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Private home prices fell 0.6% in May: SRPI

- June 30, 2015 No Comments
Prices of completed non-landed private homes in Singapore fell 0.6% in May from April, according to the flash estimate for the NUS Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI).

This has translated into a 1.6% decline over the first five months of this year.

The fall in May was sharpest among shoebox units of 506sqft or below that saw a 1.3% drop in prices. Excluding these small units, non-landed private homes in the central region slipped 1% in May from a month ago.

Units in the non-central region dipped 0.1% in May, the sub-index shows. Central Region is defined by the university's Institute of Real Estate Studies (IRES) as districts 1-4, including the financial district and Sentosa Cove, plus the traditional prime districts 9, 10 and 11.

"Shoebox apartment prices will be on a general downward trend as the number of such completed properties grows, especially in non-central region," R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng projected. "There is also some sense of over-pricing and overly high rents for such small units on a per square foot basis, so investors will not accede to high asking prices by the owners looking to offload the small units."

Mr Ong noted that buyers are still cautious towards buying completed properties due to substantial new completions that are intensifying leasing competition. He saw a correlation between dismal developer sales in May and sluggish transactions in the secondary market in the same month, following strong developer sales in April that created a positive spill-over effect on resales in the same month.

Based on caveats lodged, 430 non-landed private homes were transacted in May, of which only 15 were shoebox units, the compilation by NUS IRES shows. This followed some 454 completed units that were transacted in April, of which 13 are shoebox units.

The IRES revised its overall index reading for April, which now shows a 0.3% in overall prices of non-landed private homes - its flash estimate earlier showed a 0.1% drop in April over March.

Mr Ong noted that investors are typically not in a hurry to buy a completed property from around May to August when they may encounter seasonally weaker leasing activity in the second half of the year when the sale is completed and the unit will be put up for lease.
Source: BT

Going on a spin around Bartley Residences...

- June 28, 2015 3 Comments

With some time in our hands this morning, the wife and I decided to go for a spin around Bartley Residences to check it out. We have passed by the development yesterday and it was only then did we realize that it is about to TOP - we found out later that owners will start collecting their keys from next week.

(* Spoiler Alert: The sky was gloomy this morning so the photos did not turn out as well as we would have liked*)

For the uninitiated (yours truly included), the main entrance into Bartley Residences is NOT along Bartley Road but at Lorong How Sun, which is accessible via How Sun Drive (along Bartley Road) or Quemoy Road (along Paya Lebar Road). 

For those wondering about access to Bartley MRT, there is a side-gate located at one end of the development along Bartley Road which is next to an overhead bridge that will lead you across the road to where the MRT station is located. 

This access is also the most direct entry point into the estate by foot as it is a rather long walk from Bartley Road to the main entrance - visitors may be wise to call ahead and have the person you are visiting waits for you at this side-gate to let you in.

How Sun Road towards Lorong How Sun is a narrow two-lane road  - single lane in reality as you have cars parked on one side of the road.

And at the end of the Lorong How Sun is where the main entrance into Bartley Residences is located.

When we were there this morning, workers can still be seen doing the "final touch-up" to the development. Staring at the apartments towering ahead did make us feel a tad claustrophobic.

Swinging back to Bartley Road but across from the development, the wife and I noticed the site for Botanique @Bartley, a new project by UOL that is currently being built next door. We reckon that units in Bartley Residences situated next to and especially those that are directly facing its immediate neighbor may have to be patient with the sights and sound arising from the construction for awhile yet.

The other concern that we have is how close the units facing Bartley Road are from the road. Given that this road is very busy especially during weekdays, the wife and I really hope that the apartment windows are double-glazed for the sake of owners' sanity...

Top bid for Dundee Road GLS site reflected developer's confidence

- June 24, 2015 No Comments

While interest for a Dundee Road private housing site has paled in comparison to the hotly-contested site in Toa Payoh days earlier, analysts said the top bid in the latest tender reflects the developer’s confidence in the Queenstown area.

