Monday, August 31, 2009

Tech platform boost for property transactions

PROPERTY buyers hunting for their dream Housing Development Board (HDB) flat could find their task made easier when a project by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) to computerise 800,000 HDB titles and 3,300,000 HDB documents comes online.

The $8.2 million undertaking, called Singapore Titles Automated Registration System 21 (STARS21), will also benefit lawyers, property agents and the general public, said Bryan Chew, SLA director of Regulatory Division and senior deputy registrar of titles.

Speaking to BizIT last week in an interview, Mr Chew said convenience and time-savings will be the key benefits of this system, which is expected to be completed by end-2013.

SLA, a statutory board that oversees land sales, leases, acquisitions and allocation and other land-related duties in Singapore, currently operates a computerised land registration system for private properties but upkeeps its far-larger crop of HDB titles and documents as physical records. Its current database of 800,000 HDB titles and 3,300,000 HDB documents form about 80 per cent of its registry’s records.

With STARS21, SLA is set to create a single computerised and integrated platform that encompasses both private and HDB properties. Tasks associated with the transaction of properties, like title search, lodgement and registration of properties, are expected to be significantly boosted under the new platform.

Presently, searches on property details of HDB flats typically takes 10 to 15 minutes. This process involves SLA staff retrieving hardcopy leases or documents, making copies of them and then faxing or posting them to the customer.

In future, search results can be immediately and automatically dispatched over the Internet.

While the ease and speed of the title searches will not by themselves shorten the transaction process, they could help buyers in their search. ‘Before placing a deposit, buyers can always go online and search that the owners are who they profess to be,’ Mr Chew said.

For lawyers, key benefits include time savings and convenience as they will be able search for information faster, as well as lodge HDB caveats, transfers and mortgages electronically, without leaving their offices and at any time of the day.

SLA, too, is expecting to reap rewards from its investment.

According to an SLA, there are an average of 5,500 searches for HDB flats each month, based on figures collated from the first seven months this year. Extrapolating the numbers give an annual average of around 66,000 searches for 2009.

This means a saving of over 450 man-days, taking into account the estimate of around 10 to 15 minutes to process each search request.

STARS21 was unveiled earlier this month by Singapore Technologies Engineering (ST Engineering), which announced at the time its electronics arm ST Electronics had won the contract. The system is being built around Hewlett-Packard equipment and software, and employs a technology concept known as Service-Oriented Architecture.

Source: Business Times, 31 Aug 2009

Next big power stations to be sited in eastern Singapore

SINGAPORE’S next big power stations will be built in the eastern part of the island. Potential sites will be set aside and further information on them could be released to investors within months.

With most of the existing power stations in the west, apart from Senoko in the north, ‘we think there are benefits for a power station in the east’, said Energy Market Authority CEO Lawrence Wong.

‘It’s not just about security or strategic reasons,’ he said. ‘Having electricity generation closer to the load or demand as new industries or clusters grow in the east makes a lot of sense in terms of reducing transmission losses.’

‘We have looked at possible plots in the east that can be set aside for power stations and will be putting out some of this information in due course so investors looking at new generating plants can consider these as possibilities.’

EMA is looking at releasing information on the sites either in October or November this year as part of its annual Statement of Opportunities report, or in next year’s report, depending on when it is ready.

At present, two of the three biggest power plants here, PowerSeraya with 3,100 megawatts (MW) and Tuas Power with 2,670MW, are located in the West, along with Sembcorp Cogen (815MW) and Keppel Merlimau Cogen (498MW) on Jurong Island. Only the 3,300MW Senoko Power is in the north.

The move east – where there are still large plots available for large-scale power generation – is logical given the shortage of land in the west, especially on Jurong Island.

‘In the end, it’s all about land availability,’ said Mr Wong. ‘It depends on what sort of plant the investor is looking at. For example, a cogeneration plant producing both electricity as well as steam for industries is different from a stand-alone power generation plant.

‘If you are talking solely about power generation, there are not many sites available on Jurong Island for such a facility. So that’s a constraint.’

Given the general shortage of land, JTC Corporation has also embarked on an island-wide underground feasibility study, with underground power stations a potential application.

On this, Mr Wong said: ‘There is an inter-agency process going on within the Trade and Industry Ministry and we’re not ready to talk about details yet.’

Underground plants are possible and ‘already being done elsewhere’, he said, recounting a recent visit he made to two underground hydro-power stations at Manapouri in New Zealand that generate about 850MW.

‘But whether the idea is applicable here, given our geological considerations and our circumstances, that’s a question that remains,’ Mr Wong said.

Source: Business Times, 31 Aug 2009

11 Circle Line stations to open in 2010

ANOTHER 11 MRT stations on the new Circle Line will open in the first half of next year, cutting the travel time for commuters between the east and the north as well as north-east parts of the island.

The timeframe was announced yesterday by Transport Minister Raymond Lim.

These stations, which stretch from Dhoby Ghaut to Bartley via Paya Lebar, will spare MRT commuters the extra journey they now must make through the city centre before reaching their destination.

Also, these stops will bring the MRT for the first time to residents in estates such as Mountbatten and MacPherson.
Their opening adds to the five already in operation and marks the completion of 16 of the 29 stations on the Circle Line.

It will ease crowding on existing lines and encourage more people to take public transport, an outcome that is in line with a government masterplan to reduce travelling times and avoid road congestion.

In making the announcement, Mr Lim said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will give the actual date closer to the opening of the stations.

Meanwhile, tests are being done 'to ensure the system is reliable and safe before they open it to the public', he added.

Mr Lim was speaking at a dialogue with about 500 Bukit Panjang residents after a ministerial visit to the single-seat ward helmed by Dr Teo Ho Pin.

Commuters like bank officer Kenny Ng, 27, who lives near Lorong Chuan station, welcomed the improved connectivity, saying 'going down to town will be much easier and faster'.

By June, a train journey from Bishan to Paya Lebar, for instance, will take 17min instead of the 33min to 35min now.

This is because the journey will bypass the city centre and not require a transfer.

Of the remaining 13 stations on the Circle Line, Mr Lim said 12, from Marymount to Harbourfront, will open in 2011.

The final one, Bukit Brown off Andrew Road, is a future station that will not open until more residents move into the area.

Mr Lim's update on the Circle Line comes a day after LTA announced the easing of the rules of the off-peak car scheme to encourage more motorists to opt for these red-plated cars.

The new rules include allowing these cars, from end-January next year, to be on the road all day on Saturdays, instead of the current restriction: before 7am and after 3pm.

Changes to bus routes are also in the works.

Yesterday, Mr Lim said that from next month, LTA will consult 'on a systematic basis' the advisers and grassroots leaders in all constituencies for ways to improve bus routes in their respective areas.

It hopes to complete the feedback-gathering exercise by March.

At present, LTA works with public transport operators in an ongoing - but rather ad hoc - manner to improve the bus network.

However, operators SBS Transit and SMRT have the final say on any refinements.

This will change.

The new feedback effort will pave the way for the LTA to take over the planning of the bus routes from the operators.

Mr Lim also said the consultation exercise was a better move than an overhaul of the existing system, which he stressed was 'a good and fairly comprehensive one'.

He added: 'Our aim is to benefit as many commuters as possible, while maintaining the overall financial viability of the bus system.'

During his walkabout, Mr Lim distributed ComCare meal vouchers to needy residents and opened a Senior Wellness Centre at Bukit Panjang Community Club.

The centre for elderly folk has exercise machines and massage chairs and organises activities, such as brisk walking and subsidised health screenings.

Mr Lim also took a short ride on the Bukit Panjang LRT, noting that trains were arriving at four-minute intervals.

'I hope it's much shorter at peak hours,' he quipped to an SMRT official, who swiftly replied that the intervals then are 21/2 minutes.

Source: Straits Times, 31 Aug 2009

How HDB keeps it affordable

WE REFER to the letters, 'High HDB prices: Squeezed even harder' and 'Two shortcomings: Public housing too correlated to private market, and HDB has not regulated supply' (both Aug 22); and 'Flat hunting: Why was cash over valuation ever introduced?' (Aug 20).

Cash over valuation: Resale flat prices are the result of negotiations between willing buyers and sellers. Cash over valuation (COV) arises when buyers are willing to pay more than the market value of the flat, as determined by professional valuers.

However, for financial prudence, HDB and the banks will provide a loan of only up to 90 per cent of the market valuation. Therefore, if a buyer is willing to pay more than the valuation, the excess will need to be paid in cash, thus the term cash over valuation.

COV is not determined nor imposed by the Government. However, we can expect a flat seller to ask for as high a price as possible. On their part, buyers should first arm themselves with relevant information before negotiating with flat sellers.

To help buyers and sellers make informed decisions, HDB provides information on recently transacted resale prices and COV on its website. In July this year, 31 per cent of resale transactions were conducted with no COV. The median COV level was $7,000. Given the wide range of flats in the resale market, flat buyers should buy a flat they can afford.

Supply of new flats: Besides resale flats, new flats form another part of the housing supply to meet demand. In response to rising demand, HDB has steadily increased the supply of new flats. From just 2,400 new flats in 2006, in the first half of this year alone, 4,300 new flats were offered. Given the continuing strong demand, HDB will increase the new flat supply under the Build-To-Order (BTO) system this year to at least 8,000 units.

