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Old 02-09-2007, 05:13 PM   #106
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Sep 1, 2007
Record rise in development fee could slow collective sales
Steep hikes of as much as 112% in some areas take industry by surprise

By Fiona Chan & Joyce Teo
PROPERTY developers will now have to pay a much bigger fee if they want to buy and redevelop a site to enhance its use, such as in a collective sale.
The charges they must pay were raised sharply by the Government yesterday, in what is believed to be the steepest round of hikes ever.

The record increases - which come into effect today - are likely to put a dampener on the collective sale frenzy, property consultants said.

The main impact of higher development charges is that they make it more costly for developers to acquire sites for redevelopment.

Although the half-yearly revision of these development charges is a routine affair, the extent that they rose by yesterday caught market watchers by surprise.

The charges even doubled in some areas, which consultants said has never happened before.

These rises come on top of an unexpected round of hikes in July, which pushed up all development charges by 40 per cent across the board.

Development charges, which can amount to millions of dollars, are based on recent land and property values.

They are revised in March and September every year to keep them up to date with current market values.

Their dramatic rise yesterday was mostly due to the unusually steep climb in property and land prices over the last six months, and particularly because of the record- breaking run of collective sales recently.

The charges are divided by sector - including commercial, hotel and residential - and into 118 locations.

The biggest rises this time round were for non-landed residential sites in the Spottiswoode/Cantonment area, the River Valley/Kay Poh Road/Kellock Road area, and the Newton/Surrey/Lincoln roads area.

Charges in these areas rose by between 108 per cent and 112 per cent, an unprecedented jump.

They may have been boosted by recent deals such as the collective sale of Lincoln Lodge in Newton, which set a benchmark for the area.

In general, charges for non-landed residential land rose by up to 85 per cent in the downtown area, up to 100 per cent in Orchard and 89 per cent in Sentosa.

Islandwide, they rose by 58 per cent on average - the highest increase among the different sectors. Up to last week, consultants were predicting an average rise of 25 per cent at most.

Charges for commercial land, which includes shops and offices, went up by 42 per cent on average.

The largest hikes were for land in the Telok Ayer/Amoy Street area and the Anson Road area. Charges in these locations grew by 105 per cent.

In other sectors, the average hike for hospital and hotel land was 23 per cent, and 11 per cent for landed residential sites. Industrial land saw charges go up by 2 per cent on average.

Given the July rises, some consultants were surprised that yesterday's hikes were so high.

The 'double whammy' of rises in July and yesterday, coming at a time when global credit is tightening, could dampen the collective sale market, said Ms Tay Huey Ying, director for research and consultancy at Colliers International.

The hikes are 'likely to lead to more cautious bidding by developers and more realistic price expectations by sellers', she said.

At the same time, Ms Tay added, the supply of collective sale sites could also take a beating as upcoming changes in legislation make it more difficult for estates to go en bloc.

But most developers have already acquired significant land banks and are likely to have locked in lower development charges, noted Mr Nicholas Mak, director of research and consultancy at Knight Frank. He added that another result of the hikes could be a shift in collective sale activity to the suburban areas.

'The rates are significantly steeper now for prime areas, so suburban areas such as Bedok and Buona Vista may look more attractive to developers,' said Mr Mak.

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Old 02-09-2007, 05:56 PM   #107
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Selling en bloc: New rules will help improve process
Proposed changes aimed at addressing concerns of transparency and clarity in conduct of sale
By Joyce Teo
WHILE the collective sale boom that has been on the boil here for two years has enriched many Singaporeans, others have been left angry and frustrated by the process.
Many claim that the collective sale process could be made clearer and more transparent with the major players more accountable.

Last week, the Government proposed a raft of changes aimed at addressing many of these concerns.

Additional consent requirement

Now: An estate may be sold only if there is consent from owners representing a minimum set percentage of the overall value of shares in the development.

This stands at 80 per cent if the condominium is older than 10 years; 90 per cent if less than 10 years.

Change: A new level of consent requires approval from owners representing at least 80 per cent of the building's area if the development is more than 10 years old, or 90 per cent if it is less than 10 years old.

This differs from a proposal mete in March, in which majority consent would have been required based on the number of units.

Why: This is aimed at addressing the imbalance in voting rights in some mixed developments.

The share value in a mixed development is generally 1:4:5 for residential, office and shop units respectively, which means that office and shop owners tend to get a greater weightage of voting rights.

Collective sale committee

Now: Owners can start a collective sale attempt any time by forming an ad hoc sale committee and there are no rules on the procedures.

Change: A collective sale committee, with not less than three members or more than 14, can be formed only if more than half of the owners present at a general meeting of the Management Corp agree.

The period of notice for a general meeting to decide on and appoint a sale committee will be specified.

Anyone standing for election to the sale committee must declare his interest or relationship, if any, with a developer, property consultant or law firm.

