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Old 13-08-2007, 03:21 PM   #91
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Aug 13, 2007
West Coast condo sold out in less than two weeks
Buyers pay average of $880 psf for the 659 units at The Parc project

By Joyce Teo
ALL 659 units of The Parc Condominium in West Coast Walk have been snapped up in less than a fortnight since the start of the month.
Prices for the freehold 24-storey condominium went as high as $1,040 per sq ft (psf) for several coveted high-floor units.

Overall, the apartments were sold at $880 psf on average, having risen from an average of about $820 psf at the start of sales.

Collective sale sellers of the former Westpeak condominium, on whose site The Parc now stands, got the first bite of the cherry on July 31. Other buyers joined in later.

The last unit was taken up by 6pm on Saturday, after which sales staff of the condominium's sole marketing agent, Savills Singapore, threw a celebratory party at the show-flat.

The most common type of unit are three-bedders, ranging from 1,216 to 1,302 sq ft. There are 282 of them, or nearly 43 per cent of all homes. The condominium also has apartments as small as 667 sq ft and three penthouses at about 3,681 sq ft each in size.

Buyers were mostly Singaporeans, with foreigners making up less than 20 per cent of the purchasers, said the firm's managing director, Mr Michael Ng.

The Singaporean buyers included young families and older people looking for retirement homes or homes for their children, he said. Foreign buyers included those from Hong Kong and Indonesia, he added.

Developed by construction and property group Chip Eng Seng and a Lehman Brothers unit, The Parc is near Clementi town centre and a short drive away from the National University of Singapore, Singapore Polytechnic, Singapore Science Park and one-north in Buona Vista.

Savills said professionals and lecturers from these places are potential tenants. The condominium features recreational facilities such as a 50m lap pool, jacuzzi and a toddlers' pool on a relatively large site of 366,432 sq ft.

Chip Eng Seng bought Westpeak in a collective sale last April for $206.09 million, which worked out to $348 psf of potential gross floor area, inclusive of a development charge then estimated at $21.5 million.

Lehman Brothers came in for an equal share of the project last October.

Meanwhile, Chip Eng Seng soft-launched a high-end project with about 70 units in Peck Hay Road, near Cairnhill Circle, about a month ago.

It has since sold close to 50 per cent of the development - which sits on the former Venus Mansion site - at about $2,500 psf on average.

Next up for the developer will be the launch of a small, luxury condominium in Grange Road.
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Old 15-08-2007, 08:18 AM   #92
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Devonshire Lodge owner plans legal action against en bloc sale

14 August 2007 2253 hrs

SINGAPORE: Even before the dust settles on the Horizon Towers saga, the sole unit owner objecting against Devonshire Lodge's collective sale has decided to seek legal action to break the deal.

All the owners, except Mr Jeffrey Lai, had agreed to sell the 27-unit Devonshire Lodge en bloc for $37.2 million.

Mr Lai said he would hire a lawyer to fight the case.

And some owners who had signed the sales agreement are now having second thoughts.

Mr Lai said: "Roughly, each unit will get about $1.5 million. For the smaller unit, they are getting $1 million plus. I won't say that they are getting less or whatever, but at least we want to know that it's a fair valuation when they sell the property, that's all."

The next step, Mr Lai said, is to wait for an independent valuation report which should be ready by the end of the month.

This report will then be submitted to the Strata Titles Board as part of an application against the deal and to set a hearing date to present his case.

When contacted, Toh Tan & Partners, the law firm representing the majority of the owners, said it was unable to comment as the matter is set to go under judgement.

Meanwhile the buyer, developer Evan Lim & Co, said the deal was negotiated at market rate then.

The Strata Titles Board said that to date, there are only three cases where an en bloc transaction has been blocked.

Industry watchers said the typical issues raised by objectors relate to sales process and valuation, which can be subjective.

Nicholas Mak, a property analyst at Knight Frank, said: "In a market where prices are changing almost every month or every quarter, the valuation report may become a bit outdated a couple of months later, so it will help in the beginning to give the residents a certain idea, an independent opinion on the value of their property. But they must act upon that information that is received. If they want to use valuation, they may have to do an update of the valuation report a bit later."

Harry Elias Partnership's Philip Fong said: "For the valuation itself, it doesn't mean that just because it's lower than the fair market price, there is automatically bad faith or lack of good faith. There has to be inadequate marketing, or they have to show that the sale was rushed into, or there was suppression of facts. So, these are limited grounds."

