The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry

The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry



Daily News – 8th, 9th and 10th October 2016

Top Story

Shorter wait for BTO flats on the horizon: Lawrence Wong
Young couples will soon be able to move into their new homes quicker, as the Government is looking to shorten the wait for public housing.  When implemented, the move will see the waiting period for Build-To-Order (BTO) flats dip to two to three years, from the current three to four years, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong last week.  He was speaking to The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao in his first sit-down interview since taking over the portfolio a year ago.

Plan to mitigate ‘lottery effect’ of downtown flats
Prospective home buyers hoping to cash in on future public housing flats in prized downtown locations may be disappointed, as the Government mulls over ways to tighten resale conditions for such units.  Possible measures could include a longer minimum occupation period (MOP), a shorter lease or higher resale levy, said National Development Minister and Second Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.  The review comes as the Government looks at introducing HDB flats into choice locations such as the Greater Southern Waterfront, to be developed in the Pasir Panjang area after port activities move to Tuas South.

Short-term home stays a ‘breach of faith’ but Singapore will not close door on it permanently
Short-term stays are a “breach of faith” for those who have bought homes for residential use, but Singapore will not close the door on it permanently, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.  Addressing the debate on home sharing in an interview last week, Mr Wong said there are strong reasons for not legalising short-term rentals here, but acknowledged that circumstances may change. “I think the sharing economy is here to stay… we certainly want to support more shared spaces.”  He noted that it would be very different if, say, a building is built from scratch to be a shared space and everyone is clear about that.

Property cooling measures to remain for now
Prices of private homes have been sliding for three years but the property cooling measures are here to stay for now, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.  Flash estimates showed that prices fell 1.5 per cent in the third quarter from the second – the steepest quarter-on-quarter drop in seven years.  That marked the 12th consecutive quarter of decline, and left overall private home prices 10.8 per cent lower from the third quarter of 2013.

Lease Buyback Scheme not likely to cover 5-room flats
It is unlikely that the Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) will be extended to five-room flats, as that would not be an “efficient use of space”.  But elderly home owners will be getting more help to downsize their flats in time to come, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong last week. He was addressing the need to help seniors monetise their homes for retirement.  Introduced in 2009, the LBS allows elderly home owners to sell part of their flat lease back to the Housing Board for retirement income. Previously, the scheme applied only to three-room and smaller flats, but it was expanded in April last year to include four-room units.

Singapore Economy

Economists predict no change to MAS monetary policy for now
Economists are saying – meekly – that Singapore’s central bank will not alter its monetary policy approach when its decision is announced this Friday, while an easing is ripe for 2017.  Some, including Nomura and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU), see a 60 per cent probability of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) keeping the Singapore dollar nominal effective exchange rate (S$NEER) policy band untouched.

New agency GovTech to lead tech push in public sector
Next year, bank customers may no longer have to print and fill in physical documents. Instead, a digital vault of their personal data will do all the tedious work for them.  Also on the cards is a self-driving wheelchair which, if developed successfully, will help manpower- strapped hospitals channel resources elsewhere. These are part of the cutting-edge plans of a new government agency, which aims to harness the latest technology to make life easier for residents.

Singapore Real Estate

Reits: an attractive alternative form of property investment for Singaporeans
In just 14 years, the real estate investment trust (Reit) industry in Singapore has drastically transformed the country’s investment property landscape, making it one of the most admired in the Asia Pacific.  The Singapore Reit industry now ranks third in size in the region, behind Japan and Australia. S-Reits have been actively contributing to the improvement of properties in Singapore, practically in all sectors of the rental market: retail, office, and industrial.

Tech, media tenants take up 37% of committed space at Guoco Tower
Tech and media companies are making their presence felt at Guoco Tower in Tanjong Pagar, accounting for 37 per cent of the space that has already been committed.  The premium Grade A office component of Tanjong Pagar Centre, a mixed-development project being built by the listed GuocoLand group, has 890,000 sq ft net lettable area of which 80 per cent or some 712,000 sq ft is either taken up or subject of advanced leasing discussions.

Prime Sentosa Cove bungalow sold for just S$1,108 psf
In the same week that a bungalow on Sentosa Cove was sold at a near-record price, another sale has been concluded in the waterfront housing district at what some may consider a bargain basement price for an ultra-prime locale.  BT has learnt that a seafronting bungalow along Cove Drive with views of the Southern Islands has been sold for just S$1,108 per square foot on land area.  This comes barely a week after news of a bungalow along Ocean Drive being transacted at a near-record price of S$2,923 psf.

Finding the most suitable mortgage package
Buying property is probably the biggest financial commitment for most Singaporeans. Just as we ponder over our choice of a dream home, we should also do our homework when it comes to choosing a mortgage package to ensure that we keep our financial liabilities to a minimum.  Given the myriad of mortgage packages on offer, each with its own interest rate, fees and criteria, it can be tedious especially for a new property owner to navigate the various mortgage options and assess the impact of each one on the loan costs and repayment. Here, we address the key questions that will help you in your quest for a suitable mortgage package.

Home prices in S’pore falling faster than HK’s
On the surface, the property markets in Singapore and Hong Kong have much in common. The two Asian financial hubs have both moved to rein in runaway home prices in recent years as they sought to make housing more affordable.  Yet, home values in the cities have diverged. Singapore has been successful in damping buyer demand with curbs, while restrictions have had little impact on Hong Kong’s gravity-defying market, which is rebounding after a short-lived dip.  Urban planning researcher Demographia last year found Hong Kong housing to be the least affordable it has measured in 11 years of surveying large urban markets.

