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A new year ahead... and a new page for SG PropTalk!

- December 31, 2011 2 Comments

As we bid farewell to 2011 and welcome a brand 2012 in an hour or so, the wife and I would like to wish you a terrific year ahead. The private home market is shaping to be equally exciting next year (albeit for slightly different reasons), and we look forward to continue sharing our thoughts with you via SG Proptalk.

And with the new year comes new aspirations: During the past month, the wife and I have been toying with the idea of setting up a property consultation arm (of sorts) to complement SG Proptalk. This stamped from several enquiries we had received from readers on whether we do provide such service.

The consultation arm is currently still work in progress, but we have at least decided on its name - SG PropConsult.

We will be adding an additional page on our blog dedicated to SG PropConsult, which will provide information about the services that we can provide.

Our main aim with SG PropConsult is to provide potential home buyers with objective information/opinions/recommendations on both new and existing developments in Singapore to enable them to make better-informed decisions. So whether it relates to a report on specific development in question, or a recommendation report on developments within a specific area/district that best meet your purchasing criteria (pre-determined), we will be open to discussion to undertake the project (for a nominal fee, which will help reimburse us for our time, effort and petrol cost). We may also be able to connect you with property marketers that we have gotten to know (and trust) during the course of writing our blog, who may specialize in marketing developments in the location that you are interested in.

What we deemed unique about SG PropConsult is that you (the home buyers/investors) are our "clients", as opposed to a typical property-marketing arrangement whereby the agent's obligations are mainly towards the property seller.

Given the limited resources that the wife and I are operating with, we cannot realistically expect to take on every project that may come our way. Having said that, we are not even sure if there is actual demand for services from two "non-professional" property watchers. But we reckon that if we don't try, we will never know!

More details will be available on our SG PropConsult page soon. Meantime, please give us your thoughts about SG PropConsult.

Happy New Year everyone!

With best wishes,
The Folks @PropTalk


Reflections at Keppel Bay: Villa unit achieved $3,256psf!

- December 30, 2011 No Comments

A four-bedroom apartment on the fifth level of a six-level villa block at Reflections at Keppel Bay recently fetched $11 million, according to caveats lodged and downloaded from URA Realis as at Dec 14. The standout transaction of the 3,380sqft unit achieved a price of $3,256psf, considered the highest average price at Reflections so far. The price was achieved as the unit is said to be "one of the best facing units with 180-degree views of the sea", says Eunice Chen, a property agent with Global Property Strategic Alliance, who brokered the deal jointly with her colleague PK Soh. The buyer is said to be a Singaporean, who is buying for his own use.

The record price deal for the unit was done before the government introduced the additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) on top of the existing 3% on Dec 8. When the government introduced it, property consultants anticipated the worst for the high-end market, as foreign buyers account for a third to half of purchases in this segment. "Many were caught off-guard and there were concerns about whether the stamp-duty hike would discourage property investors," says Benson Koh, senior group district partner at SLP Real Estate Empire. Like other property consultants, however, he believes it is too early to tell what the impact will be, as the rule came into effect only recently.

SLP's Koh brokered the sale of a two-bedroom unit at Reflections for $1,888psf recently.

The most recent sub-sale at Reflections was for a 1,012sqft two-bedroom unit on the seventh floor that changed hands for $1.57 million ($1,550psf). The unit was purchased at $1.41 million ($1,393psf) in August 2007, when the project was launched.

With six soaring glass towers of 24 to 41 storeys and 11 villa apartment blocks of six to eight floors, Reflections dominates the skyline in the HarbourFront, Keppel Bay and Telok Blangah area.

The development spans 750m of shoreline and, depending on the orientation of the units, some have views of the bay, while others of the golf course, parks and also Mount Faber. The most premium units are those with direct sea views and tend to be in the villa blocks. The 99-year leasehold project developed by Keppel Land and designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind obtained its Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) about a fortnight ago.

So far, 835 of the 950 units launched at Reflections have been sold, according to Keppel Land. In the latest phase, only 115 units are available for sale, which include the 13,000sqft triplex super penthouse. The asking price of the super penthouse is said to be $45 million to $60 million.

The average transacted price today is said to be $2,168psf, compared with $1,950psf when the project was launched four years ago, according to Keppel Land.

About 60% of the buyers are said to be Singaporeans and permanent residents, as well as local corporate buyers, with foreign buyers making up the rest.

Reflections has seen a wave of transactions in the months leading to its completion and more recently, since its completion. In the week of Nov 23 to 29, a three-bedroom, 1,539sqft unit on the 10th floor of one of the towers was sold by the developer for $2.6 million ($1,690psf) on Nov 22. In the secondary market, sub-sale prices achieved in October and November ranged from $1,513 to $2,668psf, according to URA Realis.

For those who are interested, below are our previous posts on Reflections at Keppel Bay:

Will the US$ Sibor rates affect home loan rates?

- December 29, 2011 No Comments
As reported in The Business Times today, the US-Dollar Sibor rates are at 52-week high.

Two questions come to mind:
1. Does this mean that the local Sibor-pegged loan rates will increase in tandem with the US$ Sibor rates increase?

2. Will we soon see a return of SOR-pegged housing loans, since we understand that the Singapore-US$ swap rates are set to increase?

Maybe some of you financial/banking folks out there can shed some light on the matter...


Renewed interests in pre-war flats at Tiong Bahru...

- December 28, 2011 No Comments

A wave of transformation is sweeping through the once-sleepy Tiong Bahru estate.

Thanks to a new breed of indie retail shops and coffee houses, the 20 blocks of pre-war conserved flats have attracted renewed interest from home buyers and this has pushed up home prices in the area by about 50% over the last two years.

Located near Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre, the area bounded by Seng Poh, Outram and Tiong Poh Roads was once an old estate.

The 20 blocks of pre-war flats were built in the 1930s and awarded conservation status in 2003.

In the past year, the estate has been gaining attention for the rising number of independent shops and coffee houses that has sunk roots there.

One of the shops specialising in Bhutanese art and home decor opened for business in March this year.

Tan Tiong Pin, owner of Bhutan Shop, said: "This was still considered an old estate two years ago. Many elderly folks lived here. But with new condominiums built, many expatriates and yuppies now live here."

A couple who moved into one of the Tiong Bahru pre-war apartments nine years ago fell in love with the estate.

Three months ago, they opened a shop selling curios and vintage items, which are attracting tourists and residents from other estates.

Terence Yeung, owner of Flea & Trees, said: "There's a charm in this space. When people come to this area, they find it's like an oasis in a big city, right next to the heart of the city and that's very charming."

With new life breathed into Tiong Bahru, prices of the pre-war flats have also gone up.

Property agents say conserved flats in Singapore are rare.

With the attractive amenities and shops in Tiong Bahru, agents say prices for the pre-war flats have jumped.
A 1,000sqft pre-war flat, for example, is now going for close to a million Singapore dollars.
Source: Channel News Asia

Would you pay a million bucks for a 1,000sqft "walk-up" with about 55 years left on its 99-year lease? 

Click below to access the URA web-page on the Tiong Bahru Conservation Area:

Click below to access an informative blog-site that is dedicated to the Tiong Bahru Estate:

More EC, you see...

- December 27, 2011 No Comments

More land will be released for the development of executive condominiums (ECs) in 2012.

The Ministry of National Development (MND) says that it is prepared to supply land sites for 5,000 EC units next year.

This is part of the government's move to help more higher income Singaporeans own private housing by expanding the EC market.

The government has taken an earlier step by raising the monthly income ceiling for the purchases of new ECs from $10,000 to $12,000 in August this year.

Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin said that the increased income ceiling has benefited around 220 households who have booked their ECs since the widening of the scheme.

Mr Tan was speaking at the Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore (REDAS) anniversary dinner.