Why: Many owners have complained that they were not consulted on whether to start a collective sale in their estate or on the formation of a committee.

The change means a collective sale attempt can start only if the owners have discussed the matter at a general meeting and agreed to proceed to explore possibilities of a sale. The notice period ensures that all owners will get sufficient warning of the meeting.

Now: No rules on who can be in the sale committee.

Change: A person standing for election must be an owner or a nominee of an owner. However, co-owners cannot be elected at the same time.

The person must also be subject to the same criteria as for those standing for election to the Management Corp Council. For example, he must be at least 21 years old.

Why: This ensures that the sale attempt is driven by responsible persons who are owners. It also ensures that a single owner - who may own more than one unit - cannot dominate a sale committee.

Now: No rules on the number of sale committees that can exist concurrently.

Change: Only one sale committee can exist for a development at any one time.

Why: Some developments have more than one committee pursuing a sale, which creates confusion for owners.

Now: No restrictions on a sale committee's lifespan.

Change: The committee's role will cease when the collective sale agreement lapses.

Why: This means a committee cannot persist in making sale attempts when the majority of owners are no longer interested in selling en bloc.

Now: Uncertainty over whether the sale committee can use Management Corp funds.

Change: A sale committee can not use Management Corp funds for its activities except to convene general meetings.

Why: This means majority owners have to come up with the money for any pre-sale preparations such as the valuation report.

Now: Uncertainty over whether the sale committee has the mandate to appoint the property consultant and the lawyer.

It typically chooses the consultant and the lawyer without consulting or informing owners, and owners are deemed to have signified their agreement to the sale committee's choices when they sign the agreement to sell.

Change:Unless otherwise decided at a general meeting, a sale committee can select a property consultant and a lawyer. However, before deciding, the appointments must be considered at a general meeting.

Why: Clarifies the step of selecting the consultant and lawyer thus keeping owners in the loop.

Now: No requirement for minutes of sale committee meetings to be displayed or sent to owners.

Change: A sale committee must either (a) display minutes of its meetings on a notice board within seven days and for at least 14 days; or (b) pass the minutes to all owners within seven days of each meeting.

Why: Some owners have complained about being kept in the dark on the sale process. This would fix it.

This can be tedious, though owners can choose to get a third party for the job, which would add to pre-sale costs.
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Old 02-09-2007, 05:57 PM   #108
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Now: Sale committees are not required to meet owners to discuss the apportionment formula, appointment and fees of lawyers and property consultants, and terms and conditions of the collective sale agreement and sale and purchase agreement.

Change: A sale committee must discuss the apportionment formula, the appointment and fees of lawyers and property consultants, and terms and conditions of the collective sale agreement and the sales and purchase agreement at a general meeting.

Why: This is to ensure that owners get the opportunity to discuss key issues and take them into consideration before consenting to a sale.

Collective sale agreement

Now: Lawyers are not required to witness the signing of the collective sale agreement. The property consultant usually witnesses this.

Change: A lawyer should be present to witness the signing of the collective sale agreement, if signed in Singapore, and to explain the legal terms and liabilities and address any doubts that the owners may have.

Why: Some owners have complained of being forced to sign the sale agreement under duress and that they have no clear idea about the terms.

This will ensure that owners are fully aware of the implications of the agreement they have entered into. The Horizon Towers saga has highlighted the potential liabilities sellers can face.

But this creates more work for lawyers and they will have to charge higher fees, lawyers say.

Now: No regulations on the collective sale agreement's format.

Change: Sale committees are to provide a preface to the agreement, listing where to find key information such as the reserve price, apportionment method, lawyer fees and so on.

Why: This will ensure that owners know the agreement's important points before signing.

Now: Owner's consent to the sale takes effect right after he signs the collective sale agreement.

Change: An owner can change his mind within a five-day cooling- off period after signing the agreement. However, he can do so only once for the same agreement.

Why: This lets owners get out of a contract if they feel that they had been forced to do so under duress or misrepresentation. However, this step may affect consent level updates.

Now: Sale committees are to give updates of the consent level every eight weeks. Lawyers are not required to certify the updates on consent level, which is typically reported by just the property consultant.

Change: Sale committees are to give monthly updates of consent levels with a lawyer to certify these.

Why: This is aimed at helping owners make informed decisions on whether to sign the agreement and address concerns over the accuracy of consent level updates.

Sale of development

Now: Mode of sale is not regulated.

Change: Every launch for sale must be by public tender or auction. If it fails, the sale committee can negotiate with any bidder to get the best deal.

But a sale by private treaty must be concluded within 10 weeks of the close of the tender or auction.

Why: This addresses concerns over whether the sale committee has done its utmost to get the best price.

Now: A sale application must include a valuation report not more than three months old.

