Sunday, September 28, 2014

Our new blog-site has gone "live"!

The new SG PropTalk site is now "live" and accessible via This will be our final post on this (old) blog-site.

While there are still a couple of bugs that need to be ironed out, the wife and I are actually pretty satisfied with how the new blog-site has turned out. Considering that this is another of our DIY-project and given our limited blog-design knowledge, we probably can pat ourselves on our backs for a job well done!

To those who had provided us with your comments/suggestions during our redesign process, we are grateful for your inputs.

See you at our new SG PropTalk blog-site!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Another educational seminar brought to you by Property Club Singapore...

After running a full house for their last education seminar, Property Club Singapore will be holding another one entitled "Smart Landlords vs Smart Tenants".

The event will be held on November 1, 2014 (Saturday) at NTUC Centre. Click on link below for more details about the upcoming seminar and how to register for the event.

Friday, September 26, 2014 survey: Singapore property prices lower but still "out of reach"!

Prices of residential properties may have fallen over the past few months, but they are still too expensive and buyers are increasingly waiting on the sidelines for prices to drop further, a survey has showed.

Nearly a quarter, or 22%, of respondents do not plan to purchase property at the moment, up from 10% six months ago, showed a half-yearly Asia Property Market Sentiment Report by real estate portal Some of the reasons cited include high prices and the challenge of the down payment.

“Buyers are biding their time, with affordability and financing as top concerns. While the number of respondents who intend to purchase within the next 24 months remains the same at 51%, buyers may wait for new and resale private condo prices to fall … The market is now correcting after the rapid rise over the last few years, and demand is there at the right price point,” said Mr Sean Tan, general manager of Singapore.

Several rounds of cooling measures have seen the value of both private and public properties fall. In the second quarter of this year, private home prices were about 3% off the peak in the third quarter of 2013, while public resale home prices were down 5% from its peak in the second quarter of last year, data by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and Housing and Development Board showed.

A majority of the survey respondents, or 53%, think that both new and resale private condominiums will see further price declines this year. Against that backdrop, the survey saw a 15 percentage point increase in the number of home owners who want to sell their properties, compared with six months ago.

“The report shows that both property sellers and buyers are nervous a year after the start of the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR). In the second half of 2013 report, just after the TDSR was announced, 59% of owners were confident their properties would retain its value; now only 38% think so, a decline of 21 percentage points. Another 25% are unsure if the value will be retained,” said Mr Tan.

The survey, which polled 2,805 respondents in Singapore, also found that a majority of them, or 56%, are in favour of the Government’s decision to keep cooling measures in place despite repeated calls by industry practitioners to tweak some of the curbs.
Source: CNA

Click on link below to read the full report....all 140 pages of it. For those who are only interested in the Singapore residential market, start reading from page 103.

Here's one GLS site to look out for!

The URA and HDB have released two 99-year leasehold sites under the H2 2014 Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme yesterday. Both sites are expected to yield about 1,000 units of private homes jointly.

The first site is slated for a mixed-use development located along Upper Serangoon Road. However, it is the second site that will probably generate more interests... at least in our opinion.

The said plot is located in Dundee Road near Commonwealth Road, which was made available for sale on the Reserve List. The 10,516sqm (113,194sqft) site, with a maximum GFA of 51,528sqm (554,653sqft) is expected to yield 645 units.

The Dundee Road plot is actually located next to Commonwealth Towers, which site was acquired by CDL/Hong Leong at $883psf ppr back in December 2012. Units in this development were sold at average prices of around $1,600psf.

So it will be interesting to see the response from developers for this adjacent site this time around, given the less than rosy market sentiments...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

So how much is the most expensive apartment in NYC?

Answer: A cool US$130 million!

The accolade belongs to a triplex penthouse at Zeckendorf Development Co's tower under construction on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

The 12,394sqft property will span the top three floors at 520 Park Avenue, where sales will begin in the first quarter of next year.

The building, between 60th and 61st streets, will include seven duplexes of about 9,138sqft each, starting at US$67 million. Single-floor units of about 4,600sqft will start at US$16.2 million.

