Saturday, July 25, 2009

One more bid for privatisation

Some residents angry that panelis trying again

IT HAD completed eight sessions for residents to sign their consent for privatisation and, needing the consent of only an additional 5 per cent of households to undertake the exercise, the Lagoon View Owners' Association arranged for one more session on Saturday.

As sentiment in the property market inches up, could this attempt to privatise the 480-unit estate be the first step in the launch of an en bloc sale?

Most of the residents in the HUDC estate in Marine Parade who favour privatisation say they merely want to increase the value of their flats. However, those not in favour say they fear privatisation will lead to an eventual collective sale.

The head of consultancy and research at Chesterton International, Mr Colin Tan, believes the privatisation exercise is in response to the improved property market and with the intention of eventually offering a collective sale.

Developers triggering the bid for two sites on the Government reserve list could be an indication, to some people, of recovering interest in the property market, at least on the part of developers, he added.

By privatising now, residents "lock in" their payment to the Government at a lower rate and when the market improves they can sell the estate at a higher rate.

Currently, the estimated cost of buying the land back from the Ministry of Finance is $12 million. Each household will have to fork out $28,000.

Notices pasted near the lifts inform residents that 70.8 per cent have consented to privatisation, while another 2.9 per cent need the co-owner's signature before full consent can be given. The committee needs 75 per cent approval to privatise the estate.

The push for another session for residents to sign up for privatisation has angered some of them, such as semi-retiree John, 60, who feel that the committee has already tried - and failed - in its bid for privatisation.

John says his neighbours, who are retirees, will have difficulty footing the $28,000 bill.

But some residents are open to the idea of an en bloc sale. Senior executive S H Tan, 49, says that if her unit is old and giving problems, and she gets a good price for the sale, she will consider selling it.

Residents say the committee mooted the idea of privatisation at its annual general meeting in April. Weekend Today was unable to contact the committee for its response.

After a poll of those present at the AGM showed that some 80 per cent were in favour of privatisation, the committee organised eight sessions, from June 20 to July 12, for residents to sign their consent with lawyers.

Earlier this month, Dragon Mansion in Spottiswoode Park Road was the first estate, after nine months, to place a tender for a collective sale.

Laguna Park, which is next to Lagoon View, may also be put up for en bloc next month, according to previous reports. Its asking price of $1.2 billion was decided in late 2007.

Source: Today, 25 July 2009

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