The EC scheme was introduced in 1995 to provide a more affordable private housing option for Singaporeans.

Since the introduction of the scheme, 14,600 EC units have been launched by developers and 3,000 units are coming on-stream.

Still, Mr Tan pointed out that the majority of Singaporeans will continue to live in public housing.

He reiterated that the government remains committed to help first-time owners and newlyweds purchase their own homes.

But Mr Tan said that from next year, the government will begin to pay more attention to helping HDB second-timers.

On the recent move to introduce additional buyers' stamp duty, Mr Tan said that it is "natural and not unexpected" for the announcement to attract much public discussion with diverse views.

He added that the volatile equity markets and uncertainty in Europe may cause more foreign funds to be attracted to Singapore's property market.

The latest move is targeted to moderate such investment demand to avoid the need for a major correction in the future.

Mr Tan said that developers may not welcome such a move but he seeks their understanding for the good of the industry.
Source: Channel News Asia

Accelerated construction of public housing, increased number of Government Land Sales (GLS) sites and now more land release for development of ECs... The wife and I really hope that there will be enough demand over the next 3 - 5 years for all these new supply PLUS the substantial inventory of unsold homes that are already in the market.

Enbloc sales pass $3 million in 2011, powered by small sites!

- No Comments

According to The Straits Times today, the value of collective sales this year has surged past the $3 billion mark, powered to a great extent by the sale of smaller sites.

Data from Credo Real estate showed that 49 sites were sold this year for a total of $3.04 billion - well ahead of the 36 sites sold for $1.77 billion last year.

Most of the sites went for prices below $100 million, with only 12 sold above the $100 million threshold. But these 12 sites had a combined value of $1.71 billion, making up 56% of total sales.

Given the expected economic slowdown heading into next year and the new "5-year rule" imposed on all redeveloped (and GLS) sites by the Government, the wife and I reckon that the 2012 collective sale scene will pale in comparison to 2011 (or maybe we are stating the obvious?). And all them en-bloc aspirants of larger sites (say, $500 million and above) should probably not hold their breath waiting...


Yuletide Greetings...

- December 25, 2011 No Comments
Happy Holidays Everyone!


2011 private property demand by districts: What's hot and not?

- December 24, 2011 No Comments

What's hot

The District 16 town of Bedok is the most popular pick this year, said Mr Nicholas Mak, executive director of research and consultancy at SLP International.

So far this year, Bedok has recorded 3,848 caveats for both new and resale transactions. More than 100 units were sold at the 577-unit Archipelago project during its preview weekend earlier this month, at an average of $1,000psf.

Bedok Residences stirred up controversy over its queuing system last month, ultimately selling more than 470 units out of the project's 583 homes at a $1,359psf median price.

"Bedok benefits from a big pool of people who live in the east. This means the pool of potential buyers and sellers is also bigger than in other areas. Most of these people also tend to be reluctant to move outside the east and tend to seek out homes within the eastern neighbourhoods," said Mr Mak.

The rapid redevelopment of the Punggol area has boosted the popularity of this fledgling waterfront new town.

According to SLP International, this has helped boost the ranking of District 19, which includes Hougang, Punggol and Sengkang, to the No. 1 spot for new home sales, with a total of 3,102 deals so far this year.

The neighbourhood recently entered a new stage of development, with more than 5,000 new private homes slated for completion over the next few years. Many buyers will be drawn by an attractive new waterway and plans for a new mall near the MRT station.

Still, some buyers have tended to dismiss the neighbourhood, saying it does not measure up to the amenities and infrastructure boasted by mature towns like Toa Payoh and Tampines.

But others have been more open to the area's development potential, encouraged by the Government's plam to establish Punggol as a waterfront town. In the first nine months of this year, close to 1,900 uncompleted units were launched for sale in District 19.

Projects such as A Treasure Trove and The Luxurie proved a hit, with each development achieving take-up rates of more than 70%.

These projects have helped to boost overall sales activity in Punggol by 9% year-on-year, and lifted new home sales in the area by 40%, according to date compiled by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).

Yishun and Sembawang
Yishun and Sembawang have also done well, riding on healthy demand for private homes with innovative designs, said Mr Ong Kah Seng, director of property research firm R'ST Research.

So far this year, 1,184 new homes have been sold in District 27, which encompasses the Admiralty, Sembawang and Yishun areas. Several notable projects such as Miltonia Residences and Canberra Residences have contributed to the boost in new home sales.

Still, Mr Ong added that such far-flung areas face some hurdles as they are not so well-located and do not have significant development potential.

This means some buyers may sideline these areas in favour of neighbourhoods like Jurong East and Paya Lebar which have better fundamentals like strategic location and long-term development goals.

District 15
Coming in third in new homes sales ranking is District 15, with nearly 1,149 deals closed this year. Made up of neighbourhoods such as Katong, Joo Chiat and Marine Parade, this location has once again proved to be popular among home buyers.

The area has also done well in overall home sales. According to data compiled by Savills, District 15 chalked up 11% of the total caveats lodged this year, second to the 12% garnered by District 19.

Ms Chia Siew Chuin, Colliers International's head of research, said the location's popularity stems from its proximity to the city, airport and recreational and leisure facilities such as East Coast Park.

"(Districts 15 and 14) also host a wide array of supporting amenities... as well as a large selection of food and beverage haunts," said Ms Chia.

What's not

District 9 and 11
Despite being among Singapore's most prestigious postal codes, Districts 9 and 11 have achieved less than stellar sales this year.

The two areas include high-end luxury homes in the Chancery, Bukit Timah, Orchard, Oxley and Cairnhill neighbourhoods.

It has been a lacklustre year for the high-end and luxury home segment. The poor transaction volumes in these two particular districts have dragged them to the bottom five postal districts for this year, said Dr Chua Yang Liang, head of research at JLL. Year-on-year sales in District 11 slumped 53% while those in District 9 tumbled 47%.

Dr Chua said limited new supply in the prime market is to blame: "People looked for better value options with a smaller overall quantum as the economy stuttered and buyers became more budget conscious."

"(This benefited) the mass market as the more affordable properties on offer drew in the buyers," he said, adding that foreign buyers have also been switching their location preference.


Marymount and Thomson
Interest in this District 20 neighbourhood has been building throughout the year, partly due to the opening of the remaining sections of the MRT network's Circle Line, which now links the area to Holland Village and Bouna Vista.

"(The neighbourhood) is one of the few low-rise estates available which is centrally-located, and perhaps still considered affordable for the average to above-average income buyer," said Mr Ong.

A 603sqft unit at Tresalveo, a condominium located opposite Marymount MRT station, sold last month for $748,000 or $1,241psf.

Mr Ong added that the smaller but more strategically located neighbourhood gives off an exclusive, quaint vibe, which could differentiate the area from the rest of the housing supply that will come on-stream in the next few months.

Set to underperform

Districts 9, 10, 11
Prime areas popular among foreign buyers are likely to be the worse performers next year, said JLL's Dr Chua. He explained that these areas will experience a drop in transaction volumes involving foreign buyers as they feel the pinch from the new 10% stamp duty.

Other analysts said the market for high-end properties had been slow even before the measures and this trend is set to continue, with prices and sale volumes remaining in the doldrums.

The changing profile of foreign buyers is partially to blame, said Mr Mak.

"More of them are from China and are turning to suburban residential projects, this compared to earlier batches of buyers like Europeans, Indonesians and Australians who tend to favour snapping up homes in the prime districts."

Next year will no doubt be a challenging one for the private residential market as it adapts to the new cooling measures and the economic slowdown.

Segments within the residential market will become more distinct, say analysts, with landed property to be a more resilient sector due to its limited supply and lower foreign participation.

For now, both buyers and developers are playing a waiting game, said property consultants, and a clearer picture of what tone the market will take will probably emerge only later next year.