The triplex would be the most expensive listing for an apartment in New York history and the largest on the Upper East Side. The unit will include a 1,257sqft terrace with views of Central Park to the north. 520 Park Avenue is slated for completion in 2017.

The asking price works out to about US$10,000psf, which is the average resale price of condos that face the park at the Zeckendorf's 15 Central Park West. At that complex, on the Upper west Side, former Citicorp Inc chairman Sanford Weill sold his penthouse for US$88 million in 2012, Manhattan's most expensive completed residential deal.
Info source: Bloomberg

And to think that Singapore luxury home prices are high...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Photos we took of Trizon...

The wife and I had passed by Trizon many a time since its TOP, whenever we had to ferry our son to/from school. 

We finally decided to make a pit-stop and take a couple of photos of the development this afternoon. 

When we first reviewed Trizon back in 2010, the average selling prices then were in the range of $1,400 - 1,600psf. Prices had hit a high of $2,043psf in July 2012 but given the less than favorable market conditions especially over the past year, the 4 resale transactions that were completed this year have hovered around $1,428 - 1,659psf. 

This is one development that the wife and I have a "hate then love" relationship with - you know what we mean if you have read our review. And it remains in our "wish list"... perhaps in a couple of years.

Click on link below to read our previous review on Trizon:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Colliers report on en-bloc sales

Back from Jakarta this evening and after realizing that it is another "slow news" day on the residential property front, the wife and I decided to scour the Internet for inspiration.

We came across this informative report by Colliers that detailed the Singapore collective sale scene up till July of this year.

So here it is... for your reading pleasure.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Seventy St Patrick's: More than 50% of units launched sold!

This may already be "old" news (as the wife and I have just managed to get onto our laptop after spending the day running around in Jakarta) but BT has reported today that Seventy St Patrick's, a 186-unit freehold condominium located in the East Coast by developer UOL Group, sold around 100 units during its private launch over the weekend.

Units were sold at an average price of $1,630psf.

The smallest unit sold was a two-bedder for about $1.2 million, while the largest was a penthouse that went for around $2.4 million. Around 16 penthouses out of the 36 available were sold.

Singaporean constitute around 90% of the buyers.

Unit sizes for the development range from 700sqft for a two-bedroom to 1,647sqft for a four-bedroom penthouse.

As a comparison, another freehold development nearby - St Patrick's Residences - had three units that changed hands this year at an average price of $1,226psf. The units sold ranged from 1,206sqft to 2,519sqft, according to data from URA.

Seventy St Patrick's comprises nine blocks of five-storey building. It is being built on a site of about 140,000sqft along St Patrick's Road. Estimated completion of the project is end-2017.

Marine Terrace MRT station on the recently announced Thomson-East Coast Line, which is scheduled for completion in 2023, is supposedly located near to the development.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Blog-site redesign (Day 3)

After spending most of the past 3 days in front of the computer, we are now 95% satisfied with what we have done in terms of our blog-site redesign.

The wife and I do not expect anymore major changes. And as you can see, we have faithfully stuck with our favorite orange background color. 

We will inform you once we are ready to go "live" with the revamped SG PropTalk blog-site. Meantime, please continue to visit and post your comments here.

For those who want to "play around" with the new site for a bit, just follow the link below:

Thank you!

Weekend ditty...

The photo was taken while we were on our way home from lunch this afternoon. The facade around the Balestier/Thomson Road junction has changed considerably with the completion of 368 Thomson and Cube 8.

Having said that, the familiar sight of "red and white" remained - wedged between the 2 new developments. And if what we have heard from the grapevine is accurate, the 36-year old tower will probably be there for quite awhile yet...

Have a good week ahead, everyone!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Blog-site redesign (Day 2)

The wife and I (actually more the "I"... again) have spent most of the day reworking on our blog design (again).

Many thanks to those who have chipped in with your comments/suggestions - a couple were extremely helpful and we have tried to incorporate these to the best of our HTML coding ability.

We reckon we are about done. Now to wait for our domain to be activated before we go "live" with our new website.

Meantime, any further comments/suggestions will be most appreciated!

Friday, September 19, 2014

So what do you think?

