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JTC gives O&M lessees and tenants rental rebates

TO support the beleaguered offshore and marine (O&M) industry through a protracted downturn, JTC has given between 3 per cent and 10 per cent in rental rebates to all its O&M tenants and lessees for 2017.

This marks the first rental rebate for industrial properties in Singapore since the global financial crisis in 2009.

While the industry welcomed the move, some have questioned how far it would go towards tackling deeper, structural problems plaguing the sector. Upcoming new launch condo include Parc Botannia , Carpmael Thirty Eight and Sengkang Central Condo while existing ones include Kingsford Waterbay, Seaside Residences and Grandeur Park Residences. Carpmael 38 prices, 38 Carpmael floor plans, Parc Botannia prices and Parc Botannia showflat will be available shortly.
Others, citing the quantum and timing of the rental rebate, have asked if help for the sector has come too little, too late.

JTC, in response to BT queries, said that it has offered about 250 O&M lessees and tenants rental rebates for 2017. "While there is a general slowdown in economic growth, the marine and offshore (M&OE) industry in particular is facing a unique and prolonged downturn due to cyclical and structural forces . . .

"This (move) aims to provide some reprieve for our M&OE lessees and tenants during this period, while they review their operations to enhance productivity and reposition their business for the future."

JTC said that it had already lowered the posted rents (which are publicly published rentals of its own industrial facilities as well as industrial land) in tandem with the industrial property slowdown over the last two years.

The rental rebate will further reduce the rentals payable by the companies for a one-year period starting Jan 1, 2017.

For companies with sites which have a higher rent stated in their contracts than the prevailing posted rates, a rebate will be given to effect the lower posted rent as at Jan 1, 2017.

An additional 3 per cent rebate will be given across the board, thus explaining why there is a range of rental rebates from 3 per cent to 10 per cent. It depends on the companies' existing contracted rents.

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Prices of completed private condominiums continued to fall

Prices of completed private condominiums continued to fall in November, suggesting that recovery is still some way off for resale homes.

Overall resale prices slipped 0.7 per cent last month from October - a stark decline following the revised 0.2 per cent dip from September to October. Upcoming new launch condo include Parc Botannia , Carpmael Thirty Eight and Kandis Residence while existing ones include Kingsford Waterbay, Seaside Residences and Grandeur Park Residences. Carpmael 38 prices, 38 Carpmael floor plans, Parc Botannia prices and Parc Botannia showflat will be available shortly.

Last month's price fall was led by units in the central region, according to flash estimates from the NUS Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI) yesterday.

"It seems that price recovery for resale properties is still a long way ahead... price decline or stagnation is set to continue," said R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng.

Mr Wong Xian Yang, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee, added: "With rents still on a downtrend and the outlook on interest rates remaining unclear, buyers will continue to negotiate hard for lower prices."

Analysts also said the price fall was largely within expectations, owing to the weak sentiment in the property market and the typical lull in sales activity at this time of the year. Prices of completed condos were down across the board last month with the steepest decline seen in the central region, which fell by 0.8 per cent, much worse than the 0.3 per cent drop from September to October.
The SRPI defines the central region as districts one to four, including the financial district and Sentosa Cove, as well as the traditional prime residential districts of nine, 10 and 11.

Prices for completed units in the non-central region fell 0.7 per cent from October to November while those for small apartments - a floor area of up to 506 sq ft - dipped by 0.1 per cent.

Market watchers say resale prices of small condos could weaken further, especially those in the suburban areas, which face competition from public housing.

The last time all segments of the SRPI declined was in August, noted the Institute of Real Estate Studies at NUS, which computed the data.

"In the resale market today, whoever wants to sell now must be someone who is under some pressure - who would want to sell when things are slow? So these sellers are more willing to listen to offers and to give discounts," Savills Singapore research head Alan Cheong told The Straits Times.

OrangeTee expects overall resale prices for private properties to fall by up to 3.5 per cent this year, which could woo more buyers into the market next year.

As sales volume grows, "this should lead to a deceleration of price decline in 2017", Mr Wong said.