Change: A valuation report from an independent valuer should be submitted on the date the tender closes.

Why: In a fast-moving market, prices may change significantly within three months. A report as at the tender date will help the sale committee evaluate bids and assures owners that they will not sell at a price below market value.

This also means that majority owners have to fork out several thousand dollars or more for the report, whether or not the sale succeeds.

Now: An advertisement of a collective sale application must include details such as the owners' names and unit numbers and names of the mortgagees and chargees.

Change: The advertisement can dispense with much of this information, such as the names.

Why: This is to reduce costs, and accord a certain degree of privacy to the owners.

Strata Titles Board

Now: The Strata Titles Board can have up to 30 members.

Change: Increase the number of deputy presidents and members in the board.

Why: The aim is to shorten time needed by the board to consider sale applications.

Now: A financial loss is deemed if an owner's sale proceeds after any deduction allowed by the Strata Titles Board is less than the price he paid for his unit. But there is no clear definition of the allowable deductions.

Change: The deductions the board will allow when evaluating financial loss claims suffered by those opposed to selling en bloc are set out clearly. These include stamp duty and legal fees.

Why: The board can throw out a sale application on the grounds of financial loss. While owners can rely on precedents set by the board's decisions as a guide, which show that renovation costs, for example, cannot be deducted, the rule will provide certainty to owners who intend to make financial loss claims.

Now: There is no explicit provision to prohibit a person from claiming financial loss if the unit was sold after a collective sale has been awarded to a buyer.

Change: The purchase price of a unit will not be considered for financial loss claims if it was sold after a sale has been awarded to a buyer.

Why: This confirms that such transactions will not qualify for financial loss claims.

Now: The Strata Titles Board will allow an application if no objecting owners suffer financial loss and if it does not find any bad faith in the process.

Change: The board can raise the sale proceeds for minority owners who have filed valid objections. It will authorise the sale only if the majority agrees. Each owner will have to contribute 0.25 per cent of his proceeds, or $2,000, whichever is higher.

Why: This addresses complaints of minority owners who feel that they have not been treated fairly in the distribution of the sale proceeds.

Now: The Strata Titles Board must dismiss any applications that fail to comply with the procedural requirements, even if they are just cases of technical non-compliance.

Change: The board will be empowered to disregard any technical or procedural irregularity if it is satisfied that the irregularity will not prejudice any owner's interest.

Why: Majority owners need not redo the application process just because of a technical error that does not prejudice any owners. If this rule had been in place, there is a chance that the Horizon Towers sale application may not have been thrown out at the board's level, said a lawyer.

Return of funds

Now: Under the law, the buyer-developer is entitled to the funds in both the sinking fund and the Management Corp fund after a successful collective sale.

In practice, the owners-sellers will negotiate with the buyer on the return of the money.

Change: Once a collective sale has been legally completed, money in the sinking fund and the management fund will be returned to the owners promptly.

Why: Clears up a grey area to ensure that owners get the money in the funds.
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Old 08-09-2007, 10:18 PM   #109
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Still no decision by Horizon Towers sellers as deadline looms
By Joyce Teo
HORIZON Towers sellers met last night to discuss their next step in the face of a huge lawsuit from the developer which wants to buy the estate for $500 million.
The meeting ended late at night, with no decision made. The last three members of the sale committee resigned, after four other members resigned over the past week.

As next Tuesday's deadline given by the would-be buyers looms, a range of sellers expressed their opinions on what step to take next.

One of the issues raised at the meeting was the need for more sale committee members.

The sellers' meeting, held at the Holiday Inn Parkview, started half an hour late at 8.30pm. It was the second major meeting held after the developer sued 255 sellers for failing to go through with the deal.

Hotel Properties (HPL), Morgan Stanley Real Estate-managed funds and Qatar Investment Authority have been trying to buy Horizon Towers collectively for $500 million, a price inked in February.

But the sale hit a snag about a month back when the Strata Titles Board threw out the estate's sale application because of a technical error over paperwork.

On Thursday, the buyers filed an affidavit in the High Court, which was served on some of the sale committee members yesterday morning. It claimed that some members had tried to scupper the collective sale by trying to get other majority owners to go back on their agreement to sell the property.

In mid-week, the buyers had sent a letter to all the sellers on a 'without prejudice' basis - delivered to their mailbox.

In the letter, they explained the situation they are in and urged the sellers to extend the sale deadline by four months to Dec 11.

The Horizon Towers sale application could be refiled if not for the Aug 11 deadline in the contract.

The buyers now allege the sellers did not do their utmost to get the collective sale order from STB.

'There's an obligation in law for them to use their best endeavours,' said a lawyer. 'Their best bet is therefore to reapply.'

If the sellers do not, they can fight the suit.

