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The Skywoods: Photos we took of the 3-bedroom showflat

- September 30, 2014 No Comments

This is a ground floor unit type. The wife and I reckon we share the photos since (1) we had taken them anyway but more importantly, (2) because we want to show you the "double volume" and what you can do to get additional physical space out of it.


Notice the 4+ metres ceiling?
 

No yard space and utility room is less than hospitable.

This is the main photo from the lot that we wanted to show you. 
You get twice the space with a bit of creativity and imagination!


 

Good illustration of how small the common bedrooms are!



The Skywoods (Review)

- September 29, 2014 3 Comments

One of our readers had asked us about The Skywoods. Given that it has been awhile since we last visited the Dairy Farm area, the wife and I decided to make our way there last week.

The sales gallery of The Skywoods is located at Petir Road, just before you hit Foresque Residences and Tree House if you are coming by Dairy Farm Road. However, the actual site of The Skywoods is along Dairy Farm Road - next door to Dairy Farm Estate.

The 99-year leasehold site was purchased via a government land sales programme back in September 2012. A consortium that included Hock Lian Seng Holdings, King Wan Corporation and TA Corporation - the same folks that are responsible for projects such as Starlight Suites, The Inspira and Parc Seabreeze - paid $616psf ppr for the 188,000+sqft plot.

A quick check indicated that The Skywoods was launched back in September 2013 so the project has been selling for exactly a year now.

The sales gallery was largely empty on the day of our visit. The Skywoods consist of 420 units spread over 6 tower blocks of 15-storey each. Unit types available range from 1+Study to 4-bedroom penthouses. Access to the development will be via Dairy Farm Heights - you will not find this stretch of road on any road directory (yet) as it is purposefully built by the developers for this project.

Facility wise, The Skywoods is quite generous with its offerings - the facilities are grouped under different "zones" within the development and you get your fair share of different themed swimming pools, fitness court & jogging trails, Clubhouse with fully equipped (even kitchenette) function rooms and Cabanas with outdoor dining options. The developers have even thrown in a tennis court for good measures.


In terms of parking, the development has 420 lots (the usual "1 to 1") plus 4 handicapped parking.

The sales gallery featured showflats for the 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom unit type. We will focus on the 4-bedder layout for this review.

The unit concerned is a Type 4(S1) of 1,346sqft. As you enter the main door, you arrived into the living/dining area. The space you get is actually pretty decent relative to the unit size, as evident from the photo we took.

One unique feature of the apartments within The Skywoods is their high ceilings - the typical ceiling height is 3.25m while ground-floor units go up to a whopping 4.65m! And unlike most other developments, you do not have to pay for the "double volume" space that comes with the ground-floor units. The much higher ceiling definitely makes the units at The Skywoods feel more spacious and with a bit of creativity, the "double volume" within the ground-floor units can actually be converted into more physical space at no additional purchase cost.

You also get compressed marble flooring in the living/dining area.

 
Unlikely many of the new projects that we have seen recently, you do not get the "kitchen view" immediately upon entering the apartment (which is a welcomed change in our opinion). The kitchen is again pretty good-sized and comes fully equipped with appliances (hood/hob, fridge, oven from Electrolux and a full set of top/bottom cabinets). However, we are not particularly impressed with the workmanship of the cabinets.

There is no yard to speak of so your washing machine will have to share real estate with the kitchen (you do get a Electrolux washer/dryer as consolation though). The utility room is a narrow strip of space located at the end of the kitchen and is really more suited for storage of goods rather than housing human (aka your helper), especially since the only ventilation you get is via the entrance. The bathroom next door is again tiny so expect everything (toilet bowl, wash basin etc) to be wet once someone decides to take a shower inside.

 
On one side (nearer to the main door) of the living/dining area is the junior master suite. The only reason for calling this bedroom a "suite" is that it's en-suite (attached bathroom), because the size of the bedroom is far from "suite-like" - you put in a Queen-bed and all that's left is just walking space around the room.

