Further expansion at Fusionopolis

Further expansion at Fusionopolis

by Yasmine Yahya


Further expansion has been slated for Fusionopolis, which will add another 50,000 square metres of gross floor area by 2013.


The expansion will constitute Phases 3 and 4 of Fusionopolis, which is envisioned to be a home for IT, media, science and engineering companies.


The expansion was announced by Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang at the groundbreaking of Fusionopolis Phase 2B.


Phase 2B, which will provide about 540,000 square metres of gross floor area, is due to be ready in 2010.


Mr Lim said that with Fusionopolis Phases 1 and 2A attaining full occupancy even before completion, he was confident that Phase 2B will receive strong interest from industry players as well.


“The Fusionopolis cluster will set the stage for the co-location of both public and private sector research labs, which will develop new technologies and inventions for tomorrow. More knowledge workers and companies will be drawn to One-North, as more of the exchanges are developed. One-North is on track to becoming a vibrant community where world class talents, scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs will gravitate, exchange ideas and create economic value.”


While Phase 2B will be comprised mostly of business park space, JTC’s Assistant CEO Phillip Su said Phase 3 will have to include more amenities.


“Last time you could build industrial park space and people would just go there to work. these days, with the researchers and the talent pool, they need more than that. so the general amenities of this area will have to go up a great deal more.”


Mr Su said the tender for Phase 3 will be launched sometime this year, allowing private developers to design, build and own the site.


Phase 2B was the first time that a private developer was allowed to do just that within Fusionopolis.


It’s being constructed by mainboard-listed Soilbuild.


Source: 938Live

Do away with HDB cash upfront payment

Do away with HDB cash upfront payment


I HOPE the HDB will review its policy on 5 per cent cash upfront payment for those taking bank loans.


In the current market, HDB flat sellers ask for cash above valuation, on average at least $20,000 to $30,000. A buyer who takes a bank loan has to fork out another lump sum to meet the HDB’s 5 per cent rule, which for a four- or five-room flat could mean $15,000 to $20,000. Throw in renovation cost of about $15,000 to $20,000 (and this is a low estimate) and we are talking about at least $60,000 in cash outlay.


The HDB says the 5 per cent policy was introduced ‘to encourage prudence’. But how does making people pay 5 per cent in cash ensure they will buy within their means? The measure of affordability should surely take into account CPF balance, regular job and so on.


My wife and I have enough in our combined CPF to pay for the flat in full if need be, yet we have to spend our savings to pay for part of it. If the principle is to ensure prudence, it is contradictory if I have to pay cash from my savings when there is a large sum in my CPF.


If the policy is meant to help curb profiteering, it penalises the majority who move for genuine reasons. People move home for various reasons.


In any case, I am perplexed why there is a difference between buyers taking bank loans and buyers taking HDB loans. Those who take bank loans are already at a disadvantage since HDB loans are below market rates. Why should one be further penalised for not qualifying for an HDB loan?


Yeo Yu Jin


Source: Straits Times

HDB neighbours from hell? This minister knows all about it

HDB neighbours from hell? This minister knows all about it


But there are sweet moments too, as National Development Minister and former HDB lad Mah Bow Tan recounts of his own HDB Experience. He tells LI XUEYING how the Housing Board, which received the United Nations Public Service Award for its home-ownership programme on Monday, remains relevant five decades after its birth


MR MAH Bow Tan knows a thing or two about ‘neighbours from hell’.


‘Those who, you know, just hang up their clothing, drip, drip, drip and all that,’ he says with a grimace followed by a laugh.


The National Development Minister has long upgraded to private property. But he remembers, with much fondness, the years he lived with his aunt’s family in an HDB flat in Toa Payoh Lorong 6 four decades ago.


It was after he finished his OLevels until he left for Australia in 1966 on a President’s Scholarship to study engineering.


After he graduated, he spent another five years there before marrying and getting his own nest, a landed property.


‘So I know HDB, not just on a professional basis but as a person who has lived in it. And I know that it can be a real pain,’ says MrMah.


