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- August 31, 2010 4 Comments
District: 16
Location: Bedok Reservoir Road
Developers: Far East Organization/ Frasers Centrepoint
Tenure: 99-year Leasehold (from 26th Nov 2009)
It has taken the wife and me quite awhile to get around to WATERFRONT GOLD, but we finally did so two Sundays ago. However, this review took a lot more time to produce due to business and leisure travels that we had to do over the past week.

WATERFRONT GOLD is third in the series of “Waterfront” condo co-developed by Far East and Frasers Centrepoint, after Waterfront Waves and Waterfront Key.

WATERFRONT GOLD is situated along Bedok Reservoir Road, across from Bedok Reservoir. This 99-year leasehold project resides on a plot of about 156,000sqft, and consists of 361 units in total housed in 5 main blocks of 15-storey each. It is expected to TOP in 2014.

The sales gallery/showflat is located exactly in the same spot where the former Waterfront Wave/Keys showflats were at. The actual site of WATERFROT GOLD is actually next door to the showflat – the wife and I understand that the showflat site is actually slated for another (i.e. Fourth) condo project, which will be solely developed by Far East this time.

Showflat 2

WATERFRONT GOLD first previewed at the end of June and the project was launched in mid-July. About 40% of the units comprise of 1- and 2-bedders:
• 1-Bedroom (15 units):   581sqft
• 1+Study (56 units):   667sqft
• 2-Bedrom (73 units):   872 – 893sqft
• 3-Bedroom (168 units):   1012 – 1356sqft
• 4-Bedroom (44 units ):   1378 – 1464sqft
• 4 & 5-Bedroom Penthouses (5 units):   1927 – 3057sqft
Schematic Chart

WATERFRONT GOLD is a full facility condo project, so one can expect to find your usual dose of different “themed” swimming pools, gym, clubhouse, BBQ pits and water features. It also comes with 2 tennis courts, which is quite generous for a project with just 361 units.
Site plan

However, the main feature of WATERFRONT GOLD must be the 95-metre high Sky Park that traverses across the 3 blocks that face the Bedok Reservoir. This is accessible via a Bubble Sky Elevator and provides a breath-taking view of the reservoir - which at 88 hectares, is 40% larger than Marina Bay - and its surrounding.
sky park

The Sky Park also houses a host of communal facilities such as
• Sky Bar
• Sky Track
• Sky Lounge
• Sunbather’s Paradise
• Sky Wellness Deck

Parking wise, a total of 366 basement parking lots (inclusive of handicapped lots) are available for residents with cars. So it is the typical “1 lot per unit” scenerio although the marketing agent will want to tell you that residents of the smaller 1-bedder units will normally not own a vehicle. But the wife and I do not quite subscribe to that notion.

The only showflat on display is a 1216sqft, 3-Bedroom unit (Type C3).
3-Brm (FP1)

As you enter the unit you see the kitchen. This is a rectangular strip of an area, with ceramic floors and comes furnished with “Electrolux” hob/hood/oven/fridge and “Grohe” kitchen faucets.

The developer has also thrown in some “extras” such as hanging dish-rack made of stainless steel and a semi glass-partitioned wall separating the kitchen and the dining area.

Those expecting a yard area will be disappointed, as this small space extension from the kitchen will mostly be taken up by the washing machine. If you decide on a separate dryer, this will have to be stacked on top of the washer. In the “yard”, you also find a small utility/maid’s room that will require some creativity to fit a bed inside, as well as a small bathroom.

The rectangular-shaped living/dining area is surprisingly quite huge for a unit of its size – you can comfortably fit an L-shape sofa and 6-seater dining table set here. It comes with 2.85m ceiling and 60cm x 60cm marble floors. You also get a small rectangular balcony that extends out from the living area, which probably has sufficient space for a small coffee table and 2 chairs.
Living & Dining Room

The 2 common rooms, which come with timber-strip floors, are regular shaped and average in size – the room can certainly make do without bay windows, which eat into the interior space. The wardrobe provided is rather small (as can be expected) and the quality of furnishing is nothing much to shout about.
Common Bedroom 2

The common bathroom is quite decent size – you definitely would not feel claustrophobic in here. It comes with marble floors and ceramic walls, and is furnished with “Grohe/Duravit” bathroom and toilet fittings. You also get a standing shower stall with the normal wall-mounted shower.
Common Bath 1

The master bedroom is very good size – you get easily fit a “King” bed and still have quite a bit of room. You also get a 2-panel wardrobe - hardly sufficient cupboard space for most couples but it is the common standard for master bedrooms these days.
Master Bedroom 2

The master bathroom is actually huge, and comes with similar furnishing as the common bathroom. However, it does not have a storage cabinet beneath the wash basin as per the common bathroom, which is a pity. It also does not come with a bath-tub nor “rain shower” in the shower stall.
Master Bathroom 2

Pricing-wise, here are sample of what you can expect to pay for 3-bedder units in WATERFRONT GOLD that were still available during our visit:

• Tower E (#06-24) – This is a 1227sqft unit that faces the swimming pool:  $1.11 million or $905psf

• Tower C (#06-14) – This is a 1055sqft reservoir-facing unit that is just above the tree-line. However, it does not have a yard or utility room/toilet:  $1.108 million or $1050psf

The wife and I were told that all the 2-bedroom units that were launched in WATERFRONT GOLD so far have all been sold. Only 2 of the 4-bedoom units (Tower E, #14 & #15, 1378sqft) launched are still available.