The other 3 bedrooms are all across the hall from the junior master suite. The two common bedroom are really tiny - the developers weren't kidding when they displayed a cot in one of the bedrooms because that's about all the space you get. The only saving grace with the bedrooms are the timber flooring, which looked more than decent in quality.

 

The common bathroom is ... functional. That is probably the best way to put it given the nondescript design and quality of fittings you get. 

Finally, the master bedroom. This is the largest of the four bedrooms (stating the obvious) but do not expect very much more space. Maybe the developers should have dispensed with the long-bath in the attached bathroom and convert this into more bedroom space. But at least they have gotten things right by having a separate shower cubicle (instead of making you climb over and into the long-bath when you merely want a quick shower). Again we weren't particular impressed with the bathroom fittings and the standard "rail" shower in the cubicle.

  
Pricing wise, a 4-bedder unit {Type 4(S1)A} of 1,292sqft on the 6th floor is currently asking about $1.51 million. Price is after a 3% discount and translates to around $1,168psf. The wife and I were told that despite the project being launched for a year now, it is less than 30% sold.



What we like:

1.     The high ceiling offered for apartments within The Skywoods, especially with the ground-floor units. The fact that they do not charge you extra for it is a significant selling point. 

2.     The development is supposedly about 600m away from the upcoming Hillview MRT station on the Downtown Line Stage 2, which is scheduled to come into service sometime in 1Q2016. 


What we do not quite like:

1.     The quality aspect of the project (from what we can gauged in the showflat) is average at best. 

2.     We are resigned to the fact that the bedrooms in new developments these days are small but those we had seen (especially the common bedrooms) at The Skywoods have given new perspective to the meaning of "small".

3.     When comes to the kitchen, the wife has particular concern with the rubbish chute, which is located in the kitchen and directly opposite to the cooking area. Not very hygienic, she said, which I cannot help but agree (and not just because she is the wife). 

4.     For those who need to put their kids into primary school in 2015 or after, your only two options within 1-km of The Skywoods are Bukit Panjang Primary (co-ed) and CHIJ Our Lady Queen of Peace (all-girls). So get ready your affiliations or pray very hard that the parcel of land next-door - supposedly slated for "educational facilities" - is for building of another primary school.


Our parting shot

After visiting The Skywoods, the wife and I can appreciate the reasons for its dismal sales thus far. There is really very little going for the project. And not helping the developers' cause is the fact that there are quite a few land parcels surrounding the project that are slated for private residential developments.

So unless market sentiments improved significantly, we reckon that The Skywoods will have to drop prices by alot more than the 3% than they had already done so in order to move units.


Welcome to the new SG PropTalk blog-site!

- September 28, 2014 No Comments

The wife and I hope that you will like our revamped site as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you!



While we have tried our darndest to ensure that the new blog-site functions properly, please let us know should you encounter any problem when navigating our site.


A couple of things to note:

1. Clicking on the small SG PropTalk icon (i.e. on the top left) will bring you back to the Home page.

2. We are still trying to get the "Search" function (i.e. magnifying icon on the top right) to work. Hopefully the bug can be resolved soon.

3. For those of you who had previously subscribed to SG PropTalk (i.e. by entering your email address in the "Subscribe to SG PropTalk"  box), you may have to redo the subscription again on the new blog-site as we are unable to transfer your subscription from our old site to the new one. We do apologize for the inconvenience caused.



Update (29 September 2014): The issue with the "Search" function has been resolved. So unless we hear otherwise, the new SG PropTalk blog-site is now 100% operable!




Another educational seminar brought to you by Property Club Singapore...

- September 27, 2014 No Comments

After running a full house for their last education seminar, Property Club Singaporewill be holding another one entitled "Smart Landlords vs Smart Tenants".


The event will be held on November 1, 2014 (Saturday) at NTUC Centre. Click on link below for more details about the upcoming seminar and how to register for the event.



iProperty.com survey: Singapore property prices lower but still "out of reach"!