‘But it also has its pluses.’


He reels them off: ‘Food and carpark downstairs, MRT, bus stops and schools nearby, and the hustle and bustle. Something’s happening all the time,’ he says.


It is The HDB Experience, a term Mr Mah coined some years ago to encapsulate everything – from urine in the lifts to inter-racial friendships.


‘It’s a collective, it’s where people of different backgrounds, different races, different personalities, different ages, they all live together,’ he says with the polished flair of a ringmaster introducing his award-winning circus.


Never mind that it has been 48years since the HDB came into being. The HDB Experience is one that Mr Mah believes is as relevant today – if not more so.


From slums to world-class housing


THE Housing and Development Board was formed in 1960, a time when squatters and slums nestled alongside traditional kampungs.


HDB’s task was urgent: to create homes – cheap, fast and in huge quantities.


And it did. In less than three years, it built 21,000 flats. Today, it has built 880,000 flats.


About 80 per cent of the population live in public housing, with almost all owning their homes.


There was a secondary – though no less important – purpose for the HDB: its nation-building role. It was to encourage home ownership, so that Singaporeans feel they have a stake in the country.


The underlying philosophy, as posited in the book Housing a Nation, is that if one owns an asset in the country, one would defend it. This would contribute to political, economic and social stability.


Today, however, Singaporeans are increasingly mobile, settling in as easily in Shanghai, New York and Tokyo as in Sengkang, Nee Soon and Toa Payoh.


How relevant then remains The HDB Experience, and would the Government have to find new ways of rooting Singaporeans in this land beyond the ownership of the roof over one’s head?


In fact, Mr Mah argues, it is because of globalisation that The HDB Experience is even more important today.


It ranks as ‘one of the most important’ in building a shared identity for Singaporeans.


Yes, they may move freely across borders today. ‘But at the end of the day, when we all decide where we want to be based permanently, we have to make a decision. I believe that finally there’s something that will define a Singaporean and help to make them feel they want to come back – whether it’s family or friends.


‘I think being in a closed community which is well-integrated, which is safe, where people feel that they belong: The HDB Experience – it can make or break that.’


One of the more experienced ministers in the Cabinet – he marks his 60th birthday, 20 years in politics and nine years as National Development Minister this year – Mr Mah is economical with his words and speaks calmly.


But, like any parent protective of his offspring, he bristles at any suggestion that the HDB is less important now compared to its early years. He rebuts vigorously the layman’s observation that its work today seems to be mainly estate renewal and maintenance.


‘That’s all it does?’ he repeats with incredulity. ‘No! What it is dealing with today is the transition to catering to a society with different aspirations, and building different types of flats yet trying to cater to the bulk of the people.


‘I don’t think it’s right to dismiss the HDB as doing only this.’


In fact, its job has become more complicated. He elaborates: ‘For every flat you renew, you’re building two flats or 1-1/2 flats. You’ve to build, move people out and face issues such as compensation, how to maintain the bonding, the sense of community and yet give them a better flat and, at the same time, make sure they are financially better off.’


Looking ahead, Mr Mah had spoken of finding creative ways to keep flats affordable for low-income families but attractive for the better-off.


But should the HDB go back to basics, outsourcing the latter task to the private sector, and returning to its objective prior to 1973: to focus on low-cost housing for the lower-income?


Not a good idea, says Mr Mah. It will mean that half of all Singaporeans will be deprived of The HDB Experience.


‘Your multiracial estates, your ability to forge this common experience, that would be drastically changed…The social bonding part will be different. The safety net will change. The ability to use the flat for retirement income will also change.’


Affordability will also become an issue, he adds.


But ultimately, the proportion of Singaporeans who live in public housing will dip, he says, down to 70 per cent over the next 30 to 40 years as more Singaporeans aspire to private property.


More land is being set aside for private housing. The HDB will also divest some responsibilities such as when projects like executive condominiums are privatised.


This trend comes in tandem with the challenge of housing a growing number of people following Singapore’s revision of its planning parameters to accommodate a population of 6.5 million.


