The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry

The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry



Daily News – 23, 24 & 25 Jan 2021 (Sat, Sun & Mon)

Singapore Real Estate

2020 property investment up even as retail consumption slides
New private homes were high on the shopping list for some in Singapore last year. But the same cannot be said for retail spending, which has not fully recovered given fewer tourists here to wine and dine, while snapping up cosmetics and other discretionary items. Data collated by NUS’ Institute of Real Estate and Urban Studies (IREUS) showed that the retail sales index sank over 40 per cent year-on-year in April, while new private home sales slumped some 58 per cent to 256 units after developers were forced to shutter sales galleries, and physical home viewings were disallowed.

Is property development in Singapore becoming an unsustainable business?
Following comments by top government officials and analysts this past week about the resurgent property market, some investors will understandably be bracing themselves for another round of cooling measures. They should perhaps also begin asking whether the standard business model of residential property developers is becoming unsustainable because of the negative externalities they create for society. For their part, the local property developers ought to explain how they plan to adapt to seemingly persistent and prescriptive government intervention in the property market, and whether this will permanently depress their profitability.

Property consultants upbeat about Singapore office market in second half
Property consultants are cautiously optimistic about prospects for the Singapore office market, at least in the second half of this year. “While the first half of 2021 is expected to show the continued grappling of the pandemic, the latter half is expected to display better results,” said CBRE’s head of research for South-east Asia, Desmond Sim. “Should economic activity and business sentiment improve on the back of the vaccine roll-out, the office market is poised to benefit from employment gains,” he added.

Retail rents fell 14.7% in 2020; market will remain challenging, say analysts
The decline in retail rents gathered pace in the fourth quarter, taking the full-year drop in the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s rental index of retail space in the central region to 14.7 per cent – in contrast with the increase of 2.9 per cent in 2019. Property consultants expect retail property rents to continue languishing – at least in the near term.

Sales of HDB resale flats hit 8-year high in 2020 as prices climb 5%
The Housing Board (HDB) resale market ended 2020 on a strong note, with flat prices edging up in many locations and buyer demand remaining buoyant despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Prices of HDB resale flats rose for a third consecutive quarter, climbing 3.1 per cent in the last three months of 2020 compared with the previous quarter, data released by the HDB on Friday showed. This marks the highest quarterly increase since the third quarter of 2011 when prices rose 3.8 per cent.

Parc Central Residences executive condominium about 60% sold
Some 414 units of the 700-unit executive condominium Parc Central Residences were sold at an average price of S$1,177 per square foot (psf) on Saturday. The development comprises 11 16-storey blocks located at Tampines. It is jointly developed by Hoi Hup Realty and Sunway Development. Second-timer applicants will be able to book from Feb 23 onwards. A selection of three- to five-bedroom units are still available. Viewing is by appointment only through appointed agents – ERA, Huttons and Propnex.

199-year Boat Quay shophouse up for sale for S$27m
A 199-YEAR leasehold conservation shophouse located at 31 South Bridge Road and 88 Circular Road in Boat Quay is up for sale via private treaty at S$27 million, exclusive marketing agent ERA Realty said on Friday. The two-storey asset sits on a land area of about 330 square metres (sq m) and has a built-up area of 622 sq m. It was formerly four units of individual shophouses that have been amalgamated into two titles.

Central-region condos drive Singapore’s private home prices to all-time high
Prices of new private homes in Singapore rose 2.1 per cent in Q4 2020 from Q3, marking their steepest quarterly increase in over two years. For the whole of 2020, the price index was up 2.2 per cent, a tad slower than the 2.7 per cent increase in 2019, the final figures released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) indicated on Friday. This week, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat had said the government is paying “close attention” to the local property market “to ensure that it remains stable”.

Forum: Cooling measures useful only if properly enforced
I applaud Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat’s recent speech to the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (Property market must remain stable so young S’poreans can own homes: DPM, Jan 19). As a young Singaporean with an aspiration of having my own home, I am cautiously awaiting the Government’s next steps. One of the main issues is the affordability of property for Singaporeans. Property cooling measures are useful only if properly enforced.