To compound the problems, Mr Fong said, minority dissenters are usually not privy to what went on during meetings to discuss the sale of a property.

They also do not have easy access to the sales committee and documents.

Still, it does not mean they do not have a case.

It all depends on the merit of the case.

Under the Land Titles Act, apart from technical objections, they can also object on the basis of financial loss
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Old 16-08-2007, 02:02 PM   #93
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URA July home sales figures show continued price rise

15 August 2007 2114 hrs

SINGAPORE: More private homes were sold in July, compared to the month before, and at higher prices as well, according to the latest data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Analysts are, however, predicting a slower month of August due to uncertainties in the financial markets caused by the US sub-prime crisis, coupled with the traditionally slow Hungry Ghost Month.

The latest private home sales data showed that 1,378 new units were sold last month, nearly 20 per cent more than in June. And over 70 per cent of the projects sold over the past two months fetched higher median prices in July.

"The prices were on the whole better, and the volumes were also better. It's consistent with the trend of the last quarter and it reflects the fact that Singapore is doing quite well selling itself a place to invest,” says Colin Tan, head of research from Chesterton International.

“In this current up-cycle, I think there has been more investment buying rather than speculative buying because we do not hear of so many stories of people buying properties, and then maybe flipping it within a week," he continues.

Analysts also point out that an increasing number of apartments are now fetching more than S$4,000 per square foot, a benchmark price hardly seen before this year.

According to property consultancy Knight Frank, 73 such units were sold in July, compared to the 16 sold in June, at projects such as Scotts Square and The Orchard Residences.

A unit at The Marq on Paterson Hill fetched the highest price thus far, at S$5,100 per square foot.

But market watchers say August is likely to see a dip in the numbers of units sold.

"Looking forward in August, I think the numbers will probably be more subdued, due to a lesser number of projects that will be launched, (with) August traditionally being the Lunar Ghost Month, as well as the US sub-prime situation that has affected both the stock markets and some sentiments in the property market," says Dennis Yeo, managing director of Colliers International.

Private home prices have overall risen some 13 per cent in the first six months of this year.

The URA started putting out more comprehensive sales data last month, in a bid to bring greater transparency to the property market. These figures are now updated on the 15th of every month. - CNA/ac
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Old 16-08-2007, 02:04 PM   #94
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Hungry Ghosts may spook property boom

16 August 2007 0633 hrs

The subprime crisis half a world away — coupled with the Hungry Ghost Festival in Asia — may mean a quieter month for property agents in Singapore.

August — traditionally a slower month because of superstitious house-buyers — will be hit by the double whammy of poor purchasing sentiment that's spilling over from the US because of the subprime saga, said analysts.

Developers are likely to delay launching condo projects as they wait for the jittery stock markets to settle, said Mr Nicholas Mak, Knight Frank's director of consultancy and research.

This was also what happened during the February/March stock market correction, he noted. "The market correction in February did not present any systemic risk, but this time round with the subprime issue popping up now and then, it appears the market is more volatile, and that can make developers more cautious.

"If you look at the number of property advertisements that usually appear mid-week for launches on the weekends, it now appears to be very quiet," he pointed out.

Already, Singapore property mogul Kwek Leng Beng is reportedly seeing some foreign investors deferring their purchases on concerns over the subprime mortgage woes.

This cooling down period comes after a month of stellar private home sales in July.

The latest Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) figures on the sale of new private homes showed 1,378 units, or almost 20 per cent more units, were sold in July compared to that of a month earlier.

Overall, the median price achieved for a unit in July was $1,609 per square foot (psf), a 22.2 per cent increase from the previous month's $1,317psf.

The figures, released on Wednesday, are the second update since the URA first started unveiling more comprehensive data last month to inject more transparency to the market.

Most interestingly, it showed that the number of units sold above $4,000 psf soared by more than 356 per cent to a new record of 72 units, compared to just 16 units in June.

"This is a significant milestone in the evolution of Singapore's private residential market given that before June 2007, units that were sold above $4000 psf were almost non-existent in Singapore," said Mr Mak.

The super-luxurious Scotts Square development alone posted 150 sales, of which 64 were sold at between $4,000 psf and $4,499 psf, with the remaining 86 units sold between $3,500 psf and $3999 psf.

The Marq On Paterson Hill scored $4,044 psf in June and $4943 psf in July - the highest median price achieved in the two consecutive months.

Other properties in the $4,000 psf-club includes The Orchard Residences and Cliveden at Grange.