Affordability: HDB aims to make public housing affordable for eligible first-time households. These households are generously subsidised for their purchase of new or resale flats. On average, first-time households used 21 per cent and 25 per cent of their monthly income to service their loans on new and resale HDB flats respectively in non-mature estates. These figures are well below the international affordability benchmark of 30 per cent.

The monthly household income ceiling of $8,000 allows a vast majority of Singaporean households - about 80 per cent - to qualify for subsidised housing. Households whose income exceeds this ceiling can buy resale flats, where there is a wide range of supply to suit varying budgets.

For example, if a household with a monthly income of $10,000 buys a five-room resale flat in a non-mature estate at the average price of $364,000, it would need only about 15 per cent of its income to service its loan.

Source: Straits Times, 31 Aug 2009

Act now to prevent a housing bubble

Banks should tighten lending terms to head off possible mortgage defaults

IN JANUARY, as the global financial storm lashed Singapore shores, fears took hold that large numbers of cash-strapped home owners might default on their monthly mortgage instalments, as businesses went belly-up and jobs were lost.

DBS Bank went out of its way to calm the jitters by offering to resurrect the interest-only payment scheme to allow borrowers to make only interest payments on their home loans, to give them breathing space to sort out their finances.

Only months later, in a surprise to many, the tide turned and there was a huge revival in the residential market. The gloom lifted as confidence grew and buyers rushed back to snap up properties - despite the stress that continued to be felt in the corporate sector.

The statistics are impressive. In the second quarter, 10,184 HDB resale flats changed hands - up from 6,446 units in the first quarter and 7,763 units in the same quarter last year.

This, in turn, triggered a boom in lower-priced condos, as HDB sellers upgraded to private developments.

For many, buying an HDB resale flat has turned out to be a sure-win investment. Despite the onset of the global financial crisis two years ago, HDB prices have scarcely fallen. In fact, they are up 35 per cent since 2007.

And why not? As one housing agent observes, even though the prices of HDB resale flats are high, they have become more affordable. Buyers need only to fork out a down payment - as low as 10 per cent of the purchase price - in order to qualify for a bank loan to buy their dream homes.

Some observers have been quick to attribute the hike in housing prices to the growing number of foreigners becoming permanent residents, which makes them eligible to buy HDB resale flats.
For many new permanent residents coming from countries such as China, where payment for a house must be made in full by cash, Singapore is a paradise. It is impossible for them to get an appointment to see the bank manager in their home country, let alone get a loan if they do not have the necessary 'guanxi' or connections.

In Singapore, as long as they are gainfully employed and have some savings, they have a bevy of banks competing for their attention and offering them loans on attractive terms to help them buy their homes.

But stock traders offer a different explanation for the exuberance in the housing market. Could the explanation be a little more sinister? Does the argument about buying an HDB flat because past trends show rising prices have a familiar ring to it?

In 2002, to make up for the loss of business elsewhere, banks in the United States started to extend huge loans to home buyers with the cheap credit supplied by the US central bank to fight the bursting of the bubble.

The US housing market record was even more impressive than HDB's, with home prices experiencing an almost uninterrupted upswing since World War II.
The upshot of the lending frenzy: Home owners borrowed ever bigger sums against their properties to finance their consumption, while even those with doubtful credit histories were extended huge housing loans too.

That reckless drive caused grief for the US, as a huge number of mortgages turned sour two years ago and unleashed a credit crisis so severe it almost caused the global financial system to collapse.

For some, there is a striking resemblance between the boom in the US housing market in 2002 and our own real estate rally now.

Let us recognise that our housing boom might have been shaped by events far beyond our shores - the loose monetary policies implemented by US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, as he trimmed interest rates to almost zero, in order to combat falling US prices.
Because the US dollar is the world's reserve currency, this has the effect of sharply depressing interest rates around the world, including Singapore, where POSB now pays its depositors a paltry 0.125 per cent interest on their savings.

In such a situation, it is not surprising to find depositors looking for investment opportunities, while banks sit on huge swathes of cheap funds that they are desperate to lend out.

Like the US situation in 2002, banks in Singapore have refrained from lending aggressively in the corporate sector, as recession-hit businesses struggle to regain their footing.

Instead, they have also turned to the home loans market to make up for the slack in business.
But if this housing rally is financed by the cheap credit boom provided by Mr Bernanke, it is only temporary and will screech to a halt as soon as he starts to remove the trillions that he has poured into the global financial system.

For banks lending merrily on the real estate market with few strings attached, there is the chilling prospect that the fears that emerged in January, over possible mortgage defaults, might be realised this time around.

What can be done?

Rather than press the HDB to build more flats that might, in turn, create a housing glut as the economic cycle plays out, let us insist that our lenders tighten their generous lending terms.
For a start, they should consider raising the down payment, which a home buyer has to fork out before he qualifies for a mortgage, from the current 10 per cent to 20 per cent or even 30 per cent of the purchase price.

Given the important role banks play in our economy, such a move would be prudent, given the danger of a bubble building up in the real estate market.

Sure, this move may mean a delay for some in buying their dream homes, as they will have to save longer to make the down payment.

But it will ensure that the Singapore dream of owning one's home does not turn into a sub-prime style nightmare for them and for the rest of us.

Source: Straits Times, 31 Aug 2009

Residents cheer barrier-free access at Khatib MRT station

ELDERLY residents at Nee Soon South are getting a leg-up with Khatib MRT station now fully equipped with barrier-free access facilities.

Work began in January this year on two new ramps, a covered shelter connecting the 20-year-old station to the nearest bus stop in Yishun Avenue 2, as well as an additional drop-off point.
The refurbishments cost $2 million.

Many of the estate's residents have to walk through Khatib station to get to the nearest overhead bridge or the pedestrian crossing.

For the estate's elderly folk, who make up more than half of the approximately 50,000 residents, climbing the stairs to get to the station was no mean feat.

One resident, Madam Wong Lay See, cheered when the station was outfitted with ramps. The 85-year-old walks through the station to get to the market every day.

Said her son, who is in his 50s and wanted to be known only as Mr Foo: 'We've been waiting for this. It makes a lot of difference for my mum because it's now more convenient and safe for her.'
The station, which has only one lift from the station floor to the train platform, was built in 1988. Before enhancements were made, there was only a ramp to the nearest taxi stand.

Madam Woon Eng Say said the new facilities would benefit not only the elderly, but also those with children. 'I found it a struggle to pull my nephew's stroller up the stairs on my own,' said the 49-year-old, who baby-sits her nephew.

Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC Lee Bee Wah told reporters yesterday that residents had asked for the facilities many times.

Already, more than half of the flats in the Nee Soon South division are outfitted with barrier-free access facilities.

Ms Lee, who is also adviser to Nee Soon South grassroots organisations, said the next step would be to explore the feasibility of having a lift installed at the overhead bridge spanning Yishun Avenue 2.

The additional features at the Khatib station are part of the Land Transport Authority's islandwide programme to make pedestrian walkways, access to MRT stations, taxi and bus shelters as well as public roads barrier-free.

The $60 million programme, which began in December 2006, is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

Currently, all MRT stations have at least one entrance fitted with a lift and a barrier-free route.

Source, Straits Times 31 Aug 2009

Bukit Panjang interchange may move near new MRT

BUKIT Panjang residents were given reason to hope yesterday that their existing bus interchange could be moved closer to an upcoming MRT station.

They were told that the authorities were considering the suggestion put up by three MPs, whose residents are affected by the planned siting of the Downtown Line MRT station expected to open in 2015.

They had pointed out that transfers would be inconvenient as the MRT station will be sited about 120m from the existing Bukit Panjang LRT and bus interchange.

The MPs' proposal would reduce the distance between the LRT and the MRT station to 70m, said Bukit Panjang MP Teo Ho Pin at a dialogue with residents in his ward.

Residents can cut through the bus interchange to get to either station, making it very convenient for them, he added.

Currently, the plot of land between the LRT station and the upcoming MRT station is empty.
Dr Teo as well as Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MPs Vivian Balakrishnan and Liang Eng Hwa have had two meetings with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to discuss the proposal.

Dr Balakrishnan is also the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports.

The issue was first raised last year and yesterday, Transport Minister Raymond Lim, who was holding a dialogue after his visit to the ward, assured residents that the matter was under consideration.

Said Mr Lim: 'We are working closely with the other agencies to see how best to integrate the three: the bus interchange, the LRT and the MRT.'

Previously, the LTA had explained that the MRT station could not be moved next to the LRT station owing to technical constraints.

The underground Downtown line is not able to swing sharply to meet the LRT station and return again to Woodlands Road in such a short distance.

Bukit Panjang residents like Ms Lim Ai Kheng, 43, are pleased that the authorities are looking into the suggestion.

'I really hope it can be achieved,' said the architectural assistant.

The Downtown Line station, with four exits, will also provide residents with a quick underground link to places like the Sri Murugan Hill Temple.

Devotees who worship at the temple, which is opposite the Bukit Panjang LRT station, will no longer need to take an overhead bridge to get to it.

They will be able reach the temple directly through an underpass from the MRT station.

Source, Straits Times, 31 Aug 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Purr-fect end to en bloc tale

Two years ago this month, Singapore was in the grip of en bloc fever. Condominiums were being sold for redevelopment faster than you could say Strata Titles Board.

The frenzy resulted in a flood of dispossessed tenants having to search for somewhere new to live. The mass move still has ripples today. In my own small world, it set the cat among the pigeons, literally. This is the tale of my tabby cat, Poppet.