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Old 08-09-2007, 10:18 PM   #110
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It's a real mess: Judge

Court orders a stay on Phoenix Court en bloc sale

Weekend • September 8, 2007

Loh Chee Kong

IT HAD seemed like a walk in the park for Phoenix Court residents en route to a windfall, when the owners of all but one of the units agreed to sell off their apartments collectively for $88.1 million.

But just 11 days to go before the owners were due to pocket $1.8 million each, the sale has been stalled indefinitely — in a complicated legal saga that demonstrates why impending sweeping changes to the en bloc legislation, unveiled just two weeks ago in Parliament, are desperately needed.

On Friday, High Court Judge Andrew Ang, after hearing an appeal by the dissenting co-owners ordered that the sale be put on hold as he reserved judgement.

The tussle began in April last year when owners of freehold Phoenix Court (picture), a 13-storey apartment block in River Valley, inked the Collective Sale Agreement (CSA). Out of the 47 units, the only dissenting co-owners were an elderly couple, Mr Yip Hoi Thong and Madam Ng Swee Lang.

Six months later, a deal was sealed with Bukit Panjang Plaza for $88.1 million. The sale committee went on to apply for a Strata Titles Board (STB) order to proceed with the sale in January. After the Board dismissed the couple's objection, they took the matter to the High Court, demanding that the sale be annulled due to "defective" procedures.

Their lawyer, Senior Counsel Michael Hwang, argued that two of the three majority owners who had applied to the STB for the sale order, were not authorised to do so.

He also took issue with the fact that the valuation report by Savills was done six weeks after the CSA was signed — which while in line with current legislation, would flout new laws which are expected to kick in next month.

Furthermore, the method of distribution of the sale proceeds was also omitted from the sale and purchase (S&P) agreement.

Lawyer Christopher Yong, who was acting for the sale committee, pointed out that it was common industry practice to set out the method in the CSA only, adding that it was "at worst a technical error" that should not jeopardise the whole sale.

But Mr Hwang argued that the S&P agreement must define the contractual obligations between a buyer and the individual owners — since members of sale committee "lose interest very quickly, especially if they have gotten their money".

The prevalent practice of treating the owners as one collective entity has resulted in many problems arising from "post-completion issues", including the deadline for each owner to vacate.

Mr Yong maintained that what mattered was for the STB to be satisfied that the deal was done in "good faith" . He said the statutory requirements "are not absolute" and a deal must be allowed to go through as long as the procedural lapses are immaterial.

But Mr Hwang disagreed: "This is in effect a compulsory acquisition. The onus is on those who acquire my clients' properties to adhere strictly to the requirements set out by the law."

With the sale due to go through on Sept 18 and with many owners already committed to their new properties, Justice Ang did not hide his unease at ordering a stay on the deal — a move that could potentially result in further lawsuits by the buyers.

"Aptly summed up, it's a real mess," the judge said as he shook his head.

This is not the only "mess" for Phoenix Court residents. In a separate development, a group of 13 majority owners — who had turned their backs on the sale — have filed an appeal after their case was dismissed by the High Court. The group argued that the extension to the CSA — which had already expired — was not valid.
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Old 12-09-2007, 09:30 PM   #111
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Horizon still murky

Condo owners in last-ditch try for sale application

Wednesday • September 12, 2007

Loh Chee Kong

GROUPS of Horizon Towers majority owners have separately written to Hotel Property Ltd and its partners, expressing their willingness to extend the sale deadline so as to allow another collective sale application for the botched $500-million deal.

But their actions yesterday, which met a deadline set by the buyers, will not be enough to stave off the $1-billion lawsuit for the consortium's loss of profits.

Today understands that what the buyers want is a collective commitment from the 255 sellers in the form of a formal resolution passed at a general meeting. As of press time yesterday, they had not received such a commitment. The case is set to go before the High Court on Sept 28.

The Horizon Towers deal fell through last month, after the Strata Titles Board refused to grant a collective sale order on the basis of a defective application. The buyers then sued the majority owners for failing to file a proper application.

Last Friday, a meeting of the majority owners aimed at coming up with a response to the lawsuit ended in disarray when the remaining sale committee members resigned.

Lawyer Shriniwas Rai, who represented five majority owners, said another meeting would be held on Sunday. Besides trying to form a new sale committee, the majority owners would seek to pass a resolution to extend the sale deadline. While they would have busted the buyers' deadline, he said his clients hope the consortium "would be accommodating". He told Today: "Many owners are hoping the High Court can give a resolution and we can move forward."
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Old 14-09-2007, 08:46 PM   #112
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S'pore housing market heads for correction
SINGAPORE'S housing market - which has seen prices skyrocket amid frenzied buying - is heading for a correction, as analysts predict a building boom could flood the city-state with new homes by 2009.
Private home prices, which have surged to decade highs in the past 40 months, are holding for now, but analysts say the market is increasingly vulnerable to a sudden downturn in sentiment.

