URA launches Tampines residential site for sale by public tender

URA launches Tampines residential site for sale by public tender


SINGAPORE: The Urban Redevelopment Authority has launched a residential site at Tampines Avenue 1/Avenue 10 for sale by public tender.


The land parcel is one of four new residential sites to be offered for sale as a confirmed site under the Government Land Sales Programme for the first half of this year.


The 99-year leasehold site spans about 3.2 hectares.


It will have a maximum permissible gross floor area of 66,655 square metres.


The land also fronts the Bedok Reservoir, offering a panoramic view of the lake.


Consultants CB Richard Ellis expects units in the new development to sell for around $700 per square foot.


This will translate to a possible land price of around $200-$230 per square foot per plot ratio for the site.


The tender will close at noon on 12 August. – CNA/ir


Source: Straits Times

‘Old money’ props rise in luxury home sales

‘Old money’ props rise in luxury home sales

Prices hold firm surprisingly; investment climate may have stabilised, analysts say

Strong take-up: At UOL’s 100-unit Nassim Park Residences, 39 of 70 units launched were sold in May at a median price of $2,929 per square foot, URA data show




(SINGAPORE) Developer sales of new homes jumped to 441 units in May from 284 units in April, with some property consultants already calling it a ‘sharp rebound’.


While May sales were still relatively low compared to 2007 levels, several launches in prime and city-fringe locations did well.


According to Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) data, at UOL’s 100-unit Nassim Park Residences, 39 of 70 units launched were sold at a median price of $2,929 per square foot (psf). Sources also told BT that most of these units were sold to Singapore’s ‘old money’.


Savills Singapore director (marketing and business development) Ku Swee Yong said: ‘Based on what we have seen in the past few months, high net worth individuals (HNWIs) have not been affected by the slowdown in the global economy.’


While these buyers may be more ‘picky’ now, ‘they don’t want to wait for prices to fall just to save 5 per cent’, he said. And with banks generally offering low interest rate returns, these HNWIs are looking to ‘park’ their money in real estate instead.


A check with UOL revealed that since last week, Nassim Park Residences has been marketed overseas and more than 50 units have now been sold. UOL Group’s general manager of marketing, Dolly Lian said that as things stand, more than 30 per cent of the buyers are foreigners and the average selling price is $3,300 psf. This is higher than $3,000-$3,200 psf average selling price that some market watchers expected.


It is understood that most of the foreign buyers are from Indonesia.


Another popular development in May was Macly Group’s 102-unit Vutton, with 72 units sold at a median price of $1,225 psf. A market watcher said this is in the same price range as UOL’s Pavilion 11, also off Moulmein Road, which was sold in 2007.


Also selling well in May was Ascend Land’s 106-unit The Verve, off Balestier Road. During the month, 42 units were transacted at a median price of $985 psf. According to URA data, 84 units have been sold so far. In April, eight units were sold at a median price of $1,055, while in March the median price was $1,187 psf.


Collier’s International’s director for research and advisory Tay Huey Ying said that while the rebound in sales activity could be ‘just a monthly fluctuation, it may also be a sign that most genuine buyers have come to accept that the current price levels have reached a fair level’.


Ms Tay noted that the number of new launches increased 74 per cent in May from April. ‘This encouraging response could be just what is needed to trigger more of such launches in the coming months,’ she said.


She added, however, that developers will remain cautious with regard to pricing, ‘as buyers in today’s market tend to be price-sensitive’.


CB Richard Ellis executive director (residential) Joseph Tan said: ‘Based on the transactions in May, contrary to market expectations, there was no downward adjustment of prices.’


Luxury prices in particular ‘seemed to hold firm’ as projects like Boulevard Vue, Scotts Square and Nassim Park Residences maintained $3,000-psf levels, he said. And in the eastern and western parts of Singapore, prices held at $800-$900 psf at projects including Breeze by the East, Blu Coral, The Ambrosia, The Lakeshore and Crystal Heights.


Still, not everyone was as sanguine about the state of the property market.


