday.

The flats at Straits Vista @ Marsiling, near Woodlands Regional Centre, comprise 50 three-room and 332 four-room units.


The three-room flats, with floor area of between 67 and 69 sq metres, are priced from $116,000 to $164,000, while the four-room units, with floor area of 93 to 95 sqm, will be sold at between $184,000 and $257,000.


They are expected to be ready by May 2012.


The HDB said the Marsiling flats are part of the 8,400 units planned for this year under the BTO scheme and are the first HDB project in Woodlands town in recent years.


‘It will help to meet the strong demand for flats in the northern part of Singapore, although the bulk of the new BTO flats will continue to be offered in Punggol and Sengkang,’ said the board in a statement on Tuesday.


The project is well served by Woodlands MRT Station and a bus interchange. Residents can also enjoy easy access to other amenities such as shops, parks, schools and a sports/swimming complex. It is just a 5-minute drive to the Bukit Timah and Seletar Expressways.


As BTO flats typically require a few years to complete, the HDB advises buyers to plan ahead for their housing needs.


Applications for the new flats can be submitted from June 10 to 23.


Wide range of affordable resale flats available

Buyers with more immediate housing needs can get a resale HDB flat, with eligible first-timers given a CPF housing grant of $30,000 to $40,000, as well as the additional CPF grant of up to $30,000.


The HDB says there is still a wide range of affordable resale flats available to meet the budget of most flat buyers.


Its records show that in the first quarter, 14 per cent of the resale transactions were conducted at or below market valuation.


Source: Straits Times

Road ahead for HDB: meeting diverse needs of S’pore’s population

Road ahead for HDB: meeting diverse needs of S’pore’s population


THE road ahead for the Housing Board (HDB) is to meet the housing needs of a growing population with increasingly different needs and aspirations, said National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan on Tuesday.

As Singapore welcomes a larger and more diverse population into its fold, he said the challenge for HDB is to find innovative ways to accommodate everyone in a comfortable way, without compromising its living environment and social cohesion.


‘Globalisation and the changing economic environment have also led to such issues as structural unemployment and a widening income gap. We will need to ensure that public housing can help achieve the twin objectives of meeting the housing needs of the majority of the population, as well as providing a social safety net for lower income Singaporeans,’ said Mr Mah during his visit to the HDB Hub on Tuesday morning to celebrate the UN public service award won by the Board for its home ownership programme.


As Singapore’s population ages, the minister said the HDB will need to focus on meeting the housing needs of the more vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and the lower-income, so that they can level up with the rest of the population.


At the other end of the spectrum, it will also have to make HDB flats attractive for the more educated and more well-off Singaporeans, so that they too can go through the HDB experience.


‘This shared experience of HDB living will become all the more important, as we strive to develop a collective Singapore identity,’ said the minister.


Mr Mah referred to a recent marriage and parenthood survey by the Ministry of Community Development, Youths and Sports, which revealed that the purchase of an HDB flat is a rite of passage for most Singaporeans.


It showed that 89 per cent of singles preferred to live in their own homes after marriage. For most, this would mean setting up their first home in a new or resale HDB flat.


‘The challenges for public housing today are different, but no less formidable than what we faced in the early days. Today’s environment is far more complex, with a more diverse group of flat buyers that have varying aspirations and income levels,’ added the minister. ‘In response, HDB builds flats to suit different budgets and preferences, with a range of flat types, designs, and locations to choose from.’


Upgrading aging flats in old estates

He also identified the upgrading and rejuvenation of older housing estates as another key challenge for the HDB.


With nearly a-third of the flats built before the 1980s, there will be more flats reaching 40 to 50 years old within the next 10 years.


Mr Mah said new, middle-aged and old HDB estates will be transformed into vibrant homes for Singaporeans under the HDB’s ‘Remaking Our Heartland’ programme.


‘Giving our HDB heartlands a major makeover is a key part of the Government’s plan to develop and reshape the Singapore of tomorrow. In the next 10 to 20 years, HDB will be embarking on plans to build a new generation of public housing,’ he said.


‘The urban regeneration of HDB estates will go beyond the current upgrading programmes in terms of scale and scope. It will transform the existing public housing estates and mark a new milestone in Singapore’s public housing programme.’



Source: Straits Times

FED Chief says the likelihood of severe US economic slump has diminished

FED Chief says the likelihood of severe US economic slump has diminished

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke says that the likelihood of a severe US economic slump has diminished.


However he reiterated that upside risks to inflation are forcing the Fed to be more vigilant.


Mr Bernanke was speaking at the Annual Economic Conference on Inflation in Boston this morning.


He suggested that the US economy appears to be on the mend, even if conditions are fragile.


“Over the remainder of 2008, the effects of monetary and fiscal stimulus, a gradual ebbing of the drag from residential construction, further progress in the repair of financial and credit markets and still solid demand from abroad, should provide some offset to the headwinds that face the economy, however the ongoing contraction in the housing market and continuing increases in energy prices, suggests that growth risks remain to the downside.”


