Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This year's first en bloc sale hits the market

Owners of 72-unit freehold property on Spottiswoode Park Road are hoping for $120m

(SINGAPORE) Dragon Mansion on Spottiswoode Park Road has been put up for collective sale - the first development to be launched for en bloc sale this year.

The owners are hoping for $120 million - or $1,020 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) - for the freehold project, including a development charge of about $400,000.

The en bloc market here has shown little sign of life since the onslaught of the global economic crisis. A total of 116 collective sales were completed at the height of the property boom in 2007, but the figure fell sharply to just eight last year. And no sites have been bought en bloc since the start of the year.

Analysts said that the owners of the 72-unit Dragon Mansion could have chosen to market their property now to ride on the current upswing in sentiment in the residential market.

'As the outlook for the residential property market improves, land values will rise and sellers might find it viable to sell collectively to get a premium for their properties,' said Karamjit Singh, managing director of Credo Real Estate.

If the sale of Dragon Mansion goes through, it will be the first property to be sold en bloc in 2009. However, market watchers said that the asking price is steep.

For comparison, said one market watcher, one can look at the June 2007 collective sale of nearby Oakswood Heights on Spottiswoode Park Road at the peak of the property boom. Then, UOL paid $132 million for the 63,700-sq-ft freehold site, which worked out to $740 per psf ppr.

Dragon Mansion has a land area of 41,874 sq ft and is designated for residential use with a plot ratio of 2.8. The new development could potentially yield a maximum gross floor area of 117,000 sq ft, which translates to an estimated 120 units of 1,000 sq ft each, said CKS Property Consultants, which is marketing the property.

Consent has been obtained from more than 80 per cent of the owners to proceed with the sale. The asking price is based on the 'limited availability of such freehold residential land near the central business district'.

More projects could be launched for collective sale in the rest of the year, analysts said.

Credo's Mr Singh said that owners of some projects are now checking to see if it is the right time to launch a collective sale: 'They don't want to start too early. They are hoping to time it right.'

En bloc transactions may return in a significant fashion when the unsold supply pipeline falls, said Credit Suisse in a June 19 note. This comes about as developers deplete their existing land banks and need to replenish them.

'On a current run rate of 1,200 developer units sold per month, land bank replenishment may happen in the next three months,' said Credit Suisse property analyst Tricia Song.

In 2006 and 2007, demolitions created an artificial vacuum in supply due to 'en bloc fever', resulting in a steep hike in rents and prices amid a population boom. In addition, owners of older properties with higher redevelopment density ratios get more on a per unit space basis, creating a wealth effect in the property market.

However, the caveat emptor this time could be oversupply of prime housing from previous years. Nevertheless, the trend bodes well for land prices and real estate owners, Ms Song added.

Source: Business Times, 15 July 2009

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