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Old 26-06-2007, 10:15 PM   #16
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June 26, 2007
$128m collective-sale windfall for Hakka clan

WHILE the recent collective property sale boom is making a million or two each for home owners, one of Singapore's major Hakka clan associations has really hit the big time.
The Char Yong (Dabu) Association will pocket a cool $128 million from the sale of the Char Yong Gardens condominium in the Cairnhill area.

The association owned 36 of the 106 units in the condominium sold to CapitaLand recently for $420 million.

It is now looking at how to best use the windfall.

Discussions have started on enriching clan activities, developing its youth wing, providing better care for older or needy members, as well as expanding its charity work.

The need for these talks almost did not arise as some clan members had opposed the sale, despite the support of the 41-strong management council, said association president Lang Chin Ngau
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Old 28-06-2007, 08:37 AM   #17
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June 28, 2007
Landed homes: Don't ease curbs on foreigners
THERE has been disturbing talk in the media recently that the restrictions on foreigners buying landed homes in Singapore could be relaxed.
I hope the authorities would quickly nip this rumour in the bud before there is too much public disquiet.

Goldman Sachs (Singapore) is lobbying for the rescindment of the Residential Property Act, which has, since 1973, restricted foreigners and permanent residents from owning landed residential property without prior official approval.

Goldman Sachs argues that this change would serve as a catalyst for further foreign buying of private homes and boost the current residential property up-cycle. To further support this argument, it implies that Singaporeans already have a stake in the country by virtue of public housing catering to 80 per cent of us.

I doubt anyone in Singapore really feels that the property market requires more encouragement. If anything, the reverse is probably true and the authorities are probably contemplating measures to cool the red-hot market to bring it to a more sustainable level.

Goldman Sach's reference to public housing also comes across as being a tad condescending to me.

Hence I agree fully with the industry's opinion leaders, who were quoted to be mostly against this proposal.

Mr Charles Chong, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee (National Development and Environment), was quoted as saying: 'Landed properties should not be priced out of Singaporeans' reach (or) it could lead to disgruntled Singaporeans.'

Others said that the existing Act has the positive effect of 'encouraging foreigners to commit to Singapore, to sink their roots here' and that landed-property ownership is one of the 'privileges of being Singaporean'.

In Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth, the protagonist Wang Lung chided his sons when he overheard them talking about selling the land which he had loved so much. He said: '...if you sell the land, it is the end.'

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan
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Old 28-06-2007, 08:38 AM   #18
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Lifting restrictions on foreigners purchasing landed properties will harm S'poreans
THE recent report and recommendation by an American bank that the restrictions on foreigners to purchase landed property be lifted is something which I feel the majority of Singaporeans would be up against.
Additionally the economic arguments are flawed. The report seems to imply that lifting the restrictions will reduce the supply crunch and help control prices.

I think lifting the restrictions will have detrimental effects - landed property prices will experience sharp jumps leading to an even greater frenzy in the property sector. Cost of living and cost of business will jump again, leading to higher inflation and further reduce our cost-competitiveness.

However, the most important factors against it are the sociopolitical effects.

Singapore is a country owned by Singaporeans. If the restrictions are lifted very soon, Singaporeans will be renting from foreigners to live in Singapore, leading to alienation and resentment among the population.

Lifting the restrictions belittles the privileges of citizenship too.

In the same way that National Service is expected only from citizens, certain rights and privileges should continue to be reserved for citizens.

David Ng Boon Kiong
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Old 28-06-2007, 08:45 AM   #19
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June 28, 2007
Outram Park MRT plot could draw bids topping $1b
By Fiona Chan
BIDS of more than $1 billion are expected for a large site on top of Outram Park MRT Station, which was released by the Government yesterday.
The 2.56ha plot, at the junction of Outram Road and Eu Tong Sen Street, is set to attract keen interest from property developers due to its good location and large size, property consultants said.

The site is also notable for being the first one to be offered for development in Pearl's Hill, thus kick-starting the area's redevelopment, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said yesterday.

The area is planned for a mix of homes and commercial buildings set within a garden. It will centre on Pearl's Hill City Park, which will be transformed into two parks.

The new site will offer direct frontage to one of these parks, the URA said.

Half of the site's total gross floor area of 1.54 million sq ft must be used for offices. Another 20 per cent of the area, or about 308,000 sq ft, must cater to hotel rooms.

But the rest of the area is 'white' - which means it can be used for homes, shops, or more hotel or office space.