Source: The Straits Times

Our two-cents worth on the subject: Unless a new world order takes over the local private property market scene next year, we reckon apartments in Districts 9, 10 and 11 will generally hold their values better than those in the other districts. This is especially when a major price correction does occur.

As such, these "prime" districts will continue to generate decent demands (albeit lower expected transaction volumes due to the new cooling measures that may discourage some foreign buyings).


Project sales update: The Hillier & The Nautical

- December 23, 2011 No Comments

The Hillier
Over at Hillview Avenue, Far East Organization is said to have collected more than 100 cheques for Soho-style apartments at The Hillier since it began previewing the project last Friday. The buyers for the 99-year leashold project are mostly Singaporeans.

The average price achieved is $1,150psf, after absorption of the standard 3% stamp duty and provision of a furniture voucher. The apartments, ranging from about 500sqft to 800-plus sqft, come with a flexible floor plan and a 3.4-metre ceiling height, in line with Far East's recently launched Soho brand offering "strategic locale, excellent connectivity and flexible space". The brand is inspired by New York City's trendy Soho neighbourhood.

The Hillier, near the upcoming Hillview MRT Station on the Downtown Line, will be a mixed-use development with 528 Soho apartments sitting on a two-storey retail and lifestyle podium, hillV2. Far East will retain the retail component, where well-known New York grocer Dean & DeLuca will have an outlet.

The Nautical
Over at Jalan Sendudok in Sembawang, Hao Yuan Investment, controlled by mainland China parties, is said to have issued options for about 50-plus units for The Nautical condo. The developer is understood to be deciding when to hold an official launch of teh project, which will be accompanied by the start of an advertising campaign.

The average price of about $860psf for the five-storey project, which will have 435 apartments, is after a 5% early-bird discount.

Prices of a typical unit without private enclosed space or roof terrace will be in the $850-880psf range on average.

The Nautical comprises one, two, three and four-bedroom units and penthouses (including 32 dual-key units). Absolute prices start from about $409,000 for a 420sqft one-bedder. The highest-priced unit, at slightly over $1.5 million, is a 1,916sqft penthouse.

Buyers of the 50-plus units are mostly HDB upgraders, comprising predominantly Singaporeans.

CBRE, GPS and PropNex are marketing agents for The Nautical.

The project's development is managed by MCC Land, a unit of Chinese state-owned enterprise Metallurgical Corporation of China or MCC Group. MCC Land is also the developer of Canberra Residences, which is next to The Nautcial. The 320-unit Canberra Residences, which was released in January at an average price of around $830psf, is about 90% sold. Both condo projects are on 99-year sites and are five storeys high.
Source: THE Business Times

Faber Garden Enbloc: Update

- December 22, 2011 No Comments

The wife and I have heard that the Faber Garden tender has closed on Nov 22 with no bid received. 

But given the $830 million price tag, it is not difficult to appreciate why.

Click on the link below to read our previous post on the Faber Garden collective sale:

We are now waiting with bated breath for the en-bloc result of Thomson View, which tender will expire on Jan 12, 2012. The asking price of between $595 million and $635 million is a major stumbling block, but we are rooting for this one to go through (vested interest, but no, we do not own a unit in this development)...


Three more GLS sites released

- No Comments
The government has released three residential sites for sale on Thursday. These are at Bedok South Avenue 3, Jervois Road and Boon Lay Way.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said they can yield about 1,325 housing units, adding to the 21,560 units launched for sale under the Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme this year.

The land parcels at Bedok South Avenue 3 and Jervois Road are launched for sale under the Confirmed List, while the site at Boon Lay Way is made available for application for sale under the Reserve List of the second half 2011 GLS Programme.

The land parcel at Boon Lay Way in Jurong Gateway, envisioned as Singapore's largest commercial hub outside the city centre, is expected to have a good mix of office, retail, hotel,entertainment, food & beverage (F&B) and other complementary uses. With a site area of about 1.1 hectares, it can potentially yield about 590 housing units.

The 2.8 hectare land parcel at Bedok South Avenue 3 is near Tanah Merah Interchange, while the Jervois Road land parcel, with a site area of about 0.8 hectares, is at the fringe of the city centre near Redhill MRT Station.
Source: Channel News Asia

The wife and I understand that tender for the residential site at Jervois Road will close on February 2, 2012, while the one for Bedok South Avenue 3 will close on February 9, 2012.

And under the Government's Reserve List system, the land parcel at Boon Lay Way will be released for sale if the criteria for the triggering of the site are met. When the site is put up for tender, a tender period of about four weeks will be allowed before the tender closes.


Had your daily dose of laughter yet?

- December 21, 2011 No Comments

The cartoon is from, which we featured in our "Quote of the day" widget.

And since today's offering is property related (sort of), the wife and I reckon we should post it for a few chuckles.


Project Spotlight: Scotts Square

- December 20, 2011 No Comments

Scotts Square hits $3,764psf
by Cheryl Cheah

One of the prime condominiums that saw increased buying interest from foreigners last month was Scotts Square by Wheelock Properties, which obtained its temporary occupation permit (TOP) in September. It features 338 high-end apartments in two towers of 35- and 43-storeys sitting on top of an 80,000sqft retail podium. The freehold development is located in the prime Scotts Road, flanked on both sides by the Grand Hyatt and Marriott Hotel. Apartments are a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units, with sizes ranging from 624 to 1,249sqft.

Since obtaining their TOPs, the residential units in the development have seen a spike in transactions. There were three in the week of Nov 15 to 22., based on the latest caveats lodged and downloaded from URA Realis as at Dec 6. According to Joseph Tan, executive director of residential services at CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), the exclusive marketing agent for Scotts Square, almost 20 units were sold since TOP, with most of the units sold in November. However, caveats have yet to be lodged.

Although there haven't been that many sub-sale transactions, owners are now asking for prices in the range of $4,000 to $5,000psf, says Don Chiam, a property agent and division head of Savills.

The most recent transaction was the sub-sale of a 1,249sqft, three-bedroom unit on the 13th floor, which changed hands for $4.7 million ($3,764psf). Two other units on the 11th level, both 635sqft, one-bedroom apartments, were sold for $2.4 million each ($3,710psf) on Nov 17. To date, well over 250 units have been sold at the latest median price at $3,710psf. In terms of rental rates, a 947sqft, two-bedroom unit was recently transacted at $8,000 per month, which works out to around $8.44psf per month, notes CBRE's Tan. Quite a few customers are also "repeat buyers", those who had bought a unit for their own use earlier, and then purchased another unit as an investment. Almost half of the buyers are said to be foreigners.

Scotts Square is said to be popular with foreign buyers, particularly Indonesians and Chinese. "The Indonesian buyers, in particular, like it because of the location where there are many luxury boutiques but the interest among local investors are increasing as well," says Lily Gozali, a senior realty adviser of KF Property Network. "It's too early to tell what the new measures will have on foreign buying interest."

Investor interest has returned to Scotts Road area possibly owing to the recent preview of Far East Organization's 231-unit Scotts Tower, a small office/home office (Soho) project. Of the initial 56 units released in the 103-year leasehold project located at the corner of Scotts Road and Cairnhill Road, 34 had been sold prior to its official launch. Average prices achieved for the units sold are said to be $3,100psf. Quantum prices start from $1.9 million for a 624sqft one-bedroom Soho apartment. The project is designed by award-winning, co-founder and principal architect of UNStudio in Amsterdam, Ben van Berkel, and contains one- to three-bedroom apartments and four-bedroom penthouses. Given the positive response, Far East Organization officially launched the project on Dec 7.


The Estuary aka MCL's 100% sold project in Yishun...

- December 19, 2011 No Comments

The wife and I happened to be in Yishun over the weekend and took this photo of The Estuary.