Knight Frank director (research and consultancy) Nicholas Mak said that while total new sales in the Core Central Region (CCR), Rest of Central Region (RCR) and Outside Central Region (OCR) rose 60.9 per cent month on month, the OCR saw a 14.6 per cent drop in sales volume month on month.


According to Mr Mak: ‘Essentially, the slight rise in sales volume can be attributed to some stability in investment sentiment. However, it should be noted that this escalation is still 32 per cent below the 12-month average figure.’


Looking at take-up rates (new sales versus new launches) in the three regions, Jones Lang LaSalle local director and head of research (South-east Asia) Chua Yang Liang said these were 87 per cent for CCR, 84 per cent for RCR and 146 per cent for OCR.


He said the strong take-up rates in CCR and RCR were a result of ‘latent demand spurred on by softening prices’, while the take-up rate in OCR was ‘the result of low supply of new launches over what appears to be a minimum demand threshold – an average of 113 units over the past six months – in the region’.


Source: Business Times

New private home sales up 55%

New private home sales up 55% 


Highest monthly figure so far this year follows softening of prices, surge in total units launched

By Joyce Teo, Property Correspondent 


SINGAPORE‘S private residential property market has started showing some signs of life after several months in the doldrums, thanks in part to an easing of prices.

Last month, developers sold 441 new homes, excluding executive condominiums, a sharp 55 per cent jump on the figure for April – albeit a low base – of 284 home sales.


That made May the best month so far this year, according to the monthly sales figures released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority yesterday.


The improved sales came on the back of 474 new homes launched by developers – a 75 per cent surge over April – though many of the units sold were from earlier launches.


Still, consultants caution against reading too much into the latest figures. They say the market is generally still taking a breather, as many buyers prefer to stay on the sidelines.


Sales have improved from a very low base but they remained 32 per cent below the 12-month average, said Knight Frank’s director of research and consultancy, Mr Nicholas Mak.


The figures ‘do not necessarily imply that the private residential market has overcome the protracted lull sparked off by global economic woes’, he said.


‘The market is still at a plateau. Going forward, we will still see range- bound prices and volume of between 300 and 600 units a month. Sentiment is still very cautious,’ he said.


Jones Lang LaSalle’s head of research for South-east Asia, Dr Chua Yang Liang, said median prices have eased.


The chief executive of PropNex, Mr Mohamed Ismail, said that most May sales were done at a median price of below $1,000 per sq ft (psf), a stark contrast to the end of last year when the median price of almost two-thirds of all sales was over $1,000 psf.


‘Upon closer scrutiny, we can see that less than 50 per cent of the units launched were actually sold.’


Also, slightly over half the sales were from earlier launches, he said.


Still, there are a few bright spots. While some are struggling to sell, developer Macly Group sold 72 out of 102 units of Vutton in the Novena area at $1,057 psf to $1,416 psf.


In the luxury market, the 100-unit Nassim Park Residences is the star performer, logging in sales of over 50 units since its soft launch at end-May.


As these are large apartments, prices range from about $10 million to a whopping $19.5 million, sources said.


The prime Nassim Road project – being developed by UOL Group, Kheng Leong and Orix Corp – has already hit a high of $3,800 psf – far better than its low of $2,318 psf.


One buyer is Mr Wee Ee Cheong, son of UOL chairman Wee Cho Yaw, who bought a penthouse for $18.33 million.


Just over 30 per cent of the buyers are foreigners. The project has already been launched in Jakarta and Hong Kong, said UOL.


Another luxury development Scotts Square in the Orchard area registered sales of four units at a median price of $3,818 psf last month.


The relatively strong sales in central Singapore were the result of ‘latent demand spurred on by softening prices’, said Dr Chua.


‘Going forward, we reckon that developers are likely to keep prices competitive to keep the market demand stable,’ he said. As long as prices remain affordable, price-sensitive buyers will return, he added.


Savills Singapore’s director of business development and marketing, Mr Ku Swee Yong, said the level of transactions and price levels seen last month are sustainable.