It is the only 'white' site to be released on the Government's reserve list for the first half of this year.

Under the reserve list system, an interested buyer must submit a bid for the plot at an acceptable price to the Government, which will then put the site up for public tender.

Consultants such as Mr Li Hiaw Ho, executive director of ** Richard Ellis Research, said the plot is a 'prime site with lots of commercial potential'.

'We expect the site to fetch about $650 to $700 per sq ft per plot ratio,' he said. This puts the total price at between $1 billion and $1.08 billion.

'In view of the large size of the development, interested developers are likely to form a consortium to jointly bid for the site,' he said.

Mr Li added that the 'white' area of the site is likely to be turned into a retail mall to cater to the high pedestrian volume streaming out from Outram Park MRT Station as well as the 'dense residential population' in the area.

It 'offers developers an opportunity to develop a good-quality mall to rejuvenate the retail scene around Chinatown', he said.

The Pearl's Hill area - known for its old landmark buildings, myriad hotels and its proximity to Chinatown - has been in the spotlight recently.

Pearl Bank Apartments, a 30-year-old development just outside the Pearl's Hill City Park, is said to be gunning for a collective sale that could fetch more than $500 million.
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Old 28-06-2007, 08:46 AM   #20
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June 28, 2007
No change to landed home curbs

SINGAPORE has no plans to open up its landed property market to foreigners, Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan said yesterday.
He rejected a suggestion from investment bank Goldman Sachs, which was reported in the Singapore media earlier this week, that there was a high chance the Government would soon ease curbs on foreigners buying landed homes.

Speaking to reporters during a four-day visit to the north-eastern Chinese city of Tianjin, Mr Mah said any change to the rules would deny Singaporeans a chance to own such homes, which are in short supply in the land-scarce country. 'Landed property has to be treated as a special category. It is important for us to maintain certain privileges for our citizens.'

Under the Residential Property Act, foreigners and permanent residents are barred from buying landed properties without government approval. Those who get the nod can own only one landed property at a time and they must occupy the home, not rent it out.

CLARISSA OON
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Old 28-06-2007, 09:28 AM   #21
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June 27, 2007
DBS first to make home loan rates transparent

http://www.straitstimes.com/STI/STIM...0627/rates.pdf

Its mortgage offers will use just one variable rate pegged to interbank rate
By Grace Ng
DBS Bank has become the first bank in Singapore to adopt full transparency in home loans by pegging all its packages to a public benchmark rate.

The move - described by DBS as 'creating a new playing field' - means it will use just one single variable rate in its new mortgage packages which will be pegged to the 12-month Singapore Interbank Offered Rate (Sibor).

Sibor is the rate at which banks lend to each other and because it is publicly disclosed, customers can get a clear indication of how their mortgage rate is calculated.

But it may not mean cheaper loans as Sibor reflects market forces, so customers may in fact be paying more than existing rates at certain times. But if Sibor falls, DBS customers could benefit more as other banks may be slower in lowering rates in tandem with market rate movements.

DBS' move kicked in on June 15, the same day new industry guidelines took effect to give customers more clarity on how their mortgage rate changes over time.

DBS said its new policy is designed to 'give customers more certainty about how their rates are determined'.

Its new floating rate loans will now be pegged to the 12- month Sibor - which is now at about 2.56 per cent plus a mark-up of 1.25 per cent added by DBS. This gives a floating rate of 3.81 per cent.

In contrast, OCBC Bank's floating rate package is 3.25 per cent in the first year but hits 4 per cent in the third.

The 12-month Sibor for new packages is revised monthly depending on interest rate movements while DBS can alter the premium component as it wishes.

'This is what customers have been asking for...we are now taking the lead to set a new standard for more benchmarked board rates,' said DBS' head of home loans, Mr Koh Kar Siong.

New customers will also avoid volatility as the 12-month Sibor for their particular package is adjusted annually in line with market forces, while the premium part is fixed for the loan duration.

DBS will also continue to offer its POSB Home Ideal package pegged to the Central Provident Fund rate, which is highly stable.

Consumer Association of Singapore executive director Seah Seng Choon praised DBS' move: 'We believe consumers will benefit as the interest rates are better understood. We expect the other banks to announce their own formula so that overall transparency will be enhanced.

But other banks are not following suit just yet. OCBC said the needs of customers 'have become increasingly diverse' so it is keeping its suite of fixed and variable rate packages and loans pegged to the Swap Offer Rates. These comprise the Sibor plus a bank's lending costs.

