Friday, September 30, 2011

Allgreen to preview Riviera 38

ROBERT Kuok's Singapore property unit Allgreen Properties will preview on Thursday next week a 102-unit development at Mar Thoma Road near the Toa Payoh/Bendemeer area.
The 999-year leasehold Riviera 38 will have a range of unit sizes, starting from 452 sq ft for a one-bedroom apartment to 1,980 sq ft for a penthouse with three bedrooms and a private swimming pool.

Allgreen says absolute unit prices will start from about $530,000 for a 452 sq ft one-bedder on the seventh floor. The developer has yet to finalise pricing, but word on the street is that the average price indication being given to prospective buyers is about $1,200 psf. A property agent not involved with marketing the project told BT that an 'average price of about $1,100-1,200 psf would be reasonable'.

Riviera 38 will have 20 one-bedders and another 21 one-bedroom-plus-study units. The remaining units in the development are two-bedders, two-bedroom-plus-study units, three-bedders and penthouses.

DTZ is the sole marketing agent for the project, which will be developed on the former Hup Cheong Mansion site.

Riviera 38 will have a single tower of 27 storeys. Apartments will start from the sixth floor. Facilities in the project will include an infinity-edge swimming pool, children's pool, jacuzzi, children's play area, barbecue pavilion, gym and function room.

Meanwhile, near Punggol MRT Station, Sim Lian will release tomorrow the remaining 92 units at A Treasure Trove, a 99-year leasehold private condo. The average price of the final batch of units is expected to be the same as the previous release of 200 units on Sept 17, that is, slightly higher than $866 psf average price at which the project was previewed earlier this month.

BT understands that as of yesterday, about 680 of the 790 units released to date in the 882-unit project had found buyers.

More than 17,000 bids for HDB's 'leftover' flats

ANOTHER 3,000 applications were filed yesterday in the Housing Board's latest Sale of Balance Flats exercise, bringing the total number to 17,255 as at 5pm.

With 2,847 balance flats for sale, the subscription rate for these so-called 'leftover' units is now six times.

Not surprisingly, mature estates were popular: Bukit Merah and Queenstown drew 6,000 bids for slightly more than 1,100 flats. But non-mature towns like Yishun were also hot, with over 1,000 applications for 41 two-, three- and four-room units.

Balance flats comprise unsold units from past Build-To-Order (BTO) launches, surplus replacement flats under the Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme and those bought back by HDB.

In a concurrent exercise for BTO flats in Sengkang, Punggol, Ang Mo Kio, Jurong East and Jurong West, there were 8,835 applications for 5,415 units. Studio apartments in Jurong West were the only ones undersubscribed: The 190 flats designed for senior citizens drew 105 bids.

Applications for both exercises closed yesterday.

Mr Nicholas Mak, research head of property consultancy SLP International, attributed the demand for balance flats to the raising of the monthly household income eligibility, from $8,000 to $10,000, last month.

'The balance flats are priced higher than the BTO flats. But these buyers can afford the higher prices and are willing to pay for the shorter waiting time to get their flats,' he said.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Huge demand for HDB's 'leftover' flats

THE sale of 'leftover' Housing Board (HDB) flats - many in popular mature estates - has attracted an overwhelming response, with more than 14,000 potential home-buyers applying for them.
These 2,847 flats, called 'balance flats', are a mix of those left unselected from previous build-to-order (BTO) launches, surplus replacement flats under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme, and those bought back by HDB.

And because so many people went for them, a parallel BTO exercise for new flats launched the same day has seen a muted response. Some BTO estates and flat types were even undersubscribed with just one day left to apply.

Applications for both exercises close today.

The HDB has always advised buyers to opt for BTO flats where possible because there are more of them for sale, increasing a buyer's chance of successfully selecting a flat.

In BTO launches, 95 per cent of the flats are reserved for first-time buyers.

But this has not deterred potential home-owners from trying their luck at getting one of the balance flats, which are popular because they are often in mature estates which are more central in location. They also involve a shorter waiting time since some are completed and most others are already being built.

The balance flats in this exercise are scattered across 15 towns, including mature estates such as Queenstown and Bukit Merah, and non-mature estates such as Punggol and Woodlands.

Some are wildly popular. As of last night, the 30 four-room balance units being offered in Yishun had attracted 858 applications.

More than 1,800 applicants were vying for 422 three-, four- and five-room flats in Clementi, and there were almost 2,500 in the queue for 491 three- and four- room flats in Bukit Merah.