The wife and I (okay, more "I") have spent the large part of today playing around with the redesigning of our blog.

This is still very rough around the edges but we would like to solicit some initial feedback.
So... go with the "new" or stick to the "old"?

P/S: As the new blog-site is still very much work-in-progress, it will be constantly evolving (taking into consideration the suggestions from our readers) until we are ready to go "Live". So what you see today may be quite different from what you see tomorrow. Please come back regularly to provide us with feedback to improve on the site. Thank you!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Private home sales: 2008 revisited?

The ST reported today that the number of units launched but unsold at 15.1% in August 2014 is worse than in August 2008 - 2 months to the run-up to the 2008 global financial crisis which hit in October that year. 

Vacancy rate at completed private residential projects are also higher, at 7.1% at the end of the second quarter versus 6.1% in 2008 at the same time. And this is expected to rise further, given a deluge of completed projects in the pipeline and the limited number of expats looking to rent.

 Looks like interesting times are ahead ...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Seminar on "Understanding property financing and TDSR framework"

Want to better understand how banks approve housing loans and how best to secure property financing under the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework? Then head on down to the education seminar organized by Property Club Singapore this Sunday!
Date       : September 21, 2014 (Sunday)
Time       : 2.30 p.m. – 5.00 p.m.
Venue     : National Library Building L5 Possibility Room
Go to  for more details about the seminar and registration.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lakeville (Review)

The wife and I decided to visit Lakeville last weekend. This is one of the project that has recently sprang back to attention after our Prime Minister's had announced plans for the big Jurong Lake District revamp during his National Day Rally speech last month.

The sales gallery of Lakeville is located at an open field opposite to JCube. However, one may easily miss the slip road (Jurong East St. 12) leading into the gallery with all the constructions that is currently taking place around the area.

Given that it is a weekend, the sales gallery was pretty crowded with prospective buyers. The wife and I were told that Lakeville was launched about 6 months ago but interests have been somewhat lacklustre until after the National Day Rally speech.    
First off, the actual site of Lakeville is not anywhere near where the sales gallery is located... at least not within comfortable walking distance anyway. The actual plot is along Boon Lay Way, between Lakeside and Chinese Garden MRT stations. To get to JCube or Westgate, you will either have to drive (about 5 minutes) or take the train from Lakeside to Jurong East MRT station, which is 2 stops away. To walk it we reckon will probably take a good 20 - 25 minutes.

Lakeville is a 99-year leasehold developed by MCL Land. This is the same developer that launched J Gateway back in June of 2013 - a residential project next-door to Jurong East bus interchange and opposite to Westgate, which sold 736 of its 738 units on the first day of launch, at an average price of $1,480psf.

Lakeville consists of 696 units spread over 6 towers of 16-storey high. The project sits on a plot of almost 241,000sqft and offers unit configurations of 1- to 5-bedrooms as well as penthouses. "Dual-key" units are also available within the development.

One unique feature of Lakeville is that some apartment types actually come without balconies - this will please those (much like yours truly) who do not utilize the external area of their apartment much. 

In terms of access, the wife and I were told that a new access road will be constructed specially for Lakeville. This bi-directional road (Jurong Lake Link) will act as a conduit  into Boon Lay Way or Jurong West St. 41, which should make it easier for residents to get in/out of the estate.

Facility-wise, Lakeville is comparatively more generous than the other new projects that we had seen recently. While the main features revolve around the swimming pool that stretches almost from one end of the estate to the other, another unique offering is the 6 "signature gardens" (with names like "Verdant Plateau" and "Golden Estuary") that are located within the confines of each tower itself. Lakeville's residents can also boast of having a tennis court within their estate - something of a rarity in new projects these days.

Parking wise, Lakeville has 696 lots plus 7 handicapped spaces. So prospective buyers with more than one car may have to pray very hard that not every household in the estate owns a vehicle.

The showflats on display are the 2- and 3-bedroom units. The 5-bedroom showflat was closed as it is being converted to a 4-bedroom one, since most of the 5-bedders (only 1 stack of such in the development) have been sold.

