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Thread: Old news - June 2015, when the forum was closed for maintenance

  1. #1
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    Oct 2011

    Default Old news - June 2015, when the forum was closed for maintenance

    Toa Payoh private residential site draws 14 bids

    Top offer of $345.86m by Evia and partners just pips next highest bid

    Published on Jun 19, 2015 1:41 AM

    By Rachael Boon

    AN ATTRACTIVE private residential site in the mature estate of Toa Payoh has attracted keen interest from 14 bidders - in line with market expectations.

    The top bid came from Evia Real Estate, the developer behind Jurong's Lake Life executive condominium, and two partners, Maxdin and Gamuda.

    This bid was just 1.1 per cent higher than second-placed Sing Holdings, at $342.1 million.

    Mr Desmond Sim, CBRE research head for Singapore and South-east Asia, said the level of interest was unsurprising.

    He said only a few sites remained available on the Government Land Sales programme for the first six months of the year. He noted the planned cutback in the programme over the next six months.

    The Toa Payoh plot was launched on April 29, with the tender closing yesterday.

    Evia, Maxdin and Gamuda tendered $345.86 million, or $755.30 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr), for the parcel with a site area of 130,830 sq ft - close to an expected range of $670 to $750 psf ppr.

    R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng said: "The top land tender price and the close winning margin show that developers remain keen in choice sites in mature housing estates."

    The results suggest that developers are hopeful the weak buying sentiment in residential property will turn around, he added.

    Dr Chua Yang Liang, JLL head of research and consultancy, noted: "The tightness of these recent bids could reflect a more consistent view among the developers regarding the market conditions."

    The new Toa Payoh site, a five- to 10-minute walk to Braddell MRT station, was offered for sale on a 99-year lease term.

    Mr Vincent Ong, Evia's managing partner, said: "Similar to Jurong, we believe that there is a pent-up demand for private housing in this area as it is one of the most populated public housing estates in Singapore, and is the closest estate to the city."

    R'ST's Mr Ong expects the new project's selling price to be $1,450 psf to $1,550 psf.

    He cautioned that there may have been some overbidding as the high land price means the selling prices have to be quite high to achieve "notable profits".

    "While Toa Payoh is a very centrally located, major housing estate, it is predominantly public housing - with only Trevista as the main newer condominium project in the estate. There is little that a developer can achieve out of developing private homes in Toa Payoh - as home-buying interest here is stronger for Housing Board flats."

    [email protected]

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    Oct 2011


    Sungei Pandan waterfront site may yield 600 homes

    Published on Jun 19, 2015 1:39 AM

    By Fabian Koh

    A RESIDENTIAL site at West Coast Vale was put on the market yesterday with price expectations of up to about $370 million.

    The 18,908 sq m plot, which is on the confirmed list of the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme, is located on the Sungei Pandan waterfront.

    Its maximum gross floor area of 52,945 sq m could yield about 595 residential units.

    Analysts said there would be keen interest in the 99-year leasehold site.

    Mr Desmond Lim, the head of research for Singapore and South-east Asia at CBRE, told The Straits Times: "While there has been a fall in the supply of land available for residential development, the same number of developers are still there."

    Century 21 chief executive Ku Swee Yong noted that developers would be interested because of the amenities in the area, which will include the upcoming high-speed rail terminal in Jurong East.

    "The area also has the new Science Centre, and the Westgate and Jem shopping malls," he said.

    Recent developments there have fared quite well.

    "Nine months ago, Waterfront @ Faber was launched. It has 210 units, with 135 already sold. That's more than 60 per cent, which is quite good," said Mr Ku.

    Dr Chua Yang Liang, the head of research for JLL in South-east Asia, said: "Surrounding projects include The Infiniti and Hundred Trees, many of which have seen strong end-user demand, and have been fully sold.

    "Many of the projects were launched in 2006 and 2007."

    Mr Lim expects about 10 bidders for the West Coast Vale site, with offers exceeding $600 per sq ft (psf).

