Developer optimistic about response for new project

Chinese developer Qingjian Realty will open its first mixed-use development, condominium Le Quest in Bukit Batok West, for preview this weekend.

The average selling price for private homes at the 516-unit project is about $1,280 per sq ft, the developer said yesterday. 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.

It will also have over 6,000 sq m of retail space on the ground floor with about 30 per cent of the space already leased.

“We think this is a fair price. It is the first mixed development in the area… looking at the market now, we are optimistic about response for the project,” said Ms Yen Chong, deputy general manager at Qingjian Realty (South Pacific) Group.

Le Quest will be launched for sale on Aug 5. The homes will be spread across five 12-storey blocks. There are 132 studio and one-bedroom units with sizes ranging from 431 sq ft to 614 sq ft.

Indicative prices for the studios start from $588,000, with one-bedders at $648,000, Qingjian Realty said yesterday.

Two-bedroom units, which span 592 to 829 sq ft, will cost at least $758,000.

Prices for the 192 three-bedders (818 to 1,206 sq ft) will start from $990,000, and $1.38 million for the 48 four-bedroom apartments (1,130 to 1,528 sq ft).

Some analysts told The Straits Times that the prices seem to be on the high side.

“The average selling price is a bit rich for the neighbourhood and it is not near the MRT station,” said International Property Advisor chief executive Ku Swee Yong.

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New Bayshore district at East Coast

Home hunters could soon get a shot at new Housing Board flats with coveted sea views along Singapore’s East Coast.

The Government is looking into creating a new Bayshore district, which includes 6,000 HDB flats – a huge change for the overwhelmingly private estate area located on reclaimed land. Another 6,500 units will be set aside as private homes. 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.

If they materialise, these Bayshore flats would be the first HDB homes built along the East Coast since the old-generation Marine Parade flats constructed in the 1970s, some of which have fetched more than $900,000 on the resale market in recent months.

The potential development is detailed in tender documents put up by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and which were reported by Lianhe Zaobao yesterday, calling for consultancy firms to develop a master plan for the plot.

The Bayshore district spanning 60 ha is surrounded by Bayshore Road, the East Coast Parkway, Bedok Camp and Upper East Coast Road.

With parts of it currently occupied by a forest, it is about two-thirds the size of Bidadari.

The plot is located between two MRT stations on the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) – Bayshore and Bedok South – and is expected to have facilities and services such as schools, shops and an integrated transport hub.

The tender will be conducted in two phases and the appointed firm will submit its final proposal in December this year, URA said in the documents.

But a URA spokesman told The Straits Times that parts of the area will be used for the construction of the TEL for several years, and that “implementation will not be in the near future”. The two stations are expected to open by 2024.

Rather, the invitation to private sector consultants is meant to generate “new ideas for (Bayshore) to be developed into a future public and private housing precinct that supports car-lite living, with a strong sense of community and environmental sustainability”, the URA spokesman added.

“The number of public and private housing units has been projected as 6,000 public units and 6,500 private units, and is still under study.”

Some observers,such as consultancy International Property Advisor’s chief executive Ku Swee Yong, are concerned that the increase in population in the area would put a strain on its transport networks and amenities.

The total of 12,500 residential units translates to 42,375 people, going by Singapore’s average household size of 3.39 persons.

“A more acceptable number would be about 1,000 units to keep the idyllic atmosphere of the area, and not pose a problem for the already burdened Changi Hospital in Simei,” Mr Ku said.

National University of Singapore urban planning expert Steven Choo welcomed the development, as a new HDB town with its “thoughtful design and technological advances” could increase the property value of landed property in Upper East Coast Road.

But he was surprised to hear about the development, given that the Government announced last October that it was looking into ways to mitigate the “lottery effect” of public housing in prime locations.

For instance, some owners of Pinnacle@Duxton flats in Cantonment Road made nearly up to $500,000 when they sold their assets after the five-year minimum occupation period ended in 2014.

But for student and Upper East Coast resident Bryan Lee, 19, the HDB flats would make the hope of living near his parents in the future more achievable.

He said: “This is a good location, very peaceful and near the park. But, more importantly, I hope to get this place if I get married, so that I can be near my parents and take care of them.”

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Palatable quantum key driver for healthy home sales

SINGAPORE – Sales of private homes by developers in Singapore fell 57.3 per cent in December from a month earlier, dropping to the weakest levels in 10 months, government data showed on Monday. Data compiled by the Urban Redevelopment Authority showed developers sold 367 units last month, compared with 860 units in November. That was the weakest since 303 units in February 2016. The level of sales fell 4.4 per cent from a year earlier, from 384 units sold in December 2015.

“Palatable quantum for both first-time owners and investors have been the key driver for healthy home sales over the past 24 months … Quantum play and quality of projects should remain the key demand driver in 2017,” said Mr Desmond Sim, head of CBRE Research in Singapore and South-east Asia. 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.