Source: Straits Times

Sports Hub may now be ready only by 2012

Sports Hub may now be ready only by 2012


SPORTS fans who have been excitedly awaiting the construction and completion of a new $1.87 billion playground will just have to wait a little longer.


The completion date for the Singapore Sports Hub, which will have a world-class stadium and aquatic facilities, has again been pushed back – and looks likely to be ready only by 2012.


It is not just sports fans who are crestfallen.


The two-year delay has also disappointed some national sports associations, who were hoping to bid to host world-class competitions at the new venue.


Singapore Rugby Union president Low Teo Ping said: ‘I hope there will be no further delays, or it’ll upset our plans to try to bring back the successful Rugby 7s tournament.’


When the Sports Hub project was first announced in April 2005, construction was scheduled to begin last year and to end by 2010. The date was pushed to mid-2011 the following year.


Last June, the Government added a late requirement after the three bidders had submitted their designs. It wanted a public water sports centre added.


So, it was back to the drawing board for the parties and a delay of several more months as amendments were made.


Subsequently, the Singapore Sports Hub Consortium (SSHC) won the bid in January and a final contract was expected to be inked with the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) in late March, and the National Stadium torn down soon after.


But delays, as the contract’s financial and legal details were worked out between the SSC and the consortium, gave the 35-year-old stadium a reprieve and the chance to host one final tournament – the Lions’ recent World Cup qualifiers.


Nearly all the paperwork has been settled now and the mega-project looks set to move forward.


Said a source involved in the discussions: ‘There’s finally light at the end of the tunnel, compared to a few months ago when we still looked to be deep in darkness.’


Sports Hub project director Poh Yu Khing said that the matter should be viewed in perspective.


‘As this is the world’s largest sports infrastructure public-private partnership project, it is imperative that more time is spent to ensure every aspect is carefully reviewed and taken care of.’


It is in the SSHC’s interests to conclude negotiations and ink the contract quickly.


This would mark the start of the public-private partnership (PPP) project’s 25-year lifeline, under which the SSHC would begin receiving an annual sum from the Government to build, run and maintain the Sports Hub.


Located on a 35ha site, the hub’s centrepiece is a new 55,000-seater complete with retractable roof, on the site occupied by the National Stadium.


It will also include a 6,000-capacity indoor Aquatic Centre, and a 3,000-capacity multi-purpose indoor arena.


Barring any major hiccups, the hub should still be ready by 2013 when Singapore hosts the 27th South-east Asia Games.


The hosting of the inaugural Youth Olympics in 2010 will not be affected. Various venues islandwide will stage the 26 sports for the Olympics for the young, with the opening and closing ceremonies at the Marina Bay floating platform.


Source: Straits Times

Valuation the culprit in artificially inflating HDB flat prices

Valuation the culprit in artificially inflating HDB flat prices


OVER the past 18 to 24 months, HDB resale property prices have shot through the roof and many lower-income families have been priced out of the market. Although this is partly driven by the shortage of HDB flats and increased demand, what is not apparent to many people is the manner in which valuations have artificially fuelled inflation.


Take the three-room flat, for example. This is the smallest HDB flat and is targeted at the lower-income group.


Between March and May, prices of a three-room flat in Yishun, in the same block and with the same floor area, have shot up by between $18,000 and $30,000. The price of a similar three-room flat in Ang Mo Kio ranges from $184,000 to $300,000 in the same period. Similar trends are observed in almost every estate and in almost every flat type.


I accept that several factors may account for the differential in the value of a property, but is it realistic to expect the valuation of the same type of flat in the same block to have risen by 10 to 50 per cent over a short three-month period? Even if the interior renovation of a unit is particularly good, could it account for such a difference? And why does the trend keep increasing? A check with several properties in the weekend classifieds shows that the valuation of similar properties in these locations has gone up by at least another $10,000 since the last transacted prices last month. What can justify the drastic increases?


A three-room flat in a choice location, such as Bishan and Ang Mo Kio, now costs more than $300,000. A two-bedroom private apartment in an older development costs only slightly more – a clear sign that HDB flats are over-priced and out of reach for some lower-income families.