Said Colin Tan, head of research, Chesterton International: "The prices were on the whole better, and the volumes were also better. It's consistent with the trend of the last quarter and it reflects the fact that Singapore is doing quite well selling itself a place to invest."

Overall, private home prices have risen some 13 per cent in the first six months of this year.

"In this current up-cycle, I think there has been more investment buying rather than speculative buying. Because we do not hear of so many stories of people buying properties, and then maybe flipping it within a week," he added.

And while the number of new private homes transactions may slow down this month, analysts don't expect prices to go down as well.

"It will probably show up as lower sales volumes rather than lower prices," said Mr Tan, "The gestation period of property development in general is about two years, so prices will be a little sticky coming down. Developers are not likely to rush to lower prices at the slightest problem."
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Old 16-08-2007, 02:27 PM   #95
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En bloc sellers should be aware of powers of sales committee

SINGAPORE : Owners should understand the collective sales process and the powers bestowed on their sales committee right from the start.

This will help minimise potential problems arising from an en bloc deal.

Dissenting views among home owners are common.

The Strata Titles Board received 45 en bloc applications in the first half of 2007 - 4 were resolved after mediation, another 4 set for hearing, and 24 others pending.

10 applications went for collective sales order uncontested, and 3 were withdrawn.

The usual grouses include apportionment of payout and valuation of the property.

While the law does not require valuation to be done anytime before the sale, lawyers said it might be advisable to do so, before making a decision to sell.

It is also important for the owners to select a reputable marketing agent to ensure adequate steps are taken to market the property at the best possible price.

Another suggestion is to add a clause in the sales agreement to provide for a revision of the reserve price according to market conditions.

But property analysts countered that an overly flexible reserve price will not give developers the peace of mind to bid for the site.

Apart from pricing issues, the content of the sales agreement and the conduct of the sales committee should not be overlooked.

"The asset that is put in the hands of the sales committees (involves) hundreds of millions of dollars. More thought should be given into this process, in terms of due diligence required on the part of the sales committee, controls, and declarations of conflicts of interest, which need not reach the level of statutory duties of directors," said Philip Fong, Partner, Harry Elias Partnership.

The government is expected to amend the laws on en bloc sales soon.

Experts said that while it will make the process more transparent and allow residents to have more say, there could be other challenges.

"The effect is it’s going to cause the collective sales process to drag on a bit longer because you need to call for EOGM for example. That could pose some additional challenges to the agents because more documentations need to be done," said Nicholas Mak, a property analyst at Knight Frank.

Selling aside, owners must also be prepared to pay more for their replacement home, given the current property boom
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Old 17-08-2007, 11:46 PM   #96
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En bloc sale: Work starts even before all move out
AMID all the stories on collective property sales readers of The Straits Times have come across, mine in Balmoral View has a twist.
The developer has moved in equipment to build a showflat even though seven units of this 22-unit condo are still occupied.

It means we cannot use the visitors' carpark and the recreation areas, apart from having to tolerate the dirty swimming pool, noise and dust. In the meantime, we are still billed for monthly maintenance.

Yes, our condo was an early bird in the 'en bloc wave', and prices paid to unit owners were low compared to the current level. We accepted the deal, and the last unit must be vacated by November.

But what right has the developer to rush in before everyone moves out?

Some to-ing and fro-ing with Building and Construction Authority officials revealed that, although the deal was completed in May, the developer had already applied for and got the necessary approvals from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to build a showflat in February last year.

Did the URA check with the Strata Titles Board on the legality of such a move, given that there are residents who do not need to move out until November?

By mid-June, heavy construction equipment was moved in and the construction of the showflat is now in earnest. The recreation area has been cordoned off.

Also, I see obvious safety concerns with children playing in the compound, especially with wooden scaffolding less than a couple of metres from the swimming pool.

I understand the developer's haste to catch the hot property market but this is at the expense of residents still living on the estate.

Can the authorities enlighten us on this unsatisfactory situation?

Chio Tan Seng

Aug 17, 2007
En-bloc residents requested to stay on longer

WE REFER to the letter, 'En bloc sale: Work starts even before all move out' (ST, Aug 13), where Mr Chio Tan Seng queried why the developers of Balmoral View, which had been sold en bloc, were allowed to start building a showflat onsite even though seven units in the development are still occupied.
He asked if the developers are legally allowed to do this as residents have been allowed to stay till November. He was also concerned about the safety of the residents.

We understand that the developers took legal possession of the site in May. Some residents were allowed to stay longer at their request. This was privately agreed upon between the developers and the residents.

