ST: A view to thrill

A view to thrill 

Buyers are willing to pay premiums of up to 10% for properties that come with good views 

By Jessica Cheam 


Hong Fok Corp’s upcoming condo will offer views of Kallang River and the new Sports Hub. 


WHAT do home buyers look for in their dream home?


No doubt, it is a combination of an affordable price, the perfect location and other sought-after attributes.


But if there is one factor that often makes or breaks a sale, it is the view.


Property agents agree that all things being equal, a great vista helps to seal the deal for many home buyers.


In fact, in the current softer property market, a captivating outlook might give a home that vital edge to ensure it sells, they add.


Buyers are willing to fork out a premium of anything up to 10 per cent for a home with a great view. For well-heeled home seekers, price is no issue if the outlook is stunning, they say.


As a rule of thumb, analysts say flat prices increase up to 1.5 per cent for each floor in high-rise properties – so a 15th- floor unit might be 15 per cent more expensive than a comparable fifth-storey unit.


Securing that room with a view is particularly relevant for a built-up city such as Singapore.


Recent developments such as The Sail @ Marina Bay – which has two towers, one of which is 70 storeys high – have increasingly catered to Singaporeans’ growing appetite for high-rise apartments with stunning views.


Depending on what type of view you get on the higher floors, another premium of 3 per cent can be added, said Mr Colin Tan, head of research and consultancy at Chesterton International.


To pin down exactly how much a view is worth, a ‘hedonic regression model’ can be used, said Mr Nicholas Mak, Knight Frank’s director of research and consultancy. This method breaks down individual aspects of a home and estimates the value of each characteristic.


‘This is mostly used by academics who want precise values. Developers tend to decide on the value of a view based on experience, or from valuers,’ said Mr Mak. With the model, value is calculated based on past transactions, he added.


A view can change a property’s worth as much as 10 per cent, said Mr Mak. What is difficult, though, is guessing a buyer’s preference.


‘One man’s meat may be another man’s poison. It’s hard to isolate the price difference between, say, a city view and a greenery one,’ he said.


A buyer’s willingness to cough up money for a view depends on individual tastes.


Home buyer Victoria Ho, 25, prefers a city view over a green one any day. ‘I’ll pay up to 10 per cent more for a view, but not much more, because the location matters more than, say, if I were facing barren land or another block.’


But for 26-year-old Hoe Qing An, who is hunting for his dream home, greenery is of the utmost importance.


‘We already live in an urban jungle; a home needs to have that green element and I won’t mind paying for it,’ he said.


So where are the spectacular views in Singapore and how affordable are they?


Property agents told The Straits Times buyers generally look for views such as an ocean outlook, the Central Business District skyline and expansive natural vistas.


The obvious favourites are those from properties on the East Coast, and city homes that provide a bird’s-eye view of prime districts 9, 10 or 11.


For buyers who cannot get a high-floor unit, condos such as The Pier at Robertson allow all owners a view at least part of the time.


They can gaze at the Singapore River against the city skyline while at the gym or during a swim.


Property developer Hong Fok Corp has an upcoming residential project in Beach Road – still unnamed – that offers a stunning view of both the sea and the city.


The two towers, of 40 and 28 storeys and with 360 units, will offer panoramic views of Marina Bay, the sea, the city skyline or the Kallang River, depending on the direction the unit faces.


Prices have not been revealed, but in the vicinity, Southbank in North Bridge Road and Citylights at Lavender have been sold at about $1,000 to $1,200 psf recently.


Then there are homes that offer alternative views such as those near the island’s nature reserves – which can be easier on the pocket.


Orange Tee property agent Vincent Loke, 36, for example, is selling a 13th-floor unit at Parc Oasis in Jurong which offers an expansive view of Jurong Lake. The 1,507 sq ft apartment is selling for about $930,000 – up to $80,000 more than a similar unit with no view.


In densely populated Singapore, greenery is highly sought after by home owners, said agents. Take, for example, the calming landscapes of Bukit Batok’s Little Guilin, from Guilin View.


Property agent Simon Tan, 46, said a 29th-floor unit with a lake view sells for about $850,000. Units in the same block without the view cost about $780,000.


Some HDB flats in Marsiling enjoy an unblocked view of Johor Baru across the strait.


Malaysia can even be glimpsed from as far inland as former HUDC estate Braddell View. Its owners also enjoy panoramic views of MacRitchie Reservoir.


