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DC for non-landed residential sites is lowered!

- February 29, 2012 4 Comments

The government has lowered the development charge (DC) for non-landed residential sites by 3% on average.
This compared to the 12.2% increase during the last revision exercise six months ago.

The most significant decreases are in the Punggol Town/Upper Serangoon Road area, and the Hougang/Paya Lebar Road/Toa Payoh/Bishan areas, which will see rates fall by 14%.

Analysts say the cautious stance among developers in land tender bids may have prompted the government to cut DC rates for the non-landed residential sites.

Colliers International director of research and advisory Ms Chia Siew Chuin said in a statement that this could be due to a number of factors.

These include ample state land supply, concerns of a slowing economy amid global uncertainties as well as the possible bearing of the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD) on the market that caused developers to bid conservatively for those sites.

Typically, development charges are paid to the government when land-use for a particular site is enhanced upon redevelopment, or more simply put, when a bigger building replaces a smaller one.

It also reflects changing land values.

For residential uses, DC rates mostly apply to the redevelopment of en bloc sale sites.

At the same time, DC rates for luxury residential sites like Sentosa Cove have been reduced by as much as 6.5%.

Analysts say falling prices of luxury homes and rents have caused a lack of interest for land in the high-end locations.

DC rates remained unchanged for non-landed residential uses.

Meanwhile, DC rates have been revised upwards for commercial property uses by an average of 6%.

This is lower than the 21.7% hike in September last year.

For commercial uses, the Sengkang/Seletar Area will see the highest DC rates increases of 52% or $3,500 per square metre.

DC rates for Hotel and Hospital uses have increased by an average of 15%.

All other DC rates, including those for industrial and warehousing uses remain unchanged.
Source: Channel News Asia

First is the aggressive launch of GLS sites, now comes the lowering of DC (which lowers the cost of en bloc sites).

Much as the wife and I like to think that these are genuine attempts by Government to cool the market, the cynic in us cannot help but wonder if this is in fact a last-ditch attempt to milk the market before the jolly good time ends...


Private home resale prices fall in January 2012... again!

- February 28, 2012 10 Comments
Prices of resale private homes dipped by 0.4% in January, according to the Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI) flash estimate published by the Institute of Real Estate Studies at the National University of Singapore.

It is the second straight month of decline, after resale prices fell by 1% in December.

The SRPI for January showed that resale prices for private homes in the central area fell 1.9% while prices of small units dropped by 1%.

Meanwhile, prices of resale units outside the central area climbed 1% in January.

Releasing the data, the Institute of Real Estate Studies says the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty announced by the government on December 7 has had some impact on home prices.

For the next few months, industry players said prices for resale private properties are likely to soften slightly.

They say transaction volume in the secondary market has been slowing since last year.

Donald Han, Special Advisor at HSR Property Group said, "Transactions for resale non-landed private homes fell from 24,000 in 2010 to 16,000 in 2011. Moving into the first quarter of 2012, in terms of transaction volume, the bulk of the activity is likely to be dominated by new units."

According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority, 1,872 units of new homes were sold last month.

The strong sales for January was driven by mass market projects like Watertown, The Hillier and Parc Rosewood.

Mr Han added, "More home buyers are now looking at the primary market, they are drawn by the appeal of newer developments as well as discounts offered by developers for example. People have more confidence in the market in the mid to long term, and they feel that by the time the units are completed, perhaps they could see an appreciation in value."

Despite the slower sales in the resale private property market, analysts say prices will not fall drastically.

Mr Ong Teck Hui, Head of Research and Consultancy at Credo Real Estate said, "I don't think we will see big price cuts if the economic conditions do not deteriorate badly. For the first quarter, we expect overall resale prices for private homes to remain flat or just marginally negative."
Source: Channel News Asia


New project sales status: Parc Rosewood, Guillemard Edge & Bartley Residences etc

- No Comments

Home sales over the past week stayed strong, with few signs of the expected declines brought about by December's property measures.

Parc Rosewood
Parc Rosewood at Woodlands has moved 55 more units since Monday last week, bringing total sales at the 689-unit project to 565. Prices have averaged $1,000psf.

Guillemard Edge
Macly Group's Guillemard Edge in Geylang has nearly sold out. Last week, the developer reported sales of more than 230 units. Since then, about 40 units have been sold with prices ranging between $1,180psf to $1,250psf.

Bartley Residences
Hong Leong Group is understood to have sold about 160 units at Bartley Residences since Tuesday last week. the average price after discounts is $1,240psf.

In addition, 917 of the 992 units at Watertown have been taken since sales began in January. As for The Hillier, 446 of the 528 units have found takers, while the 748-unit euHabitat has seen 651 units being snapped up.
Source: The Straits Times & Business Times

Property Spotlight: Tai Keng Gardens

- February 23, 2012 No Comments

The quiet landed housing enclave of Tai Keng Gardens located off Jalan Lokham in the Paya Lebar area has seen a flurry of activity. Two houses in the neighbourhood recently changed hands, according to caveats lodged with URA Realis at end-January. One was a semi-detached house sitting on a 3,423sqft freehold plot on Tai Keng Gardens (the street bearing the name of the estate) that was sold for close to $2.69 million ($786psf), while the other was an intermediate terrace house located across the road and sitting on a 1,873sqft freehold plot that was sold for $1.76 million ($939psf).

Peggy Ong, a Singaporean and mother of four, has been a resident in Tai Keng Gardens for the last five years. Ong had paid $1.4 million for her intermediate terraced house on 2,000sqft of land back in 2007. She moved there because of her four school-going children. Tai Keng Gardens is within 1-km radius of well-respected schools - Paya Lebar Methodist Girls' School and Maris Stella High School.

"Many of the aging houses have been sold by owners whose children have grown up and moved out," says Ong, " So, a lot of young couples and families have moved in because of the schools. Most of them tend to do extensive renovations or tear down the existing structure and redevelop into a brand-new three-storey house."