Prices have already increased by about 2% since the preview, and the developers have also announced that there will be a further price increase when the project is re-launched last week (you may have seen the full page advertisement in The Sunday Times last weekend). This is largely due to confirmation by Land Transport Authority (LTA) on 20th August of the actual MRT stations along the stretch of Downtown Line (Stage 3) to be completed by 2017. WATERFRONT GOLD is situated within walking distance from Bedok Reservoir MRT Station.

We were also told that the proposed new development by Far East, which will be built on the site where the showflat of WATERFRONT GOLD is sitting on currently, is expected to be launched at much higher prices. And the two projects are just adjacent to each other with similar facing/views.
waterfront gold - map

Much of what we like and dislike about WATERFRONT GOLD is pretty similar to Waterfront Key that we have reviewed back in February.

What we like:
• WATERFRONT GOLD is unblocked at the front and also mostly at the back. This means you will get a "view" irrespective of your unit's facing. Apartments facing the main Bedok Reservoir Road will get the reservoir view, while units at the back with have a park view. Inward facing units will overlook the pool areas and greeneries within the condo.

• Although WATERFRONT GOLD is not located near any big malls, ample amenities can be found within the HDB estates that is about 5 - 10 minutes walk away. These include a big Sheng Siong supermart, many neighborhood shops and food outlets along Bedok Reservoir Road.

• The upcoming Bedok Reservoir MRT Station along the Downtown Line Stage 3 is about a 10-minutes walk away. However, residents will have to wait for another 3 years or so after the TOP of WATERFRONT GOLD for thier nearest MRT station to be ready. Meantime, they will have to take a feeder bus to connect to Bedok or Tanah Merah MRT stations.

• WATERFRONT GOLD is located fairly close to Changi Business Park, the Japanese School as well as the upcoming United World College of SE Asia campus (2010) and Fourth University (2011). So there may be some good demand for rentals.

• There are several primary schools that are within 1-km of WATERFRONT GOLD – Damai Primary, Yu Neng Primary and the very popular Red Swastika Primary School. We were told that 2 other primary schools – Bedok West and Fengshan Primary may also be within 1-km.

What we dislike:
• The quality of furnishing and fitting are better than what we last saw at Waterfront Key (if our memory served us right), but it is still nothing much to shout about. The wife and I certainly expected better especially since Far East, being one of the co-developer, are certainly capable of better quality than what was showcased in the showflat of WATERFRONT GOLD.

• Given that all three “Waterfront”-series projects are lined up next to each other, we have the same concern about noise pollution from the traffic along Bedok Reservoir Road, which we understand is quite busy especially during rush hours. This is especially with units facing the main road (reservoir).

• The three “Waterfront”-series projects will add a total of 1193 new apartment units along Bedok Reservoir Road. This is in addition to the existing condo developments (Aquarius by the Park, The Baywater) and HDB estates that share the same stretch of road. And we can expect another 300 – 400 units from the upcoming new project by Far East next door to WATERFRONT GOLD. So be prepared for some heavy duty traffic jams on a daily basis, and possibly fierce competition in the apartment rental front when all these new apartment units get their TOPs.

In summary, the wife and I maintained that WATERFRONT GOLD, like its previous two “predecessors”, will probably appeal to the die-hard “waterfront living” buyers that do not want to pay the Marina Bay Residences or even Silversea prices. However, WATERFRONT GOLD is second rate at best (in our humble opinion, of course) when you compare it with other “waterfront” projects, if the quality we have seen is what we will get.

But given the currently selling prices of WATERFRONT GOLD, buyers of the previous two “Waterfront” projects must be delighted with their purchases – The URA caveat for May 2010 has indicated that the median price for Waterfront Waves was at $812psf, while that of Waterfront Key was $820psf. The final unit transacted at Waterfront Waves (in May 2010) was at $924psf, while the median price for Waterfront Key in July 2010 was $958psf. For WATERFRONT GOLD, the median price in July 2010 was $984psf.

Latest Government Announcement: Measures to maintain a stable and substainable property market

- August 30, 2010 No Comments

The government has announced several new measures today aimed at cooling the property market. This is according to report from Channel News Asia.

The new measures include:
  • Increasing the holding period for imposition of Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) - The SSD will be raised from the current one year to three years.
  • Property buyers who already have one or more outstanding housing loans at the time of the new housing purchase will have to pay more money upfront - The government will increase the minimum cash payment from 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the valuation limit.
  • Those with more than one outstanding housing loan will also see a decrease in the "Loan to Value" (LTV) limit for housing loans granted by financial institutions regulated by MAS - The LTV will be lowered from the current 80 per cent to 70 per cent.
The measures will take immediate effect on August 30.

Below is the official press release extracted from the Ministry of National Development website, which provides more details on the new measures.

SG New Property Measures (30 Aug 2010)

The wife and I wonder if Christmas has indeed come early. More interestingly, if the latest announcement will sway the property market prices closer to our "Price Correction by October Prediction"...


- August 23, 2010 No Comments
The wife and I finally managed to visit the sales gallery of WATERFRONT GOLD yesterday morning.

Here are some of the photos that we have taken of the showflat -  this is a 1216sqft, 3-Bedroom unit.

Our review of this project will follow soon (* fingers crossed *).