Global property investor LaSalle Investment Management, which has US$6 billion (S$9 billion) of real estate assets in Asia, says Singapore residential property is 'fully priced' and will consolidate before appreciating any further.

'By global standards, Singapore luxury apartments are very expensive. At some point, affordability and common sense have to come in,' said Jack Chandler, LaSalle Investment Asia-Pacific Chief Executive Officer.

Property developers and agents say fewer deals were struck last month, slowing a buying frenzy that saw people queue overnight for some projects and that pushed Singapore real estate price gains past those of regional rivals such as Hong Kong.

'A correction is going to take place. The question is: how severe?' said Winston Liew, analyst at OCBC Investment Research.

Singapore luxury homes fetched an average $16,743 per square metre (psm) in June, up 52 per cent from a year ago, against Hong Kong's 13 per cent rise in capital values to $18,286 psm.

Those who bought property as a sure-fire investment are fretting.

'I'm nervous because I don't expect prices to rise anytime soon. The signals aren't good,' said Charles Wong, who paid S$1.1 million (US$728,000) for a one-bedroom downtown apartment in April.

Excess supply
Housing supply has been tight as developers tore down old developments to replace them with newer properties, pushing thousands of displaced homeowners back to the market.

According to Jones Lang LaSalle, some 3,876 private apartments will be demolished this year - more than the 3,295 new homes expected to come on to the market.

These 'en bloc' deals - where entire housing estates are knocked down - have slowed since the government tightened rules on them. Collective home sales totalled S$11 billion in the first seven months this year but dropped to S$783 million in August.

Property market sentiment has been supported by Singapore's long-term goal to boost the island's population to 6.5 million from 4.5 million, but analysts forecast a glut of new homes from end-2008.

'In terms of actual occupants, there will be excess supply by 2009,' said Jones Lang LaSalle Head of Research Chua Yang Liang.

He estimates there will be 11,975 new private apartments available in 2009 - nearly four times the number expected this year and double the anticipated amount in 2008.

Car garages in the sky
At least four out of five Singaporeans live in state-subsidised high-rise flats, leaving the private home market dependent on upper-income residents and foreigners.

Investment firm Emirates Tarian Capital is betting these foreign investors, who comprise nearly half the buyers in most projects, will focus increasingly on high-end homes.

'Demand is going to be selective and for branded, quality projects where the quantity is limited,' said Kunalan Sivapuniam, managing partner of the firm, which is investing in two high-rises including one 30-storey block equipped with individual lifts to bring owners' cars up to each apartment.

Developers, who usually sell their projects in stages, have held off launching their units for sale in recent weeks.

'If we feel the market is slowing, we're not going to push the project only to have buyers back out later,' Cheng Wai Keung, chairman of luxury home builder Wing Tai Holdings said.

Crunch time
Analysts say a global credit crunch could constrain Singapore property firms' ability to offer liberal repayment schemes that allow buyers to make a 10 to 20 per cent deposit and delay the bulk of payment until the property nears completion.

These 'deferred payment' plans, introduced after a property slump in 2001, have been key to driving market growth, with up to 90 per cent of buyers in some projects opting for them.

In July, the central bank warned that delayed payments plans posed 'additional risks' to developers and their banks because of the possibility of default. Those risks have only grown with the US mortgage crisis.

'If the cost of capital rises, smaller developers will find it harder to offer deferred payment schemes,' said an analyst.

Singapore's biggest developer CapitaLand said it would continue to offer such schemes 'where appropriate'.

CapitaLand, City Developments and Keppel Land have posted strong second-quarter profits, driven by strong contributions from their Singapore businesses.

They should, however, be largely protected against a fall in housing prices as most have diversified into office property and housing developments outside Singapore. CapitaLand, for example, earns up to 80 per cent of its profit overseas.

'Major developers have lower gearing, sufficient cash or unutilised credit lines to prevent a squeeze,' wrote Deutsche Bank strategist Gregory Lui in a recent report. -- REUTERS
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Old 14-09-2007, 08:49 PM   #113
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Sep 14, 2007
Marina South: New choice area for homes
60ha site earmarked for 'waterfront-garden living'; design contest seeks fresh ideas

By Jessica Cheam
THE Government yesterday earmarked a giant 60ha site right on the coast at Marina South for what it bills as 'waterfront-garden living' in the heart of the city.
The site, not far from the upcoming Marina Bay Sands integrated resort, is already being touted as Singapore's future No.1 residential hot spot by property analysts.

The Marina South Residential District has spectacular sea views in one direction and lush greenery in the other, as it is right next to the upcoming Garden at Marina South.

Up to 11,000 homes are expected to be built in the district, which will also boast shopping malls, hotels, parks and schools.

The site will have roughly the same number of units as District 11, which covers Newton, Novena and Thomson.