The balance flats were put up for sale last Thursday together with 5,415 BTO flats in Sengkang, Punggol, Jurong West, Jurong East and Ang Mo Kio in a bumper launch of sorts.

The BTO units range from 398.3 sq ft studio apartments with a starting price of $70,000 in Sengkang, to 1,205.5 sq ft five-room units costing from $375,000 in Punggol.

Balance flats cost from $82,000 for a two-room unit in Sengkang, to $611,000 for a five-room flat in Bukit Merah.

As of yesterday evening, there were only 7,200 applicants for the BTO units, with some three-room flats in Sengkang and Jurong East undersubscribed.

Property experts say the huge demand seen in this launch is partly due to last month's revision of income eligibility rules, from $8,000 to $10,000, which has made more people eligible to buy flats.

'The Sale of Balance Flats exercise was supposed to be the supporting cast and the BTO exercise the main star of the show. But the supporting cast has outshone the main star now,' said property consultancy SLP International's research head Nicholas Mak.

PropNex chief executive officer Mohamed Ismail said the response was within his expectations, but noted buyers must take responsibility for their own actions if they end up not getting a flat in this exercise.

'Those who chose the Sale of Balance Flats know they are taking a chance, and those who were not distracted by the balance flats and chose BTO flats will be rewarded for it,' he said.

'As far as the ministry should be concerned, this launch will have helped over 8,200 people clear the queue.'

Banking executive Claude Lee, 24, is keeping his fingers crossed. He applied for a four-room balance unit in Sengkang, which was more than three times oversubscribed yesterday evening.

'I knew the flats would be popular. You could say it's a calculated risk,' he said. 'I decided to try my luck because the balance flat is still cheaper than a resale unit, and if I get it, I won't have to wait as long as I would for a BTO.'

Saturday, September 24, 2011

New rules on showflats delayed to 'refine details'

TOUGH new rules to ensure homebuyers finish up with a flat just like the showflat, among other goals, are on the way - only a little later than planned.
The slew of rules, to make developers more transparent and give buyers greater confidence, were expected to have been in place by the end of this month.

However, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) told The Straits Times that it needs more time to refine the details for some of the proposals in consultation with the industry.

Some require legislative changes which take time, a URA spokesman added. The new implementation date will be announced at a later date.

The URA said that it is refining proposals such as the detailed requirements to ensure accurate showflats.

They include requiring developers to build showflats with the same floor area and floor-to-ceiling height as the actual units and with signs to mark positions of removed walls, partitions or doors.

URA is also finetuning changes to do with the standard template of information that developers must provide to buyers of the home they are purchasing.

These include outlining accurately the floor area of rooms in a new unit - from balconies, to bedrooms and the dining area - and also the space for areas such as planter boxes and bay windows.

Some developers say they are ready for the new rules and are not overly concerned about the implementation date being pushed back. Soilbuild managing director Lim Chap Huat said his firm is confident of meeting the new rules; it would require more administrative work on some fronts but it was 'no problem'.

However, others say they have provided feedback to URA on concerns they have over certain regulations.

A developer, who declined to be named, said while the industry is generally supportive of more transparency and reducing misrepresentations, there is a concern that unreasonable buyers might take advantage of certain rules, especially in a market downturn.

'We don't want the industry to be more contentious instead as a result of these new rules. There might be unhappiness, for example, over how the size of a room is calculated, whether from the edge of or from the centre of a wall.

'And with the size of individual rooms given, instead of just the overall size of the home, there might be more room for disputes.'

He added that developers would also prefer to have the option of adjusting prices as close to a project's launch date as possible in the light of market volatility and fast-changing sentiment.

The current proposed changes require the price list of units to be released at least two days before launch.

Mr Steven Tan, OrangeTee's executive director of residential, agreed that URA might want more time to look into the details of the changes to ensure that it is not only beneficial to buyers but also fair to developers.

'For example, in the template which indicates estimated measurements, will developers be allowed a reasonable margin of error due to slight changes during the construction stage or will developers be held liable for them?' he asked.

'I think URA might want to take everything into consideration and from different perspectives before proceeding with the final changes.'

On developers' feedback that URA has been visiting showflats in the lead up to the new rules, URA said it conducts regular showflat visits to help it gain a better understanding of the setting up of showflats by developers.

'They are not meant to enforce the new rules, which have not been effected yet,' the spokesman added.

