Attracting upgrader’s demand

SINGAPORE — The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Thursday launched for sale by public tender two private residential sites – at Stirling Road and Lorong 1 Realty Park – that can yield a total of about 1,160 homes.

The 99-year leasehold site at Stirling Road, first made available on the Reserve List of the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme in March 2010, has been triggered for sale after an unnamed developer committed to bid at a price no less than S$685.25 million, the URA said. The site, which sits on 227,221 sq ft of land, has a gross plot ratio of 4.2, translating into a maximum permissible gross floor area of 954,327 sq ft. This can be developed to an estimated 1,110 homes. Upcoming executive condo launches include Anchorvale Lane EC, Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc LifeSignature at YishunBrownstone ECVisionaire ECInz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

Located near the Queenstown MRT Station and Ayer Rajah Expressway, the site is easily accessible via public and private transport. It is also close to shopping, dining and entertainment options at Queensway Shopping Centre, IKEA and Alexandra Central. For families with school-going children, Queenstown Primary School, Queenstown Secondary School, Gan Eng Seng Primary School and Crescent Girls’ School are located nearby.

“While the Stirling Road site is in a popular matured estate with good attributes such as being near MRT station and amenities, the project with an estimated dwelling unit number of 1,110 is huge and could deter some developers from bidding for it due to the ABSD (Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty) remission deadline of five years,” said Ms Christine Li, Director of Research at property consultancy Cushman and Wakefield.

“This could mean that even though developers are keen, they might have to form consortiums in order to take on the site. The number of bidders should be around eight to 12… The bid quantum could range from S$860 to S$950 million, which translates to between S$900psf and S$1,000psf,” she added.

The 99-year leasehold site at Lorong 1 Realty Park is released for sale via the Confirmed List of the 1st half 2017 GLS programme. Sitting on an area of 144,221 sq ft, the site is zoned for landed housing with a maximum building height of three storeys. About 50 homes can be built on the site, the URA said.

Located within an established residential area in Hougang, the land parcel is connected to Central Expressway and Kallang Paya Lebar Expressway. Hougang MRT station and Hougang Central Bus Interchange are also located nearby. Residents of the homes built on the site can also visit Heartland Mall-Kovan and Hougang Mall for their dining and shopping needs, the URA said.

“It’s quite an attractive site given that the last landed housing launch in the vicinity is Haus@Serangoon Gardens (in 2012). The landed housing segment has been underperforming the non-landed segment due to its less speculative nature (usually for owner occupation) and affordability issues, as buyers today are still price- and quantum-sensitive,” said Ms Li.

“Nevertheless, if they can price the project attractively, it can still attract upgrader’s demand. The land bids could range from S$450 to S$550psf, which translates to a bid quantum between S$64 million and S$78 million. I reckon there could be 12 to 16 bidders for this site,” she added.

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Development Charge rates for non-landed residential use to be raised

The government is raising development charge or DC rates for non-landed residential use by 13.8 per cent on average. The areas which have seen private-sector collective sales and bullish land bids at state tenders in recent months will see some of the biggest hikes in DC rates.

The government is also increasing DC rates by an average of 3.8 per cent for commercial use and 0.3 per cent for landed residential use. The latest changes are for the period Sept 1, 2017 to Feb 28, 2018. Upcoming executive condo launches include Anchorvale Lane EC, Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc Life, Signature at Yishun, Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

DC is payable for enhancing the use of some sites or to build bigger projects on them.

The Ministry of National Development, in consultation with the Chief Valuer (CV), revises DC rates twice a year, on March 1 and Sept 1. The rates are based on CV’s assessment of land values and take into consideration recent land sales and other property transactions. DC rates are stated according to use groups across 118 geographical sectors in Singapore.

MND said on Thursday evening that DC rates remain unchanged for industrial use as well as the use groups that cover hotels/hospitals, place of worship/civic and community institution, and three other use groups

For the non-landed residential use group, DC rates are being increased in 116 of the 118 geographical sectors by between 6 per cent and 29 per cent. The biggest increase of 29 per cent applies to Sector 100 (Tampines Road/Hougang/Punggol/Sengkang). This is the sector where Rio Casa, which was sold through a collective sale in May this year, is part of.

