The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry

The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry



Daily News – 9th, 10th & 11th April 2016

Top Stories

Short-term rental: It’s in the phrasing of contracts
Some accommodation providers have been using units in private condominiums to offer short-term stays here, and though this is prohibited under current rules for residential properties, they appear to have worked their way around this by clever wording of the tenancy agreements.  Standard contracts typically state a minimum lease of six months for documentation purposes, but add a “diplomatic clause” that provides for early termination of the lease without penalty. This way, these providers of accommodation may offer short-term stays of a matter of weeks – without technically flouting the law.

MAS eases rules on ETF transactions
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has eased rules on financial advisers relating to investing in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on behalf of retail investors.  Previously, financial advisers could only advise clients to buy ETFs from brokers, instead of directly helping them with the transaction through a platform.

MAS not likely to slow appreciation of Singdollar: Economists
The outlook for Singapore’s economy is far from upbeat, but economists say the central bank is unlikely to slow the appreciation of the currency to help boost growth.  The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is expected to keep its exchange rate policy unchanged at its meeting on Thursday, as the economy – while lacklustre – is not yet headed for a sharp downturn.  The recent Budget, which contained a slew of measures to help tide businesses over the rough patch, is also expected to cushion the slowdown.

WWII tale unravels at Adam Park bungalow
The faint outline of what used to be a Christian mural for a World War II prisoner of war (POW) chapel has been found in a bungalow in Adam Park ,70 years on.  The remnants of the religious markings in No. 11 feature a cascading scroll with the Bible verse: “Lift up your heads, O ye Gates and the King of Glory shall Come in.”  Chemical test results, conducted and completed last month by architectural conservation and preservation specialists Maek Consulting, were sent to battlefield archaeologist Jon Cooper, who has been living in Singapore and studying Adam Park since 2009.

Singapore Economy

Govt committed to helping SMEs, says Heng Swee Keat
The government is committed to helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) automate, innovate and internationalise, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Friday.  SMEs should make the best use of the schemes available, he said, citing the new Automation Support Package and the expertise of private-equity players as sound ways to connect to markets, partners and access technology.  The minister was speaking at the opening ceremony of sanitation specialist Rigel Technology’s S$35 million global headquarters and innovation centre in Changi Business Park.

Retain values that have served us well: Heng Swee Keat
Striving for economic growth creates more opportunities for all Singaporeans and allows the country to maintain its fair and just society, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said last night.  Mr Heng also noted that even amid economic transformation and innovation, Singaporeans should retain the values that have served them well and promise continued success.

Strong start in Q1 for Singdollar bonds
The Singapore dollar corporate bond market showed signs of improved vitality in the first quarter, helped in part by greater clarity on interest rates.  This may pave the way for what banks hope will be a livelier year after a tepid 2015, but expectations may be tempered by persistent market volatility and concerns of bond default looming in the background.  There were 37 issuances in the three months to March 31, with a combined deal amount of around $5.65 billion – 16.9 per cent higher than the same period last year.

Singapore Real Estate

Property agents who broker short-term stays playing with fire
AS hard times hit real-estate agents, some are starting to refer customers to accommodation operators or owners of residential properties for short-term stays.  This raises the question of whether property agents who play middlemen for leases under six months long are implicated if the lessors they are acting for are indeed flouting the rules.  The Council of Estate Agencies (CEA) is, however, unequivocal in its warning to agents acting as middlemen for such short-term leases.

Some condos being run as serviced apartments
At least two projects nestled in a mature residential precinct in District 9 near Somerset are being run as serviced apartments – despite not having the regulatory approval to do so – and a third one is opening.  Oxley Thanksgiving Residence, a freehold condominium at 328 River Valley Road owned by Chinese temple Poh Ern Shih, and St Thomas Lodge, which also sits on freehold land at 32 St Thomas Walk, are listed for short-term stay on the website of accommodation service provider Atas Residence.

OUE offers deferred payment for Twin Peaks
Developer OUE is offering potential buyers a form of deferred payments in a bid to sell off remaining units at its Twin Peaks condo as the market grapples with plenty of unsold stock.  Deferred payment schemes (DPS) were very popular in 2002 to 2006 but they were abolished in October 2007 for uncompleted private homes. Developers cannot offer similar flexible payment plans if their projects are still uncompleted.