Our family had been renting the same condo unit for eight years when suddenly our landlady phoned to say that the condo apartment that she herself had been renting - a nicer, bigger place close to town - had gone en bloc. She had tried to find somewhere comparable to live, but buildings all around her were also undergoing collective sales, and at those that hadn't, the rents had gone through the roof.

As a result, she was going to have to move to our small unit and make do there. She did not want to come, and we did not want to go. But move we all had to.

Luckily, I managed to find somewhere to live within the same condo, but on the other side of a steep hill.

I worried how our nervous cats, Charli and Poppet, would cope with the move.

The pair were trouble at the best of times. We had selected Poppet from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) as a companion for Charli, who, alas, detested her at first sight, and their relationship was one of benign mutual loathing.

At the new apartment, Charli ambled in and made herself at home. But pesky Poppet escaped as soon as she found an open door. Two days later, she turned up at our old place. She had crossed two internal roads, evaded numerous dogs and climbed down scores of steps to get there. I bundled her up and brought her back.

This to-ing and fro-ing went on over several weeks. I tried locking Poppet in our place, but she yowled non-stop for days until I either had to let her out, or go mad. Once out, she was off, drawn by some homing instinct back to her familiar territory. A distinct look of triumph glinted in Charli's green eyes whenever Poppet made a dash for it.

At the old place, another problem emerged. Our former landlady complained that Poppet was a nuisance, often caterwauling incessantly to be let inside. Once she weakened and let Poppet in, only to have kitty bite her hand when she fed her fancy tuna. The bite required tetanus injections, and many apologies from me.

I made the sad decision to take Poppet back to the SPCA. Several times I went over with a cat carrier, and cunning Poppet hid from sight. Then, one day, I got her. But as I turned to cart her away, the landlady's maid rushed out and begged me to let the cat stay. Imelda had taken a liking to Poppet, and said she would persuade our former landlady to get used to her. This was as long as I paid for the cat food and kitty litter.

So for two years, I took food or money over once a week. Poppet adored Imelda, who renamed her Princess. The fortunate feline enjoyed being pampered and fussed over. Sometimes I glimpsed her fluffy, well-fed form sprawling on a Persian rug. I once called to her, and the ungrateful creature lifted her head, glanced at me blankly, and turned away.

But then came new housing anxiety. Singapore's property market suddenly took off. Someone made a nice offer to buy our former home, and our former landlady sold up, and moved overseas with Imelda. The old place has been empty for a month now, and I have tried to rehouse Poppet with us.

But still, she kept returning to the empty home. For a while, the cunning critter ensconced herself within a large prickly bush nearby, which kept her safe from stray cats there. I went back once a week to feed her. One day, a security guard came upon a huge python devouring one of the strays - he photographed the cat's furry remains with his camera phone - and I knew I had to find Poppet a safe home with someone who loved her - yowls, Princess airs and all.

I placed advertisements around the estate, and last week I carried Poppet to her new owner, a Singaporean who has renamed her Karunaa, the Buddhist word for compassion. I certainly hope Poppet/Princess/Karunaa enjoys some Zen moments after all this.

The writer is a copy editor with the Life! section of The Straits Times. She is a New Zealander who has lived here for 16 years.

Source: Sunday Times, 30 Aug 2009

Sub-sales triple in second quarter

Mass-market and mid-tier projects are hot, but it is taking longer to sell investment properties

The upbeat sentiment in the new private home market has lured out the sellers in the sub-sale market.

Sub-sales - the sale of uncompleted homes by their buyers - of non-landed private properties tripled to 1,200 units in the second quarter, according to a DTZ quarterly report.

This time, though, it is mainly the mass-market and mid-tier projects that are popular sub-sales. In 2007, it was the higher-end projects that found favour with buyers.

Also, the sellers are taking longer to sell their investment properties.

The DTZ study found that a few mass-market projects made their way to the Top 10 list of projects with the most sub-sales. These included Casa Merah, located near the Tanah Merah MRT Station, The Centris in Jurong West and The Quartz in Compassvale.

For instance, there were 54 sub-sales in Casa Merah in the second quarter, and the median sub-sale price rose from $658 psf in the first quarter to $734 psf in July and August.

The most popular sub-sale project in the second quarter was Rivergate, located at Robertson Quay.

The median price of its sub-sale units rose from $1,200 psf to $1,400 psf, and 105 of its 545 units changed hands in the second quarter alone. Prices have since risen further - deals done in July and August ranged from $1,400 to $1,880 psf, according to caveats lodged.

Two perennial favourites are The Sail @ Marina Bay and Icon, prime projects in the central locations of Marina Bay and Tanjong Pagar respectively.

Despite being launched between 2003 and 2005, they still remain popular in the sub-sale market. Their median prices rose 27 per cent and 17 per cent respectively from the last quarter.
Sub-sale buyers tend to be true investors, said HSR Property Group executive director Eric Cheng.

Upgraders, he said, prefer not to buy sub-sales as they do not wish to pay a premium. Those who do, however, find mass- to mid-tier market projects more affordable.

Analysts say that the higher number of sub-sales could be due to the many units that were completed this year.

Ms Chua Chor Hoon, DTZ's head of South-east Asia research, says there is normally a high level of sub-sales for a project when it is nearing, or just after, completion.

'In 2006, 6,250 units were completed. This year, 11,367 units are expected to be completed,' she said.

Mr Cheng pointed out that projects sell out very quickly in today's market, and some buyers who missed out on the chance of buying a unit do not mind paying a small premium to get a unit if the price is not too far away from the launch price.

These buyers often have compelling reasons, said Mr Cheng. They might have family living nearby, or even on the same unit level.

Despite the higher number of sub-sales now, the number of properties bought and sold within a short span of time is not as high as during 1996 or 2007, said Ms Chua.

'The number and percentage of units bought and sold within a six-month period in the first half of the year is a lot less than those in 2007 and 1996,' she said.

Citing data from Realis, she said 88 units were 'flipped' in the first half of this year, compared to 517 in 1996 and 835 in 2007.

Flipping occurs when someone buys a property and resells it quickly for a profit.

'Buyers now tend not to buy another unit so quickly because they often have a choice of other surrounding units that are being sold as well,' said Mr Cheng.

'There are a lot of short-term investors who would like to resell for a profit, but might not be able to because they ask for too much. There are also a lot of launches coming up.

'Market fundamentals are not that strong even though market sentiment is, and we might see a pull-back effect,' he said.

Source: Sunday Times, 30 Aug 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Older properties find buyers at auction

As prices of new homes rise, investors are turning to auctions and the resale market

INVESTORS who are put off by the exuberant prices of late for newer properties are turning to auctions to pick up older properties that have not quite appreciated in the same way.

Two apartments at Four Seasons Park near Orchard Road and an apartment at The Waterside in Tanjong Rhu have changed hands at auctions this week.

Colliers International sold the pair of neighbouring three-bedroom apartments at Four Seasons Park, on the fifth floor of the development’s Autumn block, for more than $2,100 per square foot each.

The apartments, each of 2,260 square feet, were put up for sale by a mortgagee bank on vacant possession basis. Unit #05-01 was sold for $4.8 million or $2,124 psf, while the next door #05-02 fetched $4.84 million ($2,142 psf).

The two units were bought separately by Singaporeans.

BT understands that the same mortgagor had owned the two properties. According to caveat records, the units were purchased at $3.25 million each, one in August 2001 and the other in January 2002.

In June this year, a 3,821 sq ft unit on the 20th level of Four Seasons Park changed hands at $2,146 psf. In April, a 19th floor unit sold for $1,637 psf.

Jones Lang LaSalle at its auction yesterday sold a 14th floor unit at The Waterside condo in Tanjong Rhu for $2.55 million or $1,190 psf. It was also a mortgagee sale.

At another auction this week, conducted by DTZ, a three-bedroom apartment on the 22nd floor of Spottiswoode Park was sold for $630,000 or $496 psf. The development is on a site with a remaining lease of 66 years.

‘Buyers are turning to the resale market, whether through private treaty or auction, to pick up properties that are more than 10 years old as their prices have not escalated as much as prices for newer properties,’ says Knight Frank executive director and auctioneer Mary Sai.

Landed homes have also been in good demand at recent auctions. A strata bungalow, 261 Northshore, in Ponggol Seventeenth Avenue sold for $1.87 million at Knight Frank’s auction on Aug 20. The freehold property’s built-up area is about 5,500-5,600 sq ft. The property was sold by its owner, who is also in the midst of negotiating the sale of the next door bungalow at 263 Northshore after it was withdrawn at the same auction.

Colliers deputy managing director and auctioneer Grace Ng said: ‘The frustration being faced by those shopping for landed homes is that when they make an offer, sellers often increase their asking prices, which thus becomes a moving target. In contrast, at an auction, once the seller’s target price has been reached, there is certainty the property will be sold to the highest bidder.’

At its auction on Wednesday this week, Colliers sold a freehold semi-detached house at 102 Sunbird Circle, off Upper Changi Road, in District 16 for $1.98 million or $565 psf based on the land area of 3,506 sq ft. The two-storey house has five bedrooms.

At its auction yesterday, JLL sold a third level shop at Sim Lim Square for $2.95 million or $4,282 psf. The 689 sq ft shop (comprising two units – front and back) is near a lift. Sim Lim Square has about 73 years remaining lease.

Also transacted at the same auction were 16 and 18 Tanjong Pagar Road, at $2.48 million. The ground floors of the two-storey conservation shophouses are currently leased to a pub/karaoke lounge while offices occupy the upper level.