    Mr Ku predicts five to eight bidders, offering $400 to $500 psf, made up mostly of "cash-rich listed developers who need to have land in the pipeline for future developments".

    Dr Chua expects the bid price at $600 to $650 psf, noting that there could be higher building costs as the site is near water.

    He added: "The negative is possibly the industrial estates to the west of the area. However, that is rather minor as they are fast-changing."

    The tender closes at noon on Aug 4, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority yesterday.

    [email protected]

  3. #3
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    Oct 2011


    Close fight emerges for Toa Payoh condo site

    Top 5 tenders range from S$725 to S$755 psf ppr, with top bidder Evia Real Estate and partners pipping Sing Holdings by just 1.1%

    By Kalpana Rashiwala

    [email protected]@KalpanaBT

    Jun 19, 2015

    THE Evia Real Estate-led consortium's top bid for a 99-year private condo site in Toa Payoh at a state tender was just 1.1 per cent more than the closest competition.

    The group plans to build a 590-unit project on the site, with half the units expected to comprise one and two-bedders to be priced below S$1 million to keep them affordable, said Evia Real Estate managing partner Vincent Ong.

    Evia Real Estate (7) joined forces with Maxdin and Malaysia-listed group Gamuda to place the top bid of S$345.86 million or S$755.30 per square foot per plot ratio for the 1.2 hectare site at Lorong 6/Lorong 4 Toa Payoh.

    This pipped Sing Holdings' S$747.09 psf ppr bid. The tender drew 14 bids. The lowest bid, seen as a bottom-fishing expedition, came from Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong Holdings, which made an offer of S$400 psf ppr for the site through Best Desire Investments.

    The provisional tender results were released on Thursday evening by Housing & Development Board, acting as land sales agent for the state. The results were in line with the expectations of property consultants, who had predicted 5-25 bids with a top bid of around S$640-770 psf ppr when the site was launched in late-April.

    Located roughly 430 metres from Braddell MRT Station, the site has an attractive city-fringe location in a mature estate with few private condos.

    Speaking to BT on Thursday evening after the provisional tender results were announced, Evia's Mr Ong said the consortium's proposed scheme envisages a twin-tower development that will rise 40 storeys high. "We hope to launch the project in March/April next year."

    "The breakeven cost will be almost S$1,300 psf; we're targeting to sell at slightly above S$1,400 psf (on average)," he added.

    Acknowledging the thin margin of about 7 per cent on the proposed project, Mr Ong said: "To me, the velocity of sales is more important than the profit margin."

    He also highlighted the pent-up demand for private housing in the Toa Payoh area, where there had been no state tenders for private housing sites since 2008.

    Speaking about his partners for the Toa Payoh site bid, Mr Ong said this will be the maiden Singapore foray for Gamuda, which is involved in property, engineering and construction. The other member of the trio, Maxdin, is a unit of Greatearth Pte Ltd, which was formerly known as UE E&C Ltd.

    Also bidding at the tender was a tie-up between UOL Venture Investments and Singapore Land unit Singland Homes, which offered S$740.32 psf ppr for the site .

    Frasers Centrepoint's FCL Tampines Court teamed up with Sekisui House and Keong Hong Construction's KH Capital for a S$740.08 psf ppr bid.

    EL Development priced the site at S$725.25 psf ppr. HY Realty, a unit of Chinese developer Hao Yuan, was the sixth highest bidder, at S$711.67 psf ppr. Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok's Allgreen Properties offered S$703.15 psf ppr for the plot. This was followed by a bid of S$701.01 psf ppr from a three-way partnership involving City Developments' unit Verwood Holdings, Hong Leong Holdings' unit Intrepid Investments, and TID Residential.

    "The fact that more than half the bids surpassed S$700 psf ppr reflects developers' confidence that the attraction of the site would be a draw to potential home buyers," said Christine Li, director, research, at Cushman & Wakefield.