Architects invited to pitch ideas to redevelop 3 key landmarks in Geylang Serai
A call went out last Friday for architects to propose ideas to redesign three key landmarks in the Geylang Serai district and develop it into a vibrant cultural precinct. Local architects aged 45 and below can pitch ideas in a competition to transform the area and redevelop three locations: Geylang Serai Market, Joo Chiat Complex, and civic centre and community hub Wisma Geylang Serai.

194 families asked HDB for rental flats amid delays
More than 190 families who cannot move into their new Housing Board (HDB) flats because of construction delays caused by Covid-19 have asked for interim rental housing. Some projects have been hampered by work hold-ups as well as labour and supply shortages due to the pandemic. The HDB said it has received 194 such requests, in response to queries from The Straits Times. Of these, 131 households are already living in their rental units and 39 will be moving in or getting their units soon. The remaining 24 withdrew their requests.

Reits (Jan 23-24, 2021)


Singapore Economy

Cutting Budget deficit while sustaining positive fiscal impulse a knotty endeavour
Following 2020’s fiscal largesse, and marking the start of a new term of government, Budget 2021 is expected to be a more modest affair with a less-dramatic deficit. But keeping the deficit small while maintaining a positive fiscal impulse will be tough. The downturn has curtailed tax revenue, and new measures are likely to be off the table, to avoid hurting the nascent recovery.

Singapore leaps up the rankings in Bloomberg’s global innovation index
Singapore (Bloomberg) – Singapore leaped three spots to reclaim its No. 3 rank in the 2020 Bloomberg Innovation Index, while economies across Asia-Pacific showed a mixed picture of progress. After a six-year streak at the top, South Korea was unseated from its best-in-world spot by Germany – but only just. Japan and New Zealand were among those losing ground in innovation against global peers, while Vietnam showed a big gain.

Forced digitalisation of firms opens ‘tech-lite’ window for non-tech grads
Singapore businesses were caught off-guard with a global pandemic as Covid-19 forced digitalisation as the only way forward. Combine this with nudging to hire local talent for digital roles, and this situation has opened a window for fresh graduates – including those with no tech background. More “tech-lite” jobs are now available for them. “A lot of firms in Singapore were not ready for the ‘new normal’,” said Michael Page Singapore managing director Nilay Khandelwal.

Only 50% of Malaysian workers have returned since border reopening
Only about 50 per cent of Malaysian workers have returned to Singapore for work since cross-border travel resumed five months ago. Various trade associations told The Straits Times that industries that rely heavily on employees from across the Causeway, such as renovation and food and beverage (F&B) services, are still struggling to cope with the manpower shortage.

RTS Link brings significant economic, social benefits; to ease load on Causeway: Ong Ye Kung
The Rapid Transit System (RTS) linking Singapore and Johor Baru may be a short service with only two stations, but its economic and social benefits are significant, Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Friday. Speaking at the ground-breaking event for the RTS Link Woodlands North station, Mr Ong said the 4-km long RTS Link will offer an attractive alternative to the Causeway, which nearly 300,000 commuters crossed daily before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.


Companies’ Brief

CapitaLand issues profit warning, expects full-year loss
CapitaLand announced in its profit guidance on Friday that it is expecting to report a loss for the full year ended Dec 31, 2020 as a result of the impact from revaluations and impairments. Based on indicative values, the company’s share of fair value losses is expected to be in the range of S$1.55-1.65 billion, compared with the gain of S$674.8 million a year ago. This fair value loss represents about 4.7 per cent of the group’s investment properties portfolio value.

Analysts raise target price on CICT on recovery expectations
Four brokerages have raised their target price on CapitaLand Commercial Integrated Trust (CICT), as most are expecting the recently-merged entity’s earnings to recover in the following financial year. This comes after the manager on Thursday posted Q4 and FY2020 results that included full-year negative rent reversions of 6.6 per cent, which its chief executive said was hopefully the bottom for CICT.