We will focus our attention on the 3-bedroom showflat. This is a 1,281sqft ground floor unit (Type C6-P). The typical C6 type on the higher floors is 1,141sqft but has the same interior area and configuration.

As one enters from the main door, you will see the kitchen on your right before arriving at the living/dining area.

The kitchen is divided into a "dry" and "wet" area. However, the so-called "dry kitchen" is nothing more than an elevated platform which you can either use as a serving area or a small dining table. All cooking/washing are confined to the "wet" kitchen, which is good-sized enough for two to be working side-by-side. The "dry" and "wet" kitchen is separated by a glass door (not installed in the showflat), which is a good idea for keeping the grease and smell within the confines of the "wet" kitchen. The kitchen comes equipped with equipment (hood/hob, fridge and oven) from Fisher and Paykel and fittings from Grohe.


At the end of the "wet" kitchen is the utility/yard area. You do not get much space in the yard but a large set of windows ensure good ventilation and possibly the option of an extendable laundry system. The utility room is a narrow longish space but with a bit of ingenuity, one can fit both the washing machine (provided) and a custom-made bed inside.

The living/dining room is rectangular-shaped and looked rather spacious especially for an apartment of such size. Should you decide that you need even more "entertaining" space, we were told that you can dismantle the wall between the dining area and bedroom 2 - but you will have to do this at your own expense and after the project has received its certification of completion. Our only complaint is that the living/dining area for the 3-bedder only comes with homogenous-tile flooring - we were told that the 4- and 5-bedroom units have marble floors. But you do get pretty high ceiling at 2.9m, which helps to increase the perception of space within the apartment.


The two common bedrooms are rather small - maybe the reason why one does not feature a bed while the other has a built-in elevated single-bed. But we reckon something has to give somewhere given the size of the apartment. 

In contrast, the common bathroom is surprisingly huge. The wife and I were told that the bathrooms are built according to wheelchair-friendly requirements - what this means is that anyone on a wheelchair must be able to enter the bathroom and be able to make a 180-degree turn inside. The bathroom comes fitted with bathroom fittings from Roca and toilet from Johnson Suisse - not exactly "premium" quality compared to what we have seen elsewhere.


The master bedroom is again pleasantly spacious even with a King-bed. The secret supposedly lies with the wardrobe, which is flushed against the wall - so that it does not protrude outside thereby taking up additional space within the bedroom. However, the 2-panel wardrobe space is hardly sufficient but is quite the norm these days.


The master bathroom is almost a replica of the one outside, except for the wall-mounted toilet. We are pleased that it does not come with a long bath, but a tad disappointed with the absence of "rain shower" in the shower stall.


Pricing wise, the 3-bedders go for about $1.4 million, depending on which floor you are looking at. This translates to around $1,230psf.  

For those who are interested in the 5-bedroom units, there are not many of these left as there is only one such stack within the development. But the asking price for a second-floor unit of 1,528sqft is $1.79 million, which translates to around $1,170psf.


What we like:

  • The functional layout with the 3-bedder (and this will probably apply to the 5-bedder as well, given that they have similar layouts), which makes the apartment felt more spacious than it really is. 
  • Lakeside MRT station is supposedly a 500m walk away. However, you are likely to be subjected to the elements as we cannot foresee any sheltered path leading to the station. 

  • For those with kids going into primary schools in 2018/2019, there are at least 2 primary schools that is within 1-km of Lakeville - one of which being the popular Ru Lang Primary. 

  • The Canadian School is located right next to Lakeville. This may offer good prospects for those who are buying for rental yields.

  • With the upcoming plans to revamp the Jurong Lake District, this should boost the value of residential properties around the area especially when the revamp starts to take shape. So buyers of Lakeville may expect some "first mover" advantage as subsequent new projects (e.g. on the plot of land next door) are likely to be priced higher ... technically anyway.

What we do not quite like: 

  • The quality of furnishing and fitting seen in the showflat is average at best and definitely pales in comparison to the other projects that we have visited recently. 

  • As all the towers are angled towards the NW-SE facing, many of the units (especially the outward facing ones in Tower 1, 3 & 11) will probably get the afternoon sun shining into the living & bedrooms - not very ideal if you aren't a fan of the heat. 