The shophouses, which have a single title, have a land area of 1,976 sq ft and have about 90 years remaining lease.

Source: Business Times, 29 Aug 2009

Not remorseful? Prosecution seeks stiffer sentence

It appeals against $1,200 fine for vandalism after Laguna man’s alleged remarks to reporters

THE former management committee chairman of Laguna Park has already been fined $1,200 for committing mischief – vandalising his neighbours’ padlocks.

But prosecution lawyers have pounced on comments he allegedly made to reporters – that he was not remorseful – to push for a stiffer sentence for him.

Yesterday, two reporters were put on the stand so they could tell the court what Mr Lee Kok Leong, 62, said to them.

The general manager of a logistics firm had pleaded guilty to two counts of mischief and was fined in April. He could have been fined up to $10,000 and sentenced to a year in jail on each charge.

He committed the acts of vandalism in August last year amid a row among Laguna Park residents over whether the condo should be sold en bloc.

A closed-circuit television camera caught him in the act.

Mr Lee’s lawyer Ramesh Tiwary had told the court that his client was remorseful, and District Judge Soh Tze Bian decided that the fine was appropriate.

With the prosecution’s appeal against the sentence, and because it was to present new evidence, the High Court sent the case back to the lower court to hear the new witnesses – the reporters, who have filed affidavits.

Yesterday, Ms Rachel Chan of mypaper testified that immediately after the April hearing, Mr Lee told her the sentence was reasonable but added: ‘Fine, fine, lor. After all, I can afford to pay.’

The reporter said Mr Lee smiled and added: ‘One night, I spend $4,000 on karaoke. What is $1,200?’ She said Mr Lee told her he was not remorseful. Asked why, he said it could be due to his depression.

Questioned by Mr Tiwary, Ms Chan conceded that her report, headlined ‘I am not remorseful, said Laguna man’, did not include Mr Lee’s remarks that the fine was reasonable.

However, she disagreed that Mr Lee had told her only that he intended to plead guilty and nothing else. ‘I stand by my evidence,’ she said.

Ms Kimberly Spykerman of The Straits Times, who took the stand next, testified that Mr Lee had made similar comments to her. In answer to the prosecutor’s question about whether she had an axe to grind with his client, she replied that she bore no grudges against him, and had met him only when she was assigned to cover his hearing in April.

The hearing continues next Friday.

The general manager of a logistics firm had pleaded guilty to two counts of mischief and was fined in April. He could have been fined up to $10,000 and sentenced to a year in jail on each charge.

Source: Straits Times, 29 Aug 2009

Why 1996 was used as a reference point

I REFER to Wednesday’s letter, ‘Affordability of homes: Let’s do the comparisons right’. When it comes to the appropriate base year of comparison, there is always room for debate. Using 1996 as a reference point is in response to a question of whether the current property rally represents a bubble. Looking at affordability during the bubble years would help to answer this question, and it is in this context that the comparison should be viewed.There are also various definitions of income. The measure referenced in the original article (’Homes more affordable as incomes rise’, Aug 22) was based on average annual wage, computed from the average monthly earnings of individuals compiled by the Department of Statistics.

This is based on earnings of Central Provident Fund contributors obtained from the CPF Board administrative records, and includes all remuneration received before deductions of employee’s CPF contributions and personal income tax. This measure of income differs from median household incomes which, apart fromgrowth in individual wages, is also affected by the number of working members per household.Using this measure, average wage growth had outpaced growth in average condominium prices in nine of the past 11 years. The average condo price, as a multiple of annual wage, was close to the 10-year average which excludes the bubble peaks) as of June. This simple measure of affordability does not take into account current low interest rates, or the probability that the average condo buyer is likely to have a higher-than-average income – both of which would have increased affordability.

Our studies also showed that households have seen a significant increase in their financial assets since the start of the decade, which would have also improved overall affordability from a stock (as opposed to just a flow) perspective. Comments in the original article should not be misconstrued as implying that prices can continue rising indefinitely.

Indeed, as indicated, there is uncertainty about whether current demand will be sufficiently sustained to absorb the considerable pipeline of new supply in the coming years, especially if interest rates rise, or when prices rise to the point where they become substantially less affordable.

Kit Wei Zheng

Source: Straits Times, 29 Aug 2009

Iskandar: Upcoming projects

MOST of these projects are located within Nusajaya township which is close to the Second Link near Tuas.

EduCity: The Newcastle University medical school campus will open in 2011, with an investment of RM100 million (S$41 million). Construction has started.

Talks are also on with a British engineering school, an Australian hospitality institute, a Dutch maritime school and a Singapore institution to open campuses.

Legoland: The theme park is being built within a development called Medini and is expected to be ready by 2012. Earthworks start at the end of this year. It is an 80:20 joint venture between Malaysia and the UK-based Merlin Entertainments.

Surrounding Legoland will be one million sq ft of retail outlets, two hotels and offices.

The rest of Medini will be built in stages. Plans are for 180 million sqft in built-up space, 20 per cent of which is targeted for completion by 2015. The 30:70 joint venture is between Malaysia and its Middle Eastern partners.

Kota Iskandar: The Johor state government’s administrative centre comprises an imposing set of buildings. The state legislative assembly, offices of the menteri besar and state secretary, and three blocks of state offices are already occupied by 2,200 staff members. A state mosque and federal government offices will open by 2012.

Puteri Harbour: The public marina is open and yachts have already berthed there. A private marina will be ready by the end of the year. It boasts an Australian-designed clubhouse.

Another Malaysian company, UM Land, is in talks to build on a waterfront site by 2012.

Residential developments: The upscale East Ledang houses and Nusa Idaman medium-cost housing.

Its developer, UEM Land, says 67 per cent of the houses in East Ledang and 9 per cent of Nusa Idaman have been sold to foreigners. Around half of the foreign buyers are Singaporeans.

Horizon Hills golf course and residences: About 60 per cent of Horizon Hills golf resort’s residences have been sold to foreigners, of whom 40 per cent to 60 per cent are Singaporeans. The golf course, which opened a year ago, is popular with Singaporeans. It has a clubhouse designed by a Brazilian architect.

Columbia Asia hospital: An 80-bed facility slated to open in the first quarter of next year. Columbia Asia, an international health-care provider, bought the land for RM4.8 million. It is building and will operate the hospital.

Southern Industrial and Logistics Cluster: A ‘clean’ industrial zone. Investors from Singapore include Jurong Hi-Tech Industries, Yongnam Engineering, SLS Holdings and Stinis Singapore.

Other upcoming projects

~ Rejuvenation of Johor Baru: The government plans to refurbish the old shophouses and historic neighbourhoods.
~ Acerinox steel mill: RM5 billion investment, a joint venture between Spain and Japan.
~ Runway extension of Senai airport and new Aeromall: Both projects are under construction.
~ Asian Petroleum Hub: Investment of RM1.4 billion, to be ready in 2011. Earthworks have started.

Source: Straits Times, 29 Aug 2009

Iskandar: S’pore investors tread cautiously

Mr Harun Johari, the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) chief executive, was fresh from meeting yet another Singapore delegation when he sat down for an interview.

Scores of Singaporean groups from the business sector or government have visited the special economic zone of Iskandar Malaysia in south Johor since it was launched in November 2006.

But while interest is keen, investment commitments have not poured in. The only significant investments from Singapore, so far, are in manufacturing, he said.

Mr Harun said there has been RM5.93 billion (S$2.43 billion) worth of investments from Singapore in manufacturing in Iskandar from 2000 to May this year.

There had been no major Singapore investments in new growth areas like the services sector, creative industries and tourism.

‘But talks are going on,’ he told The Straits Times. ‘It will have to involve both governments, and what we hear is positive.’

There are hopes that a Singapore education institution will sign on to open a full-fledged establishment in Iskandar.

Madam Arlida Ariff, chief executive of Iskandar Investment Berhad, said the Singapore institution was in talks to buy land in Nusajaya, west of Johor Baru.

‘We hope we can conclude it by the end of the year,’ she said, but declined to name the institution.

Interest from Singapore is important for the success of Iskandar, which hopes to create a new economy by leveraging on proximity to the island.

Malaysia hopes to attract foreign investment that spills over from Singapore by offering lower costs and more space, along with a high standard of living and service.

Iskandar covers 2,217 sq km in southern Johor, about three times the size of Singapore. The economic zone, which offers special incentives, includes established areas like Johor Baru and existing ports, as well as new sites like the Nusajaya township which is a short distance from the Second Link.

‘We have to be seen as working in concert with Singapore, and Singapore can resolve a lot of its issues by working with Johor South,’ Madam Arlida said.

But Singaporeans are treading cautiously.

Madam Arlida, Mr Harun and Mr Zulkifli Tahmali, strategic marketing director of UEM Land which is the master developer of Nusajaya, agree that security is their top concern.

Johor Baru city nearby has one of the highest crime rates in Malaysia, and stories about Singaporeans getting robbed or mugged make officials wince. These incidents do not happen often, but some of the more violent ones have given southern Johor a poor image.

IRDA is not sweeping the crime rate under the carpet. On its website, it has a link that says ‘Crime Statistics for Iskandar Malaysia’, which shows the crime data, including violent and property crimes.

But the wait-and-see approach is also a result of the perception that the project has slowed to a crawl because of the global economic crisis.

‘People do keep asking us, is it really going on? We bring them to the sites to show them,’ said Mr Harun.