Sector 101 which includes Eunosville, another development that has been sold through an en bloc sale, saw a 28 per cent DC rate hike. Sector 103, where a 99-year leasehold private housing site along Woodleigh Lane was sold at a state tender, also saw a 25 per cent rate hike. Sector 111, where a 99-year leasehold site along Stirling Road was sold at a state tender, saw a 25 per cent rate hike.

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Improved sentiment due to increased opportunities for buyers

Singapore-listed property developer GuocoLand has sold all the 210 units in its Bukit Timah condominium project Goodwood Residence.

The company, controlled by Malaysian tycoon Quek Leng Chan, told The Straits Times last Friday that it has moved its last three penthouses in the development, although it declined to reveal the timeframe in which these were sold. Upcoming executive condo launches include Anchorvale Lane EC, Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc Life, Signature at Yishun, Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

The three penthouses, which range between 3,900 and 9,600 sq ft, were sold to both Singaporeans and foreigners at prices between $6.5 million and $14.23 million, said the company via e-mail.

A spokesman said that the average price per sq ft (psf) at the development was about $2,300. He added that no deferred payment system or sweeteners were given for the last few units.

He said that about 70 per cent of the buyers were buying for investment.

Separately, the GuocoLand spokesman said that its other freehold completed project, the 381-unit Leedon Residence, is selling well.

About 100 units are left, with an average price per sq ft of slightly below $2,000. The development has two-, three-, four- and five-bedroom units, with prices from $2.3 million.

The company recently sold six five-bedroom units for prices ranging from $8.5 million to more than $10 million, although it declined to reveal the timeframe. The spokesman added that the group is exploring the idea of a bulk purchase for the remaining units.

GuocoLand’s next high-end residential project here will be a 450-unit condo in Martin Place on a site it clinched in June.

Analysts were cautiously optimistic about the high-end property market.

Mr Ong Teck Hui, JLL Singapore’s national director for research and consultancy, said that the segment has picked up this year. Compared with last year, there has been an 80 per cent increase in transactions of non-landed homes with prices of $2,000 psf and above, he noted, citing caveats lodged.

Mr Ong Kah Seng, R’ST Research director, said the sales of the two GuocoLand projects were encouraging.

However, he noted that the improved sentiment was largely due to increased opportunities for buyers, rather than overall optimism in the high-end market.

“Interest for high-end properties may have improved recently, but it is mainly driven by value for money snap-ups,” he said.

“I won’t reckon that investors are seeing, or banking on, big potential of investment returns from high-end properties.”

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ECs were the driving force behind sales

SINGAPORE: Sales of private homes last month fell 57.3 per cent from the previous month in the traditionally quiet year-end period, even as 2016 saw a continued uptick in sales, according to data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Monday.

Excluding executive condominiums (ECs), developers sold 367 new units in December, down from the 860 units sold in November. Year-on-year, the number of new units excluding ECs sold last month was 4.4 per cent lower than the 384 units sold in December 2015. Upcoming executive condo launches include Anchorvale Lane EC, Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc LifeSignature at Yishun,  Brownstone ECVisionaire ECInz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

Including ECs, 580 new units were sold last month, down from 1,110 units the previous month. However, this was 14.2 per cent higher than the 508 units sold the same month a year before.

The month-on-month decline in sales comes as developers scaled back new launches during the traditionally quiet year-end period. Excluding ECs, only 90 units were launched in December, compared to the 1,363 units launched in November.

2016 SALES HIGHEST IN 3 YEARS

However, yearly sales continued to climb steadily, with the total number of new homes sold in 2016 reaching its highest in three years.

A total of 12,408 new private homes – including executive condominiums (ECs) – were sold last year, a 21.7 per cent increase from the 10,199 units sold the previous year. In 2014, 9,026 units were sold.

ECs were the driving force behind sales in 2016, real estate company PropNex said. Excluding ECs, there were 8,364 new units sold last year – slightly higher than the 7,625 units sold in 2015 and 7,437 units sold in 2014.

Sales in the core central region also saw a spike of 67.2 per cent, from 431 units in 2015 to 721 last year. PropNex’s chief executive officer, Ismail Gafoor, said current price points of units in the region were 20 to 25 per cent cheaper compared to previous peaks for some developments.