It seems that, in valuing a property, the valuer takes the last transacted price as a benchmark. Since the last transacted price includes the cash top-up sellers usually demand from buyers, the value of the property is artificially inflated.


Past experience in Singapore and Britain shows that when property prices are artificially inflated by valuation, sooner or later, prices will crash and many people will suffer.


The HDB should bar inclusion of the cash top-up in valuations.


Patrick Tan


Source: Straits Times

Subletting illegally not right way to help

Subletting illegally not right way to help


I REFER to the letter by Ms Subha Rajaiya, ‘Don’t penalise desperate ones who sublet illegally’ (June 7).


HDB rental flats are heavily subsidised and meant as a last resort for low-income and needy families without other housing option. Illegal subletting of these flats is an abuse of government subsidies meant to help such households.


One rental flat that is illegally sublet means one less unit to house a needy family. Therefore, HDB takes a serious view on illegal subletting of its rental flats. We have stepped up enforcement since last year. Where there is clear evidence of abuse, we will not hesitate to recover the rental flat and re-allocate the unit to a family in genuine need.


We agree with Ms Rajaiya that government agencies and the community need to continue to work together to help the low income among us. But allowing a few to abuse and profiteer from rental flats allocated to them cannot be part of the solution.


Mike Chan

Deputy Director (Rental Housing)

For Director (Housing Administration)

Housing & Development Board


Source: Straits Times

4 Ascott projects opened this month

4 Ascott projects opened this month


THE Ascott Group said yesterday that it opened four new serviced residence projects – one each in Australia, Vietnam, Thailand and Qatar – in the first two weeks of June.


The properties are Somerset St Georges Terrace in Perth, Somerset Hoa Binh in Hanoi, Citadines Sukhumvit 8 in Bangkok, and Somerset West Bay in Doha.


The projects are on top of two properties Ascott opened earlier this year: Ascott Guangzhou and Somerset Emerald City, Suzhou.


Ascott president and chief executive officer Jennie Chua said the group has five other properties scheduled to open this year in Bangkok, Chennai and Singapore.


The new properties will consolidate Ascott’s position as the world’s largest international serviced residence owner-operator, she said.


Somerset St Georges Terrace in Perth has 84 units and is in the heart of the business district. It is within walking distance of many restaurants, cafes and boutiques, and is just one street away from the Perth Convention Exhibition Centre.


The 206-unit Somerset Hoa Binh, Hanoi is part of a mixed development comprising an office tower and a retail podium. The property is in Hoang Quoc Viet Street, Cau Giay District – a 10-minute drive from key commercial and civic districts. It is also close to the Hoa Lac high-technology development zone and Thang Long Industrial Park.


In Bangkok, the 130-unit Citadines Sukhumvit 8 is five minutes from the Nana Skytrain station.


The 200-unit Somerset West Bay project in Qatar is in the heart of Doha’s diplomatic area where ministry headquarters, embassies and consulates are located. The property is next to the Qatar Financial Centre and adjacent to the City Centre Shopping Mall, one of Qatar’s best-known shopping destinations.


Source: Business Times

NY skyscrapers may go to foreign investors

NY skyscrapers may go to foreign investors

The weak US dollar has made the landmarks attractive to overseas buyers


(NEW YORK) The iconic Chrysler and Flatiron skycrapers may soon join New York’s GM Building as landmarks sold in part to Arab or European investors as the weak US dollar spurs property grabs in the Big Apple, reports said last Friday.


The 50-story General Motors Building, constructed in 1968 and which includes the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue, has already been sold – for a record-breaking US$2.8 billion – to US real estate firm Boston Properties, backed by investors from Dubai, Kuwait and Qatar.


The deal, concluded last Tuesday, makes the GM Building the most expensive skyscraper in the United States, according to several reports.


The seller, Macklowe Properties, had been mired in debt after acquiring seven major New York properties last year for US$7 billion near the height of the real estate boom, before the subsequent real estate and credit crises.


