Category Archives: Novena/Newton/Bukit Timah

Districts 11&21

Singapore Private Propertys fall 3.2% for second quarter

Singapore recorded the second-biggest year-on-year drop in private property prices in Asia for the second quarter, according to an index out yesterday.

It noted that apartment prices fell 3.2 per cent in the three months to June 30 over the same period a year earlier. China was the only Asian country to fare worse, with values there dropping 5.7 per cent in the same period.

Overall, Singapore had the eighth biggest price decline among 56 global residential markets tracked by the Knight Frank Global House Price Index. Ms Alice Tan, director and head of consultancy and research at Knight Frank, said yesterday: “Prospective buyers remain cautious against the backdrop of existing cooling measures and… anticipate further price correction.”

More falls in prices and rents are expected due to a range of factors, including more completed homes hitting the market, impending interest rate hikes and a faltering economy, both here and overseas, she added.

The Knight Frank Global House Price Index – which is compiled quarterly with official statistics where available and weighted by gross domestic product (GDP) – posted a marginal 0.1 per cent growth. It was the weakest growth rate since the final quarter of 2011.

Among the 56 housing markets tracked, 27 per cent recorded an annual decline in prices, said Knight Frank. “Lingering concerns over the euro zone economy, jitters in global stock markets and discussions of when, not if, a rate rise in the United States occurs are impinging on growth,” the property consultancy said in a statement.

Hong Kong topped the table with a 20.7 per cent year-on-year price growth, thanks to increasing liquidity and the flow of wealthy Chinese investors into its sector.

Dubai was at the bottom of the index, with prices weakening 12.2 per cent year-on-year due to weaker demand, a strong US dollar and ongoing cooling measures.

Knight Frank noted that the housing markets in China and the US – two countries which together account for about 33 per cent of global GDP – are on divergent paths.

Mainstream prices in China are down an average of 6.2 per cent from the start of last year, while those in the US are up 7.6 per cent.

Toa Payoh residential site draws 14 bids

A residential site in Toa Payoh drew 14 bids at the close of the auction on Thursday (Jun 18), indicating strong demand from developers for sites in mature housing estates.

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) said the 12,154.6 square metre, 99-year leasehold site at the junction of Lorong 6 and Lorong 4 Toa Payoh attracted a top bid of S$345.86 million from a group that includes Evia Real Estate, Greatearth and Malaysia’s Gamuda Bhd.

This works out to around S$8,130 per square metre of gross floor area, or about S$755 per square foot.

The site can yield around 535 private residential units. Alternatively, developers may, with prior written approval, build a mix of flats and strata landed houses.

Mr Desmond Sim, head of CBRE Research for Singapore and Southeast Asia, said the strong demand was “unsurprising” given the site’s location within a well-established mature estate with very few private residential projects. The site is also within walking distance of the Braddell MRT station.

JLL’s head of research in Southeast Asia Chua Yang Liang said the gap between the winning bid and the next highest is only 1.1 per cent. That is the closest gap since the second half of 2014, when a site at Choa Chu Kang Drive was awarded to Sim Lian Land at a margin of 2.2 per cent over the next bidder, said Dr Chua.

HDB, as the Government’s land sales agent, had launched the site for public tender on Apr 29.

A decision on the award of the tender will be made at a later date after the bids have been evaluated, HDB added.

Rare HDB landed home sold for $958K

A RARE “landed public home” has just fetched $958,000 on the resale market.

The two-storey terraced house in Jalan Bahagia in Whampoa is one of just 285 such units here.

Located in Whampoa and Queenstown, these units come under Housing Board rules. They were built decades ago by the Singapore Improvement Trust, HDB’s predecessor.

The 241 sq m house sold earlier this week is among the largest such units to have changed hands recently.

The price works out to about $370 per sq ft (psf).

In contrast, private landed terraced houses nearby have gone for more than $2,200 psf this year.

“Nowadays, it’s very rare to be able to get any landed house for less than $1.5 million,” said Mr Nicholas Mak, the head of research at SLP International Property Consultants.

However, he noted, prices in excess of $1 million might be seen for a freehold property or a new private house on a 99-year lease.

The three-room terraced unit has less than 60 years left on its lease, which began in 1972.

Mr Mak added that buyers might have to consider renovation costs as well, given the age of such properties.