When the raft of proposals were unveiled in March, the URA said that final changes to the Housing Developers (Control & Licensing) Act and Housing Developers Rules were expected to take effect by the third quarter of this year.

The proposed changes tackle a range of issues, from the accuracy of showflats to the problems of pressure selling and misleading advertisements.

They aim to protect buyers by making information about units more accessible while removing the distraction of misleading marketing gimmicks.

Just last month, URA also announced three new proposals in response to feedback from an online consultation exercise held in March and April.

It will now name developers that have violated the new regulations and post the list on its website. Another key change will see the revised rules applied to all housing developers, even small operators building four units or fewer.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

EC sales perk up with revised income ceiling

SALES of executive condos (ECs) have picked up strongly just days after the higher income ceiling for eligible buyers was backdated to include all unsold units.
Developers have reported quicker sales since last Wednesday's announcement that the revised household income cap of $12,000 - up from $10,000 - would now apply to five other EC projects with unsold units.

The higher ceiling had initially applied only to EC projects launched after Aug 15, when the announcement was made.

ECs are a hybrid of public and private housing, reintroduced to the market last year after a five-year hiatus.

Qingjian Realty said that more than 50 units had been snapped up at EC project RiverParc Residence in Punggol since Wednesday, with the 'majority' of buyers falling into the newly eligible $10,000 to $12,000 income bracket.

This brings total sales to 468 units - or 93 per cent - of the 504-unit project.

City Developments' (CDL) 602-unit Blossom Residences in Segar Road also found buyers for 20 units over the past week, bringing total sales to 400 units.

Mr Chia Ngiang Hong, CDL group general manager, said that about half of these additional buyers are from the $10,000 to $12,000 income segment.

'We expect to see continued healthy sales based on the positive feedback from this group of potential buyers that the latest government announcement is beneficial as it offers them more choices for their selection,' he added.

Similarly, buyers also more than doubled in number compared to a normal weekend before the revised ceiling at United Engineers' 540-unit Austville Residences in Sengkang, a spokesman said.

About 350 units or 65 per cent of the 540-unit project launched in January have been sold, with visitors at the showflat also doubling over the weekend.

'In particular, we saw quite a large number of interested buyers, who were previously disqualified due to their combined household income exceeding $10,000, coming back to our showflat to make a purchase,' he added.

The spokesman added that the firm is positive about the outlook of ECs in the future. Moreover, new EC launches in the past year are better designed and promise a higher building quality, he said.

'With increased incomes and widespread aspirations of living in a condominium among Singaporeans, young couples and HDB upgraders will always consider ECs as a housing option, especially when EC prices continue to be below those of private condominiums.'

The 406-unit EC project The Canopy in Yishun, which had only about 30 units left last week, also experienced a larger-than-usual crowd at its showflat.

MCC Land managing director Tan Zhiyong said, however, that the new ruling would have little impact on the project's sales as fewer than 30 units were left unsold. About five units were sold over the weekend, he added.

The new ruling meant that about 600 more unsold units from five earlier EC projects - as well as units from the most recent EC project launched on Aug 31, Arc at Tampines - are available to buyers who meet the new income requirements.

They can now tap an estimated 68,700 additional households that qualify for ECs when the cap was lifted to $12,000, UOB Kay Hian property analyst Vikrant Pandey estimates.

Since the EC scheme returned last year, eight sites have been sold to developers. In all, 4,194 units have been released into the market for sale and over 3,000 more units are expected to be launched in the next 12 months, a Kim Eng research note said last week.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Three residential sites put up for sale

THREE residential property sites in suburban areas have been put up for sale by the Government in a move that could yield well over 1,300 new homes.
This is among the largest number of potential new homes in a single release of residential sites so far this year.

The three 99-year leasehold sites are in Punggol, Upper Bukit Timah and Yishun.

The largest plot is at the junction of Punggol Central and Edgedale Plains. The 218,035 sq ft site has a plot ratio of 3.0 and can be built up to a maximum of 654,105 sq ft.

Located in the eastern part of Punggol Town, it could yield up to 610 homes. Experts say the site could fetch a top bid of up to $210 million or $320 psf per plot ratio (ppr). The tender closes on Nov 3.

Another site at Chestnut Avenue has been tipped by analysts to be a favourite among developers because of its location within the popular Upper Bukit Timah neighbourhood. The 201,285 sq ft plot of land can be built up to 422,710 sq ft, yielding about 380 homes.