- September 26, 2014 No Comments

Prices of residential properties may have fallen over the past few months, but they are still too expensive and buyers are increasingly waiting on the sidelines for prices to drop further, a survey has showed.

Nearly a quarter, or 22%, of respondents do not plan to purchase property at the moment, up from 10% six months ago, showed a half-yearly Asia Property Market Sentiment Report by real estate portal iProperty.com. Some of the reasons cited include high prices and the challenge of the down payment.



“Buyers are biding their time, with affordability and financing as top concerns. While the number of respondents who intend to purchase within the next 24 months remains the same at 51%, buyers may wait for new and resale private condo prices to fall … The market is now correcting after the rapid rise over the last few years, and demand is there at the right price point,” said Mr Sean Tan, general manager of iProperty.com Singapore.

Several rounds of cooling measures have seen the value of both private and public properties fall. In the second quarter of this year, private home prices were about 3% off the peak in the third quarter of 2013, while public resale home prices were down 5% from its peak in the second quarter of last year, data by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and Housing and Development Board showed.

A majority of the survey respondents, or 53%, think that both new and resale private condominiums will see further price declines this year. Against that backdrop, the survey saw a 15 percentage point increase in the number of home owners who want to sell their properties, compared with six months ago.

“The report shows that both property sellers and buyers are nervous a year after the start of the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR). In the second half of 2013 report, just after the TDSR was announced, 59% of owners were confident their properties would retain its value; now only 38% think so, a decline of 21 percentage points. Another 25% are unsure if the value will be retained,” said Mr Tan.

The survey, which polled 2,805 respondents in Singapore, also found that a majority of them, or 56%, are in favour of the Government’s decision to keep cooling measures in place despite repeated calls by industry practitioners to tweak some of the curbs.
Source: CNA

Click on link below to read the full report....all 140 pages of it. For those who are only interested in the Singaporeresidential market, start reading from page 103.


Here's one GLS site to look out for!

- No Comments

The URA and HDB have released two 99-year leasehold sites under the H2 2014 Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme yesterday. Both sites are expected to yield about 1,000 units of private homes jointly.

The first site is slated for a mixed-use development located along Upper Serangoon Road. However, it is the second site that will probably generate more interests... at least in our opinion.

The said plot is located in Dundee Road near Commonwealth Road, which was made available for sale on the Reserve List. The 10,516sqm (113,194sqft) site, with a maximum GFA of 51,528sqm (554,653sqft) is expected to yield 645 units.



The Dundee Road plot is actually located next to Commonwealth Towers, which site was acquired by CDL/Hong Leong at $883psf ppr back in December 2012. Units in this development were sold at average prices of around $1,600psf.

So it will be interesting to see the response from developers for this adjacent site this time around, given the less than rosy market sentiments...


So how much is the most expensive apartment in NYC?

- September 25, 2014 No Comments

Answer: A cool US$130 million!

The accolade belongs to a triplex penthouse at Zeckendorf Development Co's tower under construction on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

The 12,394sqft property will span the top three floors at 520 Park Avenue, where sales will begin in the first quarter of next year.

The building, between 60th and 61st streets, will include seven duplexes of about 9,138sqft each, starting at US$67 million. Single-floor units of about 4,600sqft will start at US$16.2 million.

The triplex would be the most expensive listing for an apartment in New York history and the largest on the Upper East Side. The unit will include a 1,257sqft terrace with views of Central Park to the north. 520 Park Avenue is slated for completion in 2017.

The asking price works out to about US$10,000psf, which is the average resale price of condos that face the park at the Zeckendorf's 15 Central Park West. At that complex, on the Upper west Side, former Citicorp Inc chairman Sanford Weill sold his penthouse for US$88 million in 2012, Manhattan's most expensive completed residential deal.
Info source: Bloomberg

And to think that Singapore luxury home prices are high...

Photos we took of Trizon...

- September 24, 2014 No Comments

The wife and I had passed by Trizon many a time since its TOP, whenever we had to ferry our son to/from school. 

