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Thread: Tampines Court sale dismissed

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    Default Tampines Court sale dismissed

    http://www.straitstimes.com/Money/St...ry_256994.html

    July 12, 2008

    Tampines Court collective sale in peril

    STB rules not to bring forward Aug 7 hearing, which must take place before deal is signed by July 25 deadline

    By Jessica Cheam


    CRUCIAL: With no extension, the Tampines Court sale agreement will likely lapse on July 25. -- PHOTO: WWW.CHANKOKHONG.COM.SG

    THE sales committee at Tampines Court looks to have shot itself in the foot after a ruling by the Strata Titles Board (STB) yesterday almost certainly killed off its estate's $405 million collective sale.

    It delayed seeking mandatory STB approval for the deal and is now caught in a deadline trap of its own making.

    The key date is July 25, that is when the estate's sales committee must complete the deal. However, that looks impossible now after yesterday's STB decision.

    The board ruled that it would not bring forward an Aug 7 hearing set to allow testimony from witnesses that have yet to be called.

    The STB had pencilled in the date after listening to sale objectors on June 16 to 18 and 'taking into account the availability of all parties and the board', it said.

    Until that Aug 7 hearing is conducted, the sale cannot be signed and sealed.

    The Straits Times understands that the sales committee wanted a date change as the buyers - Frasers Centrepoint and Far East Organization - will not extend the completion deadline.

    With no extension, the sale agreement will likely lapse on July 25. This means the developers can walk away from a deal that looks far less compelling now than last July, given souring homebuyer sentiment and escalating construction costs.

    However, this might be a blessing in disguise for some owners at the estate. The deal was inked just before the property boom at prices around $430 per sq ft (psf), but private homes in Tampines now go from $550 to $700 psf.

    The deadline crunch seems to be of the sales committee's own making.

    The conditions of the sales agreement were met on July 25 last year but the committee delayed applying for the standard STB approval until Jan 7.

    The committee told the STB that it wanted to await the outcome of legal challenges over the contentious Gillman Heights sale.

    The committee argued that if the Gillman Heights sale was halted over issues of majority consent, it would have made a Tampines Court application futile.

    In the Gillman Heights case, minority owners appealed all the way to the High Court, claiming that collective sale rules did not apply to former Housing and Urban Development Company (HUDC) estates.

    Tampines Court is also a former HUDC estate so any ruling could have killed its own collective sale.

    But Justice Choo Han Teck ruled last month that a privatised HUDC estate can be sold collectively if the requisite conditions are met.

    While that also cleared the way for the Tampines Court sale, it left the sales committee with little time to tie up loose ends, including objections by minority owners.

    The STB registrar had some sympathy yesterday for the committee's argument about why it delayed applying for sale approval.

    But he pointed out that a sale agreement has a deadline and, by waiting for the High Court ruling, the committtee took the risk that it would not have enough time to get a ruling from the board before the expiry date.

    'This is a calculated risk, whose consequences they will have to bear,' he said.

    'The board should not be pressured to accommodate a deadline set by the applicants and the buyer.'

    A lawyer acting for the minority owners told The Straits Times that he did not want to comment on the outcome.

    The one lifeline for the majority owners would be if the buyers extend the deadline but that also looks a lost cause.

    Far East Organization and Frasers Centrepoint told The Straits Times last night that they are ready to complete the deal, but 'the onus was upon the vendors to secure the STB order within the agreed timeframe, which is about 16 months from the date of the agreement'.

    Savills director of marketing and business development Ku Swee Yong said since the deal was inked last July, construction costs have escalated a lot faster than mass market property prices.

    'The project, unsurprisingly, has become less attractive,' he said.

    Tampines Court is a sizeable 702,162 sq ft site with 560 units. It could be redeveloped into a new condominium with around 1,580 units averaging 1,300 sq ft.

    [email protected]


    Key proceedings

    March 25, 2007: Tampines Court's sales committee enters a sale and purchase agreement with Far East Organization and Frasers Centrepoint.

    July 25, 2007: The conditions of the sales agreement are fulfilled.

    Jan 7: The sales committee applies to the Strata Titles Board (STB) for sale approval and the minority owners then file their objections.

    June 16 to 18: The STB hears the objections and sets the next hearing for Aug 7.

    June 30: The sales committee applies to bring the Aug 7 hearing forward to before the sale's July 25 expiry date.

    July 11: STB dismisses the sales committee's request.