It looks like construction is chugging along quite well. From our vintage point (i.e. standing in traffic at the intersection), the wife and I felt that the outer-most block at the corner of Yishun Ave 1 and 2 (Block 87) is way too close to the main road. But we both agreed that the view of Lower Seletar Reservoir from The Estuary is probably more pleasant compared to what you get with those new developments along Bedok Reservoir....and minus the drowned souls too (bless them!). 

Sharp fall in number of properties going under the hammer

- December 18, 2011 No Comments

The Business Times has reported that value of properties sold at auction this year has plunged to a three-year low of $95.62 million.

This is due mainly to a chill in secondary-market sales of residential properties following higher seller's stamp duty rates introduced in January, says Colliers International.
It (Colliers) predicts a further decline with the figure for next year potentially coming in close to the $83.7 million low plumbed in 2008, during the global financial crisis.

In the past year, residential properties made up more than half of total auction sales value. This year, their share slipped to just 28.4%, compared with 51.3% in 2010 and 52.5% in 2009. Investors have diverted their attention to non-residential properties due to the cooling measures aimed at the residential sector.
Source: The Business Times

Seems like the hammer is more useful for breaking SMRT trains' glass windows (caveat: only when the train breaks down inside the tunnel and the ventilation fans start shutting down, although SMRT has strongly advised agianst doing so) than for auctioning properties these days...


November's home sales up 22.3% month-on-month

- December 16, 2011 4 Comments

Just before the cooling measures on Dec 7 changed the property landscape, private home sales had spiked sharply in November, the latest numbers released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) shows. But the immediate future looks starkly different, as consultants expect sales to slow by 20 to 30%.

Buyers snapped up 1,701 private homes in November, excluding executive condominiums (ECs) - a 22.3% increase from October's 1,391 units.

Including ECs, 1,854 homes were sold, compared to 1,642 in October. This translates to 153 ECs being sold in November. (*shouldn't the Nov EC sales be 212?!)

The cooling measures have changed the equation.

Png Poh Soon, director, consultancy and research at Knight Frank, says that excluding executive condominiums (ECs), sales could fall to some 1,000 units or fewer per month. After Chinese New Year, this could rise moderately to between 1,100 to 1,200 units he said.

ERA key executive officer, Eugene Lim agreed. "We expect the market to take a breather in December and January as developers and buyers take stock of the recent changes... We can expect slower sales by about 20 to 30% over this festive period," he noted.

Added PropNex Realty chief executive Mohamed Ismail: "It will be interesting to see the results of private property sales from December onwards, especially after the ABSD (additional buyer's stamp duty) has taken effect."

On Dec 7, the government announced a series of cooling measures, which included an additional 10% stamp duty for foreign buyers.

According to Chia Siew Chuin, director of research and advisory, at Colliers International, these measures could result in an initial knee-jerk reaction in the market. That, coupled with potential homebuyers who may be sidelined during the year-end school holiday and festive season, is likely to put a cap on demand in December.

In the first 11 months of the year, developers had sold 15,393 private homes (excluding ECs), and 2,855 ECs. For the whole of last year, developers sold 16,292 private homes and 1,052 ECs.

The slowdown in December could mean that the total sale of private homes in the primary market may now be close to last year's level - instead of easily surpassing it.

Taking into account the economic outlook and likely effects of the new measure, take-up for new homes sales in 2012 could potentially fall between 9,000 to 11,000 units, said Ms Chia.

Alan Cheong, associate director or Savills Research and consultancy added: : Transaction volumes should be tepid in the light of a standoff between local buyers who think they can get a better deal and developers who have the financial strength to stay put."

Dennis Wee Group's senior manager in research and consultancy, Lee Sze Teck, added: "It could be till February that we will see the full effect of the ABSD. Most developers are adopting a wait and see approach before deciding whether to offer relief package to offset the ABSD."

According to CBRE, prices of luxury/prime residential properties could fall by 10 to 15% in 2012, whereas mass-market homes could fall by 5 - 10%. Landed home prices will likely see a smaller correction of less than 5% since foreigners are generally not allowed to buy and supply is limited.

"However, we are of the opinion that these measures are unlikely to be a permanent feature because of the nature of Singapore's highly open economy," CBRE added.

Savills' Mr Cheong added: "Property prices were already moderating before these cooling measures were announced. In the face of global uncertainties, these measures came as a surprise, not in terms of timing, but in the form."
The market had looked quite hot before the measures were announced. Top sellers in November included Bedok Residences (477 units sold at $1,359psf median price), The Palette (367 units sold at $895psf median price), Parc Vera (83 units at $825psf median price).

One of the drivers pushing sales was the supply of new units in the market, say consultants; in a move to launch projects before the year-end holiday period, developers released a total of 1,979 units for sale, a month-to-month increase of 47.9%.

This marks the second highest launch and sales volume this year, after April's 2,055 units launched and 1,805 sold, said Colliers' Ms Chia.

The Outside Central Region (OCR) - where suburban mass-market condominiums are located - dominated November's launch and sale figures. Sales in the OCR jumped 49% month-on-month in November to 1,328 units, or 78.1% of all units sold.

This is also the highest monthly sales in the region, since July 2009.

New launches were also up, helping drive new demand, with 1,518 new units launched to the (OCR) market in November, an increase of some 123% compared to October, pointed out Chua Yang Liang, from Jones Lang LaSalle.

Colliers International's analysis showed that about 37% of the 1,701 homes sold by developers were priced at $1,000psf or less. More than half of the transactions (about 52%) fell between $1,000 and $1,500psf.
Source: The Business Times

The wife and I were reminded by the fact that last year's total private home sales of 16,292 units was a record. So given the slew of cooling measures announced by the Government (SSD, ABSD etc) so far this year and the poorer global economic situation compared to last year, the property market (15,393 units as of November) has done spectacularly well year to date. 


THE CASCADIA: Want to know how it looks like inside?

- December 15, 2011 2 Comments

The Cascadia has received its Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) a few months ago. The wife and I had the opportunity to visit the development today and here are the photos we took.

The Cascadia has a total of 13 blocks. The "inner cluster" (Blocks 929, 931, 933, 935 & 937) are located at the back of the development. The 5 blocks are much too close to each other for our comfort, and we actually felt a tad claustrophobic walking around the grounds between these blocks. 

The "external cluster" (Blocks 921, 923, 925, 927, 941, 943 & 945) lined the swimming pools and water features that are located at the front portion of the development. The 7 blocks within this cluster are  better distance apart from each other, and most of the inner-facing units have nice view of the pool area. However, there seems to be a distinct lack of laundry drying area within the apartment units (a common problem with new developments these days) - you can see laundry hanging on the glass partition in many of the balconies, which is a shame.

The gym is located at the clubhouse next to the main pool. It is elevated so you get an excellent view of the swimmers and sun-tanners while you are running on the thread-mills.

The clubhouse also houses an outdoor lounge area and a function room.

The wife and I love the kid's pool - our son will probably spend hours playing here... if we are living in The Cascadia that is (one can always dream!)

There are two things within the development that we did not particularly like. The grounds (especially around the inner-cluster) are rather green but the vegetation are (at least in our opinion) a tad over-done. Maybe this is deliberate, i.e. to provide a sense of nature, but we find that it looked rather "upkept".

We also have an issue with the underground carpark.  Several sections have a huge "step-down" (see photo) with no retaining walls or dividing rails in between. Although the parking blocks at the back of each lot will prevent cars from rolling over the step, young kids and the elderly may trip over and really hurt themselves. The management should probably look into erecting some kind of barrier to prevent (human) accidents from happening.

For those who are interested in The Cascadia, you be pleased to know that there are still some "developer's unit" available. The sales office is on-site and you now have the added luxury of actually seeing what you are buying into.