At the close of tender yesterday, the 99-year leasehold site received nine bids, with the top bid of $483.2 million put in by Chinese developer Hao Yuan’s unit HY Realty, the Housing and Development Board said.

The 113,194sqft site, released from the Confirmed List of the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme, has a plot ratio of 4.9. With a maximum gross floor area of 554,652sqft, it can yield an estimated 645 dwelling units. The top bid works out to around $871psf ppr. 

Property analysts noted that the HY Realty’s bid was 8.4% higher than the second-highest bid of $445.9 million, or around $804psf ppr, from Allgreen Properties.

“With a winning margin of more than 8%, the bid demonstrates the confidence in the mature estate of Queenstown with its network of amenities and the MRT being located right next to the site, as well as the stability of the Singapore market,” said Mr Desmond Sim, Singapore and South-east Asia head of property firm CBRE Research.

Dr Chua Yang Liang, head of research for South-east Asia at real estate firm JLL, noted that HY Realty had not been successful in its previous attempts to secure sites under the GLS — a factor that could explain its aggressive bid.

He added that the top bid could translate into a selling price of between $1,550psf and $1,600psf, assuming a construction cost of $320psf to $360psf.

“This could be priced to sell, especially since the average take-up rate of the nearby projects around Queenstown and Redhill have been about 20 to 60% with an average price for new sales ranging between $1,680psf and $1,750psf,” he said.
Source: TODAY

Ever heard of "Mortgage Choice"?

- June 22, 2015 No Comments

While flipping through Zaobao this morning the wife and I came across an article about "Mortgage Choice", a little-known loan product which OCBC has supposedly been offering since last year. 

Unlike the standard mortgage available in the market where borrowers have to pay the full monthly principal + interest components, "Mortgage Choice" allows for some flexibility in repayment of only a portion of the actual monthly principal for an initial fixed period. According to what we have read, the fixed period is usually 2 to 3 years while the monthly repayment for the fixed portion of principal can be as low as $500. However, the mortgage will revert to the standard P+I payment after this period, which means you will have to pay a larger monthly installment for the balance tenure of the loan compared to a standard mortgage... not to mention more interests since the bulk of your principal is "rolled over" to after 2 to 3 years later.

The numbers certainly sound tempting for the initial fixed period: A $1 million mortgage at an interest rate of 3-month SIBOR (currently at 0.8%) + 0.85% for a 30-year loan tenure will work out to 1.65% in annual interest rate payable. This translates to a monthly loan repayment of $3,793 under a typical mortgage package, which comprises $1,375 in interests and $2,418 in principal repayment. But under "Mortgage Choice", you supposedly only pay $1,875 monthly - more than 50% less than a typical loan. 

According to loan brokers, such "low principal" loan products may see strong demands going forward due to the impending FED rates increase and especially with those who are financially unstable or in need of cash flow.

Although the article did mention from the onset that "Mortgage Choice" is unlike the notorious "Interest Only Loan" (or "Balloon Payment", which some of you may be more familiar with the term) that was prevalent back in the mid-2000s  (* Hey, borrowers still have to make SOME principal repayment monthly, you know?! *), the wife and I cannot help but compare this with the proverbial rose - minus the "sweet smelling" reference. 

We also wonder if the bank concerned may have stepped into some "grey area" by offering a product as such. Then again, we can reasonably expect "the world's strongest bank" to know exactly what they are allowed/disallowed to do under MAS regulations.

What the wife and I are more concerned about is the kind of third-party advertising that you find regarding mortgages such as "Mortgage Choice". As you can see from one such that we have pulled from the web, the broker will only trumpet about the "low monthly repayment and savings you get for the initial 2 to 3 years so you will have more cash in hand to invest or for other commitments" with no caveat about the much higher monthly repayment or the additional interests that are incurred after the "honeymoon" period. 

This is where the less financially savvy borrowers may run the risks of being ill-informed by the very people that supposedly provide you with the best loan deals in town...

Strong response to Toa Payoh GLS site!