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1,555 private homes sold

DEVELOPERS in Singapore sold 1,555 private homes in April 2017, 12.6 per cent lower than the 1,780 private homes sold in March, but it was more than double the 750 units sold in April 2016.

The above figures exclude executive condominiums (ECs). Including ECs, which are a public-private housing hybrid, developers found buyers for 1,926 units in April, meaning that 371 EC units were sold in the month. Upcoming new launch condo include Parc Botannia , Carpmael Thirty Eight and Kandis Residence while existing ones include Kingsford Waterbay, Seaside Residences and Grandeur Park Residences. Carpmael 38 prices, 38 Carpmael floor plans, Parc Botannia prices and Parc Botannia showflat will be available shortly.

The above figures were released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Monday based on information collated from licensed housing developers.

Among the best sold projects in April were Frasers Centrepoint's Seaside Residences at Siglap which sold 419 units in April; Artra at Alexandra View which sold 126 units (this was developed by a Far East Consortium and New World Development); EL Development's Parc Riviera at West Coast Vale which sold 90 units; and City Developments' Commonwealth Towers which sold 85 units.

In the EC category, MCL Land's Sol Acres at Choa Chu Kang sold 122 units at a median price of S$787 per square foot in April.

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Bukit Batok West mixed-use site expected to draw interest

THE 99-year commercial and residential site at Bukit Batok West Avenue 6 should receive some interest, say market watchers, despite its distance from the nearest MRT stations and cool property sentiment.

The fact that it is a mixed development and that the area is earmarked to be progressively developed will serve to draw in developers, market watchers. Upcoming new launch condo include Parc Botannia and Kandis Residence while existing ones include Kingsford Waterbay, Seaside Residences and Grandeur Park Residences. Parc Botannia prices and Parc Botannia showflat will be available shortly.

The rectangular site spans 14,696.7 square metres or about 158,194 square ft and has a maximum gross floor area of 44,091 sq m, equivalent to about 474,591.6 sq ft. Of this, a maximum gross floor area of 6,000 sq m (about 64,583.5 sq ft) will be stipulated for commercial use. Maximum building height is 70 metres above mean sea level (AMSL), and it can yield an estimated 425 units. The land parcel is zoned for commercial and residential purposes.

Christine Li, director of research at Cushman & Wakefield, noted that Bukit Batok comprises a good mix of public and private housing and is earmarked to be progressively developed into an area which boasts its rich natural heritage near Xiao Guilin.

"With the upcoming development in Jurong Innovation District announced during Budget 2016, along with the transformation in the Jurong Lake District and improved accessibility through Jurong Regional Line and High-Speed Rail from KL to Singapore, there will be more interest from developers and investors/end-users in this part of the island," said Ms Li.

Ong Kah Seng, director at R'ST Research, on the other hand expects the commercial component will be a key attraction for developers.

"There seems to be a lack of supporting retailing amenities for the residents in the Bukit Gombak locality (which is already well developed and built up in resident/critical mass), while at Bukit Batok town centre, West Mall is a simple, frills-free mall, unlike in Jurong East where there are bustling malls like JEM and Westgate," he said.

He anticipates that the future project will likely have some niche, up-market retailing amenities to support the requirements of the residents, but not a mega mall which may disrupt the overall quiet living environment.

Ms Li expects a top bid of between S$570 to S$620 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr). The developer could sell residential units from upwards of S$1,150-S$1,200 per square foot. Mr Ong had a more conservative expected top bid of S$520 to S$570 psf ppr. He expects between five and nine bids for the site.

Said Ms Li: "Though the site is not near any major MRT station, we are of the view that a mixed-use residential and commercial site like this will be quite appealing to investors/end-users," she said, adding that the site could draw between six and 10 participants for the tender exercise.

The last mixed-use site comprising commercial and residential in the vicinity is Hillier/hillV2, which was sold in 2011 for $672 psf ppr. Skywood is the most recent project launch in the same planning area. The site was sold in 2012 for $616 psf ppr.

The site was launched for sale by public tender under the confirmed list of H1 2016 Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme. The tender for the land parcel will close at noon on May 24.