Click on the links below to see the showflat photos and read our review of The Cascadia:


Property Spotlight: Shelford Road/ Adam Road areas

- December 14, 2011 No Comments
The Shelford Road neighbourhood has traditionally been popular with families because of its location within a 1-km radius of Nanyang Primary School, says Grace Ng, deputy managing director of Colliers International. "Some Singaporeans who live elsewhere are even willing to relocate to the neighbourhood, by first renting an apartment in the area to be within 1-km of the school, and subsequently buying a unit," she says.

The area is likely to see greater interest, with the upcoming Botanic Gardens MRT station, which is within walking distance, as well as the recently opened Farrer Road MRT station on the Circle Line, adds Ng.

Several new condominiums have sprung up in the area in recent years. As it is in a landed housing neighbourhood, the condos in the Shelford Road area are generally low-rise, with a height limit of five storeys. Newly completed freehold condos include the 33-unit Shelford 23 by Hoi Hup, and City Developments' 77-unit Shelford Suites. Next door to Shelford Suites is 18 Shelford by Popular Land, completed last year.

At Shelford 23, the most recent transaction was the sub-sale of an 829sqft two-bedroom unit that changed hands in June for $1.42 million ($1,713psf). Prices of secondary transactions done at Shelford Suites from September to early-November ranged from $1,606 to $1,800psf, according to URA Realis. Meanwhile, three units at 18 Shelford were sold in October at median price of $1,900psf, probably the highest price achieved in the area, say some property agents.

Construction is just starting at the 69-unit 10 Shelford by boutique developer DB2 Development, where units are one-bedroom and one-plus-study measuring 431 to 980sqft. Launched in May, the project is fully sold, with the latest transaction being the sale of a one-bedroom 431sqft third-floor unit for $806,900 ($1,874psf).

With new condos in the Shelford area trading at $1,600 to $1,900psf, homebuyers and investors are eyeing some of the older condos in the area, which have been transacted at $1,300 to $1,500psf. "Some people prefer the older condos because the pricing looks more attractive, given that these condos are freehold and located in prime district 11, compared with some of the leasehold condos in the suburbs, where shoebox apartments are trading for up to $1,500 to $1,600psf," says Colliers' Ng.

A recent transaction in the Shelford area was done at Nineteen Shelford, a 256-unit freehold condo by Bonvests Holdings and completed 15 years ago. It was for an 883sqft, two-bedroom unit on the second level, which was sold for $1.2 million ($1,399psf), according to a caveat lodged with URA on Nov 15. The development has a mix of studio units starting from 635sqft to three-bedroom apartments of 1,163sqft, as well as maisonette units of 1,281 to 1,572sqft.

Another condo that has seen buying interest is the 118-unit freehold Adam Park Condo, developed by Tuan Seng Holdings and completed in 2004. The project, designed with a tropical resort theme and a jungle spa, has two entrances - one on Shelford Road and the other on Adam Road. The condo comprises only two- to four-bedroom apartments, measuring 893 to 1,744sqft.

Based on the latest caveats lodged and downloaded from URA Realis as at Nov 30, there were two recent transactions at Adam Park Condo. Both transactions involved the sale of 958sqft two-bedroom units in different blocks. One was a third-level unit that was sold for $1.4 million ($1,467psf), the second time it has changed hands in the resale market. The unit last changed hands in February 2010 for $1.15 million ($1,200psf) and its price at launch in June 2002 was $895,510 ($935psf).

The other unit went for $1.3 million ($1,376psf). The seller had purchased it in June 2002 for $890,120 ($929psf), thus seeing a price appreciation of 48% in almost a decade.

Owners of older condos such as Adam Park Condo are asking for $1,300 to $1,400psf, says Kelly Ng, associate agency head at real-estate agency GPS Alliance. Meanwhile, in the Shelford area, owners of older condos such as Nineteen Shelford are asking for $1,400 to $1,600psf. "Newer condos in the area tend to feature smaller units, so there is still demand for older condos," she adds. "Western expatriates, in particular, prefer the older condos because they are bigger. Sale prices are still stable, as there's still demand for units in the Adam Road/Shelford area."

While rental rates in the area are still relatively stable, GPS Alliance's Ng says some expatriates who had previously chosen the Adam Road area for its tranquillity and convenience are now opting for units in the Newton and Novena area instead. She attributes this change in preference to the ongoing construction of the Circle Line, which has "disrupted the tranquillity and traffic in the Adam Road area". However, the area continues to be a draw for families that want to move there for the sake of their children's education. Besides Singapore residents, the area still attracts mainland Chinese and Indonesian investors, she adds.

The wife and I have a couple of observations/comments (what's new?) after reading the article:

1. The Botanic Gardens MRT Station is no longer an "upcoming" station, as it has been operating since October 8 (okay, at least on days when train services on the Circle Line are not disrupted). 

2. And speaking of MRT, the condos featured in the article are not exactly "within walking distances" from the nearest operating MRT Station (i.e. Botanic Gardens). The distances are probably walk-able but we reckon it is not an especially pleasant walk on a hot (or worse, rainy) day.

3. Although condos in the Shelford Road neighbourhood may be within 1-km of Nanyang Primary School, balloting is still very much the order of the day... if experience of the past few years is any indication.

Enbloc News: Robin Road site sold for $52 million

- No Comments

The collective sale of a 16-unit apartment located at Robin Road has gone through for $52 million, says property consulting firm Credo Real Estate.

The winning bid came from Sing Holdings, which vied for the two 4-storey block apartment that forms part of four adjoining properties.

Ms Yong Choon Fah, Executive Director of Credo Real Estate, said: "More than 80% of the owners at 2 to 8 Robin Road have consented to Sing Holdings' offer of $52 million, which translates to $1,462 psf ppr based on an allowable plot ratio of 1.54, including balconies."

Ms Yong added "Development charge is not payable for the 10% balconies Gross Floor Area space allowed."

Sing Holdings had previously won the tender for two other adjoining developments: Robin Court for $77.33 million and Robin Star for $47 million via by private treaty.

Combined, the site can be turned into a joint condominium development of up to five storeys.

The latest en bloc site measures 23,084sqft, and together, Sing Holdings will have a total land area of 87,963 sqft.
Source: Channel News Asia

It took 2 additional months of negotiations after the tender closed and the final price is a tad shy of the $58 million that owners were originally asking for, but the collective sale did garner a favorable result...

Click below to read our original post about this collective sale:


New Project Info: The Nautical @Sembawang

- December 13, 2011 1 Comment
Project Name:   The Nautical
Developer:   MCC Land
Location:   Jalan Sendudok (next to Sembawang Shopping Centre)
Tenure:   99-year wef 29 August 2011
Site Area:   297,791sqft
Plot Ratio:   1.4
Total Units:   435 (17 Blocks of 5-Storey each)
Total Parking Lots:   441 excluding handicapped lots
Estimated TOP:   28 February 2016

Unit Types & Approx. Sizes
1-Bedroom (57 units):   430 - 576sqft
2-Bedroom (64 units):   778 - 975sqft
3-Bedroom (148 units):   884 - 1,266sqft
3-Bedroom Premium (102 units):   1,142 - 1,409sqft
4-Bedroom (16 units):   1,637 - 1,866sqft
Penthouses (48 units):   1,579 - 1,928sqft

Location Map

Site Plan

The wife and I understand that preview for The Nautical will commence sometime after 15 December 2011.


Property sector update

- December 12, 2011 No Comments
Here is a report by Kim Eng Research about the latest implementation of additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) in the Singapore property market.

Kim Eng is expecting a drop of 10 - 20% in mass-market home prices next year due to the new cooling measure.

But what we find most interesting about the report is the list showing foreigner as a percentage of total buyers for selected new projects - these range from 2% for The Greenwich to a whopping 56% for Silversea!