Mr Bernanke said the Fed would work hard to keep inflation expectations in check, which in turn would help keep a lid on price pressures.


“Thus far, the past raw materials cost to the prices of most products and to domestic labour costs have been limited, in part because of softening domestic demand, however, the continuation of this pattern is not guaranteed, and future developments in this regard will bear close attention. Moreover the latest round of increases in energy prices has added to the upside risks to inflation and inflation expectations.”


Mr Bernanke has expressed concern in the past about public expectations on inflation that prompt workers to seek higher wages and businesses to raise prices, resulting in an upward price spiral.


He said the policymaking Federal Open Market Committee will strongly resist an erosion of longer-term inflation expectations, as that would be destabilizing for growth as well as for inflation.


Source: 938Live

HDB launches Build-To-Order project in Marsiling

HDB launches Build-To-Order project in Marsiling


SINGAPORE: The Housing and Development Board (HDB) on Tuesday launched a Build-To-Order (BTO) project called Straits Vista @ Marsiling.


The project is located near the Woodlands Regional Centre, and is served by Woodlands MRT station and bus interchange.


HDB advised potential buyers to plan ahead for their housing needs, since BTO flats take a few years to complete.


It said couples planning to get married should book their flats under the Fiance-Fiancee Scheme.


Couples with at least one partner aged 30 or below can also apply for the Staggered Downpayment Scheme to defer paying half the downpayment until they get the flat.


Applications for the new flats can be submitted from now till 23 June on HDB’s InfoWEB. – CNA/ac


Source: Channel NewsAsia

HDB upgrading pace will continue despite rise in construction costs

HDB upgrading pace will continue despite rise in construction costs


SINGAPORE: National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said the Housing and Development Board (HDB) is containing construction costs as much as it could even though they have gone up significantly recently.


HDB is doing this by simplifying some of the projects or by combining them so that there are more economies of scale. A recent example is the Punggol Sapphire project which has more than a thousand units against the usual number of some 500 units per project.


But Mr Mah assured Singaporeans that public flats would continue to be affordable, despite the rising costs. The pace of HDB upgrading under the Main and Interim Upgrading Programmes will also not be affected by rising costs.


Mr Mah was speaking to reporters on Tuesday after an event to congratulate the HDB for winning the United Nations Public Service Award.


HDB said the award is in recognition of the Home Ownership Programme, which has successfully provided over 80 per cent of Singaporeans with affordable quality flats, of them 95 per cent own these homes.


While the challenges for public housing today may be different, they are no less formidable than those faced by the HDB when it started Singapore’s public housing programme in 1960.


HDB said flat buyers now have varying aspirations. There is also the challenge of differing income levels. So the HDB will continue to meet the housing needs of the majority as well as lower income Singaporeans.


Mr Mah said: “Someone with an income of S$1,000 to S$1,500 is eligible to rent a flat. But I would much prefer that they would own a flat, even if it is a small flat because from there, they can build a base, earn some assets and later on when they do well in life, they can upgrade.”


Mr Mah added that another challenge is to rejuvenate the older housing estates so that Singapore maintains the quality of living in these estates and the value of the flats.


But HDB’s immediate task is to tackle rising costs as the construction industry has not been spared from the global phenomenon of increasing prices of raw materials.


He said: “Raw material prices and energy prices have increased. All these are feeding through into the construction cost index for the moment. What we have to do first is to manage the costs as much as we can by simplifying some of the projects or by combining them so that there are more economies of scale, (and) by using more economical materials.”


Mr Mah said that the government is also helping to reduce the construction pressure by withholding some projects. But the minister added that the government does not expect a major delay in the completion of the two mega integrated resort projects due to rising construction costs. – CNA/vm


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Developers to unveil more modestly-priced condos

Developers to unveil more modestly-priced condos

Dakota slated for preview this month at under $1,000 psf average, lower than earlier indicated


(SINGAPORE) Developers are getting ready to release mass- to mid-market condos, encouraged by the response to modestly-priced developments recently.


City Developments Ltd (CDL) previewed Shelford Suites about a week ago at an average price believed to be around $1,550 psf, although CDL’s spokeswoman said the average price for the five-storey freehold project in the Shelford/Adam roads vicinity is in the $1,500 to $1,700 psf range.


The property giant is also aiming to preview by the end of this month or early July the first phase of Livia, a 724-unit condo at Pasir Ris Drive 1.


The 99-year leasehold condo, near Pasir Ris MRT Station, is being developed by a joint venture involving CDL, Hong Realty and Hong Leong Holdings.


‘The average price will be revealed closer to the preview,’ CDL’s spokeswoman said.


However, market expectation is that CDL will price the project attractively, at below $700 psf for the initial phase.


Those taken in by the charms of riverfront-living close to the city can look forward to Ho Bee’s and NTUC Choice Homes’ preview of The Dakota later this month.


The average price of the 99-year leasehold condo is expected to be ‘under $1,000 psf’, BT understands. This is lower than than the $1,000-1,100 psf average price expectation Ho Bee had indicated in June last year when the developers emerged as the top bidder for the plot at a state tender.