Town councils clash again over Punggol East documents
The Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) and Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC) have clashed again over financial documents related to Punggol East constituency, with both sides unable to agree on the documents that have been exchanged.  This led PRPTC to say yesterday that it has applied to appear before the Court of Appeal in a bid to get an order for the Workers’ Party-run AHTC to hand over the documents it needs.  Both sides are in a dispute over documents needed to review the accounts of Punggol East.

Mechanised HDB carparks safe but slow, say users
While two of the three mechanised carparks in Housing Board estates – Changi Village and Yishun – can have utilisation rates of more than 90 per cent during peak hours, it is not the case for the one in Bangkit Road, which sees just around half its spots taken up in its busiest periods.  The mechanised parking systems (MPS) started operation last December and January, with those in Bangkit Road and Yishun for season parking and the Changi Village one open to short-term users too.

Concrete fragments fall from Far East Plaza ceiling, injuring 3
Three people were injured when fragments of concrete fell from the ceiling in Far East Plaza on Friday (Oct 7).  The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it was alerted to the incident at the shopping mall at Scotts Road at 9.22pm. The case involved “small fragments of concrete that had fallen from the ceiling to the atrium area,” it said.  Three people – two female and one male – sustained “minor injuries” and were taken to Singapore General Hospital in an ambulance, SCDF said, adding that all three were in stable condition.

Changi Airport’s T4 construction set to be completed by year end
Changi Airport’s new passenger terminal looks finished from the outside with “Terminal 4” embossed on a wall at the departure level, and new roads and bridges constructed, along with a 68m-high control tower.  More than two years since construction started, a multi-storey carpark just in front of T4, an outdoor holding area for taxis and a bus terminus are also nearing completion.  Works are expected to be completed by the end of the year.  T4, however, will not be ready to receive travellers and visitors just yet, spokesman for Changi Airport Group Ivan Tan told The Straits Times. The opening is slated for the second half of next year.

Shops in strata-titled malls pull out all the stops to avoid closure
Standing in her shop in Beauty World Centre, Madam Sie Choo Yong, who is in her 90s, mustered a smile for every shopper who walked by — there were hardly any these days at the ageing mall which has become a pale shadow of its former glorious self. “Would you like a packet of crispy chips?” Mdm Sie would ask passers-by, in the hope of doing some business.  Lean Seng Lee Trading used to sell embroidery. Today, in order to survive, it sells biscuits, wafers and candies. Mdm Sie’s youngest son, Mr Tony Lean, said: “There are no buyers for needles and threads. We turned it into a food store — something easy for my mother to do. It’s not good to have her sit at home the whole day.”

Companies’ Brief

FCL to pump S$520m into Thai industrial property developer
Property group Frasers Centrepoint Limited (FCL) has inked a conditional deal for its unit to invest 13.23 billion baht or about S$520 million in Thailand-listed industrial property developer Ticon Industrial Connection, it said in a Singapore Exchange filing on Monday morning.  FCL said its unit has proposed to invest in Ticon via a private placement at a subscription price of 18 baht per share, representing a premium of 13.6 per cent over Ticon’s 30-day volume weighted average price.  Following the completion of the transaction, its unit will hold around 40 per cent of Ticon’s enlarged share capital, it said. FCL shares rose half a cent to S$1.495 on Friday.

337 units at Forest Woods sell at an average of S$1,400 psf
City Developments Limited (CDL), Hong Leong Holdings and TID have sold 337 units at the 519-unit Forest Woods condo in Lorong Lew Lian near Serangoon MRT Station and Nex shopping mall.  Sales began on Saturday and the sales update provided by CDL was as at 5pm on Sunday. The net average price for the units sold is S$1,400 per square foot after an early-bird discount of S$6,000 to S$12,000 during the weekend launch.  The units sold make up 65 per cent of the total units in the 99-year leasehold project.

Views, Reviews & Forum

Look out for rules, risks and ‘rentability’
Property has its place in a diversified portfolio. Given relatively high home prices in Singapore, it is no wonder that many Singaporeans have, over the years, turned to investing overseas.  This was especially the case when the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty, first introduced in 2011 for Singaporeans buying third and subsequent properties, was imposed on second homes from January 2013. The total value of overseas properties snapped up by Singaporeans hit a peak of $1.67 billion in the first half of 2013, although this moderated to $0.4 billion in the first half of last year, according to Monetary Authority of Singapore data.

How to buy an HDB flat while overseas
Reader Nancy Goh, a single Singaporean senior citizen now working in the United States, intends to return home when she retires within the next five years. She wanted to confirm what flats she is eligible to buy, and whether she can arrange for a Power of Attorney for her sibling to apply for a flat on her behalf.  Housing reporter Janice Heng answers her questions.  Singles aged 35 and older can buy a new two-room flexi flat directly from the Housing Board, through Build-to-Order or Sale of Balance Flats exercises.

Use Great S’pore Sale to let country shine
The Great Singapore Sale (GSS) should not be just an event for retailers, but also an event for us to shine as a people and as a country (“Making Great S’pore Sale great again“; last Sunday).  The GSS is also a great platform for us to showcase some of our aspirational values, such as our diverse and harmonious culture, warm and caring people, beautiful landscapes that combine the best of nature and urban living, and diligent and innovative spirit.

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

Pound’s ‘flash crash’ stuns markets

Local market set to cool as US election draws near

As China’s economy slows, migrant workers head home

China property bubble may incur $845b in bad debts

Beijing moves to curb housing prices

HK running out of spaces for the dead

Brazil and China equity funds shine in third quarter

Australia’s Rinehart and China’s Shanghai CRED agree deal for Kidman cattle empire

Sydney’s Home-Buying Frenzy Is Ramping Up Risk Again

Ontario may seek foreign investment in housing

Additional Articles of Interest – Local & Overseas Real Estate

Top median rentals of projects by district in last 3 months

Local & Overseas Real Estate – Full Article

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