The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry

The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry



Daily News – 28th, 29th, 30th & 31st January 2017

Singapore Economy

Changi Airport handled record 58.7m passengers in 2016
Changi Airport in 2016 handled a record 58.7 million passengers, an increase of 5.9 per cent that was underpinned by traffic from South East Asia, North East Asia and Oceania.  Airport operator Changi Airport Group (CAG) said in a release that routes to these three markets contributed 90 per cent of passenger traffic growth.  Cargo throughput chalked up a new high of 1.97 million tonnes, representing growth of 6.3 per cent year on year, while aircraft movements rose 4.1 per cent to 360,490.

Local hotels expect festive boost
Unruffled by a slower economy, local hotels and Chinese restaurants here are expecting brisk business this Lunar New Year.  Outbound travel, on the other hand, is a mixed bag as travel agents that The Business Timesspoke to report weaker to flat sales due to the festive season’s proximity to the year-end holidays.  Properties such as Marina Bay Sands (MBS), Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), The Fullerton Hotel, The Fullerton Bay Hotel, Orchard Hotel and Royal Plaza on Scotts (RPS) are among those which ran at full or close to full house over the Chinese New Year weekend.

S’pore businesses eye growth in China despite slowdown
Singapore brands continue to eye growth in China despite increased domestic competition, higher costs and a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.  For some, China provides an alternate avenue for growth in sectors such as property and retail, helping to buffer lower-performing regions.  Other Singapore companies in sectors that have taken harder hits recently, such as manufacturing, have been reassessing and realigning their business models to stay competitive.  China is, after all, “too large a market for ambitious foreign investors to ignore” despite having lost some shine, said Mr Chio Kian Huat, CEO of accounting and business advisory group Stone Forest.

Singapore Real Estate

Two new names up the ante for already crowded online property portals
The online property portal market may have reached saturation, at least according to some industry experts who have noted that two new portals have been launched here in the past six months, and at least three existing players responding with comparable offerings to entice the same small pool of homeowners, house-seekers and real estate agents.  The two new platforms, Ohmyhome (OMH) and seek to empower homeowners by lowering their property transaction costs. While OMH is a free app for HDB owners to connect directly with buyers, runs a free property listing service and agent bidding platform for homeowners to find an agent at a reduced fee.

Condo launches to drive new home sales up
Last month’s tepid new private home sales tally that spelt a soft end to an otherwise bright year could soon be a distant memory.  In a lively start to the year, the new private home market is expected to welcome as many as four project launches by April.  One standout is the highly anticipated Park Place Residences at Paya Lebar Quarter (PLQ) – part of a $3.2 billion mega mixed-use project by Lendlease and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

High-end property prices drop in 2016
Prices in the luxury property market fell last year but experts say upgraders should proceed with caution.  Values in prime districts – from the Central Business District to Orchard Road and Tanglin – declined 1.2 per cent over 2016, but that was a better performance than in other parts of the island, according to Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) figures.  URA noted in data out on Thursday that prices fell 2.8 per cent in the city fringe and 3.4 per cent in the suburbs.  The high-end market also recorded the biggest increase in the number of transactions last year, up 48.7 per cent over 2015, easily beating the 27.2 per cent rise in the city fringe and the 3.7 per cent rise in the suburbs.

Opportunities amid challenges in S-Reit sector
Fifteen years ago, CapitaLand Mall Trust (CMT) became the first real estate investment trust (Reit) to be listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX), widening the range of financial products available to investors as it raised more than S$200 million in its initial public offering (IPO).  Back then, it started with just three properties — Tampines Mall, Junction 8 Shopping Centre and Funan The IT Mall — in its portfolio.  Today, with 16 shopping malls in its stable, CMT has become the largest shopping mall operator and Reit on the local bourse, boasting a market capitalisation of about S$7 billion.