He added that this was due to aggressive marketing by developers to avoid paying the extension fee if they fail to sell all their units within two years of obtaining a temporary occupation permit after completing a project.

Mr Ismail predicted that new private home sales would remain similar this year. “Unfortunately due to the global uncertainty, political situation as well as the impending interest rate hikes, I think 2017 will witness a similar volume of transactions in the tune of 12,000 to 13,000. Therefore, I’m not expecting a repeat of another 20 per cent increment come 2017.”

CBRE Singapore gave a similar outlook, but added that favourable prices and good quality projects would continue to drive demand in 2017, as they have over the past two years.

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Transaction volume rose for second straight month

SINGAPORE — Activity in the Housing and Development Board (HDB) resale market continued to pick up in August, with the number of transactions surging from a month earlier as prices rose, showed flash estimates from SRX Property on Thursday.

A total of 1,957 resale HDB flats were sold last month, as transaction volume rose for the second straight month. The volume was 9.6 per cent higher than July’s and up 3 per cent from August a year earlier, showed the SRX Property report. Upcoming executive condo launches include Anchorvale Lane EC, Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc LifeSignature at Yishun,  Brownstone ECVisionaire ECInz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

Resale HDB prices recorded an uptick of 0.1 per cent, ending a four-month falling streak. Year-on-year, HDB resale prices have decreased by 0.7 per cent from August last year, and are down 12.1 per cent since the peak in April 2013, said SRX Property.

Analysts said the pick-up in volume may be attributed to some buyers closing deals ahead of the Hungry Ghost month, typically seen by many to be an inauspicious time to make home purchases.

Based on the lunar calendar, the Hungry Ghost festival spans Aug 22 to Sep 19.

Mr Nicholas Mak, head of the Research & Consultancy Department at integrated asset manager ZACD, said: “A possible reason for the increase is that some buyers may be rushing to seal the transaction before the start of the Ghost month.” He added that the number of deals was within the six-month range of transaction volumes, which ranged from 1,753 to 1,985 flats.

Mr Mak said the marginal increase in HDB resale prices from the previous month pointed to the continuing stabilisation of the market.

According to the SRX flash estimates, the overall median Transaction-Over-X-Value (TOX) — an indicative measure of how much a buyer is underpaying or overpaying for a unit — was zero in August, compared with negative S$1,100 a month earlier.

Among the towns with more than 10 HDB resale transactions last month, Serangoon was the best-performing with a median TOX of S$11,000. Hougang was the worst, with a median TOX of negative S$7,000.

International Property Advisor chief executive Ku Swee Yong pointed to a two-tier market forming even while overall sentiment improves.

“Flats in the outlying areas such as Yishun and Sembawang remain under price pressure as homeowners upgrade to more central areas, which in some cases have been seeing record-setting million-dollar transactions,” he said.

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Developing expressions to give identity and elegance to estates

SINGAPORE: Pulling into the foyer at Waterway Cascadia, you would be forgiven for thinking it is a private condominium.

The name of this public housing estate in Punggol is emblazoned across the foyer wall. Its double-storey car park is well-camouflaged. Instead, visitors are greeted by a sprawling green space that sits atop it. Upcoming executive condo launches include Anchorvale Lane EC, Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc LifeSignature at Yishun,  Brownstone ECVisionaire ECInz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

 This community space, surrounded by eight tastefully designed blocks containing 1,009 units, is dotted with lush flora, fitness corners and ample shelters and benches.

Waterway Cascadia, designed by ADDP Architects, is a Build-to-Order project launched in July 2012. This year, it clinched the Housing and Development Board (HDB) Design Award in the housing category.

A total of 12 HDB Design Awards and 12 HDB Construction Awards were given out this year to recognise industry partners for building quality homes. Other winners include Hougang Meadow (HDB Construction Award) and the upcoming Bedok Beacon (Innovative Design Award).

HDB’s director of landscape and design Brian Low said Waterway Cascadia is a good example of “new generational” public housing with greenery and open spaces.

Referring to the blocks’ exterior, he added: “You can see the scale of the architecture as they try to frame up the buildings to make it more special, and behind they have cascaded the design so it drops down to eight storeys before it opens up to a beautiful view of the waterway.”