According to The Wall Street Journal, the famed Chrysler Building could be next with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund, in talks with a subsidiary of Prudential Financial Inc to pay US$800 million for a 75 per cent stake in the Art Deco treasure.


Current owners Prudential and Tishman Speyer would not confirm or deny the report.


The midtown Manhattan trophy property was briefly the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1930 until it was eclipsed the next year by the Empire State Building.


Prudential inherited the 75 per cent stake in the tower when it purchased TMW Real Estate Group in 2002. TMW had bought its stake in the building the year before for US$300 million.


The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, bought into US banking giant Citigroup, paying US$7.5 billion in November. It also acquired a substantial interest in home builder Toll Brothers, according to The New York Times.


An increased ownership stake in the Flatiron Building, built in 1902 as one of the first steel structures in the city, would be a feather in the cap of one of its shareholders, Italian building investor Valter Mainetti.


Through his Sorgente Group, Mr Mainetti would acquire 53 per cent of the building for approximately US$95 million, Time magazine reported.


Upheaval in the US real estate market has led to price drops in most regions of the country, and Mr Mainetti suggested that the weak US dollar made the triangle-shaped landmark particularly attractive.


‘The Flatiron is expensive, but with the (cheap) dollar, it made sense to increase our share,’ Mr Mainetti said in Time.


The euro was valued at US$1.54 last Thursday, compared with 1.33 a year earlier.


Mira Matic, a spokesperson for the property’s owner, Newmark Knight Frank, confirmed that the Sorgente Group was in talks to raise its stake in the building, but ‘terms haven’t been agreed upon and a contract hasn’t been drawn’, she said. — AFP


Source: Business Times

A place to dine, drink and rock

A place to dine, drink and rock

The 5,000-seat entertainment centre to come up at one-north will be a world-class venue for big performances, writes CLARISSA TAN


FIVE thousand people yelling their heads off. Fists pumping the air. There will be a lot to shout about when Singapore gets another large entertainment centre in 2011, and concert and theatre fans troop in for the latest and brightest in performance acts, acoustics and lighting.


For starters, the 5,000-seat centre won’t be smack dab in the middle of the town, as one might expect. It will be at one-north, the area around Buona Vista that has been earmarked for massive development. Bringing the whole concert-going experience out of the city is part of the idea, say the developers.


‘Our extensive research indicates an overwhelming need for a sizeable performance venue, away from the city and well-equipped with state-of-the-art facilities,’ said Matthew Kang, director of Rock Productions, which will build, lease and operate a civic and cultural zone at one-north. ‘The proposed high-tech theatre is expected to fulfil the needs of and attract these performing art and cultural groups.’


The place will be a ‘world-class venue for staging large-scale performances, shows and events’, he added. Rock Productions hopes it will become the new centre for artistic and cultural events, as well as meetings, conventions and exhibitions in Singapore.


The centre, to be operated by Rock Productions, is part of a larger Civic Cultural and Retail Complex located at Vista Xchange within one-north. The Complex is designed to stand out with space-agey architecture by Andrew Bromberg of AEDAS Hong Kong. It will have eight levels dedicated to the civic and cultural zone, run by Rock, and four floors to retail and entertainment, managed by CapitaLand Retail.


The Complex will be served by Buona Vista MRT station, as well as the future Circle Line.


CapitaLand’s retail zone will have two floors above ground and two basement levels. Its open, spiral-stairway design will help show off its multitude of restaurants, food halls, cafes and fashion outlets.


‘The zone is expected to benefit from the natural visitor catchments from the one-north communities, surrounding housing estates, as well as tertiary institutions close by,’ said Pua Seck Guan, chief executive officer of CapitaLand Retail. It will also cater to ‘the affluent crowd’ from the nearby Bukit Timah, Holland Village and Rochester Park areas, he added.


‘The open concept, set in a lush green environment, will create a new destination for art and cultural patrons, professional, academic and residential communities in one-north and people from various parts of Singapore,’ he said.