Addressing fears that Singaporeans will be living in rabbit hutches, Mr Mah pledges that ‘we can accommodate this number without adopting Hong Kong planning norms’.


A typical flat in Hong Kong, he estimates, is about 300 sq ft or 30sq m.


‘We are not going that way,’ he promises. ‘Our smallest flat, a two-room flat, is still about 50sqm or 60 sq m, three-room flats 70 sqm or 80 sq m, our four or five-room flats about 100 sq m and above. That’s the kind of norm that we are using.’


It will be accomplished through building upwards – HDB started with six-storey blocks and now has 50-storey blocks, with pockets of greenery amid the concrete.


Still affordable


TODAY, a new three-room flat in Bedok goes for about $200,000; a five-room flat in Clementi $480,000. And near the ends of the spectrum are an $80,000 two-room flat in Sengkang and a $700,000 condo-like flat in Boon Keng.


Does the latter mean that HDB is losing sight of its objective, to provide affordable housing for the masses? It is a question Mr Mah has faced many times.


He reiterates that the HDB prices its flats according to the market rather than to building costs.


‘If we go on cost price, then we have to go cost price all the way,’ he asserts.


This means that unlike today, homeowners will not be able to make a profit by selling their flats on the market. Instead, they will have to sell back to the Government at the price they bought at. Flats ‘will thus not create that store of wealth’ for Singaporeans.


Prices will also fluctuate with construction costs.


The minister stresses that HDB flats remain affordable – relative to what they earn.


Last year, about 70 per cent of flat buyers serviced their mortgage loan through their CPF savings.


This means they used below 23 per cent of their income for loan repayments.


‘If you go to a bank or any country, they will tell you 30 per cent to 40 per cent is the norm.’


With some frustration, Mr Mah says: ‘Of course people will say, why can’t it be cheaper?’


Yet, when it comes time for them to sell their flats, ‘they don’t tell the next person, ‘Eh, I’m going to sell it to you at the price I paid for it’.’


What then, about calls for the HDB to be transparent about the different components in the costing, such as land and materials?


‘What purpose does that serve?’ he counters.


People want to be convinced the Government is not making money off them, you reply.


‘The best way of convincing them is to look at our accounts, how much money we are collecting versus how much money we are paying in terms of construction, ‘ he retorts.


‘Overall, every year, HDB runs a deficit. $700million, $800million, $900million, close to a billion dollars some years.


‘That’s real money.’


Political carrot?


A LESS savoury side of The HDB Experience, critics have noted, is how the People’s Action Party (PAP) has used upgrading as a partisan tool during the past three general elections.


During the last one in 2006, voters in Hougang and Potong Pasir were promised $180million of upgrading projects if they voted in the PAP. They did not.


Subsequently, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said it had to review its strategy in the opposition wards.


What was the conclusion?


Mr Mah, treasurer in the PAP’s central executive committee, says: ‘We have looked at this and we still think that it’s relevant.’


On whether the review had found the efficacy of the strategy limited, he says: ‘I am not sure there is any correlation between the upgrading policies and the election results.


‘Notwithstanding that, if we have to face this decision – and have a certain amount of money – of choosing between a PAP and an opposition ward, I think we would still have to go for the PAP ward first.’


What about using age as the sole criterion in deciding which estate is earlier in the queue?


‘If we did age alone, then we would just be concentrating our upgrading in pockets of areas,’ he says. ‘We want to spread it out.’


This, he concedes, has led to cynicism among Singaporeans about the political process.


‘Yes, there’s bound to be cynicism. People will say yes, you are using this as a carrot.’


But he prefers to look on the bright side, saying: ‘I hope we will continue to put this message across that, first of all, this is the practical reality on the ground, that we have to decide, and secondly, the political message also is your vote has an impact on what is happening around you, beyond electing an MP into parliament.’


Housing still on his mind


HE HAS had stints at the trade and industry, communications and environment ministries. But it is in national development that Mr Mah has made his mark.