In July, the developers obtained Written Permission from URA to redevelop the site. Written Permission was given after URA had determined that the redevelopment plans complied with various planning requirements.

The developers need not obtain a further permit from either URA or BCA to build the showflat within the approved redevelopment site after they receive Written Permission. The developers and stakeholders of the project are directly responsible for safety at the worksite and they should take the necessary safety precautions to protect workers and the residents.

Han Yong Hoe
Director (Development Control)
Urban Redevelopment Authority

Ong Chan Leng
(Special Functions Division)
Building and Construction Authority
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Old 18-08-2007, 11:28 PM   #97
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Property en bloc deals expected to slow in H2: consultants

18 August 2007 0011 hrs

SINGAPORE : The value of en bloc deals done in the second half of this year could slow down compared to the first six months, as sentiments in the property market turn cautious.

But property consultants say total deals are still likely to hit $16 billion - double that of last year - due to an exceptionally active first half.

A combination of factors - including uncertainties in the financial markets prompted by the US sub-prime crisis and the government's move to raise development charge rates - could have dampened developers' appetite for more land.

Karamjit Singh, MD of Credo Real Estate says: "Over the last one month or so, things have turned somewhat cautious. There were a lot of discussions about whether the government could cool the market and how they would implement measures.

"Developers have also bought quite a bit of sites in the first half of this year. Some of them are telling us that they have bought more than they ever intended for the entire year, so they will need to slow purchases until some of their new projects get off-loaded."

Other developments include an impending change in en bloc laws that could make it tougher to conclude a deal, and a growing legal spat between buyers and sellers of Horizon Towers.

Property consultants say owners may now need to temper their expectations in terms of asking prices.

"I would think that most of the en bloc sales will not reach the prices that the owners want to sell at. Horizon Towers was in a situation where, when the deal was signed, the market spiked up a lot. But in today's situation, are we going to expect another hike in the market at that kind of rate? That's questionable," says Dennis Yeo, MD of Colliers International.

But for homeowners who are worried that they may have missed the boat for en bloc sales, analysts say there could still be a silver lining.

"What may also happen on the flipside is that some en bloc sellers' expectations may turn more realistic. Prices may drop a bit, thereby motivating some developers waiting by the wings to take the bite," says Credo Real Estate's MD.

There were over $11 billion worth of en bloc deals in the first six months of this year, with many projects setting new record prices. - CNA

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Old 20-08-2007, 01:40 PM   #98
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'Phantom' buyer ploy to get apartment owner to support en-bloc sale
I COMPLETELY agree with Ms Alison Taylor, 'Love your home? Beware the condo raiders' (ST, Aug 16).
My friend who lives in a condo in Bedok has a similar experience.

He was approached to vote for an en-bloc sale at his condo with an offer of a fantastic sale price in order to achieve the 80 per cent target.

They even told him that there is a ready buyer. But when he asked who the prospective buyer was, there was no answer. This is clearly a ploy to make gullible owners to sign up.

I would like to suggest that the percentage be raised to 90 per cent approval by subsidiary proprietors before an en-bloc sale can be launched to protect the interest of minority owners.

William Tay Kay Chiak
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Old 21-08-2007, 10:46 PM   #99
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Aug 21, 2007
Collective sale fever expected to push up key development fee
Charges imposed on developers could rise in Govt's half-yearly review next month
By Fiona Chan
THE recent record-breaking run of collective sales is likely to push up a key government charge imposed on developers, making land sites - and collective deals - more expensive.
This development charge, which is due for a half-yearly revision on Sept 1, could rise by up to 25 per cent islandwide for residential non-landed sites on average, say property consultants.

This is almost double the 14 per cent rise in the previous revision in March, which was already considered a large increase. Even so, most consultants believe higher charges may not dampen the collective sale market as long as developers remain bullish.

Development charges reflect recent land and property values and affect future acquisition decisions by developers. They can reach millions of dollars, and vary according to land use for the 118 locations in Singapore.

The upcoming revision is likely to be watched closely by developers, as it comes on top of a surprise 40 per cent hike in development charges last month.

Given the frenzied pace of collective sales and the soaring prices of offices, most consultants expect the charges to jump the most for residential and commercial sites.

According to property firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), collective sales added up to $10.2 billion in the first seven months of this year alone, boosted by benchmark deals such as The Ardmore in Ardmore Park and Fairways Condominium in Telok Blangah.

