The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry

The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry



Daily News – 8th March 2017

Top Story

More land-use flexibility at district level starting with Punggol North
The government is introducing greater flexibility in land use at the district level starting with Punggol North, which is designated as Singapore’s first “Enterprise District” where new planning concepts will be tested out.  JTC, the appointed master developer for Punggol North, will have flexibility to develop the district based on land use and gross plot ratio guidelines at the district level.  Plans are also afoot to introduce the master developer approach in other new residential and mixed-use districts elsewhere. The government will introduce this in Kampong Bugis, a 17-hectare new residential precinct bounded by Kallang Road, Kallang River and Crawford Street.

Singapore Economy

Over 80% of govt contracts go to SMEs; more help on the way
The government is awarding more contracts to small and medium enterprises, and more is being done to help SMEs clinch public tenders, including breaking up large public projects.  Supporting SMEs – which provide two-thirds of jobs in Singapore – via public procurement took up a significant part of the Parliament debate on Tuesday when it was the turn of the Ministry of Finance to be quizzed on Budget 2017.  In 2016, the total number of government contracts was about 35,500 worth S$22.6 billion.

GIC in tie-up to acquire fintech firm for $2.7b
Sovereign wealth fund GIC has joined affiliates of private equity investor Hellman & Friedman to buy global financial technology business Allfunds Bank for €1.8 billion (S$2.7 billion). The two parties are acquiring Allfunds from a group of shareholders that include Intesa Sanpaolo Group, Santander Group, General Atlantic and Warburg Pincus.  Allfunds is a business-to-business platform that offers integrated technology-based solutions to asset managers and distributors of mutual funds.  It has more than 530 institutional clients, including commercial banks, private banks and insurance companies from 38 countries.

Singapore Real Estate

Transfer of home-owning entities: Government plans to apply residential stamp duties
The government is planning to make legislative changes to subject “significant owners of residential-property-holding entities” to stamp duties when they transfer equity interest in such entities, in the same way they would be subjected to stamp duties if they were to buy or sell the properties directly.  This planned move is perceived by some industry players as plugging an existing regulatory loophole.

Real estate sector to get Industry Transformation Map
The real estate sector is the latest to have an Industry Transformation Map (ITM) developed for it, to help it transform and prepare for future challenges.  This was announced on Tuesday (Mar 7) by Minister of State for National Development Koh Poh Koon in Parliament, where he laid out the challenges that the sector is already facing in a digital age.

Shorter waiting time for BTO flats, easier resale transaction process
More help to first-timer homebuyers is underway, including shorter waiting time for build-to-order (BTO) flats in non-mature estates and quicker access to balance flats, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said.  The Housing & Development Board (HDB) also aims to – by leveraging on technology – shorten and streamline the resale transaction process. The current process takes about 16 weeks to complete and requires two appointments with the HDB. More details will be announced by the end of the year.

More schemes to help elderly home buyers
There will be more help given to elderly home buyers seeking smaller Housing Board flats.  This includes a new deferred down payment scheme (DDS) available from the Build-To-Order launch in May. It allows eligible buyers aged 55 and above to make a down payment only when they collect the keys.  A new temporary loan scheme (TLS) will also allow buyers to finance their purchases without taking out a mortgage, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said in Parliament yesterday. 

Lower rents for those in temporary flats scheme
Monthly rents for flats under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS) will be slashed by as much as $400 from April 1.  The change means young couples awaiting the completion of their first Housing Board flats can rent units at rates that are less than half of those offered by private landlords.  National Development Minister Lawrence Wong announced the change during the debate on his ministry’s budget yesterday.

HDB help for vulnerable groups
As divorce rates climb, several MPs urged the Housing Board to let people apply for a flat even before their divorce is finalised, so that they have a roof over their heads after the marriage ends.  Divorcees, unwed mothers, divorced foreign spouses and elderly singles in rental flats were among the vulnerable groups for whom MPs sought more help.

2 Temple St shophouses being sold for S$18.5m
A pair of freehold shophouses along Temple Street in the Chinatown area are changing hands for S$18.5 million. The price works out to around S$2,125 per square foot based on the estimated floor area of 8,700 sq ft.  Standing on 2,658 sq ft of land, the shophouses span three storeys and an attic. They are currently leased to Lau Choy Seng, which sells kitchen equipment and cooking ware on the ground floor, and office tenants on the upper levels.

‘Lego’ method helps speed up nursing home construction
At a new nursing home in Woodlands Crescent, putting the rooms together like Lego blocks has helped speed up construction by three months.  Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat used the project as an example of how the healthcare sector can become more productive in the face of a tighter labour market and a rapidly ageing population.

Push to boost use of building technologies
The Ministry of National Development is looking into making the construction and real estate industry more productive.  One major push will involve adopting pre-fabricated building technologies, also known as Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA), through a tax relief scheme, said Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee in Parliament yesterday.

Woman sues property agent over $830k
A woman provided her real estate agent with four signed cheques to buy a Bedok Court flat, but he allegedly used them to withdraw over $830,000 from her bank account.  Ms Rohini Balasubramaniam, 56, a former teacher, is suing the agent, Mr Kelvin Yeow Khim Whye, 39, and real estate agency HSR International Realtors to get the cash back.

Companies’ Brief

Ascott to see better share of stable income after latest purchases
Mainboard-listed CapitaLand’s wholly owned serviced residence business unit Ascott says its proportion of stable income will rise from 40 per cent as at end-December 2016 to 46 per cent after the completion of its rights issue, acquisition of Ascott Orchard Singapore (AOS) and purchases in Germany.  This comes as its operations under master leases are to grow from 27 per cent of gross profit as at end-December 2016 to 34 per cent following the acquisitions, said Ronald Tay, chief executive of Ascott Residence Trust Management in a briefing on Tuesday.

Views, Reviews & Forum

Property market perking up, but rents are down. To buy or not to buy?
Owning an investment property and collecting good rental income is one version of the Singapore Dream wafting through show-flats everywhere.  Real estate investment – once considered a no-brainer as prices kept going north – has become more complicated in recent years, with changing market dynamics brought about partly by new government policies and measures to cool the market.  More than three years since the last set of cooling measures was introduced, talk is rife that home buying sentiment has improved and that the private residential market is nearing its trough.  Demand for new homes perked up last year, with sales rising by 7 per cent to 7,972 units from the 7,440 units in 2015.

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

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China forex reserves cross US$3 trillion

Australia holds rates as Sydney housing poses stability risk

OECD flags ‘disconnect’ between optimism in financial markets and fundamentals

Additional Articles of Interest – Local & Overseas Real Estate

Local & Overseas Real Estate – Full Article

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