Showflat 1
Living Room
Common Bath 2
Common Bedroom 1
Master Bedroom 1
Master Bath 1
Master Shower

THE SCALA, anyone?

- August 22, 2010 No Comments

The wife received a text message today informing her about prices of unit still available at The Scala.

So for those who are still interested in the project:
  • #04-05 (474sqft, 1-Bedroom) -  $680,800  or  $1,436sqft
  • #04-07 (893sqft, 2+Study) -  $1,050,600  or  $1,176psf
  • #09-01 (1044sqft, 3-Bedroom) -  $1,188,000 or  $$1,138psf
  • #03-27 (1259sqft, 4-Bedroom) -  $1,533,000  or  $1,217psf
  • #17-18 (1518sqft, 3-Bedroom PH) -  $1,580,000  or  $1,041psf
Happy hunting!


Is there a property bubble in China?

- August 20, 2010 No Comments

This is an interesting article in BT today written by Mr Kelvin Tay, who is chief investment strategist Singapore at UBS wealth management.

He believes that there is a visible slowdown in China’s housing starts and construction towards the end of this year. This is a result of the property tightening measures announced by the Chinese government in May, which are aimed at stabilizing the market by curbing speculative demand and at the same time, increasing the supply of housing, in particular public housing.

China’s private residential sector has seen an extraordinary climb in prices over the last 12 – 18 months. China’s construction and real estate sectors are likely to contribute to an estimated 11% of GDP in 2010. The construction industry employs 14.3% of all workers in urban areas and consumes 40% of all steel and lumber produced in China. The private residential sector currently accounts for all almost 40% of the buildings completed by construction industry.

An examination of tier-1 cities revealed that in the 12-month period to April 2010, property prices rose by 64% in Beijing, 39% in Shanghai and actually doubled in Shenzhen. The tier-1 cities accounted for almost 22% of urban residential property sales, rather disproportionate to their share of 8% of total floor space. Prices in Beijing reached a stratospheric 28,000 yuan per square metre (which equates to about S$518psf) in the same period.

So what has all these got to do with our local property market?

Mr Tay believes that a slowdown in China’s property market at this stage of its economic cycle is very much welcome news. Should the China property market overheats and ultimately suffers a systematic collapse, it would have serious ramifications for Asia, including Singapore.

A collapse in China’s property market resulting in financial contagion might affect the Singapore property market both directly and indirectly. As of July last year, Chinese nationals are currently the second largest source of foreign buyers of property in Singapore. Any crash in China’s property market and subsequent economic slowdown would probably change that equation.

Furthermore, over the past two decades, systematic crises have always negatively impacted Singapore’s property market. The Asian financial crisis in July 1997, Nasdaq crash in March 2000 and the credit crisis in 2008 all resulted in double-digit declines in the local property market.

However, Mr Tay says that it is the indirect impact that is actually more worrying. Since 2007, almost all home loans in Singapore are based on floating rates. Mortgage rates are usually pegged to the three-month Singapore Interbank Offered Rate (Sibor) or three-month Singapore Offered rate (SOR), plus a premium that ranges between 1.25% and 1.75%.

Therefore, if Sibor or SOR spikes up suddenly and remains at stubbornly elevated levels for a long time, property owners tied to such loans might suddenly find their monthly mortgages taking up a disproportionate amount of their monthly income.

Have there been instances when Sibor suddenly behaved erratically? The Asian financial crisis was one such example. Sibor spiked up to a high of 7.75% before finally sliding to 1.9% in December 1998. The average rate of Sibor during the 18-month period hovered at 4.9%. As Asia was fortunately not at the epicentre of the credit crisis in 2008, Sibor did not behave erratically but averaged around 1.3%, more than twice the current rate of 0.56%.

However, Mr Tay also believes that the likelihood of the above scenario panning out is rather slim. This is because the sharp appreciation in property prices in China has been largely restricted to tier-1 cities, leaving the fundamentals of the broader market intact.

So the judgement is still out on the future of the China property market and its impact on the Singapore market. But the wife and I will definitely avoid any decision to drastically increase our housing loans for the next 6 – 12 months, despite the extremely low housing interest rates that are offered at present.

Fewer than expected takers for high-end homes?

- August 19, 2010 No Comments

The ST today reported that buyers are still showing relatively muted interest in the most luxurious homes in the city centre, as the latest set of new home sales data shows.

But they are making a beeline for very popular mass market homes, followed by mid-tier units, the figures show.

Property experts say the outlook for the luxury sector remains favourable, though growth has slowed and current global uncertainties mean these prime high-end homes are unlikely to rebound this year as some experts had hoped.

A few months back, it was expected that luxury projects such as Ardmore 3 and those on the former Grangeford and Parisian condo sites in the Orchard area would be launched in the first half year.

No major luxury projects were launched last year.

Developers of these homes have been cautious again this year. Bukit Sembawang recently said it will be launching the marketing of Paterson Suites in its current financial year ending March 31 – unusually late in the game for a project that has already received its temporary occupation permit.

Underscoring the point, City Development Chairman Kwek Leng Beng last week said luxury homes had not sold as well as the industry had expected. He said this segment would perform well – perhaps next year – only if the wider global economy stabilises.

While the prime segment (homes selling for $2.5 million to $5 million) saw some activity in the first half, transactions in the luxury ($5 - $8 million) and super-luxury (above $8 million) segments have been rather scarce, said CBRE executive director (residential), Mr Joseph Tan.