Interest from local, overseas players in Cuscaden property
Sitting on one of the last undeveloped plots in the Orchard Road area is a two-storey grey bungalow dwarfed by towering condominiums, hotels and shopping centres.  The late Mr Tan Hoon Siang bought the 25,741 sq ft freehold property in Cuscaden Road for $18,591 in May 1949 at an auction. He was the great-grandson of famous philanthropist Tan Tock Seng.  The house is named Villa Marie, with a sign above one of its doors, another on its gate and a third on one of the walls.

2014 accord is subject of Ngee Ann Devt-Takashimaya dispute
The current rental dispute between department store Takashimaya Singapore and its landlord Ngee Ann Development (NAD), which is being fought in the High Court, is not the first time the longtime business partners have disagreed on rent.  In 2003 and 2008, the rent for the next five years was determined by an independent valuer – as provided for under the lease – after both sides failed to see eye to eye.  But in 2013, NAD and Takashimaya took a different approach to the half-decade rent review. They decided to each appoint a valuer and take the average of the two rental values.

Companies’ Brief

Sherman Kwek named Deputy CEO of CDL
City Developments Ltd (CDL) has appointed Mr Sherman Kwek as its Deputy Chief Executive Officer, the company said in a filing to the Singapore Exchange on Monday morning (Apr 11).  Mr Kwek is the son of CDL executive chairman Kwek Leng Beng. Prior to this appointment, he was the company’s Chief Investment Officer for two years.  The younger Mr Kwek was named the CEO of CDL China in August 2010. He was also formerly the CEO of City e-Solutions, a subsidiary of CDL, from November 2008 to March 2015.

Views, Reviews & Forum

Relook housing type as means-testing criterion
I am very happy to know that the new generation of MPs dare to challenge the status quo and are in tune with the needs of the people who have voted them into office.  In the Budget debate, they have raised the problems of using housing type and size as criteria to determine eligibility for the various financial handouts and assistance schemes (“When the little details matter as much“; Wednesday).  In the past, it was correct to assume that people living in bigger flats and in private estates were more well off. So, housing type was used as one of the criteria for financial assistance schemes.

Tackling Singapore building security in early stages of design, construction
In light of the current high-threat environment, the Home Affairs Ministry revealed in its Committee of Supply (COS) debate in Parliament on Wednesday (Apr 6) that it is reviewing measures to beef up building security in Singapore.  This includes the adoption of security features as early as the design and construction stage – or what has been described as “security by design”. It is the idea that architecture and aesthetics can be built from the get-go to facilitate security efforts. But how is it practiced in Singapore and what more can be done?

Do property curbs help or hurt?
The Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) of up to 15 per cent is for the purchase of investment properties and serves as a housing tax for foreigners. Meant to reduce the “investment viability” of properties and give owner-occupiers a higher chance of buying a home, buying a second property became a more expensive affair because of it.  Before the cooling measures were introduced, mass-market properties primarily catered to HDB upgraders and first-time home buyers, while higher-end properties were more for higher-income earners, investors and expatriates.  The ABSD made the second group turn to mass-market properties, pushing up prices in this market.

Giving heartland shops a bit more buzz
Plans for a Jurong Innovation District, that will bring researchers, students and businesses together to develop new products and services, have elicited calls in Parliament for the Government to also help innovation take root in the heartland. Non-Constituency MP Daniel Goh fears that the new industrial park in Jurong would be a high-tech island detached from the rest of the country. However, there are practical limits to spreading out the innovation drive too much.

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

Shenzhen, Shanghai home sales plunge after rules tightened

Toronto condos: one in 10 owned by foreigners

Prices of homes in London’s outskirts surge ahead of fast rail network

Multigenerational homes that fit just right

Pain in India’s real estate market spells opportunity for Godrej

Dubai to build tower taller than Burj Khalifa

Poland banks might spread out mortgage conversion costs

Plan for wooden ‘toothpick’ skyscraper in London

Additional Articles of Interest – Local & Overseas Real Estate

Local & Overseas Real Estate – Full Article

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