Hiap Hoe snaps up unsold condo units

TWO bulk purchases of units on the top floors of Skyline 360° at St Thomas Walk and Signature at Lewis condominiums have raised eyebrows over the basement pricing – and the fact that the developer itself has bought them.

Listed developer Hiap Hoe swept up remaining units at both luxury developments through a wholly-owned company last month, disclosures filed with the Singapore Exchange showed.

Units on the highest floors of a project almost always command a premium, yet the pricing is lowest for any level in the projects.

HH Residences, a unit set up in April, had snapped up five units at the 61-unit Skyline 360º condo in River Valley for $35 million from Bukit Panjang Plaza, another Hiap Hoe subsidiary.

This works out to $1,574 per sq ft (psf) based on a total area of 22,238 sq ft – well below the low pricing of $1,630 psf for a 2,131 sq ft unit sold in August 2009, caveats lodged with the Urban Redevelopment Authority showed.

A 4,015 sq ft penthouse unit on the 35th floor had set a record high for the condo in April 2012 when it sold for $10.07 million – or $2,508 psf. The units in the bulk deal were a 6,523 sq ft “super penthouse” on the 36th floor and four other 3,929 sq ft penthouses on the 31st to 34th floors.

HH Residences also picked up two penthouses on the 12th and highest floors of a smaller freehold project, Signature at Lewis, in Lewis Road. The units were bought for $7 million – or $1,071 psf – from another Hiap Hoe unit, Guan Hoe Development. One unit is 3,444 sq ft while the other is 3,068 sq ft.

The pricing falls below the lowest price of $1,227 psf set in January 2010, for a 1,841 sq ft unit.

Hiap Hoe told SGX the acquisition was “in connection with an internal restructuring exercise” but declined to elaborate when contacted by The Straits Times.

Penthouse units, particularly those in the posh districts, have lost their shine.

Buyers have shied away from the sizeable price tags that come with the large units given stringent mortgage rules and the additional buyers’ stamp duty (ABSD).

Market watchers said that while such deals are not unprecedented among local developers, it is not a common practice either.

Developers that have made similar moves include City Developments, which bought 44 units at Cliveden at Grange from joint-venture partner Wachovia for $2,956 psf on average in December 2012 – a discount of about 20 per cent from what Wachovia paid in 2007.

A recent bulk deal for 12 apartments at Grange Infinite, another luxury condominium in the city centre, was made at an average of about $2,100 psf.

The sale included 11 four-bedders ranging from 2,560 sq ft to 2,700 sq ft and a penthouse of 6,039 sq ft.

An ABSD of 15 per cent was likely to be levied on the bulk deals, so experts said that could have resulted in a smaller net discount for Hiap Hoe. Also, the discounts might not lead to lower stamp duties, which are typically based on property valuations, but they would still lower the overall cost of buying the units.

Skyline 360º got its temporary occupation permit on Sept 28, 2012, while Signature at Lewis was completed on Oct 3, 2011, said Hiap Hoe. Fines are imposed if a developer fails to sell all the apartments in a project within two years of completion, under Qualifying Certificate rules.

However, Mr Donald Han, managing director of Chestertons, pointed out that it is within reason and a routine practice for developers to offer discounts for large units and bulk purchases, especially in a falling market where few are willing to stump up huge sums of cash.

“It makes sense to apply the same discount for bulk deals to a related party,” he said


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Resale prices of non-landed private homes dip in September, but volume increases

Resale prices of non-landed private homes fell 0.3 per cent in September from the previous month, SRX Property said in its flash report on Tuesday.

The lower figure was attributed to a 2.1 per cent fall in resale prices of homes in the Outside Central Region (OCR).

In comparison, prices of non-landed private homes in the Core Central Region (CCR) and Rest of Central Region (RCR)went up by 0.9 per cent and 2.9 per cent, respectively.

Prices of homes in the CCR has continued to rise after a 4.2 per cent gain in August.

According to the the SRX Property report, resale prices of non-landed private homes have dropped 4.6 per cent from September 2013. They are also 5.6 per cent lower from a peak in January this year.

