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Enbloc News: Laguna Park (again) and Henry Park Apartments

- October 31, 2011 No Comments

Laguna Park at Marine Parade Road is up for collective sale with a reserve price of $1.25 billion.

Together with Henry Park Apartments, which is also up for collective sale at between $170 million and $180 million, the total value of properties that have come up for sale in October has hit close to $5 billion.

With over 10 sites now available for sale, developers appear to be spoilt for choice.

Nicholas Wong, Executive Director (Investment) at Knight Frank, said that developers are looking at collective sales with some caution now and added that any sale will depend on the attributes of the site and the developer's risk appetite as well as market sentiment.

He also noted that the Government Land Sales Programme is offering developers many alternative sites.

Knight Frank is marketing the 677,493sqft Laguna Park site and it believes the proximity to the seafront would a key selling point for any new development. Based on the reserve price, the land price comes to about $954psf ppr.

Laguna Park was put up for sale earlier this year with a reserve price of $1.33 billion. But the tender closed without a successful bid.

While the downward revision of the reserve price suggests that sellers might be more motivated to sell now, Mr Wong said that new requirements for en bloc sales allow a development to be put up for sale for one year only after receiving 80% approval from homeowners. When this lapses, sellers have to seek a new mandate. So some sellers choose to relaunch the site for sale within the year instead, added Mr Wong.

Tan Hong Boon, Deputy Director, Credo Real Estate, pointed out that no collective sale has been transacted at over $200 million yet. "Generally, the key will be the land price and quantum," he said.

Credo is marketing the 99,000sqft Henry Park site. Based on its asking price, the land price works out to be $1,216 - $1,287psf ppr.

Still, Mr Tan does not believe that the slew of collective sale sites will mean land prices will fall. "Some sellers may have lowered their asking prices but their reserve price has stayed the same," he added.

Mr Wong is still positive on the Singapore property market too. "Barring the worsening in the global economic situation, the property market here should remain stable," he said.

The tender for Laguna Park will close on December 6, while the tender for Henry Park closes on December 1.
Source: Channel News Asia

Property Spotlight: Cuscaden/Tomlinson Road

- October 30, 2011 No Comments
The neighbourhood of Cuscaden Road and Tomlinson Road, off Tanglin Road, is attracting the interest of high-net-worth individuals again, largely owing to the upcoming 29-unit boutique luxury condominium development, Hana, by Pontiac Land. The units at the 99-year leasehold Kerry Hill-designed project are said to average 3,500sqft each.

Nearby, Hotel Properties Ltd (HPL), one of the biggest stakeholders in the prime neighbourhood, launched the 70-unit Tomlinson Heights (on the site where Beverly Mai used to stand) in Cuscaden Road in August last year. Of the 30 units launched, 29 have been sold to date. The most recent recorded transaction according to URA was for a 4,004sqft, five-bedroom apartment that was sold for $12.53 million ($3,129psf).

Existing high-end condos in the vicinity are also seeing renewed interest from buyers.

For instance, at the 150-unit freehold Cuscaden Residences, there were two transactions over the week of Sept 26 to 30, based on the latest caveats lodged and downloaded from URA Realis as at Oct 19. One was the sale of a three-bedroom, 1,485sqft unit on the 13th level, which changed hands for $3.33 million ($2,242psf). The seller had purchased it for $2.28 million ($1,533psf) in August 1999 when the project was first launched. The seller saw a price appreciation of about 46%.

The other transaction at Cuscaden Residences was for a 4,951sqft, four-bedroom penthouse, which was sold for $11.2 million ($2,262psf). The previous owner paid just $5.6 million ($1,131psf) for the penthouse in September 2000, seeing prices double in just over a decade. Cuscaden Residences is a twin-tower, 20-storey condo tower developed by HPL and was completed in 2002.

Apartments at Cuscaden Residences have traditionally attracted investors, given the prime Orchard Road location as units there tend to be popular with high-level expatriate executives. The asking prices today are considered “attractive” to buyers, says Ron Phua, a property agent from DWG. However, Phua feels that buying activity is low at the moment “as most investors are putting their property investments on hold owing to uncertainty of the global economy in recent months”. The low transaction level could also have contributed to the “sluggish prices”, he adds.

Adjacent to Cuscaden Residences is the 29-unit and freehold The Tomlinson by Wing Tai Holdings, which was also completed in 2003. A four-bedroom, 2,368sqft unit on the seventh level was sold last month for $4.8 million ($2,010psf). This was the third time the unit has changed hands on the resale market over the last five years. The unit last changed hands in 2007, at $5.2 million ($2,200psf). Prior to that, it was sold for $4.8 million ($2,027psf) in December 2006.

Across the road is the newest condo in the neighbourhood, the 173-unit luxury St Regis Residences by Singapore tycoon Kwek Leng Beng’s City Developments Ltd (CDL), Hong Leong Holdings and TID Pte Ltd (a joint venture between Hong Leong and Mitsui Fudosan). Kwek is one of the biggest stakeholders in the neighbourhood, and also owns the site of the former Boulevard Hotel, which will be redeveloped into another luxury project.

St Regis Residences is considered the first branded residence in Singapore when it was launched in mid-2006. It was completed in 2008 and is linked to the 299-room upscale St Regis Singapore hotel.

Two units on the 19th floor of St Regis Residences were recently sold for a total of $11.86 million ($2,776psf). The last time the units changed hands was in early 2009, at the start of the global financial crisis, when the units fetched $9.2 million ($2,153psf). The original owner who bought the units at the launch in 2006 paid $5.5 million ($2,576psf) for one unit and $6.1 million ($2,845psf) for the other.

Owners’ asking prices at St Regis Residences these days are said to be in the $2,500 to $2,800psf range, says Samuel Eyo, associate director of Savills Prestige Homes.

Even though the current economic climate has affected transaction volume in the high-end segment as investors stay on the sidelines, “interest for luxurious and exclusive condos in Singapore remain unaffected”, says David Neubronner, head of residential project sales at Jones Lang LaSalle.


Private housing prices continue to moderate

- October 28, 2011 2 Comments

Prices of private residential properties increased by 1.3% in the third quarter of 2011, lower than the 2% rise in the previous quarter.

This was the eighth consecutive quarter in which the rate of increase in overall private housing prices had moderated, according to real estate statistics released on Friday by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Prices of non-landed properties in Core Central Region (CCR) - which includes postal districts 9, 10 and 11 -  increased at a slower pace of 0.7% in the third quarter, compared to the 1.6% rise in the previous quarter.

Meanwhile, prices for Rest of Central Region (RCR) and Outside Central Region (OCR) increased by 1.2% and 2.1% respectively in the third quarter.

This is slightly higher than the 1.1% and 1.7% increase in the previous quarter.

Rentals of private residential properties rose by 0.8% in the third quarter, less than the 1.3% increase in the previous quarter.

URA said there was a total supply of 76,255 uncompleted private residential units from projects in the pipeline, as at the end of the third quarter this year.

This supply is higher than the 71,111 units in the previous quarter, and also the highest ever recorded since
such data was first available in 1999.

Meanwhile, the total stock of completed Executive Condominium (EC) units remained unchanged at 10,430 units as at the end of the third quarter.

In addition,there were 5,332 EC units in the pipeline.

