The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry

The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry



Daily News – 10th, 11th and 12th December 2016

Singapore Economy

Singaporeans’ lives improved amid challenges, says report
Singaporeans earned higher incomes last year and unemployment was kept low, despite the economic slowdown.  But productivity growth remained low, especially in domestically oriented sectors such as construction, retail and food services.  This was the picture painted in the Singapore Public Sector Outcomes Review that takes stock of how Singapore has fared in key areas of national interest, such as the economy, housing and healthcare.  The biennial report, released by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) yesterday, said that the lives of Singaporeans have improved amid the challenging environment.

Singapore casinos falter as tourists go shopping instead
Singapore’s casinos are so 2015. After luring tourists for half a decade, they’re now losing out to the mall. Shopping has overtaken gambling as the biggest earner in Singapore’s tourism industry for the first time since 2012, surging 44 per cent in the six months through June from a year ago, official data show.  It’s most likely thanks to first-time Chinese visitors, according to HSBC Holdings Plc, as the nation’s travellers continue to fuel growth in Singapore’s tourism industry.  Some 2.1 million Chinese visited Singapore last year, more than double that of 2009 – the year before the country opened the first of its two casinos. Among all visitors, those from China, Indonesia and India were the top three spenders in the second quarter of 2016, clocking up 40 per cent of all tourist receipts. Shopping comprised a quarter of total spending, from 18 per cent a year earlier.

Singapore Real Estate

Good Class Bungalow prices set to soften further
The volume and value of transactions in Good Class Bungalow (GCB) Areas have risen so far this year, though prices continued to soften.  Market views are mixed on whether transaction volumes will rise again or fall next year although there is a consensus that prices will keep on dipping at least in the first half. Agents cited a weakening economy and the rising interest rate scenario among other factors.  CBRE Research’s analysis of caveats data shows that 35 deals in GCB Areas have been sealed so far this year totalling S$755 million, up from 33 deals totalling S$715 million in 2015 and 28 deals (S$626 million) in 2014.

Bankrupt trader’s bungalow finds buyer
The freehold bungalow at 85 Branksome Road, vacated by the bankrupted managing director of spice and nut trader Pars Ram Brothers and his family, has found a buyer.  According to caveats obtained by The Business Times, the property was sold to a special purpose vehicle (SPV) called Branksome Realty 1 Pte Ltd for S$15.08 million. This was below the opening price of S$16 million at its first auction, where it had failed to land a successful bid.  This new sale price translates to about S$1,143 per square foot (psf) on the land area of 13,189 sq ft – quite comparable to another transaction along the same street in the same month.

Sales of upmarket condo units perk up
Singapore-listed property developer GuocoLand has sold all the 210 units in its Bukit Timah condominium project Goodwood Residence.  The company, controlled by Malaysian tycoon Quek Leng Chan, told The Straits Times last Friday that it has moved its last three penthouses in the development, although it declined to reveal the timeframe in which these were sold.  The three penthouses, which range between 3,900 and 9,600 sq ft, were sold to both Singaporeans and foreigners at prices between $6.5 million and $14.23 million, said the company via e-mail.

Proximity Housing Grant has helped over 4,300 families: HDB
The Housing & Development Board (HDB) announced on Saturday (Dec 10) it has given out about S$83 million in Proximity Housing Grants (PHG) since the scheme was announced over a year ago, helping more than 4,300 families.  HDB said the response to the scheme “has been very encouraging” as it gives Singaporeans more options to buy a resale flat with or near their parents or married children, in their preferred location in the resale market.  “It complements other measures to help Singaporeans buy a new HDB flat with or near their parents or married child, such as the Married Child Priority Scheme, Multi-Generation Priority Scheme, Senior Priority Scheme and the three-generation flats,” HDB added.

Singapore retail scene: net demand to remain soft
Retail rents in Singapore have demonstrated a remarkable period of stability post-Global Financial Crisis (GFC), with average rents in both prime (Orchard) and suburban locations holding steady for nearly four years.  However, since their peak in early 2015, average retail rents have fallen by about 7.5 per cent for both prime and suburban ground floor, by 11.5 per cent for prime upper floors and by 10.5 per cent for suburban upper floors, going by official data and information compiled by DTZ.