“Most homebuyers were generally more cautious towards high-priced projects under the present uncertain conditions on the global front.”

Still, Colliers International’s director of research and advisory, Ms Tay Huey Ying said the price rebound in high-end and luxury properties, which started in the second half of last year, had continued this year, though the pace of growth has moderated to more sustainable rates.

“Developers are holding back their high-end and luxury launches because there has been some derailment in the strength of the economic recovery due to the euro zone crisis. There is also growing uncertainty in the recovery of the US economy. Prices are not yet at the levels they are aiming for.”

More investors are going for cheaper new properties – mostly those under $1,500psf – as global uncertainties have put a lid on risk appetites, said Ms Tay.

The slight slowdown means that price growth in the high-end and luxury segments is likely to come in towards the low end of the firm’s forecast range of 15 – 20% for this year, she said.

Experts note that in the first half year, the URA’s price index for non-landed homes in prime districts was already up 10%, and is just 1.8% off the 2008 peak. This is just a tad slower than the 10.3% and 12.9% price gains seen for non-landed homes in the city fringes and suburban areas respectively.

CBRE expects high-end home prices – still about 5 – 10% below 2007 boom levels – to be stable till year-end.

While the high-end prices are up this year, sales volume has not picked up significantly owing to fresh concerns on the global economic recovery’s sustainability.

But the number of high-end home deals of $3,000psf and above has risen from eight units in the fourth quarter to 29 units and 35 units in the first and second quarters respectively, noted Savills Prestige Homes director Steven Ming.

However, as high-end homes are very dependent on foreign demand, sales could recover to previous peaks in the next 12 – 18 months after macro-economic concerns have been sorted out, he said.

CBRE’s Mr Tan said developers have adopted a low-key strategy to marketing luxury projects, such as direct invitations for private previews and appointments.

For example, Far East Organization recently launched its luxury brand “Inessence”, and sold a handful of units in Boulevard Vue and Skyline @Orchard Boulevard. Wheelock Properties and Hong Leong Group sold a few units at their respective new super-luxury projects, Orchard View and Sage.

Mr Tan said there is a “strong likelihood” the high-end market will continue in this manner for the rest of the year.

However, the few possible high-end launches in September such as Twin Peaks and The Peak @Cairnhill will test the market’s receptivity. If these launches do well, it will motivate developers to launch more high-end projects, he said.


- August 18, 2010 No Comments

The BT today reported that Amber Glades, off Amber Road, and Robin Court, with an adjoining bungalow at Robin Drive, are being put up for collective sale – for the third time.

The 63-unit freehold Amber Glades was first offered for sale in October 2007 for $145 million or $1,345psf ppr including a development charge.

The project was re-launched in April 2008 at a lower price of $127 million, or $1,140psf ppr including a development charge – 15% cheaper than the first time around.

Now sellers are hoping they will be third-time lucky. They are asking for $130 million. This translates to a land price of some $1,091psf ppr – including a development charge of $7.5 million and assuming a developer will maximize the potential of the 10% of extra gross floor area allowed for balcony space.

The successful buyer can re-develop the site into a 22-storey residential project comprising some 150 units of 840sqft each, or 84 units of 1,500sqft each, said Colliers International, which is marketing the project.

It is a similar story for the 15-unit Robin Court and the adjoining No.1 Robin Drive, which were put up for sale with a third property in late 2007 at a price of $1,500 -$1,600psf ppr.

After there were no takers, the two properties were re-launched in July 2008 for $58 - $60 million, or $964 -$996psf ppr – a 40% cut in the asking price. But there were still no takers then, in the midst of the global financial crisis.

Now, the majority owners of Robin Court and the sole owner of No. 1 Robin Drive are asking for $66 million - $74 million, or $1,046 - $1,172psf ppr.

This pricing assumes the developer would maximize the potential of the 10% of the extra gross floor area allowable for balcony space, and the remnant state land may be purchased. About 60 apartment units of an average size of 1,000sqft – depending on layout and configuration – can be built on the plot. Credo Real Estate, which is marketing the project, reckons a developer would break even around $1,600 - $1,750psf.

The wife and I are not familiar with Amber Glades, but we are privy to the unfortunate demise of at least one luxury car at Robin Court during the Great Singapore Flood last month. And all the parking spaces were on ground level! Maybe it is a sign from “above” to owners at Robin Court that they should sell…

What's with SUITES DE LAUREL...?

- No Comments

The wife and I are pleasantly surprised by the interests shown in Suites De Laurel, judging by the number of comments/discussions received in our post for this development.

Our readers (currently averaging 150 or so per day) do come across as a rather subdued lot, and we are really looking forward to more active participation.

So do share your thoughts and comments (the wife and I can even stomach criticisms... especially constructive ones) on our posts like the good people did for Suites De Laurel. This will certainly motivate us to continue blogging.

Happy reading!


July private residential sales - Full Report

- August 17, 2010 No Comments

The wife and I have given you the scoop fresh from the 9.30pm news last night. Here is the full story as published in the BT today:

Developers’ sales of private homes surged 82% month on month to 1,544 units in July from the low of 847 units in June, according to the latest official figures. This reflects a resumption in home buying, which had taken a breather during the school holidays and World Cup.

However, sales are expected to slip to around 800 - 1,000 units again in August, on the back of slower launches during the Hungry Ghost Months, say some property agents. After this ends on September 7, both launches and sales will pick up again, they reckon.