Even so, HDB terraced units are much sought after when they hit the market. In March, a larger HDB terraced unit in Jalan Ma’mor, also in Whampoa, went for $1.06 million.

That unit was 280 sq m, which made it an even better deal at around $350 psf. Its lease also began in 1972.

The two properties are among at least five Housing Board terraced units that have changed hands this year.

An 85 sq m unit sold for $760,000 in January, a 104 sq m unit fetched $875,000 in February and an 81 sq m unit went for $708,000 in March.

Foreigners find gems in high end condos

LUXURY condos in Singapore priced at S$10 million and above have drawn a host of interesting buyers, mostly foreigners, this year.

Besides Alibaba co-founder Sun Tongyu, who paid S$51 million for the sole penthouse at Wing Tai’s Le Nouvel Ardmore freehold project in April, other corporate bigwigs have also surfaced in the list of high-end condo buyers here this year. Mr Sun, who invests in startups these days, is a Chinese citizen and a Singapore permanent resident (PR).

In another posh residential area of Singapore, Hong Kong businessman Mahesh Buxani shelled out S$22.5 million for a penthouse at Nassim Park Residences, also in April. He picked up the unit in the resale market. The price works out to S$3,271 per square foot based on the strata area, which is nearly 6,900 sq ft. The luxurious duplex unit comes with its own pool, four bedrooms, and living, dining and family areas.

Mr Buxani and his brother Haresh run M Bux International in Hong Kong, set up by their father Udhav Buxani. The group’s core business is in garment trading and import/export, but the brothers are said to have made some smart property acquisitions during the 2003 property downturn triggered by the Sars outbreak. The family lives in a grand mansion in Hong Kong’s posh residential district The Peak.

Nassim Park Residences, where Mr Mahesh Buxani has bought a penthouse, is an exclusive low-rise freehold condo in Singapore with just 100 units developed by UOL Group, Kheng Leong and Orix Corporation. The developers roped in big-name designers – Singapore-based Chan Soo Khian of SCDA Architects, French interior designer Christian Liaigre and Japanese landscape architect Shunmyo Masuno – for the project, which received Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) in 2011.

At Marina Bay Suites, a regional executive at Facebook is said to be the buyer of a nearly 4,700 sq ft penthouse that went for close to S$11.3 million or slightly more than S$2,400 psf earlier this year. A larger penthouse in the development, spanning 8,500 sq ft, on the top two levels of the 66-storey project was recently sold to a Chinese citizen at slightly above S$19.5 million – or about S$2,290 psf. Buyers of both units are Singapore PRs.

Another China buyer last month also picked up a 3,520 sq ft unit on the fourth floor of Corals at Keppel Bay for S$10.42 million – or S$2,960 psf. The unit was sold by the project’s developer.

Both Corals at Keppel Bay and Marina Bay Suites are on sites that have balance lease terms of close to 91 years.

Over at Cuscaden Walk near the prime Orchard Road shopping belt, two Iranians are understood to have acquired an apartment at Boulevard Vue from the project’s developer, Far East Organisation. They paid S$15 million or S$3,350 psf for the nearly 4,500 sq ft unit a few months ago.

In January this year, Bukit Sembawang is understood to have sold the last remaining unit at Paterson Suites to a Taiwanese, who is a Singapore PR, for S$13.9 million. The penthouse has a strata area of 6,663 sq ft inclusive of double-volume void space in the living and dining areas as well as 1,787 sq ft of open area such as the roof terrace, swimming pool and planter boxes. The 102-unit freehold project, comprising two towers of 22 storeys, received TOP in 2010.

The subdued luxury condo market here has also seen a few Singaporeans scooping up high-end condos this year.

Besides the S$12.2 million or S$2,028 psf purchase of a penthouse in St Regis Residences by Yun Nam Hair Care owner Andy Chua from Japanese tycoon Katsumi Tada in February, at least one other Singapore citizen has paid more than S$10 million for a unit in the posh 999-year leasehold development this year.

Harish Manwani – the former chief operating officer of Unilever who in March was appointed global executive adviser at Blackstone – is said to have bought a 5,543 sq ft apartment at St Regis Residences in April. He paid S$11.8 million or S$2,129 psf for the unit. The India-born Mr Manwani is a Singapore citizen.

