The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry

The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry



Daily News – 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th April 2017

Singapore Economy

Q1 growth at 2.5%; manufacturing still plays heavyweight role
Manufacturing remains key as the Singapore economy grew 2.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2017 compared to a year ago, just a shade below market consensus, although economists are sanguine that it could be revised upwards in due course.  The latest reading is based on the first two months of 2017. The government’s full-year forecast is 1-3 per cent growth for 2017.  The stellar year-on-year rebound in the last quarter of 2016, where a growth of 2.9 per cent was clocked, made the advance estimates of Q1 2017 growth pale in comparison.

Economy grows, but pick-up uneven
Singapore’s economy grew 2.5 per cent in the first three months of the year, as a more sanguine global outlook lifted trade-related sectors such as manufacturing.  However, the pick-up in growth was not broad-based. Some segments of manufacturing did less well, while growth in the service sector remained tepid and construction output shrank compared with the same period a year earlier.  This uneven performance prompted the Monetary Authority of Singapore to keep the exchange rate policy unchanged in its latest policy review, also released yesterday.

STB bringing Disney, Jedi magic to Singapore
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is joining forces with The Walt Disney Company (Southeast Asia) in a three-year collaboration that will see Singapore hosting Disney brand-themed events and activities to draw both locals and tourists.  Aside from shining the spotlight on local attractions and precincts, the partnership also aims to help local event organisers and small- and medium-sized enterprises leverage the entertainment events to boost businesses.  “This partnership is another step in our efforts to anchor world-class entertainment events, and make Singapore the key leisure destination for visitors from South-east Asia and beyond,” said Minister for Trade and Industry, S Iswaran, of the collaboration, which is the first of its kind between Disney and a South-east Asian tourism body.

Singapore aims to house the most globally competitive plants
Singapore has a vision: That is all factories housed in the Republic will be the most globally competitive, efficient and productive for companies.  These are bold goals but work is underway to move towards that vision through advanced manufacturing, the Economic Development Board’s (EDB) assistant managing director Lim Kok Kiang told The Business Times in an exclusive interview.

MAS stays the course with neutral stance on monetary policy
Round two goes to Singapore’s monetary policy doves.  In its second scheduled policy statement since it last flattened the Singapore dollar policy band, Singapore’s central bank said on Thursday that it will maintain its neutral stance, shrugging away expectations of a tightening move that had emerged on the back of a pickup in pace of growth.

IE S’pore helping local firms build infrastructure value chain potential
Singapore’s construction and infrastructure companies need to change their business model as they expand into the region.  From simply doing one-off engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) projects, they need to expand their expertise downstream into asset ownership, operation and management.  This is so that they will not have to build their revenue base from zero every year, but will be able to receive recurring income from year to year – for as long as concession agreements with local governments are in place.

Singapore Real Estate

Sotheby’s International Realty to enter HK
Fresh from the opening of its Singapore office last month, Sotheby’s International Realty is looking to enter Hong Kong by September this year and Bangkok next year.  It hopes to have 10-15 employees in Hong Kong by the end of September, increasing the number to 60 in three years’ time, said Yasushi Yamada, chief operating officer of List Holdings Singapore Pte Ltd, the Singapore entity of Japanese developer List Co Ltd.

Woodlands set to become ‘star destination’
Woodlands will offer close to 10,000 new housing units in addition to a new business hub as part of a revamp to transform the area into the “star destination of the north”.  “The Woodlands Regional Centre will be a new hub for businesses, especially those with Malaysian and Asean linkages,” said Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong on Sunday.  He said this at an exhibition showcasing the plans for the area under the Housing & Development Board’s Remaking Our Heartland programme.

Companies’ Brief

EC World Reit riding e-commerce boom
Ask Alvin Cheng to define his management philosophy, and he will tell you it’s all about being entrusted to add value.  The deputy chief executive officer of the manager of SGX-listed EC World Reit places a premium on the values of humility, gratitude and positiveness. “The more responsibility you take on, the more humble you need to become,” said Mr Cheng, who has more than three decades of experience in corporate finance and Reit management. “Every success you achieve should be seen as a gift to be treasured, not to boast about or flaunt, but as an opportunity to build your career.”

Tee Land unit sells Sydney hotel for A$32m
Tee Land said an indirect 55 per cent owned subsidiary entered into a contract to sell Quality Hotel CKS Sydney Airport on April 13 for A$32 million (S$33.63 million).  The buyer is Australia Ao Bo Assets Management Pty Ltd as trustee for the Bo Lian Unit Trust.  “The purchaser is an independent and unrelated third party,” Tee Land said in a regulatory filing with the Singapore Exchange on Sunday.