    The last state tender for a private housing site in Toa Payoh was in 2008, when NTUC Choice Homes paid S$460 psf ppr for the site that it has since developed into the Trevista condo.

    As for Thursday's tender closing, R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng commented: "The top land tender price, high participation and the close winning margin show that developers remain keen on choice sites in mature housing estates."

    Desmond Sim, head of Singapore and South-east Asia at CBRE Research, noted that the site is located "at one of the key access points to Toa Payoh estate".

    "The developer should be able to garner healthy interest for the project, particularly from upgraders living in the estate," he added.

    Also bidding at the tender were Koh Brothers unit KBD Ventures (S$672.41 psf ppr) and a joint venture between Hoi Hup Realty, Sunway Developments and Oriental Worldwide Investments (S$603.83 psf ppr).

    This was followed closely by a bid from MCL Land at S$603.40 psf ppr. Fica Nominees, a unit of GuocoLand, bid S$524.56 psf ppr. Sim Lian Land was the second lowest bidder, at S$502.29 psf ppr.

    Evia Real Estate, which was set up in 2010, is a private equity real estate group. Besides developing three executive condo projects in Singapore, the group has invested in five logistics centres in the Greater Seoul area as well as a mall in Bundang, a 45 minute drive from Seoul.

  4. #4
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    Oct 2011


    Residential site at West Coast up for sale

    By Lynette Khoo

    [email protected]@LynetteKhooBT

    Jun 19, 2015

    A RESIDENTIAL site at West Coast Vale has been put up for sale by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Thursday, which could yield some 595 residential units.

    This is the last land parcel to be released under confirmed list of the government land sales (GLS) programme for the first half of 2015. But consultants are divided on how well received this site would be by developers.

    CBRE head of research for South-east Asia Desmond Sim noted that given the cutback in residential sites in the GLS programme's confirmed list in the second half of the year, there will likely be healthy interest for this site at West Coast.

    Bids should come in excess of S$600 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr), he said, adding that some 10-14 bids could be expected for the 18,909 sq m plot - a size he felt was "easy to stomach" for developers.

    Though the project is not supported by a strong proximity to MRT, it is nestled in an established precinct for private residential projects, he added.

    The land parcel is located along the waterfront of Sungei Pandan and linked to West Coast Highway and Ayer Rajah Expressway. It is also near commercial amenities such as Westgate, Jem and Big Box at the Jurong Lake District, as well as the site of the current Jurong Country Club golf course that will be developed into the Singapore terminus of the high-speed rail (HSR) link with Malaysia.

    According to URA, a future development on the site is suitable for families with school-going children since it is near Nan Hua Primary School, Commonwealth Secondary School and The Japanese School. The tender submission date is August 4.

    But R'ST research director Ong Kah Seng said that he expects cautious bidding by developers as buyers' sentiments remain weak, pegging his forecast at around five bids with the top bid likely coming in at S$450-$500 psf ppr.

    The site is some distance away from Jurong East and Clementi MRT stations. Within the West Coast area, there are resale private housing choices with freehold or 999-year lease tenure, Mr Ong said. There are also competing alternatives in the Jurong and Lakeside areas where a rejuvenation has taken place.

    "Leisure-proximity to coast and parks living was a good marketing concept/selling point for West Coast properties but such selling points are quite passť," Mr Ong added.

    He believes that the time is over for buyers to gain significant resale price premium from proximity to coastal parks or waterfront living, which was once a unique selling point before the government rejuvenated suburban residential enclaves such as Lakeside, Hillview and Bartley from 2010 and improved connectivity islandwide with the Circle Line.

  5. #5
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    Oct 2011


    Private home sales up but prices down

    Analysts expect further price decline as cooling measures deter buyers

    Published on Jun 20, 2015 1:10 AM

    By Jacqueline Woo

    THE private residential market is set to sink deeper into the doldrums with buyers continuing to hold off purchases for as long as hard-hitting cooling measures stay firmly in place.

    Analysts told The Straits Times private home prices could shed a further 2 per cent in the second quarter of the year from the first.