LHN taps trends in e-commerce and sharing economy
LHN Group’s strategy of revamping unused and under-utilised spaces to suit emerging industry trends has proven valuable, after the pandemic triggered a rush towards e-commerce and bumped up demand for its co-living spaces. Five years ago, the company did a strategic review of its business and began shifting away from traditional self-storage – typically catering to those storing personal items – to target merchants operating online instead. It came as Singapore’s government was increasingly pushing for e-commerce to take off.

Isetan explores options for property investment at Wisma Atria
Japanese department store operator Isetan (Singapore) announced on Friday that it is currently “exploring its options” regarding its strata area at Wisma Atria building along Orchard Road. It added that it may be appointing property agents and valuers to assist the company, and to commence exploratory discussions with third parties. However, shareholders and potential investors should note that all options regarding Isetan Wisma Atria are being evaluated, and no definitive decision or agreement has been made.

Growth in Reit ETFs driven by continued hunt for yield
Singapore Exchange (SGX) lists three Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) tracking the performance of Reits in the Asia-Pacific. The three ETFs are NikkoAM-StraitsTrading Asia ex-Japan Reit ETF which tracks the FTSE EPRA Nareit Asia ex Japan Reits 10% Capped Index, the Lion-Phillip S-Reit ETF which tracks the Morningstar Singapore Reit Yield Focus IndexSM and the Phillip SGX APAC Dividend Leaders Reit ETF which tracks the iEdge APAC ex-Japan Dividend Leaders Reit Index.

Sabana’s manager wants to leave failed merger behind; will work on improving portfolio and performance
THE chief executive officer (CEO) of Sabana Shari’ah Compliant Industrial Reit’s manager Donald Han has made it clear that he wants to leave behind the failed merger with ESR-Reit and work on improving the real estate investment trust’s (Reit) portfolio and performance. In a media call on Friday, he said: “I am generally a forward-looking person. There is a lot for us to do in 2021, being a new year. It’s a start for us to continue with the refreshed strategy which we started two (to) three years ago, and that continues until we can stabilise our properties.”


Views, Reviews, Forum & Others

Getting the US back in shape
Chia Ngiang Hong, President, Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (REDAS)

The biggest challenge would be to heal the deep polarisation within the US society and rebuild trust in the government. There must be greater dialogue and engagement between the fragmented groups within the country to forge national unity. Without strong bipartisan cooperation and public support, it would be difficult to push through and implement the many urgent and transformative measures needed to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, revive the economy, create jobs and improve livelihoods.

Leading through a modern-day crisis
The year 2020 has been a wild rollercoaster ride, to say the least. We would have never imagined that we would be working from home or attending weddings via Zoom. Our emotions and perspectives towards how Covid-19 has disoriented our lives have also changed. A study by the Nanyang Technological University revealed that the sentiments towards the pandemic have shifted from fear to anger.

Safer Chinese New Year celebrations
The tightening of restrictions ahead of the coming Chinese New Year period is a cautionary move to ensure that celebrations can still take place, but in a safe atmosphere. It bears remembering that Singapore saw a spike in Covid-19 cases after Chinese New Year last year, with multiple clusters linked to celebratory gatherings. To avoid a recurrence of that outbreak, it has been necessary to make pre-emptive moves to strengthen measures amid the outbreak, and to be mentally prepared that Chinese New Year this year will not be quite the same as before. It will be quieter, subdued and, perhaps, more disciplined.

How will Biden administration impact region?
The road ahead for Mr Joe Biden will be busy – and bumpy – as America’s freshly inaugurated 46th president looks to roll back Mr Donald Trump’s isolationist policies and mend Washington’s ties with its global partners. What can countries in Asia expect from a new administration in the United States? And how will continuing competition for influence between America and China play out in the region?


Update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) Situation

A year of Covid-19 in Singapore, Combating Covid-19
One year after Singapore confirmed its first case of the disease, Clara Chong looks at the milestones in the nation’s response to the pandemic.

