Monday, November 26, 2012

So what's our public perception of property agents?

The first Public Perception Survey by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) has found that most consumers are satisfied with their property agents.

Eight out of 10 said they were satisfied with the conduct and services provided.

Seven out of 10 planned to recommend their agents to others. 

Top of the list was service excellence with agents being contactable, responsive to queries and courteous at all times.

Bottom of the list was knowledge and expertise about the real estate industry.

Consumers felt that the agents should improve their knowledge so that they can advise customers on property transactions.

These include financial matters and accurate and up-to-date information related to the property.

Most consumers, more than 70%, were also aware of key industry practices and regulations.

The awareness level among potential consumers came in lower, averaging about 60%.

The survey also looked at feedback from the industry.

Most were supportive of the initiatives implemented by CEA to enhance professionalism in the sector.

Eighty per cent indicated that the regulatory measures and enforcement of minimum eligibility criteria for agents has helped raise the professionalism of the industry.

More than 90% of agents found that the training that they received in the last 12 months, was effective in raising their professionalism.

The majority of them also indicated that they would require additional training on government rules and regulations and market information.

The survey was conducted between March and July this year.

Face-to-face interviews were conducted with more than 2,200 consumers and potential consumers.

An online survey was conducted with more than 1,700 property agents and key executive officers.

The findings will set the baseline for CEA to measure the progress of the industry in delivering professional service to consumers.
Source: Channel News Asia

The wife and I have lost count of the number of property agents we have met over the past few years. While most of these encounters were generally positive, we did come across several that "cannot quite make it".

Our pet peeves are those who are excessively pushy, who do not know the facts about the development that they are marketing and worse of all, pre-judge you on your "affordability" based on appearances.

So what's your best/worst experience with a property agent?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Private home market reaching equilibrium?

Another proponent of impending price easing in the private property market.

But the (two) million dollar questions remain: how soon and by how much?

Author: Ong Kah Seng

It has been a pulsating year for Singapore's private housing sector, with homebuyers' aspirations remaining firm even as prices and volumes defy conventional market cycles to hit record highs, but there are signs that the market is now heading towards equilibrium.

In today's market, speculation no longer drives the property buyer following the implementation of sellers' stamp duty in January last year for sales that take place within four years of the home purchase. The purchase decision largely comes from a desire to seek out investment opportunities and fulfil ownership aspirations.

These behavioural drivers will have to be managed by the authorities if they want to ease the rate of increase of home prices. Indeed, the current measures may be more effective than previous ones as they target underlying economic, social and homebuying fundamentals.

By now, the lack of investment alternatives due to the persistent low interest rate environment has become the oft-heard explanation for the continued preference for property purchases. A private home will still be a more familiar and safer choice among many property investors, compared to strata offices, shops and factories. Notwithstanding the record high prices, private homes are still perceived to be a good long-term investment.

The easy access to loans with longer tenures often encourages buyers, even those with affordability issues, to satisfy their need for instant gratification. So the curbs introduced last month to cap mortgages at 35 years and reduce the loan-to-value ratio for those that exceed 30 years or extend beyond the borrower's retirement age of 65 years can help mitigate the risks of defaults and failures in property investments, especially if interest rates eventually rise.

Private home prices, especially those of suburban housing, ran up during the periods following the implementation of the United States Federal Reserve's first round of quantitative easing (QE1) in end-2008 and the second round (QE2) in end-2010, but the market contexts were materially different from the present situation.

In 2009, private home prices fell by an average of 15% in the first quarter, hit by the fallout of the Lehman Brothers collapse. The severe drop and the subsequent economic stabilisation and stock market recovery, partly driven by QE1, provided the platform for the strong rebound of 16% in 3Q 2009, as opportunistic investors, including speculators, resurfaced.

The market also jumped in the last quarter of 2010 following QE2 implementation, with prices largely shrugging off the cooling measures effected from September that year.

Against that backdrop, many buyers are now conditioned to believe that property prices will surely rise following the Fed's third round of quantitative easing (QE3). Indeed, in September, when the US central bank announced the measures, there was a strong showing here in both the developer and resale market.

Typically, these buyers believe the ample liquidity will raise home prices next year, and although the high sellers' stamp duty will restrict reselling in the first four years of purchase, paper gains are still psychologically uplifting for owners and investors.