What would he like to try his hand at next?


Parlaying the question with a laugh, he says: ‘I’m too busy to be thinking of that at the moment. Many exciting things are going on…reshaping the physical landscape, not just downtown but in other parts of Singapore.


‘Meeting public housing challenges, not just physically but also in terms of policy, in terms of helping to provide for security for our senior citizens. Making sure housing prices are affordable.


‘So I am very busy. I’ve not thought about other things beyond that.’


There is another item on the minister’s plate – encouraging his four children to live in HDB flats, the way he did 40 years ago.


They had enjoyed the experience in their childhood when the family stayed temporarily in one when their house was being renovated.


Says Mr Mah: ‘Now I can afford private housing, I live in private housing. I’ve upgraded.


‘But for them, I’d encourage them, yes, even if you can afford private housing, if you are eligible for HDB, why not?’


Source: Straits Times

For sale: 8 infill sites for housing use

For sale: 8 infill sites for housing use


THE Singapore Land Authority (SLA) said yesterday that it would sell eight infill sites for residential use. The sites will be offered at a public auction on Aug 21 at M Hotel in Anson Road. They will be sold with fresh 99-year leases.


The auction comes after one in November 2007 at which six infill sites were sold for more than $30 million.


‘We were very encouraged by the strong response at the last auction,’ said Simon Ong, assistant chief executive of SLA’s land operations group. ‘It attracted niche or boutique developers with expertise in building unique houses and dream homes.’


The latest sites include some in prime areas such as Holland Road, Carmichael Road and Upper East Coast Road.


As at the previous auction, a Good Class Bungalow site is being offered. Proposed developments for other sites include a two-storey bungalow and a pair of three-storey semi-detached houses.


‘The appeal of such sites is that they can be customised to suit the buyer’s needs,’ said Mr Ong. ‘This is aligned with SLA’s mission to optimise the use of vacant state land.’


The developer’s packet for the sites can be bought from the SLA at $52.50 or found online at http://www.sla.gov.sg. Interested parties can register for the auction outside the Shenton Room of M Hotel, from 2pm on Aug 21. The auction starts at 3pm.


Source: Business Times

6th Design, Build and Sell site up for sale in Toa Payoh

6th Design, Build and Sell site up for sale in Toa Payoh

30% of units built must be equivalent to 4-room or smaller HDB flats


THE Housing and Development Board (HDB) is selling a site on Lorong 1A Toa Payoh by tender under the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) – the sixth since the first such site was awarded in January 2006.


The latest site measures 295,790.9 square feet and has an allowable gross floor area (GFA) of 1.24 million sq ft.


HDB said that the successful tenderer has to build at least 30 per cent of the flats with a floor area of 1,022.6 sq ft or less – equivalent to 4-room or smaller flats.


Knight Frank director (research and consultancy) Nicholas Mak believes that the site could draw bids of $150-200 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr).


While this is lower than the $237 psf ppr that Qingdao Construction Group Corporation paid for a DBSS site in Bishan in February, Mr Mak believes that developers will have to factor in market conditions and higher construction costs.


The developer will also have to be sensitive about pricing, he said.


‘This kind of project will basically be a bread-and-butter project. The developer will need to sell at quite a fast pace.’


DBSS homes are essentially HDB homes and are not part of the Government Land Sales Programme.


So, potential DBSS units are not considered when calculating future private home supply.


‘It is more likely to affect supply and demand of HDB homes,’ Mr Mak added.


Chesterton International head of research and consultancy Colin Tan said that as with normal HDB flats, eligibility based on household income applies, so the supply of more DBSS flats should not have much of an impact on the private property market.


He added, however, that some HDB upgraders could decide to buy DBSS flats rather than upgrade to entry-level private condominiums.


Also, he said: ‘This Toa Payoh site will appeal to existing residents in the neighbourhood. There is already a captive market.’


Consultants agree that the launch price of the development is not likely to be more than that of the recently launched City View @ Boon Keng, a DBSS site awarded in May for $233.74 psf ppr.