To that end, the blocks are fitted with frames resembling white boxes and scattered with recessed balconies at regular intervals. In addition, their heights are staggered to maximise views of Punggol Waterway. About a third of units there enjoy views of the waterway.

Commenting on the design, 2017 HDB Awards jury panellist and architect Tan Kok Hiang said: “It is now a given for new HDB designs to have well-connected and beautiful community spaces. Another important aspect is developing expressions that give identity and elegance to the estates.”

But Waterway Cascadia is not only pretty. The estate boasts eco-friendly features like bio-retention basins that treat and regulate rainwater runoffs and a centralised dual refuse chute. These have earned it the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) Greenmark Gold Plus, the highest green rating for public housing.

Following in its footsteps is Keat Hong Pride in Choa Chu Kang, another HDB Design Award winner this year. Designed by Surbana Jurong Consultants and launched in May 2012, the centrepiece of this 1,143-unit estate is a vast roof garden above its car park. The garden, which is longer than a football field, contains playgrounds, pavilions and fitness corners.

Keat Hong Pride also bagged the HDB Construction Award after achieving a Construction Quality Assessment System (CONQUAS) score of more than 90, above the national average of 88.7. CONQUAS is a BCA indicator that measures the quality of buildings.

“It is very encouraging that HDB continues to champion construction innovation and quality, setting higher benchmarks in quality standards each year,” said HDB Construction Awards jury panellist and Singapore Institute of Architect’s First Vice-President Seah Chee Huang.

“This will help to significantly elevate the quality of our public housing and infrastructure, ultimately ensuring better quality homes and environments for our community,” Mr Seah said.

Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee will give out the awards at a ceremony on Wednesday.

When it comes to building new estates, HDB looks at “basic design principles” like how blocks are oriented in terms of wind flow and sunlight, its director of landscape and design Brian Low said.

“HDB living is about naturally lit, naturally ventilated environments,” he said. “Because of that, we don’t want to rely on a lot of mechanical means to achieve comfort. Basically, all these features have to be passive.”

Beyond design, however, residents are asking for facilities like ATMs and convenience stores in new estates. And that is something HDB is working towards, Mr Low said.

“In the new projects, we are putting more and more facilities that are commercial, (for example), coffee shops and shops,” he added.

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Residential collective sales market poised to pick up?

SINGAPORE: Pearl Bank Apartments, the iconic horseshoe-shaped building at Outram, is attempting a collective sale for the fourth time.

An extraordinary general meeting was held on Saturday, during which Colliers International was appointed marketing agent, and Lee and Lee as the law firm for the en-bloc process.

Analysts have said the residential collective sales market is poised to pick up, as private home sales have stabilised and there is strong demand for land by developers. Upcoming executive condo launches include Anchorvale Lane EC, Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc LifeSignature at Yishun,  Brownstone ECVisionaire ECInz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

Channel NewsAsia has learnt that a reserve price of S$728 million has been set for the building, which has 280 residential units and eight commercial units.

The size of residential units varies from 1,324 sq ft to 3,993 sq ft, and each homeowner will stand to receive an average of S$2.6 million if an en-bloc sale goes through.

Built in 1976, the 99-year leasehold Pearl Bank Apartments is one of the oldest private residential buildings in Singapore. It has 52 years left on its lease because its tenure started in 1970.

The property has a site area of 82,376 sq ft, with a 7.2 plot ratio.

It was put up for en-bloc sale three times – in 2007, 2008 and 2011 – but there were no takers. In 2015, there were efforts to get it gazetted as a conserved building, but the attempt failed as the liaison committee did not get 100 per cent agreement for conservation from owners.

For the development to go on the market, the en-bloc committee now has to work with Colliers and Lee and Lee to get 80 per cent of homeowners to agree to the collective sale.

They have up to one year to do so, although they hope to collect the required signatures within this quarter and to launch the tender by the fourth quarter of 2017, said Mr Alex Poh, chairman of the 12-member en-bloc committee.

“It’s all about timing,” Mr Poh added. “The earlier the better, and it fits the market trend right now.”