Mr Alan Lim, who owns a unit on a high floor, said he can even spot fireworks set off across the Causeway sometimes. Latest data shows homes at the estate selling for about $500 to $600 psf, or slightly under $1 million.


More affordable sights can also be found in the heartlands.


At Sengkang’s Rivervale Drive, for example, high floor unit owners can look onto the meandering Sungei Serangoon for soothing greenery.


Mr Steven Koh, 48, who is one such owner, bought his five-


room flat for $310,000 in 2000. He reckons it is now worth more than $400,000 and that his view adds at least a few tens of thousands to the value of his flat.


‘But I’m not looking to sell. I consider myself lucky to have such a beautiful view to gaze on every day. You can’t put a value on that feeling,’ he said.


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

Residents raise concerns as HDB seals off corridor air vents in old blocks

Residents raise concerns as HDB seals off corridor air vents in old blocks


SINGAPORE: A fire safety measure by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) has raised a ruckus among some residents of a block of flats in Toa Payoh Lorong 5. They claim that the sealing of ventilation shafts facing common corridors has become a potential health hazard instead.


In Madam Maimon’s one-room flat, the electric fan is perpetually switched on since the HDB sealed off the air vents last month.


She said: “Before the vents were sealed, it was not hot. There’s still a breeze blowing in. And it was bright, so we did not have to switch on the lights in the flat.”


Such air vents are a familiar feature of some old housing blocks in Singapore.


The move has raised concern among volunteers at the nearby Thye Hua Kwan Seniors’ Activity Centre, which sent an appeal letter to the HDB, without success.


Social workers said these vents were a useful means of checking in on residents, especially those who keep their doors closed all the time. Foul smells could also be detected through these openings and there had been occasions in the past where dead bodies were discovered this way.


But not all residents mind. Some make do by taking more showers.


Meanwhile, HDB said the move was prompted by a blast in a Bukit Merah flat on 3 August 2007, which killed an elderly man and injured four others.


Investigations showed that the fire and smoke had spread to other units through the corridor vents. Thus, HDB is keen to prevent a similar tragedy.


Lawrence Pak, Deputy Director, Building Technology Department, HDB, said: “We understand that some residents are used to an open vent and have to make certain adjustments to their daily routine. However, the safety of our residents is of paramount importance. HDB takes a non-compromising view towards the public and towards its residents.


“So in this case, because of the past incident, we sealed up the vents to ensure that smoke would not go into the neighbour’s unit if there is a fire within the particular unit itself.”


HDB said it has completed works on eight blocks since late 2007 and will start work on another 15 soon. – CNA/vm


Source: Channel NewsAsia

PRs help drive flat resale prices

PRs help drive flat resale prices


HDB upgraders’ demandfor condos outside central region could also rise


AS SOARING rental rates add to their cost burden, more Permanent Residents (PRs) are snapping up Housing and Development Board (HDB) resale flats.


“Two years ago, you would pay less than $1,000 a month in rent for a four-room flat but now, you would be paying almost $2,000,” said PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail.


“If you are going to be here in the long run, it doesn’t make sense to rent when you can use the same money to buy a flat. One of my colleagues sells just three-room flats, and seven out of 10 units she sells are to PRs.”


The strong immigrant market is just one factor behind the strong 4.4 per cent growth in HDB resale prices between April and last month, even as the private property market is cooling. PRs cannot buy flats direct from the HDB unless they are married to a Singapore citizen.


ERA Singapore, which corners 40 per cent of the HDB resale market, has seen a four-fold increase in their PR clientele — from just 5 per cent in 2004, to some 20 per cent now.


Also fuelling the “pent-up demand” :— as Chesterton International’s consultancy and research head Colin Tan put it :— are HDB upgraders who cannot afford private housing and downgraders from the private housing segment.


With private homes still priced out of reach of the mass market for now, analysts believe the HDB resale market will remain bustling for some time.


This upbeat outlook echoed what National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan had said last month of this sector: “It’s a real demand, a real market for people to buy a flat to live in, unlike the privatemarket where some people buy to live, some to invest, some for speculation.”


“So long as there are new families being formed and new immigrants coming in, the HDB market will remain a very active one.”




Private homes withinreach of HDB upgraders?


While this is good news for the flat values of home-owners, young couples and new families have been concerned about a limited supply of new HDB flats to choose from, and about affording the Cash-Over-Valuation of resale flats.


With the housing board announcing a steady stream of upcoming projects this year, these first-timers’ needs areaddressed.