The average price for City View is understood to be $520 psf.


However, in April, HDB awarded a nearby site on Lorong 2/3 Toa Payoh for a private condominium project to the highest bid of $460 psf ppr.


Analysts had estimated that based on the breakeven price, the condo could be launched at $950-1,000 psf.


Source: Business Times

Rochor Rd hotel makes way for Downtown Line

Rochor Rd hotel makes way for Downtown Line

Acquisition to accommodate station structures, the authorities say


CONSTRUCTION on the Downtown Line (Stage 1) has begun. And the first casualty will be the New Seventh Storey Hotel in Rochor Road.


A joint statement from the Land Transport Authority, Singapore Land Authority and Urban Redevelopment Authority yesterday said that the government intends to acquire the 38-room hotel to make way for the construction of the new underground station at Bugis.


‘Due to engineering constraints which cannot be avoided, the land currently occupied by the New Seventh Storey Hotel and part of the adjacent state land fronting Rochor Road is required,’ the statement said.


This is necessary to accommodate station structures and will also ‘enable comprehensive redevelopment of the area’.


After the acquisition, the 55-year-old hotel’s site will be amalgamated with an adjacent state site at North Bridge Road/Tan Queen Lan Street/Beach Road/Rochor Road. According to the draft Master Plan 2008, the parcel has a plot ratio of 4.2 and is zoned for both commercial and commercial/residential use.


No compensation figure for the hotel’s operators – understood to be descendents of Wee Thiam Siew, who also owned the Ban Leong Group – has been revealed. The government will peg this to market value, according to the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act.


An SLA spokesman said that an inquiry will be held, with input from the Chief Valuer to determine the market value.


Chesterton International senior executive director Chng Shih Hian said that the market value of the hotel will likely be based on the potential gross floor area of the site. He said that the recent tender price of $1,068.6 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) for the nearby South Beach site in Beach Road could also be a factor in the valuation. But he noted that the Rochor Road site’s attributes – and constraints – are different.


Savills Singapore director Ku Swee Yong believes that the parcel is potentially ‘a very good site’ because of its proximity to the new Beach Road/Ophir-Rochor corridor. Already, office space at nearby Parkview Square is being leased at about $14 psf, he said.


Source: Business Times

Frasers Commercial Trust gets listing nod

Frasers Commercial Trust gets listing nod

SGX has issued an eligibility-to-list for the admission of units in FCOT to the main board



THE way has been paved for Fraser and Neave (F&N) to list Frasers Commercial Trust (FCOT), a real estate investment trust (Reit).



F&N said yesterday that the Singapore Exchange has issued an eligibility-to-list for the admission of units in FCOT to the main board.


FCOT will be established in Singapore and sponsored by Frasers Centrepoint, a wholly owned subsidiary of F&N. It will be managed by Frasers Centrepoint Asset Management (Commercial), a wholly owned subsidiary of the sponsor.


F&N said that, subject to market conditions, Frasers Centrepoint Asset Management intends to make an offering of units which will likely consist of, inter alia, an international placement to both institutional and other investors in Singapore as well as to the public.


In the event of an offering, the Reit intends to acquire a 99-year leasehold interest in three commercial properties – Alexandra Point, Alexandra Technopark as well as the office and retail component of Valley Point.


More details will be ‘set out in the preliminary prospectus of FCOT which will be lodged with the MAS in due course, subject to market conditions,’ the statement said.


In the long term, FCOT will also own and invest in commercial real estate in the Asia-Pacific region, including office and business space.


F&N, whose activities cover food and beverage, property and publishing, reported net profits of $96.6 million for the second quarter ended March 31, 2008, down 9.8 per cent from $107.1 million in the corresponding quarter the year before. Revenue came in at $1.14 billion, up 4.7 per cent from 2Q07.


However, for 1H08, net earnings rose 11.7 per cent to $205.2 million, up from $183.7 million in the corresponding period last year. This came on the back of a 12 per cent increase in revenue for 1H08, to $2.46 billion from $2.20 billion in the year-ago period. Earnings per share for H1 2008 was 14.8 cents, up from 14.6 cents.