Tai Keng Gardens is a mature estate, made up mainly of terraced and semi-detached houses developed more than 30 years ago by Keng Seng Group, according to property agent who knows the area very well. The residential neighbourhood is tucked away from the bustling Upper Paya Lebar Road and the nearby light industrial estates, and yet accessible to teh CBD via the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway, and to Orchard Road via the Central Expressway, he adds. Shopping malls such as nex and Hougang Mall are also within a five-minute drive of Tai Keng Gardens.

Interest in the area has picked up because of a spill-over effect from other more popular landed housing enclaves in the area, including Serangoon Gardens and Kovan. "It's going to be the next wave in landed housing," says Particia Zoey Tan, senior realty adviser at Knight Frank. Tan is marketing a two-storey, four-bedroom corner terraced home at Thrift Drive, a short walk from Tai Keng Gardens. The 2,550sqft terraced unit is priced at $2.7 million ($1,500psf, based on a built-up area of 1,800sqft). She notes that the asking price is on par with those of terraced houses in Serangoon Gardens, which are typically at a 10% to 20% premium to those at Tai Keng Gardens. "This reflects the optimism of the seller," she adds.

The newly opened Bartley MRT station could also play a part, as Tan has seen the number of transactions in the Serangoon Gardens neighbourhood increase significantly since the Serangoon and Lorong Chuan MRT stations opened.

Ong says most residents in Tai Keng Gardens, which is dominated by owner-occupiers, prefer the location to Serangoon Gardens, as it is quieter and less congested. The transformation of Paya Lebar into a commercial hub, which is part of the government's 2008 master plan, is also expected to speed up the rejuvenation of the ageing estate.

Located just off the busy Upper Paya Lebar main road is Tai Keng Court, an old mixed-use development with residential-cum-commercial units fronting Jalan Lokam, just one street away from Tai Keng Gardens. The property has been put up for collective sale with an indicative price of $130 million ($903psf ppr), according to sole marketing agent Jones Lang LaSalle. With a potential gross floor area of 152,301sqft, including an adjoining piece of state land of 4,988sqft, the freehold site could yield a five-storey building with 121 residential units averaging 950sqft in size, and 30 commercial units averaging 700sqft. "Tai Keng Court is the largest condo site in the Tai Keng Gardens area," says Stella Hoh, head of investments at Jones Lang LaSalle. She sees interest coming mainly from mid-sized developers because of its low price. "Such sites will appeal to developers, as there's scarcely any supply of land parcels of this size that can be redeveloped into a mixed-use project in the Tai Keng Gardens neighbourhood," adds Hoh.

If the collective sale of Tai Keng Court is successful, it will also speed up the renewal of the landed housing area.

Click on link below to read our previous post on the collective sale of Tai Keng Court:

Bartely Residences: 65 units sold on preview!

- February 22, 2012 No Comments

Hong Leong Group yesterday sold 65 units at Bartley Residences at an average price of $1,240psf after a discount of up to 20%.

During yesterday's preview, it released 120 units in the 702-unit, 99-year leasehold private condo next to Bartley MRT Station. According to Hong Leong, 90% of the buyers at yesterday's preview were Singaporeans and permanent residents.

The absolute price of a one-bedroom unit ranges from approximately $610,000 to $670,000; a two-bedroom unit ranges from $970,000 to $1.1 million; three-bedroom unit is between $1.2 million and $1.4 million; a four-bedroom ranges from approximately $1.65 million to $1.9 million; and a dual-key unit ranges from around $1.8 million to $2.1 million.

The average price psf of $1,240 is after absorption of 18% (including the standard 3% buyer's stamp duty discount, and 3% early bird discount), and an additional 2% district discount.

The project - developed by Bartley Development, a joint venture between Hong Leong Holdings, City Developments, and TID Residential - is located next to Bartley MRT station, and offers a range of unit types, from one-bedroom units (464sqft) to four-bedroom units (1,345 - 1,377sqft), and dual key units (1,603sqft).

In January, the consortium won the 99-year leasehold private condominium housing plot at Mount Vernon Road. their bid came in at $388.1 million, or $495psf ppr.
Source: The Business Times

This looks to be another "gold mine" for Hong Leong and company, if the take-up rate is anything like that for Watertown...

Sales Update: Guillemard Edge, Parc Rosewood & The Nautical

- February 21, 2012 No Comments

According to a report in The Straits Times today, almost 500 new homes were sold over the past week as developers stepped up their marketing efforts to ride on last month's stellar transaction figures.

Experts noted that many of the projects that sold well consisted of small one- and two-bedroom units with affordable quantum. These are typically popular with investors.

Guillemard Edge
Macly Group's Guillemard Edge near Dakota MRT station has recorded more than 230 sales. Units in the 275-unit project were priced between $1,150psf and $1,250psf.

More than half of the units were one-bedders of around 409sqft with a price tag of about $500,000.

Parc Rosewood
Parc Rosewood in Woodlands found buyers for 120 units at an average price of $1,000psf. This was up from the $925psf to $998psf price range when it was first previewed late last month.

Last week's transactions brought total sales to more than 510 at the 689-unit project. It is jointly developed by Fragrance Group and World Class Land.

The Nautical
About 10 sales over the weekend at 435-unit The Nautical in Sembawang Road brought total sales to more than 200 units. Average prices were between $850psf and $860psf.


Singapore's "Red Earth"

- February 20, 2012 No Comments

That's what Tanah Merah means. It is also the featured area in the latest issue of The Real Deals.

The Real Deals (16-02-2012)


Enbloc News: Bartley Grove Apartments

- No Comments

A 25-unit residential development, Bartley Grove Apartments, along with three adjoining terrace houses located along Bartley Road have been put up for en bloc sale.