- June 19, 2015 No Comments

Despite sluggish sales of new private homes, a residential site in Toa Payoh drew a massive 14 bids at the close of the auction on Thursday (Jun 18), indicating strong demand from developers for sites in mature housing estates.
The Housing and Development Board (HDB) said the 12,154.6 square metre, 99-year leasehold site at the junction of Lorong 6 and Lorong 4 Toa Payoh attracted a top bid of $345.86 million from a group that includes Evia Real Estate and Malaysia's Gamuda Bhd.

This works out to around $8,130 per square metre of gross floor area, or about $755psf.
The site is expected to yield an estimated 535 private residential units. Alternatively, developers may, with prior written approval, build a mix of flats and strata landed houses.
HDB, as the Government’s land sales agent, launched the site for public tender on Apr 29. A decision on the award of the tender will be made at a later date after the bids have been evaluated, HDB said.
Desmond Sim, Head, CBRE Research, Singapore and South East Asia, said the strong demand was "unsurprising" given the site's location within a well-established mature estate with very few private residential projects. The site is also within walking distance of the Braddell MRT Station.
The top bid was only 1.1% higher than the second-highest bid of $342.1 million, or around $747psf ppr — the closest gap seen since the second quarter of last year, when a site in Choa Chu Kang Drive was awarded to Sim Lian Land at a margin of 2.2% over the next bidder, noted Dr Chua Yang Liang, head of research and consultancy at JLL Singapore.
“The tightness of these recent bids could reflect a more consistent view among the developers regarding market conditions going forward, coupled with the fact that the area is more mature and there is possibly more transactional data to help developers assess market demand more consistently,” said Dr Chua.
Ms Christine Li, director of research at property firm Cushman & Wakefield, said the top bid also showed that land prices in the area had held up despite tepid sales in the primary market. She noted that the bidding was in line with the $731psf ppr for a parcel in Lorong Puntong in the Upper Thomson area.
Ms Li expects the break-even price of the Toa Payoh project to be at around $1,250 psf and the selling price to start at $1,450psf to $1,500psf. “Given that there have not been new private-home launches since 2009, this project should be well received by upgraders and first-time buyers if it is priced realistically,” she said.
Evia has launched three executive condominium developments since its founding in 2010. It has sold 98% of the 546 units for its latest project, Lake Life in the Jurong Lake District, since the launch in November.
Following the release of the provisional tender results for the Toa Payoh site, Evia’s managing partner Vincent Ong said: “Similar to Jurong, we believe there is a pent-up demand for private housing in this area, as it is one of the most populated public housing estates in Singapore and is the closest estate to the city.”

Source: CNA
It looked like contrary to one of our reader's concern, developers aren't really bothered about the "temple effect"...

Thomson Grand: Things you only realized when the development is up!

- June 18, 2015 No Comments
After dropping our son off for his swim class yesterday afternoon the wife and I decided to swing over Thomson Grand to update ourselves on the construction progress.

For those who have been following our blog, we did a review of Thomson Grand during its launch back in October of 2011. The wife and I remembered being quite impressed with the quality of the project but less so with the $1,180+psf asking price for a 99-year development back then. How times have changed!

There is also a fair bit of controversy surrounding Thomson Grand as the developer has decided for some reason (copyright infringement maybe?) to drop the "Faberge" in the name of their clubhouse, which is designed in the shape of a Faberge Egg and is supposed to be the main showpiece of the project.

Three things caught our eyes immediately when we arrived at the site along Jalan Tambur off Upper Thomson Road:

#1  All 6 towers have been constructed up to their top levels while the external facade of all the strata houses facing Upper Thomson Road were more or less completed. The wife and I loved the modern contemporary look of the development and reckoned that the higher floors will have a fantastic view of the SICC golf courses and Lower Pierce reservoir. And you can clearly see the outline of the Faberge Clubhouse that has taken shape.

#2  The huge temple in front is too close to the development for our comfort. Matter of fact, we believed that the view of the ground and second floor units of Tower 25 and maybe even those of Tower 23 will be blocked by the temple.  

#3:  There is this big-ass house sited on elevated ground located diagonally across from the temple (we are not kidding - it looked really big!) that will probably pose a formidable challenge to the view of the lower-floor units in Towers 19 and 21.