Mr Nicholas Mak, executive director of research at SLP International, expects the site to attract several major developers, with a top bid of up to $195 million, or $460 psf ppr. The tender for this site ends on Nov 24.

The third site is at Yishun Ave 1 and is 181,910 sq ft. With a maximum gross floor area of 382,011 sq ft, the plot could yield 355 units.

SLP's Mr Mak said the site could fetch a winning bid of $130 million to $145 million, which translates to $340 to $380 psf ppr. The tender ends on Nov 15.

Fears about an oversupply of homes hitting the market over the next few years appear to have injected at least some caution into the property industry.

But new home sales figures released yesterday indicate that buyers are still keen to buy, with 1,348 new homes sold last month.

Mr Ku Swee Yong, chief executive of International Property Adviser, said this is one of the reasons why he remains positive developers will still be interested in Government land sites.

Another site - at Bishan Street 14 - has been made available through the Reserve List. This means the land will come up for sale only when any interested developer commits to bidding for the site above or at a set minimum price.

The Bishan land parcel is next door to a site that was bought by CapitaLand earlier this year for a whopping $550 million or $869 psf ppr, an amount that exceeded analysts' expectations.

While some analysts feel this plot will not be triggered for sale soon, others said it could catch the attention of developers looking to increase their land banks.

CapitaLand eyes launch of Bishan condo by Q1

CAPITALAND plans to launch its condominium in Bishan Central by the first quarter of 2012 and set a benchmark price for the area, even as the property group braces itself for a chill in Singapore's property market.
The project is likely to be launched for at least $1,450 per square foot (psf), BT understands.

CapitaLand, which has appointed architect Moshe Safdie as the lead designer for the project, said that units in new launches in Bishan and Upper Thomson sell for around $1,300-1,400 psf.

But CapitaLand's project, which is 'exceptionally well-designed and located', will sell for a premium over what other properties command, said Wong Heang Fine, chief executive of the group's Singapore residential arm.

He put the break-even price for the project at about $1,300 psf at a briefing for media and analysts yesterday.

CapitaLand clinched the site at $869 psf of potential gross floor area in a state tender in February 2011 - a new high for 99-year-leasehold suburban condo land in Singapore. The new development on the site will have around 500 apartments across two 38-storey towers.

CapitaLand Residential Singapore holds a 75 per cent equity stake in the project while Mitsubishi Estate Asia holds 25 per cent.

Looking ahead, CapitaLand expects Singapore's residential and office markets to cool. Unlike last year, there won't be double-digit growth in residential property prices this year, Mr Wong said. He expects home prices to moderate although basic demand is likely to continue to support the market.

'Because of the various government measures, we expect (growth in) prices to moderate,' said Mr Wong at the press briefing. 'But because of Singapore's economic growth, low interest costs and high liquidity, we expect prices to maintain . . . basic demand is still out there.'

Similarly, office rents in Singapore will moderate, said Chong Lit Cheong, chief executive of CapitaLand's commercial unit.

CapitaLand, its property trust CapitaCommercial Trust and Mitsubishi Estate Asia plan to turn the Market Street Car Park into a 720,000 sq ft, 40-storey office tower. Mr Chong acknowledged that many tenants have already taken on large tracts of space in projects that will be completed in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

So the partners are targeting the completion of the Market Street office tower by the second half of 2014, when there will be no significant new Grade A office supply in Singapore's central business district. This will allow the project to capture the year's office demand, Mr Chong said.

The total development cost for the Market Street office tower is estimated to be $1.4 billion. When completed, the development is expected to generate a yield-on-cost of more than 6 per cent per year on a stabilised basis.

The office tower, which is designed by architect Toyo Ito, will feature greenery on every floor as well as extensive sky gardens on three levels and a roof garden.

New private home sales resilient despite gloom

Sales of new private homes defied the economic horror stories and the dampening effects of the Hungry Ghost Festival to post healthy numbers last month.
Buyers snapped up 1,348 homes last month, just shy of July's 1,398. The total number jumps to 1,638 when executive condominiums (ECs) are included.

Experts say the sustained buying activity for a typically quiet month shows that Housing Board (HDB) upgraders are still buying and that confidence in property generally remains solid.

Last month's numbers were also achieved despite a new policy that raised the income ceiling for new HDB flats and ECs, said real estate consultancy Colliers International's director of research and advisory Chia Siew Chuin. This change would have creamed off some private market demand.

Suburban homes continued to lead the charge with 1,114 sales last month, comprising 83 per cent of total sales, according to Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) data out yesterday.