'On occasion, our loan packages may come with promotional interest rates that will be lower than our regular board rates,' said Mr Gregory Chan, OCBC's head of consumer secured lending.

Mr Kevin Lam, head of United Overseas Bank's loans division, said the bank reviews its packages to ensure they are competitive.

Banking analysts noted that DBS had undertaken 'a bold move' as the effective rates of its new packages could in fact be higher than those of its rivals that have not pegged their rates to the Sibor. They may even be higher than DBS' previous rates.

But Mr Koh said there cannot be 'a direct apples-to-apples comparison' between DBS' Sibor-linked rates and other banks' rates. 'You would just be comparing DBS' clear box to other banks' black box.'

One analyst noted that DBS may have to offset a 'marginal loss of market share with the higher spreads it can earn from charging a premium on the Sibor'.

graceng@sph.com.sg
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Old 28-06-2007, 10:37 PM   #22
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June 28, 2007
Apartment sale smashes record at $5,100 psf
SINGAPORE'S most expensive condominium project - The Marq on Paterson Hill - has been fully sold in its first phase, with one unit fetching a record $5,100 per sq ft (psf).
This smashes the week-old record of $4,653.50 psf set by an apartment from St Regis Residences.

The new record set by The Marq also breaches. for the first time, the $5,000 mark for the highest psf unit price.

The Marq's initial phase, which consists 21 units - or a third of all available apartments - achieved an average selling price of $4,137 psf, said developer SC Global in a statement.

The most expensive condominium sale on record is the uber penthouse at Marina Bay Residences, which was said to have fetched about $28.6 million, or $2,600 psf.

On a psf basis, only three projects have breached the $4,000 level: Orchard Residences in Orchard Turn, Parkview Eclat in Grange Road and St Regis Residences in Cuscaden Road.

Previews to The Marq's first phase was offered to invited buyers only, said SC Global.

Of the 21 units sold, eight apartments were within The Signature Tower, housing a 15-metre private lap pool in every unit.

The rest of the 21 units were from Premier Tower.

The record-smashing $5,100 psf sale came from an apartment in The Signature Tower.

Prices for the entire development ranged from approximately $11 million to $31 million.

The three penthouses on the top two floors of the 24-storey-high building and apartments on the higher floors were not released in the first phase, SC Global said.

The Signature Tower will be home to 21 five-bedroom apartments averaging 6,195 sq ft.

Beside it will stand the Premier Tower with 42 four-bedroom apartments averaging 3,000 sq ft.

SC Global Developments said it has no confirmed date for the release of the second phase of units.
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Old 28-06-2007, 10:40 PM   #23
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June 28, 2007
Land-use intensity: No sudden changes
THE Government has no plans for a major exercise to raise plot ratios anytime soon.
In the lead-up to next year's announcement of the Master Plan for Singapore's physical development, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan quashed expectations in some quarters that plot ratios are headed upwards.

This was to make room for a future population of 6.5 million.

The plot ratio of a site decides how much total floor area it can support.

In other words, whether its buildings can be high-rise or low-rise.

It is also known as a site's development intensity.

In an interview this week, Mr Mah said there was no need for a massive across-the- board change in development intensity.

This is because the land available today is more than enough to meet needs over the next 10 to 15 years.

That is the time-frame for the upcoming Master Plan 2008, to be unveiled around the middle of next year.

The statutory document regulates what land parcels across the island can be used for and their density.

It is reviewed every five years.
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Old 28-06-2007, 11:01 PM   #24
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June 28, 2007
Farrer Court en bloc sale reaps $1.34 billion

PROPERTY giant CapitaLand paid $1.34 billion for the sprawling Farrer Court estate on Thursday - the biggest lump sum ever shelled out for a residential site here.

Owners at the 618-unit complex will get about $2.15 million each, depending on the size of their flats, which range from 1,453 to 1,615 square feet.

The bumper price for the ex-HUDC block beat the reserve of $1.2 billion but fell short of the owners' $1.5 billion asking price.

It also signals how high and how fast prices have risen this year. The owners' had demanded $900 million earlier this year but revised that to $1.5 billion when the estate was put up for sale in May.

The deal broker Credo Real Estate said the sale is also the largest in terms of land area, number of units and buildable gross floor area.

Farrer Court, which is 30 years into a 99-year lease, sits on 838,488 sq ft near the junction of Farrer and Holland Roads and the upcoming Farrer MRT Station.

