News

30 May 2016

Experts share suggestions for Fresh Start Housing Scheme

Experts hope that the 2016 Budget, which will be announced this Thursday (24 March), will solve some current problems with the Fresh Start Housing Scheme, reported Channel NewsAsia.

This scheme helps HDB tenants purchase their own flat, with a focus on families with young children, and those who previously owned a home.

But a key problem is fine-tuning the eligibility criteria to ensure that the beneficiaries really deserve such assistance, said DTZ’s Research Head Lee Nai Jia.

“I think this is a great scheme. The key problem is how we are going to identify this group and their income ceiling, and (how we are going to define) the type of benefits to give this group.”

According to Saktiandi Supaat, member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for National Development, the scheme provides a second chance to families currently leasing an HDB flat, particularly those who were forced to sell their original unit due to an unavoidable issue.

However, the support given should take into account the different circumstances of each household.

“There could be more support in terms of grants and there could also be some conditions for the grants to be disbursed,” said Saktiandi. For instance, families would first have to show proof that they have the means to pay for the new flats.

Aside from providing grants and the actual house, it is also important to educate families about responsible homeownership, financial management, and activities to keep their children in school, explained the Fei Yue Family Service Centre.

“We don’t want to come to a point where they are on the scheme, and then there is a setback, and they are penalised or thrown out of the scheme,” said the centre’s principal social worker, Lilian Ong.

“We could introduce some sort of readiness or transitional programme to prepare the whole family for this”, and this should run for six months, she said.

The Housing Board and the Ministry of National Development have held public consultations to gather suggestions on implementing the scheme. The feedback includes provision of concessionary loans and more grants, as well as shorter leases.

Picture Source: The Fresh Start Housing Scheme is targeted at families with young children.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/120536/experts-share-suggestions-for-fresh-start-housing-scheme

Wealthy Malaysians favour Singapore property

Singapore was ranked the second top choice for wealthy Malaysians who can afford offshore real estate, according to PropertyGuru’s latest market sentiment study.

Of 326 individuals surveyed online, 21 (seven percent) own a high-rise or landed home outside Malaysia. Of this, 20 percent have acquired a house in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Australia took the top spot, with 23 percent having bought a home there, while India and Germany were also among the most popular choices, with a respective 18 percent and eight percent of those surveyed owning homes there.

“According to other studies, many Malaysians choose Australia as their second home as it is located comparatively close to Malaysia at a few hours’ flight (away), and for its better working environment and better education system,” said the report.

Other countries favoured by those surveyed are Hong Kong (seven percent), Japan (six percent), China (five percent), Thailand (five percent) and the UK (four percent).

51 percent of the 23 respondents who own either overseas homes or non-residential properties noted that prices in those markets were cheaper than those in Malaysia, despite the softer ringgit.

The top reasons for buying offshore real estate are capital appreciation (30 percent) and children’s education (29 percent). 27 percent revealed that the overseas properties they have bought are situated in their countries of residence, while a similar percentage were attracted by good funding options.

Other reasons cited include favourable government policies (24 percent), retirement (23 percent), migration (20 percent), and relocation to a better environment (16 percent).

Moving forward, more Malaysians are now keen to purchase overseas properties, particularly in Australia, which continues to be the most popular market for 52 percent of 37 respondents. Other target markets for this group are Singapore (23 percent), Indonesia (15 percent), and the UK (14 percent).

Picture Source: Singapore is a popular property investment destination for wealthy Malaysians. (Photo: William Cho / Wikimedia Commons)
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/120428/wealthy-malaysians-favour-singapore-property

Thai developers now building more luxury homes

Property firms in Thailand have already launched several residential projects targeted at the high-end market in the first quarter of 2016, reported The Nation. This is due to the high household debt, which continues to create uncertainty in other segments of the property market.

Anant Asavabhokhin, Chairman of Land & Houses’ Executive Board, reckons that the government should stimulate spending in the luxury segment, to help boost the overall economy. Land & Houses recently launched an upscale detached housing project in the Rama II area, and is one of a handful of developers hoping to cash in on the growing demand for high-end condos and detached homes.

