Tuesday, April 21, 2009

DPS buyer with 20 units at The Fernhill drags feet on payment

Episode watched by developers that had sold multiple units to foreigners under DPS

(SINGAPORE) A China investor that bought 20 units at MCL Land's The Fernhill condo has failed to pay roughly $30 million that became due when the project received Temporary Occupation Permit recently.

MCL sent the notice seeking payment to buyer Concordia Overseas Pte Ltd 14 days ago. By the
due date yesterday, the payment had still not been made, BT understands.

This development on the deferred payment scheme (DPS) - which was scrapped in October 2007 - is being closely watched.

Under the Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA), MCL will now wait for another 14 days and if the payment is still not made by then, the developer can serve a 21-day notice on Concordia to repudiate the SPA. After that, if there's no payment, MCL would be entitled to treat the 20 per cent paid so far by Concordia as forfeited and resell the units.

Concordia, controlled by Hong Kong resident Chan Ki, who has developed commercial buildings in Shanghai, had bought all 25 apartments in The Fernhill in January 2007 at $1,410 per square foot.
It flipped five of these units to foreigners at an average price of nearly $2,200 psf later the same year. JTResi brokered both sets of deals for the five-storey freehold project at the corner of Orange Grove and Fernhill roads.

Concordia bought the units from MCL on DPS, and paid an initial 20 per cent of purchase price in 2007. The 20 units it still holds were purchased for nearly $47 million and it was asked to pay another 65 per cent - around $30 million - after the project received TOP last month.

In case there is a hitch in receiving the payment, analysts say, MCL Land is pretty well covered, as it can walk away with the 20 per cent downpayment from Concordia. Its 'breakeven cost' so to speak on the 20 units would be $1,128 psf ($1,410 psf sale price to Concordia less the 20 per cent collected so far).

Based on recent transactions at Gallop Gables on Farrer Road and The Verdure on Holland Road, MCL should easily be able to sell the units individually for more than that sum. An average resale price of $1,250 or so could mean another round of profits.

BT understands that MCL did not extend DPS to the buyers of the five units who picked up their apartments from Concordia in the subsale market. They have been making normal progress payments to MCL.

While MCL is on a firm footing, other developers who sold their projects on DPS at peak prices in 2007 and early 2008, may have reason to worry in case buyers do not pay up once the projects are completed in the coming months.

This is because the values of many such units could be down more than the 20 per cent initial payment and the developer would be out of pocket if it were to treat the SPA as being repudiated. Such developers may have to sue buyers for specific performance - complete the SPA at the contracted price.

But some developers may agree to a payment extension or restructuring for local buyers in hardship.

Developers may find it tough to take legal action against foreign buyers domiciled offshore who walk away from purchases. 'The practical thing to do may be to treat the SPA as repudiated, take possession of the units and try to resell them or lease them out. Once you go down the route of suing defaulting buyers for specific performance, it will be some time before you can take possession of the units,' a developer said.

In case The Fernhill units end up being resold by MCL, the price could have implications for neighbouring projects. The price benchmark may hit DPS buyers in these projects who have yet to secure a loan. Even those that have secured loans may be affected as the bank may now assume a lower value for the properties and ask borrowers to top up more equity.

Some analysts said that the latest development at Fernhill may be a sign of things to come as more projects are completed. The situation of multiple unit buyers, especially if they are foreigners, will be keenly watched.

Source: Business Times, 21 April 2009

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