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    Default Tampines Court owners file appeal

    http://www.straitstimes.com/Money/St...ry_258132.html

    July 16, 2008

    Tampines Court owners file appeal

    They are seeking to convince STB to bring forward a key hearing date on collective sale

    By Jessica Cheam


    ANGRY owners at Tampines Court have opened up two fronts in their battle to save their estate's $405 million collective sale.

    One bid saw the sales committee lodge a High Court appeal to overturn a ruling by the Strata Titles Board (STB), while some owners made a direct plea to National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan.

    The 10 or so owners went to a weekly Meet-The-People session on Monday night to voice their concerns to Mr Mah, the MP for the Tampines ward.

    The Straits Times understands that Mr Mah, in his capacity as a local MP, has agreed to appeal to the STB on the owners' behalf to bring forward a crucial hearing date.

    The timing of that hearing - scheduled to let some sale objectors have a say - is also at the centre of the sales committee's legal appeal.

    The committee wants the High Court to overturn an STB ruling on when the hearing should be held.

    The board said on Friday the hearing should go ahead as planned on Aug 7.

    The date, however, comes after the sales agreement legally expires on July 25. If the hearing is held on Aug 7, the sale cannot be done as scheduled on July 25, effectively killing it.

    Two sales committee members said in an affidavit filed on Monday that the STB failed to take into account that any hearing after July 25 'will be academic', as the sales agreement would expire and the buyers were unlikely to extend the deadline.

    The buyers - Far East Organization and Frasers Centrepoint - have already said they 'are ready to complete the deal', but 'the onus was upon the vendors to secure the STB order within the agreed timeframe'.

    The estate's tight deadline stemmed from a sales committee decision to delay lodging its application for STB approval of the sale until Jan 7 this year although all the necessary conditions had already been met as early as July 25 last year.

    It told the board that it wanted to await the outcome of legal challenges over the contentious Gillman Heights sale, as this could have a bearing on the fate of the Tampines Court deal.

    As it turned out, the High Court last month cleared the way for the Gillman Heights deal and, in so doing, removed any potential obstacle to the Tampines Court sale as well.

    Some owners told The Straits Times that they felt this deadline mess was the STB's fault.

    Madam Irene Cheang said it was the board's duty to see the sale through within the six-month guideline, and that it had been inefficient in processing the sale.

    STB registrar Bryan Chew stood by the board's decision on the date of the hearing.

    The time needed to get a sale approved depends on a variety of factors, including the number of objectors, the size of the estate and the complexity of the case, he said.

    'This is not the first time that we've taken more than six months,' he added.

    The STB said it had pencilled in the Aug 7 date after listening to sale objectors from June 16 to 18 and 'taking into account the availability of all parties and the board'.

    It has become a nerve-wracking time for the owners, as many have committed themselves to other properties.

    Owner K. Balasubramaniam, 55, said residents could lose about $200,000 should the sale fail. He said the average open market value of a typical unit was $500,000 - while each owner would get about $700,000 should the sale go through.

    Lawyers for the majority and minority owners declined to comment.

    The Straits Times understands that there will be a High Court hearing this afternoon. It will be closed to the public.

    [email protected]

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    http://www.straitstimes.com/Money/St...ry_259163.html

    July 19, 2008

    July 21 hearing for Tampines Court case

    High Court orders STB to move hearing ahead of July 25 deadline

    By Jessica Cheam


    THE Tampines Court en-bloc sale was handed a lifeline by the High Court yesterday when it ordered the Strata Titles Board (STB) to bring forward a crucial hearing date.

    Just a week ago, the sale had seemed as good as dead when the STB refused to change an Aug 7 hearing date. This meant the hearing would take place after the July 25 expiry date of the sales deal.

    And the buyers - Far East Organization and Frasers Centrepoint - had already said they were unlikely to extend the deadline.

    But the court yesterday granted an appeal by the majority owners. This means the STB must now hear remaining objections to the sale on Monday, four days before the deal expires.

    Even with the new hearing date, STB registrar Bryan Chew said there was no guarantee a decision will be made by July 25.

    '(It) depends on how long the witnesses take on the stand,' he said.

    Thereafter, lawyers have to make their submissions and the board has to deliberate.

    Senior counsel Michael Hwang, who was acting for the majority owners, told The Straits Times that the High Court application was made on two grounds.

    First, that the hearing was set for a date beyond the six- month life of the specific board constituted to hear the estate's sale.