But those who cannot wait to have a roof over their heads :— given that new flats will go up on a built-to-order basis, and the reduction of balloting exercises for excess flats to just two a year :— and those who cannot buy direct from the HDB continue to fuel resale demand.


Looking ahead, with HDB resale prices continuing strong as private home prices taper off, would more HDB upgraders be able to move to private property?


Recent launches of condominiums outside the central region such as Dakota Residences have gone for less than $1,000 per sq ft on average. Clover By The Park at Bishan is going at an average price of $750 psf.


Compared to the average $550 psf for executive condominiums now, the price may just be right for some to go private.


“We could see anything from $600 to $1,000 psf in upcoming launches for condominiums outside the central region,” said Cushman and Wakefield Singapore managing director Donald Han. “Developers will be targeting the HDB upgraders.”


Source: Today Newspaper

HDB approach reflects true subsidy

HDB approach reflects true subsidy


WE refer to Mr See Leong Kit’s comments on the pricing of HDB flats in his letter ‘HDB contributing to price spiral’, (BT, June 20).


HDB adopts a market-based pricing approach so as to reflect the true subsidy that buyers are enjoying. Under this approach, HDB determines the market value of the flat, based on its location, the finishes and other attributes. Then, it sells the flat at a discount to the market value.


HDB buyers understand this, and appreciate that new HDB flats are priced lower than resale flats. Similarly, when they want to sell their flats in the open market, they are allowed to do so at the prevailing market value, not at their cost of purchase of the flat.


We also wish to highlight that under this approach, the current sharp escalation in construction costs does not directly affect the selling price of HDB flats.


Currently, a new 4-room flat can cost close to $300,000 to develop, taking into account land, building and other costs. This is significantly higher than the subsidised price of a 4-room flat sold by HDB at about $200,000-$260,000.


Kee Lay Cheng (Ms),

Deputy Director,

Marketing & Projects for Director,

Estate Administration & Property,

Housing & Development Board


Source: Business Times

Prices of HDB resale flats still climbing

Prices of HDB resale flats still climbing 

4.4% jump in second quarter, given strong demand, tight supply and higher valuations


THERE is a buzz in the property market and it is in the heartland.

HDB homes are continuing their bull run – even as private home prices stagnate – with prices rising 4.4 per cent in the second quarter.


This is according to flash estimates released by the Housing Board yesterday.


The latest jump is higher than the 3.7 per cent first-quarter rise in HDB flat prices.


Housing experts point to an underlying healthy level of demand for resale flats, tight supply and higher valuations as key reasons for the rise.


The onward march of HDB flat prices comes after prices rose 17.4 per cent last year.


In contrast, private home prices inched up only 0.4 per cent this quarter, compared to 3.7 per cent in the previous quarter, flash figures from the Urban Redevelopment Authority showed.


Last year, private home prices soared 31 per cent.


One reason public flats are outperforming private homes now is that HDB price rises are still lagging behind those of private homes which shot up in the housing boom, say market watchers.


Knight Frank director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said HDB prices still have room to rise as they were slow to take off at the start of the recent property boom.


Higher valuations of resale flats are also likely to have contributed to the price rises, said PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail.


He expects public-housing prices to continue their rise, by another 5 per cent, for the rest of this year. That would mean a full-year jump of about 13 per cent.


Both men agreed that the tight supply of HDB flats is another factor keeping the market buoyant, with demand from upgraders, downgraders and permanent residents.


‘With Singapore’s economic fundamentals still intact, the buzz in the HDB resale market is expected to continue in 2008,’ said ERA Realty’s assistant vice-president Eugene Lim.


‘A buoyant HDB resale market is good news for developers of mass-market condominium projects as HDB upgraders are their primary target market,’ he added.


However, with the stream of new flats coming into the market, some demand will move away from the resale market to new flats, he said.


During the first half of this year, HDB launched 4,524 new flats.


Subject to demand, HDB said in a statement that it plans to offer about 3,900 new flats under the Build-to-Order system over the next six months, in towns such as Punggol, Sengkang and Bukit Panjang.


The full data for the second quarter will be released at the end of the month.


Source: Straits Times

Flash estimate of HDB resale flats prices up 4.4% in Q2

Flash estimate of HDB resale flats prices up 4.4% in Q2


SINGAPORE: The flash estimate for prices of HDB resale flats rose 4.4 per cent in the three months to June, over the previous quarter.


This is slightly higher than the 3.7 per cent increase in the first quarter.


In the first half of the year, HDB has launched a total of 4,524 new flats.


