MARKET UPDATES

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Chip Eng Seng sells 77 units at Kopar At Newton condo - launched completely online

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - CEL Development, a fully-owned subsidiary of mainboard-listed Chip Eng Seng Corporation, has sold 77 units at the launch of its 378-unit Kopar At Newton condo project over the weekend. Singapore-based proptech firm Showsuite said:"This is the first private residential project in Singapore to be launched completely online and with transactions carried out remotely without any of the buyers and serving property agents being present at the sales office." The sales office was within Chip Eng Seng's office premises in Chin Swee Road. "All bookings were carried out using Showsuite's proprietary digital booking platform which allowed buyers to avoid queues, crowd and contact, as they signed pre-sale documents in the comfort of their homes. Some buyers even opted to pay the 5 per cent booking deposit online instead of conventional cheques, "Showsuite said in a release on Sunday evening. This was the first project to be launched for sale amid the heightened Covid-19 guidelines around crowd avoidance announced on March 24 and ahead of the 28-day circuit-breaking moratorium announced by the Singapore authorities last Friday which would see all showflats closed from April 7 to May 4. The 99-year leasehold project is located off Newton Circus. CEL executive director Michael Ng said the project average price is $2, 350 per square foot (psf), as stated previously."We have not had time to calculate the average per square foot price for the units sold over the weekend. Most of the units that have been sold are one and two-bedroom apartments, "he said. The cheapest units transacted were a couple of one-bedders priced at $1.098 million each. Also sold was a penthouse of about 3, 305 sq ft that went for $7.88 million."Buyers were predominantly Singapore citizens, although we also had some permanent residents and a few foreigners who are based here, "said Mr Ng. Kopar at Newton is jointly marketed by ERA, PropNex, OrangeTee & Tie and SRI. CEL began previewing the project on March 25."We had planned to begin sales on Good Friday. However, when we were informed last Friday that all showflats would have to be closed for one month from April 7, we decided to bring forward the start of sales, "said Mr Ng."We already had Showsuite on board with us, and their technology certainly facilitated the quick commencement of sales on Saturday." That said, Mr Ng noted that even with the Showsuite platform, it would have been difficult to launch sales during the moratorium"because you would still need to gather some of the key people - from the developers' side as well as the key persons in charge from each of the four property agencies - even if they are not in the same physical space as the buyer and serving agents". This would not be allowed given that, except for suppliers and supply chains of essential services, activities at all workplaces and retail outlets must be suspended during the four-week period - as part of the additional measures to minimise the further spread of Covid-19. Showsuite CEO Karamjit Singh said:"We are grateful to the four joint marketing agencies who were trained to carry out the transactions remotely, thereby achieving decentralisation. Each were given their dedicated and secure dashboards connected to our real-time inventory management platform. We also adopted video-conferencing for training and off-site tech-support to ensure the smooth running of the process." Kopar at Newton will have two towers of 23 storeys each. Units will range from one-bedroom to five-bedroom apartments; there will also be penthouses. This is the third project launch that Chip Eng Seng has done in partnership with Showsuite, after Park Colonial and Parc Komo

Source: Straits Times
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Landlords could be made to pass on rebates: DPM Heng

The Government is prepared to take legislative action to ensure that landlords pass on savings from property tax rebates to their tenants, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat. Speaking after touring an aquaculture facility in Neo Tiew yesterday, he noted that landlords and tenants have a long-term relationship, hence"it is important that tenants which are viable should be taken care of". "I want to urge the landlords to not only pass on these rebates, but to take care of the tenants, "he said. Under the $48.4 billion supplementary budget announced last week, eligible commercial properties adversely affected by the coronavirus outbreak need not pay property tax this year. This is up from the 15 per cent to 30 per cent property tax rebate initially announced in February's Budget. Some 60, 000 properties qualify for the 100 per cent rebate, most of which are retail and food and beverage properties, including commercial shophouses, said the Ministry of Finance. Owners of qualifying properties can expect to receive their refunds by June 30. However, business groups have said that tenants may urgently need rental relief because plunging sales have led to cash-flow problems. Some industry players, such as Breadtalk Group, have said they are cutting staff salaries temporarily to save costs. Yesterday, No Signboard said it will temporarily shut its seafood restaurant at The Central mall in Clarke Quay for at least one month to"control costs and improve operational efficiency". Mr Heng said:"Just as our package is to help viable companies to stay afloat, to make sure we protect jobs for our workers... so, in the same way, we have to do this together. "I will be looking at what our lenders are doing, and if there is a need for us to take legislative action, we are prepared to do that."