JLL expects development charges for non-landed sites to rise by up to 60 per cent in certain areas, led by District 9, East Coast and Telok Blangah.

But another firm, Colliers International, believes city-fringe sites will see higher increases.

While charges for non-landed sites jumped the most in prime areas during the last revision, Colliers expects that this time round, they will rise more in areas 'located at the immediate fringe of Orchard, downtown and Sentosa Cove'. These include the Novena, Newton, Holland Road, Farrer Road and Telok Blangah areas.

But large increases are also likely in areas as far afield as St Patrick's Road near Katong and the area around Upper Paya Lebar and Geylang, due to recent transactions in those areas, added Colliers' director of research and consultancy, Ms Tay Huey Ying.

As for landed sites, JLL is predicting a 20 to 30 per cent rise in development charges islandwide, with those for District 11 sites jumping by up to 50 per cent.

Office sites are also expected to see higher charges.

Colliers' forecast is a 40 to 50 per cent jump for Collyer Quay and Marina Bay, and 25 to 40 per cent for the Central Business District. JLL expects increases of 20 to 25 per cent islandwide.

Despite the fact that the hikes in development charges are likely to be higher and more widespread this time, consultants believe they may not slow the collective sale market or halt rising land prices.

Ms Tay noted that in the last revision, the charges had been raised by up to 64 per cent for some locations, but that did not deter the collective sale fever from going strong.

'For well-located sites, developers' bullishness in the end-user market gives them the confidence to bid for land at benchmark prices,' she said. 'They are confident of passing on the increased costs to end-purchasers through benchmark launch prices.'

But she added that for sites in less desirable locations, a steep hike in development charges could 'serve as a wake-up call to home owners who have been holding out for a higher premium'.

Agreeing, JLL's regional director and head of investments, Mr Lui Seng Fatt, said that development charges for freehold land are small as a proportion of the total land price and development cost.

'However, it will have a more significant impact for leasehold land because more charges are usually payable,' he said.

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Old 24-08-2007, 01:07 PM   #100
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Aug 24, 2007
Horizon Towers sellers sued for botched collective sale
$500m deal scuppered by simple technical error of missing signatures on the sale application

By Joyce Teo
A LEGAL battle looms for the sellers of Horizon Towers units, after it was disclosed yesterday that a simple technical error on sale documents had derailed the estate's collective sale.
The intended buyers - Hotel Properties (HPL) and its two partners - are taking the 173 majority owners to the High Court over their failure to go through with the $500 million sale.

Their move comes after the Strata Titles Board (STB) released the grounds for its Aug 3 oral decision to halt the sale application of the Leonie Hill property. The sellers had requested the clarification.

The STB said documents carrying the signatures of three majority owners - who are sellers - were not included in the sale application.

The original committee members representing the sellers had made a statutory declaration that the signed documents were included, without realising that they were not.

And the STB - which only convenes to hear a case once documents are declared to be correct and in order - could not allow any changes to be made to the application.

The STB said there were concerns over whether it had the power to allow an amendment.

But under the law, once a sale application is found to be defective, the board's role ceases.

The STB's clarification, coincidentally, was followed by a statement from HPL, which said that proceedings have been started in the High Court against the sellers.

HPL and its partners Morgan Stanley Real Estate-managed funds and Qatar Investment Authority said the sellers are in breach of the sales contract and are ordering them to 'do everything in their power' to obtain a collective sale order from the STB.

That will result in the sellers having to refile the sale documents, which also means that they must sell their 99-year leasehold estate at the $500 million price inked in February.

This rankles with many owners - those who backed the sale and some who did not - as property prices have rocketed since then. The Grangeford estate nearby has sold for more than double the Horizon Towers price, on a per sq ft basis.

If they do not go ahead with the sale, HPL and partners said they will sue for damages for breach of contract.

But even if a sale order is obtained, the HPL consortium said they can still sue for other damages.

Any damages will be assessed by the court but the buyers - represented by Allen & Gledhill - have earlier put lost profits at $800 million to $1 billion.

The 173 majority owners of Horizon Towers, including the sales committee, will be liable.

The majority owners were originally represented by Drew & Napier, and subsequently replaced by Tan Rajah & Cheah.

Yesterday's developments - just the latest in a saga stretching back to the contentious sale in February - puts the ball back into the sellers' court.

Because the STB's oral decision was made solely because the documents were defective, and not on the merits of the case, it said the sellers can refile a fresh set of documents.

The case has been made even more complicated by the fact that the sellers had an Aug 11 sale deadline written into their contract with the buyers.