Marketing agent Credo Real Estate said the 65,305-square-foot site could fetch between $73 million and $75 million, with no development charge payable.

The prices reflect land rates of about $798 to $820psf ppr, with a gross plot ratio of 1.4.

Including an extra 10% Gross Floor Area (GFA) for balconies, the land rates could come up to $726 to $746psf ppr.

Credo said the combined site would allow a new development of about 100,570sqft of GFA to be built, with 115 apartment units at an average size of 800sqft, depending on layout and configuration.

The tender closes at 2.30pm on March 21.
Source: Channel News Asia

Project Spotlight: RiverGate

- February 19, 2012 1 Comment

There has been notable increase in the number of transaction at the 545-unit RiverGate early this year. Last december, the pace of transactions in the freehold development took a plunge following the property cooling measures introduced by the government on Dec 8, but the recent spike in transactions at the waterfront project along the Singapore River indicates that there is renewed interest in the area.

A 1,841sqft, four-bedroom apartment on the 31st level of RiverGate recently fetched $3.6 million ($1,956psf) in the resale market, according to the latest caveats lodged and downloaded from URA Realis as at Feb 8. The seller had purchased the apartment from the developer in October 2006 for $3.03 million ($1,645psf), and hence enjoyed a capital gain of 18.9% in five years. The price achieved for the unit, however, is nowhere near the peak in May 2007, when a 3,143sqft unit on the 40th level was sold for $8.5 million ($2,701psf).

Prior to the sale of the 1,841sqft unit, a 2,077sqft, four-bedroom apartment at a neighbouring block was transacted for $4.3 million ($2,090psf), according to a caveat lodged on Jan 19. The seller had purchased the unit on the 18th level in June 2009 for $2.95 million ($1,420psf).

On Jan 17, a 1,507sqft, three-bedroom apartment on the 21st floor of the same block changed hands for $2.8 million ($1,851psf). The previous owner paid $2.3 million ($1,551psf) when he purchased the unit in July 2009, thus recognising a profit of 19.3% in just over two years.

In the three months prior to the government's announcement of the additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) on Dec 8,2011, apartments at RiverGate were going for $1,980 to $2,173psf. The highest unit price achieved last year at the freehold condo was for a 2,077sqft unit on the 41st level that was sold for $4.7 million ($2,262psf) in June 2011.

Benny Lim, a sales director at DTZ Debenham Tie Leung, admits that the cooling measures, coupled with the global economic uncertainty and year-end holidays, led to a slowdown in transaction volume in December. Developers sold only 623 new homes that month, a 63% plunge from November, and the lowest level in two years since December 2009. "the ABSD will take some getting used to, but I believe the property market will begin to pick up in the coming months," says Lim. "Properties in Robertson Quay have always been a favourite among investors, so the demand will always be there."

Lim, who is also marketing a few units at RiverGate, says the average asking price for a three- or four-bedroom unit is $2,000 to $2,300psf. "The prices vary, depending on the orientation of the units and, of course, those that command a premium are units overlooking the Singapore River or with unobstructed city view on high floors," he adds.

Developed by CapitaLand and Hwa Hong Corp, RiverGate was awarded landmark status by the URA - the first residential project in Singapore to be accorded the status. While most of the property developments along the Singapore River have a height restriction of 10 storeys, RiverGate's three towers are 43 storeys tall. The project also sits on one of the largest sites in the area. In addition to the uninterrupted views, residents also enjoy full condo facilities, direct access to the riverfront promenade and amenities such as a convenience stored and an Italian pizzeria and grill.

RiverGate tends to attract interest from investors from Indonesia and mainland China. DTZ's Lim still received inquiries from these investors for the units he is currently marketing. "After more than a month, these investors are beginning to get used to the idea of the 10% ABSD, and have included it as part of their overall transaction cost," he adds. "And they are still keen to invest in Singapore."

Keith Tan, director of APRO Realtors, agrees and notes that rental rates at RiverGate have risen rapidly since its completion in 2009, as the project is popular with expatriates. A three-bedroom unit at RiverGate now fetches $8,500 to $10,000 rent a month, he says. Two-bedroom units, "which are exceptionally popular", can command $6,500 to $7,000 a month, adds Tan, who recently rented out a two-bedroom apartment for $6,900 a month. Two years ago, two -bedroom units fetched $4,500 a month, while three-bedroom units were rented out at $5,000 to $6,500 a month.

The wife and I have been into and around the compound of RiverGate a number of times. We quite liked the project (externally) but have yet to see what the interior of the apartments are like. However, there is one aspect of RiverGate that we do not particularly like - the parking for the F&B outlet is located within RiverGate itself. And although parking meant for patrons are separate from those for residents, everybody still go through the same main entrance and into the development. This reduces the "privacy" factor, which we would expect a lot more of, if we are paying in excess of $2,000psf for a unit.

Click on link below to read our previous post on properties in the Robertson Quay/Martin Road area

Great minds think alike?

- February 17, 2012 1 Comment
"But you know what they say about fools"... we can almost hear the retorts.

We shall let Father Time be the judge, say, in the next year or so?


Terrace house for rent, anyone?

- February 15, 2012 No Comments
The wife and I are not setting a precedent here but since it's a request from our extended family, here goes (details from source):

Terrace House for Rent
Address : 22 Clover Way, Singapore 579091.
Land Area : 2200 sq ft / 204sq m
Built-in Area : 2400 sq ft / 223sq m
House Type : Double-storey Intermediate Terrace
Details : 3+1 Bedrooms with Balconies
Rental : $5300 (Negotiable)
Availability : Immediately
Contacts: 96658526 (Vincent) or 97768526 (Camellia)

Remarks:   Convenient location, safe neighborhood, peaceful and beautiful surroundings. Within walking distance to 2 MRT stations, food outlets, wet market, shopping complex, parks. Less than 10 minutes drive to Media Corp, Catholic High School, Raffles Institution, St. Nicholas Girls School, Ai Tong Primary School, Australian international school, Bishan Park, MacRitchie Reservoir, Pierce Reservoir, and Mount Alvernia Hospital.