Town councils act on fallen facade cases
Marine Parade Town Council will be removing calcium silicate cladding panels at 25 blocks in the precinct following an investigation by a professional engineer (PE) it had engaged.  In October, parts of a building facade fell from Block 51, Circuit Road. In a separate case last month, a plaster slab dislodged from Block 449, Hougang Avenue 10, and fell to the ground.  Following the two cases, affected town councils engaged engineers to investigate and submit reports to the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), which yesterday released the findings.

Bogus HDB contractors targeting the elderly
An old woman answers a knock on her door, sees someone who claims to be a Housing Board contractor and ends up paying for a renovation job that she does not need.  Bogus contractors have been targeting elderly people in public housing estates, telling residents that they have been appointed by the HDB to carry out repair works.  “These bogus contractors tend to target the elderly and operate mainly during office hours, when the elderly are likely to be home alone,” said an HDB spokesman in response to queries.

More cases of fallen windows this year
There were more cases of fallen windows this year according to statistics released on Sunday (Dec 11) by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and Housing and Development Board (HDB).  In the first 11 months of this year, there were 41 cases of fallen windows compared to 30 cases in the same period in 2015.  Most of these cases are casement windows which had dislodged and fallen due to corroded aluminium rivets, the joint release from the BCA and HDB added.  Since 2005, homeowners have been required to change the aluminium rivets of casement windows to stainless steel ones.

Companies’ Brief

Manulife US Reit nestled in a sweet spot, says its manager
In her earliest memories, bedtime stories for Jillian Smith were less about whimsical fables or enchanting tales, and more to do with equity markets, share prices, and the salmon-pink pages of the Financial Times (FT).  “When I was eight, my usual bedtime reading with my father involved poring over pages of the FT and checking stock prices,” recalled Ms Smith, CEO of Manulife US Real Estate Management Pte Ltd, the manager of Manulife US Reit.  The Reit (real estate investment trust), which made its trading debut on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) about six months ago, is the first pure-play US office Reit to list in Singapore and Asia.

Homegrown firm looks to ‘super-size’ co-working spaces in Singapore
Homegrown space provider JustGroup is rapidly scaling up its presence in the segment of co-working spaces, with plans to open two new shared offices in the heart of Singapore’s Central Business District (CBD) next April.  Its co-working brand JustCo currently offers 50,000 square feet of space at two locations – 120 Robinson Road and 6 Raffles Quay. With a combined floor area of more than 100,000 square feet, the upcoming facilities at UIC Building and Marina One will more than triple the company’s footprint in the burgeoning real estate segment in Singapore.

Views, Reviews & Forum

Stagnant housing prices: cause for cheer or gloom?
Should stagnating house prices be a cause for cheer or worry?  Housing Board resale prices have been virtually flat for the past 11/2 years, and in the private property market, similarly tepid conditions have caused consternation among developers and property agents.  Yet in public housing, such price stagnation – or rather, stability – is arguably a desired outcome.  It certainly seems to be desired by the Government, which has worked to rein in runaway prices caused by earlier policies.

Home sharing: Take action against offenders
It is most unfortunate that I live in one of the estates plagued by eager participants of this “new” home-sharing economy (“S’pore Airbnb host ‘makes about $5,000 a year‘”; Dec 6).  Home sharing makes good financial sense.  Being part of the black market economy, the income derived from it is tax free.  With rentals being inversely proportional to lease duration, the rates derived from such short-term leases are also far ahead of the regulated leasing models.

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

Stock market looking beyond Fed hike to Trump economic plans

Fed’s economic projections to steal the show

Manhattan apartment owners prop up market with incentives

Tenants in Europe fight back against landlord Wall St

UK home sales solid in November, prices to rise in 2017: property firm

Five London Homes Where Asking Prices Have Tumbled by 20% or More

Curbs on China investment will hurt US jobs: Wanda chief

Additional Articles of Interest – Local & Overseas Real Estate

Local & Overseas Real Estate – Full Article

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