When the STB killed off the sale on Aug 3, it left the owners just eight days to devise a strategy.

HPL and partners asked the sellers to extend the deadline by four months from Aug 11 and file a new sale application or appeal to the High Court to reconsider STB's decision.

The sellers rejected this option.
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Old 27-08-2007, 11:08 PM   #101
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Aug 27, 2007
En bloc sales process to become more transparent

By Jermyn Chow

HOMEOWNERS will get added protection with proposed changes that will make the en bloc sales process clearer, fairer and more transparent, with the introduction on Monday of the Land Titles (Strata) (Amendment) Bill.

Among the enhancements are a requirement for a sales committee to be formally appointed and for a five-day 'cooling off' period after the collective sales agreement is signed, in case owners change their minds.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Law Professor S. Jayakumar first outlined some of the changes in March.

But in moving the new Bill, he told Parliament on Monday that more proposals were added after a public consultation exercise as well as group discussions with industry experts like lawyers, property consultants and academics.

The public consultation was held from April 2 to May 12, during which more than 400 suggestions were collected from more than 100 respondents.

In all, there are more than 30 proposed amendments, most of which aim to tighten the collective sale process.

A key move will see owners' voting rights in a collective sale decided by the area of their flats, in addition to the share value of their flat.

The sales committee must be also be formally appointed to conduct the collective sale agreement.

Another new requirement - every home owner must have a lawyer to explain their legal rights in the agreement.

Another change will give the Strata Titles Board the power to increase the amount minority owners can get from sales proceeds if, say, they spent a lot to renovate their home not too long before the en bloc sale.

'The proposed amendments are to provide additional safeguards and to ensure more transparency for all owners, i.e. the minority and majority owners, but in a way that does not make it unduly onerous to bring about an en bloc sale,' said a spokesperson from the Law Ministry.

The new Bill is expected to be debated next month, with the enhancements scheduled to take effect in early October.

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Old 28-08-2007, 10:21 PM   #102
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Changes to en bloc rules will benefit all players in the long run: analysts

28 August 2007 2143 hrs

SINGAPORE : Market watchers and analysts are still studying the impact of proposed changes to rules governing en bloc sales unveiled in Parliament on Monday.

Some say the revision will benefit property developers as it means greater clarity and certainty to their initial investment.

Owners of Neptune Court at Marine Parade are exploring an en bloc sale.

And insiders tell Channel NewsAsia, that so far, only about 40 per cent of owners are lending support to the move.

And unless they can get another 40 percent to say yes before the changes kick in, a later bid at a collective sale will have to comply with stricter rules.

S K Phang, Lawyer, Phang & Co, says: "Some people might say look hey it's going to cumbersome, we got to comply with the new requirements, let's quickly sign, so that may have that positive effect, so it might reach 80 per cent. So when the new rules come into effect, you've already reached your 80 percent and the rules don't apply any more."

Phang & Co is currently handling a few of such cases and a few others that have achieved the required consent.

Its lawyers say the en bloc market has already become less heated due to the increase in development charge and current volatility in the financial markets.

Industry insiders say some speculative investors who've paid deposits for potential en bloc units have allowed their options to purchase to lapse because they no longer see the potential to cash in on the en bloc frenzy.

According to some analysts, the proposed changes to rules governing en bloc sales will indirectly benefit developers or buyers.

This is because they can be more sure of the deal going through, once it is inked.

But they say it's unlikely to affect the pricing or demand for future deals.

Nicholas Mak, Consultancy & Research Director, Knight Frank, says: "The demand for en bloc sales sites is actually a derived demand. It depends on developers' sale of their projects, redeveloped projects. If the sales of developers' projects are going well, developers will need to replenish their landbank, there by increasing the demand for en bloc sales. So, I think that the amendment is not likely to affect the demand but rather the market on the whole. The property market on the whole will be a greater determinant of the demand for en bloc sales."

Others believe once the market has adjusted to the new rules, it will be positive for all parties in the long term.
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Old 29-08-2007, 03:17 PM   #103
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En bloc: New frenzy in offing?

Or will rule changes draw out time to close a deal, ask analysts

Wednesday • August 29, 2007

Loh Chee Kong

AS PROPERTY stocks fell yesterday in reaction to the proposed new rules on collective sales, less certain is what kind of impact the changes will have on the dampened en bloc fervour.