This is the highest number of homes sold in the suburban region this year and the highest proportion of total transactions since URA's monthly sales data series started in June 2007.

While suburban prices seem to have remained relatively stable and are likely to continue holding firm this year, Ms Chia noted that the band for mass market sales has moderated.

Prices ranged from $600 to $1,679 per sq ft (psf) last month, down from $705 to $1,742 psf in July.

This could be due to developers pricing units more competitively in the light of more choosy buyers, she added.

But most experts believe that developers are unlikely to lower prices in the light of last month's healthy sales.

Dr Chua Yang Liang, head of research at Jones Lang LaSalle South-east Asia, said demand driven by population growth remains the market's key driver.

This will continue to support the market beyond the economic uncertainty in the euro zone, he added.

Developers recently called for the Government to review the cooling measures in the coming months given fears that global economic woes could undermine the property market.

But experts say last month's healthy sales coupled with low interest rates that should stay in place until 2013 have supported demand.

Last month's launch of an 'optimistic' 1,435 units also kept pace with July, when 1,437 units were released.

Experts say developers might have fast-tracked new projects in case the economic climate deteriorates and scares buyers away.

There won't be 'double-digit' growth in Singapore's residential property prices this year, Capitaland Residential Singapore chief executive officer Officer Wong Heang Fine said yesterday at an event to unveil its Bishan Central condominium design.

'Some developers are taking the opportunity to launch their projects while the market is still positive,' Mr Ong Teck Hui, Credo Real Estate's head of research and consultancy, said.

'For this reason, we may expect more new projects to be launched during this period and sales take-up could be encouraging, depending on pricing.'

City centre and city fringe homes had less robust activity with the number of both new launches and sales significantly lower.

Experts add that between 15,000 and 16,000 new homes could be sold this year, barring further economic volatility.

They add that more affordable pricing for new project launches by cautious developers might also sustain sales.

This month, more than 500 units have already been sold at Sim Lian's A Treasure Trove in Punggol at an average price of about $866 psf.

Credo's Mr Ong said many mass market buyers are owner-occupiers with a long-term view and less influenced by the global market turmoil.

'Many buyers (now) are probably not too negative about the economic outlook. (They) acknowledge that there will be some slowdown but not a bad recession and in their view, prices, even if they correct, may not be substantial,' he added.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

New income ceiling for ECs extended to all projects: MND

THE revised income ceiling of $12,000 to purchase executive condominiums (EC) will now apply across the board regardless of the project's launch date.
The Ministry of National Development's (MND) latest move follows last month's decision to raise the monthly income ceiling to purchase new EC units from $10,000 to $12,000 for those projects which were launched for public sale from Aug 15, 2011 onwards.

But since then, it has received many appeals to apply the revised income ceiling of $12,000 to all EC projects.

Yesterday, MND said it has 'reviewed the public feedback and agreed that the suggestion was sound'. With immediate effect, the revised income ceiling of $12,000 will apply to all EC projects.

At the moment, five EC projects which were launched before Aug 15, 2011, still hold about 600 unsold units.

Developers BT spoke to welcomed MND's announcement and said it will benefit the intended wider pool of potential homebuyers by giving them more projects to choose from.

'We received similar requests from this group of potential buyers prior to the announcement and look forward to continued strong sales for Blossom Residences in the near future,' said Chia Ngiang Hong, group general manager of City Developments.

CityDev's 602-unit Blossom Residences at Segar Road, which was launched in July 2011, will benefit from the policy change. To date, more than 380 units, or over 60 per cent of the units, have been sold.

A spokesman for United Engineers similarly said the move will benefit both homebuyers and developers.

'Homebuyers get to enjoy a wider selection of EC projects and all developers of EC projects also get to market their units to a new pool of EC homebuyers with combined household income below $12,000,' the spokesman said.

United Engineers' 540-unit Austville Residences, which was launched in January 2011, is more than 60 per cent sold.

The three other EC projects with unsold units that were launched before Aug 15, 2011, are: Esparina Residences and The Canopy (which were both launched in Oct 2010), and RiverParc Residence (launched in July 2011).

As of end-July 2011, RiverParc Residence had 182 unsold units, The Canopy had 51, and Esparina Residences had three.

But some analysts were unsure if the policy change will have a large impact on the sales of current EC projects.

'Though it is a welcome move for everyone, the timing of this change is not likely to have a large impact on the EC sales of current projects,' said ERA Realty's key executive officer Eugene Lim.