  • The marketing agent will expound on the "convenience appeal" of Lakeville given its location within the Jurong Lake District and proximity to Jurong Gateway. But this is really a case of "near but not quite" in our opinion. You will still have to drive or take the train to JCube/Jem/Westgate/Jurong East MRT or Jurong Point - the developer ought to provide a shuttle-bus service to ferry residents to Jurong East MRT and bus interchange at regular intervals, at least during the first year or two. And depending on the facing of your unit and how high up you are, you may end up looking at the MRT track rather than the lake.

Our parting shot

Lakeville will probably be the second new development (after the fully sold J Gateway) to come up in the Jurong lake District area. As such, there is always the potential upside when comes to capital gains, especially since its price is lower than what the folks paid for J Gateway. And in terms of facilities offering, Lakeville is actually one up over J Gateway judging from the respective site plans. So if you are looking to partake in the revitalisation of the Jurong Lake District and not too picky about the interior quality offered by the apartments (we can only speak based on what we saw of the 3-bedders), then Lakeville is probably a project that you may want to take a look at.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Breaking news: August new home sales down another 15%!

The private housing market remained in the doldrums in August, with sales of homes falling 15% from the previous month as developers continued to scale back new launches. 

Excluding executive condominiums (ECs), developers sold 432 new units last month, down from the 509 units sold in July, data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority showed on Monday (Sep 15). Including ECs, 490 new units were sold in August, down from 560 units in July.

The lacklustre sales came as developers continued scaling back new launches, with just 351 units launched in August, down from the 441 units launched in the previous month.
Source: CNA

Maybe Highline Residences and Marina One will be the saviours in September?

Highline Residences: 80% of the 160 units released sold!

Keppel Land, which started closed-door sales of its Highline Residences condominium over the weekend, said it has received a good response to the project.

More than 80% of the 160 units - or over a quarter of 500 units available in total - released were sold at an average price of $1,900psf after discount. Discounts ranging from $28,000 to $68,000 were offered during the preview weekend.

The price was in line with earlier expectations by market watchers of between $1,800 and $1,900psf.

The positive response may be attributed to the pent-up demand for private housing in Tiong Bahru, which has not seen a launch in the past seven years.

Sales at the condominium is widely watched given its prime location diagonally opposite Tiong Bahru MRT Station and Tiong Bahru Plaza mall.

Highline Residences' 500 units are housed in two 36-storey towers, a 22-tower tower and four low-rise blocks. Its unit sizes range from 506sqft for one-bedders to 1,227sqft for four-bedroom dual key units. It will also have six penthouses, ranging from 2,174sqft to 2,260sqft in size.

The design of the condominium is inspired by New York City's High Line, a public park built on a historic elevated rail line.

Residents may tap concierge services such as limousines and housekeeping, in addition to enjoying complimentary golfing at Keppel Land's Ria Bintang Golf Club.
Info source: BT

Okay, so the wife and I were wrong on the "hard sell at $1,900psf" bit. Kudos to Highline Residences and Keppel Land. And it just goes to show how much liquidity is still out there in the market.

But is it a good buy at $1,900psf? The judgement is still out on this one...


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Vancouver property market sizzles with China cash