Right now, the most impressive zone is the Nusajaya area. Previously plantation land, it is being turned into a modern township designed on a massive scale and with modern architecture.

It is still hot and dusty as the buildings are scattered and surrounded by construction sites. Kota Iskandar, the new Johor state administrative centre, was the first to partly open in April. It was built to awe as the state assembly and offices are on a massive scale surrounding a huge courtyard.

The government has engaged foreign architects to build the Puteri Harbour yacht marina nearby, and the Horizon Hills golf club a short drive away. Both are elegant modern structures.

‘The population of Nusajaya is now 75,000,’ said Mr Zulkifli.

Iskandar’s supporters expect Nusajaya to come alive by 2012 when the first of the major facilities, such as the Legoland theme park, open.

The government hopes that these projects will act as a catalyst that will pay off in the future.

Source: Straits Times, 29 Aug 2009

En bloc sales: Help minority objectors keep their homes

I COMMEND Ms Jeannette Chong Aruldoss on her letter on Tuesday, “Questions on collective sale laws”.

Like her, I too, have reservations about the Ministry of Law’s letter, “Rights of all owners adequately protected” (Aug 21).

I live in an HUDC unit that was involved in a collective deal. The agreement was endorsed by 80 per cent of the owners. I was among the remaining 20 per cent who did not sign the agreement because my family and I like our home.

When I bought my apartment some years ago, I thought this would be my home for life. There were no collective sale laws then.

Now, we have such laws in the Land Titles (Strata) Act, which gives the 80 per cent majority owners the legal right to force me to sell my home, which I have no intention of doing.

How is my right as a minority owner “adequately protected”? I do not feel protected by the Government. And I certainly do not feel protected by the majority owners or the developer buyer. No one looks after my interest except myself. That is the reality.

The collective sale laws were drafted in favour of the majority owners. So long as they have the numbers and follow the sale procedure and regulations properly, it is a done deal.

A minority owner who objects does so at his own risk, with the prospect of crippling legal fees if his objection is unsuccessful (not to mention the emotional stress).

The laws focus only on the “procedural” aspects of the sale.

In my opinion, they do not adequately address the various forms of abuse that occur in each collective sale, such as harassment of the minority owners, especially the elderly and less literate people, to obtain the 80 per cent signatures.

The laws do not adequately address the communal problems each time a community goes through a collective sale.

It is sad to see once peaceful communities torn apart by the “en bloc” storm. Neighbours become enemies, all because of money.

The laws do not address the “en bloc raiders” problem, where speculators buy into a potential collective sale estate, sit in sale committees and stir up a collective sale frenzy so that they can maximise their investments. These profiteers have no regard for the community.

It is time the lawmakers addressed the “softer” side of the laws. I am referring to “evicting” owners from their own homes. It is time to review such laws and introduce a more human touch.
Tan Sin Liang

Source: Straits Times, 29 Aug 2009

Property 101: prices can go down

Judging from the brisk sales at launches, it appears many Singaporeans have jumped on the runaway property bandwagon.

But before you get caught up in the sales pitches and showroom euphoria of property agents cheering as each unit is sold, industry players warn that you should step back, take a breath and think twice.

This, they say applies to both HDB upgraders as well as those looking for a second property to spruce up their financial portfolio. Here are a few pointers that ought to be at the back of your mind.

1. Do your sums

It may sound obvious but it is often forgotten. Consider upgrading only if there have been significant changes in your credit profile, say, a pay rise and if your appreciating assets are holding up, said PropNex chief Mohamed Ismail.

If you’re upgrading from HDB, think about your net proceeds and what you can put into a new property to reduce your loan. Work out how much you need to pay each month. Be prudent and do not over-leverage. Consider the repayment period. Banks typically limit loan repayments to about 40 per cent of your gross monthly income.

Make sure you factor in other debts, expenses and what you need to save.

“Buy a property that will not overstretch your finances while maintaining a lifestyle of your desire,” Mr Ismail said.

Choose your home loan carefully. Interest absorption schemes may seem attractive but you may typically end up paying 2-3 per cent more for the entire property.

If you plan to rent out the property, your monthly rental should ideally cover your mortgage instalments.

2. Location, location, location

As an owner-occupier, you should think about transport options. If you’re an average HDB dweller, you would do well to choose a property near an MRT station, said Mr Chris Koh, director at Dennis Wee Group.

If you’re looking for capital gains or renting out the property, proximity to a MRT station is even more important as tenants (the foreign ones in particular) are looking for convenient public transport options to take them round the island.

Also check out which direction the unit is facing and the project’s surroundings.

3. Maintenance and other BILLS

Consider how much you will need to furnish or renovate the new apartment, advised Dennis Wee Group’s Mr Koh. Also factor in maintenance charges each month – how much more you will be paying for service and conservancy, parking and other charges.

4. Plan your interim options

Your HDB property may fetch a tidy sum now, but what about in two years when your private property obtains its Temporary Occupation Permit. Unless you intend to keep your HDB flat for rental, you should consider whether you to sell now or later.

If you choose to sell now, you need to think about where you will live in the meantime and the costs you will incur.

5. Be mentally prepared

Be aware that property prices fluctuate and prices may not return to the level at which you bought the property.

“If you can sleep through that, have really no regrets, you like the property and lifestyle, then well and good,” said Ngee Ann Polytechnic real estate lecturer, Nicholas Mak. “But don’t put everything into a private property thinking that prices will only go in one direction – up.”

Source: Today, 29 Aug 2009

Spike in property values driven by 'feeling of wealth'

I REFER to Mr Ng Kok Lim's letter last Wednesday, 'Affordability of homes: Let's do the comparisons right'.

Jones Lang LaSalle's Affordability Index is a comparison of how properties are relatively affordable for a typical resident at a point in time given the prevailing interest rate, property prices and other macro market conditions.

The index compares the condition today with that of a base year and is not a measurement or statement on the ability of an individual to purchase.

The index shows that affordability of residential property in 2008/2009 has improved relative to conditions in 2006/7, given the lower interest rate and home prices.

'GDP per capita' or 'wealth creation' was mentioned in the discussion only to illustrate the 'feeling of wealth' in the economy that has helped lift buyers' sentiments, contributing to the recent surge in buying volume. However, this indicator is not a parameter in the Jones Lang LaSalle Affordability Index.

Our view is that the recent spike in property values have been driven by the 'feeling of wealth', latent demand and lower costs of financing.

This spike, if not accompanied by an equivalent growth in the economy and income, could lead to asset inflation in the longer term.

Chua Yang Liang (Dr)
Head of Research and Consultancy, Singapore
Head of Research, South-east Asia
Jones Lang LaSalle

Source: Straits Times, 29 Aug 2009

Demand up as international school opens

Flood of inquiries despite $20k fees at Stamford American International

SINGAPORE'S newest international school was officially opened yesterday, and already, demand for places is heating up despite fees that run to $20,000 a year.

The Stamford American International School (SAIS) started classes two weeks ago on its temporary campus in Lorong Chuan - beside the Australian International School Singapore (AISS) - with an enrolment of about 90 students.

By year's end, it will take in another 90 students.

The school is operated by Cognita - an international education group that runs about 50 schools worldwide, including the AISS.

The group's chief executive officer for Asia, Mr Brian Rogove, said yesterday that interest in the school has been high.

The number of inquiries on places has grown from about 20 a week at the beginning of the year to about 75 a week now.

He expects demand to remain strong, as many of the inquiries are from parents looking to relocate to Singapore soon.

In fact, he said, about half of the students currently enrolled come from families who moved here this year.

'We see this as a sign that the economy is growing and more families will be moving here in future,' he added.

SAIS expects to have 2,500 students by 2016, four years after its permanent campus in Upper Serangoon opens.

The school's temporary Lorong Chuan premises can accommodate only 600 students.

SAIS takes in children between the ages of two and 18, and offers the International Baccalaureate and American Advanced Placement Diploma programmes.

The demand for places at SAIS is mirrored at other international schools here.

For example, AISS - which currently has an enrolment of 2,258 - has over 100 children on its waiting list for next year.

Over at United World College of South East Asia (UWC), the waiting list is in the thousands, said the school's director of communications, Ms Joy L. Stevenson.

The strong demand for places has dispelled earlier fears that the global recession would affect enrolment.

Earlier this year - as Singapore and the rest of the world were caught in the throes of the recession - insiders predicted that the rush for international school places would slow to a trickle, as companies cut jobs, forcing many expatriates to leave town and take their families with them.

But such fears proved unfounded.

In fact, UWC's Ms Stevenson said that, if anything, waiting lists have grown longer. The reason, she said, is that 'more expatriate families are staying on beyond their one- or two-year contracts, and are making Singapore their permanent homes'.

SAIS' Mr Rogove agreed.

He said at the school's opening ceremony yesterday: 'According to an internal survey, we estimated that about 2,000 expatriate students would leave Singapore this year.

'But to our surprise, this has not been the case. Not only are families staying on, but we are also seeing new families who just moved to Singapore this year applying for places in the school.'

He added: 'I think this is due to the resilience of Singapore's economy and also because of confidence in the quality of education in schools here.'

The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore said a survey it conducted showed that this year, there will be more people moving here than moving out.

Although they can apply to place their children in mainstream schools here, many expatriate parents prefer international schools.

When interviewed, expats said that while they plan to stay in Singapore for the long term, they want their children in international schools so that they can maintain links to their home countries.