If interested, please contact Vincent or Camelllia directly. Thanks!

Getting it off our chests (again)...


There have been some interesting exchanges of views between ourselves and our readers lately. This is especially heartening as it shows (in some small ways) that people actually pay attention to what we say and are "bothered" enough to offer their views/responses.

However, the wife and I felt compelled to reiterate the following:

• We are no experts on Singapore private residential properties and have always maintained as such. Any opinions/views that we have expressed and advice given (when sought) in our blog are strictly of a personal nature.

• We cannot be correct or accurate 100% of the time - this much we acknowledged and if we are wrong, we will gladly admit to it.

• It is not our intention to influence/direct our readers' decisions with regard to property-related matters (not that we can, anyway). Our main aim is to provide you with the necessary information and our thoughts to (hopefully) help you make better-informed decisions.

• We are not anti-investment, as some people may be led to believe. However, we do have some strong views pertaining to private home investments (based on our own experiences over the past 8 or so years), which we like to share on our blog.

• We have no axe to grind with any particular developer and we always try (operative word here) to be objective when comes to comments made about developers or projects.

• We believe that while providing information and opinions on our blog, we are also learning from our readers on stuff that we may not know/be aware of.

• While we sometimes (okay, make that often) defend our views vigorously (because we really believe in them), this does not imply that we do not value/respect alternate viewpoints from our readers. As we have said from the onset, we are really encouraged by the ongoing "debates" that we have generated in our blog.

• We are very concerned about property investors (particularly first-time or new buyers) who, during periods of property euphoria, may over-leverage or over-commit on properties that they cannot afford to hold for the long term (say, 5 - 10 years) . This is because we have experienced first-hand how a toxic combination of  property slump/rising home loan-rate can take its toll on personal finances and well-being.

So call us "old school" if you must, but the mind is only yours and yours alone to make. And if all else fails, the wife and I are pretty sure that you can find other websites/blogs out there that will say exactly what you wish to hear...

Have a great day ahead!


Watertown: 3-Bedroom SOHO (Photo Review)

- February 14, 2012 10 Comments
This SOHO units at Watertown come in both 2- and 3-bedroom variants. However, the wife and I prefer the later, which is about 807sqft.

Below are photos that we took of the showflat.

The living/dining/kitchen area is surprisingly spacious for an unit of about 800sqft.

We love the functional design of the Study. However, it will be a tad difficult to reach the top-most shelves without support, given the 3.4-metre high ceiling!

The bathroom and WC come in separate cubicles, which we like. However, the transparent glass partition-wall between/around the two cubicles should probably be frosted so that two people (who may not wish to look at each other bathing and peeing respectively) can utilize the facilities privately.

The "common bedroom" is elevated by a raised platform, which means you can have a separate office area below the bedroom. However, those more than 1.7m tall should probably take care when climbing into bed.

The master bedroom is surprisingly spacious and can easily fit a King-sized bed. 

The master bathroom has a rather simplistic design but is rather pleasing to the eyes. All the floors/walls are marble.

Overall speaking, the 3-bedder SOHO looked way more spacious than its size seemed to suggest. Maybe the high ceiling has something to do with this, but we reckon it is also due to the compact design that maximizes space.

Price wise, the list price for this unit type (applicable during our visit last week) was about $1,299,560 ($1,610psf). After all applicable discounts, the nett price was $1,067,703 or $1,323psf.


Enbloc News: Tai Keng Court

- February 13, 2012 No Comments

Tai Keng Court, a freehold residential and commercial redevelopment site in the Upper Paya Lebar area, has been put up for collective sale.

In a statement, its sole marketing agent Jones Lang LaSalle said the indicative price for the site is around $130 million or about $903psf ppr, subject to the tender process. 

About $1.325 million is payable for development charge.

The plot spans 103,798sqft and has a gross plot ratio of 1.4, with an allowable building height of up to five storeys.

Jones Lang LaSalle said an adjoining state land of 463.4 square metres could potentially be amalgamated, yielding a potential gross floor area of up to 152,301sqft for the combined site, subject to the relevant authorities' approval.
Some 121 residential units of average size of 950sqft and 30 commercial units of average size of 700sqft could potentially be built on site.

The tender will close at 3pm on March 21, 2012.
Source: Channel News Asia


Property Spotlight: Toh Tuck/Upper Bukit Timah area

- February 12, 2012 No Comments
The Upper Bukit Timah area saw some transactions towards the year-end and beginning of 2012. At the fully-sold 172-unit Terrene located in Toh Tuck Drive, a 2,034sqft, three-bedroom apartment changed hands in a sub-sale for $2.2 million ($1,081psf) early this year, according to a caveat lodged on Jan 5 with URA Realis. The seller bought the unit from the developer in August 2010 at $1.96 million ($962psf). Both the buyer and seller in the transaction are said to be Singaporeans.

According to Sebastian Chia, a property agent with ERA, the price of $1,081psf is attractive, given that new launches featuring similar sized units in the 1,800 to 2,000sqft region have seen prices hit a high of $2,086psf in recent months. The price of $2,086psf was achieved at Jardin, a 140-unit condominium project located in Dunearn Road just next to Upper Bukit Timah Road. It involved a 1,776sqft unit on the seventh floor that was sold for $3.7 million in November, according to a caveat lodged with URA Realis. Shortly after, a 1,776sqft unit on the first level went for $3.25 million ($1,830psf).

Based on the current transaction price, the rental yield at Terrene works out to about 2.6%, which is relatively attractive to investors, notes ERA's Chia. He's currently marketing a 1,637sqft, four-bedroom apartment at Terrene with an asking price of more than $2.4 million ($1,488psf).