Source: Business Times

Ho Bee’s robust sales prompt more launches

Ho Bee’s robust sales prompt more launches


SOME developers are riding on the pick-up in home-buying mood created by Ho Bee’s Dakota Residences preview last week to launch their own projects.


Mainboard-listed Sim Lian Group, for one, has sold about 100 units of its Clover By The Park condo at Bishan St 22 since it began previewing the development on Wednesday at an average price of $750 psf.


Next to Kovan MRT Station, an outfit controlled by UOB-Kay Hian star stockbroker pair Han Seng Juan and David Loh Kim Kang is getting ready to release its 512-unit condo, according to industry sources.


BT understands that Centurion Kovan, which is developing the project, plans to preview the condo soon to ‘remisier friends’ of Messrs Han and Loh. There are also plans to preview the condo overseas, including China. The average price is expected to be in the $850-900 psf range.


The duo bought the 189,812 sq ft site at a state tender in October last year for around $436 psf per plot ratio.


Over in Bishan, Sim Lian is developing two 39-storey blocks with a total of 616 units for the Clover By The Park condo. The first phase released earlier this week comprises one tower with 308 units. It is near good schools like Catholic High (within 1 km), Ai Tong Primary School and Raffles Institution. ‘Clover By The Park features three-bedroom and four-bedroom units to luxurious penthouses and suites of six bedrooms,’ Sim Lian said in a release yesterday.


Ho Bee has sold 95 units at Dakota Residences since last Friday. The average price is $976 psf. All three projects are 99-year leasehold.


Source: Business Times

Flight to quality may cool office rents in places

Flight to quality may cool office rents in places

Spiralling rentals almost ground to a halt in Q2 with more cautious economic climate



(SINGAPORE) For office tenants in Singapore wearied by steep rental hikes in the past couple of years, some relief is at hand.



The sharp escalation in office rents screeched almost to a halt in the second quarter of this year as a more cautious economic outlook became widespread. Average prime and Grade A office rents edged up just 0.8 and 0.6 per cent respectively in Q2 over the preceding three months, according to latest figures from CB Richard Ellis (CBRE).


‘We may see on an average basis, marginal advancement in rentals in second-half 2008 beyond current levels. 2009 will probably be flat, and for 2010 and 2011, we may see office rents easing’ as new supply is completed, says CBRE executive director (office services) Moray Armstrong.


Last year, prime and Grade A office rents nearly doubled and that came on top of the 50-plus per cent gains they posted in 2006, on the back of tight office space and strong demand from occupiers including global financial institutions expanding their operations in Singapore.


Alarmed that spikes in office rents in the past two years may threaten Singapore’s business competitiveness, the government has been boosting supply.


While new office developments being built are not expected to face difficulty pulling in tenants, vacancies created in older properties from a departure of tenants in a ‘flight to quality’ will create downward pressure on rents, market watchers say. A lot will also depend on how demand pans out.


CBRE noted yesterday that ‘it was evident that the volume of leasing transactions driven by expansion was lower in the past two quarters’. The pace of leasing pre-commitments in new prime office developments has slowed but negotiations are still progressing, the property consultancy said.


‘A couple of large occupiers have identified excess space which can be made available for subletting, but at this stage, this has not become a notable trend,’ it added.


Mr Armstrong says that the significant number of new developments being built in the central business district (CBD) is likely to lead to a more competitive environment for pre-letting. ‘Existing landlords can be expected to adopt more defensive positions, with tenant retention being given greater priority as the completion of new supply is now more imminent.


‘Increasing competition from higher-quality new buildings should serve to cap rental appreciation from today’s levels,’ he adds.


CBRE’s figures show that about 10.2 million square feet of new office space will be completed between 2008 and 2012, the bulk of which (6.7 million sq ft) is targeted to be ready in 2010-2011.