The market has also become more innovative and vibrant, as developers come up with new offerings or incentives to woo homebuyers in the face of fresh tightening measures and new supply.

Still, with Singapore's subdued economic prospects and with Asia increasingly losing its resilience, homebuyers are now expected to be more restrained. This will translate into a more stable market amid more competitive pricing next year.

The private home market rose 0.6% in the third quarter to hit a new all-time high and this has also led to more buyer resistance, especially as new cooling measures target specific demand fundamentals.

The current price levels have also almost fully stretched buyers' affordability, with suburban developer sales averaging $1,000 to $1,300psf, compared against lukewarm demand for resale properties in city fringes going for $1,200 to $1,400psf.

Although resale property requires immediate financing and HDB upgraders often like to be in the same locality, an investment-savvy individual should choose the latter, unless it exceeds his or her affordability. The current pricing is thus the limit for suburban condominiums and any further increase, even driven by low interest rates and QE3, is likely to meet with buyer resistance.

While the lack of investment alternatives and low interest rates drive the housing market, what really underpins the property's potential is beyond the mere low cost of funds. These include the tenant demand base, the property's inherent characteristics, as well as long-term infrastructural improvements and enhancements.

Homeseekers who did not purchase during the 2010 to 2012 market frenzy are generally more risk averse and prudent, and are thus expected to critically evaluate their buying options in the context of ample choices next year. This will curtail further price increases and very likely, prices will ease as competition intensifies.

      Ong Kah Seng is Director of Research at R'ST, an independent property market research company in Singapore.

Source: TODAY Online

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Real Deals (22-11-2012)

This latest issue by Maybank-Kim Eng Research is all about the Bartley area. So for those who are eyeing the two new projects along Bartley Road (i.e. Bartley Residences and Gambir Ridge) or wish to know what else is slated to happen around the area, this one for you!

Click on the link below to read the full report:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Q3 foreign purchases at 7%: Still blaming the high prices on foreigners?

Foreign buyers of Singapore properties accounted for 7% of the market in the third quarter this year.

The proportion had remained unchanged from the previous second quarter.

However, for the first three quarters of the year, foreign purchases averaged about 6%.

This is according to the latest report on demand for Singapore's residential properties in Q3 by property consultant DTZ.

The report also said that demand for luxury landed homes remained strong in the same quarter.

There were altogether 14 Good Class Bungalows (GCBs) transacted in Q3, compared to 12 GCBs in the previous quarter.

Interest in the landed segment was also strong in Sentosa Cove with 6 units sold in Q3 compared to 5 in Q2 and two units in Q1.

These are for purchases worth more than $10 million.

Notably, purchases by US nationals and Norwegians in Sentosa Cove have increased since the implementation of the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD).

The 10%  additional stamp duty does not apply to them.

Year-to-date, US nationals have bought a total of 126 private homes in Sentosa Cove, making them the top non-SIngaporean buyer group of private homes there.

This is a huge contrast to only 3 and 1 purchases by Americans in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

DTZ Research expects the market to continue to gain support from local buyers despite the cooling measures on loan tenure and loan-to-value limit implemented in October 2012.

It also expects limited impact on the high-end segment of above $5 million since the buyers have deeper pockets.

Meanwhile in other segments, it expects demand to shift to smaller and more affordable units as buyers with tight budgets may move one notch lower.

Source: Channel News Asia

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Property Spotlight: Tanah Merah vicinity (Part 2)

Soon is concerned that, based on the three new parcels sold this year (including eCO), there will be about 1,900 new homes coming up over the next few years in the neighborhood around the Tanah Merah MRT station. In addition, more supply is in the pipeline. For instance, next to eCO is another land parcel (Parcel B), located at the junction of New Upper Changi Road and Bedok South Avenue 3, that is earmarked for a 595-unit residential project sitting on the Reserve List of the government land sales programme. Adjacent to it, where the Tanah Merah MRT station is located, is a parcel designated for "future development".

Even though prices have been stable, and the take-up rate at new launches have been healthy, Soon is concerned that there could be an oversupply in the next few years when these new condos are completed.

David See, senior associate director of OrangeTee, who specializes in marketing units in District 16, is more sanguine. He reckons that, based on the bid prices by the developers, the new projects will be launched at higher prices.

