Singapore Real Estate
Built environment sector appeals for entry of foreign workers, more relief measures
Despite the government’s latest move to grant construction firms temporary flexibility to recruit workers from China, allowing these workers to enter and obtain their skills certification in Singapore “will only help to a small extent”, the Construction Industry Joint Committee (CIJC) told The Business Times on Monday. “Chinese workers are usually specialised in certain trades, and they are typically skilled workers who command higher salaries.
Pandemic uncertainty clouds new private home sales sentiment
As long as uncertainty from the pandemic reigns, monthly new private home sales could fall to around 1,000 units or even lower for the remaining eight months of 2021 with developers delaying launches, and also limited mass market projects. Seven of the past 12 months saw monthly new private home sales gallop well above 1,000 units. They ranged from a low of 1,083 in July 2020 to 1,633 in January 2021. Including executive condominiums (EC), there were eight months where transactions exceeded 1,000 units – from 1,031 in June 2020 to 2,122 in January 2021.
Is it the calm before the storm for office market?
Rentals of office space in Singapore’s central region turned a corner in the first quarter this year. It rose 3.3 per cent quarter on quarter, versus a 3.5 per cent decline in Q4 2020, data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority showed. But those turning bullish on the office sector may need to take pause. There are structural changes brought on by Covid-19 that have yet to show up in the numbers.
April’s new private homes sales eased to 1,262
Developers in Singapore sold 1,262 new private homes in April, down 2.6 per cent from 1,296 in March. Including executive condominiums (ECs), sales reached 1,342, easing 2.3 per cent against March. ECs are a private-public housing hybrid, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority on Monday. Monday’s official data was similar to consultants’ flash estimates published by The Business Times on May 14. It also showed increasing buyers’ interest for posh condos.
High Street Centre makes second attempt at collective sale with S$800m reserve price
High Street Centre, a mixed-use tower at 1 North Bridge Road, has been put up for sale via a second public tender after obtaining a six-month extension under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures for Conduct of Collective Sale of Property) Order 2020 granted by the Ministry of Law. Owners holding no less than 80 per cent by strata area and share values have agreed to put the property on the market at the current mandated reserve price of S$800 million, while concurrently working to obtain consensus for the lower reserve price of S$700 million, appointed property consultant Cushman & Wakefield said on Monday.
S’pore’s largest integrated transport hub to open in Woodlands in June
A new fully air-conditioned Woodlands Bus Interchange will open on June 13, making it the largest integrated transport hub to operate here. The SMRT-managed integrated transport hub, a term used to refer to air-conditioned bus interchanges linked to MRT stations and nearby malls, is Singapore’s 11th such hub. At 41,500 sq m, it will be almost 2½ times as large as the first integrated transport hub, which opened in Toa Payoh in 2002.
Turning Lim Chu Kang area into S’pore’s next attraction
Plans are afoot to turn the rustic Lim Chu Kang area into Singapore’s high-tech food bowl, but the authorities are also calling for ideas to turn the area into an attractive destination in its own right. The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said yesterday that it is organising a series of engagement sessions from this month to October for the development of a masterplan for the area.
Bright outlook for largest solar farm here
Covid-19 may have caused delays to shipments of key equipment, but that has not derailed the timeline set out for building Singapore’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) system to date. Spread across 10 solar-panel islands – equivalent in size to 45 football fields – on the surface of Tengeh Reservoir, it is also one of the world’s largest inland floating solar PV systems.
Fresh curbs dampen hopes of GDP growth spurt in Q2
Singapore’s economic growth may decline in the April to June period compared with the previous quarter because of the recently reimposed coronavirus curbs, putting at risk the full-year target of more than 6 per cent. However, if the surge in community cases is contained by the middle of next month and relaxation of the curbs follows, the economy may still achieve a decent gross domestic product (GDP) growth.