    The owners also contended that it was wrong for STB to fix that date when it knew the sales agreement would expire on July 25.

    Lawyer N. Sreenivasan argued for the minority owners and said that the STB was not obliged to complete a sale by a date set by the sellers and buyers.

    The estate's deadline squeeze stemmed from a sales committee decision to delay seeking STB approval for the deal until the board had ruled on the Gillman Heights sale.

    The decision on Gillman Heights could have had a bearing on the fate of the Tampines Court deal as both were former HUDC estates.

    The Tampines Court committee eventually applied for sale approval on Jan 7, although all the necessary conditions had been met as early as July 25 last year.

    Meanwhile, the sale has caused much tension and division in the estate.

    'The whole en-bloc process has been dragging for too long and is upsetting residents,' said owner Mansur Husain.

    Majority owners feel the sale price - about $700,000 for each unit - is above what the homes could get on the open market. But minority owners believe the amount is too low, given that private home prices in Tampines have shot up in the last year.

    An independent analyst, Savills' director of marketing and business development Ku Swee Yong, said fair value is likely from $500,000 to $700,000.

    Some homes can command premiums based on individual attributes, he said. Comparing prices of Tampines Court to those of new condos in the area is 'not too accurate' as the estate does not have comparable facilities, he pointed out.

    [email protected]

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    Default Hope in sight for Tampines Court sale?

    http://www.straitstimes.com/Money/St...ry_260111.html

    July 22, 2008

    Hope in sight for Tampines Court sale?

    Majority owners' last-ditch bid to push through collective sale may bear fruit

    By Jessica Cheam


    AN ELEVENTH-HOUR bid by the owners of Tampines Court to save their collective sale from petering out seems to be paying off.

    The deal was in danger of collapsing after the sales committee delayed seeking mandatory Strata Titles Board (STB) approval for the sale.

    The STB had scheduled to hear the case only next month, but the sales agreement with Far East Organization and Frasers Centrepoint expires this Friday. The two property giants do not look keen to grant an extension.

    As a result, the sales committee last week applied successfully to the High Court to have the STB hear the case earlier.

    At yesterday's hearing, those who objected to the sale had their say, clearing the way for lawyers for majority and minority owners to submit closing statements in writing by Thursday.

    The STB had initially set yesterday's hearing for Aug 7, but that would have killed the $405 million collective sale as it would come after the July 25 deadline.

    The deadline fix stemmed from the sales committee's decision to delay seeking mandatory STB approval for the deal until Jan 7, although all the necessary conditions had been met as early as July 25 last year.

    It wanted to wait until the board had ruled on the Gillman Heights sale. Any ruling could have had a bearing on the fate of the Tampines Court deal as both are former Housing and Urban Development Company estates.

    The squeeze on dates became potentially disastrous when the STB dismissed an appeal to bring forward the Aug 7 hearing, forcing majority owners to appeal to the High Court last week.

    Lawyer N. Sreenivasan, who represents the minority owners, said yesterday the High Court did not explicitly order the STB to rule by Friday. But the board's deputy president, Mr Alfonso Ang, said it was likely to, in the 'spirit' of the court's order.

    Sales committee chairman Mathew Lee, who spent the most time on the witness stand yesterday, was grilled on whether he had acted in the owners' best interests on the issue of the estate's valuation and the method of distribution of sale proceeds.

    The lively session also drew a few laughs, particularly when Senior Counsel Andre Yeap, who represents the majority owners, said Mr Sreenivasan was 'highly intelligent', to which the latter interjected: 'No, I am not.'

    Resident Niamh Choo, who also took the stand, told The Straits Times later that one of the minority owners' biggest concern was that some of the proceeds would be distributed unfairly.

    In his closing statement, Mr Yeap said there was insufficient evidence that the sale lacked good faith.

    Mr Sreenivasan will make his closing statements to the board today.

    [email protected]

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    Default Tampines Court sale dismissed

    http://www.straitstimes.com/Latest%2...ry_261207.html

    July 25, 2008

    Tampines Court sale dismissed

    By Jessica Cheam


    The sale has caused much tension and division in the estate, with some upset residents complaining that the process has dragged on for too long. -- PHOTO: INTERNET

    THE en bloc sale of former HUDC estate Tampines Court failed on Friday after the Strata Titles Board dismissed its sale application.

    The board said it had examined the evidence and found that the sale was not concluded in good faith.

    It said it will release its grounds of decision at a later date.