Savills Singapore research head Alan Cheong said well-heeled buyers are finding valuations in Singapore’s high-end condo market “very compelling”. “This is obvious when these widely travelled international investors compare our luxury prices with those in Hong Kong and London. For example, in Hong Kong, a 4,664 sq ft penthouse unit at 39 Conduit Road was sold in April for HK$92,857 psf or S$15,800 psf. In Singapore, the highest price done in 2015, based on URA Realis records, was S$3,676 psf for the 13,875 sq ft penthouse in Le Nouvel Ardmore.”

A point to note is that according to some property consultants, the pricing for that deal would translate into a higher S$4,838 psf assuming the penthouse’s substantial roof terrace component, around 5,000 sq ft, is assigned a psf value equivalent to one-third that of the indoor area. Even then, the price would be just 30 per cent that of the Conduit Road transaction in Hong Kong.

Home prices near Rail Corridor may rise

OWNERS of property near the old Malaysian railway track could reap some benefit when the area is refreshed.

Prices in some areas might enjoy a lift once the 24km path from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands, known as the Rail Corridor, is revamped.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Wednesday sought ideas from design professionals on how to develop the historic strip of land.

The aim is to ensure the path remains continuous and at the same time reflect its heritage as a railway line while preserving its green nature.

Six areas would come in for special attention: the former Bukit Timah and Tanjong Pagar railway stations, the old Bukit Timah fire station, two areas near the Kranji and Buona Vista MRT stations and a stretch near Sungei Pang Sua canal in Choa Chu Kang.

That could give home owners potential gains to look forward to, although the residential areas near the old track are mostly already pricey private landed houses in the Bukit Timah district, including Holland Road and Rifle Range Road.

There are light industrial areas in Bukit Merah and Buona Vista, while Kranji to the north is more thinly populated, with some industrial activity.

Owners of property near the track have already reaped some benefit from the termination of rail services, which meant no more noisy trains rolling by, said Mr Nicholas Mak, SLP International executive director.

That had previously dragged down property values by 1 to 2 per cent. But the end of rail services means this is no longer the case.

Still, there already tends to be a premium in the nearby precincts as some are gazetted Good Class Bungalow Areas, including Ewart Park and King Albert Park, said Mr Desmond Sim, CBRE research head for South-east Asia and Singapore.

But values typically appreciate after announcements such as the latest one from the URA, and additional gains may be expected as new capital investment takes form, said Dr Chua Yang Liang, JLL research head for South-east Asia and Singapore.

“A lot of the potential upside will depend on… how the additional land that has been freed up is integrated with the surrounding area, and whether these enhancements are in line with the overall ambience and characteristics of the neighbourhood,” he added.

Far East Orchard unit disposes of Bassein Road properties stake for S$38.1m

FAR East Orchard’s wholly owned subsidiary, OPH Marymount (OPHM), on Thursday entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Transurban Properties (TPPL) to dispose of its interest in two properties on Bassein Road for a consideration of S$38.1 million, at its net book value sum.

This constitutes an interested person transaction. The properties are “Lot 621K of Town Subdivision 29” and “Lot 45L of Town Subdivision 29”.

On Sept 8, 2010, both OPHM and TPPL were jointly awarded the tender for both properties, which were zoned for residential purposes. They entered into a joint venture to acquire and develop the land parcel. OPHM acquired 30 per cent of the land parcel while TPPL acquired the remainder.

But OPHM had to obtain a qualifying certificate from the Singapore Land Authority for the acquisition. The qualifying certificate required OPHM to complete the construction of the residential development at the land parcels and obtain temporary occupation permit by March 24, 2016.

In April 2011, OPHM and TPPL completed the purchase of the land parcels, but a slew of property cooling measures introduced by the government since December 2011 resulted in changes in market circumstances, which included a significant and progressive slowdown in the residential property market.

Due to such changes, it was decided that OPHM should not proceed to partake in the proposed residential development on the land parcels, and the disposal will free up resources for the group to focus on other aspects of their business.

Singapore office market fundamentals top in Asia-Pacific

SINGAPORE offers the strongest office market fundamentals for Grade A office space among core Asia-Pacific markets, in terms of rental growth as well as low vacancies for next year, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

This follows a strong showing by the Republic this year.

