Kovan Residences preview sells 50

Kovan Residences preview sells 50

Average price is $870-900 psf; buyers mostly Singaporeans


MORE than 50 units have been sold at Kovan Residences since a private preview party last Saturday.


The average price at the 99-year leasehold condominium next to Kovan MRT Station is between $870 per square foot (psf) and $900 psf. And the units sold so far include three penthouses that fetched about $2 million to $3 million each.


Buyers up to now are mainly Singaporeans, most of whom have private home addresses, although a few HDB upgraders have also bought.


‘We have attracted buyers who are purchasing for their own occupation as well as for investment because of the convenient location next to an MRT station,’ said Centurion Properties CEO Tony Bin, whose company is the majority shareholder of the project’s developer Centurion Kovan. Lian Beng is another shareholder, with a 19 per cent stake.


Centurion Properties is ultimately controlled by UOB-Kay Hian stockbrokers Han Seng Juan and David Loh Kim Kang.


Last Saturday, they invited 150 business associates, friends and relatives to a private preview at the showflat, which eventually resulted in the 50-plus units being sold. Kovan Residences is also being marketed to Messrs Han and Loh’s business associates in China and Hong Kong.


The lowest-priced unit in the development is a two-bedroom apartment for just over $700,000. The most expensive is a penthouse below $4 million. Three-bedroom apartments start from $1 million.


Kovan Residences will have 512 apartments in eight blocks, all 18 storeys high. The 16 penthouses in the development range from around 2,400-4,600 square feet and come with a private pool or a Jacuzzi. The project is being developed on a 190,000 sq ft site bought in a state tender in October last year for $436 psf per plot ratio.


Another new project being offered this weekend is Livia at Pasir Ris Drive 1. The average price is said to be $650 psf.


Source: Straits Times

Six bids logged for green building project

Six bids logged for green building project

But contractors sound caution with requests for longer warranty period


SINGAPORE’S first zero energy building (ZEB) project has attracted six bids for the main tender and interviews with four ‘serious’ bidders will start next week, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said yesterday.


The tender to convert the BCA Academy into a net zero energy building has drawn bids ranging from $10.4 million to $11.8 million.


The six companies that tendered are: ACP Construction, Dokota, Logistics Construction, Lexon Furniture & Construction, Shanghai Chong Kee Furniture & Construction and Stallion Development. All six are mid-size unlisted companies. ‘We have six that came in. There are four serious ones that we are going to proceed with tender interviews next week,’ Ang Kian Seng, deputy director of technology and innovation development at BCA, said on the sidelines of a ZEB seminar.


Of the four short-listed firms, three are Singaporean while one is a Chinese company, he said.


BCA closed the construction tender on June 6. It has already awarded the building’s solar energy tender to Singapore firm Grenzone for $1.7 million.


In a sign of caution, some suppliers and contractors for renewable energy projects are ‘over-specifying’ with requests for warranties as long as 20 years, said Lee Siew Eang, who heads the research centre set up by BCA and the National University of Singapore. This is double the usual warranty period for specialised building projects and could raise costs as much as 40 per cent, said Eugene Seah, executive director of Davis Langdon & Seah.


‘There is a benchmark in the industry and the maximum is usually 10 years,’ he said.


Companies are seeking 20-year guarantees because while solar panels tend to last for that long in temperate regions, they could be damaged faster by Singapore’s tropical weather.


‘When (the panels) are exposed to the afternoon sun, it can be over 50 degrees. With rain and thunderstorms, you can go down to 28 degrees, so there is expansion and contraction. That element of uncertainty is still there,’ said Prof Lee.


Singapore lags regional neighbours such as Malaysia, Japan and Thailand, which are also constructing ZEBs.


The ZEB project was launched in November last year. By 2009, the BCA Academy will be fitted with solar panels to generate electricity that is transferred into a normal power grid.


The amount of energy produced will match the amount of power consumed in the building.


ZEB, which will cost about 10 per cent more than a conventional building, will become a test centre for other green building technology, such as energy- efficient lamps and fan-ventilation systems.