URA added that another 1,115 EC units could come from the EC sites that have been released for sale via the 2nd Half 2011 government land sales (GLS) Programme.
Source: Channel News Asia

The wife and I are rather amazed by how the slower pace of price rise in the prime districts of 9, 10 & 11 more than offset the higher price increase for the rest of Singapore. This is dispite the fact that the bulk of the sales continue to be mass-market homes in the suburban areas. It just goes to show the huge price disparity between private properties in the prime districts versus the rest.


Property Spotlight: West Coast area

- October 27, 2011 No Comments

There has been buying interest in the West Coast area. At the 276-unit Regent Park, which was completed in 1997, two units changed hands over the week of Sept 20 to 27, based on the latest caveats lodged and downloaded from URA Realis as at Oct 12.

One was a two-bedroom, 807sqft unit on the eighth level, which changed hands for $845,000 ($1,047psf). That was the third time the unit has changed hands so far. The first buyer had purchased it at launch in February 1997 for $685,000 ($849psf) and sold it two years later, in November, for $540,000 ($669psf), which was 21.2% below the original purchase price. The buyer enjoyed a 56.5% price appreciation, however, when he sold it recently for $1,047psf. This is an all-time-high price psf achieved in the 99-year leasehold condo.

On the first level of the same block, a 1,227sqft, three-bedroom apartment changed hands for the fourth time for $1.16 million ($945psf), or a 55.1% gain. The first owner had purchased the unit in March 1996 for $760,000 ($619psf) and sold it in January 2000 for $786,000 ($641psf). The buyer subsequently held it for eight years, and sold it for $748,000 ($610psf) in mid-September 2008, right after Lehman Brothers investment bank collapsed, heralding the start of the last global financial crisis.

Regent Park, located on Jalan Lempeng, is just a short distance from the new Clementi Mall, which is integrated with the bus interchange and the Clementi MRT station. It is also accessible via the Pan Island Expressway (PIE) and Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE), say property agents. West Coast Park and West Coast Recreation Club are in the vicinity, and there is also the popular Nan Hua Primary School nearby.

Apartments at Regent Park are said to appeal to not just local owner-occupiers but also expatriates, especially those from China and India. Three-bedroom units at the condo can command rental rates of $2,500 to $3,500 a month.

Adjacent to Regent Park is the 432-unit Park West Condo, a 99-year leasehold condo completed in 1986. Park West Condo was put up for en bloc sale by tender in late September with a price tag of $803 million. The differential premium and topping-up of the lease work out to an additional $230 million, which means an overall price tag of $1.03 billion.

The most recent transactions at Park West were in July, at transaction prices from $808psf, for a 1,894sqft unit, to $913psf, for a 915sqft unit.

New developments in West Coast area have been seeing quite a lot of activity in the last two years. An example is the 659-unit freehold The Parc Condominium by Chip Eng Seng, which was completed in 2010.

There were two transactions at The Parc Condo over the week of Sept 20 to 27. One was the sale of a three-bedroom, 1,442sqft unit on the 19th floor that went for $1.7 million ($1,179psf). The seller had purchased it in 2007, when the project was first launched, at $1.255 million ($870psf). He thus made a 35.5% gain.

In another block, a 1,421sqft, three-bedroom apartment on the 14th floor was sold for $1.59million ($1,119psf). The previous owner had purchased the unit, also at launch in 2007, for $1.252 million ($881psf) and made a 27% gain.

Other condos in the vicinity that saw units changed hands include the 530-unit, 99-year leasehold Varsity Park Condominium by CapitaLand Ltd and completed in 2008. A 1,453sqft unit was sold last month at $1.65 million ($1,135psf). Another was Blue Horizon, a 616-unit by Far East Organization completed in 2005, where a unit was recently sold for $1,029psf.

Last month, Hong Leong Garden Shopping Centre in West Coast Way was sold en bloc for $171 million to a consortium of boutique developers including Oxley Holdings, Heeton Holdings and KSH Holdings. This is by far the biggest en bloc sale successfully completed this year.

Whether Park West Condo’s collective sale will be successful or whether even Regent Park itself will be put up for en bloc sale is anyone’s guess.

“While it is good for investors and owners to remain hopeful, it is quite impossible to tell whether there is en bloc potential for Regent Park,” says Joseph Ong, a property agent at DWG. “Even so, there may not be many developers keen to [purchase a large en bloc site], given that the market is already slowing down.”

It does not seem that long ago (was it really 2007?) at The Parc Condo that the wife and I first experienced what can only be described as "carpark sale" for a new condo project - marketing agents were setting up tables and chairs at the open-air carpark outside Clementi Sports Stadium (i.e. just next to the sales gallery of The Parc Condo, which was not opened for viewing yet), making their sale pitches to potential buyers or "blur sotongs" like yours truly who made the trip down to see the showflat not knowing that the sales gallery was still not ready,  and collecting cheque in advance for the VVIP preview. The project has now been completed for almost a year. How time flies!


Private home market on the up again..?

- October 25, 2011 No Comments

Private home market gaining momentum
by Colin Tan  (Colin Tan is head of research and consultancy at Chesterton Suntec International)

For the past couple of weeks, you get the sense that momentum is building up in the private housing market.

In an ironic twist, a private residential site tender at Flora Drive in Upper Changi broke new ground on Wednesday, the same day National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said it was not time yet to remove the property market cooling measures.

It was the first site sale to reverse the tide of cautious bids for the past few land tenders. The tender attracted eight bids, with the top offer coming at $163 million or $361 psf ppr. This is 11% higher than the $325 psf winning bid for an adjacent site sold in June which attracted only four bids.

You could say that this day was some time in the making. Even as the past few state land sales attracted lower - and fewer - bids, the point is that they still got sold. The past few years have been golden years for developers, with many achieving strong profits. Many are facing the "good" problem of how best to re-invest these profits.

But more important than profits for developers is that housing sales are continuing, albeit at stable price levels.

The latest developer sales numbers for last month showed housing units sold jumping by 20.7% from the previous month, or by 25.8%, including the sale of Executive Condominiums.

Can the buying momentum continue and surpass the record 16,292 private homes achieved last year? It is a tall order but why not, if - as many have predicted - developers are rushing over themselves to push out their units.

And if sales continue to be robust, can we expect prices to remain unchanged for long since rising prices and sales often always go hand-in-hand?

Adding to the momentum is the ongoing collective sales - but with a big difference this time. The en bloc sale scene has clearly entered a new phase where the majority of owners for some projects are "determined" to sell.

This week alone saw five developments being put up for collective sale - Faber Garden, Dragon Mansion, Newton Lodge, Dunearn Gardens and Jasmine Court.

For the majority of owners in Dragon Mansion and Dunearn Gardens, they are openly lowering their price expectations. If owners are determined to sell, I strongly suspect they will get it sold eventually.

What will be the impact of this continuous stream of collective sales? For one, they will remove some of the housing stock and possibly some rental units - which will lend some support to the rental market.

Some owners will choose to rent while others will downgrade for the time being. This will again impact both the rental market and raise housing sales for existing developments. Others will seize their opportunity to make big money, enough to possibly retire comfortably.

For these owners and other investors, the path is clear. There is price stability in the private housing market - which means no more cooling measures for the time being. They may even derive some comfort from Mr Khaw's announcement on Wednesday that his top priority for the next two years will be to tend to the housing needs of two groups: Newlyweds and vulnerable families.

As the saying goes, when the cat's away, the mice will play.
Source: TODAY Online

It seems like the current sentiments about our private housing market is much like the stock market these days - one week up, the next week down. Let's see what the experts will have to say in the next couple of weeks...