On the other hand, resale volume increased by 15.3 per cent in September. An estimated 468 Non-landed Private Residential units were resold in September, up from 406 transacted units in August.

Year-on-year, resale volume improved 13.3 per cent compared with 413 units resold in September 2013. Resale volume is down 77.2 per cent when compared to its peak of 2,050 resold in April 2010.

Rental volume decreased by 14.0 per cent in September. An estimated 3,171 Non-landed Private Residential units were rented, down 14 per cent from the 3,688 units rented in August.

Year-on-year, rental volume in September 2014 is 8.7 per cent higher compared with the 2,916 units rented in September 2013.

Rental prices have also continued to fall. According to the SRX Property, rents dipped 0.2 per cent in September compared to August.

Non-landed private residential units in RCR and OCR saw decreases in rent of 0.6 per cent and 0.9 per cent respectively, while units in CCR posted a rent increase of 0.3 per cent.

- See more at: http://business.asiaone.com/property/news/resale-prices-non-landed-private-homes-dip-september-volume-increases#sthash.RZNc85Vd.dpuf

Kallang-Lavender area sees more interest in commercial properties

The Lavender-Kallang area is gentrifying with a blend of the old and new: shophouses under conservation alongside new commercial developments, including City Square and Kallang Leisure Park.

The mixed-use developments ARC 380 and City Gate will add to the eclectic mix. Rents and prices of commercial and industrial properties have also been given a lift by the two projects and the completion of mixed-use Aperia.

Aperia has two towers zoned for Business 1 (B1) use – meaning it is suitable for light and clean industrial use – with a gross floor area of 72,290sqm, and a three-storey retail podium of gross floor area 14,406sqm. The project is available only for lease and it has already secured commitment for over 50 per cent of its space. It will be home to tenants including Intel, Audi, McDonald’s, Cold Storage and Tim Ho Wan, said a spokesman for Ascendas Reit, which bought Aperia in August.

Another recent entrant is mixed-use CT Hub 2, set for completion next year. It offers about 310 strata B1 units and 41 retail units, with about 186 units sold overall. A further 77 office units have not yet been released.

“Those who bought strata units at CT Hub and CT Hub 2 during 2011 and 2012 are likely to be investors that switched over from the residential sector, when it was slapped with several rounds of cooling measures,” said Ms Elaine Chow, executive director and head of research at Chestertons Singapore.

But given patchy manufacturing growth, end-users and small and medium-sized enterprises are not likely to fork out high rentals for a smallish industrial unit, she said. “Investors may need to review their rental and yield expectations for these newly completed strata industrial units,” she added.

Still, demand has been healthy enough in the Kallang planning area for rents to rise from $5.50 to $6.50 per sq ft per month for new B1 industrial spaces, said Mr Nicholas Mak, executive director at SLP International.

Demand for CT Hub 2 could also have contributed to the profitable subsale deals at the project in 2012 and 2013, which had about 18 to 22 per cent per annum annualised profit margin, he added.

“Industrial real-estate prices are likely to remain steady in the area, with no new supply of industrial land site for sale here in the second-half 2014 industrial government land sales programme.”

Over the past year, the median price of shop units in the Kallang planning area had declined steadily until City Gate, launched in the third quarter this year, pushed the quarterly median price up from $1,084 in the second quarter to $3,824 in the third, he said.

“Prices of retail space are likely to remain healthy due to limited supply and steady demand.”

Ms Chow added that investor interest in commercial properties in the area is strong, evident when all strata office units at ARC 380 were sold out earlier this year.

- See more at: http://business.asiaone.com/news/kallang-lavender-area-sees-greater-commercial-interest#sthash.CXuRcPWX.dpuf

No new eateries in 7 areas including Kampong Glam and Upper Paya Lebar

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has banned more new restaurants from setting up shop in seven locations to prevent parking problems from worsening. The new locations add to the URA’s list of areas where no additional eateries are allowed. There are now 18 areas on the list which was first started in 2002.