With Singaporeans spooked by the United States' sub-prime woes, only one en bloc sale has been lodged so far this month, according to data from Savills Singapore — a far cry from April's high of 20 and last month's six. In all, 62 deals worth a total of $10.9 billion have been announced this year.

Now, enter the proposed new legislation unveiled on Monday, which could take effect in October.

Some industry players are apprehensive that the extra requirements, such as requiring lawyers to witness the signing of Collective Sale Agreements (CSAs), could draw out the time taken to launch a site for sale.

But others believe the new rules could re-ignite the frenzy that had just calmed.

Chesterton International's research director Colin Tan felt the changes could reduce the "controversies" in an en bloc deal and actually speed up the process.

"There's more transparency and fewer grouses and, ultimately, fewer grounds of appeal. Once concluded, the sale completion, including the hearing of appeals, would be much faster," said Mr Tan.

But Dennis Wee Realty's head of investment, Mr Daniel Ong, argued that some "illogical" changes would cause deals to bust their deadlines.

A CSA lapses if a sale committee cannot garner majority consent within a year.

Said Mr Ong: "Many owners call the sale committee members out of the blue and say, 'You want to take my signature? Come to my house now, or I'll be away for the next three months.' How are you going to get the lawyer to be around?"

And by giving owners a five-day "cooling off" period during which they can change their minds, owners would "ding-dong", Mr Ong added.

"They should require the sale committee to set a date when it's compulsory for all residents to gather and listen to the lawyer explain the CSA," he said. This way, those absent "cannot turn around and say they are unaware of the terms and conditions".

Nevertheless, some residents in the midst of en bloc transactions welcomed the changes.

Mr Harry Chia told Today the sale committee for his Bukit Timah apartment complex had "pre-empted, in a way" the new legislation — the committee, marketing agent and lawyer were appointed at a general meeting. As a result, the en bloc process begun last month has been "very smooth", he said.

Meanwhile, some owners at Neptune Court objecting to an en bloc bid, launched in May, are planning to hold out until the new laws kick in. Today understands the sale committee is halfway towards achieving the required 80-per-cent majority consent.

Said unit owner Philip Williams: "I think residents would be happier following the new guidelines set out by the Government."

Another resident added: "Currently, the regulations surrounding the sale committee are nebulous or, in fact, non-existent."
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Old 29-08-2007, 03:17 PM   #104
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Collective sale market seen slowing on proposed changes
New rules will address minority concerns over sale price, transparency

By Joyce Teo , Nicholas Fang
THE property fever that has gripped Singapore for the past year will likely cool in the wake of proposed changes to rules on collective sales.
The new rules - likely to apply in early October - will make collective sales a lengthier, more complex procedure, say industry experts.

'The market will eventually adapt, but the process will definitely be more long-winded and cumbersome, which should diminish the number of projects which come to market successfully,' said Mr Jeremy Lake of consultancy ** Richard Ellis.

Lawyer S.K. Phang said Singapore's rules on collective sales are already one of the most comprehensive in the world, but 'the latest amendments - so far the most far-reaching in their effects - tighten them further'.

Sales have already been tapering off.

Other pressures have come from a recent hike in development charges that developers pay and a jittery stock market that has unnerved investors.

The new rules come amid seemingly growing resentment among minority owners - those who did not vote for a sale - with the sale process.

Many of their issues, apart from the sale price, concern transparency, with some owners complaining that they are being kept in the dark.

The changes, including a five-day cooling-off period, will help address these concerns, but the changes are still pro-sale, said a lawyer.

Some industry players are not happy with the short transition period for the proposed changes.

Once the amended Land Titles (Strata) Act takes effect, it will apply to all projects except those where the 80 per cent or 90 per cent required majority consent has already been obtained.

Owners are seen rushing to get the 80 per cent approval before the new rules come into effect or risk having to restart the whole sale process under the new law.

The last few signatures, however, are often the hardest to nail, observers say, so those who have not yet signed have even more reasons to resist.

'The short transitional period may undo some ongoing collective sales, which are in the process of obtaining the required percentages of consensus,' said Dr Phang.

Estates that have just formed sales committees or started collecting signatures will have to start again at a higher cost. A benefit is that the owners of these estates will be able to monitor the sale process better.

'The new rules will give owners a chance to be involved,' said a collective sale seller. 'If not, the sales committees kind of run the show on their own.'

Mr Nicholas Mak of consultancy Knight Frank said: 'The requirement to have a vote to set up a sales committee means very committed people are required to sit on the committee, as they will face greater responsibility and accountability.'