For instance, the 343,171sqft Land Parcel A, located on New Upper Changi Road and Bedok Road, was put up for sale in August and won by Keppel Land last month with a bid of $434.55 million($791psf ppr). The price for the 99-year leasehold site paid by Keppel Land was just 7.1% higher than the second-highest bidder, a joint venture between Fragrance Group and World Class Land.

Incidentally, in August, Fragrance and World Class Land won the tender for a smaller parcel of around 150,700sqft across New Upper Changi Road, with a bid of $285.22 million ($676psf ppr). It is estimated that the new condo, called Urban Vista, will have 550 units, and it is expected to be launched in the coming months.

Keppel Land's bid price of $791psf ppr was a record price paid for a residential development land parcel in the suburbs, and is at a 48% premium to the price the Far East-Frasers Centrepoint-Seikisui House consortium paid for eCO's site in February.

Following the close of the tender for the site on New Upper Changi Road on Oct 16, Joseph Tan, CBRE's executive director of residential services, commented: " The 11 bids garnered for the site and the quantum of the bids show that developers are confident that this residential project will be well received when launched."

Tan estimates Keppel Land's breakeven at $1,200psf, with the selling price of the new project pegged around $1,400psf, which is slightly higher than the average $1,300psf achieved at eCO so far. Keppel Land intends to develop a residential project with about 700 units on the site, with sizes ranging from 500 to 1,400sqft.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

October home sales fall 25.7%

Sales of new private homes in Singapore declined by about 25.7% to 1,948 units in October, from 2,621 units in September, according to data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

URA said October's sales were led by the mass market segment which sold a total of 1,482 units.

Meanwhile, 144 new homes in the core central region and 322 new units in the city fringe were sold.

The top three best-selling private condominium projects in October were Skies Miltonia which sold 309 units, followed by Riversails with 271 units sold and eCO with 149 units sold.

Including Executive Condominiums (EC), 2,624 units were sold in October - down from 2,771 units in the previous month.

The star performers in the EC segment included Heron Bay at Upper Serangoon with 354 units sold and Waterbay at Edgefield Plains which moved 221 units.

Developers launched a total of 2,410 units of private homes and ECs in October.
Source: Channel News Asia

The new private home sales for August was down 3.6% while September sales was up 84%. And now October sales showed a 25.7% decline. This makes the wife and I wonder if the "see-saw" pattern will persist or will November buck the trend?
Click on links below to read our previous posting on the August & September sales data:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Property Spotlight: Tanah Merah vicinity (Part 1)

The District 16 neighbourhood in the vicinity of Tanah Merah MRT station has seen a surge in activity, owing partly to the sale of three government land parcels and the launch of eCO on Bedok South Avenue 3.

The developers of eCO are a consortium made up of Far East Organization, Frasers Centrepoint and Sekisui House, which won the 308,330sqft, 99-year leasehold site with a bid of $345.9 million ($534psf ppr) in February. The consortium launched eCO in late September and, as at Nov 6, 547 units of the 620 released in the project had been sold at an average price of $1,300psf. eCO comprises a mix of five residential types, with 244 condo units, 237 suites, 220 SOHOs, 17 lofts and 34 townhouses.

The take-up in eCO has been strong, and prices achieved have also set new benchmarks for the area. Based on caveats lodged between Oct 19 and 25, transaction prices had ranged from $1,172 to $1,491psf.

Most potential buyers of eCO had initially compared the project with Optima @Tanah Merah, which was completed earlier this year and is adjacent to Fragrance and World Class Land's Urban Vista. The 297-unit Optima was launched for sale in 2009, and most of the units were snapped up within three days at an average of $810psf. The project is developed by TID, a joint venture between Mitsui Fudosan and Hong Leong Group. In recent sub-sales done in October, prices of units ranged from $1,027 to $1,350psf.

Most recently, on Oct 23, an 850sqft, two-bedroom apartment on the sixth floor changed hands for $1.1 million ($1,294psf). The previous owner had paid $748,000 ($880psf) for the unit at launch and had enjoyed a price gain of 47% over the last three years. A similar-sized unit on the 11th floor was sold for $1.02 million ($1,199psf), compared with the original purchase price of $804,800 ($946psf).