The Real Deals (20 October 2011)

- October 24, 2011 No Comments
It has been a hectic couple of days for the wife and I. But all the boxes are now unpacked while the final piece of furniture (i.e. our new sofa set) has been delivered. So other than the tiring feet and aching backs, we have survived yet another move and are more or less settled into our new home.

So here is the latest issue of  for your reading pleasure. This is especially for those interested in properties in the Cavenagh Road area.

In case you do not see any new post over the next few days...

- October 20, 2011 5 Comments
The wife and I , together with our 7 year old and the helper in tow, are busy preparing for our impending move to our new apartment (technically speaking it is an old apartment but newly renovated) tomorrow. As such, we may not have time to update our blog over the next couple of days.

So check back with us next Monday.

Have a great weekend!

En bloc wave = property market rebounding?

- October 19, 2011 2 Comments

Singapore is suddenly awash with properties up for en bloc sale.

With almost 10 estates going to market this month, analysts said this will probably be the last wave for the year.

A last splurge for developers for 2011, and possibly the last before the market cools - that's what some owners of en bloc properties are hoping for.

Estates such as Crystal Tower in Bukit Timah and Faber Garden in upper Thomson are among nine properties put up for collective sale in October.

But, far from a resurgence, experts have dismissed any notion that the sudden rash of sales indicates a rebound in the market.

Karamjit Singh, CEO of Credo Real Estate said: "Well it's certainly not a resurgence of overall activity... It's probably a coincidence that we've had several en blocs launching or relaunching their tenders."

In fact, higher stamp duty on sales has reduced the profit potential for some investors.

The rush has more to do with developers and owners jumping on the bandwagon during the price boom some six to nine months ago.

Ku Swee Yong, CEO of International Property Advisors said: "The recent new launches have not just achieved new high prices but also sold well at a very fast pace, so this has caused the developers to replenish their land bank... (and) frankly for freehold land, you can only replenish them through the en bloc market."

Growth in the en bloc property market is slowing down. But experts say small and medium sized players will have their fair share of buyers. And unless the bigger properties find their unique selling point and maintain realistic expectations, chances of a successful sale will be pretty low.

Global economic uncertainty has played a big role in clouding the outlook, with credit from banks harder to come by for the residential market.

En bloc sales in the third quarter almost halved from the previous three months to S$580 million, with larger properties valued at over S$300 million meeting repeated failures.

The new crop of en bloc projects may not find buyers for another year, and with so many up for grabs, developers' money may be thinly divided.
Source: Channel News Asia

So there you have it. The wife and I wonder how many of the "almost 10" estates will actually be sold before the end of the year. We reckon it won't be more than 4....


Enbloc News: Faber Garden, Dunearn Gardens, Newton Lodge, Dragon Mansion & Jasmine Court

- October 18, 2011 2 Comments
Looks like everyone wants to go en bloc (or at least die trying) before the year ends...

And according to The Straits Times today, Jasmine Court in Upper Thomson Road is going for an expected price of $45 million, or about $872psf ppr. The freehold development measures 36,854sqft and can be built up to five storeys high.
The tender for this site closes on Nov 15.


September new home sales up 26%!

- October 17, 2011 No Comments

The private residential market saw a rebound in September.

Figures released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Monday showed 2,064 units, including executive condominiums (ECs), were transacted.

This is the highest number of monthly transactions this year and a significant 26% increase from August's 1,638 units.

Treasure Trove, a development in Punggol, accounted for about 40% of the transactions with more than 680 units sold.

PropNex Realty said the homebuyers are mainly HDB upgraders, attracted to the pricing and the proximity of the development to the Punggol MRT.

It said the revision of income ceiling had prompted many to purchase ECs.

Excluding ECs, the number of units sold in the mass market with units costing $1,200psf or less, accounted for more than three quarters of the transactions.

Jones Lang LaSalle said the surprise upside in September monthly sales only confirms the view of an underlying market need for homes.

Dr Chua Yang Liang, head of Research, Southeast Asia, said the market remains price sensitive with projects in the suburban areas seeing more take-up compared to projects in the city and its fringes.

PropNex said it expects October's sales to hold steady, with over 1,400 units sold. This is due to the fact that developers will be launching more projects in the coming months.

It added that it expects both home buyers and investors to take a more cautious approach on prices.
Source: Channel News Asia

The Real Deals (13 October 2011)

- October 15, 2011 No Comments
Here's the latest issue of 

It just goes to show that brand/quality of project and selling price usually go hand-in-hand... especially for luxury condos.


3Q2011 Home Sales Data & FY2011 Outlook (Part 2)

- October 14, 2011 No Comments
Impact of global economic situation
Historically, the price index for private property (PPI) declined during the period of 1996-98, 2000-04, and 2008-09, with each period marked by external shocks such as the Asian financial crisis in 1998, tech stock bubble and SARS epidemic in 2000/03 and, most recently, the global financial crisis in 2008.

“Correspondingly, the residential property market was also marked by high volume of new sales during those periods,” says Chua Yang Liang, head of research for Southeast Asia at Jones Lang LaSalle. “Given the currently moderate level of new sales as compared to resale activity – which again lends further support to the argument that there remains a substantial latent demand – resale market activity will likely to continue to support property prices going forward.”

Chua doesn’t expect to see a sudden drop in PPI like in the earlier periods, “unless the eurozone financial crisis takes another negative turn and sends further shock waves across Asia. Otherwise we can expect property price growth to maintain at a moderate average pace of 1% to 1.8% per quarter,” he adds.

JLL’s Chua also notes that despite the continued growth in property prices, rental values for properties in prime districts have started to fall for the first time since 1Q2008. Average prime rents fell by 1.4% q-o-q to $4.70psf per month but it is the luxury segment where the falls have been steepest, with an overall drop of 1.9% q-o-q to $5.13psf per month, he adds. While not as steep, typical prime properties have also seen rents fall in 3Q2011 by 0.8% q-o-q to an average of $4.27psf per month.

“The impact of the current global economic situation is starting to be seen in Singapore, with companies initiating hiring freezes, which in turn has an impact on demand for residential properties, especially in the prime markets where new expatriate staff typically choose to locate,” says Chua.

“This fall in demand, combined with an influx of new supply such as Nassim Park and Cliveden at Grange in the luxury market and City Vista Residences and Soleil@Sinaran in the typical prime market, has put downward pressure on rentals. Increasingly, occupiers are not maximizing their housing budgets and are going for less expensive options and/or downsizing their existing properties to reduce accommodation costs.”

As a result, new properties in the Central and East Coast areas are proving increasingly attractive to occupiers – rental values in those areas have remained flat at $4.50 and $3.45psf per month, respectively, in 3Q2011. Activity also remains high for properties commanding rents of less than $6,000 per month as people look to reduce housing costs.

Landed home prices continue to outpace non-landed in 3Q
Average resale prices in the landed sector continued to outpace the non-landed segment in 3Q owing to the limited stock of landed homes, says DTZ in a report on Oct 6. The average resale price of leasehold landed homes in non-prime districts increased the most by 3.8% q-o-q in 3Q2011 while the average resale price of freehold landed homes in the prime districts of 9, 10 and 11 saw a q-o-q price increase of 2.8%.

Based on a basket of completed condos tracked by DTZ Research, it was found that the average resale price of leasehold condos in the suburban areas grew at a slower pace of 2.5% q-o-q in 3Q2011.