One such parent is Mrs Laura Byers Day, a Canadian who has lived with her family here for 11 years. She has three children enrolled in SAIS.

Said the 40-year-old housewife: 'We don't plan to leave any time soon. Singapore is a great place to live in, it's safe and the education is good.

'But, at the same time, since we are so far away from home, we want our children to be educated in a system which we are familiar with.

'And if they choose to go back, they will be able to fit in better.'


'According to an internal survey, we estimated that about 2,000 expatriate students would leave Singapore this year. But to our surprise, this has not been the case. Not only are families staying on, but we are also seeing new families who just moved to Singapore this year applying for places in the school.
Mr Brian Rogove, Cognita's chief executive officer for Asia

Source: Straits Times, 29 Aug 2009

Home buyers ignore ghost month

Toa Payoh condo draws keen interest; developer releases extra units

WHAT ghost month?

The traditional lull in home-buying activity during the Hungry Ghost month has been swept aside amid the current property market frenzy.

Buyers were out in force yesterday at the preview of Trevista, a new 590-unit condominium in Toa Payoh, a traditional heartland area.

A queue had formed at least 20 minutes before the showflat doors opened at 2pm. By 5pm, all 210 units released for sale had been snapped up by buyers.

Developer NTUC Choice Homes had said it would release just those units for sale this weekend at an average price of $898 per sq ft (psf). However, the response was so strong that it released another 190 units at higher prices just after 8pm, said a spokesman. She could not say how much higher the prices were.

Of the 210 units, the two-bedders averaged $830,000 while the three- and four-bedroom units averaged $1.065 million and $1.43 million respectively under the normal payment scheme.

Owner-occupiers were eyeing the bigger units while investors were mostly keen on the small units.

The 99-year leasehold Trevista, within walking distance of both Braddell and Toa Payoh MRT stations, has 44 one-bedroom units, from 463 sq ft to 721 sq ft. Other units are 861 sq ft to 2,002 sq ft.

Teacher Jean Tan, 29, a potential investor, was keen to get a studio apartment as a 'first property investment' for herself and her husband.

One buyer, who asked to be known only as Mr Goh, 44, bought a high-floor three-bedder priced at $1.05 million or $949 psf. He had recently sold another condo unit 'too low', and is buying the Trevista unit to recoup this loss, he said.

'It's close to the city, and near Oleandar Towers where I presently live. I'm treating it as an investment, possibly for my kids to live in when they grow up,' said Mr Goh, who is self-employed.

Another keen buyer, Mr James Tan, 55, who lives in Palm Grove in Hougang, wants to live there. 'It's a convenient location with good schools nearby for my daughter to attend in the future,' he said.

The market was expecting big crowds at Trevista as it is the first condo to be launched in the mature Toa Payoh estate since 1996. ERA and CBRE are marketing agents.

There was talk that plenty of blank cheques were collected prior to the preview. Some agents expect a sell-out.

Yesterday, the queue continued even after the doors were opened, as the number of visitors inside the showflat was controlled to avoid overcrowding.

It appears that the Hungry Ghost month from Aug 20 to Sept 18 is not an issue for these buyers even though many Taoist households in Toa Payoh burn incense during the month in the belief that this will appease the spirits. Many buyers would have been from the local area.

The property market traditionally goes into a lull during this period as some Chinese consider it inauspicious to buy a house at this time.

But in recent years, practicality has often overridden superstition, agents say.

'Some developers may want to wait until the end of the ghost month to launch but those with launch-ready projects will want to capitalise on the buying momentum,' said Savills Residential director Phylicia Ang.

'There are a lot of young buyers who are not very superstitious.'

Also, when the market is slow, buyers may stick to their superstitious beliefs but when the market is hot and a good investment opportunity presents itself, they will not hesitate to jump in, lest they miss the boat, explained Ms Ang.

Another project that previewed yesterday also saw fairly strong demand. The Lenox, a freehold five-storey project along Changi Road, sold 52 units.

It has 76 units - the studio units are just 334 sq ft in size while the three bedders go up to 872 sq ft, and three shops.

Sources said it was priced around $1,000 to $1,100 psf, but the total quantum is low as the units are small.

Another freehold project, Trizon @ Mount Sinai by Singapore Land, will start its public preview today at $1,300 psf to $1,500 psf.

Some units have been sold as a staff preview and a sale exhibition in Jakarta was held recently, sources said.

Source: Straits Times, 29 Aug 2009

A first in Toa Payoh

While last weekend might have seen a dearth of property launches as Singapore ushered in the seventh lunar month, the fast-moving property market has started to pick up pace again this weekend, hungry ghost month or not.

1 Trevista at Toa Payoh Lorong 3

NTUC Choice Homes will open up the doors of its Trevista showflat to the public this weekend. A three-minute walk from Braddell MRT, the 590-unit, 99-year leasehold development is the first private residential project in Toa Payoh since 1996. About 210 apartments are being released, comprising mostly 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom units, with prices of about $900 psf. Temporary Occupation Permit is expected in 2012.

2 The Lenox at 396/398 Changi Road

Five minutes on foot from Kembangan MRT, The Lenox by Bravo Building Construction consists of 76 residential and three commercial units in two blocks. A freehold development, apartments range from one-bedroom to three-bedroom units, starting from $1,150-$1,250 psf. Temporary Occupation Permit is expected in 2013.

3 Pavilion Residences in Kuala Lumpur

DTZ is marketing Pavilion Residences Tower 1 located in the heart of Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. Up for sale are two to four bedroom units (1,234-4,227 sq ft) and duplexes (more than 7,000 sq ft). Prices for the units start from RM1,100 psf ($448). The development is made up of two towers of 50 and 43 stories that sit atop the seven-storey Pavilion Kuala Lumpur shopping mall. The 50-storey Tower 2 has already been sold out. Preview of units this weekend will be from 10am-6pm, in the Sir Henry Keppel III room at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Source: Today, 29 Aug 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sentiment, not liquidity, driving asset prices: C Suisse

THE recent sharp rebound in asset prices in Asia is not due to loose monetary conditions or a deluge of foreign capital, a senior economist at Credit Suisse says in a report.

Rather, improving sentiment among investors is likely the main driving force behind the recent run-up in equity and property prices, according to Credit Suisse economist Cem Karacadag.

In a separate report, Citigroup’s Singapore equity strategist Chua Hak Bin says he now believes the Straits Times Index could reach 3,000 points by the end of March next year, buoyed by better economic data in the next few months.

‘This economic recovery will continue to look V-shaped in coming months, as third-quarter gross domestic product and job growth continue to show a definite improvement,’ he says.

In his report, Credit Suisse’s Mr Karacadag refutes the ‘prevailing wisdom’ that the recent rally in equity and property prices is due to too much liquidity caused by central banks trying to keep interest rates low and local currencies cheap to support economic growth.

‘It has become fashionable to argue that Asia’s monetary conditions are too loose and that too much domestic liquidity is creating asset price bubbles,’ he says.

In fact, the monetary policy of central banks throughout Asia is accommodative ‘for good reason – domestic and external demand is still fragile and money and credit growth are still sluggish, with the notable exception of China’.

Also, ‘if central banks were printing money and increasing domestic liquidity, we would see it in reserve money, the part of money supply that central banks directly control’. Instead, reserve money balances in Asia have been stable or slowing in recent months, Mr Karacadag says.

Liquidity – which he defines as the amount of funds available for lending by domestic banks – has been abundant across the region for years, so it is unlikely to be behind the recent surge in asset prices, he says.

Low credit demand and growth may explain the build-up of liquidity in the banking systems of many Asian countries in recent years, Mr Karacadag says. ‘In effect, domestic liquidity was there for the taking, but it was not wanted.’

Sentiment probably had a lot more to do with lifting property prices so quickly in Hong Kong and Singapore than liquidity. ‘Credit – which has been cheap for a while – was a necessary condition, but it wasn’t until sentiment recovered that things moved.’

Source: Business Times, 28 Aug 2009

Initial phase of Trevista condo going at $898 psf on average

NTUC Choice Homes Co-operative is pricing the initial phase of its Trevista condo at Toa Payoh, which previews today, at an average price of $898 per square foot. This is about 20 per cent lower than Far East Organization’s Centro Residences next to Ang Mo Kio Hub, priced at $1,150 psf on average and released last month.

However, as Trevista’s units are generally larger than Centro’s, the price differential in absolute terms may be less.

Far East has sold only about 100 units – an outcome some market watchers see as due to price resistance.

Both projects are on 99-year leasehold.

Trevista is near Braddell MRT Station and within walking distance of shopping and other amenities at HDB Hub and Toa Payoh Central. Centro, a 34-storey project with 329 units, is right next to Ang Mo Kio Hub and opposite Ang Mo Kio MRT Station.

The $898 psf and $1,150 psf average prices for the two projects are for normal progress payment schemes. Buyers who opt for the interest absorption scheme will pay 2 per cent more at Trevista and 4 per cent more at Centro. So far, none of Centro’s buyers has opted for interest absorption.

NTUC Choice Homes said yesterday that the absolute price quantums at Trevista on average are about $830,000 for a two-bedroom unit, $1.065 million for a three-bedder, and $1.43 million for a four-bedroom apartment, on a normal progress payment scheme.

The developer is releasing 210 units this weekend, comprising mostly two, three and four-bedroom apartments. The project has a total of 590 units in three 39-storey towers.

Choice Homes has invited business associates, NTUC union members and members of the public who have registered interest in the project for today’s preview. The co-op is extending special benefits to union members for a ‘limited period during the preview’.