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1,926 homes were sold

SINGAPORE: Sales of new private homes slowed in April, with the number of units sold falling 12.6 per cent from the previous month, figures released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Monday showed.

Excluding executive condominiums (ECs), 1,555 private homes were sold last month as property developers launched 1,616 units. This compares to March, when 1,780 units were sold and 1,527 units launched. Upcoming new launch condo include Parc Botannia and Kandis Residence while existing ones include Kingsford Waterbay, Seaside Residences and Grandeur Park Residences. Parc Botannia showflat and Parc Botannia showflat will be available shortly.

Including ECs, 1,926 homes were sold in April, down from March’s 2,358 units. No new EC units were launched in April, but 924 EC units were launched in March with the iNz Residence and Sol Acres projects in Choa Chu Kang.

The bulk of the private homes launched in April were from the Seaside Residences development in Siglap, which launched 560 units and sold 419, and the Kingsford Waterbay project in Upper Serangoon, which launched 500 units and sold 50.

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Households have healthy balance sheets

WHILE measures to cool Singapore's property market are expected to be gradually lifted in the coming years, home prices are likely to continue falling amid oversupply and rising interest rates, Fitch Ratings said on Wednesday.

The rating agency said Singapore's efforts to curb property speculation in an environment of low global interest rates had been effective. Speculative purchases have declined as, from 2009, restrictions on mortgage lending were made progressively tighter and stamp duties were raised. House prices have now fallen in each of the last three years and housing loan growth has slowed steadily since 2011. Upcoming new launch condo include Parc Botannia and Kandis Residence while existing ones include Kingsford Waterbay, Seaside Residences and Grandeur Park Residences. Parc Botannia prices and Parc Botannia showflat will be available shortly.

"We expect further gradual loosening over the coming years, as the authorities balance supporting the market with guarding against risks,'' it said.

Fitch said macro-prudential settings are still tight, while high vacancy ratios, a slower pace of immigration, subdued economic conditions and a weakening labour market are all likely to continue weighing on prices. Local interest rates are also set to rise from their current low levels, as the US Federal Reserve tightens policy.

"House prices are still likely to fall by another 2-5 per cent over the next two years,'' it projected.

Fitch said Singapore's banks are well-positioned to withstand a sharper drop in property prices, partly as a result of macro-prudential tightening. Average loan-to-value ratios are low, loan-loss coverage is adequate, and capital and liquidity buffers are strong. Households also have healthy balance sheets and well-diversified assets.

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Positive level of transactions at new project

Developer Bukit Sembawang Estates has sold at least 18 units at its Watercove development amid an uptick in landed property sales driven by falling prices. The positive level of transactions at the project, which comprises 80 freehold strata terrace units in Kampong Wak Hassan, Sembawang, comes ahead of the official launch on Saturday.

Transport links in the area are expected to improve in the coming years. The Canberra MRT station in Canberra Link between Sembawang and Yishun MRT stations will be completed in 2019, while the upcoming North-South Expressway will provide residents with a direct connection to the city when it is up and running in 2020. This will benefit near by executive condo residents such as those from Parc Life EC. 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.

The units were sold at prices from about $2.3 million, translating to an average per sq ft price of about $738, according to Urban Redevelopment Authority caveats.

The seafront project includes a mix of terrace, corner terrace and semi-detached units between 3,200 sq ft and 4,400 sq ft.

"Watercove is sited in a locale with tremendous growth potential which has yet to be reflected in housing prices," said Ms Margaret Thean, executive director of residential at Edmund Tie and Company, the project's joint marketing agent alongside CBRE.

"In time to come, we expect the development to fetch excellent rental yields and enjoy substantial capital appreciation."

"The completion of Watercove is timed with the completion of these transport connections," said CBRE and Edmund Tie and Company in a statement.

While landed property prices have been falling, the developer behind Watercove has seen its shares soar this year because of its substantial land bank.

A DBS report noted in March that the rubber company-turned-property developer has one of the largest tracts of freehold land, which it had used for its rubber plantation.

About 75 per cent of its more than 2.8 million sq ft land bank is undeveloped and zoned for landed properties, largely in Ang Mo Kio, Seletar and Sembawang, said DBS analysts Derek Tan and Rachel Tan.

