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The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry



Daily News – 29th April 2016

Singapore Economy

Layoffs ease in Q1 from Q4; Over half from services sector
Despite warnings of labour pains ahead, layoffs in the first quarter of the year eased from the previous quarter – although they were still higher than a year ago, according to a preliminary labour market report released on Thursday by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).  Coming a day after the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued its twice-yearly macroeconomic review, which raised concerns about the weakening labour market, MOM’s report indicates there were 4,600 redundancies in January-March 2016, down from 5,370 in October-December 2015. The number was 3,500 a year ago.  The services sector accounted for 54 per cent of the layoffs in the first quarter, with the number increasing from 2,360 in the previous quarter to 2,500. Redundancies in manufacturing slipped from 2,480 to 1,800, while the number in construction fell from 520 to 300 in the same period.

NTUC to step up help to wider group of workers
To keep up with the evolving economy and changing needs of the workforce, the labour movement will be stepping up training opportunities and career counselling for workers, including non-union members.  Speaking to the media ahead of May Day on Sunday, Mr Chan Chun Sing, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Secretary-General, stressed the need for the labour movement to stay relevant by expanding its suite of services and network to get in touch with more employees.

More job losses expected despite improved unemployment rate: MOM
While the jobless rate among Singaporeans and permanent residents has improved compared with three months ago, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) echoed the central bank’s warning of job losses creeping up in future, given the twin challenges of cyclical weakness in the market and a restructuring economy.  Preliminary data on the labour market from January to March this year that was released on Thursday (April 28) showed several bright spots, including an on-year rebound in employment growth, the overall seasonally adjusted unemployment rate holding steady at 1.9 per cent, and fewer layoffs.

Integrated North-South Corridor to be ready in 2026
The North-South Corridor, the first expressway here to have dedicated bus lanes and a cycling route, is targeted to be ready in 2026.  Major construction work on the expressway, Singapore’s first integrated transport corridor, will start next year, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday. It will be calling several tenders on the planned corridor to link towns in the north to the city in the coming months.  The project was initially a vehicular expressway to be completed in 2020, but it was announced in January that the highway will be redesigned as the first integrated transport corridor here.

Faster bus rides to city from the north with North-South Corridor
Residents in the northern part of the island can enjoy speedier bus rides to the city, when the 21.5km North-South Corridor is ready by around 2026.  One of three lanes on each side of the expressway will be reserved for express bus services, reducing bus journey times by up to 30 minutes, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday.  A bus service now takes 60 to 70 minutes to get from Woodlands to the Central Business District (CBD). With an express bus service on the upcoming corridor, the journey will take just 30 to 40 minutes.

Singapore Real Estate

Private-home resale prices dip 1%
While market watchers concur that private-home resale prices in Singapore will likely continue to decline at a gradual pace, buyers and investors are starting to hunt for value.  According to flash estimates from the Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI) released on Thursday, resale prices of private homes fell one per cent in March, reversing a marginal increase of 0.4 per cent a month earlier.  Homes in the non-central region (excluding small units) led the price decline, falling 1.4 per cent from the previous month. In the central region, prices of homes (excluding small units) fell 0.5 per cent. This reversed gains of 0.4 per cent for homes in the non-central region (excluding small units) and 0.7 per cent for homes in the central region (excluding small units) seen in February.

Opportunity for industrialists in slowdown, uncertainty: JTC
Industrial rents in Singapore fell 2.7 per cent quarter on quarter (q-o-q) and 5.1 per cent year on year (y-o-y) in the first quarter of 2016, JTC Corporation’s latest statistics released on Thursday show.  Vacancy rates island-wide also rose by 0.5 percentage point to 9.9 per cent – the highest in a decade.  In places such Tuas and Jurong, where new supply outstripped demand, vacancy rates surged six percentage points over the past year to 24 per cent, and median rentals fell 19 per cent to about S$15.63 per square metre per month.
Industrial property prices have also fallen 2.5 per cent q-o-q and 4.8 per cent y-o-y in Q1 2016. These are the steepest quarterly falls since prices and rentals started softening in 2014. It is also the result of the government’s continued supply-side efforts and anti-speculative measures, in its bid to bring down rentals which had surged about 48 per cent from mid-2009 to 2013.

Prices, rentals of Singapore industrial space extend decline in Q1 as vacancy rate hits 9.9%
Prices and rentals of industrial space continued to fall in tandem with occupancy rates in the first quarter of this year, figures from JTC showed on Thursday (April 28).  Price for the overall industrial property market declined by 2.5 per cent in the January-March period from the previous three months – falling for the fourth straight quarter.  Rents have also weakened for the fourth quarter in a row, falling 2.7 per cent compared to the final quarter of 2015.