In the first seven months of this year, developers have sold 9,957 private homes (excluding executive condos), after last year’s strong sales of 14,688 units.

CB Richard Ellis expects the full-year figure will be about 14,000 units. Jones Lang LaSalle’s estimate is 13,000 – 14,000 while DTZ’s SE Asia Research head Chua Chor Hoon puts the number at 13,000 – 15,000 units.

“The outlook still remains positive against the backdrop of Singapore’s economic growth and the low interest rate environment but buyers will be more selective given that so many Government Land Sale sites are being sold; this will translate to greater choice of new projects.”

“Prices have also been on the rise, so potential buyers will be more discerning in picking properties that have better potential for rental income or capital appreciation,” Ms Chua added. DTZ’s data shows that secondary market prices of completed private homes appreciated about 6 – 8% in the first half of this year; her full-year forecast is an 8 – 13% increase.

CB Richard Ellis executive director (residential) Joseph Tan reckons that developers are unlikely to test new price benchmarks when they resume launches next month. But prices are unlikely to fall below current levels either, as land prices remain high, he adds.

On the other hand, signs of buyer price resistance continue to prevail. Colliers International’s analysis of official developer monthly sales data released by URA shows that the proportion of private homes sold by developers priced at $1,500psf and below was at its highest level in 10 months in July, at 88%.

The Outside Central Region, where mass-market properties are typically located, accounted for 42.8% of the total 1,544 units sold by developers in July, while the Core Central Region, where the most expensive homes in Singapore are found, had a 17.9% share. The most expensive apartment/condominium unit (in terms of $ psf) sold by a developer in July was a unit at Boulevard Vue which fetched $4,600psf. Far East sold the high-floor unit of 4,456sqft for $20.5 million.

URA’s data shows that other high-end deals last month included a unit at The Orchard Residences which sold at $4,099psf and another at Skyline @Orchard Boulevard at $3,719psf.

The least expensive non-landed home was a unit at The Minton in Hougang which was transacted at $612psf.

July’s surge in primary market sales came on the back of three major launches – 368 Thomson, Terrene at Bukit Timah and The Scala at Serangoon Avenue 3. Together, they made up 46.6% of the total 1,544 units developers sold in July.

The top-selling project was The Scala, with 400 units transacted at a median price of $1,173psf.

Also helping to boost last month’s sales were sell-out launches for three projects that comprised mostly one-bedders – the 51-unit Centra Suites at Lorong 25 Geylang, 99-unit Haig 162 and Leicester Suites (46 of the 47 units were sold last month).

Developers launched 1,335 private homes in July, up from 1,010 units in June.

Projects expected to be released after the Hungry Ghost Month includes NV Residences in Pasir Ris, Twin Peaks on the Grangeford site, Cityscape in Mergui Road and Killiney 18.

Two executive condo projects – the 573-unit Esparina Residences at Compassvale Bow in Sengkang and the Chinese developer MCC Land’s 406-unit The Canopy in Yishun – are slated for release in October, says market watchers.

July sales rebound.....

- August 16, 2010 No Comments

It was reported on the 9.30 news tonight that July private home sales have defied expectation by reversing the decline that started in May.

A total of 1,544 private residential units were sold. This is 80% higher than the number of units sold in June (847).

The best performing project in July is The Scala at Lorong Chuan, where a total of 400 units were sold at an average price of $1,173psf. This has continued to boost sales in the suburban market.

For the first seven months of 2010, a total of just under 10,000 units were sold.


- No Comments

The wife and I decided to take our chances at the sales gallery of THE GREENWICH during lunch today. Given the good take-up rate for the units released for sale so far, we are unsure if there are units left for the gallery to remain open.

And true enough, Phase 1 of THE GREENWICH is 100% sold while Phase 2 will only be released at a later date to be announced... after the Chinese Ghost month probably. So we will have to wait till the launch of Phase 2 to review this project.
The Greenwich (Site)

We then swung over to MEADOWS @PIERCE to catch up on the latest building status of this sold-out project (and to have our prata lunch at Casurina, of course). You can see (vaguely) from the photo taken that construction is in full swing, with some of the blocks already built up till their full height.

For those still eyeing TREVISTA...

- August 15, 2010 No Comments

The wife and I discovered today that we have lost the thumb drive containing all the photos/reports/reviews for our blog. 

Yes, we should have kept another backup copy... something that we will adhere to going forward.

And if by some miracle someone does find and return our thumb drive, we will be most grateful.

Trivista Update (15-08-2010)

No takers for Jurong EC site

- August 13, 2010 No Comments

The ST today reported that an executive condominium (EC) site that experts thought might draw at least two or three developers failed to attract a single bid at the tender’s close yesterday.

The surprise lack of interest in the Jurong West site likely stems from the Government's recent decision to put a record number of sites up for tender in coming months, giving developers a wealth of choice.

Bids were tipped to come in between $230 and $300 per sqft per plot ratio for the 99-year leasehold site after strong interest in other EC tenders this year.

But developers have become much more selective and the site is not particularly appealing, being next to the expressway with no amenities nearby and some distance from the MRT.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic real estate lecturer Nicholas Mak said developers will be more cautious with sites where they see limited pricing flexibility.