Construction of Terrene is already well underway, and the project is scheduled for completion by 1Q2014. It is a joint development by UOL Group and LaSalle Investment Management's LaSalle Asia Opportunity Fund II. Previewed in early July 2010, Terrene was fully sold by end-August of the same year. Then, prices ranged from $719,000 for a one-bedroom unit to $2.79 million for a five-bedroom penthouse. The project is a redevelopment of Rainbow Gardens, which was purchased en bloc several years before.

According to Eric Lim, associate director of Dennis wee Realty, prices have taken a slight dip since the introduction of the latest round of property coolong measures on Dec 8, which basically imposes an additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) of 10% on foreign buyers, a 3% ABSD on permanent residents who are buying their second or subsequent residential property, and 3% ABSD on Singaporeans on their third or subsequent purchase.

"No doubt, resale prices have softened," says Lim. "But they are unlikely to fall much lower as properties in the Upper Bukit Timah area are extremely sought after. Many are buying for their own stay owing to its proximity to schools and amenities, as well as the upcoming Beauty World MRT station. Hence, prices at the Terrene should remain relatively steady."

Located near Terrene and in the vicinity of landed homes is a boutique five-storey apartment block with just 10 units called Toh Tuck Lodge that was completed in 2003. According to a caveat lodged with URA Realis on Jan 5, a 2,454sqft penthouse in the freehold project was sold for $680,000 ($277psf). The highest price achieved in the project was in April last year when a 1,346sqft, three bedroom unit on the fourth level was sold for $1.1 million ($795psf). The previous owner paid $610,000 ($453psf) for the unit in March 2004.

Near Toh Tuck Lodge is The Beverly, a 118-unit freehold condo project jointly developed by listed boutique developer, Hiap Hoe Ltd and sister company, Superbowl Holdings in a 60:40 joint venture. The partners had purchased the site, the former Goodluck View located in Toh Tuck Road, in an en bloc purchase in the middle of 2007 for $73.3 million ($460psf ppr). The condo is scheduled for completion sometime next year. Launched in March 2009, 98 units have been sold as at end-December last year. The two caveats lodged in December were for a 3,186sqft, ground floor maisonette apartment that was sold for over $2.8 million ($884psf) and a 1,884sqft unit on the third level that went for $1.98 million ($1,051psf).

While Terrene features a mix of apartments from one- to four-bedroom types as well as penthouses, the most common are two- and three-bedroom units of 915sqft and 1,572sqft. Likewise, The Beverly features a mix of two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments and maisonettes.

However, two recent launches last year contain mainly compact apartments. One of them is the 124-unit Nottinghill Suites on Toh Tuck Road, developed jointly by listed developer Roxy-Pacific Holdings and boutique developer, Macly Group. The other is the Suites at Bukit Timah by listed Fragrance Group, which features 71 apartments and 43 shop units.

Nottinghill Suites previewed last July, and out of 60 units released, 55 have been sold to date. According to the URA, 22 units were sold in December at a median price of $1,476psf. "This is mainly due to its location, which is just a walking distance away from the upcoming Beauty World MRT station. Nottinghill Suites also appeal to investors as the quantum price to the size of a unit is still considerably low," says Ken Yeo, director of projects at Macly Group.

One-bedroom units at Nottinghill Suites start from 398sqft while two-bedroom apartments are from 506sqft. Roxy-Pacific and Macly had purchased the site, a redevelopment of the former Toh Tuck Garden, en bloc for $34 million in 2010.

Meanwhile, at Fragrance Group's Suites at Bukit Timah, more than half the apartments (47 units) are one-bedroom units sized from 344 to 441sqft, while another 14 units are two-bedroom apartments with sizes of 517 to 753sqft. There is only one three-bedroom unit there, which is a 1,195sqft penthouse. Based on URA's December new home sales, three units were sold that month at a median price of $1,587psf.

"The property market is expected to continue to be weighed down by a combination of slowing economic growth , increased uncertainty over job prospects and tightening property policies introduced over the past year," according to OrangeTee Research & Consultancy in a Jan 30 report. Prices are expected to see a correction, although a sharp fall is unlikely, adds the property consultant. "We expect well-located and well-specified projects to continue to find buyers as could be seen from market responses to early launches in 2012," says the report. "However, transaction volume is expected to continue to weaken, especially in the secondary market. A key threat to the property market is a sharper-than-expected decline in economic activity."

Click on link below to read our review on Terrene:


Watertown (Review) - Part 2

- February 11, 2012 8 Comments
The Sky Patio in Watertown comes in both 3- and 4-bedroom variants. The showflat features the 1,173sqft, 3-bedder unit (Type C1b).

As you walk through the main door, you arrive into the living/dining area. We like the fact that unlike most 3-bedders that we have seen recently, there is no long walkway (aka "dead" space). The living/dining area is rectangular shaped and seems rather spacious for an unit of less than 1,200sqft, even with decent-sized furnitures. It comes with 60cm x 30cm marble-slab floors (a pleasant surprise compared to the homogenous tile that is the norm these days) and 3-metre ceiling!

The kitchen is self-contained and very good-sized. The developers have gotten it right by dispensing with a "dry kitchen" area, as the apartment can ill-afford the space. And as per many of the recent Far East "involved" projects, the developers have thrown in a whole host of kitchen appliances other than the usual hob/hood/oven/fridge. You also get a microwave, wine fridge and even a dish-drying rack that's mounted above the sink!

The utility room is in the yard area behind the kitchen. It is decent enough size but we suspect you will need to customize the bed for your domestic helper.

The yard space is longish and very functional. And unlike many of the showflats that we have seen recently, you do not have to worry about where to dry your clothes. A mechanical clothes-dryer is provided, while a huge window provdes ample natural ventilation and light into the yard area. And to top it all off, there is even an extra sink in the yard for your "hand-wash" items... nice!