48 new imported cases – the highest since last March
Singapore reported 48 imported Covid-19 cases yesterday – a high not seen since March 23 last year. The same number of imported cases – then the highest – was reported on that day in March last year, during a wave of infections among Singaporeans and permanent residents who were returning from abroad. All of the new imported cases were on stay-home notice or in isolation when they were diagnosed, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday in its daily update.

Cluster at Kallang firm grows to eight with new case
The sole locally transmitted Covid-19 case reported yesterday has been linked to the cluster at BS Industrial & Construction Supply in Kallang, bringing the number of cases in this cluster to eight. She is a Malaysian national who works in sales at the company, and is a co-worker of a 39-year-old permanent resident who was the first case detected in the cluster, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement.

Work from home to stay as default to lower office transmission risk
Working from home should remain the default arrangement to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission at offices, the labour movement, employers’ union and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said yesterday. The Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and MOM said they jointly reviewed whether there was a need to adjust safe management measures at the workplace after Singapore moved to phase three of its reopening last month, but decided it was safer to have people working from home.

Stricter rules may be disappointing, but S’pore must remain vigilant: PM
While stricter measures to combat rising Covid-19 infections ahead of the Chinese New Year might be disappointing, Singapore must remain vigilant and mentally prepare to celebrate the festive season differently, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday. PM Lee highlighted in a Facebook post the tightened measures that have been put in place to keep everyone safe. He acknowledged that the stricter rules would be disappointing for those looking forward to celebrating Chinese New Year.

Range of factors will determine if further measures are needed
The multi-ministry task force tackling the pandemic will look at a range of indicators and not just a single factor when determining if further restrictions will be implemented ahead of Chinese New Year. These indicators will include the number of daily new Covid-19 cases, especially those that are unlinked, the cases found among patients who see doctors for acute respiratory infections, and the latest situation and assessments, said Education Minister Lawrence Wong.

Singapore tightens rules on household visits ahead of Chinese New Year
Singapore has tightened its rules on household visits ahead of Chinese New Year as a “pre-emptive move”, even as the national vaccination drive continues despite a shipment delay. From Jan 26, households will be restricted to eight visitors a day – stricter than the current rule, which allows eight guests at any one time. Individuals have also been advised to call on no more than two households a day “as much as possible”.

No CNY gatherings for firms as current measures against Covid-19 remain in place
Chinese New Year (CNY) company gatherings will not be allowed this year as workplace safe management measures (SMMs) remain unchanged for the time being. In a joint media release on Friday, the Ministry of Manpower, National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation said that they decided to postpone any further adjustments to workplace SMMs after considering the higher risk from new transmissible virus strains and recent trends in community and workplace Covid-19 cases.

Toss the yusheng but don’t toss aside that face mask
Singaporeans should be prepared for a quieter, more subdued Chinese New Year, and continue to abide by existing rules on dining out, Education Minister Lawrence Wong said yesterday. This means face masks should be worn when tossing the traditional yusheng, with no accompanying recitation of the usual auspicious phrases. “There should not be any singing or loud shouting or talking during a meal,” said Mr Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling the pandemic.

Govt to pay for rostered routine tests in some sectors till Sept 30
The costs for Covid-19 rostered routine testing (RRT) for workers in selected sectors will be borne by the Government until Sept 30, an extension from the initial March 31 deadline, the Ministry of Health said in a state-ment yesterday. These include all workers staying in dormitories, and those working in the construction, marine and process, aviation and maritime sectors. Currently, workers in sectors having a high risk of exposure to Covid-19, or who pose a “large negative impact” if they were to be infected, have been undergoing RRT every fortnight.

Vaccines likely still effective against new variants, say experts
Covid-19 vaccines like the Pfizer-BioNTech one being used in Singapore are likely to remain effective against new variants of the coronavirus, including recent strains detected in Britain and South Africa. Infectious diseases expert Ooi Eng Eong from the Duke-NUS Medical School said this is because the vaccines enable the body to produce antibodies against the whole of the spike protein that the virus uses to infect human cells, while the mutations are mostly occurring only on the tip of the protein.
*For more information, please visit the Ministry of Health (MOH) website at and refer to for updates on the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) situation


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