This would make the company an attractive takeover target amid limited land supply.

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Two new platforms will open at Choa Chu Kang LRT

 
SINGAPORE: Two new platforms will open at Choa Chu Kang Light Rail Transit (LRT) station to help ease congestion at the existing platform, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Friday.

The new platforms will allow for designated areas for boarding and alighting. Commuters arriving at the station will alight at the new platforms before the doors that face the existing platform open for boarding passengers. Each of the new platforms will also have a dedicated staircase and escalator. This will benefit nearby residents such as those from Sol Acres and Inz Residence. 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.
However, the new platforms will not have elevators. LTA said that commuters who need to use the lift should continue to alight at the existing platform and follow the signs displayed at the station and in the LRT train cars.
Built at a cost of S$12 million, the platforms are part of improvement works first announced in 2012 and completed on Oct 31 this year.

New fare gates were installed at the LRT station, as well as the connecting MRT station. LTA said these new fare gates will improve connectivity to the bus interchange and shopping mall.

A transfer staircase from the LRT to the MRT station platform has also been widened to ease congestion, and two high-volume low-speed fans installed at the existing station platform to cool the air.

According to LTA, the construction of the additional two platforms posed a major challenge, as the team had to work within the constraints of limited time and space.

The new platforms had to be built between the MRT and LRT tracks, with a width clearance of only 4 metres.

Detailed planning, sequencing and team work were key to completing the project safely and on time, the authority said.
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Share prices of property developers likely to keep rising?

The share prices of property developers are likely to keep rising as market sentiment continues to pick up, according to analysts.

The sector has been extremely buoyant since the start of the year, with the Real Estate Developers Index up about 25 per cent. Upcoming executive condo launches include Anchorvale Lane EC, Rivercove ECwhile 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.

"While stocks were generally off their peaks in June, we believe any near-term corrections in prices would be good re-entry levels to reconsider adding to property developers, given our positive stance on the residential sector," DBS Group Research said in a recent report.

DBS pointed to two key reasons for its bullish stance on developers.

It noted that their shares are rising as investors look for exposure to the improving market.

It also noted that factors such as land-banking and real estate launches could drive prices higher.

"We continue to see catalysts that could drive prices higher, closer to an average of one times price to net asset value, in line with their five-year historical mean," it said.

"At that level, developers would be trading at an average price to revalued net asset value of 0.9 times."

A price-to-net asset value ratio is generally used as an indication of a real estate company's value. A ratio of less than one could mean the company is undervalued, while a ratio of more than one might mean it is overvalued.

"In addition, we are of the view that successful land-banking activities that could mean potential reflation of net asset values will further boost share prices.""Catalysts will come in the form of higher transaction volumes, resulting in the clearing of unsold inventory or even higher prices," added DBS.

DBS singled out City Developments, UOL and CapitaLand as its top picks, "given their relatively higher exposure in the residential space compared with peers".

In a separate report released last week, Maybank Kim Eng analyst Derrick Heng noted that investors have become increasingly concerned that escalating land prices could lead to a margin squeeze for developers.

But he also said the resurgent collective sale market offers alternative land-banking chances for developers and could ease upward pressure on land prices.

More than $3 billion in collective sales deals have been concluded so far this year, with another 30 properties at various stages of the process.

Six of these potential deals, if completed, could lift sales value by another $2.3 billion and add 4,600 units to the pipeline, he noted.

Moreover, the resurgent collective sale market comes with a "positive feedback loop".

"Every household displaced from the (collective sale) market would be on the lookout for a new property, which would effectively front-load demand and push out supply," Mr Heng said.

The 11 deals closed this year would lead to the demolition of 1,600 units from the existing housing stock in the year ahead, while the other six deals could result in a further 1,300 units being knocked down.

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Another development wins Universal Design Mark Award

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Residents to Benefit from Punggol Eco Town

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New development bags Green Mark Gold Awards

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Details revealed for Fresh Start Housing Scheme to help rental flat dwellers

SINGAPORE: Details of the Fresh Start Housing Scheme, which aims to help second-timer families in rental flats buy a home, were released on Monday (Apr 11). Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong said his ministry aims to introduce the scheme by the end of the year.