We look at four things about the move to rein in problems faced by residents in areas with many popular food joints:

1. Which are the seven new areas which now come under the URA restriction?

- Changi Road: Jalan Eunos/Still Road to Jalan Kembangan/Frankel Avenue

- Upper Paya Lebar Road: Lorong Ah Soo to Paya Lebar Crescent

- Bukit Timah Road/Dunearn Road: Binjai Park (Jalan Jambu Mawar To Jalan Jambu Ayer); Bukit Timah Road (Wilby Road to Elm Avenue); Bukit Timah Road (Anamalai Avenue to Fourth Avenue)

- Sembawang Road: Mandai Road to Transit Road

- Kampong Glam: Bounded by Victoria Street, Jalan Sultan, Beach Road and Ophir Road

- Kampong Bahru Road/Spottiswoode Park Road: Blair Road to Everton Road; Everton Road to Neil Road

- Jalan Riang

2. Which are the areas which are already on the list?

- Balestier Road: Thomson Road to Moulmein Road

- East Coast Road: Joo Chiat Road to Still Road; Still Road to Telok Kurau Road; Lothian Terrace to Siglap Road

- Joo Chiat Road Area: Joo Chiat Road (Changi Road to East Coast Road); Joo Chiat Place (Joo Chiat Road to Still Road)

- MacPherson Road: Woodsville Interchange to Kallang Pudding Road

- Upper Serangoon Road: Tampines Road to Lim Ah Pin Road

- River Valley Road: Zion Road to Kellock Road

- Geylang Road: Lorong 1 Geylang to Paya Lebar Road

- Tanjong Katong Road: Dunman Road to Mountbatten Road

- Greenwood Avenue: Junction Of Greenwood Avenue And Hillcrest Road

- Sembawang Road: Jalan Mata Ayer to Yishun Avenue 5

- Serangoon Garden Way: Kensington Park Road To Maju Avenue; Chartwell Drive To Penshurst Place

3. What’s the impact of the URA restriction on some of the areas on the list?

Joo Chiat

In Joo Chiat, traffic woes led the URA to stop issuing dine-in licences in 2008 to new eateries – unless the premises was originally marked for such use. Road dividers were installed to stop illegal parking.

Read the story here: URA firm on dine-in ban in Joo Chiat

Serangoon Gardens

The middle-class housing estate is packed with restaurants, coffee shops and cafes, as well as the popular Chomp Chomp and Serangoon Garden hawker centres. Acting on residents’ complaints, the URA imposed a ban in February 2012: No more Serangoon Garden shophouses can be turned into food joints.

Read the story here: Restaurant ban to ease traffic at Serangoon Garden


Some 24-hour eateries were asked to close earlier following complaints from residents about noise, littering and parking woes.

Read the story here: Restaurant appeals against restrictions on opening hours

4. What about popular areas which are not on the URA list? Any measures in place?

The URA and other relevant authorities have also taken steps to address noise and traffic concerns in areas which are not on its list.

In Tiong Bahru where eateries and cafes have sprung up in recent years, the URA and Housing Board have turned down some new applications to turn shop premises into eateries. Residents have complained about noise, traffic and fewer shopping options.

Read the story here: Govt keeps lid on eateries in Tiong Bahru

In Yio Chu Kang Road, some restaurants were ordered to close after they failed to do enough to address complaints from residents despite being granted a grace period to fix the problem.

- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/no-new-eateries-allowed-7-areas-4-things-know-about-the-#xtor=CS1-10

Felicia chin

Artistes started new cafe in Chinatown

Mama shop

Felicia Chin and Sora Ma are now officially cafe owners, in addition to their day jobs as MediaCorp artistes.

They have joined forces to set up The Mama Shop, a retro-themed space in the former Police Operational Headquarters at 195 Pearl’s Hill Terrace. The cafe serves up burgers, waffles and old-school drinks like iced kopi and sparkling limau.

The Mama Shop’s opening ceremony was held on Monday night, complete with a festive lion dance and celebrity guests including Pierre Png, Jesseca Liu, Dennis Chew, Michelle Chong, Pornsak, and Zheng Geping and family.