Multiple cooling measures and loan curbs since 2009 have had the intended effect of bringing housing prices down, with values softening further in the last three months of 2016 to take the longest falling streak on record to 13 consecutive quarters, flash estimates by the URA showed earlier this month. From the recent peak in the third quarter of 2013, prices have fallen 11.2 per cent.

Last year’s annual increase came despite a weak showing in December, when sales plunged 57.3 per cent month-on-month to 367 units due to the seasonal year-end lull, the lowest since February’s 303 units. Compared to the same period a year ago, last month’s figure was 4.4 per cent lower.

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More HUDC estates to start en bloc process

Two privatised HUDC estates are gunning for collective sales in the wake of lucrative sales of two other properties of this type – Rio Casa and Eunosville – in recent weeks.

The 560-unit Tampines Court will likely launch its tender in July, while 336-unit Florence Regency in Hougang is in the early stages of the sales process. 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.

The Straits Times understands that Tampines Court owners are seeking at least $960 million for the large Tampines Street 11 site, spanning over 702,000 sq ft.

Nearly 82 per cent of owners had agreed to the sale as of Thursday, going by a Facebook page on the collective sale. This figure is, however, not official yet as residents may rescind the agreement in a five-day cooling-off period.

For properties to be sold en bloc, the consent of at least 80 per cent of the owners must be obtained before a sale tender can be called.

Built in the 1980s and privatised in 2002, Tampines Court has 14 blocks, with 432 maisonettes and 128 apartments. This is its third bid for a collective sale after its $405 million first try was dismissed by the Strata Titles Board in 2008.

Then around 2011, it failed to obtain the level of approval that was needed from residents.

“We expect more HUDC estates to start the en bloc process, due to recent successful sales,” noted OrangeTee head of research and consultancy Wong Xian Yang.

Rio Casa in Hougang sold last month for $575 million and Eunosville in Sims Avenue sold for $765 million in a deal finalised this week. Both were done above the owners’ asking prices.

Analysts say the recent bumper deals may tempt home owners to push up their asking prices for future en bloc tenders.

“Too high an asking price may dissuade many developers from participating. Land prices are expected to rise, but I do not think we will see an accelerated rise in en bloc values,” Mr Wong added.

Another privatised HUDC project, Florence Regency in Hougang Avenue 2, will also start its collective sale process soon. It is the first attempt for the development, with about 71 years left on the lease, marketing agent JLL said.

“An extraordinary general meeting to start the signing process would likely be in July,” noted JLL regional director of capital markets Tan Hong Boon. Florence Regency is on a plot of about 389,000 sq ft.

Since the 1970s, 18 projects were built under the HUDC or Housing and Urban Development Company scheme. All have since been privatised and nine have been sold, including Shunfu Ville and Raintree Gardens last year.

HUDC sites are said to appeal to developers owing to their location in mature estates. “More importantly, the sites have more potential to be further intensified, given their layout and the size of units,” said Dr Lee Nai Jia, head of South-east Asia research at consultancy Edmund Tie and Company.

However, plots that are too big may put off some bidders, owing to rules requiring developers to build and sell all units within a stipulated time frame or face hefty charges.

Dr Lee said the “optimal size” for a project to have a go at a collective sale is about 300 to 500 units.

Developers’ appetite for en bloc sites also hinges on the number of sites on offer in the upcoming government land sales programme.

“If the increase is moderate, it is unlikely to mitigate the demand for sites from developers and collective sale sites would fill the gaps,” JLL’s Mr Tan added.

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The district of gardens and water

Roads prioritised for public transport, fewer delivery trucks on roads during peak hours, and wide spaces set aside for bicycles and personal mobility devices. This is the car-lite vision for the 360ha Jurong Lake District painted by Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong at the launch of its master plan exhibition yesterday. 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 LifeSignature 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 target is for more than 80 per cent of all trips to and from the district to be made with public transport, he said.

This is an increase from the current national public transport mode share of 66 per cent.

Mr Wong added: “Eighty per cent is truly a stretched target. It is an aspiration, but we hope with all these plans, we can achieve this.”

Other public transport-friendly initiatives include having every developmentnear a bus stop or an MRT station.

The network will also be improved, with seamless linkages across different nodes.

For example, there will be connections between the High-Speed Rail (HSR) terminus and MRT stations in the district, such as the existing North-South and East-West lines, as well as the upcoming Jurong Regional and Cross Island lines.

Consolidation is another way that will lead to a “change in the paradigm of mobility”.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority will build at least four consolidated underground carparks located not more than 400m from every development.

It also plans to develop off-site logistic centres so that companies can consolidate their goods deliveries before entering the district.

This could reduce the volume of freight vehicles on the roads by at least 65 per cent.

Jurong Lake District, designated as the second Central Business District, will provide 100,000 jobs, Mr Wong said.

The “district of gardens and water” will also be a place to live, with 20,000 new homes and attractive recreational and leisure options nearby, he added.

With 16ha of new parks and open spaces, there will be over 100ha of extensive greenery and open spaces in the district.