    "Both developers and home sellers are reducing their prices to attract buyers amid the onslaught of property cooling measures," said Ms Alice Tan, director and head of research at Knight Frank Singapore. "The overall market sentiment remains fairly weak with macroeconomic uncertainties looming."

    The forecast for lower prices comes even as more units are expected to have changed hands in the almost-ended second quarter.

    Dr Chua Yang Liang, JLL head of research and consultancy, said the overall transaction volume for private homes may have grown about 10 per cent to 20 per cent quarter-on-quarter.

    Already, the prime districts saw 253 transactions in April and May, up from 198 in January to February.

    "But the fundamental driver (behind this) is that we are heading into the second and third quarters of the year, where activities are generally higher than in the first quarter," noted Dr Chua.

    "Prices are likely to continue heading south on continual effect from policy measures, especially as demand in the mass market will probably weaken further."

    The mass market will likely see further correction until next year, according to a report by Barclays released on Monday.

    Mass market home sales - those outside the "central region" - fell 53 per cent to 469 units month-on-month in May, with no new launches.

    The report added that the luxury home market, on the other hand, shows signs that it has bottomed out, with renewed interest in the segment. Sales in the core central region rose 73 per cent to 69 units, with more transactions for homes priced $2,000 per sq ft (psf) and above.

    Luxury freehold condominium Cluny Park Residence, for instance, sold three units last month as prices dipped to $2,620 psf from $3,121 psf in August 2013.

    As for the rental market, Dr Chua expects rates to keep falling, with another 3 per cent to 5 per cent correction for the rest of this year. This is "given the rising vacancy on the back of a generally weaker labour market, supply overhang, and expected new stock completion", he said.

    A separate report by DBS Group Research said that with a slew of completions flooding the market this year and next, vacancy rates could jump to 9 per cent or 10 per cent from the current 7.9 per cent, "implying further pressure on rentals and prices".

    The report added that residential prices, on the whole, would drop 12 per cent to 15 per cent over this year and the next.

    "With the private property market continuing to operate in a tight financing and regulatory environment, we believe that the market remains in the early part of the down-cycle," it said.

    "A widely anticipated reversal in policy measures is unlikely in the near term."

    Ms Tan expects "pockets of opportunities for value buys" as the overall market could see further price moderation.

    "Such value buys, especially in the high-end segment, may see healthy interest, given the growing latent demand for private homes from both local and foreign buyers."

    [email protected]

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    Oct 2011


    More help for buyers of resale flats near parents'

    MND will look into how it can be done, says Khaw Boon Wan

    By Kelly Tay

    [email protected]@KellyTayBT

    Jun 20, 2015

    THE Ministry of National Development (MND) will look into how it can provide more help to those who wish to buy a resale flat to live near their parents, Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said on Friday.

    In an MND blog post, he noted that more Singaporeans now want flats near those of their extended families in mature estates, given the benefits of such arrangements.

    "Since 2011, we have enhanced various priority schemes and introduced a new flat type to help extended families live together or close by for mutual care and support. They have produced good results," said Mr Khaw.

    Data from MND indicates that a quarter (24 per cent) of applicants for Build-to-Order (BTO) flats submitted applications under one of these schemes, and enjoyed higher success rates than those who did not; the proportion is even higher - up to 36 per cent - in mature estates such as Tampines and Bedok.

    MND noted that other schemes are also becoming more popular; the proportion of applicants applying under the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS) or for 3Gen flats went from 5 per cent in 2013 to about 10 per cent the year after.

    "We have tried to meet these needs (for flats close to extended families), by launching more flats in mature estates," said Mr Khaw, citing the BTO project in Tampines North last year, and the upcoming Bidadari launch as examples.

    But land is limited for such launches, which is why the government gives an additional S$10,000 under the higher-tier CPF Housing Grant of S$40,000, to help first-timer families buy a resale flat to live together or close to their parents or married children.