Click the link below to read the full report:


Now is not the time to cool private property market...really?!

- December 11, 2011 No Comments
The wife and I came across this article by Mr Andrew da Roza in the forum page of The Straits Times yesterday.

Reference: Now is not the time to cool private property market

While only time will tell if the Government's latest set of property cooling measures is counter-intuitive, we felt that Mr da Roza's arguments against the additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) for foreigners are flawed on at least two counts:

1.   There is a fundamental difference between immigrant and foreigner. Based on several on-line definitions of the former, an immigrant is a person who leaves one country to settle permanently in another. Taking this definition of immigrant within the Singapore context, one would be referring to PRs and "new citizens", i.e. those who are prepared to sink their roots in Singapore and contribute towards the betterment of our country. This is opposed to foreigners who are just working here (because the prospects for them in Singapore are currently better than what they can find elsewhere, but they will not hesitate to move once the situation changes) or foreign investors (who are moving money into Singapore because it currently offers the best returns/stability, but will pull their money out at the first sign of change ).
The new set of property control measures already allow PRs and Citizens to own at least one property without having to pay the ABSD. This should help fulfil the aspirations of home-ownership for these two groups of people living in Singapore. And should they wish to purchase additional properties for investment (read: profit) purposes, the Government has no obligation to help them.
As far as foreigners who are working or investing in Singapore are concerned, they are mostly here under the notion of "greener pastures". And once the economic situation deteriorates, those who can find alternative employment/investment elsewhere will move - a fact acknowledged by Mr da Roza.
Given such, the wife and I question the wisdom of trying to "attract" foreigners (and their money) into Singapore by providing them with a level playing field for private property purchase.

2.   Mr da Roza also mentioned that "even China and Hong Kong have relented in the face of imminent global recession and are moving to lift their property cooling measures". The wife and I are particularly interested to know where he gets his facts from. The information we have gathered suggests that both China and Hong Kong are still very determined to keep property prices in check, but they will consider relaxing their property cooling measures if the global economic situation starts to affect local property prices adversely. We believe this is the same stand that our Government will adopt. The whole premise of the ABSD is not to crash the property market, rather to prevent a property bubble from emerging.

And contrary to Mr da Roza's final comments, if something is not done to rein in the sky-high property prices that are still prevalent despite the economic problems that have surfaced around the world, potential buyers such as Ms Lim and Ms Yang are more likely to be left holding negative equity in their new matrimonial homes should they decide to plunge into the property market now...


Discounts galore from developers post-ABSD...

- December 10, 2011 No Comments

Developers are already offering packages on homes to offset the stiff new stamp duty measures that came into effect only two days ago.

Far East Organization is offering a 5% relief package to affected buyers at all of its already-launched projects.

It will reimburse buyers 3% of the unit price to offset the new stamp duty. Buyers will also get a furniture voucher worth 2% of the flat price.

They will get the voucher only after putting down a 30% deposit if the project has not been completed.

The package applies across the board to Singaporeans, permanent residents (PRs) and foreigners, so foreigners will still be worse off after the new measures.

Far East's already-launched projects have another discount that differs between properties.

Prices of units at its Seastrand project in Pasir Ris Drive 3 are discounted by up to14%, making the cheapest unit an estimated $937psf. But with only three- and four-bedroom units left and the smallest three-bedder at 1,109sqft, the minimum purchase now would cost about $1.04 million before stamp duty.

With an additional 10% buyer's stamp duty for foreigners of $104,000 now, Far East's relief package would help a buyer save almost $52,000 - about $30,000 initially and the rest subsequently.

However, a Far East agent said that unofficially the discount rate could go up to 16% of the original unit price. This means buyers can negotiate a 21% discount off the original total price by combining the uniform 5% cut with the discount that applies to the Seastrand.

This would more than offset the extra stamp duty incurred, although it is believed that the discount applies on a case-by-case basis.

Far East has not announced a dateline for its relief package but the agent said it could last until the end of this month.

The Seastrand's temporary occupation permit (TOP) is expected on Dec 31, 2016.

Wing Tai's luxury Helios Residences at Cairnhill Circle is also offering a relief package, said a company sales agent.

Buyers will get a cash rebate of up to 2% of the total price upon payment. That goes up to 2.5% at the start of the second year of occupation and 3% at the start of the third year.

They will not be allowed to sell their unit for three years following purchase.

The smaller units can cost around $4.2 million, said the agent, adding that the relief package is meant to help "lessen the burden" on customers.

The agent said the deal is only applicable to Helios Residences, as its target market is foreigners, who are more likely to be affected by the stamp duty imposition, but did not specify a deadline. Helios Residences obtained its TOP on Jan 28.

Sales agents at Keppel Land, UOL and CapitaLand did not know of any discount packages being offered.

Real estate agents at DWG, DTZ and Huttons also said their firms were not offering discount packages, but some said they might be able to negotiate an additional 1% cash rebate.
Source: The Straits Times

Given the partial/full absorption of ABSD by developers through the additional discounts that they are giving on their projects, the latest property measure is looking increasingly like a transfer of wealth from developers to our Government...

Enbloc News: Henry Park Apartments sold for $175.9 million!

- December 9, 2011 No Comments

A collective sale site at Henry Park located off Holland Road has been sold to Kentish View Pte Ltd, a unit of Far East Organization, for $175.888 million, making it the largest en bloc deal by value this year.

Its marketing agent Credo Real Estate says it has been a closely contested exercise that attracted five submissions for the prime District 10 apartment site.

The 999-year leasehold site with a land area of nearly 100,000sqft comprises 48 apartments and 16 shop units.

If the sale is approved by the Strata Titles Board, each apartment owner stands to pocket gross proceeds of between $2.3 million and $2.9 million, while the shop owner could receive between $3.2 million and $4.7million each.

Credo says this would be the largest en bloc sale deal by value out of the 47 known deals done this year, the average of which has been $60 million.

The Henry Park sale surpasses the collective deal for Hong Leong Garden Shopping Centre which fetched $171 million in September.

Credo says the sale price for Henry Park Apartments translates to a land rate of about $1,258 psf ppr.
It adds that the developer has also made an application to purchase an adjoining State land parcel of nearly 1,400sqft.

If the application is accepted, Credo says taking the same sales price, it will translate to a land rate of about $1,246 psf ppr.
Source: Channel News Asia

Well, the wife and I did say that this one has potential to go through successfully before the end of the year. It'll be interesting to see if Far East can build and sell out the new development on this site within the stipulated 5-year period...

Click below to read our previous post on the Henry Park Apartments collective sale:

Update  (10 December 2011):
The Straits Times today reported that the tender for Henry Park Apartments closed on Dec 1, with the sale concluded on Wednesday, just avoiding the new cooling measures which kicked in on Thursday. The new rules require developers to build and sell all the units in a new project within five years of buying the site.

The 99,800sqft site is zoned residential with commercial at the first storey in the 2008 masterplan. The authorities have allowed a gross plot ratio of up to 1.4 and a maxium building height of four storeys.

The wife and I stand corrected on our earlier comments.

ABSD: Do you know that it applies to Developers too?

- No Comments

Reference: "New terms may hit large collective sales" - The Business Times

To put things in perspective, if a developer buys a residential site for $200 million and is unable to meet the five-year limit to complete building the new residential project on the site and selling all the units, it will have to pay an additional $20 million in ABSD.

And it looks like a much longer wait for "en-bloc aspirants" such as Pine Grove, Laguna Park, Pearlbank Apartments etc...


ABSD: Case of not all foreigners being equal...


Citizens of five countries that have free trade deals with Singapore, including the United States and Switzerland, will be treated as Singaporean for the purposes of the new stamp duty measures.

When they buy a private home, Americans, Swiss and nationals from Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland will be treated the same as Singapore citizens, the taxman said in a guide on Wednesday.

