21 May 2016
Despite Singapore’s sluggish property market, PropNex Realty saw gross commissions soar to a record high of $200 million in 2015, while transaction volume surpassed 40,000 for the first time.
In a statement, the real estate agency said its strong financial results were achieved against a backdrop of rising interest rates, softer economic growth, falling prices and transaction volumes, oversupply worries and higher vacancy rates.
Developers also face hefty extension charges for unsold units, while the exodus of property agents continues. During the latest license-renewal period with the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), the number of registered agents and real estate agencies fell by eight percent and four percent respectively from 2014’s numbers. Only 1,299 new agents joined the industry in 2015, versus 3,006 in the previous year.
In recent years, PropNex, which has a stable of over 6,000 agents, has been appointed as the marketing agency for more than 40 local projects.
Of these, there are still around 7,500 unsold units, which the company plans to help clear, including private condos, executive condominiums (ECs), landed homes, as well as commercial and industrial properties.
Meanwhile, PropNex has proposed a number of tweaks to the government’s property cooling measures. These include easing the loan-to-value (LTV) limits, reducing the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) for local and foreign buyers, and raising the mortgage servicing ratio (MSR) for EC buyers to 45 percent, from the current 30 percent.
These recommendations are based on feedback and observations gathered from its 200,000-plus transactions since 2009.
PropNex believes that now is a good time to calibrate some of the cooling measures, as home prices have become more affordable, non-performing loans were at just 0.4 percent as at Q3 2015, and there is looming oversupply.
Speculative activity has also lessened, with quarterly sub-sales at just three to four percent of last year’s total volume. Furthermore, foreign demand has declined, with expatriates accounting for just eight percent of the overall volume in 2015, down from about 18 percent in 2011.
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Prime residential property in Singapore is significantly more affordable now than in the rest of the world’s best cities, according to the latest JLL report.
“Singapore ranks amongst the top global cities, together with London, New York, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Forbes named Singapore the fourth most visited city globally. Mercer ranks Singapore the top city in Asia for quality of living and the fourth most expensive city in the world for expatriates,” said Regina Lim, JLL Singapore’s National Director for Advisory and Research for Capital Markets.
Still, prime home prices here are considerably lower than those in the aforementioned markets. Prices in Hong Kong are now 165 percent higher than Singapore, while prices in New York and London were higher by 80 to 90 percent in 2015, compared to a price advantage of just 10 to 30 percent in 2010.
Lim noted that the prices of prime residential properties here fell 20 percent from their peak in 2011 by 20 percent to S$1,991 psf in Q4 2015.
Among all the asset classes in Singapore, this segment has corrected the most in the last four years. On the other hand, office, retail and industrial property prices have fallen by just four to six percent, while prices of suburban homes have dropped by 12 percent.
On real terms, prime home prices here were also more affordable in 2015 than they were in 2003. Although last year’s prices were 70 percent higher than those recorded around 13 years ago, the median household income in Singapore has risen by 90 percent since then. Based on JLL’s estimates, prices are now equivalent to 5.6 years of income, versus 5.9 years in 2003.
In addition, the consultancy expects rents for such homes to rise after 2016 due to their limited supply, despite the existing the property cooling measures and sluggish transaction levels on the prime residential market.
There is also room for more growth, as rents are currently 40 percent below 2008’s levels and just eight percent above 2000’s levels. In contrast, Singapore’s median household income has risen 100 percent in the last 16 years.
Looking ahead, JLL believes there will be more opportunities to buy prime residential units in wholesale terms.
“For prime residential units completed in 2012, several developers have transferred unsold units to 100 percent Singapore-owned entities, or sold them in bulk at lower prices in 2014 to 2015. This further suppressed prices in a challenging market. We think developers could seek to sell around 1,000 units in bulk from 2016 to 2018 if the market does not improve expediently,” Lim added.
Picture Source: Singapore’s prime residential property is now more affordable than in other top global cities. (Photo: Erwin Soo, Wikimedia Commons)
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Singapore was named the world’s best city for young people, in terms of employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, according to a study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by the Citi Foundation, reported The Guardian.
Based on the Accelerating Pathways Youth Economic Strategy (YES) Index 2015, the city-state took the top spot in the rankings, considering factors like employment growth, availability of quality jobs and the ease of starting a new business.
“There does not appear to be any discrimination against young people, and the working environment is safe (in Singapore),” said the report.
The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) also works together with employers, unions and the government to create awareness and facilitate the adoption of fair employment practices for all.
“However, the cost of living in Singapore is high, and the youth cited this as a top concern in a 2014 poll conducted in the city (Mass Media Research survey).” Furthermore, over 60 percent of the youth surveyed have considered moving abroad to realise their employment and education objectives.
Meanwhile, Toronto was ranked second in the same category, followed by Hong Kong, Miami, and Chicago. Taipei landed in sixth place, with New York, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur and London trailing behind.
The YES Index assessed the economic environment for the youth in 35 cities across the world by measuring the drivers and enablers that can improve their economic situation. The research was conducted between January 2015 and May 2015.