The 348-unit project is expected to be 20 storeys high and will front Geylang River. It will also be close to Dakota MRT Station, which opens on the Circle Line next year. The Dakota will comprise six blocks with a mix of two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments, and penthouses.


Over in Pasir Ris, CDL’s spokeswoman said that the company is in ‘in the final stage’ of preparing a phased soft launch of Livia. The condo is targeted at the mass market and will comprise several blocks of 15 to 16 storeys with two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments, and penthouses.


Elsewhere on the island, freehold projects with tiny studio units dubbed ‘shoebox apartments’ (ranging from under 400 sq ft to about 500 sq ft in size) in places like Sophia Road and Race Course Road, have been selling fairly quickly at around $1,100 to $1,400 psf in the past couple of months.


Over in the Botanic Gardens vicinity, UOL Group, Kheng Leong and Orix Corporation will officially launch today Nassim Park Residences condo.


Nearly 50 units have been sold at an average $3,000-3,200 psf since the preview began the week of Vesak Day, although this is expected to go up slightly from today.



Testing the market: CDL previewed Shelford Suites about a week ago at $1,500-$1,700 psf. The group is also aiming to preview the first phase of Livia, a condo in Pasir Ris, by month’s end or early July.


Source: Business Times

Singapore is safest place in Asia: Mercer rankings

Singapore is safest place in Asia: Mercer rankings

It takes 9th place for personal safety; 32nd for quality of living


IN the global quest to woo foreign talent, a good 30 cities are placed above Singapore in terms of quality of living, going by consulting firm Mercer’s latest rankings.


But solely on ‘personal safety’, Singapore is in the top league with the best – all of which happen to be in Europe.


In a ranking dominated at the top by Swiss and German cities, Singapore is 32nd in Mercer’s 2008 global quality of living survey, up two places from 2007.


Canadian and Australian cities, as well as New Zealand’s Auckland, also rank strongly in the top 25.


The annual survey covering 215 cities uses New York City as the benchmark with an index score of 100.


This year, top-ranked Zurich scores 108, while at the other end, Baghdad gets just 13.5 points.


Singapore‘s index score is 102.9, a small improvement from 102.5 last year.


In Asia (outside Australia and New Zealand), Singapore ranks highest, followed by the Japanese cities of Tokyo, Yokohama, Kobe and Osaka. And only two US cities – Honolulu and San Francisco – are above Singapore.


Mercer’s survey evaluates cities on 39 key indicators in all the major areas that affect the living environment – socio-political and cultural climate; the economy; health and sanitation; education standard; public services; recreation; availability of consumer goods; housing; and the natural environment.


It also produces a separate ranking on ‘personal safety’, covering issues such as internal stability; crime; effectiveness of law enforcement; and relationships with other countries.


Here, Luxembourg takes the top spot, followed by Bern, Geneva, Helsinki and Zurich, who all share second position.


Singapore – at No 9 overall, just ahead of Auckland and Wellington – is ‘safest’ in Asia, followed by several cities in Japan and Hong Kong.


The Mercer quality of living survey serves as a guide to governments and major companies when sending staff on overseas assignments.


Said Mercer senior researcher Slagin Parakatil: ‘Establishing suitable allowances linked to local costs and quality of living is essential in encouraging expatriate employees with transferable skills to accept international assignments.’


Commenting on Singapore’s results, Wong Su-Yen, managing director of Mercer Asean, said that the island’s improved ranking this year reflects its strength relative to other cities in public services; transport; medical services; housing; and the socio-political environment.


‘On the other hand, Singapore could further improve its standing by enhancing its socio-cultural environment, recreation options and natural environment.


‘The just-released Leisure Plan by the Urban Redevelopment Authority aims to address precisely some of these issues,’ she added.


‘If Singapore continues to enhance its quality of living offerings, we believe the city will continue to rate favourably for expatriates looking to relocate to the region.’




Source: Business Times

HDB wins UN Public Service Award for home ownership programme

HDB wins UN Public Service Award for home ownership programme


SINGAPORE: Singapore’s public housing agency – Housing and Development Board (HDB) – has been given the United Nations Public Service Award.


HDB said the award is in recognition of the Home Ownership Programme, which has successfully provided over 80 per cent of Singaporeans with affordable quality flats, of them 95 per cent own these homes.


Describing it as a significant milestone in its history, HDB said the award represents the international community’s recognition of Singapore’s public housing programme.


National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan visited the HDB headquarters at Toa Payoh on Tuesday to congratulate the management and staff on this achievement.


In his speech, Mr Mah spoke on the dual challenges of providing for more vulnerable groups such as the elderly and the lower-income, as well as making HDB flats attractive to more well-off Singaporeans.


He also felt that a shared experience of HDB living was important to developing a collective Singapore identity.


HDB’s “Remaking Our Heartland” programme is set to give new, middle-aged and old HDB estates a major makeover, to turn them into “vibrant homes.”



Source: Channel NewsAsia