ECs are aimed at households with a gross monthly income ceiling of $10,000 so developers would want to price units at below a million each, he said. They should cost at least 10 – 15% less than a private mass market condo unit.

The last time an EC site had no takers was in late 2008 when the market was weakening. The site – at the junction of Punggol Field and Punggol Road and near Punggol MRT station – eventually sold in June last year.

A Ministry of National Development spokeman said: “It’s not possible to conclude the lack of bids is a sign of the market cooling. Developers’ participation on Government land sales sites is affected by several factors, of which location of the sites and supply of sites are some of the considerations.”

However, Mr Mak said the Jurong West outcome will have a “psychological effect on the land sales market”.

 “It could signal to developers that they no longer need to bid high for sites that are not attractively located,” he said.

The Jurong EC site can yield an estimated 460 units with a maximum permissible gross floor area of 542,988sqft.

The US economic recovery is showing signs of weakening, the Chinese property market is definitely cooling and now we have seen the first “non taker” for an EC site since 2008… The wife and I wonder if the guy from MND might have shot himself in the foot. Then again, it is the Hungry Ghost month after all so there’s an excuse!


- August 11, 2010 No Comments

As reported in the ST today:

Another 94 units of this 319-unit project were sold following the start of a private preview on Aug 2, when it moved 80 units. It has sold 174 homes in total, with the average price achieved rising to $1,025psf from $980psf last Monday.

Nearly half of the units sold have been one-bedroom units of 603sqft to 721sqft, priced from $657,000 to $850,000.

Far East said it was on course to launch the project early next month.

The 172-unit TERRENE sold its remaining unit last Saturday. 
(* After our visit to the sales gallery late last month, the wife and I did say that this project is likely to be sold out within 1 – 2 months. This has actually happened sooner than we have envisaged)

Hong Leong Holdings said it sold 35 units of its 468-unit THE SCALA over the long weekend, leaving fewer than 15 units left.


En-bloc news: Charlesville & Naung Court

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Two freehold residential sites at Paya Lebar and Hougang are up for tender, as reported in BT today.


16 owners of this 5-storey, 18-unit development at Upper Paya Lebar Road have agreed to put their development out for sale. The asking price is around $31 million.

The site is 34,160sqft and has a plot ratio of 1.4. Charlesville’s existing gross floor area (GFA) is about 42,000sqft, but a developer can build a new project with a GFA of up to 52,600sqft, including an additional 10% of space allocated for balconies.

A development charge of about $2.9 million will be payable. The tender for Charlesville closes on Aug 18.

Hutton is handling the tender for Charlesville.

Naung Court
Naung Court

The 4-storey 20-unit Naung Court at Jalan Naung is also up for sale. Jones Lang La-Salle is handling the tender, and the indicative price is $28-30 million. This works out to between $650 and $700 per square foot per plot ratio.

The 32,689sqft site has a gross plot ratio of 1.4 and can accommodate a 5-storey project. The winning developer can build a project with a GFA of up to 45,764sqft, subject to payment of a development charge of around $2.7 million.

Naung Court is within walking distance of Hougang MRT station, Hougang bus interchange and Hougang Mall.

The tender closes on Sep 14.

Foreigners buying more landed homes but fewer condos

- August 10, 2010 No Comments
According to a BT news report today, foreigners including permanent residents bought 81 landed homes in Singapore in the 2nd quarter of this year, up from 69 in Q1. And the Q2 figure is the strongest quarterly showing since Q2 2007. This is according to Knight Frank’s analysis of the URA Realis caveats information up to July 30.

District 15, which includes Katong, Telok Kurau and East Coast Road, overtook District 4 – where transactions are predominantly at Sentosa Cove – as the most popular district among foreign buyers of landed property. In Q1, District 4 was most highly sought after by such foreigners.

While foreigners picked up more landed homes in Q2 than Q1, they bought fewer private apartments and condos. The number slipped 7.4%, from 2,261units in Q1 to 2,093 units in Q2.

But Singaporean bought more non-landed private homes in Q2 – 5,732 versus 5,315 in Q1.

Besides an increase in the number of landed homes bought by foreigners in Q2, their share of total landed home purchases here rose from 6.3% in January – March to almost 7% in April – June.

The latter figure is a tad below an 8% share in Q1 2007 and Q2 2008.

The 150 landed properties bought by foreigners in the first half of this year accounted for 6.6% of landed home deals in the period. On annual basis, the share has ranged from 3% in 1996 to 9% in 1995 and 1997.

PRs acquired 132 of the 150 landed homes bought by foreigners in the first half of this year. The other 18 were bought by non-PR foreigners. This is not surprising as on mainland Singapore, being a PR is one of the major criteria a foreigner has to fulfil before being allowed to buy a landed home.

Sentosa Cove is the only place in Singapore where non-PR foreigners are allowed to buy landed homes, but this is still subject to approval by the Land Dealings (Approval) Unit, among other conditions.


Remember that "dream house" we told you about?

- August 8, 2010 No Comments

The cat's outta bag now.

BINJAI CREST is a 99-year leasehold cluster housing project located near the junction off Binjai Road and Jalan Kampong Chantek. The access road is from Dunearn Road.

The development has a land area of about 220,000sqft and consist of 125 units. It was developed by Allgreen properties and completed in 2004.

The unit size ranges from 2,787 to 4,650 sqft. Each unit has 5 bedrooms, all of which comes with an attached bath. 81 units have a roof terrace with roof garden while 44 units have an attic.