The target is to run the building on 70 per cent less energy than a conventional building. ZEB is expected to run on 86 kilowatts per hour (kwh) per sq metre, compared with 230 kwh per sq metre for standard buildings.


Source: Straits Times

Britain falling into US-style slowdown

Britain falling into US-style slowdown


PARIS – A HOUSING market in shambles, inflation at the highest level in years and signs that the economy is headed for, or already in, a recession. Sounds familiar? No, it’s not the United States but Britain.

Indeed, it was the run in September last year on a British mortgage lender, Northern Rock, that helped to embed the terms ‘credit crisis’ firmly into the global consciousness.


‘A recession will more likely than not arrive by the end of the year,’ Mr Peter Newland, who covers the British economy for Lehman Brothers in London, said on Thursday, summarising a string of dismal economic data that had led economists to revise their growth forecasts downwards.


The FTSE 100, the benchmark London stock index, has fallen 19 per cent from a high of 6,732.4 that it hit in June last year – just short of the 20 per cent decline commonly said to define a bear market.


Consumer confidence is at the lowest since 1990, as oil prices drive towards US$150 a barrel and unemployment has risen for the past four months.


Like in the US, the main force dragging down the British economy is the collapse of the once red-hot housing market, which enriched many Britons as long as credit flowed nearly as cheaply as in the US.


According to the Nationwide Building Society, a leading British mortgage lender, housing prices have fallen for eight straight months.


Last month, they fell 6.3 per cent from a year earlier, the biggest drop since 1992, taking the price of a ‘typical’ British home down to £172,415 (S$466,141), a decline of more than £13,500 from the top of the market.


The British central bank said on Monday that mortgage approvals in May were at the weakest level on record – only 42,000 for all of Britain, down from 58,000 in April.


As the housing market sputters, consumers have retrenched. Shares in Marks & Spencer, the iconic British retailer regarded as a bellwether of the domestic economy, plunged more than 25 per cent in two days, after it reported a sharp decline in sales.


Unions are agitating for higher wages, even as inflation rose at a 3.3 per cent annual rate in May, above the 3 per cent upper limit of the Bank of England’s comfort zone.


And despite the growing distress of British workers and businesses, economists hold out little hope of monetary policy relief. Economists surveyed this week by Reuters were unanimous in predicting that Bank of England governor Mervyn King and his colleagues on the Monetary Policy Committee would hold rates unchanged at their meeting on Thursday.


Economists said the economy was lagging slightly behind the US business cycle.





Source: Straits Times

Homebuyers, get ready for more property launches

Homebuyers, get ready for more property launches 

Developers will release projects to capitalise on recent healthy home sales


A STRING of new private residential projects is hitting the market as developers move quickly to capitalise on encouraging recent home sales.

In the Kovan area alone, two new projects – Kovan Residences and D’Pavilion – are holding previews this weekend.


The 99-year leasehold Kovan Residences, which has 521 apartments ranging in size from 883 sq ft to about 1,700 sq ft, is next to Kovan MRT station. Prices range from just below $800 per sq ft (psf) to more than $900 psf.


More than 50 units have already been sold, said Mr Tony Bin, the chief executive of Centurion Properties, known until recently as Duchess Development.


Centurion is largely owned by well-known UOB-Kay Hian stockbroker pair Han Seng Juan and David Loh. The rest is held by private investors and Lian Beng Group.


Not far from Kovan Residences is another new project, D’Pavilion, priced at an average of $895 psf for the preview. This freehold 50-unit project in Upper Serangoon Road is within walking distance of Kovan MRT station. It has two- to four-bedroom apartments and six penthouses.


Over in Pasir Ris, the preview for 724-unit Livia has already started. It is priced at $650 psf on average, or from $597,000 to $636,000 for the two-bedroom units and $793,000 to $835,000 for the three-bedroom units. Some have been sold, sources said.


These launches come in the wake of healthy sales at the 348-unit Dakota Residences in Dakota Road. The developers, Ho Bee and ChoiceHomes, have sold about 150 units of the 99-year leasehold property for between $940,000 and about $3.38 million since they went on sale a fortnight ago.