Meanwhile, two larger units at Optima were also transacted recently in the secondary market. According to Dan Soon, associate branch manager of PropNex Realty, which brokered the sale of the units, sellers are pegging their asking price to those achieved at eCO. For instance, Soon had brokered the recent sale of a 1,259sqft three-bedroom unit on the sixth floor of one of the blocks at Optima for $1.7 million ($1,350psf). The original owner paid $1.04 million ($828psf) for the unit three years ago, thus seeing a capital appreciation of 63%. The other one sold was a slightly smaller three-bedroom unit of 1,195sqft located on the third floor of another block. It went for $1.5 million ($1,255psf). The previous owner purchased it for $955,200 ($799psf) in 2009, so his capital appreciation was 57%.

"Increasingly, more young couples are looking for small units below $1.2 million in the East,"  observes Soon. The area has also attracted more expatriates, as it is near Changi Business Park, where banks such as Citi, DBS, Standard Chartered and Credit Suisse have their global support and backroom services. The Singapore University of Technology and Design coming up near Changi Business Park is also a draw. With amenities such as the upcoming Bedok Mall, the new Changi City Point mall and the proximity to MRT station, the area has become a more desirable neighbourhood to live in, adds Soon, with cheaper rents relative to the CBD.

Older condos in District 16 have also seen their prices being driven up by the new launches. PropNex's Soon observes, however, that there have been fewer transactions in these older developments, as many owners are reluctant to sell. "Once they sell their unit, it is difficult for them to find a replacement property in the same neighbourhood, as the newer units cost more and are generally more compact in size,"  he says. Besides, most of them are owner-occupiers, so there are also few units for rent in the older condos.

Most of these older condos are trading in the $1,000psf range or lower. For instance, at the eight-year-old Tanamera Crest, a 288-unit, 99-year leasehold condominium developed by CapitaLand, a 1,173sqft three-bedroom unit on the 10th floor changed hands at $1.09 million ($927psf) on Oct 19. It last changed hands in February 2010, for $735,000 ($626psf). Prior to that, it was sold for $460,000 ($392psf) in 2006. The original buyer paid $593,800 ($506psf) for the unit in late 2001.

At the 1,038-unit The Bayshore, developed by Far East Organization 13 years ago, a 1,184sqft three-bedroom unit on the 10th floor was sold for $1.16 million ($980psf). Also, a 1,012sqft two-bedroom unit on the 28th floor of another block was sold for $1.1 million ($1,087psf).
{To be continued...}


Monday, November 12, 2012

So how many private properties were bought in 1H2012?

The total number of private residential properties bought was about 22,000 in the first half of 2012, as compared to 19,000 in the first half of 2011 and 17,000 in the second half of 2011.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said this in a written parliamentary response to a question by MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, Gan Thiam Poh.

He said cooling measures introduced in January last year aimed to eliminate speculative demand and are complemented with an aggressive supply ramp up.

Over the next five years, about 94,000 housing units will be completed.

This is about one-third of the current stock of private housing.

Altogether, the measures have resulted in the increase in the Property Price Index to fall from 18% in 2010 to 6% last year.

And it has gone down even further to just 1% in the first three quarters of 2012.

Mr Khaw said the proportion of properties bought by foreigners also fell from 18% last year to six 6% in the first three quarters of this year.

He added that the proportion of sub-sales, a proxy of the level of speculation in the housing market, remained low at about 6% in the first three quarters of 2012, down from the 8% last year.

However, Mr Khaw said prices remained firm and he attributed this to contributory factors including ample global liquidity and the current low interest rate environment which are likely to persist for a while.

He said his ministry is ready to act when necessary.
Source: Channel News Asia

Friday, November 9, 2012

Resale home prices continue to rise in Oct 2012!

Resale home prices of  non-landed private residential units  continued to climb in October against the third quarter 2012.

Data released by the Singapore Real Estate Exchange (SRX) showed that the unit resale price for non-landed private residential rose 4.1% in October to $1,209psf.

SRX compiles data from 11 top property agencies in Singapore.

The report found that resale prices of private homes rose across all regions, with non-landed homes in the city fringe seeing the sharpest increase at 4.5%, compared to the third quarter of 2012.

This is followed by a 4.2% increase in the suburban areas, and a 1.8% increase in the core central region.

SRX noted that the price gap between non-landed private homes in the suburban areas and those in the city has narrowed to a new low of 84.8%.