“Even the space above the HSR terminus will be designed as a central linear park leading to the waterfront,” he said.

Energy-friendly infrastructure innovations include: a common services tunnel to house water pipes; telecommunications and power cables to minimise road disruptions; a pneumatic waste collection system to reduce vehicle movements; and a cooling system to pipe cool air directly to homes to save energy.

The plans for Jurong Lake District, which will take 15 to 20 years to develop, were generally well-received by residents and transport experts.

Safe Cycling Task Force president Steven Lim thinks that apart from building the right infrastructure, it is important for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists to cooperate.

He added: “Ultimately, it is about getting everyone to share the roads graciously.”

Associate Professor Michael Li, transport economist at Nanyang Technological University, thinks the car-lite vision can be achieved as the public transport network will have been improved by then.

“By locating carparks further and making the first and last mile of the public transport commute enjoyable, more people will be encouraged to take public transport.

“At the same time, the Government should also take note of the needs of the handicapped and ageing population, and ensure barrier-free access.”

Jurong resident C. H. Chin, 27, expects to have a healthier lifestyle in future.

“I look forward to a better living environment that is greener and cleaner. I will probably run in the area more often.”

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Is the optimism in the property market justified?

ON the morning, 15 developers converged on the 10th storey of the URA Centre to submit bids for a government land site at Woodleigh Lane.

By 8pm, the results were out: a consortium led by Chip Eng Seng, a mid-sized developer, won with the highest bid of S$701 million. The price jolted the market; it was almost 40 per cent above the price per square foot paid for a nearby site at Raintree Gardens just 10 months ago. But the winner was not alone. Real estate heavyweights – CapitaLand, City Developments and Keppel Land – all submitted bids less than 3 per cent shy of its offer. Upcoming executive condo launches include Anchorvale Lane EC, Rivercove EC while existing ones include Parc LifeSignature 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.

Since local authorities revised seller stamp duties in March this year, green shoots have vigorously sprouted in Singapore’s property market. In addition to fast-rising land bids and en-bloc activity, sales volumes are also up and share prices of developers have rallied.

Yet, doubts about the optimism remain. Officially, Singapore property prices are still in a bear market. The URA housing price index declined 0.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2017. Weak rents, economic uncertainties and rising interest rates also weigh on the prospects of a property recovery.

Is the optimism in the Singapore property market justified?

We believe it is, for three reasons.

First, residential rents will begin to recover next year. From 2014 to 2017, the increase in home completions exceeded the needs of Singapore’s population growth, driving vacancy rates up by three percentage points from 5 per cent to 8 per cent. As a result, rents fell 13 per cent over the period.

This situation will reverse in 2018. Due to fewer launches in recent years, the annual rate of housing completions will decline by around 40 per cent over 2018 to 2020. This falls below the needs of population growth based on the government’s projections, which will reduce vacancy rates and drive a rebound in rents.

Second, two major fears of real estate bears today – the risk of a recession and rising rates – are overwrought. With the global economy charting a reflationary path, the risk of a recession in Singapore over the near- to medium- term is low.

The Chinese government has shown considerable success in engineering a soft landing for its economy. In the major developed economies – the United States, EU and Japan – signs of higher growth are being sustained by fundamental improvements in the labour market and strengthening household demand.

Rate hikes act as a critical countercheck to potential overheating, but central banks are understandably cautious about removing the punch bowl too early given the painstaking efforts taken to nurse the burgeoning recovery.

With this in mind, the pace of rate hikes from the US Federal Reserve is expected to be measured, rising slowly from 1.25 per cent currently to 3 per cent in 2019. From historical analysis, the Singapore property market will take this in its stride.

Third, a rising trend of collective sales reinforces fundamentals. While the market usually debates whether aggressive purchases by developers are backed by fundamentals, the fact is that en-blocs themselves exert powerful trickle-down effects on demand and supply.

After an en-bloc transaction, the process to vacate the original estate and complete the redevelopment typically takes four to seven years. Over this period, the physical stock of homes available for occupancy in Singapore is reduced. In the initial years of a rising collective sales cycle, more homes are taken out of the physical stock by en-bloc transactions than those added back in, exerting downward pressure on vacancy rates and boosting residential rents.

At the same time, those who sold their homes to developers through an en-bloc often enter the property market ra[[pidly to re-establish their exposure, flush with new cash and borrowing headroom. Many also help fund home purchases for younger family members who may be subject to less stamp duties. This adds buyers into the market and increases demand.

In addition, developers typically launch new units for sale after one to two years.

While there are usually more units in the redevelopment than in the original estate, they will be sold at significantly higher prices per square foot, which tend to drive up property valuations in the area. Looking back at history, it is no surprise that en-blocs had similarly risen sharply at the turning points of the last two property cycles in 2004-2005 and 2009-2010.

In 2017 to date, total collective sales in Singapore have hit S$3.1 billion, already far surpassing the S$1 billion in 2016.

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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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