Speaking in Parliament as part of the Committee of Supply debates, Mr Wong said that the scheme targets parents with school-going children. Under the scheme, families who qualify will be able to by a new two-room Flexi flat, said the minister. The flats will come with shorter leases, ranging from 45 to 65 years, to keep the price affordable, and will also come with a longer Minimum Occupation Period of 20 years, to ensure a stable home for the children. Upcoming new launch condo include Parc Botannia and Kandis Residence while existing ones include Kingsford Waterbay, Seaside Residences and Grandeur Park Residences. Parc Botannia showflat and Parc Botannia showflat will be available shortly.
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Those who apply for the scheme will also be given another Housing Development Board (HDB) concessionary loan, regardless of any previous HDB loans. The flat buyers' CPF will be able to be used for the down-payment as well as mortgage payments.

The families will also get a Fresh Start Housing Grant of up to S$35,000, which will be pro-rated according to the lease of the flat they buy.

The scheme, first announced at the National Day Rally last year, will integrate financial assistance with personal responsibility and social support, said Mr Wong.

To qualify for the scheme and receive the full grant, families will have to show commitment to remain in stable employment, manage their finances well, and ensure their children are attending school regularly, he added.

Then, depending on the efforts made by the families, the the grant will correspondingly be disbursed in tranches over time. When they collect their keys, S$20,000 will be given, while the remainder will be given out annually over the next five years.

He added that Ministry of Social and Family Development officers will check in with these families to ensure that they are doing well, and to link them up with partners for social support if needed.

As for families that encounter difficulties after signing up for the scheme, Mr Wong said the ministry will consider individual circumstances and the effort they are making to meet the conditions.

"We will not reply on just a single criteria or matrix, because we will exercise discretion and judgement, and we will look at it case-by-case," said Mr Wong.

He noted that those that might qualify for the scheme - those who are second-timers, with school-going children, and who do no have excessive arrears with HDB - number about 1,000, and that not all of them might choose take up the scheme.

"The numbers may not be very big, but I believe the scheme can and will have a meaningful impact on the families we are reaching out to," said Mr Wong.

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Resale prices and volume of HDB decreased

RESALE prices and volume of Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats decreased in January compared to December 2016, according to a SRX flash report released on Thursday.

HDB resale prices fell 0.3 per cent month-on-month. The resale prices of HDB 3-room and 4-room flats went down by 0.6 and 0.5 per cents, respectively. Those of HDB 5-rooms and HDB executive flats went up by 0.4 and 0.9 per cent, respectively. Upcoming new launch condo include Parc Botannia and Kandis Residence while existing ones include Kingsford Waterbay, Seaside Residences and Grandeur Park Residences. Parc Botannia prices and Parc Botannia showflat will be available shortly.


HDB resale prices in mature estates decreased by 0.7 per cent, while those in non-mature estates remained the same in January.

In terms of resale volume, some 1,174 HDB resale flats were sold last month, a 13.9 per cent decrease from the 1,364 units transacted in December 2016.

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Fallout from HK stamp duty could be beneficial for Singapore

SINGAPORE/HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Singapore's three-year housing slump could see relief from an unexpected quarter in 2017: Hong Kong.

So says Cushman & Wakefield, which expects the slide in Singapore's home prices to end this year as foreign investors turned off by Hong Kong's move to increase the stamp duty for overseas buyers look to Singapore instead. Desmond Sim, head of research for Singapore and Southeast Asia at CBRE, said Singapore house prices are approaching their trough, with a forecast price move of flat to minus 2 per cent. Upcoming new launch condo include Parc Botannia and Kandis Residence while existing ones include Kingsford Waterbay, Seaside Residences and Grandeur Park Residences. Parc Botannia prices and Parc Botannia showflat will be available shortly.

"The fallout from the stamp duty could be beneficial for Singapore," said Sigrid Zialcita, managing director for Asia Pacific research at Cushman & Wakefield. "Singapore is always seen as a place where you can preserve capital and we are expecting interest from foreign nationals to come back."

