The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry

The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry



Daily News – 26, 27 & 28 Sep 2020 (Sat, Sun & Mon)

Singapore Real Estate

Hong Leong’s Penrose project about 60% sold
Hong Leong Holdings sold 341 units of its 566-unit Penrose condominium over the weekend as at 5pm on Sunday. Nearly 85 per cent of buyers were Singaporeans and the rest were Singapore permanent residents and foreigners. Keen interest was also seen from HDB upgraders across areas islandwide, said Hong Leong in a media statement on Sunday.

Shoebox apartment market down on recession shakeout
Demand for shoebox units in the primary market fell in the first eight months of 2020 from a year ago as pain from unemployment and wage cuts for the usual buyers of such small, private homes came up against fewer choices amid weaker supply. The recession has also hit rental demand for such units, given the economic impact felt by expatriate tenants.

Corporate real estate investors refocusing strategies
The current pessimism over the economy as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has seen a decline in real estate investment in the Asia-Pacific region. Investment volume fell 29 per cent globally to US$321 billion in the first six months of 2020 compared to the same period the year before.

Reits (September 26-27, 2020)

15km green corridor to link East Coast Park to Changi Beach Park
Cycling or even walking from East Coast Park to Changi Beach Park could soon be a more comfortable and enriching experience, as plans are afoot for a 15km-long green corridor that will connect both parks. The new central green corridor will run along New Upper Changi Road and Loyang Way, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday, and will also connect to other parks and gardens in the area via a network of community corridors.


Singapore Economy

Singapore industrial output up a surprise 13.7% in August
Singapore’s factory output soared by a surprising 13.7 per cent year on year in August, led by strong growth in electronics, according to Singapore Economic Development Board figures on Friday. The performance bodes well for overall gross domestic product (GDP) in the third quarter, with the economic contraction expected to ease, said economists.

Help for Singapore food manufacturers to go digital
Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and FairPrice’s e-commerce platform FairPrice Online have launched an online initiative to help Singapore food manufacturers diversify their revenue streams. The initiative, called YummySG!, is hosted on FairPrice Online’s Marketplace platform. It brings together local products under the Singapore brand to provide higher visibility to consumers and differentiate them from other products, both parties said in a joint press statement on Friday.

Safeguards to prevent abuse of tourism voucher scheme
While hoteliers and tourist attraction operators prepare to welcome Singaporeans making use of the government’s SingapoRediscovers Vouchers, analysts said it will be important to erect safeguards to prevent abuse that dilutes the scheme’s targeted support of the industry.

Singapore and Japan launch travel lane for business professionals
More business executives and professionals will now be able to travel between Singapore and Japan, using a new “residence track” announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Friday. Prior to this, only short-term and essential business was permitted between the two countries under the “business track” launched earlier this month.

Some CPF accounts to get minimum 4% interest rate extended
Central Provident Fund (CPF) members will continue to receive the 4 per cent minimum interest rate for Special, Medisave and Retirement Account monies for another year, until Dec 31, 2021. The CPF Board and the Housing and Development Board (HDB) announced the extension in a joint statement on Friday.

Roadblocks loom in raising worker productivity
Labour productivity continues to be one of the Singapore economy’s main challenges, despite consistent growth in this area over the past 10 years. A decade ago, the Economic Strategies Committee set a productivity growth target of 2 to 3 per cent a year for the economy. And annual growth indeed marched upwards, apart from a blip last year when real value-added per worker declined 0.8 per cent.

Profile of the Singapore worker: Older and better qualified, with higher incomes, more in unions
Singapore’s labour force has grown substantially over the past two decades, from 2.2 million in 1999 to 3.7 million last year. This comprises people who are employed – also known as being in the workforce – as well as those who are unemployed, that is, not in a job but want to and are able to work. It can also be broken down into local residents, which refer to Singaporeans and permanent residents, and foreigners.


Companies’ Brief

Shareholders raise queries over acquisition of Thye Hong Centre by Lian Beng’s unit
The acquisition of Thye Hong Centre by Lian Beng’s subsidiary SLB Development has raised questions over whether the move was an indicator that the group will be able to resume distributing dividends going forward. No final dividend was declared by Lian Beng for its FY20 ended May 31 “so as to retain funds for working capital requirements of the group in view of the uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic”, said the group in its financial statements.