This will enable them to avoid the new 10% additional buyer's stamp duty that foreigners now have to pay when they buy a private home.

Free trade agreements usually ensure that a country's citizens are accorded certain trade protections when they are in the partner nation.

The Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD), as the new levy is called, was announced by the Government on Wednesday and hits foreigners hardest. They have to pay an additional stamp duty of 10% when buying a home.

But the foreigners from the five countries can apply for remission or a relief.

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) website says they must provide identification, acceptance to option to purchase/sale, the purchase agreement and the ABSD declaration form.

Under the new rules, permanent residents (PRs) buying a second and subsequent property will pay an additional 3% stamp duty, while Singaporeans buying their third or subsequent homes must pay an extra 3%.

The rule is also that for purchases made by two or more parties with mixed residency status, such as a Singaporean with PR, the higher rate will be imposed.

But Iras also gave examples of situations where remissions can apply. These are in cases where married couples have mixed residency status.

For example, a PR who currently owns a property while his Singaporean spouse owns none can apply for relief from the additional stamp duty when they co-purchase a home.

In another scenario, a PR and a Singaporean spouse co-own a property. When they next jointly buy a property, they can apply to be exempt from the 3% levy.

the relevant documents have to be submitted to Iras.

Relief will also be provided for qualifying developers.

Iras also said that people who want to downgrade from private housing to an HDB flat will be allowed a concessionary period to sell their private residential properties. The application for relief in such cases can be made through the HDB.

More details about relief schemes can be found in the ABSD e-Tax guide, which can be downloaded from
Source: The Straits Times

The wife and I wonders if the same courtesy will be accorded to us should we decide to buy a private property in... e.g. Liechtenstein, assuming the citizens there get preferential treatment over foreigners for property purchase.

We have not looked at the ABSD e-Tax guide (yet) but reading the Straits Times report, it sure sounds like citizens of the five countries that have free trade deals with Singapore are treated better than our PRs when comes to buying a second property....

Disclaimer: We are NOT according animal status to any nationality here.


Has it really been two years...?


The wife and I had originally intended to post this on Wednesday, since Dec 7th was the second anniversary of SG PropTalk. However, the Government's sudden decision to implement the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty took centrestage over our little tribute during the past two days.

The past year has been a rather busy one for us on the property front: We sold our (tiny) apartment in District 10 at the end of 2010, decided to go on rental for a year, bought a 30+ year-old apartment in District 20 during 1Q 2011, embarked on a 3-month renovation stint whereby we practically gutted the entire interior of the apartment and rebuilt, and have moved into our "new" home about 2 months ago. But enough about us...

With the support from our readers, SG PropTalk has achieved over 360,000 page views and now averages more than 400 unique visits daily. Although the numbers are peanuts compared to the other more established (commercial) property web/blog sites , the wife and I are pretty proud of our "achievements": Just remember that we are merely a two-person outfit and running our blog during our spare time.

For the past year, we have tried to update our blog on a daily basis (sometimes with multiple postings a day). We have also included more news and editorial articles about the Singapore private property scene, and even some from further ashore. We have also strived to maintain objectiveness and impartiality when it comes to our comments and reviews. And we certainly hope that the information we have shared on our blog have been useful to our readers.. in some small ways at least.

The wife and I can also proudly proclaimed that SG PropTalk has a small reader following now. We are continually encouraged by the discussions that are generated through our postings and in our forum page. We are also receiving more emails asking us for property recommendations or our opinions on specific projects. We still maintain that we are no experts in the property field but we have tried to answer all queries to the best of our abilities (and as promptly as we can managed).

There are certainly areas that the wife and I can do better: The number of new project reviews have dropped compared to last year. This is despite the over-whelming number of new launches in 2011. But due to the hectic demands of our day-jobs and the added parental duties after our son started primary school this year, we are struggling somewhat to find time to visit showflats. And the last thing we want to do is "go through the motion". We will continue to provide reviews/our thoughts on new projects as often as we can manage them and we seek your continual understanding and patience on our limitations.

Last but not least... the wife and I thank you for supporting SG PropTalk during the past year. Please continue to support our blog and if you feel up to it, do click on our "Nuffnang" ads from time to time. And come same time next year, we hope SG PropTalk will still be around for us to make our little tribute speech again...

P/S: We welcome any suggestions/comments/constructive criticisms that our readers may have about SG PropTalk. So please keep these coming!

Yours Sincerely,
The Folks @SG PropTalk

Property market slowdown: So this time's for real then?

- December 8, 2011 5 Comments

The Singapore property market is bracing for a slowdown, with experts predicting a steep drop in transaction volume and prices over the next few months, following the latest cooling measures.

At least one real estate agency thinks the immediate reaction will be a slowdown in the private property market.

CEO of PropNex Realty Mohamed Ismail said he expects a price correction of approximately 15 to 20% in the central core region, and a correction of 10 to 15% in the mass market segment in the next six months.

PropNex also expects transaction volume for properties to dive by as much as 40% in the core central region - like Orchard and Marina Bay. This is because of the significant number of foreign buyers for such properties.

Meanwhile, PropNex expects transaction volume to fall by as much as 20% in the mass market segment.

Analysts expect buyers to adopt a wait-and-see approach.

Mr Mohamed said: "It takes a very bullish decision from a foreigner to come and invest in Singapore in today's market, having to pay a 13% stamp duty upfront, and (being) subjected to the Seller's Stamp Duty in the next four years, of 16%, 12%, 8% and 4%.

"And even if you sell after four years, if he buys a property today, he must expect at least a 25 to 30% increase in the property price to break even, taking into consideration other costs and interests and all other elements."

Under the latest changes, foreign buyers of private properties in Singapore will now have to fork out 10% more in stamp duty while permanent residents and Singaporeans are also affected with an increased stamp duty on their second and third properties respectively.

PropNex said the new measures could have been targeted to preserve affordable pricing in the mass market segment - homes costing less than $2 million where prices have surpassed $1,000psf.

It argues that having a blanket policy will impact the high-end market which has been the investment interest of the foreign buyers.

Norman Lu, a foreign buyer, said: "We are very disappointed about this rule. Because even though we are foreigners, we have been working in Singapore...we also contribute to this country. So as a foreigner, we feel that the government does not welcome us."
Source: Channel News Asia

Mr Lu may have felt hard done by our Government but then again, many countries around the world have similiar policies concerning foreign purchase of private residential properties. Maybe that's what they meant by "Citizenship has its privileges"...?


ABSD: Reactions from Developers & Buyers

- 1 Comment

DEVELOPERS SAY:  Mass-market and luxury homes 'will all be hit'
The measures announced yesterday will hit developers aiming for the luxury market but mass-market builders will not escape either, said analysts.

High-end developers such as SC Global and Wing Tai could see demand slip as foreigners, who generally account for more than half of the sales in the upper-price brackets, will be hit by the additional 10% stamp duty.

This is over and above the existing buyer's stamp duty of 3%.

Independent research firm Sabio Global director Alan Lok said: "Traditionally, the Chinese buyers come here because Singapore is considerably cheaper than Hong Kong, but a stamp duty of 13% is quite drastic.

"This will definitely make them (foreign buyers) think twice about buying property here."

The mass market will also feel the impact as Chinese buyers have been steadily moving into the suburbs so the stamp duty levy is likely to cool their buying.

While a decline in demand is almost certain, analysts and developers believe the measures will not do much to dampen property prices given that land is still pricey and construction costs are rising.

Property developer Roxy-Pacific executive chairman and chief executive Teo Hong Lim said: "Well, it doesn't mean that just because sales are slow, we have to sell at a loss, right? We still have to break even."

However, he does not think that the measures will affect his business very much as 50% of his pipeline is made up of commercial - mainly retail and office - units.

