Tag Archives: tenants

Upsell your property at a downturn

When the property market is booming and buyers/tenants are plentiful for a limited supply of housing, home owners can afford to do little to invest in the interiors of their assets. Desperate buyers or tenants can commit a premium to a property just based on the location and other attributes other than keeping the interiors pretty.

However in the current lull market, this strategy will definitely put home owners’ assets at a disadvantage. When buyers/tenants are few and the supply is high, one have to upsell one’s property by investing in marketing, including making the property able to sell by itself. Attributes like location, outdoor views and surrounding amenities are usually beyond the home owners’ control after they possessed the property. What is really within a home owner’s control is the interior of the property. A well-maintained and beautiful home interior can be a pleasure to behold even in pictures and videos.

“Home-staging”, a termed coined by the Americans for a decorating technique, is a popular technique to turn a slow-moving listing into a sought-after trophy asset. Home staging including cleaning up, re-arranging the furniture and furnishings, repainting the walls and other sensory improvements to the property during home-viewings. The objective is to make a property to stand out among a buyer’s market, and to sell it faster at a possible higher price.

Some homeowners also engaged staging services from property agents, interior design specialists, furnishings companies and furniture leasing companies to spruce up the home interiors for better visibility among the crowd. Photography is also an important element to entice prospective buyers/tenants even before they view the actual place.

However if one has limited budget and resources to conduct a professional home-staging, here are some tips that one can do on his/her own.

  1. Declutter. In an urban city like Singapore, clutter can easily built up in a home after purchases after a sales therapy, or due to lack of time to maintain the interiors as a result of work. Clutter makes it hard for prospective buyers/tenants to see the property’s favourable attributes. So by conducting a spring cleaning to remove the clutter in the home will boost a better chance than a cluttered home.
  2. Keeping it clean. Marketing a uncleaned home to prospective buyers/tenants can be a turn-off. Thus make sure it is generally cleaned before conducting home viewing to prospects. Some key areas of concern include the areas/appliances commonly used by tenants (eg toilet, sofas, kitchen, ovens and stoves, curtains).
  3. Photography. Online marketing is the norm nowadays for home ads. Taking good photographs to showcase the property potential such as good natural light and large interiors are a must. Thanks to advance in the technology many smartphones can take pictures as good as compact cameras. Together with filters in different apps, the “feel” of the interiors can be adjusted to make a pleasant visual impact.
  4. Avoid “loud” items. Interior makeup can be quite a personal taste and hence making the interiors as neutral as possible is a important aspect to avoid putting off some of the prospects. Examples include a bright red statue or a neon pink curtains that maybe a home owner’s pride but it can put off some prospective buyers/tenants.
  5. Play up the good attributes. Decorate a balcony with unblocked view of the neighbourhood to create a warm and inviting atmosphere can be a plus.
  6. Use scents. Fix the source of bad odours instead of just spraying room scents. Some interesting scents include pumpkin spice or vanilla cookie scented candle to create a post-baking ambience for your home.

New tenants in CBD as global banks exit or downsize

As the global banks in Singapore restructure and downsize their offices in the central business district (CBD), a crop of tenants – new media, consumer products and insurance companies – have steadily taken over.

Global finance houses, comprising banks and private equity firms, still take up three-fifths – a massive 11 million square feet – of downtown office space, but their expansion has slowed markedly.

Chris Archibold, JLL’s head of markets in Singapore, said: “From 2005 until slightly after the global financial crisis, the financial houses were major contributors to the net take-up in Singapore, but now, they are no longer contributing to the take-up.”

These global financial houses have given up 500,000 sq ft of space in the city in the last three years. For example, Barclays has given up two floors in Marina Bay Financial Centre, and LinkedIn has moved in.

Credit Suisse is said to be planning a phased exit from One Raffles Quay this year; Citibank is looking into releasing some space at its Capital Square office.

Mr Archibold said: “Banks have been shrinking their capital-intensive businesses such as investment banking, as a result of regulations put on them since the financial crisis.

“Compliance requires them to hold more capital, which makes these businesses less profitable. Banks are now more focused on costs than ever before because margins are down for a lot of their core and non-core segments. They are thus less prepared to hold onto surplus space.”

Among the newer downtown tenants is Google, which has expanded its Asia-Pacific headquarters here, taking four floors in Asia Square. The same Marina Bay building now also houses a cluster of re-insurers such as Swiss Re and SCOR.

Twitter, Booking.com and eBay have all been opening new offices or expanding existing ones.

PayPal is housing its international headquarters in Singapore, split between Suntec Tower 5 and Millenia Tower; Facebook plans to double its space at 158 Cecil Street.

The mix can make for strange bedfellows.

Hugh Andrew, who heads asset management for the Asia-Pacific at BlackRock, which owns Asia Square, said: “You have this very bizarre dichotomy of Citibank bankers in their shiny shoes and guys in flip flops and shorts in the same elevator.”

General Motors has moved its Asian headquarters from Shanghai to OUE Bayfront, taking over 30,000 sq ft from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Insurer Aon is building its Asia-Pacific hub in SGX Centre, and toy maker Lego has set up office in Marina Bay Financial Centre.

From the landlords’ perspective, the diversification is a plus because it makes their properties less susceptible to the peaks and troughs of financial market cycles.

Retailers in the CBD also welcome the new tenant mix; the new-media firms, especially, do not necessarily operate on the traditional Monday-to-Friday, 9am-to-5pm routine, so they can provide a catchment to support a seven-day trade.

Most CBD retailers are now open only five days a week.

To be sure, no other industry comes close to owning the space the global financial houses still occupy. The new industries are not replacing them “by any stretch of the imagination”, said Mr Archibold.

But the phenomena of global banks’ shrinking spaces is not peculiar to Singapore; it is also playing out in the major financial centres of Hong Kong, London and New York.