'In light of the changing economic environment, this group of buyers are hoping for price adjustments in the mass market condominium market and are evaluating their options.'

Housing glut 'won't cause dip in prices'

A PROPERTY expert believes new immigrant arrivals will continue to support demand and prevent prices from falling in the wake of an impending flood of new flats onto the market.
Dr Chua Yang Liang, head of research at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) South-east Asia, noted that past trends show that Singapore prices are driven largely by sentiment and not stock levels alone.

He said the strong demand will allow the sector to weather the impact of the estimated 100,000 public and private homes to be completed in 2014 and 2015.

The flow of new homes will have some effect on prices and might slow the gain in the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) property price index to about an average of 1.8 per cent to 7.5 per cent a year from now until 2015, depending on immigration inflow.

The demand is likely to stay robust given the way the growing population has outpaced the housing stock, added Dr Chua in a paper released yesterday. The population has expanded by about 2.8 per cent on average in the past 10 years while the number of completed homes has increased by 2.1 per cent a year, he noted.

His view is in stark contrast to that of many experts who maintain that prices could fall in the coming years, especially in the mass-market segment where most of the soon-to-be-completed homes are.

The bumper supply of state land being released and the ramping up of new Housing Board flat launches have prompted some experts to predict that suburban home prices could plunge by as much as 15 per cent.

The global economic uncertainties and resultant share market weakness have also raised doubts among industry players that the market is sustainable. Developers want the Government to review the cooling measures in the coming months and to make greater use of the reserve list system in managing its land sales.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan also cautioned in a June blog post that the upcoming supply is not a 'trivial number'.

But Dr Chua noted the market is 'fairly resilient' and has only corrected in the past due to external shocks such as the bursting of the 2000-01 bubble and the 2007-08 global financial crisis, when prices dived. He noted that even during a period of healthy supply such as in 2003 and 2004 when there were about 60,000 completed homes available for owner-occupation or leasing, prices remained flat rather than falling.

Furthermore, immigration - although expected to slow - is unlikely to stop as it is needed to support Singapore's economic growth. That should keep housing demand stable and support the injection of new stock over the next few years, Dr Chua said. 'Undoubtedly, the current increase in global economic uncertainty is likely to dampen sentiment here, resulting in short-term fluctuations in demand and prices but, overall, the mid- to longer-term outlook remains stable on the back on these fundamentals.'

JLL estimates that even with the Government's policies to increase the supply, demand for completed homes will be greater than supply until 2015 as the cumulative housing stock shortage had ballooned to about 87,000 homes last year.

This assumes a tighter immigration policy with the population growing to just 5.2 million by 2015.

Dr Chua added that policymakers should continue to release land to support the development of between 16,000 and 24,000 new homes a year, depending on the immigration level.

But other experts said the market is cyclical and ups and downs are inevitable.

SLP International research head Nicholas Mak said that given current economic uncertainties, there is more than a 50 per cent chance of a correction in the next three years. However, the rental market is likely to experience an oversupply over the next few years regardless as a significant number of buyers had bought units as investments. Whether this ultimately affects home prices will depend on the economic situation at that point in time.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Nassim units to be priced at $9-33m

CAPITALAND has priced the 55 units at its The Nassim condo between $9 million and $33 milllion.
The low-rise condo, on the former ANA Hotel site at Nassim Hill, has been designed by Mok Wei Wei of W Architects. The project will be set amidst lush greenery, creating a distinct ambience of living in a landed area.

'This will appeal especially to foreigners, who face restrictions buying landed properties on mainland Singapore,' says Wendy Tang, executive director (residential) at Knight Frank, which is the marketing agent for the project.

'We have begun making private presentations to select prospective clients from Singapore and overseas,' she added.

Prices begin at $9 million for a three-bedroom apartment of about 2,000 sq ft. The most expensive unit is a $33 million penthouse dubbed The Regent House. The 9,300 sq ft duplex unit is spread across the fifth level with and an attic/rooftop floor above it housing a bedroom, family area and private swimming pool. The Regent House has five bedrooms, as well as five dedicated basement carpark lots and a chauffeur's room, with a private lift to the apartment.

The Nassim also offers a $30 million 9,000 sq ft, five-bedroom Pavillion House on the ground floor overlooking the swimmming pool in the development. The Pavillion House comes with three basement car park lots. The dining area of this unit is set amidst a reflecting pool.