Each member who buys a Trevista unit will be given 55,000 LinkPoints as well as one of three other benefits, each worth up to $6,000 – a free NTUC Income Mortgage Protection Plan; an integrated fridge; or a family cash rebate for union members living near their parents or children residing in Toa Payoh or for multiple family-purchases of units.

Trevista is being marketed by CB Richard Ellis and ERA.

Over in the Mount Sinai area, Singapore Land is previewing its freehold Trizon condo this weekend at between $1,300 and $1,500 psf. However, prices are likely to be lower for ground-floor units with private enclosed space.

SingLand is offering only a normal progress payment scheme. It is developing the 24-storey condo, which will have 289 units, on the former Himiko Court site that it bought in May 2007 for $336 million. This works out to $821 psf of potential gross floor area, including an estimated $1.07 million development charge.

Source: Business Times, 28 Aug 2009

New international school opens temporary campus at Lorong Chuan

Another international school has opened its doors in Singapore, hoping to fill an expected demand for foreign-style education system here and in the Asia Pacific.

According to Singapore-based education group Cognita, although earlier surveys had estimated the exodus of some 2,000 international students, improvements in Singapore’s economy have in fact led to an increase in expatriates moving into the country.

The company runs the new Stamford American International School, which opened its temporary campus at Lorong Chuan on Friday. It said some 32,000 students are studying in international schools here and the number is expected to double by 2014.

Kathleen Caoyonan, expatriate from Texas, USA, said: “With the younger kids, there are so few slots. I think people are starting to find a little bit more openings, but there is still a waiting list.”

Cognita has already committed S$250 million for the development of its new campus, which currently has over 80 students. The firm said demand is good, citing up to 70 enquiries on enrolment each week.

Brian Rogave, chief executive officer of Asia Cognita, said: “Every single enquiry we’ve had turned into enrolment. It’s a positive trend, we hope it continues.”

The current campus can take in up to 600 students. The permanent campus, to be located at Upper Serangoon, will offer some 2,500 places when it is ready by 2012.

Access to foreign schools is an important criterion for expatriates coming to work in Singapore, according to a study conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham).

The study also found that more than three-quarters of respondents preferred attending international schools with home-country curriculum.

In August last year, the Singapore government had, for the first time, listed public buildings and vacant plots to be made available for more foreign schools.

Initial plans were for up to four schools to be built, but this was later scaled down to just one due to the economic downturn.

Cognita runs 50 schools worldwide, including the Australian International School here which has reported a waiting list of 114 for next year’s enrolment.

Source: Channel News Asia, 28 Aug 2009

Receipts down 4.6% for services sector

Recovery comparatively subdued, but expected to rally as global economy improves

MANUFACTURING may be on the mend, but Singapore's key services sector still seems sluggish despite the recent stock market rally and property boom.

Business receipts for companies from the sector - which makes up two-thirds of the economy - declined 4.6 per cent in the second quarter this year over the same period last year.

The sobering figures are from the quarterly Business Receipts Index for Services Industries, released yesterday by the Department of Statistics.

Receipts also retreated 1.9 per cent relative to the first quarter of this year, though it was a smaller contraction than the 3.2 per cent seen in the first quarter over the fourth quarter of last year.

CIMB-GK economist Song Seng Wun said: 'It's reflective of the recessionary impact, with the effect of job losses kicking in.'

He added that the decline could be due to businesses charging less, and consumer behaviour being shaped by bargains, leading to smaller receipts. These receipts are the income from business operations, which include income from sales of goods, commission fees, services rendered, rental of premises, and machinery and equipment.

The index covers key components of the services sector but excludes wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants. Unlike the headline-grabbing gross domestic product (GDP) numbers, or overall economic output, the index is not adjusted for seasonal effects.

Yesterday's data showed almost all industries receiving lower receipts in the second quarter over the first.

Firms in the education sector saw the biggest slide, falling 12.2 per cent. Companies in transport and storage, information and communications, real estate, rental and leasing, financial and insurance, and other services also had declines.

Health and social work services posted a 2.1 per cent rise in receipts quarter-on-quarter, and a hefty 11.8 per cent jump year-on-year. This could be due to the H1N1 flu outbreak.

Economists said the slump in real estate receipts despite the property boom could be due to time lags, and lower rents being a drag in the second quarter.

The financial segment may have been swayed by the tighter credit conditions, despite the sharp stock market rally in the second quarter.

They added that the latest data is a grim reminder that the marked improvement in the overall GDP was largely driven by manufacturing and construction.

Data out earlier this month showed the Singapore economy surged 20.7 per cent between April and June compared to the first quarter, with the services sector growing 8.7 per cent quarter-on-quarter.

The recovery has been uneven thus far, but such phenomena are typical of the initial phase of an economic rally, said DBS Bank economist Irvin Seah.

He added: 'Recovery in the services sector has been comparatively subdued, except for financial services. A more solid and broad-based improvement will be evident when the global economic recovery gains more momentum.'

Economists say the services sector should see an improvement this quarter and could revert into positive year-on-year growth early next year.

OCBC Bank economist Selena Ling said: 'This turnaround may only materialise in early 2010, with the opening of the two integrated resorts, and when consumers grow more confident about the sustainable resumption of global growth, especially in the developed economies.'

Source: Straits Times, 28 Aug 2009

GDP dips by 1% - less than expected

Optimism grows with second quarter data; fewer workers are claiming jobless benefits

WASHINGTON: The United States economy shrank less than expected in the second quarter and fewer workers filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, supporting views the economy was starting to heal after a severe recession.

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell at a 1 per cent annual rate, according to a US Commerce Department report yesterday - unchanged from last month's estimate and better than market expectations for a 1.5 per cent contraction.

Many analysts believe the economy is growing in the current third quarter, but they caution that any rebound will not be accompanied initially by rising employment.

The report yesterday found that businesses slashed their inventories more than first reported and cut back more sharply on investment in new plants and equipment. But those reductions were offset by revisions that showed smaller dips in consumer spending, exports and housing construction.

The Commerce Department's preliminary report also showed corporate profits after taxes rose 2.9 per cent in the second quarter, likely a function of cost-cutting measures by companies, after increasing 1.3 per cent in the first three months of the year.

A separate report from the Labour Department yesterday showed that the number of US workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week to 570,000 from an upwardly revised 580,000 the prior week. The tally of those continuing to claim benefits dropped to 6.13 million from 6.25 million, the lowest level since early April.

'We've been expecting to see signs of improvement in the economy consistent with the belief that we'll get growth in the third quarter for the first time in over a year,' said Mr David Resler, chief economist at Nomura Securities, in New York. 'Everything that we've seen in recent weeks reinforces that degree of optimism.'

The 1 per cent decline in GDP in the April-June quarter followed decreases of 6.4 per cent in the first quarter and 5.4 per cent in the final three months of last year, the sharpest back-to-back declines in a half-century. The four straight quarterly declines in GDP, which measures the country's total output of goods and services, mark the first time that has occurred on government records dating to 1947.

The recession that began in December 2007 is the longest since World War II. The world's largest economy has shrunk 3.9 per cent since last year's second quarter, making this the deepest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The US government found that consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 per cent of total economic activity, fell at an annual rate of 1 per cent in second quarter, a slight improvement from the 1.2 per cent decline reported last month. Residential construction and exports also were revised to show smaller declines.

While data ranging from housing to factory activity continues to suggest the worst recession since the Great Depression has probably ended or is winding down, weak consumer spending is seen holding back the recovery momentum.

Uncertainty over the strength of the recovery has left companies reluctant to start hiring new workers, though the pace of layoffs has slowed down significantly.

Yesterday's report is the second of three estimates on second-quarter growth. The figures will be revised again next month as more information becomes available.


Source: Straits Times, 28 Aug 2009

Tax proposals on property: MOF replies

TUESDAY'S editorial, 'About the 'right' property behaviour tax', was wrong on the facts of the recent public consultation on income tax treatment for individuals who sold their properties.
There was no proposal that had the effect of 'making more property deals taxable'. The proposed change was not aimed at doing so, and would not have resulted in more individuals having to pay income tax on gains from selling their properties.

The proposed change, following feedback received over the years, had sought to provide certainty of non-taxation for one group of individual owners (those who had not sold any other property in the preceding four years) without any implications for taxation of other individuals.
For all these other cases, whether the gains from a property sale are subject to income tax would have continued to depend on the facts and circumstances of the case - as has been the longstanding practice of the tax authorities in Singapore as well as many other jurisdictions.

The editorial's musings on whether the Ministry of Finance (MOF) should even have asked people whether they wanted to be 'taxed more', were, therefore, misplaced. There was no proposed tightening of the income tax treatment for individuals who sell their properties, or greater likelihood that they would be brought to tax.

This was explained clearly in the MOF's statement during the public consultation itself, reiterated recently, and carried in The Straits Times' own reports on the matter.
Following the consultation, MOF decided not to proceed with the proposed change for individuals who sell no more than one property during a four-year period.

While it was desirable to provide certainty of non-taxation to such individuals, there was no neat way of doing so without creating new distortions.

Source, Straits Times, 28 Aug 2009

GuocoLand slips into $70m net loss

PROPERTY developer GuocoLand slipped into the red with a net loss of $70.2 million for the year ended June 30, reversing a net profit of $161.8 million a year earlier.

The company took an $80.9 million revaluation loss on Tung Centre in Collyer Quay.