To garner fresh, innovative ideas as inspiration for its development, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the Singapore Institute of Architects yesterday launched a design competition for the site.

This is a first in the planning for residential districts, said URA yesterday. The competition calls on budding student and professional architects alike - local and foreign - to design a mini-city based on the experience of living in a waterfront garden.

It must also be distinctive, eco-friendly, and promote a strong sense of community.

The institute's president Tai Lee Siang, one of the judges, told The Straits Times that 'now is the perfect time to explore...ideas that have never been seen or tested here before'.

Yesterday's announcement also marks a new chapter for Marina South.

The site is now home to SuperBowl Marina South and Victor's Superbowl, along with seafood restaurants and wide open spaces.

These buildings will eventually have to make way for the new residential district.

Guidelines from the competition brief, available on the institute's website www.sia.org.sg gives the project's gross floor area as 1.5 million sq m and a gross plot ratio of five.

This sets the scene for high-rise, high-density housing, typical of the 50-storey public housing at the Pinnacle@Duxton and the 70-storey apartments at The Sail@Marina Bay, said property analysts.

It will cater to Singaporeans' growing appetite for high-rise apartments with stunning views. Property analysts anticipate that demand for the site will be red-hot, if the economy remains robust.

'This has all the makings to be Singapore's number one residential hot spot,' said Colliers International's director for research and consultancy Tay Huey Ying.

When asked if any public housing will be built in the district, URA said detailed plans have not been finalised - but property consultants said this was very unlikely.

URA added that the project's implementation will be decided when plans are finalised. It expects the district to be developed over a 15- to 20-year period.

The closing date for the competition is Nov 12. Up to 10 of the best ideas will be selected to share a cash prize of $50,000. The winning entries will be announced during the Singapore Design Festival 2007 in November.
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Old 14-09-2007, 10:10 PM   #114
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'Gillman application should be dismissed'

Objectors try to sink deal before STB hearing

Friday • September 14, 2007

Loh Chee Kong

BEFORE the Strata Titles Board (STB) can decide the fate of the $548-million Gillman Heights (picture) en bloc deal, two minority owners have questioned the Board's jurisdiction to hear the application.

They applied this week to the STB to vacate the hearing due to start in two weeks' time, when objections from minority owners were supposed to be heard.

But lawyer Eddee Ng of Tan Kok Quan Partnership said his clients felt there was no basis for the hearing to take place at all. "We have raised a number of legal grounds as to why we say the (sale order) application should be dismissed."

An issue as simple as the age of the estate is one of the biggest points of contention. The former HUDC estate was built in 1984, but privatised in 2002, when the Building and Construction Authority issued the Certificate of Statutory Completion after work on additional facilities was completed.

Depending on which year is used, the majority consent needed by the sale committee would differ. Under current laws, a 90-per-cent approval is required for developments less than 10 years, while older developments only need 80 per cent.

At Gillman Heights, the consent level was 87.5 per cent of its 608 units.

The Law Ministry's latest proposals to amend the legislation, to be debated next week in Parliament, will address such issues. One change is to make it possible to take the completion date of a privatised HUDC estate as that certified by the Housing and Development Board.

This comes too late for Gillman Heights. And mediation, which took place in June, had also failed to soothe the grievances, Mr Ng told Today.

Several issues have dogged the sale since a deal was struck with CapitaLand in February. For example, the Collective Sale Agreement (CSA), inked in June last year, had expired, and there was no valid extension in the supplemental CSA, Mr Ng said.

"Since the CSA is in fact over, the sale committee is not authorised to represent the subsidiary proprietors in making the sale order application," he said. The sale committee lawyers, from Lee & Lee, could not be reached for comment.

Gillman Heights is one of a series of high-profile en bloc deals gone ugly. And a lawyer, who declined to be named, felt that even with the new regulations expected to kick in early next month, such messy tussles would be here to stay amid a property boom.

"The new laws would reduce the complaints over the transparency of the process," he said. "But why are people unhappy? Because they can't buy a replacement with the money (they're getting)."
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Old 16-09-2007, 10:01 PM   #115
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Bayshore Park home owners organise to oppose en bloc sale move

16 September 2007 1859 hrs

SINGAPORE: Life at Bayshore Park, a 21-year-old estate with over 1000 apartments, was pretty quiet until a notice went up in June this year, saying some home owners are interested in exploring the potential of an en bloc sale.

This was followed by a presentation on the en bloc process at the condo in August.

In her debut episode as the new host for “Get Rea!”, Cheryl Fox learns that those opposing any en bloc sale have already organised themselves to defend their homes from those pushing for it, even before a formal sales committee has been appointed.

“Get Rea!” learned that prices of between S$1.8m and S$3m per unit were quoted, depending on the floor area.

But some homeowners are not biting.