He also added that foreign buyers only make up about 10% of his clientele on average.

Mr Wong Heang Fine, chief executive of CapitaLand Residential Singapore, said: "Given the uncertainty in current market outlook, the latest measures on additional buyer's stamp duty were unexpected. We will study the details and take them into consideration."

While share prices of all developers are likely to slide today, Kim Eng analyst Wilson Liew believes the impact will not be that great for those with a more diversified business model.

"There will be weakness in the short term, but CapitaLand for example has significant businesses in China, and that will be a buffer for them even if their Singapore business is affected," he added.

BUYERS SAY:  First-timers cheer move; others get cold feet
Early reactions to the latest round of property market measures were mixed though the consensus seems to be that home prices will moderate.

First-time Singaporean home buyers generally cheered the move, as they believe it will now be easier for them to get a foothold on the property ladder. Many have been concerned that foreign buyers, especially those purchasing mass-market homes, have been driving prices up.

But some foreigners and permanent residents (PRs) expressed disappointment at the measures, which they labelled as "harsh".

The hardest hit will be foreigners who are not PRs. They will be slugged with an additional 10% on any home purchase, on top of the existing stamp duty of about 3%.

For a foreigner buying a $1 million home, the stamp duty will jump significantly to $124,600 from $24,600.

PRs will also be slapped with a 3% additional stamp duty for their second and subsequent home purchases while Singaporeans will face the same charge only for their third and subsequent buys.

Property agents say that foreign buyers are likely to put any home purchases on hold in anticipation of prices dropping as the new measures take effect.

Some agents have already reported deals falling through in the first few hours after the measures were unveiled.

PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail said that two of his firm's foreign clients pulled out of separate deals at Marina Bay Residences. Another backed out of a deal for an Orchard Road property.

"Although one was already at his third viewing and will be unaffected if he closed the deal by today, he saw no pint because prices might drop," he said.

Mr Ismail added that the measures did not seem to be "well thought through" as their blanket application will adversely affect the high-end market in particular.

He suggested that the additional buyer's stamp duty be applied in a more targeted manner instead. For example, it could be applied to mass-market homes of less than $1,500psf so that the segment remained largely for Singaporean buyers, he said.

A Chinese buyer who wanted to be known as Mr Chen said that he was surprised at how "harsh" the new rules were. He had flown in from Shanghai last week to visit some friends but also to explore the possibility of buying a home in the prime districts of 9, 10 and 11.

He said that he would put his plans on hold until the market situation became clearer.

However, first-time Singaporean buyers and upgraders like human resource executive Germaine Lim welcomed the news, which they hope will bring prices down.

Ms Lim, 29, said: "Hopefully, without foreigners competing with us, we can finally find something within our budget."
Source: The Straits Times


Just when you think the property market cannot be "cooler"...

- December 7, 2011 9 Comments

The government has imposed an Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD) for private property of between 3% and 10% for Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and foreigners to moderate investment demand for private residential property and promote a more stable and sustainable market.
The changes take effect on December 8.

Foreigners will pay 10% Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD) for any residential property.

Permanent Residents owning one and buying second and subsequent properties will pay 3% ABSD.

Singaporeans owning two and buying a third and subsequent residential properties will pay 3% Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty.

The ABSD will be imposed over and above the current Buyer's Stamp Duty, which are 1% on the first $180,000 of purchase consideration or market value of the property (whichever is higher), 2% on the next $180,000 and 3% for the remainder.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, the Finance and National Development ministries say the government's objective is to promote a sustainable residential property market where prices move in line with economic fundamentals.

They said prices of private residential properties have continued to rise, albeit more slowly in the last two quarters.

Prices are now 13% above the peak in the second quarter of 1996, and 16% above the more recent peak in the second quarter of 2008.

They said that even with the current economic uncertainties, the demand for private residential property remains firm.

Given the uncertainty in stock markets and with interest rates remaining low, private property in Singapore continues to attract local and foreign investors.

They added that excessive investment demand will make the property cycle more volatile, and thus increase the risks to Singapore's economy and banking system.

The government said the higher ABSD rate for foreign buyers in particular is necessary, in view of the large pool of external liquidity and strong buying interest from abroad, and the relatively small size of the Singapore market.

The government said foreign purchases account for 19% of all private residential property purchases in the second half of 2011, up from 7% in the first half of 2009.

For purchases made jointly by two or more parties (eg a Singaporean with a PR, or a PR with a foreigner), the higher applicable ABSD rate will be imposed.

For example, if a citizen purchases a property with a foreigner, the ABSD of 10% will apply.

In the case of a joint purchase by Singaporeans, who each already owns properties, the ABSD of 3% will apply as long as one of the purchasers already owns two properties.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam, said: "We have always had open markets and must keep them that way. However, the reality is that investment flows into our property market are now larger than before, and unlikely to recede as long as interest rates remain low.

"The additional buyer's stamp duty should help cool investment demand, and avoid the prospect of a major, destabilising correction further down the road."

Nicholas Mak, Executive Director of Research and Consultancy at SLP International, said: "It will curb investment demand for private residential properties quite drastically, especially demand from non-resident foreigners. And I think in the next one to two months or so, demand from non-resident foreigners will almost dry-up."

Home buyers are mixed in their views.

One Indian foreigner said: "I know there is a stamp duty, but any increase in that will probably take it out of my level where I want to buy."

An Indian who is a Permanent Resident said: "Nowadays, HDB properties are also difficult to buy, because of more conditions. So they have to buy property here. Definitely they'll keep buying more irrespective of whether the stamp duty is increased or not."

One Singaporean said: "It probably wouldn't have an effect in the short-term, because the property market prices are still rising, people are still speculating."

Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said: "We are ramping up the supply of new Executive Condominium units through the Government Land Sales Programme.

"This will help higher-income Singaporeans own private condominium units in an affordable way, as the sale of new EC units is restricted to Singaporean households only."

Singaporean first-time buyers and upgraders, and buyers of HDB flats will not be affected by the new measure.

Certain reliefs will be provided so that the measure will not impact home occupation demand by residents.

For example, relief will be provided for Singaporean-foreigner/PR married couples buying their homes.

Reliefs will also be provided for qualifying developers and for purchases falling within the scope of Singapore's international trade agreements.

The government will continue to ensure an adequate supply of private housing to meet-medium term demand.

There are 41,000 unsold private housing units in the pipeline.

The government will inject sites that can potentially yield a total of 14,100 units in the 1H2012 Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme, similar to the supply in previous GLS programmes.

Of these, about 7,000 units will be from sites on the Confirmed List.

These numbers take into account the ample pipeline supply and the dampening effect of the ABSD.

The government will also expand the supply of executive condominiums (ECs) in 2012 and is prepared to release sites that can potentially yield 5,000 EC units for the entire year.

Sites for 3,500 EC units will be made available in 1H2012, including 3,000 EC units on the Confirmed List.

The Confirmed List quantum is comparable to the 3,000 EC units from five sites sold for the whole of 2011. More details will be provided in the press release for the 1H2012 GLS Programme on MND's website.

The Government will continue to monitor the property market and adjust its property policies in step with changes in the market and the economy.
Source: Channel News Asia

The wife and I have just returned from our short family vacation (literally that is, since we have only touched down like two hours ago) and this is the first piece of property news we happened to chance upon. 

The Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD) should appease (somewhat) those who are worried by the increasing number of private home purchases by foreigners, which they claimed have driven up property prices. It will also help to dampen the flow of "hot money" into our private property sector (which is probably the larger factor in driving up prices), given the current double-whammy of much higher buying and selling stamp duties. 

And for Singaporeans that already own two private residential properties and wanting to buy a third, we reckon they should not complaint (too much) about the ABSD.

So maybe the government is finally listening, as they said they would...