The common bathroom is good-sized and you get marble floors/walls (we had to double-checked on this with the marketing agent, as the "marble" slabs sounded rather hallow when we knocked on it). And also "rain shower" in the shower stall - a luxury not commonly found in many other projects nowadays!

The common bedroom is surprisingly good-sized, especially considering the size of the unit. It can probably accommodate a single bed and a small writing desk, if you place the bed against the window. This is more than you can ask of bedrooms in many other projects that we have recently seen, whereby you have hardly any walking space left after putting in the bed. However, the wife will tell you that it is quite bad "Feng Shui" to position the bed as per the showflat (see photo). This is because your bed "cuts" the door, which will create bad "chi" within the room resulting in unrestful sleep.

The master bedroom is again rather spacious, even with a King-sized bed. It comes with nice timber-strip floors (common for all bedrooms) and standard two-panel wardrobes. The wife and I are not really for glass "doors" - although it makes the bedroom looks bigger and also functions as a mirror, you need to get rid of all the "finger prints" diligently else the glass panels will always look "dirty".

The master bathroom is again decent-sized and the "dark constrast with light" color scheme for the marble floors and walls is quite aesthetically pleasing. It comes wth a long bath AND an adjacent shower stall, a feature that is normally reserved for 4-bedroom apartments.

Now for the "exciting" bit - Price: The wife and I were told that the Sky Patio apartments are considered "premium" units and as such, they also come with premium prices.

The list price for a 1,173sqft, 3-bedder on the 5th floor is $1,940,200 ($1,654psf)! But as of earlier this week, developers are giving away discounts in the following form:
     Basic Discount - 10%
     Special Discount - 4%
     Stamp Duty Offset - 3% (cash rebate, even if you actually uses CPF to pay for this)
     Furniture Vouchers - 2% (cash rate, payable only upon TOP of project)
So after all applicable discounts, the nett price for the unit comes to $1,591,436 or $1,356psf.

What we like:
Convenience - No argument here, given the huge shopping mall beneath your block, integrated access to Punggol MRT/LRT stations and the added appeal of waterfront living along the Punggol Waterway. Watertown is practically self-contained as all the amenities that you need (including going to the movies) are available at your doorstep. So there is really little need to go down to Orchard to shop/eat or catch a movie, unless you really want a change of surrounding.

Layout and Design - The wife and I have not seen a better layout and design for a 3-bedroom apartment for quite some time. Matter of fact, we cannot recall another 3-bedder showflat that we liked more than the one we saw at WaterTown. The apartment layout is very well thought-out, while all the different living areas (balcony and yard included) are designed so as to maximize space and practicality.

Quality Finishing - The developers certainly pulled out all stops in this department - from the marble floors and walls right down to "extravagant" like the wine fridge, dish-drying rack, laundry system and "rain showers" (for both bathrooms, no less!).

High Ceiling - The 3-metre high ceiling gives the apartment alot more "volume", which probably explains why the 1,175sqft 3-bedder felt so much bigger than its actual size. You also will have no problem installing that ceiling fan or chandelier, even with false ceiling!

What we dislike:
Location - No matter how you try to justify it, Punggol is... to most of us not living in the Punggol/Sengkang area... FAR (although one will say that this is subjective). Despite the convenience of MRT and supposed good connections to the various expressways, it is still a fairly long way to get from Punggol to the city and other parts of Singapore. So those living in WaterTown may really have to revolve their lives around the development and facilities nearby... out of consolation rather than desire.

Exclusiveness - Call us paranoids if you must but the wife and I do question about the "exclusivity" factor in mixed-developments. We do understand that there are segregated entry/exit points for residents and the general public visiting the mall. We also believe that the condo management will deploy enough security guards to ensure that the condo grounds are well patrolled. However, there is always this nagging feeling that with mix-developments, one will find more cases of "non residents" wandering around or even using the condo facilities without permission.

Traffic - The Watertown Mall is supposedly located at the town centre and is slated to be the largest (if not only) mall in Punggol. Looking at the many public housing surrounding Watertown and with more BTO flats, ECs (Prive, Twin Waterfalls) and private condos (A Treasure Trove) being built around the area, we suspect traffic along Punggol Walk and Punggol Central is going to increase many folds over the next few years (even on weekends), which may be a bane for Watertown residents who drive.

PRICE - It is a Far East project, albeit a joint-venture, so the wife and I were prepared to be "wowed" by the price. However, we still went away amazed. When we "complained" to the marketing agent that prices for Far East projects are "famous" for being the highest in the market, he was quick to point out that Watertown is not totally a Far East project as it is developed by three parties. We told him that if Watertown is "exclusively" Far East, the selling price will probably be $1,900psf!

Our parting shot:   The wife and I believe that Watertown is a quality project, both in terms of its apartment designs and furnishings. In fact, it is possibly one of the better (if not best) project that we have seen for some time. However, we cannot come to terms with paying more than $1,300psf for a 99-year leasehold project in Punggol, despite all the good things that we have seen and the convenience associated with an integrated mixed-development. But the strange thing is, units are still flying off the shelves like hot-cakes despite the exorbitant price. So are we the only fools to think that Watertown is #@$! expensive? Only time will tell. But in the meantime, the wife and I are pretty certain about two things:

• We probably can find a $1,300psf, 3-bedder alternative (ok, maybe not brand new) that's of similar size, full facility, located fairly near to shopping malls/MRT station and much nearer to town.

• Owners of nearby public flats and private condos (including A Treasure Trove, which was sold at less than $900psf during its launch) are rubbing their hands with glee waiting for the completion of Watertown, as they can almost see the resale prices of their apartments soaring. Huat ah!

Watertown (Review) - Part 1

- February 10, 2012 No Comments
Anyone who has not been living under a rock must have heard about the latest selling sensation that is Watertown by now. This is the first integrated waterfront residential and retail development in Punggol (District 19), located right besides the Punggol MRT/LRT stations and Punggol waterway.