"At our age, what do you want that kind of money for? We just want to retire and enjoy our few years of life here," said homeowner Stephen Seow.

That was one of the messages homeowners at Bayshore Park hope to get across to the Protem Sales Committee.

Some have organised themselves into the Love Bayshore Park group to fight any en bloc sale.

According to Bayshore Park resident Vincent Bockaert, a check of the caveats lodged for Bayshore Park showed some members of the Protem Sales Committee bought their apartments only a few months ago.

"These people have a short-term perspective. They went in this year. If they make hundred thousand dollars, they make a profit. They move on."

An extra-ordinary general meeting is slated for September 29, and members of En Bloc Sales Committee for the condo will be elected.

The new season of “Get Rea!” returns on Monday, September 17, at 8.30pm Singapore time (12:30 GMT). - CNA/ac
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Old 18-09-2007, 09:34 PM   #116
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Sep 18, 2007
Surprising jump in new home sales last month
Private property sales up 25%; most were less pricey ones away from central area
By Fiona Chan
SALES of new private property homes made a surprising jump last month, despite August being a traditionally slow month for property deals.
Home buyers seemed to brush aside the usual worries over buying property during the Chinese Hungry Ghost month - considered unlucky - which falls in August this time around.

In fact, they bought 25 per cent more new homes last month than in July.

And in a departure from previous months, most of the homes sold last month were less pricey ones away from the prime central area.

Indeed, mid-tier and cheaper private properties in suburban districts are being touted as the next big thing in the market, said property consultants.

Last month's sales were boosted by strong response to cheaper developments such as The Parc Condominium in West Coast Walk and Soleil@Sinaran in Novena. Together, these two projects sold 1,053 units, or 61 per cent of all new homes sold in the month.

In all, developers sold 1,720 new homes last month, according to the latest figures released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) yesterday.

This compares with 1,381 deals in July and 1,150 in June, when the URA began tracking such data.

Of the new homes sold last month, almost half went for $1,000 per sq ft (psf) or less. There were 820 units sold in this price range last month, double that of July.

The number of pricey homes that cost more than $2,000 psf also plunged. Only 86 of these homes were sold last month, compared to 370 in July.

In general, price growth of new units was 'muted' in August, said Ms Tay Huey Ying, director for research and consultancy at Colliers International.

She added that despite the rise in new home sales last month, overall home sales still fell compared to July.

This was mainly due to a decline in secondary market sales, or re-sales of existing homes, she said. All things considered, total home sales dropped 36 per cent last month from July.

Sub-sales - which are re-sales of uncompleted homes and used to gauge property speculation - also fell by about two-thirds, she said.

Ms Tay attributed the fall to the Hungry Ghost month as well as the US sub-prime mortgage crisis, and said that ongoing credit woes may slow home sales this month too.

But she and other property experts agreed that market activity might pick up again in the last three months of the year, with a number of new launches in the pipeline.

The recovery is likely to be led by a long-awaited upswing in suburban home sales, said Mr Ku Swee Yong, director of marketing and business development at Savills Singapore.

He noted that prices of entry-level condos have already risen and will set new benchmarks in the months to come.

'Last year, the market was defining mass market condos as those below $600 psf,' said Mr Ku. 'But now, we are moving out of that. Already in August, only 5 per cent of condos cost less than $750 psf, and soon, most new launches will be above $800 psf.'
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Old 18-09-2007, 09:52 PM   #117
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URA launches tender of another residential site at Enggor Street

SINGAPORE: The Urban Redevelopment Authority has launched a residential site at Enggor Street for sale by public tender.

This is the second residential site to be launched for tender at Enggor Street this month.

The 99-year leasehold site has an area of 2,800 square metres.

It can generate a maximum permissible gross floor area of about 23,500 square metres.

The first storey can be set aside as commercial space.

** Richard Ellis expects the site to be able to attract bids of more than S$200 million or above S$800 per square foot per plot ratio.

At this price, the breakeven cost works out to S$1,350 per square foot.

Another property consultant, Knight Frank, is more conservative.

It expects the site to fetch prices from S$156 million to S$177 million.

This translates to between S$620 and S$702 per square foot per plot ratio.

The tender for the site, which was transferred from the reserve to confirmed list, will close in November.

- CNA/
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Old 18-09-2007, 10:27 PM   #118
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Sentosa Cove launches final condominium development site

SINGAPORE : Sentosa Cove is launching its final condominium development land parcel.

The Pinnacle Collection has a reserve price of S$964 million or S$1,600 per square foot per plot ratio.

The 230,000 square feet site has a maximum permissible gross floor area of over 600,000 square feet.

A condominium with about 360 luxury apartments can be built on the ocean-front site.

The 20-storey building will be the tallest at Sentosa Cove.

The site will be sold based on price as well as design concept.