CapitaLand plans to build a 36-storey condominium with about 1,500 flats on the site, which will be ready for launch in early 2009.

Existing Farrer Court owners will have first right of refusal to buy units at the new development.

Capitaland president and chief executive Liew Mun Leong said the deal would further jack up its residential landbank, allowing it to benefit from Singapore's 'growth story'.

The site also gives the firm the chance to work with world-renowned architects to create a unique landmark project, said Mr Liew.

The Farrer Court tender closed on Wednesday and attracted two bids, both above the reserve.
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Old 28-06-2007, 11:07 PM   #25
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Detailed information on property market to be out in July

28 June 2007 1719 hrs


SINGAPORE: More comprehensive data on the property market will be available from July, enabling the government and the public to better gauge the health of the sector.

There have been concerns that the recent run-up in home prices is a bubble waiting to burst.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said more options, such as Executive Condominiums (EC), will be made available to help keep private housing affordable.

Private home prices have risen over 20 percent in the past three years and are forecast to spike by another 25 percent this year, leading to concerns that the residential sector is overheating.

To get an even more comprehensive picture of the market, the government has asked developers for more details about their sales.

Mr Mah said: "We watch the situation closely. We look at the economy and various indicators. It's important for us to make sure that the data we get is accurate, comprehensive and that it's reaching us in a timely manner so that we can make those decisions.

"Once we get that data, we want to push it out into the market to let the public know what is happening so that they will have access to the same kind of information to make considered, rational and prudent decisions."

The minister said more information would be available from July, including pricing details and sales numbers for all new projects.

Mr Mah said: "The worst thing is for people to panic due to incomplete or selective information. If we can provide the data, information, imminent 3-year supply for office and residential, people will realise that there is no point rushing."

He notes that, by and large, property developers have been cooperative.

The minister said: "We've explained to them that a transparent market is good for everybody. They understand that and they are providing us with the data, which we're collating and pushing out."

Mr Mah also added that with the widening price gap between private and public housing, the government will strive to provide more affordable housing options for young couples and HDB upgraders.

These options include Executive Condominiums (EC) and apartments under the Design, Build & Sell Scheme.

He said: "2005 was the last time that we put out an EC site for sale. But now the gap is starting to widen, so I think it is time for us to replenish the EC stock. And that's the reason why we had one site in Punggol for the ECs in the last GLS (Government Land Sales Programme)."

More sites for these apartments will be released if there is demand.
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Old 30-06-2007, 12:01 PM   #26
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June 30, 2007
Conflict of interest: Guilty lawyers may be struck off rolls
Courts may go further than suspension, warns appeals judge

By K.C. Vijayan
A JUDGE has warned lawyers who place themselves in potential conflict-of-interests dilemmas, by acting for multiple clients, that they may be struck off the rolls.

This latest caution from the judiciary about 'troubling patterns in legal practice' and their impact on public confidence came from Judge of Appeal V.K. Rajah in a judgment published yesterday.

He said: 'Left unchecked, such misconduct will inexorably undermine the dignity of the legal profession and erode the very essence of the solicitor-client relationship.'

So far, lawyers have only been suspended from practice in such cases, the latest being Mr Tan Phuay Khiang. He must cease practising for two years after being found guilty of professional misconduct.

Justice Rajah warned that the courts may go further in future when he explained why a Court of Three Judges presided by Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong, in April, found Mr Tan's behaviour reprehensible.

The lawyer of 13 years' standing had acted for a couple in the sale of their Housing Board flat in Choa Chu Kang Street 51.

The couple had allegedly been cheated by a moneylender, who advanced them a bridging loan to buy an HDB flat, and then collected the sale proceeds from their previous flat without refunding them the difference.

The moneylender was able to do this because the couple signed papers prepared by Mr Tan allowing someone else to collect the money.

In the end, the couple, who made $142,000 from the HDB for the sale of their flat, ended up with just $48.11 after the parties took their cuts.

Mr Tan also failed to highlight to his clients the potential conflict of interest, because he also worked for other parties involved in the sale.

Justice Rajah described the persistent attempts by Mr Tan to justify his actions as 'disconcerting', instead of 'acknowledging his lapses at the first available opportunity'.

His remarks come in the wake of an increase in the number of probes against lawyers. There were 28 last year, more than twice the number a year earlier.