As for the luxury condos in the prime districts of 9, 10 and 11, the average resale price was unchanged in 3Q2011. “The deteriorating global outlook and higher price quantum led to more cautious and selective buying,” notes DTZ. “Some projects are still experiencing price increases. In a slower market, prices of the better-designed and well-located projects will hold better.”

Condo sales in the CCR made up only 6.8% of total primary home sales and 21.6% of total secondary sales in July and August, notes DTZ. Mass-market home purchases, on the other hand, are backed by the rising HDB upgraders, aided by the rising HDB resale prices and low interest rates, notes Chua Chor Hoon, head of DTZ SEA Research. First-timers and investors are also motivated by the low interest rates to buy for owner-occupation and investment, she adds.

“As many of these buyers are buying for owner-occupation and investment beyond four years due to seller’s stamp duty measure, they probably take a longer-term view and thus less worried about the current global economic uncertainties,” notes DTZ’s Chua. “However, if the global outlook worsens and the economy continues to slow, this will eventually affect buying sentiment and lead to less exuberant purchase activity.”


3Q2011 Home Sales Data & FY2011 Outlook (Part 1)

- October 13, 2011 No Comments
Below is the first of the two-part report in this week's issue of THEEDGE SINGAPORE.

Suburban condominiums continue to drive private home prices
The pace of price growth for private homes has been declining steadily over the past two years. URA’s 3Q flash estimate showed that the private residential price index for 3Q2011 rose by 1.3% compared with 2% in the previous quarter. This shows that home prices are stabilising, says Li Hiaw Ho, executive director, CB Richard Ellis Research.

For the first nine months of 2011, the residential price index has risen by some 5.6%, which is significantly lower than the 14.4% growth over the same period last year.

However, including the latest 3Q preliminary figures, private home prices are now higher than it was during the last two peaks: 15.9% above the 2Q2008 peak, and 13.4% above the 2Q1996 peak, says Chia Siew Chuin, director of research & consultancy, Colliers International.

Nevertheless the grim global economic outlook also means that home-buyers are also more cautious. “With prices now far exceeding historical peaks, homebuyers are increasingly becoming resistant towards price growth and this has capped prices to some extent,” concedes Colliers’ Chia. “The pace of price growth has in fact moderated for the eighth consecutive quarter since 4Q2009.”

Owing to the more cautious mood and heightened price sensitivity, market activity continued to focus on mass-market segment. Naturally, the highest price growth was seen in the suburban neighbourhoods or, in URA parlance, the Outside Central Region (OCR), with a q-o-q growth of 2.1%, followed by 1.1% for the city fringe areas, or Rest of Central Region (RCR), and 0.8% for the prime districts and CBD, or Core Central Region (CCR).

The increase in the price index for the OCR and RCR could also have been driven by the strong sales at new projects in areas such as EuHabitat (median price $1,015psf) in Jalan Eunos, The Luxurie ($1,053psf) near Sengkang MRT station, Seastrand ($930psf) in Pasir Ris, and Thomson Grand ($1,300psf) off Upper Thomson Road, says CBRE’s Li.

Increased price sensitivity
Price sensitivity has also shown up in the higher take-up rates for one- and two-bedroom units, and projects priced at lower psf prices, notes Donald Chua, CIMB analyst in an Oct 2 report. He notes strong buying interest at A Treasure trove near Punggol MRT station, where close to 90% of the units have been sold since its launch last month. Likewise in EuHabitat, about 80% of the units have been snapped up to date.

Meanwhile, executive condominiums (ECs) are also gaining popularity after the Ministry of National Development raised the household income ceiling for ECs in mid-August from $10,000 to $12,000. The EC Arc at Tampines was the first to benefit as it was launched just after the announcement, and saw strong response, notes CIMB’s Chua. About 220 units were said to be sold via balloting in early September, with prices at an average of $722psf.

“We expect to see strong take-up for selected value-for-money mass market projects, while uncertainty continues to weaken sales in pricier mass-market projects and the mid-market and luxury segments,” says CIMB’s Chua.

This can be seen from marginal price growth of 0.8% for non-landed homes located in the CCR. This is the smallest quarterly growth chalked up since 3Q2009 when the market first rebounded and is also the slowest compared with price growths recorded in the RCR and OCR.

“The recent steep corrections in the stock market and news about global economic slowdown has dampened market sentiment,” says CBRE’s Li. He expects demand for new homes in Q4 to slow down and any price increase to be marginal. “Nevertheless, it will still be a healthy year for the residential market as total demand for new homes is likely to reach 15,000 units, compared with 16,292 in 2010 and 14,688 units in 2009,” says Li.

For the whole of 2011, the private home price index is expected to increase by 5% to 8%, which is less than half of the 17.6% rate of growth in 2010, says Nicholas Mak, executive director of research and consultancy at SLP International.
{To be continued}

More downward pressure on mass-market home prices?

- October 12, 2011 No Comments

Supply of land for residential homes is not likely to let up in the short-term.

The government said it will release more land and calibrate measures to ensure property prices are in line with economic growth.

The price of property has become a hot button issue here and is likely to get considerable airing in Parliament next week.

In the addendum to the President's Address in Parliament, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the government is releasing more land for private housing to meet the aspirations of Singaporeans.

Keeping private property affordable seems to be the message.

This could mean that more sites will be made available for development when the Government Land Sales Programme for the first half of 2012 is announced in November or December.

Judging by the popularity of recent GLS tenders, executive condominium sites could be on top of the list.

Mr Donald Han, vice-chairman of Cushman & Wakefield, said: "By virtue of the fact that there's a huge demand for executive condominium sites... and that the income ceiling for executive condominiums has been raised... I suspect more executive condominium sites will be released by the government for the first half of next year."
Source: Channel News Asia


Property Spotlight: Robertson Quay/Martin Road

The fully sold, 302-unit freehold Martin Place Residences obtained its temporary occupation permit (TOP) just last month. Enterprising property agents are already milling about in the area, showing units for lease and sale on the secondary market.

There were two transactions at Martin Place Residences over the week of Sept 13 to 20, based on the latest caveats lodged and downloaded from URA Realis as at Oct 6. One was the sale of a one-bedroom, 592sqft unit on the 25th level, which changed hands for $1.25 million ($2,111psf). The seller had purchased it for $1.022 million ($1,726psf) in June 2009, when the project was relaunched. The seller saw a price appreciation of 22.3%.

Meanwhile, at the neighbouring block of the twin-tower development, a 1,722sqft, three-bedroom apartment on the 31st floor changed hands for $3.7 million ($2,150psf). The seller had paid $2.87 million ($1,664psf) when it was purchased in August 2009, hence, recognizing a 29.2% price gain in two years.

According to Benson Koh, senior group district partner of SLP Real Estate Empire, the 1,722sqft, three-bedroom units have seen prices escalating on the secondary market, with owners asking prices in the range of $1,900 to $2,200psf, despite the uncertainty hanging over the global economy in recent months.

The riverfront neighbourhood of River Valley- Mohamad Sultan-Robertson Quay has become a sought-after residential district, given the short driving distance to both the CBD and Orchard Road, say property agents. There’s also the waterfront lifestyle, with the waterfront promenade so that people can enjoy a pleasant walk along the Singapore River, and the numerous retail and F&B enclaves at Boat Quay, and Clarke Quay.

Projects such as Martin Place Residences therefore appeal to local and foreign investors, especially those from China and Indonesia. “Three-bedroom apartments in the area tend to fetch good rentals, ranging from $7,500 to $9,500 per month,” says Koh.