Read the full report here. http://www.citi.com/citi/foundation/programs/pathways-to-progress/accelerating-pathways/downloads/Citi-Foundation-Accelerating-Pathways-Youth-Economic-Strategy-Index-2015.pdf
Picture Source: A new study has named Singapore the top city worldwide for young professionals. (Photo: Bahnfrend, Wikimedia Commons)
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15 May 2016
Singapore’s National Parks Board (NParks) is inviting consultancies to take part in the concept design plan for Jurong Lake Gardens (JLG) Central and East.
A key requirement is that the ideas must integrate well with the design guidelines for JLG West and the surrounding area.
JLG West is the new name for Jurong Lake Park. JLG Central consists of the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, while JLG East comprises a five-metre wide promenade fronting the new Science Centre and the northern part of Jurong Lake.
The Science Centre will be relocated next to the Chinese Garden MRT station, and will come with green roofs and landscape terraces.
The entire development must complement the existing Jurong Gateway area, the commercial hub of Jurong Lake District. The design must also incorporate green features, through the use of water and energy efficient practices, and recycled and renewable materials.
Another consideration for the appointed consultant will be to take into account the suggestions gathered by NParks in May 2015.
“Common suggestions included preserving the tranquillity of the area, retaining existing nature and biodiversity hotspots, provision of ample basic amenities, accessibility for elderly and the handicapped, affordable food and beverage options, and careful traffic planning to mitigate potential road congestion,” said the agency.
Interested consultants must submit their proposals by 25 April. Five firms will be selected for the second and final stage of the tender in June, with the winner to be announced at the end of this year.
Construction of JLG West will commence in April and is expected to be finished by 2018, while JLG Central and East will be progressively completed from 2020 onwards.
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The number of residential transactions in Hong Kong plunged by 70 percent on an annual basis last month, as buyers shunned the housing market amidst falling prices and economic uncertainty, reported Bloomberg.
According to government data, only 1,807 units were sold in February compared to 2,045 in the previous month. This is a far cry from the 6,027 transactions recorded during the same period last year.
“The newspapers keep on saying the market is going down and buyers think they can get a cheaper house half-a-year later or one year later, and so are waiting,” said Centaline Property Agency salesperson Thomas Fok, who hasn’t sold a single unit at the city’s upscale Mid-levels West district this year.
In addition, home prices fell 10 percent from their September peak due to worries over China’s slowing economy and the plan by Hong Kong authorities to raise the supply of residential units in the next five years. Local officials also reiterated that the existing property cooling measures will remain in place.
As such, BOCOM International Holdings’ analyst Alfred Lau believes that home prices in the city could fall by 30 percent in 2016.
Given this challenging environment, Sun Hung Kai Properties slashed its sales target in Hong Kong by 18 percent to HK$27 billion for the whole of 2016. Sales by New World Development also plunged 79 percent during the first half of its financial year to HK$2.8 billion, which is just 28 percent of its full-year target.
Despite the challenging situation, some developers still see opportunities in Hong Kong. For instance, Goldin Financial Holdings’ Chairman Pan Sutong feels that prices of luxury homes will remain resilient, especially for those located in areas with limited supply.
Earlier this month, his company submitted the winning bid of HK$6.38 billion for a land parcel in the posh neighbourhood of Ho Man Tin, where a subway station is being built.
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Serviced residence owner-operator The Ascott Limited has secured a serviced apartment at one-north business park through a lease awarded by JTC Corporation. The 50-unit property is currently operating and will be rebranded to Citadines Fusionopolis Singapore from 1 April 2016.
“With its choice location within the Fusionopolis, and its spacious loft apartments that appeal to expatriates on long stay, we are confident that Citadines Fusionopolis Singapore will further strengthen Ascott’s business in Singapore,” said Anthony Khoo, Ascott’s Head of Singapore Cluster.
The units feature high ceilings, separate living and dining areas, a kitchen and bedroom. The serviced residence is located within the 30ha Fusionopolis precinct of one-north business park, Singapore’s R&D hub that is home to over 400 companies.
It is also close to Star Vista shopping mall, National University Hospital, Singapore Polytechnic, and the one-north MRT station.
Following the opening of Citadines Fusionopolis, the 220-unit Ascott Orchard Singapore is expected to welcome guests in early-2017.
Situated within the Orchard Road shopping belt, the prime serviced residence is within proximity to the Orchard and Somerset MRT stations. It will be directly linked to Paragon shopping mall via a covered link-bridge and forms part of CapitaLand’s latest integrated development.
With the opening of Citadines Fusionopolis and Ascott Orchard, the company will have more than 1,000 units in Singapore, making it one of the largest serviced residence operators here, shared Khoo.
He added that the city-state is one of Ascott’s best performing markets after China, France and the UK. Its local properties have been achieving strong occupancy of above 80 percent.
Picture Source: Citadines Fusionopolis Singapore. (Photo: JTC)
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