Cushman’s 10.88 per cent estimated growth in its average Grade A office rental value this year is the highest among the 13 core markets in the region tracked by the property consulting group, ahead of gains of 7.69 per cent for Tokyo and 3.02 per cent for Hong Kong, among the major financial centres in Asia-Pacific. (View infographic)

Cushman includes prime space in its Grade A office basket.

The increases were ranked based on rents in local currencies. For Singapore, Cushman estimates the average Grade A monthly rental value as at end-2014 at S$10.45 per square foot (psf), up from S$9.43 psf at end-2013.

By end-2015, the figure is projected to rise 5.67 per cent to S$11.04 psf. This pace of growth is expected to be surpassed only by Tokyo, among the core regional markets, with 7.14 per cent projected increase next year to 843 yen (S$9.32) psf at the end of next year.

Although gains in Tokyo will likely pip Singapore’s next year, Cushman’s managing director of research for Asia-Pacific, Sigrid Zialcita, argues that “Singapore’s economy, on the whole, is on a firmer footing and thus, the island’s office market fundamentals will remain strongest in the region, as compared to the markets of Australia and South Korea, which continue to face excess supply. Vacancies in the Singapore market will fall to be the lowest as compared to the other core markets in the region”.

Singapore’s closest regional financial centre rival, Hong Kong, is expected to post 2.17 per cent growth in average Grade A monthly rental value to HK$110.98 (S$18.75) psf by end-2015 from HK$108.63 psf at end-2014.

Mr Zialcita suggested that the recent political tension in Hong Kong could result in a positive effect on Singapore – while acknowledging that the two cities served two distinct parts of Asia.

“We think Singapore’s rapid rise as the region’s largest centre for both commodity and foreign exchange trading, as well as its growth as a wealth management hub and regional headquarters hub, will continue to make it a choice destination for MNCs.”

Derby Court at Novena up for En-Bloc Sale

Undaunted by the lacklustre en bloc residential sale market this year, a freehold condominium in the Novena area has launched a collective sale. Derby Court, a 35-year-old, 12-storey development comprising 20 apartments, has given an indicative price of S$68.28 million, or S$1,286 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr), based on an allowable gross floor area of 53,094 sq ft.

The land rate would be lowered to about S$1,169 psf ppr, including the 10 per cent bonus gross floor area allowed for balconies.

The 18,500 sq ft site at 5 Derbyshire Road, which is off Thomson Road and near United Square shopping mall, can potentially accommodate up to 70 apartments averaging 753 sq ft; the breakeven cost will exceed S$1,700 psf, said Savills Singapore, which is handling the sale.

No development charge needs to be paid because of the high development baseline which reflects a plot ratio of 2.869. The site is zoned “residential” with a plot ratio of 2.8 under the 2014 Master Plan.

The tender will close at 3pm on Jan 20, 2015.

The site is near Novena MRT station, Orchard Road and the central business district; it is also within 1km of popular schools such as St Joseph’s Institution (Junior) and Anglo Chinese School (Junior).

Suzie Mok, senior director of investment sales at Savills Singapore, said: “Sites with absolute price quantum of less than S$70 million for a high-rise 36-storey development are few and far between. This is a sweet spot to boutique developers in the present market.”

She added that Derby Court’s prime city-fringe location would give investors “good rental potential and long-term capital appreciation”.

The Novena neighbourhood is a medical hub, home to Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, Novena Medical Centre, Novena Specialist Centre and Tan Tock Seng Hospital. The upcoming Royal Square at Novena and the government’s masterplan for the future Health City Novena will boost the area as a medical tourism hub, Savills said.

Derby Court’s en bloc attempt follows that of Fragrance Court, put up for tender at a reserve price of S$70 million (about S$1,235 psf ppr) last month.

Galven Tan, director of investment properties at CBRE, told The Business Times that the tender, which closed last Wednesday, received “no proper bids”, but a few expressions of interest had come in.

The en bloc attempt has since entered a 10-week private treaty period, and talks with parties are ongoing. The collective sale agreement expires next year.

Last month, it was also reported that the owners of Cairnhill Mansions, an ageing District 9 property, are launching their fourth attempt at a collective sale. The owners previously failed to find a buyer at the reserve price of $361.5 million (S$2,308 psf). This year’s attempt at a collective sale follows previous attempts in 2005 and 2007.

The site could hold up to 70 apartments averaging 753 sq ft and with a break-even cost exceeding S$1,700 psf, said Savills Singapore.