Singapore must remain open to global talent and skills
Members of the Emerging Stronger Taskforce (EST) “felt strongly” that Singapore needs to remain open to talent from abroad, said National Development Minister and taskforce co-chair Desmond Lee at a press conference on Monday. Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who chairs the Future Economy Council (FEC), added that the “Singapore core” should not be narrowly defined by whether one is Singaporean, Singapore-born, a new citizen, or a foreigner.
Task force unveils plans for S’pore to emerge stronger after Covid-19
A post-Covid-19 Singapore is one that breaks new ground in the digital space to offer unlimited opportunities for its businesses and people, and collaborates closely with them to be sustainable and stronger together. This is the vision put forward by the Emerging Stronger Taskforce (EST), a year after it was launched last May to chart Singapore’s post-pandemic economy. In a 118-page report released yesterday, it makes five recommendations to drive the Republic’s transformation as a node for technology, innovation and enterprise.
World Economic Forum cancels meeting in Singapore; Shangri-La Dialogue organiser remains hopeful
The World Economic Forum (WEF) announced on Monday that its special annual meeting to be held in Singapore from Aug 17 to 20 will be scrapped, following a spike in Covid-19 community cases here that has also led to the second deferment of the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble. The WEF had informed the Singapore government that its decision was due to global uncertainties caused by Covid-19.
ARA partners SMBC after raising US$500m equity funds
ARA Asset Management has raised US$500 million in a round of equity financing, with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) as the lead investor. SMBC is now its new strategic shareholder, the asset fund manager announced on Monday. According to ARA, with the new support from SMBC, the company aims to strengthen its core asset management business and boost its expansion plans into new sectors such as logistics, data centres, infrastructure and private credit, and in key markets globally.
Stocks to watch: Roxy-Pacific, Dasin Retail Trust, Jumbo
Roxy-Pacific: E8Z 0%: The property player’s indirect associate Mequity Hills has entered into an agreement to acquire a 999-year leasehold residential site at 11 Institution Hill for S$23 million, financed by a combination of internal funding and bank borrowings. It will be amalgamated with another 999-year leasehold residential site to create an estimated total land area of 14,300 square feet (sq ft) with a total gross floor area of 40,040 sq ft for residential development. Shares of Roxy-Pacific closed at 35.5 Singapore cents on Monday, up 0.5 cent or 1.4 per cent.
Jumbo to open new F&B outlets for Tsui Wah and Kok Kee brands even as Covid-19 restrictions bite
Jumbo Group announced on Monday that it will be opening two new food and beverage (F&B) outlets for its brands Tsui Wah and Kok Kee Wanton Noodle, even in the midst of Singapore’s current Covid-19 restrictions where dining-in is not allowed so as to stem the growing number of Covid-19 community cases.
Citi appoints Lee Lung Nien to head private bank in South Asia
CITI on Monday announced that Lee Lung Nien will head its private banking business in South Asia, in addition to his existing role as chairman of the private bank for the region. In this new role, Mr Lee will have direct responsibility for the Singapore and Malaysia markets, while the bank’s global market managers in South Asia will report to him as well.
Views, Reviews, Forum & Others
Analysts expect impact of Phase 2 restrictions to be short-lived
Analysts expect last week’s sell-off in response to Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures to be a short-term trend, as long as the restrictions are lifted on schedule. UOB Kay Hian (UOBKH) said the share price declines on Friday were likely a “knee-jerk reaction”, and recommends that investors focus on companies with strong business franchises and those with the majority or all of their earnings from overseas.
Offices, malls, hawker centres quiet as new curbs kick in
Many office buildings and hawker centres lost their usual buzz as Singapore defaulted to working from home under tightened restrictions yesterday. While queues of up to 15 office-goers getting takeaway food were seen at Market Street Interim Hawker Centre yesterday, another lunchtime hot spot, Lau Pa Sat in Tanjong Pagar, was almost empty.