Each apartment in the project is designed as a standalone unit, without an adjoining wall to the next unit. There are landscaped sky bridges on the second level.

Penthouse seekers with smaller budgets may consider Sim Lian's 99-year leasehold private condo A Treasure Trove near Punggol MRT Station. The 882-unit project has 42 penthouses ranging from 1,528 sq ft (with two bedrooms) to 4,876 sq ft (seven bedrooms). The penthouses prices are said to range from nearly $1 million to around $2.8 million.

The project's preview began on Thursday and as at 5.30 pm yesterday, 24 penthouses had been released of which 11 have been sold, including the largest unit, which has seven bedrooms on the 16th floor and an open terrace above it.

In all, 350 units in the project had been sold as at 5.30 pm yesterday. Singaporeans accounted for 94 per cent of buyers. Some 80 per cent of buyers have HDB addresses, mostly in the surrounding Punggol and Sengkang vicinity. Sim Lian estimates that 40 per cent of buyers are investors and the other 60 per cent, owner occupiers.

Sim Lian released another 200 units yesterday, taking total units released to 500 units. The average price remains unchanged at $866 psf.

Developers: Review cooling measures

PROPERTY developers want the cooling measures reviewed in the coming months, on fears that global economic woes could undermine the property market.
Mr Wong Heang Fine, president of Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore (Redas), says economic trends are less rosy and developers have to prepare for the worst.

'We are just signalling that in the coming months, it may be a good time to look at what is happening in the world and what is happening in the local market and then review some of these policies,' said Mr Wong, who is also chief executive of CapitaLand Residential Singapore.

While the market now is still 'okay' with decent sales, it is conditions further down the road that developers want to prepare for, he added.

A 'timely review' of the various market tightening measures would also help avoid artificially suppressing genuine demand for private properties, noted Mr Wong, who was speaking on the sidelines of the Redas Mid-Autumn Festival at the Shangri-La Hotel yesterday.

City Developments (CDL) executive chairman Kwek Leng Beng said a review in the next three to six months would give a clearer picture as to whether the measures are still needed.

Frasers Centrepoint group chief executive Lim Ee Seng agreed, suggesting a good time for the review would be the end of the year as the measures would have been in effect for 12 months by then.

'The measures are working as reflected in the bids... The new launches are selling, but of course a lot slower than before. That shows that (buyers) are careful and are thinking more,' he noted.

The latest January cooling measures include tighter financing rules and a sellers' stamp duty of up to 16 per cent.

Private home price gains have been moderating for seven consecutive quarters, inching up just 2per cent in the three months to June.

Developers are watching the market for signs of a slowdown, given gloomy economic sentiment and wild share market swings, consultants say.

Mr Colin Tan, Chesterton Suntec International's research head, added: 'The falling stock markets have unnerved people. The negative news coming out of the US and Europe and talk of a recession will also affect buying sentiment and developers will be concerned, especially if they have a lot of inventory to clear.'

Mr Wong said it was a good time to address the government land sales programme for next year, adding that it should continue with its pragmatic approach and make greater use of the reserve list system in managing sales.

Mr Wong noted: 'If the Government does not go ahead with a sale in the confirmed list, there may be misinterpretation by the public that things are not good.

'But in the reserve list, all of us can trigger it and so it's... market driven.'

Confirmed list sites go on sale regardless of interest. Land on the reserve list is put up for tender only if developers table an acceptable initial offer.

Land prices have dropped for some recent tenders. Frasers' Mr Lim says this is due to developers possibly pricing in a longer holding period and the additional associated costs they have to bear.

Lower bids are not necessarily due to anticipation of a price correction but an expected slower pace of sales instead, he added.

But CDL's Mr Kwek says his firm will be realistic in its land bids.

'I think (the Redas president) has said we should be mindful of the 53,000 (units in the pipeline) but this is difficult to say because the scenario may turn overnight... But we should be cautious and be mindful not to overbid,' he added.

Despite warnings of an impending oversupply, Mr Kwek says his firm has not felt an impact as there is still genuine demand in the market. Low interest rates and stock market volatility have also made property a more attractive alternative.

Separately, The Straits Times understands that about 350 units at Sim Lian Group's 882-unit A Treasure Trove in Punggol has been sold at an average price of $866 per sq ft.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Upper Serangoon site goes cheap

ECONOMIC uncertainty is likely behind the poor response to a residential site in Upper Serangoon Road that ended up going for a song.
Allgreen Properties emerged tops in a three-cornered tussle for the 265,012 sq ft site with a bid of $270 million or $291 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr).