BCA gallery a showcase of building industry
The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) launched a new and expanded gallery yesterday.  Work on the new gallery started last year and the single-storey showcase has since grown into a two-storey exhibition consisting of six zones. Each zone comes with distinct themes and interactive exhibits to educate the public on the importance of the building and construction industry in shaping the present and future development of Singapore.  The upgraded gallery is the fruit of discussions held between BCA and students and teachers from seven schools. It includes a “swipe wall”, where visitors can browse through old and current photos of some iconic buildings and places.

Soilbuild REIT
Soilbuild Business Space Reit (Soilbuild Reit) reported gross revenue of $22 million in the first quarter of 2017, representing an increase of 9.2 per cent year on year.  Distribution per unit fell 4.4 per cent to 1.489 Singapore cents but this is within expectations.  There were some positive takeaways from this set of results, as portfolio occupancy rose from 89.6 per cent (as at the end of financial year 2016) to 91.8 per cent.  It is understood that Soilbuild Reit has obtained approval from JTC to lease out up to 30 per cent of its 72 Loyang Way property’s gross floor area to non-oil and gas related tenants. As such, the property’s occupancy came in at 9.9 per cent.

Views, Reviews & Forum

Singapore property prices to double by 2030: Morgan Stanley
Singapore’s property prices are expected to turn the corner next year, ending a protracted downtrend since late 2013, and to double by 2030, Morgan Stanley says in a note.  This is based on its forecast that home prices will rise by 5 per cent each year on a per square foot (psf) basis from 2018 to 2030.  The bullish report issued by the bank on Wednesday dismisses concerns raised by property market bears who flagged slower population growth, an ageing population and a structural growth slowdown as weighing on the long-term property market outlook.

Winter ending to Singapore’s property market
It has been a long winter for Singapore’s property market, but the first blooms of spring are showing. The signs of a revival are strong, such as greatly increased sales volumes and fierce bidding for land by developers ready to fork out eye-watering sums.  The latest pointer to an upturn was the keenly contested Toh Tuck Road site, which drew 24 developers – a record for a non-landed government sale site.  Malaysian developer S P Setia offered $265 million for the 18,721.4 sq m plot, which works out to $939 per square foot (psf) per plot ratio, surprising analysts, who were expecting bids capped at $200 million.

Orchard revamp a step in the right direction, say experts
Pedestrianisation of Orchard Road is a step in the right direction, said observers, as they flagged considerations and floated suggestions for the proposal to work.  “Great cities have great streets, and many of them are pedestrianised,” said urban planner William Lau. The former president of the Singapore Institute of Planners gave the Myeongdong shopping district in Seoul as an example.  “It is very vibrant. The shops spill out onto the street there,” he said, adding that accommodation would have to be made for buildings which are accessible to vehicles only via Orchard Road.

To buy an old HDB flat or not, that is the question
The debate over National Development Minister Lawrence Wong’s comments about the Housing Board’s 99-year leases was necessary, but should not become alarmist.  Mr Wong got it absolutely right on both counts. First, when he issued a warning on his blog that people shouldn’t be buying very old Housing Board resale flats in hopes that they would get Sers.  That’s the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers), in which the Government picks HDB estates it wants to acquire for redevelopment. It gives flat owners market-rate compensation, and replacement units at discounted prices.

HDB leases and what’s in store for retirement as society ages
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong’s blog post of March 24, in which he cautioned buyers of older resale flats against paying high prices on the assumption that their flats would be “Sers-ed”, has set some home owners thinking and counting down the remaining years on their HDB flat leases.  Mr Wong made clear that the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) – under which the HDB acquires ageing blocks for redevelopment, compensates residents at market rates for their old flats and lets them buy new units nearby at subsidised rates – was never intended for all flats.

Modify Sers to reduce speculative demand
I applaud National Development Minister Lawrence Wong for clarifying the 99-year lease issue on old HDB flats (Older flats ‘can still be retirement asset’; April 13). Long-time residents of old HDB flats acquired under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) should be allocated a replacement unit of a similar size in the redeveloped estate, but with a lease that is equivalent to the balance lease of the old flat acquired. For example, if the acquired flat was 40 years old, the replacement flat after redevelopment could be granted with a lease of 59 years only.

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

China exports surge in March, widening its trade surplus

Wholesale inflation dips in March for first time since August

Retail sales, consumer prices slump in March

Central London house prices fall in March on Brexit, tax: survey

Trump’s DC hotel seen facing new set of legal challenges

S Korea freezes rates, raises economic outlook

Chinese buyers’ insatiable appetite for property

Tears and cheers greet China’s new economic zone

Prada reports lowest profit since IPO

Uniqlo’s Q2 profit surges on overseas expansion

SP Setia seeks expansion through I&P buy

Hainan acts to clamp down on property speculation

Toronto-based CIBC to move to new HQ after almost a century

JPMorgan seeks to regain its footing in US mortgage market

US cities shelving plans for more self-storage buildings

Japan’s frugal households offer no respite for BOJ, retailers

Paris tourism makes strong recovery

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Local & Overseas Real Estate – Full Article

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