URA, estate agency body probing potential breach of minimum-stay rule
While the jury is still out on a review by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of the minimum rental period for private residential properties, cases of potential breaches are being looked into.  The URA and the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) said they are probing cases cited in recent articles published in The Business Times on potential short-term stays being offered in private residential units.  BT articles published on April 9 flagged that long before home sharing websites such as Airbnb and HomeAway became popular, many accommodation service providers have been operating for a long time, offering short-term stays of under six months in private homes.

Keen interest seen for Martin Place site
A rare district 9 private housing site being offered at a state tender is generating much buzz in the market.  The developer of the nearly 1.6-hectare site located at the corner of Martin Place and River Valley Close may build 450 units at most – subject to a maximum gross floor area of 480,306.75 square feet.  Part of the site has a 20-storey height restriction, while the rest of the plot has a 30-storey height limit.  While the maximum of 450 units allowed for the project is understood to be due to traffic considerations in the locale, this stipulation will have other implications.

URA launches tender for condo site at Martin Place
The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) launched on Thursday (April 28) a residential site at Martin Place for sale by public tender.  The 99-year leasehold site comes under the confirmed list of the Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme for the first half-year.  The 15,936.1 square metre plot has a maximum gross floor area of 44,622 sqm and can potentially yield about 450 units, said URA.  The site is near the future Great World MRT station and River Valley Primary School.It is also within a well-established residential area featuring condominiums like Martin Place Residences.  Tender for the land parcel will close at 12 noon on June 28.

Genting Singapore dissolves Macau unit
Casino operator Genting Singapore has liquidated Genting Star Macau, an investment holding company that was acquired in 2005 as part of efforts to enter what was then the world’s fastest-growing gambling market.  The indirect, wholly-owned unit was dissolved because it was inactive, according to a Genting Singapore spokesman yesterday. The move was also made to streamline Genting Singapore’s corporate structure.  Mr Grant Govertsen, managing partner of Union Gaming Research Macau, said: “Genting hasn’t been successful in entering Macau as a gaming operator. They didn’t win any of the three gaming licences that the Macau government had issued back in 2002. Nor were they able to purchase a sub-licence from the original three licensees, so that ended their opportunity to enter the Macau market.”

CIT in tie-up to explore Australian opportunities
CAMBRIDGE Industrial Trust (CIT) has entered into an agreement with Australian industrial property specialist Commercial and General (C&G), to explore opportunities in the Australian industrial market.  Philip Levinson, CEO of CIT’s manager, told The Business Times: “I know the C&G team well, and have high regard for their real estate skills. What we’ve done is entered into a joint agreement, where they not only identify and execute opportunities and do the asset management, but they will also co-invest. They’ll put their money into anything we do together. It’s very important that we have that alignment of interest, because it means the relationship is a real partnership as opposed to a service arrangement.”

The next big thing in real estate investment
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Companies’ Brief

Ho Bee’s Q1 profit up 59.8% at S$18.46m
Ho Bee Land has posted a 59.8 per cent surge in first-quarter net profit to S$18.46 million, from S$11.56 million for the corresponding year-ago period.  Revenue climbed 19.3 per cent to S$37.69 million on the back of higher rental income. This was due largely to additional contributions from three new acquisitions of London office properties the group made in the second half of 2015 – 39 Victoria Street, 110 Park Street in Mayfair, and Apollo House and Lunar House, two adjacent office blocks in the Croydon area.

AIMS AMP Capital Industrial Reit’s Q4 DPU is 2.95 cents
AIMS AMP Capital Industrial Reit (AA Reit) announced a distribution per unit (DPU) of 2.95 cents for its fourth quarter, up from 2.92 cents the same period a year ago.  Gross revenue for the three months to Mar 31 increased 0.7 per cent to S$30.3 million, it said on Wednesday (Apr 27).  The trust manager said net property income increased 0.3 per cent to S$20.4 million, while distribution to unitholders climbed 2.1 per cent to S$18.7 million.

Viva Industrial Trust
VIVA Industrial Trust’s distribution per stapled security fell 12.4 per cent to 1.638 Singapore cents for the first quarter ended March 31, 2016 – from 1.87 cents for the corresponding period a year ago. This was due to an enlarged share base. Gross revenue rose 21.2 per cent to S$21.91 million, and net property income increased 27.3 per cent to S$15.8 million.

Views, Reviews & Forum

Foreign workers being lured here for non-existent jobs a concern, say NGOs
He forked out S$13,500 to pay his employer after he arrived in Singapore last April, and was told one month into his stint at a construction company that there was no more work.  Wu (not his real name) was given the go-ahead to source for work himself and the company cancelled his work permit shortly after without informing him. Only when his living quarters were inspected last August, did Wu, in his 40s, discover his status as an immigration offender. He declined to give his name because investigation into his case has not concluded.

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

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