Source: Straits Times
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Sengkang EC OLA sells a third of units on first weekend

Three in 10 of all units in executive condominium (EC) OLA in Sengkang have been snapped up within the first weekend of sales on Sunday, property developer Anchorvale said in a statement yesterday. One executive said these figures were encouraging despite a lower-than-expected turnout. Buyers purchased 167 of the 548 units in the Spanish-themed District 19 EC, which is located near Sengkang MRT station and slated for completion by December 2023. Three of the nine penthouses sold at above $2 million each. The total average price of the units sold on a per square foot basis was $1, 135. Anchorvale - a joint venture between Evia Real Estate and Gamuda Land - said that around 30 per cent of all three-bedroom, three-bedroom premium, four-bedroom and five-bedroom units were sold, as well as 10 per cent of all two-bedroom units. It added that 102 units were sold to first-time buyers, while second-time buyers looking to upgrade their homes bought the remaining 65 units. The majority of buyers - 107 - live in the same District 19. Close to 40 per cent of the units sold were on a deferred payment scheme, while the rest were on normal progressive payment, the firm added. Evia Real Estate director Vincent Ong said the proportion of buyers opting for deferred payment reflected the economic and job uncertainty here brought on by the continued spread of the coronavirus. "OLA is probably the only sizeable residential project to proceed with its sales launch after the impact of the Covid-19 situation began to be felt across Singapore's economy. Under such exceptional circumstances, we are encouraged by the sales after the first weekend, "he added. The luxury property will feature paintings by artist Eva Armisen and handmade ornaments by Spanish porcelain maker Lladro, including a chandelier with 200 fairies. Other features at the EC include lounges and clubhouses, telehealth services and complimentary classes such as dance, yoga and baking. Mr Ong said the developer would continue its vigorous marketing efforts for the property and keep its showroom open for the coming months. It will also facilitate private viewings for potential buyers concerned about crowds amid the pandemic. Other health and safety measures implemented in its showroom include the installation of advanced air filters, stringent cleaning schedules, visitor temperature screening, and a minimum distance of 1m between those queueing to view show units.

Source: Straits Times
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A third of units sold at Sengkang EC OLÁ on first weekend at average price of $1,135 psf

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - A third of all units in executive condominium (EC) OLÁ in Sengkang have been snapped up within the first weekend of sales on March 22, property developer Anchorvale said in a statement on Monday (March 23). One executive said these figures were encouraging despite a lower-than-expected turnout. Buyers purchased 167 of the 548 units in the Spanish-themed EC, which is located near Sengkang MRT and slated for completion by December 2023. Three of the nine penthouses sold at above $2 million each. The total average price of the units sold on a per square foot basis (psf) was $1, 135. Anchorvale - a joint venture between Evia Real Estate and Gamuda Land - said that around 30 per cent of all three-bedroom, three-bedroom premium, four-bedroom and five-bedroom units were sold, as well as 10 per cent of all two-bedroom units. It added that 102 units were sold to first-time buyers, while second-time buyers looking to upgrade their homes bought the remaining 65 units. The majority of buyers - 107 - lived in the same District 19. Close to 40 per cent of the units sold were on a deferred payment scheme, while the rest were on normal progressive payment, it added. Describing the turnout as"lower than expected", Evia Real Estate director Vincent Ong said the higher proportion of buyers opting for deferred payment reflected the economic and job uncertainty here brought on by the continued spread of the novel coronavirus. "OLÁ is probably the only sizeable residential project to proceed with its sales launch after the impact of Covid-19 situation began to be felt across Singapore's economy. Under such exceptional circumstances, we are encouraged by the sales after the first weekend, "he added. "We remain convinced that this project has set a new standard for ECs in Singapore, and has been priced at affordable rates." The luxury property will feature paintings by artist Eva Armisen and handmade ornaments by Spanish porcelain maker Lladro, including a chandelier with 200 fairies. Other features and services at the EC include lounges and clubhouses, telehealth services and complimentary classes such as dance, yoga and baking. Mr Ong said the developer would continue vigorous marketing efforts for the property and keep its showroom open for the coming months. It will also facilitate private viewings for buyers concerned about crowds amid the pandemic. Other health and safety measures it implemented in its showroom include the installation of advanced air filters, stringent cleaning schedules, visitor temperature screening, and a minimum distance of one metre between those queuing to view show units.