The wife and I then decided to walk towards Upper Thomson Road to take a closer look at the strata houses.

We have to walk pass the entrance to the temple and this is what it looked like up close.

The wife and I are not familiar with this temple and its popularity with worshippers but it seems to be getting itself ready for a festival of some kind. The first concern that we have is that if temple does command a good following, the stretch of road along Jalan Tembur will be a nightmare to navigate during religious festivals (much like what the poor folks living around Sin Ming Ave have to contend with whenever Kong Meng San has an event). 

Although the main entrance/exit for Thomson Grand is supposedly located at Sin Ming Walk while the one at Jalan Tembur is just a "back access" and only for vehicle to exit teh development, residents will likely be stuck with a double whammy of blocked roads (i.e. at both Sin Ming Walk/Ave and Jalan Tembur) whenever a major festival (e.g. Qing Ming) happens.

The other concern that we have is on the Feng Shui aspect - the wife has read that it's considered bad Feng Shui for an apartment to be located directly behind a temple as you get "prayed at" ever so often. Prayers are typically reserved for gods/deities or the dead and since those living in apartment are probably not gods...

Back to the strata houses - the ones lining Upper Thomson Road seem to be rather close to the main road. And given the heavy traffic volume on this road, we are somewhat concerned with the amount of traffic noise that the strata homeowners may be subjected to.  

To satisfy our curiosity, we decided to stand along the pedestrian walkway just in front of the strata houses to record the noise generated by passing traffic. We were careful not to point our phone at passing vehicles in case we get mistaken as undercover agent from LTA/TP (thereby causing a multiple vehicle pile-up) so there is very little to see in the video. But this is what we managed to capture in terms of traffic noise.

Mind you, we are not even near to peak evening-hour traffic yet but based on what we have experienced in terms of traffic noise, the wife and I certainly hoped that the windows of these strata houses are double-glazed. But that's just us...let us know what you think.

One other observation on the strata house: The corner unit (No. 29) is built right beside the temple and given the extreme proximity, it will probably bear the blunt of the noise and human traffic generated during religious festivals. 

Hopefully the owner/occupier of this unit is not be too bothered by smoke from burning incenses and the sound and sights from occasional puppet shows/operas that the temple engages to perform for the deities. 


Final Thoughts: Based on what we have seen after our little excursion to Thomson Grand yesterday, the wife and I come to the age-old conclusion that there is always the risk of "the unknowns" when buying on plan. It is only when the development is substantially built that one will have a better appreciation of the unit's orientation and actual facing, which by that time may be too late. 

And if we are the developer, we will certainly be relieved that Thomson Grand is 100% sold as quite a number of the apartments and strata houses may find it challenging to locate buyers after they are built... quality notwithstanding.

Click on the link below to read our previous review on Thomson Grand:

May new private home sales down 43% but...

- June 16, 2015 No Comments

New private home sales in Singapore fell 45% in May from April as developers launched fewer units.

Data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Monday (Jun 15) showed developers sold 638 housing units last month - well below the revised figure of 1,167 units for April. The number of units sold in May was, however, higher than the monthly figures for January to March.

The bulk of homes sold last month were in the Outside Central Region, which accounted for 469 of the total.

Developers launched just 499 new units in May, down from April's 1,382 units.
Including executive condominiums (ECs), sales by developers fell to 845 units in May from 1,293 units in April.

May is typically a month with several property launches, as developers make use of the window before the June holidays and the lunar seventh month, to put projects up for sale.

But there were no new launches in May this year, with developers spreading out their projects in the slow housing market. Market watchers said they are also focusing on clearing stock.

Said Mr Ku Swee Yong, CEO of Century 21 Singapore: "I think over the last one year, we have accumulated quite a lot of surpluses and the total number of units launched but unsold is at about 7,000. So developers are hoping to clear off some of the stock on the shelves before they take out new products to launch.