Subject to demand, HDB plans to offer about 3,900 new flats under the Build-To-Order system over the next 6 months in various towns.


The total planned BTO supply of 8,400 new flats this year will surpass the BTO supply in 2007.


This will be in addition to flats offered under the Balloting Exercise for surplus replacement SERS flats, and the other exercises for sale of balance flats from previous offers.


Source: Channel NewsAsia

2 BTO projects draw only 111 on 1st day

2 BTO projects draw only 111 on 1st day

Response affected by changes in HDB’s application process


THE Housing and Development Board launched two new BTO projects yesterday with a potential 1,587 flats. But at the end of the first day, only 111 applications were received – a big drop from previous launches this year.


The latest launch comprises mainly four-room flats in two projects – Punggol Breeze at Punggol and Fernvale Residence at Sengkang.


The response to BTOs has been affected since HDB changed the application process in May so first-time buyers who reject two offers lose their priority for a year.


But there were still 400 applications on the first day for 1,485 BTO flats at Compassvale Pearl and Punggol Sapphire that month.


Earlier, the 494-unit Punggol Spring BTO attracted 278 applications on the first day of the launch in February.


While the low number of applications this time around may suggest that buyers have become more cautious in light of the weakening global economy, property consultants believe it is more a reflection of the location of the projects.


Recent BTOs have been in the Punggol and Senkang area, says PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail. ‘What people really want are different locations.’


ERA Realty Network assistant vice-president Eugene Lim added: ‘It is too soon to launch another BTO in the same area.’


Still, Mr Ismail believes the launches are ‘timely’ because many young couples cannot afford resale flats. ‘Resale flats are traditionally more costly, especially with the island-wide median cash over valuation standing at $20,000,’ he said. ‘Renovations and furnishings usually add to these costs too.’


As such, Mr Ismail expects Punggol Breeze and Fernvale Residence to be at least two-times subscribed – even with HDB’s new policies in place.


Four-room flats will cost $223,000-$278,000 at Punggol Breeze and $207,000-$275,000 at Fernvale Residence.


Mr Lim reckons that with the new supply expected in Sengkang and Punggol, price increase for resale flats there could be limited.


Prices for Fernvale Residence and Punggol Breeze flats are about 20-30 per cent lower than resale flat prices, he said. ‘This is good value as these are premium flats that come with all the flooring and fittings completed, and buyers have but to do minimal fitting out.’


Source: Business Times

1,600 premium flats in Punggol, Sengkang for sale

1,600 premium flats in Punggol, Sengkang for sale 

Latest projects bring total build-to-order homes to 4,500 – in bid to meet demand


THE Housing Board launched 1,587 premium homes in Punggol and Sengkang for sale yesterday, the latest in a series of launches intended to meet high demand.

Its new projects – Fernvale Residence in Sengkang and Punggol Breeze – come just a month after 1,500


build-to-order (BTO) homes were released in the two up-and-coming locations.


Yesterday’s sale brings the total number of new homes launched under the BTO programme to 4,524 for the first half of the year.


And more homes are underway with the HDB launching the sale of a plum site on Lorong 1A Toa Payoh by tender under its Design, Build and Sell Scheme last week. This was the sixth since the first site was awarded in January 2006.


The HDB’s aggressive sales programme follows concerns that its stock of flats had dipped to an all-time low just as increasing numbers of newly-weds were turning to new flats after being priced out of the resale market.


But the chief executive of property agency PropNex, Mr Mohamed Ismail, cautioned that demand for the latest projects might fall off somewhat with the release of so many new flats.


The HDB’s latest offering at Punggol Breeze comprises 778 four-room units priced from $223,000 and 186 five-room flats, which will go from $315,000.


At Fernvale Residence, 55 three-room units, 444 four-room flats and 124 five-room homes will be built, with prices ranging from $133,000 to $365,000.


Construction of the premium flats – they have better finishes which make them slightly more costly – will begin only after a certain demand is reached.


Punggol Breeze is bounded by Punggol Drive and Edgefield Plains, and is served by Oasis LRT station, two stops from Punggol MRT station, where the future town centre will be built.


Fernvale Residence is at the junction of Sengkang West and Fernvale Road, a stone’s throw from Fernvale LRT station and Fernvale Point.


The HDB website yesterday showed 111 applications for both new projects. Applications close on July 14.


Models of the estates are on display at the HDB Hub Habitat Forum in Toa Payoh until the closing date.


Source: Straits Times