The concern over falling standards led to the CJ launching a personal guidebook on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, for practising lawyers last month.
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Old 02-07-2007, 09:24 AM   #27
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July 2, 2007
UPFRONT
Bishan no longer property hotspot
By Lin Xinyi
BACK in 1997, Mr Felix Chua and his wife Margaret paid $730,000 for a 14th floor, 146 sq m executive maisonette in Bishan.
Both property agents, they believed they had struck a good deal.

They had earlier missed out on two flats in the same block - an 18th floor unit which sold for $750,000, and another on the eighth floor that went for $720,000.

Today, their flat is not worth anything close.

Property analysts put the current value of executive maisonettes at Bishan Street 23 at about $480,000 - already 10 per cent more than at the start of this year, when prices were closer to $440,000.

So buyers - especially those now flush with cash from the collective sale of their old homes - thinking of paying top dollar for resale flats might well take this as a cautionary tale.

Last month, a six-year-old 115 sq m Housing Board flat at Kim Tian Place went for $720,000 - setting a record for five-room flats.

The buyer had cash from a collective sale to blow; the seller pocketed a tidy profit of $350,000.

Residents in this Tiong Bahru neighbourhood are not short of interested buyers, some of whom are willing to pay $60,000 to $70,000 above the valuation of about $530,000 - all in cash.

Almost every day, residents receive fliers from various real-estate companies in their mailboxes. Property agents have also shown up in person at their doors.

Occasionally, these residents get handwritten notes slipped in under their doors from buyers looking for a quick purchase without going through a property agent.

Just down the road from Kim Tian, at the Jalan Membina HDB estate, a buyer paid $675,000 for a 16th floor unit last month.

Property analysts are surprised by these purchases.

Chesterton International research director Colin Tan said such prices are not justified by the expected rentals.

He said: 'Sometimes, people do pay 10 per cent more for benefits such as staying near their parents or being near a school.

'But if they are thinking of paying 50 per cent more, there are alternatives in the resale market.'

Analysts say the recent rash of collective sales is fuelling this buying frenzy.

PropNex chief executive Mohamad Ismail said: 'If not for that, I do not think anyone will pay $700,000 for a five-room flat.'

He said that while those who have windfalls from properties sold en bloc will not feel the pinch because they are paying just a fraction of what they have made, HDB upgraders in the market for resale flats do need to worry about paying such high prices, he said.

Even though he expects HDB prices to go up over the next two to three years, he reckons that buyers who paid more than $100,000 above valuation previously will not be able to sell at today's prices.

Retiree Alan Pwee, 63, has been down that very road.

In 1997, he upgraded from a five-room flat in Bishan Street 23 to a $760,000 top-floor maisonette a few blocks away.

The maisonette is now worth only $480,000.

'Of course, I regret buying at that price. It was partly an investment. Now, I have no choice but to take it as a paper loss,' he said resignedly.

Mr Pwee and the Chuas are among those who bought homes during the last property boom a decade ago.

Mr Ismail said: 'Anyone who bought in 1996 will not make a dollar's profit today.'

However, those in Bishan are counting bigger paper losses. The inflated prices back then came from the demand for five-room and executive flats in the estate.

A decade ago, Bishan was a new satellite town.

Demand for homes there was jacked up because of its good location: It is served by expressways and the MRT, and amenities and premier schools - such as Raffles Institution and Catholic High School - are in the neighbourhood.

The only comfort from the paper loss for Mr Chua, now 50, is that he and his wife feel they 'got what they wanted'.

But given a chance, they would like to downgrade to a four-room flat.

Those hoping to 'let go' properties they paid a high price for are saying they will wait out the current market.

Mr John Ching moved into Bishan about 10 years ago when he bought a maisonette at $620,000.

'I won't sell unless the price is about $600,000,' said the 59-year-old retiree.

But property analysts say Bishan residents would have to wait for the economy to improve further to stand a chance of breaking even.

Mr Ismail noted that the price index is 20 per cent lower than in 1996.

And Bishan is no longer the estate buyers are eyeing.

The choice locations now are Telok Blangah, Redhill and Tiong Bahru because they are near the city and the upcoming integrated resorts, said Mr Ismail.

Mr Nicholas Mak, director of research and consultancy at Knight Frank, said: 'Flats are not an ageless commodity like gold.