And it doesn’t look as though this trend will subside anytime soon. Launching luxury units at this time helps developers to boost pre-sales, as banks are still reluctant to provide mortgages for the lower- and middle-income segments.

Sansiri’s most recent launch is a luxury condominium called 98 Wireless. The project is worth a total of THB 8.5 billion. It is understood that around THB1.2 billion has already been sold. Sansiri’s President Srettha Thavisin said while booking for the project isn’t scheduled to start till later this year, the company has accepted cash offers for two penthouses.

98 Wireless will only have a total of 77 units when completed, with prices starting at THB550,000 psm (S$21,425 psm). Sansiri will host an official grand opening ceremony once the development is ready in the second half of 2016.

Ananda Development is another developer that decided to launch a luxury condominium during the first quarter of this year. Ashton Silom is worth a total of THB5.8 billion, with prices starting from THB7.9 million (S$307,667) for a unit.

Picture Source: The interior of an apartment unit at 98 Wireless.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/120439/thai-developers-turn-to-building-more-luxury-homes

Developers confident of disposing units before ABSD deadline

Some developers in Singapore are optimistic they can sell all the remaining units in their private residential projects before the stipulated deadline, even if they don’t offer huge discounts, reported The Business Times.

Under the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rules introduced in December 2011, these companies need to build, complete and sell all units within five years of purchasing the land. If there are any unsold units after that period, they need to pay a 10 percent levy, which was subsequently raised to 15 percent for land parcels purchased as of 12 January 2013.

According to SingLand’s General Manager Michael Ng, they are confident of clearing all units before the deadline, and they don’t intend to slash prices.

Last month, its luxury projects Mon Jervois and Pollen & Bleu in District 10 reported 61 and 94 unsold units respectively, while Alex Residences in Redhill had 173 unsold units. These developments will be penalised with an ABSD of 10 percent if there are any leftover units by February, June and December 2017, respectively.

“For boutique projects, our priority is to hit temporary occupation permit (TOP) quickly, as many interested parties for luxury homes want to see the completed units. For Alex Residences, we will clear all units before TOP,” he said.

Similarly, City Developments Limited (CDL) is bullish that they can offload all unsold units at Jewel@Buangkok and two joint venture projects, Bartley Ridge and The Venue Residences, before their respective ABSD deadlines in 2017. This is because the developments are located in established neighbourhoods, and the number of unsold units is low.

“There are no significant ABSD issues for the three projects which have been selling steadily,” said a CDL spokesperson. As of February 2016, there were three, 31 and 160 unsold units at these three developments respectively.

As of last month, the projects with the most unsold units are Malaysian developer IOI Properties’ The Trilinq (524 units), The Crest (365 units) by a Wing Tai-led consortium, and The Glades (331 units), jointly developed by Keppel Land and China Vanke.

Furthermore, SingLand or CDL could be hit with the heftiest ABSD penalty of approximately $70 million, based on their stakes in projects with leftover units, assuming there are still leftover units after the deadline.

Picture Source: Alex Residences in Redhill has 173 unsold units.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/120317/developers-confident-of-disposing-units-before-absd-deadline

Chinese nationals still buying Singapore homes for their kids

Despite facing weaker currencies and slowing economies, mainland Chinese and Malaysians remain the top foreign buyers of Singapore property, revealed DTZ.

Together, they bought 1,952 private homes in 2015, or 54 percent of total foreign purchases.

Specifically, sales to Chinese nationals fell slightly by 3.8 percent to 998 units, while Malaysian home purchases remained largely unchanged at 954 units.

“The devaluation of the Chinese yuan in August 2015 meant that mainland Chinese nationals found their purchasing power clipped, as their national currency weakened against the Singapore dollar,” said DTZ.

Still, both groups of foreign buyers posted healthy purchases last year compared to 2008, during the Global Financial Crisis, when mainland Chinese only purchased 362 private homes, while Malaysians bought 626 units.