Tengah’s kampung history inspires farmway concept
Ms Wu Sau Ling, 27, had not expected her job to involve brushing aside leaves and branches while trudging along muddy tracks.  But that was what she and fellow Housing Board planners had to do while visiting the site of the upcoming Tengah town in the west.  “We didn’t know what to expect,” recalled Ms Wu. “Some of us had only normal office shoes!”  The terrain was uneven and obscured. “Where there was much undergrowth, there were some areas where you couldn’t really make out your next step,” she added.  Such uncertainty also marked the start of the planning journey. When Tengah was named as an upcoming town in 2011 – the first town to be built from scratch since Punggol – it was originally expected to yield some 56,000 homes.

HDB chief most at home with planning
Dr Cheong Koon Hean, who has won a brace of international accolades in urban planning, did not even want to be in this field in the first place.  Returning home in 1981 with a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Newcastle University, the then young graduate “was very enthusiastic”, recalled Dr Cheong, 59.  “I liked to design, I was an architect, I wanted to build,” the Housing Board chief executive officer told The Straits Times on the 32nd floor of the HDB headquarters.  But the Government had other plans for the Colombo Plan scholarship holder. After a few years in the Public Works Department, she went on to do a Master in Urban Development Planning in London, and was dispatched to do planning work when she returned.

Companies’ Brief

Sime Darby to split into three ‘pure plays’ to unlock value
Bigger may not necessarily be better. Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby Bhd has decided to break up its core businesses so they can be run and operated with greater focus and agility.  Under a carve-out plan to “unlock value” for its shareholders, its plantations, property, and trading and logistics businesses will be split into three listed “pure plays”.  In this “next era”, which comes nearly a decade since the merger of three related companies to create the current Sime, the government-linked conglomerate will park its plantations and property businesses under two separate listed entities, while its trading and logistics divisions will remain in the existing entity.

Keppel Corp to sell entire 49.99% stake in GE Keppel for S$24.6m
Keppel Corporation has agreed to sell its entire stake in GE Keppel Energy Services to GE Singapore of General Electric for S$24.6 million by February, it said in a filing on Friday afternoon.  Incorporated in Singapore, GE Keppel’s main activity is the repair of electrical, mechanical and marine equipment and the repair of power generation equipment.  Keppel has a 49.99 per cent interest in the issued share capital of GE Keppel.

MBS parent firm eyeing $5b sale of 49% stake in its Shoppes mall
Marina Bay Sands (MBS) is looking to sell 49 per cent of its stake in the plush Shoppes mall at a price that could make it the most expensive retail property in the world.  Las Vegas Sands, the parent company of MBS, wants US$3 billion to US$3.5 billion (S$4.3 billion to S$5 billion) for the stake, but it needs the green light from the Singapore Government before a sale can take place.  The agreement that allowed US gaming giant Las Vegas Sands to build the resort and casino stated that the company cannot sell any part of the 800,000 sq ft mall for at least 10 years, and only then after official approval.

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

New York City wastes billions on affordable housing tax breaks: study

NY tower gives prime space to emergency generators as insurance against floods

The future of US housing policy may finally look like the past

Fast-growing tech sector fuels housing boom in many US cities

US seniors face challenges for safe, cheap housing

One certainty of Trump’s Mexico wall: big money

U.S. consumer spending, housing data bolster economic outlook

New single-family home sales fall to 10-month low in Dec

Airbnb offers free housing to refugees and others not allowed into the US

Venue switch by Canada chamber sparks debate on Trump’s conflict of interest

World’s biggest property buyers suddenly running short of cash

China’s capital curbs hit foreign property buys

China’s lower target signals policy shift

Dubai Expo 2020 to award 47 construction contracts valued at 11b dirhams in 2017

Euro-area economic confidence highest since 2011

Barcelona bans new hotels in city centre

Macedonia’s plans to develop Europe’s oldest lake opposed

Additional Articles of Interest – Local & Overseas Real Estate

Local & Overseas Real Estate – Full Article

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