    R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng said helping young couples live near their parents "is always a good move", but thinks more can be done. For instance, he said, a segment of buyers will still be unable to afford flats in mature estates, even with the grants.

    "What such couples can do is rent out their flat in the non-mature estate, and then rent a flat near their parents. The government can assist with some rental payments they need, because the rental income they get from their flat is definitely lower than the rents they have to pay for renting a flat in a mature estate.

    "But we do not want an abuse of such rental subsidies or privileges, so the minimum lease (to qualify for such) subsidies must be between 11/2 and two years, instead of the standard one-year lease. This means the couple will have to be more committed to staying long term near their parents."

  7. #7
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    Oct 2011


    Private home prices 'could fall another 10% in next 2 years'

    Published on Jun 23, 2015 1:45 AM

    By Ann Williams

    PRIVATE home prices in Singapore could fall a further 10 per cent from current levels over the next two years, French bank BNP Paribas said in a research report yesterday.

    Although prices have fallen 5.5 per cent from their mid-2013 peak, BNP Paribas said that a "closer look at valuation metrics and underlying drivers" shows the market has to correct further before a bottom can be called.

    The bank said the Singapore Government is unlikely to unwind the total debt service ratio (TDSR) cap, given its effectiveness in curbing property demand and supporting long-term financial stability, while households here face further deterioration in their disposable income with local interest costs set to rise in tandem with US rates.

    Due to initially low interest rates, the pace of increase in interest servicing will likely exceed that of income growth, said the bank. In turn, fewer households are likely to meet the TDSR requirements.

    "Consequently, the persistence of this measure, while positive for financial system stability, is a key constraint to the revival of property demand in Singapore and, by extension, the outlook for prices," said the bank.

    "Our central case is for a relatively orderly unwind. Maintenance of 5 per cent per annum household income growth and a two-year period of correction (based on previous property cycles) means that prices need to fall by 10 per cent over the coming two years to lower the price-to-income ratio to 8.5 times," said the bank.

    The continued fall in property prices will have direct consequences for consumption growth, said BNP Paribas.

    "Such a decline will push up loan-to-value ratios and force households to inject fresh capital into their mortgages when they attempt to refinance, further constraining private consumption in the coming years."

    The bank added that another factor, tighter immigration policies, has also had a detrimental impact on demand for housing.

    It said vacancy rates for private non-landed housing could hit 10 per cent by the end of this year - putting more downward pressure on prices and rents - given the Government's tighter immigration stance, slowing regional growth which has dimmed the incentive for multinationals to expand into Asia, and supply of units in the pipeline.

    BNP Paribas said the only way the Singapore Government can reverse the downward trend in property prices is by curtailing supply but "judging by its actions, however, the Government seems intent on facilitating further acceleration in supply".

    [email protected]

  8. #8
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    Oct 2011


    Today's renters could turn buyers in 2016

    Nomura believes the impetus to buy will come from the raising of the CPF salary ceiling and landlords' discount offers

    By Lee Meixian

    [email protected]@LeeMeixianBT

    Jun 23, 2015

    HOME renters today could switch to buying in 2016, Nomura said in a Monday report.

    More Singaporeans seem to be opting to rent their private homes these days compared to before. For those who started renting their private homes in 2014, when the time comes to renew their contract in 2016, analyst Sai Min Chow believes that there will be enough impetus for them to buy instead.

    This contrasts against people's current preference to rent, since they expect rents to continue to fall, and mortgage rates to continue to increase. But Mr Sai believes the motivation to buy in 2016 will come from two sources:

    a policy change raising the CPF salary ceiling to S$6,000, and
    the difficult leasing environment that may ultimately force some landlords to sell their units at a discount.

    He believes that this will ultimately result in higher resale transactions and demand for completed units in developers' unsold inventories.

    Leasing of private homes jumped 11.9 per cent to about 56,000 units in 2014, despite a mere 2 per cent increase in foreign population.

    Historically, foreigners have driven property demand in Singapore, be it via purchases or rentals. But with tighter immigration policies, the leasing uptrend has changed to being fuelled by locals instead.