"I think the price premium between the CCR and OCR will continue to narrow in the next one year," said Eric Tan, the CEO of GSK Global.

"Subsequently, I think it will remain relatively stable at around 70% in the medium term."
Source: Channel News Asia

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Reverse mortgage for better retirement?

The TODAY paper ran an article today about how the very loans that are supposed to help seniors in the United States to stay in their homes are in many cases pushing them out.

Reverse mortgages, which allow homeowners aged 62 and older to borrow money against the value of their homes and not pay it back until they move out or die, have long been fraught with problems.

But federal and state regulators are documenting new instances of abuse as smaller mortgage brokers, including former subprime lenders, flood the market after the recent exit of big banks and as defaults on the loan hit record rates.

Some lenders are aggressively pitching loans to seniors who cannot afford the fees associated with them, not to mention the property taxes and maintenance. Others are wooing seniors with promises that the loans are free money that can be used to finance long-coveted cruises, without clearly explaining the risks.

Concerns about the multibillion-dollar reverse mortgage market echo those raised in the lead-up to the financial crisis when consumers were marketed loans - often carrying hidden risks - that they could not afford.

Although the numbers of reverse mortgages have declined in recent years, the rate of default is at a record high - roughly 9.4% of loans, according to the consumer protection bureau, up from around 2% a decade earlier.

Used correctly, reverse mortgages can be a valuable tool for seniors to stay in their homes and gain access to money needed for retirement. But since the financial crisis, the reverse mortgage market has been in flux, dampened by a drop in property values, complaints about the loans and the recent departure of big lenders. Into the void left by the big banks have moved smaller mortgage brokers and lenders. Some, steer seniors into expensive, risky loans with deceptive sales pitches and high-pressure tactics. Reverse mortgages also have troublesome incentive structures that might encourage brokers to steer seniors toward lump-sum loans, which carry a fixed interest rate, rather than a line of credit with a variable interest rate, the bureau found.

In a lump-sum arrangement, the interest charges are added each month, and over time the total debt owned can far surpass the original loan.

The newspaper report has gotten us curious about reverse mortgage in Singapore, so the wife and I decided to do some digging. The product was first available in Singapore in 1994 when NTUC Income introduced the scheme for private property owners. Shortly after HDB relaxed its regulations in March 2006 to allow elderly HDB home owners to take up reverse mortgages on commercial terms offered by banks and financial institutions in Singapore, NTUC Income also launched reverse mortgages on HDB flats.

Despite the supposed merits of such loan, reverse mortgage has also been known to go very wrong. One such example was a lawsuit brought against NTUC Income in 2009 by a couple over a reverse mortgage deal in which their property was sold amidst falling property prices. NTUC Income demanded repayment of a loan procured in 1997 under a reverse mortgage, and the couple claimed they had to sell their home to repay it.

The couple claimed that the 1997 reverse mortgage valued their house at $2.1 million, and based on a loan to valuation ratio of at most 80%, they were given $495,000 cash to pay off their previous mortgage and payments of up to $2,000 a month.

In May 2004, the couple were told the value of their house had dropped to $1.1 million and they were in breach of the 80% loan to valuation limit, based on the outstanding loan amount of $926,000.
According to the couple, they were told to top up $46,400 to bring the ratio down to the 80% limit, and their monthly payments of $2,000 were reduced in steps to $1,500 from October that year.

A year later, in October 2005, NTUC Income said the outstanding loan, at $1.014 million, exceeded the 80% limit based on the property value of $1.15 million. The couple were told they would get just $300 a month until June 2006, after which the company would 'exercise (its) right to recall the property for auction sale'. The couple could also procure a buyer on their own or find another place to stay, according to a letter from NTUC Income, the couple said.

By then, the couple had owed $1,045,802.91. On June 2006, solicitors for NTUC Income sent the couple a letter demanding repayment or else face legal proceedings.
The couple handed over possession of their property on Aug 2006. The property was later sold for just over $1 million, leaving an alleged shortfall of about $55,000, which the couple were asked to pay. They claimed that if not for NTUC Income's letter, they would not have sold the property - which in 2008 was again sold for about $1.5 million.