It also suffered write-downs in values of development properties in Malaysia and a net foreign exchange loss of $34.3 million comprising translation loss on US-dollar bank loans, the firm said.
Revenue fell 24 per cent to $513 million due to lower contributions from development properties in Singapore and China.

Some developers have had a rough time, but things are looking much brighter now. Guoco-Land said it has so far sold 206 units in its prime project Sophia Residence in Sophia Road, which it launched last month.

In China, it has sold all 594 units in the first phase of Ascot Park, a 1,112-unit project in Nanjing. Construction work on its Dongzhimen project in Beijing is in progress.

The various legal actions taken by its China subsidiary to defend and protect its 90 per cent interest in the project are pending hearing and/or adjudication before the courts, it added.
The global economy appears to be on the recovery path, which is positive for the group as property values in Singapore and China have improved, said GuocoLand in a statement yesterday.

The developer will be launching a freehold condo, Elliot At The East Coast, later this year. It had bought the site in a collective sale back in 2007.

The group is proposing a dividend of five cents per share, down from eight cents a share a year ago. Loss per share was 8.55 cents, compared with earnings per share of 20.17 cents a year earlier.

Net asset value per share was $2.37 as at June 30, down from $2.41 a year earlier.
Shares of GuocoLand closed one cent lower at $2.22 yesterday.

Source, Straits Times, 28 Aug 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Median non-landed subsale price rises 18%

THE median subsale price of non-landed private residential properties increased 18.1 per cent from $813 psf in Q1 this year to $960 psf in Q2, an analysis of caveats by DTZ shows. It attributed the increase to more higher-end properties transacted in Q2 as well as price appreciation in the quarter.

The most popular subsale project in the April to June 2009 period was Rivergate, with 105 units changing hands - or nearly a fifth of the total 545 units in the freehold project located in the Robertson Quay area. The project obtained Temporary Occupation Permit in Q1.

Rivergate's median subsale price increased from $1,200 psf in Q1 2009 to $1,400 psf in Q2. Caveats for subsales in July and August are starting to stream in and the deals have been done at prices ranging from $1,400 to $1,775 psf, or a median price of $1,600 psf.

The next most popular subsale project in Q2 was City Square Residences at Kitchener Road - with 57 deals done at a median price of $893 psf, up 13 per cent from the $791 psf median price on 43 units transacted in the first quarter. In July to August, three units at the freehold condominium were sold, at prices ranging from $1,000 psf to $1,104 psf.

Median subsale price at Casa Merah, a 99-year leasehold condo near Tanah Merah MRT Station, has gone up from $658 psf in Q1 to $691 psf in Q2 to $734 psf in July to August. The latest price is 11.6 per cent above the Q1 level. Twenty subsales were done in the project in July to August - probably helped by the sellout preview of Optima @ Tanah Merah nearby a few weeks ago.

Over in the Buangkok MRT vicinity, 11 units were sold at The Quartz in the subsale market in July to August at a median price of $699 psf, 15.7 per cent higher than the Q1 median subsale price of $604 psf.

In the Katong area, the median subsale price for One Amber rose from $830 psf in Q1 to $1,015 psf in July to August - or a 22.3 per cent price gain. In the same period, the median subsale price for Icon in the Tanjong Pagar area appreciated 26.2 per cent from $1,144 psf to $1,444 psf.

Subsales are secondary market deals in projects that have yet to obtain Certificate of Statutory Completion.

Source: Business Times, 27 Aug 2009

Homes of over $1.5m cut bigger slice of Q2 deals

They make up 22% of total transactions, compared with 10% a quarter earlier

(SINGAPORE) Improved sentiment in the private residential sector has filtered from the mass market to the upper tiers in the second quarter of this year, an analysis of caveats shows.

The proportion of caveats in Q2 for private housing transactions above $1.5-million was bigger than in Q1.

A study by DTZ shows that 22 per cent of transactions in Q2 were for deals above $1.5 million, compared with just 10 per cent in Q1.

Also, the number of transactions in the $1,500-1,999 per square foot (psf) range jumped more than 10 times, from 34 units in Q1 to 369 in Q2. And the number of deals for units costing $2,000 psf or more rose from just 10 in Q1 to 67 in Q2.

Another indicator of activity spreading to the higher end of the market is that a quarter of caveats lodged in Q2 were for properties in the prime districts 9,10 and 11, up from 14 per cent in Q1.

Buyers with private addresses accounted for 56 per cent of private home purchases in Q2, up from 44 per cent in Q1. This reflects a spillover of buying from the mass market to the upper tiers, DTZ said.

Conversely, HDB upgraders' share of caveats lodged for private home purchases slipped from 56 per cent in Q1 to 44 per cent in Q2.

'HDB upgraders have been able to participate in the current home buying wave due partly to the wealth effect brought about by rising HDB resale prices,' said DTZ South-east Asia research head Chua Chor Hoon.

'As well, wages went up in the past few years prior to the stagnation and wage cuts seen last year and this year. As a result, prices of entry-level private condos are generally still quite affordable for HDB upgraders.

'But if developers keep on increasing prices, mass-market private condos will become less affordable again to HDB upgraders.'

DTZ's analysis shows that 75 per cent of total private housing deals involving buyers with HDB addresses were at or below $1 million in Q2, down from 87 per cent in Q1.

Also, 37 per cent of buyers with HDB addresses picked up properties in the $600,001-800,000 band in Q2. In contrast, 60 per cent of buyers with private addresses purchased units costing above $1 million.

DTZ found that buyers with HDB addresses acquired smaller homes than buyers with private addresses.

It said that 77 per cent of purchases involving HDB upgraders were for homes up to 1,400 sq ft, compared with 52 per cent of transactions by buyers with private addresses in Q2.

The property consultancy also said that 88 per cent of purchases by HDB upgraders were for homes outside districts 9, 10 and 11. HDB upgraders bought mostly mass-market condos. Their most popular picks were Mi Casa in Choa Chu Kang and Double Bay Residences in Simei, with respective median selling prices of $633 psf and $663 psf.

Looking ahead, Ms Chua reckoned that activity will continue to filter to the upper levels of the private housing market for the rest of this year in tandem with a general improvement in the Singapore economy.

'As well, most economies seem to have seen their worst and are improving,' she said. ' That will help to bring back more foreign buyers to the Singapore property market.'

Some market watchers said that whether the upper end of the market sees more transactions hinges partly on developers' willingness to launch more high-end and luxury projects.

But Knight Frank executive director (residential) Peter Ow reckoned that the likelihood of a significant pick-up in launches over the next few months in these segments is slim.

'We can see that for the mass-market and mid-tier projects, the take-up rate slows when developers raise prices,' he said.

Source: Business Times, 27 Aug 2009

Foreign buyers warm to mid-tier city-fringe homes

Q2 resurgence sees Indonesians pick up 5 times the number they bought in Q1

(SINGAPORE) Foreign buying of private homes rose in Q2 but is not back in full force in terms of its share of higher-priced transactions, according to a caveats analysis by DTZ. The quarter also saw a resurgence of purchases by Indonesians, who were the top buyers in the upper-tier segments.

Foreigners, excluding Singapore permanent residents (PRs), made up only 15 per cent of those who bought private homes costing over $1,110 per square foot (psf) in Q2 2009, much lower than their 29 per cent share in 2006 when the property market began to heat up.

In terms of absolute price quantums, too, non-PR foreigners made up 14 per cent of total transactions done at above $1.5 million in Q2 2009 - considerably below the 20 per cent figure in 2006.

'The profile of foreigners has changed gradually over time. They are increasingly moving to mid-tier homes located at the city fringes,' DTZ said.

Knight Frank executive director (residential) Peter Ow said the trend is also due to several city-fringe projects being launched recently in locations such as Novena and Holland Road at prices that foreign buyers have found attractive.

'Their prices are about 30-40 per cent lower than prime Orchard Road properties with similar-quality finishes. And most of these projects are near MRT stations and often 10 minutes' drive to Orchard Road,' he added.

DTZ's analysis showed that homes in the prime districts of 9, 10 and 11, as well as district 15, accounted for 47 per cent of total private homes bought by non-PR foreigners in Q2 - much lower than a 62 per cent share in 2006.

The total number of private homes bought by both PRs and non-PR foreigners more than trebled from 497 units in Q1 to 1,678 units in Q2.

The most popular projects among non-PR foreigners in Q2 were Rivergate (33 purchases), The Arte (31 units), Martin Place Residences (26 units) and The Lakeshore (23 units).

Among PRs, their top picks were The Arte, Martin Place Residences, The Lakeshore, Mi Casa and Melville Park.

The second quarter saw a big resurgence in Indonesian buying. They picked up 349 units in Q2, almost five times the 70 units they bought in Q1. As a result, Indonesians accounted for 21 per cent of private homes bought by foreigners and PRs, up significantly from a 14 per cent share in Q1.

However, they still trailed Malaysians, who made up the lion's share or 29 per cent of purchases by foreigners and PRs. Mainland Chinese accounted for 15 per cent and Indian citizens, 12 per cent.

Although Indonesians made up about one-fifth of total private residential purchases by PRs and non-PR foreigners, they bought one-third of homes costing above $1,110 psf that were picked up by foreigners and PRs in Q2.

In terms of absolute price quantums, Indonesians also had a one-third share of total purchases by PRs and non-PR foreigners done at above $1.5 million in Q2.

Source: Business Times, 27 Aug 2009