Let those affected by BTO delay buy resale flats without penalty
Successful Build-To-Order (BTO) flat applicants face further delays in moving into their new units because of the pandemic (BTO construction delays spark big rush for HDB temporary housing, May 14). The completion of new flats has been delayed in about 85 per cent of current BTO projects, affecting around 43,000 households. This has affected many, especially newly-weds, couples intending to start families and those planning to get married.
Covid-19 crisis has accelerated changes that Singapore needs to prepare for
As Singapore refreshes its economic strategies for a post-pandemic world, the Emerging Stronger Taskforce has identified six key shifts that present opportunities for growth. It noted that some of these structural changes were already happening before Covid-19 struck, but the scale and nature of the crisis have accelerated the pace of these shifts.
Update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) Situation
Speed at which Changi Airport Covid-19 cluster grew is worrying, says expert
Singapore – In less than two weeks, the Changi Airport cluster has emerged as the country’s largest community cluster to date – second only to the outbreak in the worker dormitories – with a total of 78 Covid-19 cases linked to it. What is even more worrying is how the virus has hit a large number of elderly workers, as much as it has also infiltrated visitors to public places within the airport. Professor Teo Yik Ying, dean of the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, said that the most striking thing about this cluster is how rapidly the virus has spread between the cases.
21 community infections among 28 new Covid-19 cases in Singapore
[Singapore] There were 28 new Covid-19 cases, including 21 in the community, as at Monday noon (May 17), said the Ministry of Health (MOH). Of the community cases, 11 are currently unlinked. The remaining 10 are linked to previous cases. Of the new community patients, six had already been placed on quarantine.
Tan Tock Seng Hospital to resume admissions from Tuesday
[Singapore] Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) will resume admissions from Tuesday (May 18), two weeks after it stopped admitting patients due to a Covid-19 cluster. The hospital said in a press release on Monday (May 17) night that six rounds of testing for all inpatients and two rounds for all 12,000 staff on campus have been completed, and the swabbing results have consistently returned negative.
Many TTSH staff members face discrimination after COVID-19 cluster emerged: Union
Singapore: Discrimination against healthcare workers has increased since the COVID-19 outbreak, with many Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) staff members encountering problems when the hospital emerged as a cluster, said the Healthcare Services Employees’ Union (HSEU). The hospital is an active COVID-19 cluster, with 46 cases linked to it as of Sunday (May 16).
Close contacts of infected Raffles Hospital nurse test negative for Covid-19
Singapore – All the close contacts of a coronavirus-positive nurse at Raffles Hospital have tested negative so far. They were swabbed following the positive test of the 29-year-old woman, who was one of 17 unlinked Covid-19 patients reported in the community on Sunday (May 16). “We continue to ask the staff to closely monitor their health, and are in frequent contact daily with this group of staff to ensure they are safe, well and supported during this period,” the Raffles Medical Group said in response to queries from The
Straits Times on Monday.
NIE student, NSF among 11 unlinked Covid-19 community cases
[Singapore] There were 11 unlinked Covid-19 cases reported in the community on Monday (May 17). These include a student at the National Institute of Education who is also a part-time tutor, a full-time national serviceman (NSF) and a second student from Singapore Polytechnic. There were also 10 patients who had been linked to previous cases, said the Ministry of Health in a statement on Monday evening.
Suntec City, Fengshan market among places visited by COVID-19 cases during infectious period
Singapore: A number of shopping malls and eateries were on Monday (May 17) added to a list of public places visited by COVID-19 community cases during their infectious period, said the Ministry of Health (MOH). The malls include Bugis+, Thomson Plaza, Jurong Point, Suntec City, ION Orchard, 313@Somerset, Eastlink Mall, City Square Mall, Millenia Walk and The Clementi Walk.
Retailers call for support as sales fall amid tightened COVID-19 rules
Singapore: For the past few weeks, jewellery and ear-piercing store Stellar had raked in as much as S$3,300 in sales every Sunday at its outlet at VivoCity. But it made just S$2 in an entire day, after tightened COVID-19 restrictions kicked in last Sunday (May 16) with the aim of tackling a growing number of community cases.