BINJAI CREST is also one of the rare cluster housing project that comes with a tennis court.

The development does need a fresh coat of paint though, but the wife and I understand that they are repainting sometime this year/early next year.

We love the generous amount of space within the unit and around the development. This is a departure from the small plot size and "tall and thin" unit associated with most cluster housings that we have visited so far.

But alas, it was not meant to be...

Main Entrance
Exterior 1
Exterior 2
unit 1
carpark 1
carpark 2

THE GREENWICH: 80 units snapped up at preview

- August 4, 2010 No Comments

The ST today reported that Far East has sold 80 out of the 96 units released at the 319-unit THE GREENWICH at its special preview on Monday. The showflat was opened till 2am the following morning in order to cope with the demand from buyers.


Price ranged from $650,000 to $1.25 million, with the psf at $980 on average. The psf price is supposedly a record for the area.

Singaporean accounted for almost all of the buyers at the preview. Most are from the Seletar estate area.

More than 80% of the 1- and 2-bedroom units were snapped up and all 10 of the 3-bedroom units released were sold.

THE GREENWICH, at the junction of Seletar and Yio Chu Kang roads, has residential units and retail shops. Of the 319 residential units, 160 are one-bedroom units that Far East describes as Soho-type (small office, home office) units.

Ranging in size from 603sqft to 721sqft, they offer users the flexibility to combine an efficient work environment with the comfort and privacy of a home. It has since sold 32 out of 40 such units released in the preview. The 2- to 3-bedroom units go up to 1485sqft in size.

The retail shops will be in a 45,000sqft two-storey mall called Greenwich V, which is close to 60% committed.

The wife and I understand that Greenwich V will have 35 retail units and will likely open by end of next year. Tenants secured so far include Cold Storage, which will operate a supermarket of about 10,000sqft, 7-Eleven, Guardian and food court operator Kopitiam, which will occupy 6,300sqft. About half of the mall’s net lettable area will be leased to F&B outlets such as cafes and restaurants. Other tenants are likely to include hair salons, wine shops and providers of educational and medical services.

Far East is developing THE GREENWICH/Greenwich V project on a site it clinched in an URA tender that closed in September last year. Its wining bid of $119.08 million reflected a unit land cost of $376psf of potential gross floor area. Far East’s bid was 35% above the second highest offer. 
The area around THE GREENWICH and Greenwich V is slated to become the next “Holland Village” of the North. The wife and I are hoping that it will fare much better than the other “Dempsey Hill” of Northern Singapore…

THE SCALA (Review)

- August 3, 2010 No Comments
District: 19
Location: Serangoon Avenue 3
Developer: Hong Leong Holdings
Tenure: 99-year Leasehold
Estimated site area: 149,000sqft
Expected TOP: January 2014
Description: 5 blocks of 17-storey each
Total number of units: 468
Total number of carpark lots: 520 (basement parking)

More than 75% of the units sold on the first day of public launch – that was enough motivation for the wife and me to check out THE SCALA on Sunday to find out what all the hype is about.

The sales gallery is located on the actual site, along Serangoon Ave 3 right next door to Chuan Park. The place was pretty crowded as expected, so much so that even the brochures for the project had run out.
Location Map1

The site that THE SCALA sits on is a rather odd-shaped plot and the blocks are built in a semi-circular manner that wraps around the main entrance/lap pool/clubhouse. And the biggest selling point of this project is the fact that Lorong Chuan MRT Station (part of the Circle Line) is situated right at the doorsteps of THE SCALA. This is linked by a sheltered passage from within the condo all the way to a side-gate where the MRT station entrance is located.
Microsoft PowerPoint - Lor Chuan - Preliminary Information.ppt

THE SCALA offers quite an extensive range of unit types
• 1-Bedroom:    474sqft - 484sqft
• 2-Bedroom:    828sqft - 839sqft
• 2+Study:         876sqft - 972sqft
• 3-Bedroom:    1014sqft - 1120sqft
• 3+Study:         1258sqft
• 4-Bedroom:    1236sqft - 1370sqft
• 2-Bedroom Penthouse:    1489sqft – 1521sqft
• 3-Bedroom Penthouse:    1489sqft – 1764sqft
• 4-Bedroom Penthouse:    2101sqft – 2142sqft

Facility wise, THE SCALA is definitely a “full facility” condo. These are found on both the 1st and 3rd storey (“Roof Garden”) levels. Of special mention are:

Ground Level
• 50m lap pool and 30m swimming pool
• Jacuzzi
• Tennis court
• Half basketball court
• Pizza oven pavilion

3rd Floor “Roof Garden”
• BBQ pavilion
• “Salad” pavilion with Teppanyaki grill
• Jogging Track
(* We realised that the site plan is rather hard on the eyes but this is the best that we can manage at the moment. We will try to get you a better/bigger picture once we get our hands on a copy of the marketing brochure)

There are also a grand total of 520 parking lots, which is quite generous by current new project standards.

There are 3 showflat types on display at the sales gallery
• 474sqft, 1-Bedroom unit
• 850sqft, 2-Bedroom unit
• 1044sqft, 3-Bedroom unit (Type 3a)
3-Brm FP

And since both the 1 and 2-bedders are fully sold, we shall concentrate on the 3-bedroom unit.