We finally decided to make a pit-stop and take a couple of photos of the development this afternoon. 

When we first reviewed Trizon back in 2010, the average selling prices then were in the range of $1,400 - 1,600psf. Prices had hit a high of $2,043psf in July 2012 but given the less than favorable market conditions especially over the past year, the 4 resale transactions that were completed this year have hovered around $1,428 - 1,659psf. 

This is one development that the wife and I have a "hate then love" relationship with - you know what we mean if you have read our review. And it remains in our "wish list"... perhaps in a couple of years.


Click on link below to read our previous review on Trizon:
http://sgproptalk.blogspot.sg/2010/01/trizon-review_7877.html




Colliers report on en-bloc sales

- September 23, 2014 No Comments

Back from Jakarta this evening and after realizing that it is another "slow news" day on the residential property front, the wife and I decided to scour the Internet for inspiration.

We came across this informative report by Colliers that detailed the Singapore collective sale scene up till July of this year.

So here it is... for your reading pleasure.






Seventy St Patrick's: More than 50% of units launched sold!

- September 22, 2014 No Comments

This may already be "old" news (as the wife and I have just managed to get onto our laptop after spending the day running around in Jakarta) but BT has reported today that Seventy St Patrick's, a 186-unit freehold condominium located in the East Coast by developer UOL Group, sold around 100 units during its private launch over the weekend.


Units were sold at an average price of $1,630psf.

The smallest unit sold was a two-bedder for about $1.2 million, while the largest was a penthouse that went for around $2.4 million. Around 16 penthouses out of the 36 available were sold.

Singaporean constitute around 90% of the buyers.

Unit sizes for the development range from 700sqft for a two-bedroom to 1,647sqft for a four-bedroom penthouse.

As a comparison, another freehold development nearby - St Patrick's Residences - had three units that changed hands this year at an average price of $1,226psf. The units sold ranged from 1,206sqft to 2,519sqft, according to data from URA.

Seventy St Patrick's comprises nine blocks of five-storey building. It is being built on a site of about 140,000sqft along St Patrick's Road. Estimated completion of the project is end-2017.

Marine Terrace MRT station on the recently announced Thomson-East Coast Line, which is scheduled for completion in 2023, is supposedly located near to the development.



Weekend ditty...

- September 21, 2014 No Comments


The photo was taken while we were on our way home from lunch this afternoon. The facade around the Balestier/Thomson Road junction has changed considerably with the completion of 368 Thomson and Cube 8.

Having said that, the familiar sight of "red and white" remained - wedged between the 2 new developments. And if what we have heard from the grapevine is accurate, the 36-year old tower will probably be there for quite awhile yet...

Have a good week ahead, everyone!


Private home sales: 2008 revisited?

- September 18, 2014 5 Comments

The ST reported today that the number of units launched but unsold at 15.1% in August 2014 is worse than in August 2008 - 2 months to the run-up to the 2008 global financial crisis which hit in October that year. 

Vacancy rate at completed private residential projects are also higher, at 7.1% at the end of the second quarter versus 6.1% in 2008 at the same time. And this is expected to rise further, given a deluge of completed projects in the pipeline and the limited number of expats looking to rent.


 Looks like interesting times are ahead ...

Seminar on "Understanding property financing and TDSR framework"

- September 17, 2014 No Comments

Want to better understand how banks approve housing loans and how best to secure property financing under the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework? Then head on down to the education seminar organized by Property Club Singapore this Sunday!
Date       : September 21, 2014 (Sunday)
Time       : 2.30 p.m. – 5.00 p.m.
Venue     : National Library Building L5 Possibility Room
Go to http://www.propertyclubsg.com/events/property-financing-and-tdsr-framework-education-seminar/  for more details about the seminar and registration.

Lakeville (Review)

- September 16, 2014 2 Comments

The wife and I decided to visit Lakeville last weekend. This is one of the project that has recently sprang back to attention after our Prime Minister's had announced plans for the big Jurong Lake District revamp during his National Day Rally speech last month.
 

