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Private Home Resale Prices up

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/private-home-resale/1465684.html

While prices have gone up, the number of resale transactions dipped by 2.2 per cent on-month in October with an estimated 451 units resold, according to flash estimates from SRX Property.

Resale prices of non-landed private homes climbed marginally in October by 0.4 per cent month-on-month, according to flash estimates from SRX Property on Tuesday (Nov 11).

When compared with October 2013, resale prices of non-landed private homes have dropped 4.5 per cent. Compared with the recent peak in January 2014, prices have declined 5.2 per cent, SRX said.

Resale prices of private homes in the Rest of Central Region and Outside of Central Region drove the climb, with both increasing 0.6 per cent. In contrast, prices in the Core Central Region dipped 0.3 per cent.

However, the number of resale transactions slipped by 2.2 per cent from September, with an estimated 451 units resold in October compared to the 461 transacted units from the previous month.

TOX REMAINS IN NEGATIVE RANGE

The overall median Transaction Over X-value (TOX), which measures whether people are overpaying or underpaying the SRX Property X-Value estimated market value, dipped to -S$4,000 in October from -S$2,000 in September.

For districts with more than 10 resale transactions, districts 9, 10 and 25 saw a positive median TOX, with district 10 posting the highest median TOX of S$30,000, followed by district 9 with S$22,000 and district 25 with S$15,000.

Conversely, districts 14 had the lowest median TOX, posting -S$41,000, followed by district 12 with -S$40,000 and district 11 with -S$31,000.

Retail rents to hold up

According to yesterday’s Business Times, Retail rents may either hold or inch up over the next few years despite new supply coming onstream. This is supported by a healthy demand for retail space and the fact that rents tend to be “sticky” in nature, property analysts say.

This projection provides cold comfort to retailers looking for a breather from rising business costs. It also goes against the government’s hopes of easing rents with its estimated 600,000 gross square metres of retail space supply from 2014 to 2016.

JLL head of research for Singapore and South-east Asia Chua Yang Liang believes that retail rents will remain stable in the next three years, supported by healthy pre-commitment levels in recently completed malls and for the uncompleted pipeline.

For instance, Orchard Gateway recently opened with nearly full occupancy while the soon-to-be completed refurbishment of Shaw Centre has secured 90 per cent commitment.

“Vacated spaces have been quickly taken up as evidenced by Metro’s takeover of Robinson’s former 130,000 sq ft premises at Centrepoint, which is poised to be completed by the fourth quarter,” Dr Chua said.

In the suburban areas, retail rents are also expected to hold up, even though a good 65 per cent of the estimated 4.1 million sq ft of new net lettable retail area to be rolled out by 2016 will be located in these regions, while only 7 per cent of the supply will be in the Orchard/Scotts area, said DTZ’s regional head (SEA) of research, Lee Lay Keng.

“Upcoming malls such as The Seletar Mall and One KM have reported healthy pre-commitments while there are still retailers looking at expanding in the suburban malls to tap the population living in nearby housing estates,” she said.

Analysts expect prime retail rents in the Orchard/ Scotts Road area to rise in the next three years given limited new supply there. Maybank analyst Ong Kian Lin estimates that Orchard Road prime retail rents will grow 2.5 per cent from 2014 to 2017 on a compound annual growth rate basis.

Suburban malls enjoy higher footfall than some prime luxury malls on Orchard Road, possibly because residents frequent the former more for necessity shopping, he observed. But the conversion rate of footfall to sales is higher at Orchard Road malls, which are more patronised by tourists.

The gap between Orchard Road and suburban mall rents has also narrowed over the years, said Savills Singapore research head Alan Cheong. Monthly rents (without the percentage gross turnover portion) for prime retail space in Orchard Road and suburban malls averaged $34.60 and $31.10 psf respectively in the first quarter.

Mr Cheong noted that grouses by retailers over high rents stem from a disconnect between declining sales and a stubbornly high rental base. Retail rents here typically consist of a base rent and a percentage of gross turnover, so a decline in sales of a tenant should translate to lower rent paid to the landlord. Yet, rents have not budged for some retailers.

Douglas Benjamin, chief operating officer of FJ Benjamin Holdings, an international luxury and lifestyle brand retailer, said: “It’s fair if you are in a mall where business is good and the landlord wants to increase your rent. But if your sales have fallen, maybe because another mall has opened next door, it doesn’t make sense for your landlord to want to raise rents.”

But a study by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) showed that for most of the renewals in 2012 and 2013, the effective increase in rent per annum was in line with inflation over the period of their lease. Growth in retail rents in the core downtown and city fringe areas was also flat in Q1 compared to a year ago, according to the URA rental index.