Wariness among Reit managers, trustees as contentious merger proposals move forward
This past week, there were at least three corporate announcements that would have piqued the interest of investors following the spate of real estate investment trust (Reit) mergers in the local market. The strangest one, in my view, was from the manager of CapitaLand Commercial Trust (CCT), which is scheduled to seek unitholder approval to merge with CapitaLand Mall Trust (CMT) at an EGM on Sept 29.

FCT provides updates on portfolio tenants’ sales, shopper traffic and asset valuation
The manager of Frasers Centrepoint Trust (FCT) on Friday provided updates on its portfolio tenants’ sales, shopper traffic, as well as the valuation of its properties. In August 2020, FCT’s portfolio tenants’ sales dipped 2.2 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y), while shopper traffic fell 36.4 per cent from a year ago.

Shareholders query Frasers Centrepoint Trust on sale of Bedok Point
The sale of Bedok Point by Frasers Centrepoint Trust (FCT) at $108 million raised questions from shareholders given that it was acquired at $129 million. In response to shareholder queries ahead of FCT’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM), the manager of FCT said that the mall’s size constraint and the lack of direct connectivity to key transportation nodes limited its ability to be the dominant mall within Bedok Town Centre.

MNACT expands investment mandate, acquires 50% stake in Seoul office building
Mapletree North Asia Commercial Trust (MNACT) is acquiring a 50 per cent stake in Pinnacle Gangnam, a 20-storey freehold office building in Seoul’s Gangnam business district in Korea, for a price tag of 228.9 billion Korean won (S$267.6 million).

Singapore stocks worth considering for retail investors
2020 has been a chaotic year for markets. As Main Street struggles with the coronavirus pandemic, Wall Street has largely recovered from its March lows. Technology stocks have been big winners as people turned to the likes of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Zoom and others to stay connected and maintain a sense of normalcy.


Views, Reviews, Forum & Others

Chia Ngiang Hong, President, Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (REDAS)
In the corporate world, diversity and independence are key to sound and sustainable business practices. Companies have long relied on a diverse board to bring together a wider range of perspectives and insights for better decisions and adaptation to changing environment. To me, independence is the more important prerequisite for a healthy and robust corporate governance regime. Truly independent directors are critical to ensure that the company is run by an objective and responsible board with the necessary skill-sets, experience and diversity of perspectives to enable it to make sound and balanced decisions in the best interests of its shareholders and stakeholders with oversight effectiveness.

Workplace injuries in first half of 2020 fall by 25% as Covid-19 caused dip in economic activity
There have been fewer workplace injuries in the first half of this year, likely due to the suspension of selected workplace activities from April to June caused by the coronavirus. The number of workplace injuries has fallen by nearly a quarter from 6,630 between January and June last year to 4,996 in the first six months this year.

Policymakers must be sensitive to how digital tools impact inequality: Desmond Lee
As Singapore strives towards its goal of being a smart city, it must be sensitive to the impact that digitalisation can have on inequality, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee on Friday (Sept 25). He recounted one incident at a Meet-the-People Session where a couple insisted that they had submitted an online application for a scheme, despite multiple letters from government agencies saying that the application had not been received.

The next financial crisis may be coming soon
What probability do you give that there might be a new financial crisis? This month, the number crunchers at Oxford Economics, a research group, asked 162 global businesses this question. Their average answer was 20 per cent over the next two years.

Transforming through tech
Few industries have been spared the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic, but technology stands out as a clear beneficiary of the lockdowns and border closures that have swept the globe this year. With the world now more dependent on technology than ever, it is no wonder that tech tycoons have been lining their pockets during this crisis.

When crisis underlines the need for change
Nine months after the coronavirus surfaced, Covid-19 has claimed close to one million lives around the world, infected over 32 million people, and sent many more into poverty. Work on vaccines is well under way, with over 40 being tested, of which nine are in final-stage trials.

Strengths wanted for the Singapore worker: Soft skills, creativity, risk-taking
The Singaporean worker. Highly educated, cosmopolitan, bilingual and hard-working. At the moment they retain this competitive advantage in the global economy, say recruiters, employers and members of business chambers. But with the global economy reaching a turning point, this advantage could also be quickly eroded.

Concerns of the Singapore worker: Singapore’s growing local-foreigner divide
For some, Changi Business Park has been referred to as “Chennai Business Park” due to the number of Indian expatriates working there. In recent weeks, social media posts have targeted some firms – including those at the business park – over hiring practices, which they claim appear to favour some nationalities ahead of Singaporeans.