“It’s a small start but I think it’s a place for friends and to meet new people,” Chin said. “It’s called Mama Shop because there’s a personal touch to it — it’s not pretentious. I chanced upon this location and I thought it’s away from everybody else. It’s like a personal kind of private area for your friends and it’s quite quiet; it’s not amongst the crowds. Sometimes, good things have to be looked for.”

The business has been a personal effort for both Chin and Ma, both 30. “When it comes to acting, you only need to make sure your scenes are done well,” said Ma. “But when it comes to business, there are a lot of things you have to know. Felicia and I are in charge of marketing and PR but we have to know, for example, where the food comes from and how to pair it. Everything on the menu, we’ve experimented with more than ten times.”

She added: “It feels like I’ve been promoted!”


marina one garden

Marina One Residences launch receives lukewarm response

Luxury project Marina One Residences opened its doors to the public on Saturday (Oct 11) but saw a lukewarm response, with only 20 units sold. Its developer had cleared 300 units in the past week during private sales.

Business owner Lim Jit Song, who was at the public launch, was looking for a unit for investment purposes. The 39-year-old eventually settled for a S$1.7 million one-bedroom unit on the 13th floor, which works out to almost S$2,300 per square foot (psf).

Mr Lim said: “First of all, the location is very good, it is in the Marina area. Price-wise, it is also very reasonable. We saw the furnishing and it is very good – we are very happy with that. There are three MRT stations around, and amenities within walking distance. The last point – the developer is very dependable. So with all these reasons … we decided to go for it.”

The project is a joint-venture between Temasek Holdings and Malaysia’s state investment arm Khazanah Nasional. It is their second residential development after DUO Residences in Bugis, which was launched in November last year. Buyers had snapped up more than 60 per cent of DUO’s 660 units in just three days. Prices had averaged S$2,000 per square foot, with over S$2,600 per square foot for a studio apartment.

Private sales for Marina One started on October 3 to those purchasing multiple units. The developer said the majority of its buyers are Singaporeans (70 per cent). Malaysians make up 20 per cent, while the remaining 10 per cent are Indonesians and Chinese.

One analyst described the sales as “commendable” for the current market, but said prices – which now range from S$1,960 to S$3,100 psf – might need to be lowered to further boost demand.

Ku Swee Yong, CEO of Century 21 Singapore, said: “The current competition of the unsold units along the Shenton Way stretch, up to Tanjong Pagar, as well as future Government Land Sales of parcels around Marina One would affect investment sentiments in the project.” Mr Ku said units from older projects nearby are going at competitive prices, averaging about S$2,000 to S$2,500 psf.

The launch of Marina One comes on the back of lacklustre sales in the city area, weighed down by property cooling measures. In the second quarter of this year, 95 high-end homes were sold, down from 121 units in the previous quarter and 365 units in the same period last year. Prices in the city area have also declined for the fifth consecutive quarter since Q1 2013.

Its developer is also taking a cautious stance. The project has two residential towers comprising about 1,000 units, but only one tower is currently open for sale.


Da Vinci building

Da Vinci Building sold for $58M

SIM Lian Holdings Pte Ltd has bought the Da Vinci building at 191 Upper Bukit Timah Road for S$58 million.

The seller, a unit of high-end furniture retailer Da Vinci Holdings Pte Ltd, will be vacating the property, which it has been using as its showroom.

When contacted by The Business Times, Ken Kuik, managing director of Sim Lian Holdings, said: “For now, this will be an investment property. We’re going to lease out the building after the seller moves out.”

Sim Lian Holdings, a privately owned vehicle of the Kuik family, holds a majority stake in mainboard-listed Sim Lian Group.

The sale of Da Vinci building was brokered by ERA Legends Division, a member of Prime Group.

The Da Vinci building is right next to Sim Lian Holdings’ headquarters building. Both properties are on freehold sites and have fully tapped the 1.4 plot ratio allowed for the sites, which are zoned for commercial use under Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Master Plan 2014.