The sales gallery of Lakeville is located at an open field opposite to JCube. However, one may easily miss the slip road (Jurong East St. 12) leading into the gallery with all the constructions that is currently taking place around the area.
 

Given that it is a weekend, the sales gallery was pretty crowded with prospective buyers. The wife and I were told that Lakeville was launched about 6 months ago but interests have been somewhat lacklustre until after the National Day Rally speech.    



First off, the actual site of Lakevilleis not anywhere near where the sales gallery is located... at least not within comfortable walking distance anyway. The actual plot is along Boon Lay Way, between Lakeside and Chinese Garden MRT stations. To get to JCube or Westgate, you will either have to drive (about 5 minutes) or take the train from Lakeside to Jurong East MRT station, which is 2 stops away. To walk it we reckon will probably take a good 20 - 25 minutes.


Lakeville is a 99-year leasehold developed by MCL Land. This is the same developer that launched J Gateway back in June of 2013 - a residential project next-door to Jurong East bus interchange and opposite to Westgate, which sold 736 of its 738 units on the first day of launch, at an average price of $1,480psf.

Lakeville consists of 696 units spread over 6 towers of 16-storey high. The project sits on a plot of almost 241,000sqft and offers unit configurations of 1- to 5-bedrooms as well as penthouses. "Dual-key" units are also available within the development.

One unique feature of Lakevilleis that some apartment types actually come without balconies - this will please those (much like yours truly) who do not utilize the external area of their apartment much. 

In terms of access, the wife and I were told that a new access road will be constructed specially for Lakeville. This bi-directional road (Jurong Lake Link) will act as a conduit  into Boon Lay Way or Jurong West St. 41, which should make it easier for residents to get in/out of the estate.
 

Facility-wise, Lakevilleis comparatively more generous than the other new projects that we had seen recently. While the main features revolve around the swimming pool that stretches almost from one end of the estate to the other, another unique offering is the 6 "signature gardens" (with names like "Verdant Plateau" and "Golden Estuary") that are located within the confines of each tower itself. Lakeville's residents can also boast of having a tennis court within their estate - something of a rarity in new projects these days.


Parking wise, Lakevillehas 696 lots plus 7 handicapped spaces. So prospective buyers with more than one car may have to pray very hard that not every household in the estate owns a vehicle.

The showflats on display are the 2- and 3-bedroom units. The 5-bedroom showflat was closed as it is being converted to a 4-bedroom one, since most of the 5-bedders (only 1 stack of such in the development) have been sold.

We will focus our attention on the 3-bedroom showflat. This is a 1,281sqft ground floor unit (Type C6-P). The typical C6 type on the higher floors is 1,141sqft but has the same interior area and configuration.


As one enters from the main door, you will see the kitchen on your right before arriving at the living/dining area.


The kitchen is divided into a "dry" and "wet" area. However, the so-called "dry kitchen" is nothing more than an elevated platform which you can either use as a serving area or a small dining table. All cooking/washing are confined to the "wet" kitchen, which is good-sized enough for two to be working side-by-side. The "dry" and "wet" kitchen is separated by a glass door (not installed in the showflat), which is a good idea for keeping the grease and smell within the confines of the "wet" kitchen. The kitchen comes equipped with equipment (hood/hob, fridge and oven) from Fisher and Paykel and fittings from Grohe.

  

At the end of the "wet" kitchen is the utility/yard area. You do not get much space in the yard but a large set of windows ensure good ventilation and possibly the option of an extendable laundry system. The utility room is a narrow longish space but with a bit of ingenuity, one can fit both the washing machine (provided) and a custom-made bed inside.
 

