The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry

The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry



Daily News – 16th March 2017

Top Story

Developers’ sales in Feb signal pick-up in momentum, say analysts
Developers’ sales momentum had picked up this year, even before the recent easing of the property cooling measures; sales figures for February bear this out and March figures are projected to be even more sterling.  A total 977 new private homes and 329 executive condominiums (ECs) were sold by developers last month – respectively 2.6 times and 1.8 times more than the numbers sold in January.  Compared to a year ago, the number of private homes sold in February was nearly 3.2 times greater; that of ECs was 2.5 times higher.  The sales data were collated by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) through a survey of developers.


Singapore Economy

2016 unemployment at 6-year high amid more layoffs, fewer vacancies
The labour market in Singapore softened dramatically in 2016, with the jobless rate at a six-year high as layoffs spiked and job vacancies fell.  Jobseekers are finding that it takes longer to get a job and for those who have lost their jobs, fewer of them were re-entering the workforce, according to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) Labour Market 2016 report released on Wednesday.  Total employment grew at a slower rate, reflecting cyclical weakness in parts of the economy, a structural slowdown in local labour force growth and tightened foreign worker policy, said MOM.

Brighter outlook for Singapore’s trade-dependent sectors, dimmer prospects at home
A two-speed economy has emerged in Singapore, going by the latest survey among private-sector economists, the results of which were released on Wednesday.  At least for now, they agree that external-facing indicators are strong enough to warrant their revising growth rates upwards from the previous survey.  They also agree that domestic-oriented indicators are weaker, as reflected by the weak labour market data, also released on Wednesday.

Construction set to remain worst performer
Construction will remain the worst-performing sector in Singapore this year, if economists’ forecasts are anything to go by.  The sector will grow just 0.3 per cent this year, according to the median forecast of economists in the latest quarterly survey by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.  This was a major downgrade from last December’s forecast of 2.4 per cent, after economists absorbed the fact that the sector grew just 0.2 per cent last year.

Govt willing to allow some flexibility on foreign labour quota
The government is willing to allow some “short-term flexibility” on its foreign manpower quota to help companies cope with the shortage of labour, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say on Wednesday.  “For those sectors that have not transformed fast enough, let us work together to help you transform faster. If you need some short-term flexibility on the foreign worker policy, we will consider,” he told a gathering of business leaders.


Singapore Real Estate 

Condo rents continue to rise – up 1.1% in February
Rents for non-landed private homes ticked up 1.1 per cent in February from January, the second month-on-month increase after a downtrend.  The rent uptick for condominiums and private apartments was seen across all three regional classifications, that is, core central, outside central and suburban, according to flash estimates released by SRX Property on Wednesday.  R’ST Research director Ong Kah Seng said the improvement was due to expatriates coming to Singapore in the first half of the year. Some of them might be less aggressive in negotiating down rents due to their unfamiliarity with Singapore’s housing options, he said.

Shophouses in demand among investors again
Investment in Singapore shophouses has stabilised and shows signs of picking up after taking a hit following the introduction of a loan curb in 2013.  Data tracked by consultancy CBRE shows the total transaction value has been rising in the past two years even though the number of caveats lodged remained fairly steady at just over 100 a year.  Transaction value rose by about 7.6 per cent to $707.07 million last year, from $657.3 million in 2015.

NTU co-develops world’s first automated gondola
Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) and ELID Technology International have co-developed a robotic system named Outobot, which serves to wash and paint high-rise buildings.  OutoBot is an automated gondola system that will improve productivity and enhance workplace safety. The robot is the first of its kind to have wireless controls, and is controlled by a laptop or tablet interface.


Companies’ Brief

IOI mulls plans for two office towers on Central Boulevard
Malaysian property developer IOI Properties is considering the construction of two office towers at its prime Central Boulevard site in Singapore.  The two blocks would sit on a five-storey podium, and house public, retail and childcare amenities, and car and bicycle parking, said IOI in a prospectus to shareholders in relation to its rights issue of up to 1.11 billion new shares.  Details of the proposed development have yet to be finalised, and the two office towers are only a “preliminary consideration”.

Soilbuild to construct Bedok Food City
Soilbuild Construction Group said after trading closed on Wednesday that it had been awarded a construction contract by the Housing & Development Board (HDB) to build Bedok Food City, a ramp-up five-storey food complex at Bedok North Avenue 4.  The project is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2017 and will take about 32 months to complete.  This latest contract has raised the group’s order book to S$562.2 million.


Views, Reviews & Forum 

Missing piece in the CFE recommendations
The release of recommendations by the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) last month and the debate on Budget 2017 in Parliament provided much food for thought. With technology disruption and an increasingly uncertain global economy, exacerbated by a rise in populism and protectionist sentiment in many developed countries, it is no surprise that business and the economy were among the major issues on the minds of Singaporeans.

Easing cooling measures won’t stop prices from falling: Fitch
Measures to cool Singapore’s housing market are likely to be eased gradually over the coming years to support demand, Fitch Ratings said in a Wednesday report. Despite this, it believes that home prices will likely continue to fall because of the oversupply situation and rising interest rates in the market.  “The latest changes are unlikely to have a significant impact on Singapore’s housing market. Macro-prudential settings are still tight, while high vacancy ratios, a slower pace of immigration, subdued economic conditions and a weakening labour market are all likely to continue weighing on prices,” the credit rating agency said.

Property expert cautions against stalling market
It is not so much Brexit or the arrival of United States President Donald Trump that keeps Knight Frank group chairman Alistair Elliot up at night as a growing trend of regulation in the property market.  “The impact of stamp duty increases in the United Kingdom was much more constraining on transaction volumes than the impact of Brexit,” he said, referring to higher rates of stamp duties, an extra 3 percentage points, in Britain last year.  “I fully respect every country’s right to adapt their local transaction charges to suit what they believe their market circumstances are.”


Global Economy & Global Real Estate 

Fed raises rates as job gains, firming inflation stoke confidence

China’s Anbang denies report of Kushner property investment

The other Airbnbs: alternative home-sharing rentals

Woolworth Tower’s luxury apartments in New York ready for viewing

London public housing scheme slammed

Sembcorp India says payment delays raising developer costs

Toronto’s housing boom refills empty nests

Vancouver condo set for Singapore launch


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Local & Overseas Real Estate – Full Article

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