But rentals for prime spaces islandwide tracked by Knight Frank, which looked at more comparable units of 350-1,500 sq ft with the best frontage, connectivity, footfall and accessibility, were relatively resilient. Rents for such spaces rose 1.9 per cent in the first quarter from a year ago, driven by higher rents for such spaces in Marina, City Hall and Bugis.

Apart from rents, retail businesses are contending with higher labour costs, tighter foreign workerpolicies and a strong Singapore dollar. The growth of e-commerce is also eating into the sales pie of brick-and- mortar retailers, consultants say.

“We believe that over time, online shopping will be a game changer and unless one is talking about the very high-end products or those where personal service is still deemed irreplaceable, the rest of the retail industry will undergo major structural changes,” Mr Cheong said.

“Only food and beverage may for now survive but there is a limit to how much space a landlord can convert to F&B use,” he added. “Therefore, we believe that it could be online shopping, working through the demand side, rather than increased supply that will ultimately bring down rents.”

Ms Lee of DTZ, however, downplayed the impact from e-commerce. “There will still be consumers who seek the wholesome retail experience of seeing, touching and trying on their goods before they buy,” she said. More online retailers such as blog shops are also setting up physical shops, she added.

http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/premium/top-stories/retail-rents-hold-despite-supply-20140707

In a separate report, Rents have been a sticky issue for retailers, even though consecutive data released lately shows that retail rents have eased and will be capped by the upcoming supply in retail space.

Retailers decry that rents have not factored in their declining sales. This runs contrary to the fact that most lease agreements have a variable rent component based on gross turnover (GTO).

Most landlords here, except for strata-titled owners, charge their tenants a base rent and a percentage of GTO. The rent structures vary across tenants and locations. Some tenants pay both a base rent and a turnover rent of 0.5-2 per cent; others pay by either that formula or purely turnover rent of 10-20 per cent – whichever is higher. There are other permutations in the rent calculations.

Whatever the case, having a turnover rent as part of the total rent computation should have made overall rents more susceptible to the revenues of retailers.

http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/premium/top-stories/why-retail-rents-are-still-sticking-point-20140707

Commercial space crunch in central area

Space crunch drives up office rents in CBD and Suburbs, as reported in today’s ST.

A space crunch in the Central Business District (CBD) and the completion of new suburban developments drove up office rents islandwide in the second quarter, consultants said.

The data underlines two key trends: One is that firms that do not need a downtown address are relocating to the cheaper sites on the outskirts while CBD rents are rising on the back of robust demand for limited space.

Average rents for Grade A office space in the CBD jumped 10.7 per cent overall to $10 psf per month in the second quarter from the preceding year, according to property consultancy Cushman & Wakefield.

The average gross rent in Marina Bay was $12.95 psf per month, a marginal 0.4 per cent higher than in the first quarter.

Another consultancy, DTZ, also estimated yesterday that average gross rents in Marina Bay rose 6.5 per cent to $12.25 per sq ft per month in the second quarter from the preceding three months.

Consultancies may come up with different rental estimates due to the varying baskets of properties that they track.

Rents in the Raffles Place and Shenton Way areas were cheaper than in Marina Bay.

In Raffles Place, Cushman said the average gross monthly rent grew 3.5 per cent in the second quarter from the first to $10.25 psf per month.

Rents in the older part of the CBD around Shenton Way, Robinson Road and Cecil Street stayed stagnant at $8 psf per month on average, said DTZ.

Cushman said the leasing momentum in the CBD would likely continue in this half of the year, with keen interest expected from companies in the business services and technology sectors.

Businesses that do not need to have a presence in the CBD are relocating to city fringe areas or the suburbs where rents are more competitive, it added.

Still, suburban rents shot up faster than those in the CBD in the second quarter compared with the same period last year, according to a report by consultancy Chestertons.

They leapt 22.6 per cent in April through June over 2013 to $5.70 psf per month on average while CBD space climbed 4.7 per cent to $9.64 psf per month.

This jump in suburban rents was mainly because newly completed Grade A office space there bumped up prices.

These completions include The Metropolis in Buona Vista and Jem in Jurong.

However, he said that landlords were unlikely to raise rents much soon.

“We expect landlords to adopt a tenant-retention strategy instead of raising rents significantly in 2014 or 2015, losing ‘loyal’ tenants and facing looming vacancies in 2016 when supply and relocation options are aplenty.”

DTZ said yesterday that around 2.7 million sq ft of office space will be completed between now and the end of next year.

Beyond next year, however, the pipeline supply of office space will reach a new peak of about 3.9 million sq ft in 2016, with about 60 per cent of that located in the CBD, it said.

Major buildings expected to be completed in 2016 include Guoco Tower in Tanjong Pagar and Duo Tower in Bugis.