“Singapore’s political stability, transparent real estate policies and strict rule of law positions the city-state ahead of many other countries as a place where investors enjoy a high level of certainty on returns. Many mainland Chinese also bought homes for their children studying in Singapore,” added DTZ.

Meanwhile, the number of Indonesian home purchases fell by 33.6 percent to 279 units, lower than the 618 homes bought in 2008.

Picture Source: Mainland Chinese and Malaysian buyers formed 54 percent of foreign home purchases in 2015.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/120261/chinese-nationals-still-buying-singapore-homes-for-their-kids

Katong bungalow put up for mortgagee sale

A single-storey bungalow in Katong, one of the few available freehold properties in the area with redevelopment potential, has been put up for mortgagee sale, revealed marketing agent DTZ.

Located at 85 Branksome Road, the house sits on 13,189 sq ft of land and has a gross floor area of around 9,000 sq ft. According to DTZ, the property has an indicative price of $16 million, or $1,200 psf.

Recent transactions of landed homes in the area have ranged from $1,200 psf to $1,400 psf. Last year, a 13,843 sq ft site at Branksome Road was sold for $16.3 million ($1,178 psf).

Under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Master Plan 2014, the site is zoned for residential use and could be redeveloped into a two-storey bungalow.

The plot can also be subdivided into a pair of bungalows or semi-detached houses, subject to the relevant authority’s approval, said the consultancy.

Nearby amenities include established schools and shopping malls. Dakota MRT station and two future MRT stations on the Thomson-East Coast Line are also within the vicinity.

Joy Tan, DTZ’s Head of Auction, expects strong interest for the subject property. “A landed housing redevelopment site of this size in the prestigious District 15 is rarely made available for mortgagee sale. The last known mortgagee sale was at least a decade ago.”

The sale is being conducted through an auction, which takes place on 30 March at The Amara Hotel.

Picture Source: View of the single-storey detached house at 85 Branksome Road. (Photo: DTZ)
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/120056/katong-bungalow-put-up-for-mortgagee-sale

HLH launches phase two of Cambodian project

Singapore-listed HLH Group has launched phase two of its maiden mixed-use development in Cambodia, after the first phase was sold out.

A total of 437 units were released in the latest phase of the D’Seaview project in Sihanoukville, with one- to three-bedroom units on offer.

The waterfront development was first launched in September 2015. All 300 apartments released under phase one were snapped up by local and international buyers, with prices ranging from US$675 psm (S$922 psm) to US$1,943 psm (S$2,653 psm).

“The strong response to our project reflects the pent-up demand for good quality affordable housing in Cambodia. Given the country’s positive GDP growth of about six percent to seven percent annually, the Cambodian economy remains vibrant and attractive to both local and foreign investors,” said HLH Group CEO Dato Dr Johnny Ong.

“In view of this and the rising tourist numbers in Sihanoukville as well as the increasing disposable incomes of consumers in Cambodia, our plans for more developments will add greater vibrancy and activities to the area,” he added.

D’Seaview is a mixed-use development located near the popular Sokha Beach in Sihanoukville, which is expected to become Cambodia’s next hotspot, not only for property investments, but also for tourism. Aside from its potential as a major cruise ship destination, there are also more flights landing at the city’s international airport.

Piling work is currently underway and is expected to be completed by June this year. The apartments are being marketed under the CAMHOMES brand of HLH, which is targeting the mass market.

Looking ahead, the group plans to build more residential projects in other locations, including the capital Phnom Penh.

Picture Source: 437 units of D’Seaview in Sihanoukville have been released for sale.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/120254/hlh-launches-phase-two-of-cambodian-project

Singapore’s housing market among the weakest: Knight Frank

Prices of private residential properties in Singapore continued their downward trend, falling by 3.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 from the previous year, according to Knight Frank’s latest Global House Price Index.

On a quarterly basis, prices slipped by 0.2 percent from Q3 2015. Singapore was ranked 51st out of the 55 housing markets tracked by Knight Frank, which puts it among the weakest performers, Ukraine and Greece.