In May, former HUDC estate Rio Casa was sold for S$575 million in an en-bloc deal and last month, another HUDC estate Serangoon Ville was put up for collective sale.

Mr Poh said he initiated the en-bloc process because the Pearl Bank Apartments building is getting harder and more expensive to maintain due to its age. He approached a few residents last December to form the committee with him.

“It is also the next-best option to getting Pearl Bank conserved, since the last time it required all residents to agree to conserve the building, and we weren’t able to do that,” Mr Poh added.

“But in this case, the developer might choose to conserve it if the authorities approve.”

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Providing more job and recreational options in the heartlands

SINGAPORE: More than 100,000 new jobs will be created and 20,000 homes built in the 360-hectare Jurong Lake District, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said on Friday.

The Jurong Lake District project – set to be completed after 2040 – was first announced in 2008 as part of URA’s efforts to provide more job and recreational options in the heartlands. This will benefit nearby EC residents such as those from Inz Residence EC. Upcoming executive condo launches include Anchorvale Lane EC, Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc Life, Signature at Yishun,  Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC,  The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

The Government has said it plans to transform the area into Singapore’s second central business district.

The new jobs will be created in sectors such as the maritime industry, with the future Tuas mega port; infrastructure development, due to the neighbouring Jurong Industrial Estate; and in the technology sector with the Nanyang Technological University and the planned Jurong Innovation District nearby, URA said.

New residential developments will also be built in this western corridor, which will be a mixed-use business district. However, the exact mix of private and public development has not yet been determined, the authority said.

The district has been divided into two precincts – Jurong Gateway, the commercial hub where redevelopment has already begun, and Lakeside, where the future Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High-Speed Rail (HSR) terminus will be located.

To cater to the changing needs of developers and businesses, URA said it will adopt a grid structure for land parcels sold through the Government land sales programme so that it can adjust the size of land parcels put up for sale more easily.

These land parcels will be “white zoned”, meaning that they can house a mix of uses under certain conditions. Developers will have more freedom to decide on the uses of each site, which could range from apartments to museums.

Speaking at the launch of an exhibition to showcase the draft master plan, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said the project will create a “better, smarter and more sustainable centre for businesses”, which will provide more jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans.

The development of the district, which will take at least 15 to 20 years, will start with the area around the HSR terminus as it is expected to begin operation by end-2026, he added.

COMMUTER-CENTRIC FEATURES

URA also announced several features to make Jurong Lake District “car-lite”. For example, there will be roads solely for public transport, and every street within the Lakeside precinct will have a dedicated path for cyclists and personal mobility device users.

The bus network serving the Jurong Lake District will also be expanded, with every development no more than 400m or a five minutes’ walk away from a bus stop or an MRT station.

The aim is for more than 80 per cent of all commuter trips in the district to be via public transport, higher the current islandwide average of 66 per cent, URA said.

URA also said it hopes to cut the number of freight vehicles on the roads by at least 65 per cent – it plans to develop offsite logistic centres so that companies can consolidate their goods deliveries before entering the district.

GOING UNDERGROUND

To free up ground space, more underground spaces will be used. For example, URA will build at least four “consolidated” car parks – with each development 200m to 400m from a car park instead of each building having its own car park.

These underground spaces could also be used to house energy and waste systems such as a centralised waste collection point and a district-wide cooling system, the statutory board added.

The district-wide cooling system will serve the entire area, including residential developments, unlike the network currently used at Marina Bay which only serves commercial buildings.

An integrated district management platform could also be set up so that facilities managers can tap on real-time data to diagnose and fix problems quickly, URA said.

GREEN SPACES

The plans for Jurong Lake District include sprucing up 116 hectares of greenery and open spaces, including a new park above the HSR terminus, URA said.

The 90-hectare Jurong Lake Gardens is also currently being renovated and could provide activity spaces for the new Science Centre. A water channel on the east side of the lake will also be formed to provide more waterfront space for leisure and retail activities, it added.

Proposals for the Jurong Lake District were developed by a team of consultants led by Dutch design firm KCAP Architects&Planners.

URA said it hopes to finalise the details of this master plan by 2019, and hold townhall sessions and focus group discussions among both businesses and residents to gather feedback on the proposals.

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