Chinese investors' global hunt for real estate is helping drive Vancouver home prices to record highs and the city, long among top destinations for wealthy mainland buyers, is feeling the bonanza's unwelcome side-effects.
The latest wave of Chinese money, linked in part to Beijing's anti-graft crackdown, is flowing into luxury hot spots. But it has also started driving up housing costs elsewhere in a city which already ranks as North America's least affordable urban market.
For decades, Vancouver, along with Hong Kong, Sydney and Singapore and, more recently, New York and London has been attracting Chinese and other Asian buyers.
And just like those other cities, Vancouver got caught in the most recent buying frenzy, which realtors say has intensified after President Xi Jinping announced his anti-corruption crusade in late 2012.
"In the last year, there's been the corruption crackdown in China and a lot of people have seen their wealth evaporate over there because of that," said Dan Scarrow, a vice-president at MacDonald Realty. "So they want to put it somewhere they perceive as safe and there's nowhere safer than the West."
Canada does not track foreign property buyers, but analysis of city assessment data carried out by a leading urban planner and made available to Reuters helped identify Vancouver's hottest neighbourhoods. Interviews with realtors active in those areas confirmed the perception that Chinese buyers were largely behind the latest rally.
City-wide home values are already up more than 35% since 2009 and realtors are saying that more than half the buyers in prime markets are mainland Chinese.
The impact of the latest inflow of foreign cash is particularly acute for Vancouver, its market is already tight because of limited building space and a decade-long nationwide property bull run fuelled by low borrowing costs. 
The money flow has also transformed the DNA of the city. Condo towers in Vancouver are now built without a fourth floor, as that number is unlucky in Asian cultures, and wok kitchens - a second kitchen for cooking with a smoky wok - are standard in most new homes.
The influx is also having a trickledown effects as people sell out in prime locations and move to other neighbourhoods, driving up prices and widening the gap between housing costs and the condition of the local economy.
Vancouver has been ranked the second least affordable major city after Hong Kong for the past three years in an annual survey by think tank Demographia, which tracks housing costs and incomes in top markets such as New York, Sydney, Singapore and London.
Info Source: Reuters

As long as there is a need for Mainland Chinese to park their money and Hongkongers continue to snap up apartments because these are deemed much more affordable than back home, the property market in Vancouver will probably stay "hot" for quite awhile yet. 


Saturday, September 13, 2014

So what's the view like at the top of Pinnacle @Duxton?

With units at Pinnacle @Duxton reaching their 5-year mark in a couple of months, the market is already abuzz with expectations that many units in this iconic HDB project will be sold at over the million dollar mark. This is largely because of (other than locale) its supposed "million dollar view".

So the wife and I decided to make the trip to Pinnacle this morning to find out for ourselves what all the fuss is about.

After paying 5 bucks (each), we were allowed access to the Skybridge on the 50th floor of the building.  Despite it being a somewhat gloomy mid-morning with traces of haze courtesy of our Indonesian friends, we managed to capture quite a number of pretty decent photos.

Million dollar view? We'll let you be the judge!

Have a good weekend!

Friday, September 12, 2014

UK home prices: More signs of market easing...

British house prices rose at the slowest pace in August, according to a survey on Thursday that suggested speculation about higher interest rates has dampened buyer confidence.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' monthly house price balance fell to +40 last month, its lowest level since last August, and falling short of forecasts for +47 in a Reuters poll of economists. July was revised down slightly to +48.

Agreed sales fell for the first time since September 2012 and there was a second consecutive fall in buyer inquiries.

"Some of the momentum has come out of the housing market of late reflecting in part concerns over a likely rise in teh cost of borrowing at some point in the not too distant future," said Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney said on Tuesday that the bank may start to raise interest rates next spring if the labour market continued to recover from the financial crisis.

The RICS survey of chartered surveyors added to evidence that London's housing market is cooling off after fervent price growth earlier this year. The London house price balance eased to +9 in August from +11.

Mr Rubinsohn said: "There are signs that the London market is gradually moving on to a more sustainable footing with a modest increase in the number of instructions coming through slowly helping to create a better balance with demand, and in the process, taking the edge off price gains."

Britain's biggest house-builder Barratt Developments on Wednesday predicted a return to "more normal" trends in Britain's housing market.
Source: Reuters

Yet another sign of easing in the British property market but then again, one has to take such survey with a slight pinch of salt as depending on who does it and how it is done, the results can most always be subjected to interpretations.
However, the fact remains that the amount of new housing stock is currently rising at a much faster pace compared to say, 2 years ago. This is especially within the prime areas around London. Market analysts have estimated that 48% of the nearly 23,000 new homes priced at more than GBP1,000psf are located in the six key clusters along the River Thames. And some 13,000 units could enter the rental market over the next few years. 
But with a combination of increasing number of new homes coming onto the market, increasing sound bites about upward revision of interest rates and the implementation of capital gains tax come April 2015, these are certainly factors that potential investors (especially overseas) should take into consideration before putting ink to paper on that investment property in London...