While the Cultural and Retail Complex will be completed in three years’ time, there’s already plenty of fun to be had at one-north. The area is fast shaping up as one of the most vibrant venues in Singapore for fine dining, cocktail-sipping and art-gallery hopping.


Wide variety


Rochester Park, for instance, has been pulling in the crowds for some years now, thanks in part to its tranquil colonial setting. The cluster of old black-and-white houses converted into food-and-beverage outlets offers a wide variety of dining experiences – from Graze, which offers contemporary dining, to Da Paolo Bistro Bar, with its Italian cuisine, to Min Jiang @ one-north, which serves Chinese fare.


‘We have grown in terms of global awareness,’ said Cheryl Lee, co-owner and director of One Rochester, a wine and bistro outlet that was the first to open in the area in December 2005. ‘We have been listed among the top 30 bars in the world in lists compiled by Forbes magazine.’


One Rochester has cleverly adapted its business to its old British residence, offering its premises as a kind of ‘house’, with different rooms and lounge areas called the Living Room, the Playroom, the Library, and so on. It also leases out its space for a variety of events, including birthday parties, weddings, wine tastings and corporate launches.


Another place aiming to offer a smorgasbord of experiences is Rochester Terrace, which describes itself as a ‘gastronomic village’. It consists of four outlets at one stretch on the elevated side of Rochester Park, each offering a different dining and entertainment concept.


The first outlet, Twelve + One, will house a gourmet bakery, cafe and cooking studio. The second, Cassis, specialises in modern French cuisine; the third, Pinchos, is a wine bar that emphasises food sharing, thus featuring tapas and finger food; and the fourth, Minx, is a Russian caviar and vodka bar.


To date, Cassis and Pinchos are open, Twelve + One will open in the middle of July, and Minx will open in time for the Singapore Grand Prix season.


Mahesh Ramnani, chief executive officer of Rochester Terrace, said the Park is a ‘great location’.


‘The layout and milieu is unique, allowing us to create a graceful and relaxed setting,’ he said. ‘It brings back classic entertainment consisting of camaraderie, indulging in the company of friends.’


Another corner of one-north that’s attracting visitors is Village Square, which is situated in Wessex Estate, another colonial enclave. Unlike the more high-end Rochester Park, the Village Square is more rustic and its various art studios and galleries such as Fringe Benefits, d’Art Studio and Geeleinan give it a bohemian feel.


There is also the legendary Colbar, which started life some 40 years ago as a British officers’ mess and still attracts nostalgic diners with its ramshackle, retro setting.


Across the road from the Colbar is a swish new cocktail bar called Klee, which opened just earlier this year. Klee’s cocktail servers are called ‘mixologists’ who pride themselves on using only premium spirits – Belvedere, Johnny Walker Black Label, Sagatiba – and fresh ingredients (bottled fruit juices are a no-no).


Occupying a happy spot between dining and art is the cosy Ristorante Pietrasanta, which offers hearty Tuscan dishes such as veal tripe and T-bond steak, and also sells the art works on its walls.


‘We have a curator who takes care of it, changing the works of art every two or three months,’ said Loris Massimini, who opened the restaurant with his wife Jennifer Tan.


Mr Massimini said business has been brisk since Pietrasanta swung open its doors in March. ‘We are always fully booked during the weekends,’ he said.


Source: Business Times

China’s Glorious to raise US$1b HK IPO

China‘s Glorious to raise US$1b HK IPO


(HONG KONG) Chinese property developer Glorious Property Holdings Ltd kicked off pre-marketing to raise about US$800 million to US$1 billion in a Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO) yesterday, according to a fund manager briefed by one of the underwriters.


The company plans to issue 2.25 billion shares, or 30 per cent of its enlarged share capital, in which 77 per cent are primary shares and the remaining existing shares, according to a sales note sent to fund managers.


The firm was scheduled to start its IPO pre-marketing from yesterday to June 27, but the formal marketing roadshow and listing timetable have not yet been fixed, according to the note.


‘The final size of the deal should depend on market conditions,’ said a source familiar with the deal. JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank are the sponsors of Glorious’s deal. — Reuters



Source: Business Times