The Sim Lian Group has also sold more than 200 units of the 308 launched units of Clover by the Park since its preview late last month. Transacted prices ranged from $582 psf to $877 psf. It has just launched for sale the remaining units at the 616-unit 99-year leasehold project in Bishan.


United Engineers is also ready to launch its condo-like Housing Board project in Ang Mo Kio Street 52, but it has yet to commit to a date.


Called Park Central, the project will have more than 550 units and comes under the HDB’s Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS).


A market watcher said the firm will have to launch it below the prices of the previous DBSS project in Boon Keng.


‘They will have to learn from the Boon Keng project, which still has leftover units. When it was launched, many people came but not all later bought,’ he said.


The 714-unit City View@Boon Keng, which was launched in January, had 474 five-room flats priced from $536,000 to $727,000, a range that some considered too high.


Launches will not be confined to mass- and mid-tier properties for long.


Next Tuesday, Hayden Properties will launch The Hamilton Scotts, its luxurious Scotts Road project with 54 apartments and two penthouses, which all come with private car porches.


Still, this new project and a few others such as the freehold 100-unit Newton Road project L’VIV, were already expected.

On the market


Kovan Residences

Units: 521 apartments

Prices: From below $800 psf to more than $900 psf




Units: 724

Prices: $650 psf on average



Clover by the Park

Units: 616 units, of which 308 were launched earlier

Prices: Transacted prices for launched units ranged from $582 psf to $877 psf




Source: Straits Times

Soaring rents pushing PRs to buy flats

Soaring rents pushing PRs to buy flats 

They account for 20% of resale-flat purchases, say agents


PERMANENT residents (PRs) are flocking to buy Housing Board resale flats as high rents start to make ownership a more attractive option.

Sales to PRs have rocketed in the past two years, say property agents, and the keen army of buyers is helping to keep prices buoyant in an otherwise-flat market.


Property agencies PropNex and ERA Realty told The Straits Times that in recent months, about 20 per cent of total HDB home sales were driven by PRs.


This is a four-fold increase from two years ago, when PRs bought just 5 per cent of the homes sold, said ERA’s assistant vice-president Eugene Lim.


Last year, PRs accounted for about 10 per cent of sales, said PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail.The sales figures are even more striking for smaller flats like three- or four-roomers, with PR buyers snapping up 45 to 50 per cent of the stock, added Mr Lim.


HSR Property Group reports similar figures. PRs bought about 18 per cent of HDB homes recently, said executive director Eric Cheng.


The three agencies command about 80 per cent of the HDB resale market.


Last year, 29,436 resale flats changed hands. If the volume holds for this year, it will mean about 6,000 flats could be snapped up by PRs.


With HDB rents rising so fast, buying now ‘makes more economic sense’ than renting, say analysts.


Rents for a four-room flat in an established estate ranged from $1,000 to $1,200 two years ago. Today, they are $1,800 to $2,000, said Mr Ismail.


The penny has dropped for Mr N.E. Shanmugam, who had been renting here for eight years.


He pays $1,200 for a three-room flat in Tampines and was initially looking for a bigger unit to move when his lease expired next month. But with rents shooting up, he faced a monthly outlay of $1,800 for a five-roomer.


‘It didn’t make sense. I’m better off buying my own home,’ said the 56-year-old project manager, who is married with a one-year-old son.


Mr Shanmugam has just bought a five-room flat in Sengkang valued at $380,000. His mortgage will be $1,500 – well under what his rent would have been.


Singapore‘s burgeoning PR population – and their purchasing power – has been singled out as one of the factors driving HDB resale prices.


While private home prices inched only 0.4 per cent this quarter, HDB flat prices climbed 4.4 per cent, following a 3.7 per cent rise in the previous quarter.


Singapore‘s PR population rose from 287,500 in 2000 to 386,800 in 2005, according to the Department of Statistics.


Property agencies say about 70 per cent of the PR buyers are from China and India with the rest from countries such as Malaysia and the Philippines.


Source: Straits Times