Dr Lee Nai Jia, head of research (Singapore) at DTZ Debenham Tie Leung, noted: "We have seen quite a number of launches prior to May, for instance North Park Residences, Sims Urban Oasis. And although their take-up rate is very high, you see that they actually still have quite a number of units that have yet not been launched into the market. "I think developers generally are very mindful of what is available in the market. They probably want to pace (their launches) to avoid a glut in the market."

Big project launches in the past few months include the 1,024-unit Sims Urban Oasis, which had only put up 300 units for sale so far. The 920-unit North Park Residences and 797-unit Botanique at Bartley, both launched in April, have more than 300 units left to launch each.

The only new launch outside of the private housing market in May was Westwood Residences, an EC. It sold 118 units over two days when it opened for booking on May 30.

Excluding ECs, recently-launched Botanique at Bartley was the top seller in May. It sold 94 units at a median price of $1,292psf.

The 920-unit North Park Residences in Yishun, which was launched in April, took the second spot - moving 59 units at a slightly higher median price of $1,397psf.

Ang Mo Kio project The Panorama - which was launched in January 2014 - also saw renewed interest last month. Developers of the 698-unit project sold another 44 units in May, adding to the 222 sold before May.

Looking ahead, analysts said the private residential market is likely to remain slow in June. It is the school holidays, and there have been no new project launches so far.

But there could be greater activity in the EC market, with developers of three new EC projects expected to launch some units for sale soon. 

Analysts also said developers may be keeping their projects for the second half of the year, to ride on events which may boost market sentiments, such as Singapore's 50th birthday celebrations.
Source: CNA

1Q'2015 private residential sales report: Colliers & Savills

- June 15, 2015 No Comments

The wife and I came across these reports a tad late but they're worthy reads nonetheless.

Colliers: Dismal start to the year due to multiple downward pressures, with intermittent threats keeping market on its toes for the rest of the year.

Savills: Slow sales in the residential sales market this year but signs of revival in the secondary market.

Have a great week ahead, everyone!

Private resale prices flat in May

- June 10, 2015 No Comments

Prices of non-landed private homes remained flat in May 2015 as compared to the previous month, according to flash estimates by SRX Property on Tuesday (Jun 9).

In individual sectors, the city fringe saw a resale price increase of 0.8%, while resale prices in suburbs edged up by 0.3%. Resale prices in the Core Central Region (CCR) decreased by 1.2%, according to SRX's report.
Meanwhile, the resale volume for non-landed private residential units increased by 33.1% year-on-year. 
A total of 543 non-landed private residential units were resold in May 2015, as compared to 408 units resold in May 2014. However, resale volume increased 4.2% month-on-month in May - 521 units were resold in April this year.
Mr Alan Cheong, senior director of research and consultancy at Savills Singapore, explained: "We see that prices being stable, on top of that volume has picked up significantly, seems to suggest that buyers have given up the hope that they can get a even better deal or that the market will come off even more, and they are beginning to come back to the market."
The overall median Transaction Over X-Value (T-O-X) remained at $0 in May. The median T-O-X measures whether buyers are overpaying or underpaying the SRX Property X-Value estimated market value. The median T-O-X of $0 means that an equal number of people paid above and below, or at the computer-generated market value for their properties.
Among districts which saw more than 10 resale transactions in May 2015, District 21 (Upper Bukit Timah, Ulu Pandan) had the highest median T-O-X of $16,000. This means that majority of the buyers in District 21 purchased units above the computer-generated market value, SRX said.
The lowest median T-O-X recorded were in Districts 9 (Orchard, Cairnhill and River Valley) and 15 (Katong, Joo Chiat and Amber), among areas which saw more than 10 resale transactions. Both Districts 9 and 15 saw T-O-X of –$20,000, meaning that majority of buyers in the districts purchased units below the computer-generated market value, SRX said.
Prices of private residential properties have been declining for the past 18 months, as at March this year, according to data published by the Urban and Redevelopment Authority.
Source: CNA

Private rental eased 0.6% in May, 6% y-o-y


Rent prices for non-landed private residences fell by 0.6% in May compared to April, according to the flash estimates released by SRX Property on Wednesday (Jun 10).
Non-landed private property units in Rest of Central Region fell by 0.6%, while units in the Outside Central Region saw a 1.5% dip. Core Central Region bucked the trend by registering a 0.2% increase in rents.
May's rents were down 6% year-on-year, and down 11.7% compared to its peak in January 2013. 
An estimated 3,337 non-landed private residential units were rented in May, a 3% decrease from the previous month. 
Year-on-year, rental volume is 6.2% higher than the 3,142 units rented in May 2014.
Source: CNA

Not quite award material but thanks anyway!