Just down the road from Martin Place Residences is SC Global’s 88-unit Martin No. 38. The three commercial units in the project have already opened, and tenants are a boutique gym, The Mill, and two restaurants, Graze and Kha. The residential portion will only be completed by year-end. However, all the 65 residential units launched to date have been sold, according to URA new-home sales at end-August. The most recent transaction at the condominium was for a 969sqft unit on the 6th floor that was sold in August for $2.274 million ($2,347psf). Prior to that, a high of $2,962psf was achieved in May, when a 1,485sqft unit on the 14th level was sold for $4.4 million.

Meanwhile, across the street on Martin Road is the 545-unit RiverGate, which has restaurants overlooking the Singapore River, as well as a grocery store. The 99-year leasehold  freehold condo was developed jointly by CapitaLand and Hwa Hong Corp and completed in 2009. The most recent transaction at the condo was for a three-bedroom, 1,539sqft apartment that was sold for $3.15 million ($2,046psf) last month.

Rental rates for three-bedroom apartments at Martin Place Residences are likely to be comparable with those at RiverGate, says a property agent who declined to be named. The latter is sought after by families owing to the facilities, landscaping and direct access to the promenade as well as the restaurants along the Singapore River.

The Robertson Quay neighbourhood has seen an increase in interest this year, not just in the new developments, but existing condos as well. An example is the 206-unit Watermark Robertson Quay by Hong Leong, which was completed in 2008. The latest deal there was for a 1,324sqft unit on the 5th level that was sold for $2.1 million ($1,586psf) last month. The seller had purchased the unit when it was launched in 2005 for just over $1.22 million ($923psf), hence realising a capital appreciation of 71.8% over the last six years.

At the 186-unit freehold Robertson 100 by MCL Land, which was completed in 2004, an 872sqft unit was sold last month for $1.46 million ($1,675psf). This was the third time that the unit has changed hands on the resale market. The original owner, who bought it from the developer, paid $797,400 ($915psf) for the unit in 2004. He then sold it in 2007 for $1.1 million ($1,262psf), realising a gain of 37.9% in three years. The buyer then sold it two years later for a slightly higher price of $1.2 million ($1,376psf) in 2009. The recent seller who purchased the unit for $1.2 million in 2009 and sold it for $1.46 million ($1,675psf) enjoyed a 21.7% appreciation over the last two years.

With some time in our hands yesterday, the wife and I decided to drive down to the Robertson Quay/Martin Road area to take photos of the various developments mentioned in the above article. We were quite impressed with Martin Place Residences... from the outside at least. We also liked what we saw at RiverGate although we were not real impressed with the food from one of the restaurants located within the condominium, which we found a tad over-rated.


Enbloc News #2: St Patrick's Garden & Crystal Tower

- October 11, 2011 No Comments

The collective sales for St. Patrick’s Garden (located near the Kembangan MRT station) and Crystal Tower (at Ewe Boon Road, near Newton MRT station), will be re-launched. Marketing agent Colliers International said that both properties do not have an indicative price. Both are zoned for residential use.

“We have decided to let the market tell us how much it is willing to pay. We will then go to the owners with the bids,” said Tang Wei Leng, executive director of investment services at Colliers International.

The freehold, 98-unit St Patrick’s Garden previously had an indicative price of $188 million (in June), or $888psf ppr. It sits on a 137,559sqft land parcel, and has allowable gross plot ratio of 1.4. No development charge is payable up to a plot ratio of 1.54, which takes into consideration an additional 10% balcony space, said Colliers.

Crystal Tower, also a freehold property, is a 28-unit, 11-storey residential development that sits on a 60,482sqft site with a gross plot ratio of 1.6. A development charge of $5.2 million is payable up to the plot ratio of 1.76, which takes into consideration an additional 10% balcony space.

It previously had an indicative price of $155 million (in July), or $1,600psf ppr.

The tender for St Patrick’s Gardens closes on Nov 1 at 12pm, while that for Crystal Tower closes on Nov 14 at 12pm.
Source: The Business Times

Click on link below to read our previous post about the Crystal Tower en bloc:


Enbloc news #1: Pearl Bank on the market again, for $725m


Pearl Bank Apartments near Chinatown is back on the market again – this time at a lower price.

The owners have followed the lead of some other collective sale projects by trimming their expectations.

They are now hoping for $725 million.

The 280-unit project had an estimated price of $750 million when it was launched for sale in March this year.

A number of projects mounting collective sales have cut their asking prices in a bid to close their deals in the light of global market uncertainties.

The new price works out to $1,314psf ppr, including a lease top-up of about $162 million and a 10% balcony allocation, marketing agent Knight Frank said. There is no development charge payable for the site.

The development has about 65 years left on its 99-year lease.

The site has a land area of about 82,379sqft and is zoned for residential use with a 7.2 plot ratio. It has a gross floor area of about 675,000sqft, and can yield more than 500 apartments of 1,200sqft each.

The building has been hailed as one of Singapore’s architectural landmarks. The URA said in March that the public had asked for the horse-shoed shaped tower to be conserved.

This is the fourth time that the 37-storey development has been put up for en bloc sale. The tender for Pearl Bank Apartments will close at 3pm on Nov 3.
Experts say the gloomy economic outlook made it even more difficult for mega collective sale sites of over $500 million to find buyers – so owners are starting to moderate their expectations.

Developers prefer to deal with projects with price tags of under $100 million as such sales involve less risk, they add.

Mr Nicholas Wong, Knight Frank’s head of investment, noted that there have been eight to nine of such mega collective sale sites. These include Laguna Park, Hawaii Tower and Pine Grove.

Interest in such sites has been muted, partly due to the worsening economic climate and the Government’s ample release of state land, which has siphoned capital away from collective sale sites.

Mr Wong said that while there were expressions of interest from developers when Pearl Bank was first launched for sale in March, the shaky global recovery even back then had spooked developers.

“But larger sites like these are attractive to some developers, as they are in more mature areas, while the government land sale sites are mostly in new towns.”

Owners of freehold condo Tulip Garden in District 10 re-launched their collective sale bid at $600 million in June, down from their $650 million price tag in January. There has been no news on whether the site has been sold.

But other collective sales have found success after owners brought down their prices.

Whitley Heights off Whitley Road, for example, reduced its asking price from between $185 million and $210 million, to $165 million. It was eventually sold at just under the price target, at $159 million last month.
Source: The Straits Times/The Business Times

It seems like the laylong-ing of older estates has started even before 2013. If the wife and I are developers, we be sitting gleefully by the sidelines waiting for the asking prices of collective sale projects to drop even further…

Click on link below to read our previous post on the Pearl Bank collective sale:


Project Spotlight: Optima @Tanah Merah

- October 9, 2011 No Comments
On the eve of the public preview of the 297-unit Optima @Tanah Merah two years ago, a queue had already formed outside the showflat. All the units were snapped up within three days at an average price of $810psf, according to a press release by TID, a joint venture between Mitsui Fudosan and Hong Leong Group. The attraction was its location right next to the Tanah Merah MRT station.

At that time, the 556-unit Casa Merah, located directly behind Optima, had just been completed, and transactions in the secondary market were hovering at $750 to $800psf.

Since the start of last year, units at Optima had already started to change hands in the sub-sale market. Prices of the 484sqft one-bedroom apartments in the condo were changing hands from $1,028psf to a high of $1,280psf last year. Meanwhile, the larger units, such as the 3+1-bedroom and four-bedroom units measuring 1,367 to 1,528sqft, were trading at prices of $876psf and $878psf. By April this year, such large units were being sold at $947psf and $951psf.