** Richard Ellis expects bids for the site to be above S$2,000 per square foot per plot ratio.

It estimates the breakeven cost to be between S$2,800 and S$3,000 per square foot.

This would translate to an estimated selling price of about S$3,200 to S$3,500 per square foot for homes in the development. - CNA
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Old 20-09-2007, 04:45 PM   #119
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Sep 20, 2007
Marina View plot draws record $2b bid
It's a vote of confidence in market, say property watchers, who had expected much lower bids
By Fiona Chan
A PRIME plot in Marina View has drawn a top bid of $2.02 billion - the first time the price of state land here has crossed the $2 billion mark.
The whopping bid yesterday pipped two other close offers, which also came in at near-record levels.

Property experts say the bullish bids are a continuing vote of confidence in the property market and could serve as a shot in the arm for market activity, which has quietened somewhat in recent weeks.

'It is exactly the confidence booster that the market needs to keep it going at this point in time,' said Ms Tay Huey Ying, director of research and consultancy at Colliers International.

The $2.02 billion bid was submitted by Macquarie Global Property Advisers (MGPA), a private equity real estate fund management firm partly owned by Australia's Macquarie Bank Group.

It is almost double what property watchers predicted the 1.02ha site would fetch in May, when its tender was first launched. The 99-year leasehold plot is located behind the One Shenton and Sail @ Marina Bay condominiums.

Indeed, all the three bids that came in before the site's tender closed yesterday were 'nearer the top band of the expected range', said Mr Lui Seng Fatt, regional director and head of investments at Jones Lang LaSalle.

CapitaLand and Mapletree put in a joint bid of $1.84 billion, while Malaysia's IOI Group offered $1.6 billion.

The result of the tender, which is based solely on price, will be announced by the Government later.

Consultants said the turnout was quite good, given the site's high price and ongoing global credit uncertainty.

'In a market like this, I'm amazed that three bidders came out to offer between $1.6 billion and $2 billion,' said Mr Ku Swee Yong, director of marketing and business development at Savills Singapore. 'It's a bid that very few people can afford.'

The top bid works out to about $1,409 per sq ft (psf) of gross floor area, said Mr Li Hiaw Ho, executive director of ** Richard Ellis.

He added that the plot could provide 800,000 sq ft of net lettable office space.

A 40-storey building can be built on the site, but 70 per cent of its gross floor area must be used for offices. The rest can hold more offices, hotel rooms, homes or shops.

Experts said building homes or strata-titled office units could be a quick way for the winning bidder to recover most of its investment. Homes, for one, could fetch more than $2,500 psf, said Mr Li.

But MGPA appears to be favouring a full-office development. It said in a statement yesterday that the site 'presents a rare opportunity to deve- lop a Grade A+ office building in the prime business district of Singapore, where strong demand coupled with limited supply makes now an ideal time for high quality office development'.

MGPA has been on an active buying spree here. In March, it agreed to buy Temasek Tower from CapitaLand for $1.04 billion.

Last month, it also bought 162 units of Allgreen Properties' Cascadia condominium in Bukit Timah for a median price of $1,527 psf, sources said.
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Old 20-09-2007, 04:46 PM   #120
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Sep 20, 2007
Ong Beng Seng urges Horizon Towers sellers to resolve sale
By Joyce Teo
HOTEL Properties (HPL) chief Ong Beng Seng and his lawyers last night urged a group of Horizon Towers owners to cooperate in resolving the bungled $500 million collective sale of the condominium.
Mr Ong met the group at 4pm at Hilton Hotel yesterday - his first meeting with owners of the estate that he and his two partners are trying to buy.

HPL and partners are suing the Horizon Towers sellers for an alleged breach of contract and are seeking damages of more than $800 million.

The owners who met Mr Ong are anxious to avoid the potentially costly legal battle set to start next week. They had written to HPL earlier.

But a few others who had not written in turned up at the meeting and were eventually allowed in, sources said.

Lawyers from Allen & Gledhill, who represent the HPL-led consortium, were also present.

According to sources, Mr Ong told the Horizon Towers sellers that he has not sued anyone in 30 years of doing business.

He said that as HPL is a listed company and he has to protect shareholders, as well as his two partners, they added.

Mr Ong then told the sellers that they must have integrity, honour the contract and set a good example for their children.

Some sellers indicated at the meeting that they were keen to have Allen & Gledhill senior counsel K. Shanmugam participate at a major meeting to be held tonight.

The Horizon Towers sellers will have to decide on forming a sale committee and extending the sale deadline to allow the condominium's sale to go through. They plan to vote at the meeting to be held at the Raffles Town Club.

The HPL-led consortium urged the sellers to vote sensibly at the meeting tonight.

A group of about 50 sellers have written to other sellers to express their concerns that the meeting tonight has been called without proper notice.
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