The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry

The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry



Daily News – 11th, 12th & 13th February 2017

Top Story

Redas calls for review of property tax, transparency in valuation
The Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (Redas) is urging the government to review property tax for vacant private land, and exempt property tax for land under or slated for development or buildings undergoing renovations.  Among other key suggestions, it is asking the government to offer more transparency in valuation when it comes to computing development charges to top up lease tenures as well as lower certain regulatory fees to reduce business costs.  Redas president Augustine Tan briefly shared the Budget wish-list at the Redas Spring Festival lunch on Friday.


Singapore Economy

Small- and medium-sized firms issue profit warnings amid slower economy
Amid a softer economy, a number of small- and medium-sized firms listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) have warned of losses or declines in earnings ahead of their announcements of financial results ending Dec 31, 2016.  Data compiled by The Business Times shows that companies in shipping, construction and manufacturing in Singapore continue to be hit by the economic downturn.  But restructuring specialists told BT that listed companies in trouble are, for now, mostly confined to those from the offshore support services sector. These firms are seeking insolvency and restructuring advice as charter contracts dry up and debt burdens increase.

Push for more public access to IPOs
Changes are under way to make initial public offerings (IPOs) more of a public affair by including more retail investors.  The bourse operator is pushing ahead with plans to impose a minimum retail allocation for mainboard IPOs, a source close to the Singapore Exchange (SGX) has said.  The process began in February last year when the SGX proposed to mandate that all Mainboard IPO aspirants allocate at least 10 per cent of their offer shares to retail investors, up to a cap of $100 million.

The challenge ahead: Ensuring innovation across the economy
The call to innovate is one that has been repeated for close to a decade now, but most can agree that what we mean when we talk about innovation has changed drastically.  With Budget 2017 drawing near, experts say the Government faces a mighty challenge in making sure that true innovation can flourish across the economy.  Innovation was also a key theme running through the report released last week by the Committee on the Future Economy.

Tech retailer transforms for the future
Local technology retailer Challenger is stepping up its game in the light of the challenges it is facing, from high rents to rising competition from e-commerce.  The company rolled out a new multi-channel approach across its operations last year, which integrates both the online and offline shopping experiences for customers.  This means that customers using its e-commerce stores, for instance, can now choose to have their items delivered or to collect them at a Challenger store.


Singapore Real Estate

Government to seek views on home rentals for short term
The guidelines around a new category of private homes for short-term rentals will become clearer in the coming months, with the Government set to engage both industry stakeholders and the public in the second quarter of this year.  Among the issues that could surface are the maximum duration that homes can be rented out for in a year, whether the new category would apply to residences in a specific area, and how best to ensure the safety and privacy of other residents in the area.

Ill-timed easing of property cooling measures may rekindle speculation
Even geomancers are not exactly enamoured of property stocks, so it seems, in the Year of the Fire Rooster which kicked off two weeks ago.  Mr Kelvin Tay, UBS’ chief investment officer, South Asia, drew laughs at a recent Chinese New Year media lunch when he tried his hand at some fengshui.  He postulated that the “yin fire” in the current year conflicts with the elements of fire and earth – noting that this is a negative for industries such as property and energy which are associated with such elements.

How changes to law will improve town councils
There has been lift upgrading and estate upgrading but one aspect affecting Singaporeans’ day-to-day lives that is only now set for wide-ranging “upgrading” is the Town Councils Act.  It has been 28 years since town councils were formed under the Act, creating a municipal sub-layer of entities distinct from the national operations of government, but with the vital public service role of being responsible for Housing Board estate management.

Manulife to buy PwC building from DBS
A Manulife unit is buying a central business district (CBD) building as the Canadian insurer lifts its profile in Singapore.  DBS Group Holdings has agreed to sell the 28-storey PwC building at 8 Cross Street for $747 million to Manulife. The deal, to be completed next month, is based on an agreed property value of $747 million for the building and the repayment by Manulife of a $402.6 million loan.  The building constructed by DBS China Square in 1999 is said to have a net lettable area of 355,704 sq ft.