The 484sqft one-bedroom units have also seen prices escalating in the secondary market and crossing $1,300psf by the middle of this year. The most recent transaction was of one located on the fourth level of one of the five 14-storey blocks. It changed hands at $665,000, or an all-time high of $1,373psf, according to caveats lodged with URA Realis.

That was the third time the unit has changed hands so far. The first buyer had purchased it at launch in August 2009 for $496,600 ($1,025psf). He sold it last November for $545,000 ($1,125psf), at a 10% gain. The buyer enjoyed a 22% price appreciation in less than a year, however, when he sold it recently for $1,373psf.

Construction is well underway, with the project scheduled for completion by 2014. As the latest condo to be launched there, Optima had set new price benchmarks for that part of Tanah Merah. Since its launch, prices of the neighbouring condos have also soared, most notably the neighbouring Casa Merah. Since end-2010, units at Casa Merah have been changing hands at more than $1,000psf. A high of $1,127psf was achieved for a two-bedroom 947sqft unit in June this year and a 958sqft two-bedroom unit in April, which are also the highest average price psf achieved for Casa Merah. The project was jointly developed by NTUC Choice Homes and Wing Tai Holdings.

The neighbourhood in which Optima, Casa Merah and older condos such as The Tanamera and East Meadows are located is also near famous dining enclaves such as Simpang Bedok and Siglap. Shopping malls such as Tampines Mall, Tampines Point, East Point and Bedok Point are also just a few MRT stops away. Investors who had bought into Optima were also looking at its proximity to Changi Business Park and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), scheduled to open by next April.

Jason Hew, associate marketing director of PropNex, says Optima is the first development in the Tanah Merah neighbourhood to offer one bedroom apartments. The smallest units at Casa Merah, for instance, are the 947sqft two-bedroom apartments.

Property agents marketing units at Optima have slapped a premium on prices, given the condo’s convenient location right next to the Tanah Merah MRT station. “Most of the nearby properties like Casah Merah and older condos like East Meadows offer more family-sized three- and four-bedroom apartments,” adds Hew. He sees prices at Optima continuing to trend upwards. As the area develops, he foresees the neighbourhood attracting more single expatriates and young couples who may be working at Changi Business Park, or even in the CBD, given the proximity to the MRT station.

Not surprisingly, asking prices of one-bedroom units at Optima range from $650,000 to $700,000, or $1,350 to $1,400psf. “Some sellers are intending to hold on to the units because it will [obtain its temporary occupancy permit] next year,” adds Hew. A property that is newly completed tends to see a spike in the number of transactions because there will be interest from buyers who want to move in or rent out immediately, he says.


Floating back to Fixed...?

- October 8, 2011 No Comments

As interest rates threaten to inch higher, more home loan buyers are turning to fixed rate loans for peace of mind. The key three-month Sibor or interbank rate yesterday ended at 0.38%. Although unchanged from the previous day, it is now up almost 12% from a month ago when it hit a low 0.34% on Sept 9.

DBS Bank, the largest home loan provider here, said 20% of new borrowers now go for its interest rate cap package, first launched in August. Since Sept 1 the rate has been sitting at 1.49%.

A DBS spokeswoman said that while the outlook for interest rates is to remain low for an extended period, the volatile global economic environment has created risks and uncertainties.

“To give customers peace of mind when it comes to their mortgage repayment, which is a long-term commitment, DBS introduced three-month Sibor floating rate packages with interest rate cap in August,” she said. “Under this unique scheme, customers benefit from the current low interest rate and at the same time, enjoy certainty if interest rate starts to rise.

“Since its introduction, 20% of our customers who have opted for 3-month Sibor packages have taken up this scheme,” she added.

More and more analysts expect local interest rates to rise further given the slower economic growth outlook which could lead the Monetary Authority of Singapore to slow down the rate of appreciation of the Singapore dollar at next week’s monetary policy statement.

“We expect a slower rate of appreciation of the SGD which means that interest rates will rise relative to the US interest rates,” said Wei Zheng Kit, Citi economist. The three-month Sibor could rise to 0.50 – 0.70%, depending on the stand the MAS take next week, he said.

Bankers said that given the uncertainty it will be better for borrowers to opt for a package which gives flexibility.

Alan Lau, Maybank Singapore head of consumer banking, said that traditionally its fixed rate home loan packages have been very popular with its customers, but in recent months, more have gone for the inter-bank pegged packages, in part due to the low interbank rates environment.

“Yet there is a segment of customers who take a short-term view that Sibor rates will remain relatively low but want to hedge their risks against possible uptrend of interest rates after 12 months,” he said.

Maybank’s hybrid home loan packages which come with the first-year rate pegged against the three-month Sibor and thereafter fixed rates for the second or second and third years will cater well for this group of customers, said Mr Lau.
Source: The Business Times


The Real Deals (6th Oct 2011)

- October 7, 2011 No Comments
Below is a link to the latest copy of The Real Deals by Kim Eng Research.

It talks about Pasir Ris this time around - those who are interested or may have vested interests in developments like Oasis @Elias, NV Residences and Seastrand should probably read the report.


Property Outlook: Who should you trust?

- No Comments

Here's some advice from an expert... on expert's advice about the housing market today.

Property outlook? You are all alone
by Colin Tan

A recent tender for a residential site in Pasir Ris site drew unexpectedly strong interest, with a news report saying 13 developers slugged it out in a close fight. The top bid was a mere 1.6% above the next highest one.

The report was wrong in one respect. While there were 13 bids, there were altogether 20 developers involved - some in joint bids.

Analysts who are surprised by the keen interest in view of the worries about the global economy must be even more surprised that 20 property companies or 54% more were involved in the tender. Should they be?

If the participating developers showed any caution, it was reflected in the bids submitted. The top offer of $141 million - or $361 psf per ppr - was about 10% lower than the $402 psf fetched by an adjacent site sold in May.

You may ask the bidders why but maybe the question should be: Do they have a choice?

As a group, developers have had three good years of sales since 2007 and are on track for a fourth. Even the slowest developer to react to the market rebound would have at least one good year under its belt. If they are not re-investing in new projects, what should they be doing?

Earlier tenders that attracted only a few bids may have led some analysts to mis-read the market. To my mind, they are missing the woods for the trees. Whether it was only a total of three bids or that the highest bid was 10% lower, the important point to note is that all the sites offered for sale this year got sold and that more housing units are being added to the supply pipeline.

Over the past few days, property investors here must be befuddled by global economic events.

When there were first signs that the United States economy would slip back into recession, the US dollar fell against most currencies. However, when the euro zone debt crisis deepened, the greenback appreciated sharply. This caused a small but sudden spike in the Singapore Interbank Offered Rate to which most housing loans are pegged to.

So, this is how our local rates can ostensibly rise even when the US Federal Reserve promises to keep US rates low till mid-2013.

Talking about safe havens, gold's latest bull market began in late 2008 because investors longed for something tangible. This was because the value of stocks, bonds and even currencies was shaken by the financial crisis. People wondered whether any corporation or government was strong enough to stand behind a certificate.

As a physical possession, gold was one of the few investments that needed no such guarantee. Sounds familiar? Property is also something that most people would consider as tangible.

However, since its August peak, gold has fallen more than 15% to around US$1,600 an ounce today. The recent collapse suggests that the 2011 gold rush was a speculative bubble that may have popped. What about property?