    The Board's decision effectively means that the sale of the estate is off.

    That is because the sales committee's agreement with the estate's buyers - Far East Organisation and Frasers Centrepoint Properties - also expires on Friday and the buyers have previously indicated they will not extend the agreement.

    The sale has caused much tension and division in the estate, with some upset residents complaining that the process has dragged on for too long.

    The majority owners feel the sale price - about $700,000 for each unit - is above what the homes could get on the open market.

    But minority owners believe the amount is too low, given that private home prices in Tampines have shot up in the last year.

    An independent analyst, Savills' director of marketing and business development Ku Swee Yong, said fair value is likely from $500,000 to $700,000.

    Tampines Court is spread over a sizeable 702,162 sq ft site with 560 units. It could be redeveloped into a new condominium with around 1,580 units averaging 1,300 sq ft.

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    Default

    http://www.straitstimes.com/Money/St...ry_261442.html

    July 26, 2008

    Strata board rules: It's no go for Tampines Court sale

    Ruling comes after 3 days of intense hearings to meet en-bloc deadline

    By Jessica Cheam


    ANY hopes of collecting a windfall for their flats by the more than 400 owners of Tampines Court were dashed yesterday when their collective sale was thrown out by the Strata Titles Board (STB).

    While the majority owners were devastated, minority owners sobbed in relief when the STB read out its decision to a packed room at its Maxwell Road office.

    STB deputy president Alfonso Ang said: 'From the evidence...the transaction is not in good faith, taking into account the sale price and the method of distributing the proceeds of the sale.'

    Lawyer N. Sreenivasan, who represented the minority owners, had argued on Tuesday that the sales committee had not obtained an updated valuation of the 560-unit estate when the deal was signed last year. The valuation used was dated from 2005.

    The controversial $405 million deal also involved an amount of $10 million called the beta sum that is meant to compensate owners for financial loss.

    Mr Sreenivasan said this was unfairly distributed among owners at the discretion of the sales committee.

    The arguments seem to have struck a chord with STB, whose decision was considered unusual by industry analysts as the board is perceived to generally approve sales.

    Yesterday's ruling came after three intense days of hearings as the board fast-tracked a conclusion.

    The High Court had ordered the STB to bring forward an Aug 7 hearing to Monday so objectors could be heard before the sale agreement expired yesterday.

    A decision by yesterday was crucial as the buyers - Frasers Centrepoint and Far East Organization - would not grant an extension. The STB's ruling now means the sale is dead.

    Lawyers from Phang & Co, who represented the majority owners, said they were 'discussing options'. But with no sale extension, an appeal to overturn the STB ruling will be futile.

    Meanwhile, unhappy majority owners are wondering what went wrong. They stood to collect a payout of about $700,000 each - as much as $300,000 above the purchase price, depending on when they bought their home in the 99-year leasehold estate. One majority owner who declined to be named said she was frustrated that the sale took so long.

    'We don't understand why the sales committee was dragging its feet,' she said.

    The committee seems to have shot itself in the foot. The sale conditions had all been met by July 25 last year, yet the committee delayed seeking standard STB approval until Jan 7 this year.

    It said it wanted to wait for an STB ruling on the Gillman Heights sale as its fate could have had a bearing on the Tampines Court deal as both were former Housing and Urban Development Company estates.

    But another majority owner, Ms Irene Cheang, was more forgiving towards the committee: 'It's a thankless job, and we cannot blame them for taking this up.'

    Minority owner Niamh Choo, who had tracked the sale process on her blog, tampinescourt.blogspot.com, was 'ecstactic' at the result.

    'It was an inevitable decision. We had a very strong case,' she said.

    'Now that we get to keep our homes, I hope residents will band together and can be neighbours once again.'

    The STB has yet to disclose the grounds for rejection. It may do so at a later date.

    [email protected]


    FINAL VERDICT

    'From the evidence...the transaction is not in good faith, taking into account the sale price and the method of distributing the proceeds of the sale.'

    STB DEPUTY PRESIDENT ALFONSO ANG


    NOT SURPRISED

    'It was an inevitable decision, we had a very strong case. Now that we get to keep our homes, I hope residents will band together and can be neighbours once again.'

    MINORITY OWNER NIAMH CHOO


    NOT AT FAULT

    'It's a thankless job, and we cannot blame them for taking this up.'

    MAJORITY OWNER IRENE CHEANG, who was more forgiving towards the sales committee

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