Hong Kong's November increase in stamp duty to 30 per cent for foreigners makes Singapore's 18 per cent rate more attractive to overseas buyers, particularly mainland Chinese who are seeking investments abroad to help shield them from a further weakening of the yuan.

That will help limit the decline in Singapore property values to about 1.5 per cent this year, according to the average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Home prices have fallen 11 per cent since 2013, when the island-state's government implemented the strictest of its own cooling measures.

The outlook for Hong Kong is more bearish, with prices in the secondary-housing market seen dropping 8 per cent, according to the average of seven analyst forecasts. While figures for new homes aren't available for Hong Kong, early indications are that prices in this segment will be more resilient as developers offer incentives to offset higher stamp duties.
The markets for Grade-A office space in Asia's two competing financial hubs are set to diverge further in 2017. Scarce supply in Hong Kong's Central district and strong demand from Chinese financial companies for premium office space could push rents up as much as 5 per cent in what is already the world's most expensive office market according to Knight Frank. That contrasts with a forecast of an average 6.2 per cent drop in Singapore due to ample supply and an uncertain economic outlook.

Retail rents in both cities will also remain challenging this year. Singapore mall owners are bracing for another weak year as the sluggish economy weighs on retail activity and consumers shop online more. In Hong Kong, a two-and-a-half year slump in mall rents may continue as retail sales remain subdued. Marcos Chan, head of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Southern China research at CBRE, sees prime mall rents falling as much as 5 per cent amid declining tourist arrivals and softer domestic demand.

"We see no particular reason why the retail market or retail property will rebound anytime soon," said Chan, who still expects rents to stabilize by mid-year. "We will have to wait for some other triggers for the retail market to pick up before retail rents go back to an upward trend."

 
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Helping second-timers who are rental tenants to buy flat

Under a new scheme, families who previously owned a Housing Board flat but are now public rental tenants can get help to buy a new flat - but face conditions such as having to stay employed.

They also have to live in their new home for 20 years before they can sell it, compared to the usual five. But they will be hand-held through this home ownership journey, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said yesterday when he gave details of the Fresh Start Housing Scheme. Upcoming new launch condo include Parc Botannia and Kandis Residence while existing ones include Kingsford Waterbay, Seaside Residences and Grandeur Park Residences. Parc Botannia prices and Parc Botannia showflat will be available shortly.

To start later this year, the scheme is for families renting public flats and with children aged below 16, said Mr Wong. The move is to give the children a stable home environment, he added.

Eligible families can buy a new two-room Flexi HDB flat, with a lease of 45 to 65 years.

The families can get an HDB concessionary loan regardless of how many such loans they have taken before. They will also get a Fresh Start Housing Grant of up to $35,000, pro-rated to the length of the lease.

To help them stay committed to owning a home, the HDB will work with the Ministry of Social and Family Development to check on them annually.

Mr Wong also promised to continue lowering Build-to-Order application rates for singles.

He also outlined his ministry's plans to transform the urban landscape, including making Singapore a more car-lite city.

Developers will soon have to take into account the needs of pedestrians and cyclists in building plans. Six new cycling routes from housing estates to the city will be built.

Additionally, all 16 town councils will soon work with the Government's Municipal Services Office to coordinate their response to issues in HDB estates.

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Overall office demand has weakened

SINGAPORE — Plagued by rising vacancies and intense competition among landlords for tenants, office rents fell for the eight straight quarter in the first three months of the year, data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) showed on Friday.

Office rents plunged 3.4 per cent in the first quarter of the year from the previous three months, accelerating from the 1.8 per cent drop in the fourth quarter of last year, bringing the total decline from the peak in the first quarter of 2015 to 17.6 per cent. The overall vacancy rate rose to 11.6 per cent in the first quarter from 11.1 per cent in the fourth quarter, the URA data showed. Upcoming new launch condo include Parc Botannia and Kandis Residence while existing ones include Kingsford Waterbay, Seaside Residences and Grandeur Park Residences. Parc Botannia prices and Parc Botannia condoshowflat will be available shortly.