Companies’ Brief

Singapore a ‘key market’ for HK-listed Fullshare Holdings
Hong Kong-listed Fullshare Holdings, which last week entered an agreement to pay S$725.2 million for a holding company of prime commercial building GSH Plaza, is eyeing more investments in Singapore.  These include other office buildings, residential property and hotels, said company chief portfolio officer Jack Tsai.  “If there are interesting opportunities we definitely have the ability to be able to purchase these… We’re patient but we also have the ability to move quickly,” Mr Tsai told The Business Times.

Ley Choon Group marks turnaround in Q3 and nine months, 2016
Ley Choon Group Holdings has cemented a turnaround from a year ago with a net profit of S$8.76 million for the third quarter ended Dec 31, 2016, and S$14 million for the first nine months.  The construction company had incurred net losses of S$2.85 million and S$46.54 million in the year-ago periods respectively.

This came on the back of a surge in other income mainly from a gain on the disposal of office building at 55 Kranji Crescent together with the plant and equipment during the third quarter.

GIC in tie-up to acquire another UK student dorm for £227m
GIC has snapped up another student accommodation in the UK – this time in a 50-50 joint venture with UK leading manager and developer of student accommodation Unite Students to acquire Aston Student Village (ASV) for £227 million (S$403 million).  This marks a string of student dorm purchases by GIC, which has dipped its toes into German student lodging in October through a partnership with GSA to invest in a portfolio of assets, and a major portfolio acquisition in September with GSA in the UK for £700 million.

Yoma’s Q3 profit slumps 98.7%
Mainboard-listed Yoma Strategic Holdings posted on Friday a 98.7 per cent plunge in its Q3 net profit, citing the strengthening of the US dollar (USD) as a cause of the massive drop.  Net profit for the three months ended Dec 31, 2016 was S$0.3 million, down from S$25.2 million a year ago.  Earnings per share for the quarter was 0.02 Singapore cent, down from 1.45 Singapore cents the previous year.

UEL shares rise as 5 bidders shortlisted for takeover
Shares of property group United Engineers (UEL) jumped eight cents, or 2.83 per cent, to $2.91 yesterday after news broke that five different suitors had entered the final round of bidding to take up a controlling stake in the firm.  Private equity firm KKR & Co, Malaysian conglomerate Samling Group, Perennial Real Estate Holdings, Singapore government- owned development group Ascendas-Singbridge, as well as an investment vehicle of Malaysian tycoon Lee Ming Tee, have been shortlisted to make final bids for UEL, Bloomberg reported early yesterday, citing sources.


Views, Reviews & Forum

Good time to buy that dream home?
Home seekers who have taken a wait-and-see attitude may be more encouraged to dip their toes in the property market this year.  The sector is experiencing an upturn in sentiment, thanks to private home prices declining at a slower pace and increased sales.

Do your homework before buying property
Buying property is a big financial and long-term commitment for most of us.  So, we should do our homework when it comes to financing.  Mr Vasu Menon, OCBC Bank’s senior investment strategist, says buying a home is a very personal decision and that there is no uniform answer on whether you should purchase or upgrade now. Much depends on your circumstances and personal finances.

6 Things to ask to help you decide which one
It is often said that the value of a home boils down to location, location and location, but other attributes come into play as well.  A host of factors must be considered, including thoughtful design, product quality and a conducive living environment, says Ms Alice Tan, who heads consultancy and research at Knight Frank Singapore.


Global Economy & Global Real Estate

Popping the housing bubble in Americans’ minds

Feds and Trump lawyers wrangle over president’s DC hotel lease

Jackson Hole ski resort forced to close after ‘unusual’ storm

British property hit by lack of interest, dwindling supply

China banks lowering mortgage rate discounts

China’s January exports up 7.9%, imports jump 16.7%

Airbnb listings in Canada set to jump despite govt scrutiny

Vancouver’s empty houses highlight middle-class woes

Brazil mulls over cap on fine for homebuyers who cancel purchases


Additional Articles of Interest – Local & Overseas Real Estate

Local & Overseas Real Estate – Full Article

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