'Bishan is no longer the hot area as flats there are much older now.'
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Old 02-07-2007, 09:26 AM   #28
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July 2, 2007
Luxury bungalows enjoy strong demand in buoyant market

Average asking prices now close to $1,000 psf on the back of rising land values, larger plots
By Joyce Teo

DEMAND for prime bungalows is still high and prices show no sign of easing either - no surprise given the property market's resurgence.
So far this year, 47 deals for good class bungalows have been done to the tune of $560 million, said CBRE Research.

This compares with 55 deals worth $564 million completed in the same period last year.

Good class bungalows are defined as those on at least 15,000 sq ft of land in 39 designated areas.

Asking prices for bungalows in coveted areas such as Nassim Road, Dalvey Estate, White House Park and Cluny Park now average $900 per sq ft (psf) to $1,000 psf, said Mr Douglas Wong, who heads PropNex Grandeur Homes.

This is up from transacted prices of $400 psf to $450 psf three years ago when the market for good class bungalows showed its first signs of recovery, he said.

Savills Singapore's director of marketing and business development, Mr Ku Swee Yong, said asking prices for Nassim Road have crept up to about $1,200 psf.

Average total prices for good class bungalow deals this year have crossed the $12 million mark, compared with last year's average of $10.8 million and the 2005 average of $8.5 million, he said.

A bungalow on 15,075 sq ft in next door Dalvey Estate in district 10 was sold for $1,091 psf of land area in March. This brought the average price of done deals in the area to $898 psf this year.

It represents an 83 per cent rise from the average price of $501 psf recorded for five deals done last year, said ** Richard Ellis Research (CBRE Research).

Another Dalvey Road bungalow with a land area of 20,139 sq ft was sold in April for $14.2 million, up 63 per cent from the $8.7 million price that the seller paid last February, it said.

The Binjai Park area in district 21, near Bukit Timah Road, has also seen a significant price increase this year.

Three deals worth an average of $666 psf have been done compared with an average of $363 psf for three sales last year.

Higher-priced deals are being recorded because of rising land values, larger plots being sold and newer houses on those plots, said Savills Singapore's Mr Ku.

Some owners who had bought a few years ago rebuilt or renovated their homes before putting the properties back on the market at higher prices, he said.

The prime bungalow market had a record year last year with 119 deals worth $1.23 billion.

But it cannot be compared with the condominium market as it is largely restricted to local buyers, consultants said.

Foreigners have to be permanent residents and apply for special approval to buy landed homes on mainland Singapore, with Sentosa Cove being the only location where non-PR foreigners can purchase landed property.

Foreigners are further restricted to landed properties with a land area of no more than 15,000 sq ft.

CBRE Research said good class bungalow sales this year would be similar in value to those of last year, but the number of sales may not be as high as the 119 recorded last year.

'That is because sellers' expectations are now much higher than before, given the very positive outlook,' it said.

Nevertheless, where value is concerned, there is still room to move up, said Mr Wong, who predicts a 5 per cent to 10 per cent rise in bungalow prices for the rest of the year.

Prices could move even higher next year given that 99-year leasehold Sentosa Cove bungalow plots have sold for higher prices than good class bungalow plots.

'Good class bungalows are a unique product. There are only 2,500 units in Singapore and all are freehold,' said Mr Wong.
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Old 03-07-2007, 02:31 PM   #29
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Private home prices up 7.9% across the board

Second-quarter rise highest since 1999; spillover seen in HDB resale prices

http://www.straitstimes.com/STI/STIM...erty_chart.pdf

By Joyce Teo

PRIVATE home prices have shot up across the board with everything from luxury condos to humble suburban homes reaping the benefits.
Figures out yesterday - still just estimates at this stage - for the April-June period show that private property is on a dramatic upswing with plenty of momentum.

Prices rose 7.9 per cent - the biggest jump since the third quarter in 1999, when the market staged a brief recovery before sliding into a lengthy slump.

The increase comes on top of a 4.8-per-cent rise in the first three months this year.

'We are clearly in the middle of a property boom now and the growth is escalating,' said Knight Frank head of research Nicholas Mak.

The central core region, scene of some eye-catching condo launches and collective sales, turned in another solid performance, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) yesterday.

Prices of non-landed private homes in the core zone - it includes districts 9, 10, 11, downtown and Sentosa - rose 7.6 per cent in the second quarter, compared with a 5.5-per-cent rise in the first.

But for all this area's golden glow, the figures that stood out were from areas outside the central core. Non-landed homes in the rest of the central region - this includes areas like Toa Payoh - saw prices leap 7.9 per cent, well up on the 3.7-per-cent increase in the first quarter.