“In the long term we could amalgamate the two sites and redevelop the combined land,” reckons Mr Kuik.

Da Vinci building has a land area of 21,415 sq ft and gross floor area (GFA) of nearly 30,000 sq ft.

The building has four storeys, an attic and a basement (housing 12 car park lots)

Sim Lian’s HQ building next door has GFA of about 52,000 sq ft. The company and its listed vehicle occupy the upper levels of the four-storey building. The ground floor is leased to furniture, electronics and IT retailer Courts.

Da Vinci is understood to have signed a lease for about 9,000 sq ft of retail space at Thong Sia Building at Bideford Road, off Orchard Road.

- See more at: http://business.asiaone.com/news/da-vinci-building-upper-bukit-timah-sold-s58m#sthash.H5rMFWPu.dpuf

Industrial property in Q4 likely to stay mixed

SINGAPORE’S industrial property market is expected to remain mixed in the fourth-quarter of 2014, given the presence of persistent downside risks, which include uncertainties surrounding the global economic recovery and the traditional year-end holiday lull.

Colliers International on Thursday said in its report that replacement anchor sub-tenants will be harder to find when secondary industrial space becomes available from expiring sale and leaseback transactions.

Chia Siew Chuin, director of research and advisory at Colliers, said current anchor sub-tenants leasing space from third-party facility providers will enjoy stronger bargaining power in lease-renewal negotiations.

“This could hurt rents and yields achievable by the third-party facility providers in the medium term,” said Ms Chia, who added that rents for business parks and independent high-specs buildings are expected to hold steady in Q4, similar to Q3, mainly because of a tightening in supply.

But the prime conventional industrial segment, would probably have rents easing marginally further in Q4 on supply pressures, said Ms Chia.

Sale of strata-titled industrial properties is expected to remain slow, with the likelihood that the number of caveats lodged for the entire year will be below the 2,000-level.

The last time fewer-than-2,000 caveats were lodged for strata-titled industrial properties was in 2009 at about 1,500.

Ms Chia added that the average capital values of prime freehold conventional warehouse and factory space are expected to remain at their current levels in the next quarter.

The mixed outlook comes on the back of a muted industrial property market here in Q3, despite a stable stream of leasing activity.

Sale transactions of strata-titled industrial properties in Q3 fell by about 36 per cent quarter-on-quarter to 203, according to URA Realis caveats.

DTZ Research said this is way below the 672 strata-titled units that were sold in the same period last year. So far, there has been 842 transactions this year, much lower than the 1,986 in the same 2013 period.

DTZ said the decline in transactions was due to fewer new launches, seller’s stamp duty measures, as well as the implementation of the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework last June.

Both average capital and rental values of conventional industrial space have also stagnated, while business park rents bucked the trend and continued to rise in Q3.

The average monthly gross rents for business parks continued to increase by 2 per cent quarter-on-quarter in Q3 to S$5.00 per sq ft, said DTZ.

Still, business park rents are lower than office rents and the former is drawing more office occupiers, said Cheng Siow Ying, DTZ’s executive director of business space.

“The difference in rents can be as high as 30 per cent, compared with the average office rents in the decentralised areas,” she said.

The downward pressure on rents for conventional industrial space might continue, said DTZ.

A total of 40.7 million sq ft of industrial space is expected to be completed by 2016, of which 27 per cent are multiple-user factories.

Lee Lay Keng, DTZ’s regional head (South-east Asia) research said the large supply in 2016 is “likely to restrain rental growth”.

“The older business parks may find it increasingly difficult to retain and attract tenants alongside these newer business parks,” said Ms Lee.

CBRE said in its report that the difference in rents between business parks located in the city fringe and those in the rest of the island has widened further in Q3 this year.

Michael Tay, executive director, office services at CBRE said: “Occupiers are more keen on higher specifications, quality developments which the city fringe has been able to provide. The location and connectivity are also important considerations which prompt occupiers to pay the premiums in rent. “

Sleepy neighbourhood in Telok Blangah area wakes up to curious find

Despite being just a stone’s throw from HarbourFront and VivoCity, an air of sleepy tranquillity hangs over the Wishart Road neighbourhood.