Key projects slated for completion in 2010 include Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC) Phase 1 and 50 Collyer Quay. The following year will see the completion of MBFC Phase 2, Ocean Financial Centre, OUB Centre Phase 2, Marina View (North Tower) – all in the financial district – and Mapletree Business City in the Alexandra Road area.


To redress the office shortage, the government has not only been selling more sites for development into Grade A projects in the CBD but is also seeking to resolve the short-term supply shortage by releasing 15-year leasehold ‘transitional’ office sites outside the financial district that can be developed into low-rise projects within a year.


These will cater to tenants that don’t need premium office space. As well, vacant state properties are being leased to the private sector for conversion into offices.


Putting the supply numbers in perspective, CBRE says: ‘At face value, potential confirmed supply seems abundant, but it should be viewed in context with strong take-up. Some 22 per cent of known supply from Q3 2008 to 2012 is pre-committed, with around 9 per cent under offer.’


Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) managing director (South-east Asia) Chris Fossick says: ‘We expect very strong interest in the new office developments completing over the next few years from tenants wishing to relocate and expand into new high-quality office stock and to meet their corporate social responsibility goal of occupying ‘Green Mark’ buildings.’


JLL expects prime and Grade A office rents to increase 18 per cent for full-year 2008 but to grow more moderately next year. ‘We expect strong take-up of office space over the coming three years due to pent-up demand that has accumulated because of the tight supply over the past couple of years,’ Mr Fossick adds.


Office landlord Hongkong Land director (commercial property, South Asia) Robert Garman says that occupier demand for offices on the island has been holding up well against the backdrop of an uncertain global economic environment. ‘Commitment levels for MBFC have exceeded our expectations and we feel confident moving forward,’ he adds.


CBRE data shows the average monthly prime office rental in Singapore as at Q2 this year was $16.10 psf, just 10 cents higher than the Q1 figure and reflecting a 7.3 per cent increase in the first half of this year (against the end-2007 level). For the whole of last year, the increase was 92.3 per cent.


CBRE’s data also showed that the average Grade A office rental stood at $18.80 psf a month in Q2 this year, up 15 cents from the preceding quarter and a 9.6 per cent appreciation for the first half. This is more moderate than the 96.4 per cent hike seen for the whole of 2007.


‘Grade A vacancy also remained very tight at 0.6 per cent. No new development will be completed before H2 2009,’ CBRE notes.


Source: Business Times

SLA to auction off eight vacant plots for homes

SLA to auction off eight vacant plots for homes


THE Government has put a further eight small plots of vacant land on sale, some in prime districts like Ridout Road, near Peirce Road.

These infill sites have been popular with buyers who want to build their homes from scratch – but the catch is that the sites are on 99-year leases, and some of them are oddly shaped.


They are either in landed estates that have been left untouched by nearby developments, or are plots once used for public purposes, housing possibly parks, sub-stations or even septic tanks.


The plot in Ridout Road would be ideal for a good-class bungalow. These large bungalows have a minimum land area of 15,070 sq ft.


Another site is in Upper East Coast Road, near Woo Mon Chew Road in the Siglap area.


The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) will auction the eight sites at M Hotel on Aug 21.


Mr Simon Ong, the SLA’s assistant chief executive of the land operations group, said: ‘The appeal of such sites is that they can be customised to suit the buyers’ needs.’


Mr Teo Jing Kok, the SLA’s deputy director of land sales, said that normally, a family that wants to design and build a home would have to buy a piece of land along with the existing building, which they have to demolish before they can redevelop the site.


‘Often, after paying so much for the building, most landowners are tempted to keep the existing building or parts of it and retrofit their dream design into the existing form.’


But with a vacant infill site, they would be able to freely customise the design of the entire home, said Mr Teo.


He added that some bidders of previous infill sites were experienced investors who said the sites made good investment properties as the land cost was lower.


‘Since the upfront investment is lower, the yield of the investment is higher for such 99-year properties,’ said Mr Teo.


An auction for six infill sites late last year attracted fairly brisk bidding and ended with sale prices ranging from $1.3 million to $12.1 million.


Source: Straits Times