Some speculators looking to set up a sales committee or just buying into older properties hoping for a quick gain through the collective sale process could be deterred.

There will be a higher risk that the sale will not succeed and, even if it does, the specuators' cash will be tied to the property for a longer period.

The proposals could also deter those who are not serious about a collective sale but are just testing the market to see their property's worth.

'If the new regulations can weed out such people, that would be a positive effect,' said Mr Mak.

If fewer estates come to the market, their success rate could rise, said a consultant
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Old 02-09-2007, 05:10 PM   #105
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Storeys of dust and noise
Homes and businesses surrounded by en bloc constructions bemoan the physical discomfort and additional costs they bring

By Melissa Sim , Debbie Yong

THE welter of collective sales around town might be making a lot of Singaporeans richer but they have made life a blooming misery for florist Steven Ng.
His Amber Road business has been besieged by en bloc building works that have not only cost him a packet in clean-ups, but have also prevented him from even getting into his own shop at times.

Once one condo construction site winds down, another building goes under the demolition hammer and the nerve-wracking cycle of dust, noise, cement-mixers and trucks revs up again.

It has been going on for four years, and 'at the moment, it looks like it's never going to end', said Mr Ng, 41.

It is a similar story islandwide with about 170 buildings - or 10,000 flats - sold in collective deals since the start of 2006, according to ** Richard Ellis.

But Mr Ng is unlucky in that some areas such as Amber Road, St Thomas Walk and Telok Kurau Lorong N have a concentration of en bloc redevelopments.

His troubles began in 2003, when Mer Vue Developments bought the Sea View Hotel next door to Mr Ng's 7,000 sq m Ban Nee Chen Florist and started building The Sea View, a 546-unit condo.

A year later, MCL Land bought Maryland Point condo across the road from Mr Ng, and construction on the 400-unit The Esta began.

Far East Organization has acquired Rose Garden, a condo sharing an L-shaped border with Mr Ng's nursery.

Mr Ng said he has spent $200,000 above his operational budget dealing with construction-related problems over the four years.

Cracks appear on his premises, building work deters customers while the dust affected his plants so much he had to hire two workers to clean them.

Mr Ng is now spending $40,000 to build an enclosure to house his plants. He hopes it will be up before work starts on the Rose Garden site.

Other residents in Amber Road, St Thomas Walk and Telok Kurau Lorong N are also grumbling.

Two properties - Nclave and Emprado Suites - are under construction along a 400m stretch of Telok Kurau Lorong N while three others have been sold en bloc. Between the condos sit fed-up landed property owners.

Nearly half the condos at St Thomas Walk in River Valley have gone through an en bloc sale. Three new ones are under construction - St Thomas Suites, The Ritz and SkyPark - while four - St Thomas Court, Eng Tai Mansion, Airview Towers and Phoenix Court - have been sold.

Neighbours in both areas are up in arms about the dirt and noise, rumbling engines, crashing concrete, pile driving and the beeping from reversing vehicles.

Writer Michelle Kong, 47, who lives in a house across from Nclave in Telok Kurau, said she has been falling ill because of the lack of sleep and bad air. 'I'm so tensed up and bad tempered and falling sick a lot. I feel like I'm going crazy,' she said.

Complaints about noise have risen so much - from 4,953 in 2005 to 6,160 in 2006 - that the National Environment Agency is toughening up noise limits on sites starting work on and after Oct 1.

Most families fight the noise and dust by shutting windows and cranking up the air-conditioner but that is not a cheap fix.

Retiree Ang Sin Yam, 75, who lives in a house in Telok Kurau Lorong N, said his utilities bill is up 20 per cent from two years ago, while neighbour Mrs Kong has had a 50 per cent rise to $600.

Residents also lament the changing landscape.

Banker Thomas Chan, 36, who has been renting at Sam Kiang Mansion beside St Thomas Suites for four years, said: 'It used to be like a forest, quiet and pleasant. We were close to the city yet there was a rural feel. Now, we can't even go for walks because of all the heavy vehicles.'

Mrs Judy Goh, owner of Amber Hotel in Amber Road, said that when business started 20 years ago, their four-storey building was of 'average height'.

But they will soon be dwarfed by towering condominiums. 'What to do? That's the way things change,' said Mrs Goh.

Despite all the trouble that Mr Ng has to put up with, he seems set on staying put. He has declined previous offers by persistent property developers to buy over his plot of land.

More new residents in the area will mean more business for Mr Ng: 'I must think long term so I've got no choice but to endure in the meantime.'

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