As you enter the main door, you arrive at the rectangular-shaped living/dining room. The wife and I found this area too small for our liking, as you probably have little space left after fitting in a sofa and dining table set. The area comes with 60cm x 60cm compressed marble floors and 2.85m ceiling height.
Living (3Brm)

The rectangular balcony is huge compared to the unit size – we reckon this to be at least 100sqft, which is effectively 10% of the total unit area.

The kitchen is a narrow strip of an area with an L-shaped, solid-surfaced kitchen worktop. The developer has thrown in a host of kitchen appliances with the unit - other than the “Electrolux” hood/hob/oven, you also get a fridge as well as separate washer and dryer. One thing we liked about the kitchen design is that the washing machine area comes “boxed up” so that the washer/dryer are hidden from view. The amount of kitchen cabinets provided is also very generous and comes with “anti-slam” drawers too.
Kitchen (3Brm)

There is no much of yard space to speak of – this is a small squarish area that you can hardly do anything with. The home shelter aka maid’s room is rather narrow and will probably fit a customized bed but nothing much else. A small bathroom completes the whole yard setup.
Yard (3Brm)

The common bathroom is quite good size and comes with a nice colour combination of ceramic floor/wall tiles. The bathroom furnishing  (marble vanity top, storage cabinet beneath the wash basin and even storage behind the mirror) are both highly functional and pleasing to the eyes. The shower stall is installed with a marble “feature wall” but with the usual wall-mounted shower. One thing that the wife noticed is that the door to the shower stall will need to be opened inward given the layout of the bathroom. So it may be quite a squeeze getting in and out of the shower stall.
C.Bath (3Brm)

The two common rooms are square-shaped and… you guessed it… small. A “single” bed will take up most of the space within, as illustrated in the photo that we have taken.
C.Room (3Brm)
C.Bedroom (3Brm)

The master bedroom is a tad small as well, so you can forget about having a king-sized bed in here.M.Bedroom (3Brm)

The amount of wardrobe space will probably be enough to house either the wife's or my clothes but definitely not both.
Wardrobe (3Brm)

The master bathroom is quite spacious and just as aesthetically pleasing as the common bathroom. It comes with marble floors/walls but with the same shower stall as the common bathroom. There is no bath tub here but at least the shower stall is fitted with “rain shower” overhead.
M.Bath (3Brm)

What we like:
• The quality of furnishing at THE SCALA is probably one of the best for a mass market project that we have seen over the past few months. The wife and I particularly liked the marble floors and the overall “feel” of the bathrooms in the showflat.

• THE SCALA is also one project that is truly next to a MRT station. Marketing agents at some of the other projects will brag about how close the MRT station is from their developments, but this is one whereby the MRT station is right at your doorstep literally. And you even get a sheltered passage all the way to the station entrance… talk about convenience!

• Location – THE SCALA is situated close to numerous schools and tertiary institutions. The Australian International School and Stamford American International School are also just down the road. This may translates to good rental yield. However, we wonder if expat families (particularly Caucasians) will be comfortable with the small unit sizes available for rent in this project. The wife and I were told that NEX mall, the upcoming mega shopping mall, is just 10 minutes walk or 1-MRT stop away.

• Primary school wise, there is a choice of either St. Gabriel (boys) or Yang Zheng Primary (co-ed) that is within 1-km from THE SCALA.

What we dislike:
• 1120sqft for the biggest 3-bedder and 1370sqft for the largest 4-bedroom unit at THE SCALA… waaaaay too small for our liking.

• The wife and I were told that the living/dining area for the 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom units are around the same size. So you probably will have to do your entertaining in the clubhouse or one of the outdoor pavilions.

• Given the relatively small size of the units at THE SCALA, we find the big balcony (which again comes standard for all 2- to 4-bedrooms) a luxury that the units can ill afford. We will much prefer a small balcony and bigger living/dining room.

• The stretch of Serangoon Road that THE SCALA is located already houses several condominiums – Chuan Park (452 units), The Springbloom (372 units), Chiltern Park (500units) and a couple of other small developments down the road. So buyers one can expect quite a bit of peak-hour traffic along this stretch of road.

• Last but not least, the main expressway connecting THE SCALA to the City is the CTE. And if you have been following our blog, you will know how much of a fan both the wife and I are of this particular expressway.

Price-wise, we were told that all the 1-bedders were picked up after the first day of public launch at prices of $1400 - $1500psf! Here are sample of prices for units that are still available as of Sunday:

• #14-12, 3-Bedroom (1044sqft): $1,217,500 or $1166psf
(* This unit faces the City/Marina Bay area)

• #14-04, 2+Study (904sqft): $1,074,800 or $1189psf
(* This unit faces Serangoon Garden/landed homes in Mei Hwan Heights)

The monthly maintenance for the 2-bedders is about $250 while that for the 3-bedders is about $300.

It was also reported in the papers today Lian Beng Group has been appointed the main contractor for this project. Work is to commence in October and should complete by end 2013. We were told by the marketing agent that after the first 20% down, the next trench of payment (10%) is not expected till 2011.

After visiting THE SCALA, the wife and I can appreciate the reason for such good take-up rate seen at this project. Given the affordable (by current market standards) price quantum amount versus the quality you get with this project, it does seem like a good buy (again, going by current market standards). But the wife and I still have qualms over the small unit sizes and try as we might, cannot come to terms with paying almost $1200psf for a 99-year leasehold project in District 19… even if the MRT is at our doorstep.