Ms Christine Li, Director of Research at property consultancy Cushman and Wakefield, said: “While the premium quality buildings in the heart of the Central Business District have been well received by large occupiers, lower quality and older buildings with low efficiency in the city fringe have been coming under immense pressure to keep pace with the changing needs of the savvier occupiers, who are spoilt for choice as a result of the large incoming supply of office space.”

“As such, landlords of those buildings had to drop the rents more aggressively in order to source for tenants to backfill space vacated by companies relocating to the new projects primarily in the CBD, which contributed to the larger drop in rents in the first quarter,” she said.

Despite the better-than-expected 2.5 per cent year-on-year economic growth in the first quarter, prospects for the office market remain shaky, analysts said, in part due to the growing trend of co-working spaces, which result in better utilisation of floor area than a traditional office set-up.

“The dust has not settled, given that the overall office demand has weakened with a few key sectors such as banking and financial services, oil and gas underperforming. Even when the recent gross domestic product growth numbers have surprised on the upside, the space requirement for offices could be lagging, and also changing due to the adoption of workplace strategy. More and more corporates are adopting co-working and collaborative workplaces to accommodate additional headcount growth without the need to increase real estate needs,” Ms Li said.

Office stock increased by 333,681 sq ft in the first quarter as a result of the completion of GSH Plaza at the junction of Church Street and Cecil Street, while space absorbed decreased by 64,583 sq ft, she noted. The vacancy rate is expected to increase further in subsequent quarters once Marina One obtains its Temporary Occupation Permit in the middle of this year, she added.

As the rentals continued to tank, office prices fell 4 per cent in the first quarter from the previous three months, accelerating from the 0.6 per cent decline in the previous quarter and extending the losing streak to seven straight quarters, the URA data showed.

The gloom is similarly felt in the retail segment of the commercial property market, the URA data showed. Retail rents fell 2.9 per cent and prices plunged 4 per cent in the first quarter from the previous three months, as the overall vacancy rate rose to 7.7 per cent from 7.5 per cent over this period.

“Retailers continue to battle with challenges such as increased labour and operational costs as well as structural changes in consumer buying behaviour and habits. Demand for retail space remained weak amid the continuing shuttering of underperforming outlets as they succumbed to these challenges,” said Ms Tay Huey Ying, Head of Research & Consultancy, Singapore, at property consultancy JLL.

“The rise in the number of retailers opting to downsize their operations in Singapore and expand regionally further weakened the demand for retail space. The migration to omni-channel retailing platforms has also reduced the required footprint for brick-and-mortar space, further adding to the woes of landlords,” she added.

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Freehold site located along Amber Road up for sale

THE vendors of a freehold site located along Amber Road have put it up for sale by expressions of interest, and expect offers of between S$56.6 million and S$61 million.

This divestment exercise comes shortly following the recent sale of the nearby The Albracca, a 10-storey residential development along Meyer Road by collective sale to Sustained Land for S$69.119 million in July. Upcoming new launch condo include Parc Botannia and Kandis Residence while existing ones include Kingsford Waterbay, Seaside Residences and Grandeur Park Residences. Parc Botannia prices and Parc Botannia showflat will be available shortly.

Under the 2014 Master Plan, the 22,800 sq ft site is zoned "residential" with an allowable gross plot ratio of 2.8. It may be redeveloped to accommodate a high-rise apartment development of about 24 to 26 storeys, depending on the technical height controls imposed by government departments.

The expected price reflects an estimated land rate of about S$1,199 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) to S$1,268 psf ppr. Development charges are estimated to be about S$20 million.

Subject to design and approval from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, a developer may potentially configure the allowable gross floor area of 63,820 sq ft into a maximum of 84 apartments with an average size of 70 square metres. Depending on the proposed design and orientation of the building, some of the residential units could potentially enjoy partial sea view, said JLL which is marketing the property.

The site is located near the future Tanjong Katong MRT station, part of the new Thomson-East Coast Line, which is expected to be completed in 2023.

There are four vacant old houses located on the plot of land, which stands out as one of the last remaining undeveloped plots along the stretch of Amber Road, JLL added.

Interested parties have until 2.30pm on Sept 21, 2017 to submit their offers.