Few people, apart from regulars, step into the area, home to the likes of Shipmart, a store which sells concoctions such as crocodile oil for the skin, San Laksa Steamboat, ReEvolution bike shop and coffee shop Lakshmi Vilas.

Bounded by Henderson Road and Telok Blangah Road, and sitting in between Mount Faber and Labrador Nature Reserve, the estate takes about 15 minutes for you to walk through it.

It also houses offices, places of worship, landed homes and The Foresta at Mount Faber condominium.

This serene area has had more people trickling in though, since it was reported last month that the National Heritage Board (NHB) had rediscovered a 2m-deep, century-old reservoir off Wishart Road.

Mr Gowtham Manoharan, 25, third-generation owner of Lakshmi Vilas Restaurant at Block 16, Morse Road, said he had been approached by about 15 curious visitors who were hoping to see the mysterious, emerald green body of water for themselves.

“They came here with their cameras to seek out an adventure of their own,” he said.

Called Keppel Hill Reservoir, it first appeared in a 1905 Tanjong Pagar Dock Arbitration map.

Based on a 1924 Singapore Harbour Board map, it was the largest of three reservoirs in the area and most likely served residents of a nearby settlement. Later, it was used as a swimming pool.

There has been keen public interest in the forgotten reservoir – an NHB documentary on it has got almost 60,000 views since its launch on Sept 16.

The board will also be conducting eight tours of the area on Oct 18 and 25.

But some, such as architect Chang Yong Ter, 45, who has a studio in Wishart Road, said the reservoir’s surroundings are also worthy of a closer look and study.

For instance, Block 16, Morse Road is one of 16 two-storey blocks that used to stand in the area.

They had served as the living quarters for staff of the former Port of Singapore Authority, said Mr Chang. Now, Block 16 is the only one left standing.

He added: “I’ve heard stories of how it used to be a very lively neighbourhood, with pullcarts selling noodles often going by.

“It also used to be a popular hang-out for children and teenagers from the Telok Blangah and Pasir Panjang region to come and play.”

Up till the 1970s, Wishart Road was a self-sufficient community, recalled retired marine engine driver Sulaiman Bakar, 69, grandson of the reservoir’s caretaker.

Mr Sulaiman’s grandfather had been employed by the former Singapore Harbour Board to look after the maintenance of about 20 colonial bungalows in the area.

The development of an affluent neighbourhood meant jobs for Singaporeans, who were hired as gardeners, cooks and servants, said Dr John Kwok, assistant director of research at NHB.

Mr Sulaiman also remembers a police station and a market at the end of Morse Road. The market is marked out on the 1924 map.

The area was named after Mr Charles Wishart, who had come to Singapore in 1860 and worked as manager of New Harbour Dock.

Some accounts described him as a “great character” – he was reportedly a man of big stature who supervised work at the dock round the clock, with a big umbrella in hand.

But as Singapore began its fight for independence, the British residents there started leaving and the Singaporeans who had set up home there also began moving out of the area, said Dr Kwok.

The 1970s to the early 1980s marked a new chapter for the place when churches such as Pasir Panjang Tamil Methodist Church as well as a branch of the Singapore Soka Association, a Japanese Buddhist group, moved in.

The Tamil church, which has 163 worshippers today, is one of three Methodist churches in the area, along with Grace Methodist Church and the second branch of Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church.

The Christian Community Chapel is also located there.

Being in close proximity to its sister churches is a perk because it allows them to share resources, said Reverend Isaac Raju, 52, of the Tamil church.

Pastors sometimes preach and conduct Bible studies across the different church congregations, he said.

Worshippers bring life to the neighbourhood on weekends, said Rev Isaac. He added: “We really treasure the serenity and quietness of Wishart Road.”

- See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/sleepy-neighbourhood-wakes-curious-find#sthash.zHzQKZE5.dpuf

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