For those who are unfamilar with Punggol Waterway (the wife and I certainly weren't), this $225-million feature, called My Waterway@Punggol, was constructed by damming two rivers at the east and west of Punggol, the Sungei Serangoon and Sungei Punggol, to form two reservoirs to meet Singapore's increasing water needs. Taking 2-1/2 years to construct, the waterway has pedestrian and cycling paths on both banks, four footbridges, viewing platforms, exercise and water- play areas and plenty of lush landscaping. It was declared open by our Prime Minister on 23 Oct 2011.

Now back to Watertown... this is another 99-year leasehold project jointly developed by Far East Organization, Frasers Centrepoint and Sekisui House (remember Boathouse Residences & The Luxurie?). It consists of 992 apartment units integrated with about 320,000sqft of retail and commercial spaces spread over 4 levels (i.e. Basement 2 to 2nd storey). There is even a Shaw Theatres with IMAX!

The project offers a mix of SOHO, Suites, Condos and Sky Patios and expects to TOP in 1Q 2017. You can click  HERE  to access general info about Watertown and its apartment types.

When the wife and I visited the sales gallery earlier this week, it was buzzing with activities despite it being a weekday afternoon (many people seem to have "flexible" working hours like we do).

We understand that Watertown has started selling since Jan 18 and in just a span of three weeks, about 75% of the units have already been sold. All the 1- and 2-bedder suites are sold out, as with the 2- and 3-bedroom condo units. So what's remain are just the SOHOs and Sky Patio units.

Watertown is a full-facility condo project. And with most Far East "involved" projects, you can expect all the "bells & whistles" plus a couple of extras, including 2 tennis-courts (located on the roof level of Tower 5). And although the project consists of both residential and retail units, the parking lots are distinct from each other and access is via separate dedicated entrances - the carpark entrance for residents is along Punggol Walk while the entrance for shoppers is via Punggol Central.

In our next post, we will review the 3-bedroom sky patio and provide you with our thoughts on this unit type and what we like/dislike about Watertown.

Have  a good weekend!


2H11 GLS: The "High" and the "Low"

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The final tender for the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme for second half of 2011 closed yesterday, with the last site at Bedok South Avenue 3 drawing a total of 7 bids.

The latest issue of "The Real Deals" by Kim Eng Research revisits the 2H11 GLS programme and features the two sites with the highest and lowest price.

Click on the link below to read the Kim Eng report:

And to owners of Bedok Court: Hang on to your apartments!


Stock market is up and US is printing more money. So where got problem?

- February 9, 2012 10 Comments

The wife and I normally abstain from posting non property-related articles.

However, many of the "justifications" (especially the comments left on our blog) on why the private property market will never crash are based primarily on the following premises:

• Interest rates will remain low, because the US have pledged to keep their rates low.

• The QEs (Quantitative Easing) by the US and European countries will persist, so economies and banks will continue to be bailed out of trouble.

• The US government can continue printing money to fund their expenses with little repercussions, thereby keeping interest rates low.

• The likes of Greece, Spain and Italy will not go into bankruptcies.

• Monies (both foreign and local) will continue to pour into the Singapore property sectors - if there are no better returns elsewhere, where can all these investors turn to?!

• And if everything else fails, our Government almighty can always tinker with the current property control measures and bail every buyer/seller/investor out of trouble - its bad for GE 2016, you see, if the ruling party does not prevent a property crash from happening between now and 2016.

As such, the following articles that appeared in The Business Times today got our attention.

1. Is the worst really over for equity markets? - The Business Times
2. Better to take a haircut now than suffer the long slog - The Business Times

Consider a scenario over the next 6 - 9 months whereby:
(* 11:58PM: We have included some added thoughts in RED *)

• The Greece government finally acknowledged that they are unable to sustain their economy and repay their snowballing debts, and decide to default.

• This puts several of the major European banks that have substantial exposures to Greece's debts in trouble, triggering a financial panic.

• The US government, which  have been spinning out all kinds of positive economic data ahead of the US presidential election in November,  finally concede that no amount of money printing (and keeping interest rates low, for that matter) can help revive the US economy. This is after failing miserably in trying to help keep Europe afloat. And domestic inflation is also shooting through the roof! As such, they have no choice but to allow interest rates to rise.

• All the "upheavals" start to beat the stock markets down, wiping off massive liquidity from the global economic system. 

• Both financial institutions and investors alike are now spooked, and local banks start raising their interest rates in tandem with the US and scrutinise their loan exposures more stringently.

• Demand for private homes in Singapore, both in the primary and secondary markets, start falling as buyers/investors flee the scene. Many Singaporeans want to sell but there are few buyers, causing property prices to plummet. Home owners that have leveraged their purchases to the hilt suddenly find themsleves slapped with higher and higher monthly loan repayments, as interest rates rise. Some may even suffer from negative equities.

And if developers start feeling the pain after several months of low/no sales, would you bet against them dropping prices significantly to entice buyers so as to move their increasing inventories of unsold homes? Afterall, they have already built up quite a fair bit of "fat" from supernormal profits over the past few years. And do you think our Government will come out and stop them, because this will cause substantial suffering to potential voters who have previously bought mass-market homes in Punggol or Bedok at $1,300psf and above?

The wife and I are no experts in Finance/Economics so maybe we are being overly presumptious with the above scenerio. But if our "improbables" do materialise, can our Government really prevent property prices from crashing, despite the "control measures" that they supposedly can tweak and their concerns with GE 2016? 

We don't think so...


Revenge of the "En bloc-er"..?

- February 7, 2012 No Comments
Property en-bloc sales have been picking up pace over the last few weeks, and so far, there are already eight en-bloc sites offered for sale since January.

Still, analysts say they are not too upbeat on the prospects of collective sales as demand for such sites remain soft.

Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said in his blog last month that collective sales of private properties are receding.

This could be a sign of a more stable property market.

Yet, the emerging trend seemed to suggest a different story.

There have been eight en-bloc launches so far this year, including five sites offered just last week.

That is almost half the number of en-bloc sites offered for sale in the first quarter of last year.

Last year, there were 18 sites put up for collective sale in the first three months of 2011.

Analysts say the sudden surge is because sellers are rushing to sell off their properties on expectations that market sentiment could get worse later this year.

This came after the government introduced more cooling measures such as the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty last year.

The uncertain economic outlook is another factor that may dampen buyers' sentiment, going forward.

Credo Real Estate managing director Karamjit Singh said: "More importantly, it's that they would need to complete the entire process of buying a site, building it and selling out all the units within five years from the time they enter the contract with the sellers.

"For small en blocs, that's manageable, but for medium to maybe large en blocs onwards, it's a very tall order."

Analysts say pricing of en-bloc sites is key to ensuring a successful deal.

They added that sellers cannot expect huge premiums for their properties amid current market conditions.

International Property Advisor CEO Ku Swee Yong said: "Fewer developers will be keen because if the market trend were downwards, they would be waiting for en-bloc sellers to reduce their asking prices as well, so if the market were to trend down, in fact, we could probably see very few en-bloc transactions today in this year."

The lower pricing has prompted analysts to expect the total value of en-bloc deals to decline this year to around $2 billion.

That is lower compared to the $3 billion worth of en bloc deals clinched last year.

It is a far cry from the $11 billion to $12 billion worth of en-bloc deals recorded in 2007, which is the height of the property market boom.

Analysts added with the higher risks attached to en-bloc deals, developers may go for government land sales instead.

This helps ensure a faster turnaround for developers and more financing support from banks.
Source: Channel News Asia

So are collective sales really back in favour, or is it a case of what the Chinese termed as "Hui Guang Fan Zhao" (i.e. the last few moments where a terminally ill person suddenly seemed in the pink of health, just before his death)...?


New projects sales status: Tampines Trilliant & Parc Rosewood

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Tampines Trilliant
At Sim Lian Group's 670-unit Tampines Trilliant, 149 units were snapped up during its weekend launch, with 32 of the 48 double-storey penthouses booked by 4pm yesterday.

Of the penthouses sold, 24 of the 32 units were booked by first-time homebuyers.

Prices for the penthouses, which range from 1,841 to 2,465sqft, start from around $1.1 million. Each penthouse has four bedrooms, including a master bedroom with direct access to a personal open terrace on the top floor.

The executive condominium - a public-private housing hybrid - has 127 three-bedroom units ranging from 872 to 1,141sqft; 397 three-plus-utility units which range from 1,001 to 1,378sqft; and 98 four-bedroom units which range from 1,302 to 1,593sqft.

Of the 1,000 applicants received, 42% were first time buyers with the remaining 58% second-time buyers, primarily HDB upgraders.

Parc Rosewood
The 689-unit development along Woodland Avenue 2/Rosewood Drive saw a further 110 units snapped up in the last week, bringing the total number of units sold to over 280.

The price range of the five-storey, 99-year condominium, developed by Kensington Land, a joint venture between mainboard-listed Fragrance Group and World Class Land, had been lowered 8 - 10% "to offset any impact on sales from the recently implemented additional buyers' stamp duty", said marketing agent ERA Realty Network last week.

The development comprises one-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom, and penthouse units.
Source: The Business Times


The Nautical: 4-Bedroom Photo Review

- February 6, 2012 No Comments
Here are the photos that we took of the 4-bedroom showflat at The Nautical.

As you enter from the main door, you have a choice of two pathways into the living/dining room. One will take you round the common bedrooms and allow you access to the yard area, while the other leads you through a long corridor (what they called "access balcony" in the floor plan), pass the wet kitchen before arriving at the living room.  

We weren't kidding about the "long corridor". Also notice how much space the combined  planter/AC Ledge take up! The aircon maintenance guy can probably take a nap along the ledge in between servicing. And these are actually spaces that you have to pay for...

The living & dining room is kinda small for a 4-bedroom apartment. Maybe they should do away with the dry kitchen.

The common bathroom is rather awkwardly positioned within the apartment (in our opinion) - this is located near the main entrance, directly opposite to the yard/utility area. If you are entertaining guests in the living/dining room, it is a rather lengthy walk for them to access the bathroom.

The 2 common bedrooms are tiny - the single bed seems to be custom-fitted and a tad shorter than normal.

The Junior Master is more spacious - you can easily fit a Queen-sized bed in here and still have some space to work with. It comes with an attached bathroom, but we did not manage to get a photo of it.

The master bedroom is decent sized (by current standard), although you are probably left with walking spaces should you decide on a King-sized bed. But at least the "King" bed looked "normal"...

Notice the glass partition-wall that separates the master bedroom from the attached bathroom? This is just a fallacy of  your imagination, or as they are normally called... ID. The actual apartment will come with soild-wall partition, which means the room is likely be smaller. 
The master bathroom looked rather nice, but those expecting marble walls/floors will be disappointed. And to rub salt to injury, standard shower stall applies even for the 4-bedders,  i.e. no bath-tub - definitely not an issue with us (since we are no fan of long-baths) but some potential buyers may take offence to it. 
And to round off this photo review, this is what the interior of the 4-bedroom unit looks like if you are standing at the PES.... on a hazy day (we apologize for the poor photo quality).
Our parting shot:  The wife and I did not like the layout of the 4-bedder at all. There are too much "wasted spaces" (i.e. long walkways/corrridors, huge A/C Ledges etc) that is common across this apartment type. We also find the living/dining room and common bedrooms too small for comfort.

And did we mention that all the 4-bedders get direct West Sun at the living/dining room area? No wonder they need such huge balconies...