The case mentioned is probably a good reference for those who are thinking of taking up a reverse mortgage. If such loan is taken when the property market is buoyant, the borrower may risk having to "force sell" their property when the market turns sour. For a product touted as a retirement tool, the wife and I definitely do not think it's as safe as they are made out to be. It may well be better off for seniors to fund their retirements through proceeds from "downgrading" to a smaller/less expensive property.  

As to the outcome of the lawsuit between NTUC and the couple, we are unable to find any verdict on the case. So if any of our readers know, do share!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New versus resale prices narrowed but trend expects to reverse!

New private homes typically cost 20% more than resale homes, but analysts say this price gap has since narrowed.

Entering into the fourth quarter, new private developments now command just a 4% premium over resale private units, according to data compiled by the Singapore Real Estate Exchange (SRX) which collates transactions by major property agencies accounting for 80% of the private sales market.

This premium is expected to increase as developers price in the higher cost of land in their new launches.

When it comes to new private homes, analysts say it's a buyers' market.

And that's why developers have been pricing new private homes "competitively" with marginal increases.

As a result, prices of resale units started catching up earlier this year.

By the third quarter, the median prices of resale homes reached $1,163.45psf, 1% higher than new homes.

According to experts, resale units are usually near well-established amenities because they are in well-established estates. They are also bigger, in better locations and possibly have ready rental income from existing tenants.

Going into the fourth quarter, some analysts say prices of new private homes have recorded a premium of 4%. This works out to a median price of $1,261.24psf for new private homes, compared to a median price of resale homes at $1,204.50psf.

Lee Sze Teck, Senior Research Manager at DWG, said: "The price gap is likely to widen. We think that the new home prices, perhaps the situation could be reversed. Now you can see a gap between new home prices and resale prices."

Going into 2013, industry observers expect new private home prices to be some 5 to 20% higher than resale units, as developers pass on higher costs.

Mohd Ismail, CEO of PropNex, said: "Based on the recent land bids, we have witnessed areas like Jurong and Tanah Merah - prices psf ppr by developer bidding exceeding $700. Which means that it will translate to sale prices next year, it will translate to $1,400psf - minimum. Though today's median's prices are only about $1,200 for new launches. It is expected to move upwards."

Still, higher prices of new homes are expected to boost the value of existing private developments in the same area. And while resale homes come with shorter land leases, the waiting time to move in is also shorter.
Source: Channel News Asia

Of the 5 or so properties that the wife and I have bought over the past 7 years, only one was brand new - we subsequently sold this a few months after the purchase for a small profit and are still kicking ourselves for doing so.

Other than the shorter waiting time to move in, one other advantage of buying resale versus brand new is the fact that you can really "see" what you are buying into, as opposed to buying purely via floor-plan or showflat, which can sometime go very wrong.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Property Spotlight: Novena area

Subsale transactions are picking up at Viva. Located at Suffolk Walk, the freehold 235-unit condominium developed by Allgreen Properties recently obtained its Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP). The development consists of three 30-storey blocks of two- to four-bedroom units.
On Oct 5, a 1,346sqft three-bedroom unit on the seventh floor changed hands at $2.58 million ($1,918psf). The original owner bought it in September 2009 for $1.95 million ($1,449psf), thus realizing capital appreciation of 32% in three years. On Oct 8, a 1,324sqft three-bedroom unit on the 18th floor transacted at $2.84 million ($2,148psf). The original owner had purchased the unit for $2.08 million ($1,572psf) when it was launched in August 2009. The unit thus saw a capital appreciation of 36.6%. The price achieved on Oct 8 is also the highest psf price so far for a unit at Viva.

According to caveats lodged with URA, when Viva was launched, units were going for an average of $1,500psf. Nearby, at Khiang Guan Avenue, Lincoln Suites was launched in October 2009 at $2,800psf. The freehold 175-unit Lincoln Suites was developed by a consortium made up of Koh Brothers Group, Lian Beng Group, KSH Holdings and Heeton Holdings, and is expected to be completed in 2014.

Phylicia Ang, Savills' executive director, feels that both transaction at Viva are reasonable, considering that the units are freehold, located in prime District 11 and within walking distance from the Novena MRT station as well as shopping malls such as United Square, Velocity and Square 2. Viva is also the only freehold development in the Novena neighborhood that has been completed. Buyers generally prefer new developments, Ang says, adding that there is a good mix of local and foreign buyers looking for units in Novena for investment and personal use. The other significant freehold development is the 486-unit Park Infinia, developed by Keppel Land and completed in 2008.