That looks like a giveaway given that just three months ago, a 99-year leasehold plot next door at the junction of Buangkok and Sengkang East Drives went for $391 psf ppr.

It is the first time in a long while that Allgreen Properties has topped a tender exercise, said analysts, who added that the developer has been cautious with bids in recent months.

Property experts said the Allgreen bid, if successful, would be the lowest price for a non-landed site since City Developments paid $280 psf ppr for a Chestnut Avenue site in August 2009 that was developed into the Tree House condominium.

Allgreen was followed by a consortium of Frasers Centrepoint, Far East Organization and Sekisui House with an offer of $253 million, or $273 psf ppr for the 99-year leasehold. A unit of Chip Eng Seng bid $261 psf ppr.

Experts cited a number of reasons for the lacklustre bidding.

Mr Ong Teck Hui, head of research and consultancy at Credo Real Estate, said the low offers were a clear sign that residential land sales are softening amid a more uncertain economic climate.

He added: 'The bids are getting more cautious with more buffer being provided in anticipation of a more difficult market.'

Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research and consultancy at SLP International, noted that the low number of bids could be a sign that developers did not see the site as that attractive.

'(The developers) could be saving their resources for other site tenders which would be launched soon,' said Mr Mak.

But he cautioned that the lower land prices might not translate to lower home prices.

'Allgreen Properties would likely sell the condominium to be developed on this site at the going market price at the time of its launch,' he added.

The nearest MRT station - Hougang - is some distance away. However, the site's proximity to Punggol Park and Serangoon Reservoir will appeal to nature lovers and exercise enthusiasts.

The land can be built up to a maximum gross floor area of 927,545 sq ft, possibly yielding 860 apartments.

Units at neighbouring Boathouse Residences have been transacted at an average of $880 psf.

Analysts predicted an approximate break-even price of between $630 and $660 psf.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Keen interest in Tampines exec condo

KINDERGARTEN principal Agnes Lee was quick off the mark yesterday to put her name down for an executive condominium that would have been an impossible dream just a few weeks ago.
She was one of the early birds at the Arc at Tampines showroom, the first exec condo project launched since income rules were changed last month.

She had been house-hunting in the private market but the new regulations have opened up new possibilities.

'Previously, my family and I didn't qualify because we earned more than $10,000,' said the 57-year-old.

'But we had our eye on this project for a while and we have been waiting for the changes to the income ceiling to take effect so we could get a three-bedroom multi-generation unit at this project.'

The Straits Times was told that more than 300 interested parties visited the showroom yesterday. Buyers have until next Monday to apply for a unit. Balloting and booking will begin on Sept 8.

Exec condos have condo-like facilities and are an upmarket hybrid of public and private housing. They are popular but the income ceiling restricted the pool of buyers. That rule was revised to cater to the high demand. Households with a total income of up to $12,000 can now buy a unit, up from $10,000 previously.

Under government rules, developers have to set aside at least 95 per cent of exec condo units for first-time home buyers in the initial month of a launch. Only up to 5 per cent can be sold to second-timers.

The Arc, developed by a consortium including Hoi Hup Realty, has 574 two, three and four-bedroom units and penthouses across nine 16-storey blocks.

It is understood that the average price is slightly above $700 per sq ft (psf), putting it at the higher end of the spectrum of exec condo projects.

Recently launched projects, like Blossom Residences and Belysa, range between $650 and $750 psf, said analysts.

These prices are lower than those of nearby mass market condos like Waterfront Gold, where homes were launched at prices just shy of $1,000 psf earlier this year. Homes at nearby condo Waterview were offered at an average price of $838 psf at last November's launch.

In comparison, a 1,216 sq ft five-room build-to-order (BTO) flat in Tampines - the most expensive type of BTO flat - was priced from about $300 psf in May.

Indicative prices at the Arc show that a 775 sq ft two-bedder costs $598,000, while a 958 sq ft three-bedder costs $678,300. A 2,282 sq ft four-bedder penthouse will set buyers back $1.3 million.

Dennis Wee Group director Chris Koh pointed out that Century Square and Tampines Mall are nearby, and while the Arc is some distance from the heart of Tampines Town, it is near educational institutions like Temasek Polytechnic. The upcoming Tampines West and Bedok Reservoir MRT stations are nearby as well.

Analysts predict that more developers will target exec condo sites in the cooling market as more buyers opt for such units over mass market homes.