    The trend continued in Q1 this year, with leasing transactions in the private housing market rising 17.2 per cent year-on-year, as rentals stayed under pressure especially in the prime luxury regions.

    Mr Sai believes that today's renters will switch to buying in 2016 because of a policy change raising the CPF salary ceiling from S$5,000 to S$6,000 with effect from Jan 1, 2016.

    The change basically implies that employees earning monthly wages of at least S$6,000 will put about S$200 more into their CPF Ordinary Account contribution each month, and this can be used to service mortgages.

    Currently, rental payments are still cheaper than interest payments to banks. However, with the increase in Ordinary Account contributions from 2016, the monthly cash outlay will drop to potentially lower than the monthly rents, making buying the cheaper alternative of the two.

    "For workers aged 45 and below, our estimates suggest the monthly cash outlay could be 17.8 per cent lower for servicing a mortgage compared to paying rent - even after taking into account a 20 per cent fall in rent and a higher mortgage rate of 3.5 per cent," Mr Sai said.

    The decision to switch from renting to buying could be further helped by property owners' greater willingness to price their properties realistically for sale in 2016.

    Those currently renting out their units might find it more worthwhile to sell their units on the market in the weak leasing environment aggravated by higher mortgage rates, property taxes and leasing commission.

    "We estimate that the potential loss from further rental decline and higher mortgage rates, property tax to be incurred, as well as leasing commission to be paid to agents could work out to a discount of at least 5 per cent to current market prices that property owners may be willing to give to prospective buyers," Mr Sai said.

    For owners whose (new) properties were completed in 2013 and 2014, most would also have fulfilled their minimum holding period of four years by 2016, so they would be spared from paying sellers' stamp duties. This removes another barrier that might otherwise hold them back from selling, he said.

  9. #9
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    Oct 2011


    'Extremely difficult' for government to support housing prices: BNP

    Bank estimates that private property prices could fall a further 10% over next two years

    By Lee Meixian

    [email protected]@LeeMeixianBT

    Jun 23, 2015

    BNP Paribas in a Monday report said that it believes that immigration policies and the incoming private housing supply will make averting further declines in property prices more difficult than is widely thought.

    This is against a general consensus that the authorities have enough controls in place to maintain a "desirable slow bleed" in residential prices.

    The bank estimates that private property prices could fall a further 10 per cent over the next two years, which in turn could have a negative wealth effect and constrain private consumption growth.

    Private property prices have fallen 5.5 per cent from their mid-2013 peak. "A closer look at valuation metrics and underlying drivers suggests the market has further to correct before a bottom can be called," BNP said.

    "The consensus view amongst the general public and financial analysts alike appears to be that the government can call an end to the decline in property prices should it wish. The obvious means to do this is to unwind the suite of cooling measures imposed over the last seven years. Many also believe this unwind is likely to follow shortly after the next general election," the bank added.

    There has been talk that the elections will be held this year to ride on the current nationalistic mood following the 28th SEA Games and the passing of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

    The biggest killer of property demand has been the total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) framework, which limits individuals' total borrowings to no more than 60 per cent of their gross monthly income.

    BNP said that this essentially does two things: it limits the capacity of households to buy property, and it supports the long term financial stability so that private consumption growth rather than banks will bear the brunt of a property bust.

    BNP said that the government is thus least likely to unwind the TDSR requirements in the face of a prolonged property downturn. This makes TDSR a key impediment to the revival of the property market.

    It pointed out that some households may soon find it hard to meet the TDSR requirements, as debt service ratios may rise in tandem with the Fed's monetary tightening, and at a quicker pace than income growth (since rates are rising from a very low base).

    This is coupled with tighter immigration policies, which have hurt both foreigner purchases and rentals, and slower regional growth, which has dimmed the incentive for multinationals to expand into Asia.