- June 9, 2015 No Comments

Some of you might have noticed the "Singapore Blog Awards 2015" banner that we had put up over the past few weeks. SG PropTalk was nominated for the awards but alas, did not make it into the Finals when the results were announced today.

Here's a quick shout-out and thank you to Kim who had nominated SG PropTalk. Sorry that the wife and I weren't quite the "right horse".............

d'Leedon: Taking a peek at the "designer series" show apartment (3+Study)

- June 6, 2015 No Comments

During our "walkabout" at d'Leedon last weekend, the wife and I have also visited a couple of the "designer series" show apartments. We will like to share the photos we took and our "2 cents" on one of the 3-bedroom types.

But first, the lift lobby. The wife and I are a tad disappointed with what greeted us upon exiting the lift. The lobby area looks very "cold"... in all sense of the word. The area is certainly very windy as we are on the 34th floor and with both ends of the lift lobby open and unblock, it creates a "wind tunnel" effect. But it almost feel as if we are standing in the lift lobby of some industrial building given the stark design and feel. 

The stairwell also functions as the bomb shelter area  - so you will not have to worry about what to do with that heavy metal door inside your apartment.


The unit concerned is a 1,292sqft 3-bedder (Type C2). There are quite a few layouts for the 3-bedroom apartment so if this unit type is not your cup of tea, do not despair - there are other configurations/facings to choose from.

As we enter the apartment, a longish corridor (read: waste of good space) splits into the living room/bedrooms to the left and kitchen/yard to the right. 


The wife likes the kitchen for its very functional u-shaped layout. So despite it being not very big on space, it is spacious enough for most cooking purposes.  And there are ample storage cabinets for your kitchen knit-knacks.

The yard is quite huge especially by current new project standards. And the large window opening may save you the need to air-dry your laundry in the balcony. 

The storage room is decent-size enough to house the helper if needed, while the bathroom directly opposite is small but adequate for its purpose.

Moving to the living/dining area, the wife and I are not particularly thrilled by the tiny space offered. The longish rectangular area looks kinda cramped even with the somewhat smallish furniture. And for a 1,200+sqft apartment that costs in excess of $2 million, the homogeneous-tile flooring seems a tad "cheap". 

The living room opens up to the balcony that is pretty good-size but we will rather 
a smaller balcony with more room in the living/dining area to compensate.

One of the common bedroom is actually quite decent-size but the other is less so (notice the scaled-down bed?). And you will have to deal with bay windows, as d'Leedon is probably one of the last few projects to still have these. 

The common bathroom is definitely good-size and the large window allows for good ventilation.However, the bathroom and toilet fittings are not much to shout about and no rain-shower!

The master bedroom is surprisingly spacious. And you get lots of light and good ventilation from the 2 walls of windows but will probably have to spend a fair bit on curtains/blinds to preserve your privacy. The wife is also not very pleased with the views from the master bedroom - both sets of windows look straight at the tower opposite so nothing much in terms of scenery to offer.

The master bathroom is almost an exact replica of the common bathroom in terms of configuration and size... including the "no rain-shower" bit!

. .

Overall speaking, the wife and I find that the living space for the 3-bedder (at least for this unit type anyway) seems small even for a 1,200+sqft unit. And if you are one that love to entertain at home, your guest list may be severely limited by the number of people you can fit in the living/dining room. And for over two million dollars a pop (more if you decide to purchase the fully-furnished "designer" unit), it doesn't seem that good a buy... not that we can afford it though.