Recently, I told some investors that it is more difficult to read the local housing market today. Singapore, being an open economy, is constantly buffeted by external events and our potential outcomes are more varied than others. Today, besides knowing real estate, you have to be an economist, finance expert and even a political scientist.

Yes, you will have to read and analyse more political events these days as many economic outcomes are now not determined solely by market dynamics but by the actions of policy makers. And guess what? Not all, but many, decisions by policy makers are not governed by what is good for the economy but by politics - local, regional or otherwise.

As such, you cannot completely depend on individual experts or take in wholesale what they say. They do not know better because they cannot read minds. You have to be a lot more discerning because events can also unfold quickly or so unexpectedly that - to be fair - even the experts are caught off guard.

You are all alone now.

Source: TODAYonline. Colin Tan is Chesterton Suntec Internationl's head of research & consultancy.


Enbloc News: Pacific Mansion

- October 6, 2011 No Comments
Pacific Mansion estate, a freehold residential development located at River Valley Close, has been put up for collective sale by tender with an indicative price of about $990 million, or $2,008psf ppr.

The 128,353.16sqft site houses 288 residential units and two commercial units.

With a gross plot ratio of 3.84273, the site has a gross floor area (GFA) of 45,821.88sqm, and has the potential to be redeveloped into a 30 – 36-storey condominium.

At a collective indicative price of about $990 million, with no development charge payable, the project will translate into about $1,889psf ppr if the developers maximize the additional 10% bonus gross floor area allowed for balconies.

Each owner stands to receive some $3 million.

Marketing agent ERA Realty Network said that the site offers a “rare and exciting opportunity for the successful developer to showcase its branding” given that it is “likely to be a well sought after residential address in the city”.

Ong Kah Seng, Cushman & Wakefield’s senior manager for Asia Pacific research, noted that the site is expected to draw “modest interest” given its substantial size and fairly high expected price, and weakened, although not pessimistic property sentiments due to global economic uncertainties and Singapore’s economic slowdown.

“Although foreign buyers who are keen on high-end residential properties here are fairly affluent, some are expected to be fairly selective and cautious, especially for those whose wealth and domestic economy are quite affected”.

So developers might bid opportunistically, rather than optimistically, for prime sites with growth potential, he said.

In 2007, owners of Pacific Mansion put the property up for sale at $1.18 billion, or about $2,400psf ppr in a high-profile collective sale that failed to attract bids from developers that matched the price.

The tender for Pacific Mansion closes on Nov 10 at 3.30pm.
Source: The Business Times

Our advice is not to hold your breath on this one…


Thomson Grand (Review)

- October 5, 2011 1 Comment
Condo Name:   Thomson Grand
Developer:   Luxury Green Development Pte Ltd (Cheung Kong Group)
Address:   Sin Ming Walk
Site Area:   224,314sqft
Land Tenure:   99-year from 8 Feb 2010
Condo Description:   Development comprising 9 Blocks of 20-storey & 22 Strata Houses 
Total No. of units:  339 Condo Units + 22 Strata Houses = 361 units
Expected TOP:   End 2015

Unit Mix:
2 bedroom Apartment (108 units):   904 - 1044sqft
3 bedroom Apartment (170 units):   1346 - 1421sqft
4 bedroom (34 units):   1658 - 1733sqft
3 bedroom Garden Residence (10 units):   1507 - 1765sqft
4 bedroom Garden Residence (2 units):   2067 - 2099sqft
3 bedroom Penthouse (10 units):  1572 - 1647sqft
4 bedroom Penthouse (5 units):   1787 - 2314sqft
4 bedroom Strata House (22 units):   5102 - 6566sqft

Thomson Grand – nestled right among the oldest and most prestigious Singapore Island Country Club (SICC) in a popular destination for the well-heeled, well-educated and well-mannered. Here the crème de la crème of society congregate. It is a premier community with rich academic influence. It is where beautiful views, the reservoir and expansive greenery, qualities for a very desirable living environment, are in abundance.

That is what the brochure says anyway…

But to the rest of us, Thomson Grand is the latest offering by Hong Kong developer Cheung Kong Group, who is also responsible for projects such as Thomson 800, Costa de Sol, Cairnhill Crest and The Vision.

Thomson Grand is located along Upper Thomson Road - Cheung Kong clinched the 99-year leasehold site for $533psf ppr in late 2009 - If you are coming from Lornie/Thomson Road, the site is across the road and just before the junction at Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 . But the huge sales gallery and its equally huge signage are hard to miss.

The entrance to the sales gallery/showflat is via Jalan Tambur. However, the main entrance into Thomson Grand (once it is built) is actually at the end of Sin Ming Walk. So for those thinking about an “Thomson Road” address, be prepared to be disappointed as your unit in Thomson Grand will say "Block XX, Sin Ming Walk" – the current entry point at Jalan Tambur will remain but solely for vehicle exit purpose only.

As you enter the sales gallery, it feels as if you have stepped into an opera house of sorts. The sales gallery reportedly cost over $8 million to build and incorporates more than 100,000 Swarovski crystals, including the chandelier centrepiece. There is even a Baby Grand (piano) in the main hall. While some may marvel at the money that the developer has splashed on the sales gallery, the wife and I find it somewhat gaudy and ostentatious.

The 361-unit Thomson Grand offers a mix of 2- to 4-bedroom apartments (no 1-bedder or shoebox here) and penthouses, as well as 22 strata terrace houses. The penthouse comes with 4.5m ceiling height (about 2.9m for typical apartments) while the terrace houses are 3-storey high and boosts a dedicated basement car park, garden and private Jacuzzi. There are also 12 Garden Residences each with a garden of up to 550sqft. But for those of you interested in the terrace houses, another disappointment awaits as all 22 units have been fully sold.

Facility-wise, the main talking point must be the Faberge Clubhouse – this resembles a sparkling jewelled egg that rises above the infinite-edged pool. The clubhouse is adorned with decorations from Versace/Armani, furnishings from Fendi complemented by the dazzle of Swarovski crystals. And in the clubhouse, you find a Spa and Jacuzzi, a gym, kids play area and a “Diamond Banquet Room” (we ordinary folks probably refer to this as the function room). There is even a driving range simulator where you can play a round of (simulated) golf with your friends.

Parking lots are all located within the basement – we forgot to ask how many lots exactly but we reckon there will be sufficient lots for at least 1 car per apartment (which is typical of new projects these days). The folks that own the terrace houses will each get a dedicated lot.

There are 3 showflats on display at the sales gallery, which showcase the 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom apartment units. One unique feature of the units at Thomson Grand is that there is only one standard layout for each apartment type – the difference in sizes is just a matter of how big/small the balcony areas are. The other unique feature is that each apartment is served by not one but TWO private lifts – so you probably have a shorter wait to get up/down your apartment but will have double the worry when it comes to lift maintenance/replacement cost.

The wife and I will take a slightly different track for this review – instead of going through the features of a particular showflat type, we will just tell you what we like and dislike about the showflats in terms of layout, furnishing etc and then our overall thoughts about the project. Please tell us if you prefer this review format or our typical (old) format.

Pricing wise, be prepared to pay anywhere between $1,120 - $1,250psf for the 3-bedder apartments (mid-floors). The 4-beddroom apartments will cost in excess of $1,300psf.