Lockdown may be better than current ‘zombie’ situation: SGTUFF
Retail tenant group Singapore Tenants United For Fairness (SGTUFF) on Monday said that it may be better for the public and businesses if Singapore enters another partial lockdown, that is, another ‘circuit breaker’, instead of having the government progressively tighten measures to curb the resurgence of Covid-19.
Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble bursts again, spiked by rising Covid-19 cases in Republic
The Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble has burst for the second time, following rising community Covid-19 cases in the Republic, as the seven-day moving average of unlinked case count at six has breached the threshold of five. On Monday, the Republic reported 21 community cases, of which 11 were unlinked, placing the seven-day moving average at 6 as computed by The Business Times – above the bubble’s threshold of five.
Hong Kong tightens restrictions on arrivals from several countries, including Singapore
Hong Kong: Hong Kong will tighten travel and quarantine requirements for several countries, including Singapore, Malaysia and Japan, starting from Friday (May 21). The three countries, along with Argentina, Italy, Kenya and the Netherlands, have been classified as high-risk places, announced the Hong Kong government on Monday.
Malaysia mulls shutdown of richest state amid Covid-19 surge
Malaysia’s health ministry on Monday said it may push for a total lockdown of the country’s most industrialised state if current coronavirus curbs are unable to rein in a spike in new cases. The government banned social activities and travel between districts and states two weeks ago, as part of a Movement Control Order (MCO) imposed before the Eid al-Fitr holidays, as it grapples with a surge in Covid-19 infections that experts have said may involve highly contagious variants.
Malaysia turns to field ICUs, shipping containers as cases surge
Unorthodox measures are being rolled out as Malaysia’s healthcare system is stretched thin, not just by the rising number of Covid-19 cases but the severity of the infections, with more patients in intensive care units (ICUs). Besides the deployment of military-built hospitals, “field ICUs” are set to be rolled out in Penang, where critical care capacity has breached 100 per cent, while the surge in deaths has forced Sungai Buloh Hospital, the Klang Valley’s main coronavirus treatment facility, to use a shipping container as a makeshift morgue.
Thai cases hit daily record as prison clusters grow
Thailand recorded its single biggest daily spike in Covid-19 cases yesterday – stemming largely from outbreaks in its overcrowded prisons – even as it eased some physical distancing rules. A total of 6,853 of the 9,635 cases reported were found in prisons across the country, including in Chiang Mai in the north and Thonburi in central Thailand. There were another 25 Covid-19 deaths, bringing the death toll so far to 614 with 111,082 cases.
Coronavirus is airborne, say scientists; now authorities think so, too
Washington • The authorities have come to accept what many researchers have argued for over a year: The coronavirus can spread through the air. That new acceptance, by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, comes with concrete implications: Scientists are calling for ventilation systems to be overhauled.
*For more information, please visit the Ministry of Health (MOH) website at www.moh.gov.sg and refer to go.gov.sg/mohupdates for updates on the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) situation
Global Economy & Global Real Estate
Blackstone’s A$8.4b Crown bid rejected as too low
China’s home market ‘out of control’ as prices climb further
India’s oil demand shrinks further as virus crisis persists
Japan’s economy contracts more than expected as Covid-19 hits consumption
That new hybrid office may not be as flexible as you hoped for
London office market undergoes facelift to woo post-Covid workforce
London house-price premium at 8-year low as buyers look to North
Construction for Aspen’s ongoing developments to be ‘affected slightly’ by MCO 3.0
Thailand Q1 slump eases, outlook cut as Covid-19 woes linger
US dollar firm as virus curbs in Asia unnerve investors
US homebuilder confidence steady despite rising costs, shrinking building materials
Oil climbs 1% on economic recovery hopes despite fresh Asian restrictions