    All this is happening while nearly 24,000 units will be added to the private condominium and apartment stock in 2015. Even if occupancy rates for this fresh supply remain near the historical average of 85 per cent, the vacancy rate will shoot up to 10 per cent at end-2015 - the highest since 2005.

    BNP expects "a relatively orderly unwind" though - with household income growth maintained at 5 per cent per annum while housing prices fall 10 per cent over the coming two years. This, it said, will lower the price-to-income ratio from 11 times currently to 8.5 times.

    "Such a decline will push up loan-to-value ratios and force households to inject fresh capital into their mortgages when they attempt to refinance, further constraining private consumption in the coming years," it said.

    Comparing Singapore and Hong Kong, where both governments have wielded a series of cooling measures, BNP said that the effect of macro-prudential tightening measures on property prices has been more pronounced in Singapore because the city-state has "substantially more" borrowers that need mortgage financing. The result has been a small and gradual deflation in prices.

    Conversely, Hong Kong has had "decidedly little success" due to its proximity to China and mainland buyers' preference for cash purchases.

    "Property prices remain on a seemingly relentless rise, up 60 per cent on a per square foot basis since 2010. This, in turn, has pushed price-to-income ratios to a new record high of 27 times, (versus) the historical average since 1990 of 16 times," BNP said.

    Because house prices in Hong Kong are so linked to mainland capital inflows rather than local leverage, it is difficult to envisage a sustained decline in prices at the moment, it said.

  10. #10
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    Oct 2011


    $483m top bid for private home site in Queenstown

    Plot drew 9 bidders, Chinese firm HY Realty's offer above expected range

    Jun 24, 2015

    Rachael Boon

    A PRIME private residential site in the mature Queenstown estate has attracted nine bids from developers - with the best offer well above expected levels.

    The top bid of $483.2 million, from Chinese firm HY Realty, was 8 per cent higher than second- placed Allgreen Properties.

    HY Realty's bid translates to $871.10 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr) for the 1.05ha parcel - higher than the expected top bid range of $750 psf ppr to $820 psf ppr.

    Mr Desmond Sim, CBRE research head for Singapore and South-east Asia, said: "With a winning margin of 8 per cent, the bid demonstrates the confidence in the mature estate of Queenstown, with its network of amenities and the MRT station located right next to the site, and the stability of the Singapore market."

    R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng said the winning margin is less than 10 per cent, "so it means the top two bids are similarly interested in the plot".

    The Dundee Road plot was launched on April 29, with the tender closing yesterday. Experts had expected five to 10 bids.

    But JLL head of research and consultancy Chua Yang Liang noted that this plot had the fewest bidders for a residential site in what is known as the "rest of central region" since the third quarter of last year - when a Sims Drive site had only four bidders.

    "This suggests a weaker interest, compared with the 14 bidders for the site in Lorong 6 Toa Payoh which closed just last week," he said, referring to a 1.22ha plot not far from Braddell MRT station.

    Rodyk & Davidson partner Lee Liat Yeang said it was a bullish bid by HY Realty, possibly owing to the close distance to the MRT station. He added that developers are probably concerned with the abundant supply of new units in the Alexandra and Queenstown area.

    The Dundee Road site, set to yield about 645 homes, was offered for sale on a 99-year lease.

    Mr Sim said that with the total debt servicing ratio - a tougher mortgage rule - approaching its second year since implementation on June 29, "bidders for this site have the advantage of being able to punt on a possible review of the property measures".

    JLL's Dr Chua said: "We reckon the developer could be looking at a selling price of between $1,550 psf and $1,600 psf, assuming a construction cost of between $320 psf and $360 psf."

    A spokesman for HY Realty said it is not a unit of Chinese developer Hao Yuan as was reported, but it has the same shareholders as Singapore-based Hao Yuan Investment, which is controlled by mainland shareholders.

    He said HY Realty has plans to build a 700-unit condominium on the site, expected to be launched in the first quarter of next year.

    "We are confident of this site as city-fringe homes are always in high demand because of the close proximity to the city centre."

    [email protected]

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