Rises were even more impressive outside of central, where non-landed home prices surged 6.5 per cent in the second quarter, trumping the anaemic 2-per-cent effort in the first.

There was occasional panic buying as some feared they could miss bargains, said agents.

Yet despite the positive numbers, private home prices are still about 18.8 per cent below the 1996 peak.

The positive sentiment has also spilled over to HDB resales, where prices rose 2.85 per cent - again, the highest growth since the third quarter of 1999 - and up from a 1.25-per-cent rise in the first.

'We're seeing a broad-based recovery plus a tiny spurt from the HDB side,' said Savills Singapore marketing director Ku Swee Yong. The climb in the high-end market, where prices have hit $5,100 psf, is likely to be sustained, he said.

Property experts are looking at a 20- to 25-per-cent rise for private homes for the whole year. They said the strong collective sales market - with about 30 to 40 more estates waiting to hit the market in the next year - will keep demand for suburban and HDB flats chugging along.

PropNex chief executive officer Mohamed Ismail expects HDB prices will clock up a 10-per-cent rise this year.

The URA statement yesterday also touched an issue vexing many - is the market overheating and should some cold water be thrown over it?

It said the Government would continue to monitor the market 'very closely' and ensure there is sufficient supply to meet demand.

Many residential sites have been released in Government land sales (GLS) programmes with more earmarked for next year if there is a need.

The URA said the good stock of private housing and more GLS sites in the pipeline means supply should keep up.

Or as Mr Mak puts it, there is no need to rush in.
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Old 03-07-2007, 09:44 PM   #30
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July 3, 2007
HDB resale prices show steady growth, up 2.85% in second quarter
Demand is picking up due largely to better economy and upbeat sentiment: Analysts
By Joyce Teo
THERE has barely been a pulse in the public housing scene for the past couple of years but the beast is stirring and showing distinct signs of life.
It is certainly attracting more attention, thanks to some cashed-up collective-sale sellers picking up Housing Board (HDB) flats at mind-boggling prices.

Fortunately, the action is not just limited to those infrequent deals. Demand has largely picked up with a better economy and greater market confidence, said property experts.

It is all a far cry from the grim days of about three years ago when HDB prices were artificially inflated by rampant cash-back arrangements.

These illegal deals involved the seller declaring a higher price in order to secure a bigger loan for the buyer and so facilitating the sale. Rules were introduced in April 2005 to curb these deals.

Preliminary government estimates yesterday showed a 2.85 per cent rise in HDB resale flat prices in the second quarter, up from 1.25 per cent in the first.

Experts are forecasting continued price growth in line with Singapore's positive economic outlook.

The HDB resale market is experiencing a 'filter-down effect' from the strong private property market, said ERA Singapore's assistant vice-president, Mr Eugene Lim. 'Homebuyers who are priced out of the private property market will be looking at the larger flat types such as the five-room and executive flats.'

The asking prices of these larger flats have already risen to as much as $50,000 to $150,000 above valuation, he said.

In the past, weak demand meant that many flats, particularly the larger ones, were selling at levels below valuation.

Things have perked up since with units now largely selling above valuation, and some flats in the outlying areas going for about $10,000 to $30,000 above valuation, consultants said.

Some sellers are asking for very high prices, hoping to land a windfall similar to those two owners who hit the headlines last month after reaping prices of $675,000 and $720,000 for their conveniently-located flats.

But these deals are not everyday occurrences, said Mr Lim, and sellers must be realistic as the typical flat buyer depends a lot on bank financing.

If the resale flat is not a standout - that includes having unblocked panoramic views and a snazzy decor - rational buyers would not pay a high premium for a 99-year property, he said.

And only flats in certain areas such as Tiong Bahru and Redhill, which are near collective-sale sites, appear to be attracting higher prices, said PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail.

He noted that not all sellers in collective sales are taking the HDB route; some are buying into ageing suburban condominiums which offer facilities like a pool.

He described the price rise in the HDB resale market as 'fair' as prices had been lagging behind those of private properties.

For the full year, HDB resale prices may rise by about 10 per cent, said property experts.

A HDB market with steady growth would help support the private property market, added Savills Singapore's director of marketing and business development, Mr Ku Swee Yong.

The official figures for the second quarter will be released at the end of the month.


http://www.straitstimes.com/STI/STIM...affordable.pdf
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