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Latest deal in series of bulk sales of residential units

One of Singapore's richest men, veteran banker Wee Cho Yaw, has bought all 45 unsold units at upmarket condominium, The Nassim, for $411.6 million. The bulk sale gets developer CapitaLand off the hook over penalties that apply to unsold properties after a stipulated period. The penalties could have run to millions of dollars.

Mr Wee, chairman emeritus of United Overseas Bank, bought the properties through his family's private real estate arm, Kheng Leong. Upcoming new launch condo include Parc Botannia while existing ones include Kingsford Waterbay, Seaside Residences and Grandeur Park Residences. Parc Botannia prices and Parc Botannia showflat will be available shortly.

The deal values the property at $407.2 million, or $2,300 per sq ft.

CapitaLand said the agreed property value represents a bulk sale discount of about 18 per cent on the current individual unit sale price.

This is in line with a range of discounts seen at recent bulk sale transactions, such as the 156 units sold at Nouvel 18 at a discount of about 16 per cent, as well as the 30 units sold at [email protected] with 23 per cent off.

The 45 units at The Nassim make up a strata area of 16,446 sq m, and was sold by CapitaLand subsidiary CRL Realty, which owns the property developer Nassim Hill Realty.

Other individual buyers have snapped up 10 units in the property at 18, Nassim Hill, which features 55 units in eight five-storey blocks.

It was previously reported that some of these buyers include Mr Sigid Wonowidjojo and his relative. Mr Wonowidjojo's family controls Indonesian cigarette maker Gudang Garam.

Of the 45 units purchased by Mr Wee, three are five-bedroom units, and 16 are four-bedroom units. The remaining 26 are three bedders.

The deal is the latest in a series of recent bulk sales of residential units which developers have done to avoid the Qualifying Certificate (QC) penalties.

Under the Residential Property Act, developers issued with a QC upon buying private residential land must finish building the project within five years of acquiring the site and sell all units within two years of obtaining a temporary occupation permit (TOP).

Failing that, the developer pays extension charges pro-rated to the proportion of unsold units.

The Nassim, which received its TOP in August 2015, would have had to pay extension charges by August this year on unsold units.

CapitaLand estimated that if the 45 units had been unsold by August, it would have had to pay $9.3 million in the first year. These fees would have jumped to $27.9 million by the third year.

Developers paid far more in extension charges last year compared with the same period for 2015. As at Oct 27, the Government collected about $58.2 million in fees, up from just $24.9 million collected in the whole of 2015, said the Singapore Land Authority last year.

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4,056 flats launched for sale

THE Housing & Development Board (HDB) on Tuesday launched 4,056 flats for sale under the February 2017 Build-To-Order (BTO) exercise.

The flats being offered in the first tranche for 2017 span across six projects in the non-mature town of Punggol, and the mature towns of Clementi and Tampines.They range from two-room Flexi to three-generation (3Gen) flats. Upcoming new launch condo include Parc Botannia while existing ones include Kingsford Waterbay, Seaside Residences and Grandeur Park Residences. Parc Botania details and Parc Botannia prices will be available shortly.

A project in Woodlands, originally planned for launch this month, has been deferred, the HDB said on Tuesday.

Due to the site conditions, a further review is needed to better integrate it with surrounding developments. The project will be launched after the review is completed

This February exercise also marks the first time that families emplaced on the Fresh Start Housing Scheme (Fresh Start) can apply for a flat, since the scheme was launched on Dec 1, 2016, to help second-timer families with young children staying in a public rental flat, own a flat again.

Eligible families will be able to buy a two-room Flexi flat, with lease options ranging from 45 to 65 years (offered in five-year increments). The lease must last the applicants and their spouse (if applicable) until at least the age of 95. The flat price, grant amount and resale levy payable will be adjusted based on the chosen lease of the flat.

Families emplaced on Fresh Start will enjoy priority allocation of up to 10 per cent of two-room Flexi units, under the Tenants' Priority Scheme.

HDB plans to launch a total of 17,000 flats this year. In May, it will offer another 4,600 flats in Bidadari, Geylang, Woodlands and Yishun, when it will also release 3,000 sale-of-balance flats.

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