Between 2009 and 2011, prices of private units surged by 62.2 percent, but have dropped by 8.41 percent since then.

Analysts believe that a number of factors will continue to put pressure on the property market, such as the large pipeline supply of units, weakening demand amid low economic growth, and the market cooling measures which remain in place.

Meanwhile, the world’s housing markets recorded three percent growth on average in 2015. Turkey leads the rankings with prices ending the year 18 percent higher, said Knight Frank.

The consultancy added that its outlook for the year is muted. “We expect the index’s overall rate of growth to be weaker in 2016 than 2015. The global economy is experiencing a potentially dangerous cocktail of low oil prices, a strong dollar and a continued slowdown in China,” said Kate Everett-Allen, Head of International Residential Research at Knight Frank.

Picture Source: Singapore sits close to the Ukraine and Greece as having one of the world’s weakest housing markets.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/120027/singapores-housing-market-among-the-weakest-knight-frank

South Beach wins top design award

South Beach, Singapore’s biggest mixed-use development, has won the only Platinum SG Mark, presented at this year’s Design Business Chamber Singapore (DBCS) SG Mark awards.

Jointly developed by City Developments Limited (CDL) and Malaysian-based IOI Properties, the new project at Beach Road was built on a 3.5ha plot, and took eight years to complete. It faced design challenges that involved incorporating four conserved buildings with modern structures.

Several of the project’s green features impressed the judges, including a 280-metre long canopy that converts solar energy to electricity and collects rainwater to irrigate South Beach’s landscaping, as well as sky gardens which act as ‘green lungs’.

It is estimated that South Beach can save up to 17 million KWh of energy and 174,000 cubic metres of water annually.

“We believe that many of the principles behind this iconic building can be applied to future buildings to improve urban sustainability and overall aesthetic and practical appeal,” said Tai Lee Siang, President of the DBCS.

Several other local developments picked up SG Mark Gold Awards, namely the JTC Space @ Tuas development and the Singapore University of Technology and Design campus in Changi.

In total, 32 organisations picked up awards this year. Started in 2013, the SG Mark Awards are considered the Oscars of the design industry here. Previous winners include Gardens by the Bay, Botanic Gardens and Changi Airport.

Picture Source: South Beach was the big winner at the SG Mark 2016 awards. (Photo: Christopher Chitty)
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119975/south-beach-wins-top-design-award

Malaysia’s property market has hit bottom, says developer

Home sales in Malaysia are expected to recover in the second half of 2016, said Mah Sing Group, the country’s third largest property developer by sales.

“We have reached the bottom of the downturn, and it will recover in the medium term,” as Mah Sing is witnessing signs of renewed confidence from home buyers, despite the negative reports on the weak ringgit, and allegations of corruption, said Group Managing Director Leong Hoy Kum.

“The bad news like 1MDB and the ringgit have already been digested; I don’t see anymore bad news coming out. It is back to work for everyone, to focus on economic growth.”

The ringgit has also strengthened 3.8 percent, making it Asia’s third best-performing currency.

Meanwhile, Mah Sing is set to hit its RM2.3 billion sales target for this year. The developer is confident it can sell more “medium range to high-end properties” in 2017, especially in Kuala Lumpur.

Meanwhile, its competitors are also posting strong sales. Earlier this month, Eco World Development Group found buyers for 85 percent of the units at its apartment outside the capital. Moreover, nearly all of the 341 units at a project by Sime Darby were snapped up in one day.

Given the turnaround, Mah Sing is now looking to acquire more land parcels with its record net worth of RM1.4 billion (S$467 million). It wants to replenish its land bank after holding back on such acquisitions in 2015.

“Every weekend is shopping time for me and sometimes, I charter a helicopter to look at land of 500 acres to 1,000 acres,” added Leong.

Picture Source: Mah Sing Group believes that Malaysia’s property sector will recover soon.
Source copied: http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/property-management-news/2016/3/119981/malaysias-property-market-has-hit-bottom-says-developer