Published May 6, 2008

JLL re-entering housing project sales business


JONES Lang LaSalle (JLL) is poised to re-enter the Singapore residential project sales business after a hiatus of about seven years.

It has clinched appointments to market Floridian, a 336-unit freehold condo development in Bukit Timah by Far East Organization and Wing Tai Holdings, as well as Lippo's Centennia Suites at Kim Seng Road.

It is also marketing 34 units at the completed 99-year leasehold Amaryllis Ville condo in the Newton area on behalf of Goodearth Hotel group of Australia. Goodearth - controlled by the family of the late Teo Lay Swee, who used to own the Cockpit Hotel site - bought the 34 units from the project's developer, Wing Tai, about two years ago and is expected to sell the units for about $1,500 per square foot (psf).

JLL will focus on the upper end of the Singapore residential market, rather than the mass market. 'As well as marketing Singapore residential projects here, we'll market them through our international office network,' JLL managing director (Southeast Asia) Chris Fossick said in a recent interview with BT.

'I believe that with an increasing number of overseas buyers in the local market, the benefits of an international marketing campaign will grow in importance. We believe we can stay ahead of the game because we already have successful residential project sales businesses in Hong Kong, Jakarta and London, and a large presence in India, China, Korea, Japan and the UAE - we can mine our database of international investors in these places when marketing Singapore residential properties.'

'We believe the proportion of foreign buying in the Singapore housing market will continue to increase. Singapore is a destination for people to want to be in; it's becoming an exciting place,' Mr Fossick added.

He views the current slowdown in housing sales here as a temporary thing, 'driven by sentiment, not fundamentals'.

'The fundamentals for Singapore and Asia remain very strong. But we're being somewhat sidetracked by the goings-on in the world credit market.'

The property consulting group will also step up investment sales of Singapore residential properties - for instance, by matching foreign property funds/ institutional investors with local developers buying land for housing projects here, or helping these investors purchase stacks of apartments in new projects.

'The other idea we have for our residential business is to help Singaporeans who want to diversify into overseas property investments. The UK market, for instance, has been so high for so long and the currency so strong, we feel that for the last five years, UK has not been overly attractive. But that could change over the next 12 months.

'The pound has been coming off against the Sing dollar. But I think UK home prices have to come down further, but may be in 12 months, UK property might start looking reasonably attractive.'

Helping JLL achieve some of its new business plans is Julian Sedgwick, who joined as a local director in JLL Singapore's residential investments department earlier this year. He used to work with Chesterton London, where he marketed homes and condos in Central London.

'He brings an international flavour, and some new ideas on how they do project sales in London versus how we do it here. He will be quite helpful to Jacqueline Wong, who heads our Singapore residential business,' Mr Fossick said.

In a separate development, JLL regional director and head of investments Lui Seng Fatt is leaving the group. Mr Fossick confirmed Mr Lui's departure. 'He made a decision to move on. We're grateful for his contributions in the success of our investment business and wish him the best on his new ventures,' he added. Mr Lui, who is overseas, could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, Mr Fossick is expected to oversee the investments department. 'We've got a big team; we might as well find somebody within that team to take the helm.'