Challenges of the Singapore worker: Higher wages, but better off?
In a world of low-wage pressure, Singapore workers have been fortunate to have their pay keep on rising. Just look at the figures. Over the past two decades, nominal median wages for Singapore residents – citizens and permanent residents (PRs) – have outpaced general cost of living pressures.

Are you getting the best deal from your investment manager?
You just signed on the dotted line to purchase a dream home. And your spouse relates to the property sales agent that the plan is to have a Bali-themed concept renovation. The property agent whips out a business card to recommend a renovator.

Why shophouses are the most underrated properties in Singapore
Few things get more attention than a shophouse for sale. They are unique buildings and evoke a sense of timeless nostalgia. Depending on the allowed uses, shophouses can be an inimitable home, a distinctive business address or even just an asset. Here’s why shophouses are popular with property investors and buyers alike, and why you should give them some serious consideration.


Update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) Situation

2 permanent residents among 5 new imported Covid-19 cases
Two of the five imported Covid-19 cases announced on Sunday (Sept 27) by the Ministry of Health (MOH) are permanent residents, while the remaining three are work permit holders. The permanent residents returned to Singapore from India on Sept 15 and Friday. The work permit holders are currently employed in Singapore and arrived from Indonesia and the Philippines on Sept 15, the MOH said.

Coronavirus: Time to resume travel, with certain precautions in place
Singapore is opening up green business lanes for travel to and from certain countries with low risk of coronavirus infection. There is no reason why tourism travel cannot also resume, in a limited way, with certain precautions. Doing so will save jobs, help the economy and satisfy the desire to travel again. How can it work on the ground?

COVID-19 accelerated threats to multilateral system, global cooperation key to defeat pandemic: Vivian Balakrishnan
Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Saturday (Sep 26) that COVID-19 has accelerated threats to the multilateral system, and urged countries to work together to defeat the pandemic and build resilience to future challenges.

Three reasons why some Singapore employees love working from home
Reason 1: No long commute, more time for fun, rest – Working from home for account executive Goh Wu Chong, 30, means sleeping in for one more hour in the morning and jumping straight into gaming after work. Mr Goh, who works at public relations agency Gloo, has been working from home for about six months.

Back to office, but it’s so hard: Why some in Singapore are reluctant to return to the workplace
More employees have been given the green light to return to workplaces, but there are still many challenges facing companies and staff preparing to make the shift back to the office. These range from the need to reconfigure work areas to maintain safe distancing to the mental readjustment workers have to make to pivot back to being on-site. Introducing staggered hours or shifts may also create problems, said human resource executives and experts.

Staying connected with colleagues remotely
My work calendar has meetings, deadlines, reminders about projects and other important events. Sometimes, it also includes an invitation to a chit-chat session with friends from work, usually over a cup of our favourite hot beverage.

Coronavirus: Targeted quarantine cuts number isolated at dorms
A new approach to quarantine has been adopted for migrant worker dormitories aimed at reducing the number of residents that need to be isolated – minimising disruption to work and improving worker welfare. Previously, the entire block had to be quarantined for 14 days when a dorm resident tested positive for Covid-19, minus those who had recovered recently.

Can rapid tests for Covid-19 give a booster shot to global tourism?
International fervour for mass-market tourism continues to compel governments to reopen borders, raising questions about how to prevent an importation of travellers who are either symptomatically or asymptomatically carrying the Sars-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19.
*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


Global Economy & Global Real Estate 

UK’s tighter Covid-19 restrictions may keep economy depressed

Trump paid just US$750 in federal income tax in 2016: NYT

US core capital goods orders beat expectations; business investment rebounding

BOE’s Tenreyro says evidence on negative rates is ‘encouraging’

Negative real yields on sovereign debt here to stay: poll

China’s industrial profits grow for fourth straight month

Sick of staying home: China expects a Golden Week tourism rebound

China needs to step up global financial integration: official

Australia extends airline relief package with budget deficit seen at A$198.5b

China is building green cities, but struggling to find residents

Japan’s retail property sector leads market rally as lockdowns ease

US August new-home sales at its highest since 2006

Evergrande gets Hong Kong exchange nod to spin off management unit

Evergrande wake-up call: No one’s too big to fail in China’s property market

Condo butler is hot property in China

Johor Menteri Besar says border with S’pore should reopen

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