The developer is currently running a Fabulous ‘8’ promotion for potential buyers. During the promotion, reserved units with the number “8” will be made available in limited supply. New buyers will get to enjoy a travel package to Russia valued at $8,800 and those with “8” in their identity card numbers will receive additional discounts. So assuming you have two “8” in your I/C, you be entitled to a discount of up to 3% off the price. But we forgot to ask if passport number will work too (for foreign buyers).

What we like:
• The living, dining and kitchen area, as well as the bedrooms are all regular shaped (i.e. no odd-shaped corners or ugly columns). The apartments also do not come with bay windows, which mean more spacious bedrooms.

• Cheung Kong is definitely not stingy on quality with Thomson Grand. All the unit types come with good quality furnishing - 90cm x 90cm large marble-slab floors in the living/dining area, De Dietrich kitchen appliances (hob/hood/microwave/oven), Smeg fridge and the beautiful dry kitchen with a large marble-slab work top. All kitchen cabinets are also installed with Blum mechanism. And we simply loved the sophisticated looking shower-set in the master bathroom as well as the mosaic-laid standing shower stalls!

• Given the orientation and staggered nature of the 9 tower blocks, we expect the view from units on the 6th floor onwards to be rather spectacular. This is especially so for higher-floor units in Block 27, which enjoy 270 degrees of unblocked view.

• The Faberge clubhouse looks rather interesting and should be a great conversation piece amongst your guests when you finally get to host that dinner party at the clubhouse.

Thomson Grand is within 1-km of one of the most sought after primary school in Singapore - Ai Tong Primary. But we understand that balloting is still the order of the day for kids living within 1-km of the recent years anyway.

What we dislike:
• The balcony area for each apartment type takes up at least 100sqft of space, which means the typical 3-bedder has less than 1,300sqft of interior space while it is only about 1,500sqft with the 4-bedder – too small for our comfort.

• And speaking of small, the wet kitchen is just a rectangular strip of an area and it may be a challenge for two people to work comfortably inside.

• Certain aspects of the apartment layout are somewhat flawed:
      There is no yard to speak of in any of the apartment type, so you probably need to make use of those   ample balcony spaces to dry your clothes (since we know full well that your mechanical dryer cannot do a good job!)
      The home shelter (which most households typically use as a maid’s room) is located in the bedroom area across from the common bathroom. Even if you can fit a proper bed into the narrow strip of an area, it will be rather inconvenient for you (and your domestic helper) due to the lack of privacy and personal space that normally comes with a "typical" apartment layout whereby the home shelter is located in the yard area behind the kitchen.
      The rubbish chute is located inside the wet kitchen (good, as you don’t have to bring your rubbish out to throw) but it is situated way too close to the cooking area (not so good, as it seems rather unhygienic). But with a kitchen that small, something has to give…
      The “back door” exit to the “cargo/common” lifts is located inside one of the common bedroom – there is a door in the balcony of the bedroom that leads out to the external lifts. This seems a bit strange to us, but the marketing agent was quick in pointing out that such layout will allow you to (technically) rent out the bedroom without sacrificing privacy, since it has its own separate entrance/exit. Right… and the tenant can possibly use the washing/toilet facilities by the pool area too!

• The developer has included chandelier-like lightings fitted with Swarovski crystals in all the bathrooms, which supposedly add a touch of class to where you shower/take a dump. However, it came across as somewhat “over the top” to the wife and I. And cleaning those darn crystals will take some work too!

• What you see at the showflat may not necessarily be what you get – those glorious looking marbled walls in the living/dining/dry kitchen area and the marble floors in the master/junior master bedrooms of the 4-bedder showflat are “for design purpose” only. Your actual unit will only come with painted cement-walls and timber flooring for all bedrooms. So if you are buying based on what you see in the showflat, you will most definitely be disappointed.

• All the blocks housing the 3- and 4-bedders are direct West-facing. So there is really no need to install a sauna within your unit, as it will probably feel that way on a typical hot and sunny afternoon. Then again, there are always the air-conditioning and “Sun X” window films!

• Since sound travel upwards, the wife and I reckon that the higher-floor units in the outer most block (No. 27, which supposedly has the best panoramic view) will be a tad noisy given that the stretch of Upper Thomson Road is quite heavily utilized during most times of the day. We have been inside an apartment on the 20+ floor of The Flame Tree condo just down the road from Thomson Grand and the traffic noise was rather deafening.

• The wife and I are rather disappointed with the facility offering at Thomson Grand. Sure you get a fabulous looking egg-shaped of a clubhouse, but the other facilities are almost run of the mill. And for a supposed luxurious development, you cannot even play tennis within the condo!

Our final thoughts:
Do we like the quality of furnishing and interior layout in the showflats of Thomson Grand? Hell yeah! But do we like it enough to pay almost $1.6 million for a 1,356sqft 3-bedder on the 6th floor at Thomson Grand?? Probably not.


Thomson Grand (4-bedroom showflat photos)

- October 4, 2011 No Comments
After a hiatus of more than a month, the wife and I resumed our showflat visit at Thomson Grand. This is the much publicised 99-year leasehold project by Hong Kong developer Cheung Kong Holding located along Upper Thomson Road.

Here are the photos we took of the 4-bedder (Type C) showflat. We will post our thoughts on the project once we are done composing.


The Real Deals (September 2011)

- October 3, 2011 No Comments
It's been months since the wife and I last looked at Kim Eng's "The Real Deals".

Here are the research articles for the month of September for those who are interested. And especially for EK, there's a write-up on potential rental yield for Clover By The Park in their latest article.

Click below for "The Real Deals" (29-09-2011):

Click below for "The Real Deals" (22-09-2011):

Click below for "The Real Deals" (15-09-2011):

Click below for "The Real Deals" (08-09-2011):

Click below for "The Real Deals" (01-09-2011):

Our sincere thanks to Kim Eng Research for sharing.


First look at CapitaLand's upcoming project at Bishan Central

- October 2, 2011 No Comments
This video has been circulating for a few weeks now. It depicts the upcoming condominium project at Bishan Central, which is jointly developed by CapitaLand Residential Singapore and Mitsubishi Estate Asia.

Located on a 129,137sqft site that is near to the Bishan MRT Station, the condominium project will comprise approximately 500 apartments across two 38-storey towers.

Following the launches of CapitaLand's two other condo projects that were designed by world renowed artchitects - The Interlace (Ole Scheeren) and d'Leedon (Zaha Hadid), the project at Bishan Central will be designed by another renowned international architect and urban planner, Moshe Safdie.

Mr. Moshe Safdie is no stranger to Singapore - he had worked on a few projects in the country since the 70s. Two condominiums - Ardmore Park and The Edge on Cairnhill - were designed by this superstar architect. He also worked with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Housing Development Board (HDB) on the planning of Sengkang new town. Mr. Safdie is also the designer of Marina Bay Sands.

The 71-year-old, who is currently based in Boston, is known for his groundbreaking residential piece titled Habitat '67 - a complex cellular residential project that features building blocks placed on top of one another. This masterpiece propelled him onto the world stage and he has since worked on numerous projects around the world, such as the national musuem of the Sikh people in Punjab, India and Mamilla Alrov Centre, an urban centre near the old City in Jerusalem, just to name a few.

CapitaLand Residential Singapore acquired the 99-year leasehold site at Bishan Central for $550.1 million in February 2011. Design and development works are in progress and the condominium is targeted to be launched in the first half of 2012.

The breakeven price for this project is expected to be around $1,300psf and selling price is said to be upwards of $1,450psf.

Enjoy the video!