With Viva newly completed, Ang expects to see renewed interest from buyers, and secondary market activity to pick up. She notes that the price achieved on Oct 8 is also a good deal compared with other developments in the Novena area that have a 99-year leasehold tenure. Soleil@Sinaran, for example, has been selling at $1,900psf, with some units surpassing the $2,000psf. Developed by Frasers Centrepoint, the 417-unit, high-end condo was completed early last year. Ang predicts that, when Lincoln Suites is completed, owners at Viva will start pegging their selling prices closer to those of Lincoln Suites, which was launched later and priced higher, especially as the project contains compact apartments, which generally command a higher price psf.

Edward Lim, head of business unit at KF Property Network, who specializes in marketing units in Districts 9, 10 and 11, says in terms of location, Lincoln Suites is unmatched, as it is right next to United Square. Viva, on the other hand, distinguishes itself with its facilities, water features and quality finishing, he adds.

Units in the Novena area have seen good rental rates, says Savills' Ang. Units at Soleil@Sinaran, for instance, have been able to achieve rentals of between $5 and $5.50psf, and is popular with expatriate families because of its quality facilities and landscaping. She expects Viva to achieve a similar rental rate.

KF Property's Lim notes that rental yield in Novena, Newton and Orchard has been hovering around 3%. "The rental yield is not very high, as there are many condos in the area competing for tenants,"  he says. He adds that buyers who are looking to invest in these areas should expect to hold them for the medium to long term to reap the returns of capital appreciation. Compared with Newton, Novena has also been more popular among buyers, as it has more amenities, says Lim.
Unfortunately the wife and I did not visit the showflats of Lincoln Suites and Viva. But we did see Soleil @Sinaran. You can click on the link below to read our review on Soleil:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Project Spotlight: Kovan Regency

Hoi Hup's Kovan Regency, consisting of 393 mixed condominium and strata-landed housing units, were among the top five best-selling projects in September.

The 99-year leasehold Kovan Regency has a wide range of unit types: one-bedroom (506 to 700sqft), two-bedroom  (624 to 775sqft), three-bedroom (893 to 1,389sqft), four-bedroom (1,281 to 1,507sqft) units, penthouses (689 to 2,260sqft) and strata terraces (3,692sqft to 3,864sqft). During its launch last month, it sold 369 units at a median price of $1,275sqft. In fact, over 90% of the units sold were done in the first weekend of private previews.
2-bedroom (624sqft)
3-bedroom (893sqft)
4-bedroom (1,281sqft)
According to Lisa Goh, property development manager of Hoi Hup, Kovan Regency's smaller units sold the fastest. Most of the buyers are locals who already own a landed property in the Simon Road area, observes Goh. She notes that there have been families who purchased several units on the same floor in order to live close to one another. While there have been a few investors, Goh says most of the buyers are getting the units for their own use.

The main attraction among buyers is Kovan Regency's proximity to the Kovan MRT Station. It's also located within walking distance to Heartland Mall and Kovan Hougang Market and Food Centre. Schools such as Paya Lebar Methodist Girls, Xinmin Primary School, and Yuying Secondary School are also nearby. The development will be completed in 2016.
The units still available at Kovan Regency are five 4-bedroom penthouses (1,744 to 2,142sqft), one corner strata-titled terraced house (3,875sqft) and 11 other intermediate strata-titled terraced units (3,703sqft). There are a total of 15 strata terraced houses in the development, and they are all provided with a home lift. Goh believes that the terraces will appeal to foreign buyers. This is because URA has announced in April that it will no longer grant condominium status to developments containing a mix of strata-landed homes and apartments within the same development. This move was designed to close the loophole that has enabled foreigners to buy strata landed homes in such projects without gaining approval from the Land Dealings Approval Unit. Kovan Regency is one of the last few condos with strata-landed homes that foreigners are eligible to buy as it was one of the last few to secure planning permission before the new measure was introduced.

Kovan Regency is Hoi Hup's second launch this year. It launched the 99-year leasehold, 376-unit Sea Esta in Pasir Ris earlier this year. The development consists of one- to four-bedroom units and penthouses and is located close to White Sands shopping centre, Loyang Point and E!Hub Downtown East. According to Goh, there are 16 units left for sale at Sea Esta.