The living/dining room is rectangular-shaped and looked rather spacious especially for an apartment of such size. Should you decide that you need even more "entertaining" space, we were told that you can dismantle the wall between the dining area and bedroom 2 - but you will have to do this at your own expense and after the project has received its certification of completion. Our only complaint is that the living/dining area for the 3-bedder only comes with homogenous-tile flooring - we were told that the 4- and 5-bedroom units have marble floors. But you do get pretty high ceiling at 2.9m, which helps to increase the perception of space within the apartment.

 

The two common bedrooms are rather small - maybe the reason why one does not feature a bed while the other has a built-in elevated single-bed. But we reckon something has to give somewhere given the size of the apartment. 


In contrast, the common bathroom is surprisingly huge. The wife and I were told that the bathrooms are built according to wheelchair-friendly requirements - what this means is that anyone on a wheelchair must be able to enter the bathroom and be able to make a 180-degree turn inside. The bathroom comes fitted with bathroom fittings from Roca and toilet from Johnson Suisse - not exactly "premium" quality compared to what we have seen elsewhere.

 

The master bedroom is again pleasantly spacious even with a King-bed. The secret supposedly lies with the wardrobe, which is flushed against the wall - so that it does not protrude outside thereby taking up additional space within the bedroom. However, the 2-panel wardrobe space is hardly sufficient but is quite the norm these days.

  

The master bathroom is almost a replica of the one outside, except for the wall-mounted toilet. We are pleased that it does not come with a long bath, but a tad disappointed with the absence of "rain shower" in the shower stall.

 

Pricing wise, the 3-bedders go for about $1.4 million, depending on which floor you are looking at. This translates to around $1,230psf.  

For those who are interested in the 5-bedroom units, there are not many of these left as there is only one such stack within the development. But the asking price for a second-floor unit of 1,528sqft is $1.79 million, which translates to around $1,170psf.

 


What we like:

1. The functional layout with the 3-bedder (and this will probably apply to the 5-bedder as well, given that they have similar layouts), which makes the apartment felt more spacious than it really is. 

2. Lakeside MRT station is supposedly a 500m walk away. However, you are likely to be subjected to the elements as we cannot foresee any sheltered path leading to the station. 

3. For those with kids going into primary schools in 2018/2019, there are at least 2 primary schools that is within 1-km of Lakeville - one of which being the popular Ru Lang Primary. 

4.The Canadian School is located right next to Lakeville. This may offer good prospects for those who are buying for rental yields.
 

5. With the upcoming plans to revamp the Jurong Lake District, this should boost the value of residential properties around the area especially when the revamp starts to take shape. So buyers of Lakeville may expect some "first mover" advantage as subsequent new projects (e.g. on the plot of land next door) are likely to be priced higher ... technically anyway.

What we do not quite like: 

1. The quality of furnishing and fitting seen in the showflat is average at best and definitely pales in comparison to the other projects that we have visited recently. 

2. As all the towers are angled towards the NW-SE facing, many of the units (especially the outward facing ones in Tower 1, 3 & 11) will probably get the afternoon sun shining into the living & bedrooms - not very ideal if you aren't a fan of the heat. 

3. The marketing agent will expound on the "convenience appeal" of Lakeville given its location within the Jurong Lake District and proximity to Jurong Gateway. But this is really a case of "near but not quite" in our opinion. You will still have to drive or take the train to JCube/Jem/Westgate/Jurong East MRT or Jurong Point - the developer ought to provide a shuttle-bus service to ferry residents to Jurong East MRT and bus interchange at regular intervals, at least during the first year or two. And depending on the facing of your unit and how high up you are, you may end up looking at the MRT track rather than the lake.


Our parting shot
Lakeville will probably be the second new development (after the fully sold J Gateway) to come up in the Jurong lake District area. As such, there is always the potential upside when comes to capital gains, especially since its price is lower than what the folks paid for J Gateway. And in terms of facilities offering, Lakeville is actually one up over J Gateway judging from the respective site plans. So if you are looking to partake in the revitalisation of the Jurong Lake District and not too picky about the interior quality offered by the apartments (we can only speak based on what we saw of the 3-bedders), then Lakeville is probably a project that you may want to take a look at.