Source: Straits Times
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New home sales up 114% in Feb, amid virus outbreak

Singapore's new home sales last month surged more than 114 per cent from a year ago, defying the coronavirus outbreak and a looming global recession.Posting the second-strongest February sales performance in eight years, developers moved 975 private homes - up 57.3 per cent from the 620 units they sold the month before, driven by competitively priced new projects. The latest figure is also 114 per cent higher than the 455 units developers sold in February last year. The data excludes executive condominium (EC) units, for which there was pent-up demand, with Parc Canberra in Sembawang the only new EC launch so far this year. Including ECs, which are a public-private housing hybrid, developers found buyers for 1, 314 units last month, up 105.3 per cent from the 640 units they sold in January and 187.5 per cent more than the 457 units sold in February last year. "While we remain cautiously optimistic about home sales, much would depend on the economic fallout from the (virus) outbreak and whether there are large-scale job losses, widespread retrenchments. (That) will certainly dampen housing demand, "said Ms Tricia Song, head of research for Singapore, Colliers International. But for now, persistently low interest rates are helping to support housing demand. The US Federal Reserve has slashed interest rates to near zero and restarted its quantitative easing programme as part of emergency stimulus. "Mortgage rates based on the Singapore Interbank Offered Rate (Sibor), on which most home loans are priced, have come off 30-40 basis points (bps), since the first 50-bps rate cut by the Fed, and should come off further, "Ms Song said. Urban Redevelopment Authority data yesterday shows the number of units launched jumped 56 per cent to 933 in February, from 598 the previous month, and up 56.5 per cent to 596 from a year ago. February's top sellers included new launches The M, which sold 380 of the 522-unit condo project in Bugis, and the 496-unit Parc Canberra EC, which moved 324 units. Many buyers were drawn to The M's location near Bugis MRT station, Bugis Junction and Suntec City."Price quantum continued to be a driver, with 97.9 per cent of all sales in The M below $2 million, "said CBRE head of research for Singapore and South-east Asia Desmond Sim. Other top sellers included existing projects such as Treasure at Tampines (97 units), Parc Esta (53 units), Jadescape (46 units) and Parc Botannia (40 units). Ms Christine Sun, Orange Tee & Tie's head of research and consultancy, attributed the robust sales to more investors diversifying their portfolios after the recent stock market rout. WAIT AND SEE While we remain cautiously optimistic about home sales, much would depend on the economic fallout from the (virus) outbreak and whether there are large-scale job losses, widespread retrenchments. (That) will certainly dampen housing demand. MS TRICIA SONG, head of research for Singapore, Colliers International. "The increasing volatility of the financial markets may continue to propel investors to real estate as properties are regarded as safe-haven assets, "she noted. According to URA Realis data, Singaporeans snapped up 812 non-landed homes excluding ECs last month, up from the 413 units in January and 351 units in December last year. The number of foreign buyers also rose, to 149 last month from 116 in December last year. PropNex Realty chief executive Ismail Gafoor said:"With a total of three ECs expected this year, we anticipate the demand for OLA at Anchorvale and the EC at Tampines Avenue 10 will remain strong." Ms Song noted that 79 per cent of the units sold at Parc Canberra are priced below $1.2 million, hitting the sweet spot for first-timers or HDB upgraders."OLA reportedly received 1, 163 e-applications, more than double the 548 units offered. Final pricing for the units is expected to be announced on March 19 or 20, "she said.

Source: Straits Times
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Condo and HDB rents, volumes up in February

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Rents and volumes of non-landed private homes and Housing Board flats rose in the month of February, showing as yet no effect from the coronavirus outbreak, according to flash estimates from real estate portal SRX Property on Wednesday (March 11). Condominium rents rose 0.1 per cent from January and are up 3.3 per cent year on year. The rise in private rental volume could be due to some tenants returning to Singapore after the Chinese New Year holiday, said ERA Realty's head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak. Some tertiary educational institutions also start the new school term in February and March, leading foreign students at these schools to rent their accommodation in the month, he said. Due to limited supply of private residential units, under normal market conditions, some demand could spill over to HDB rental, supporting the growth of HDB rental rates, he added. But looking ahead for the private rental market, Mr Mak said the uncertainties arising from the Covid-19 outbreak could dampen leasing demand in the short term. Therefore, the private and public housing rental indices could move sideways and remain largely unchanged in the coming months until the viral outbreak is contained. For February, rents in the core central region (CCR) rose 0.9 per cent month on month, rest of central region (RCR) rents decreased 0.4 per cent, and rents from the outside central region (OCR) held steady. Rents in all regions were up year on year, with the CCR rising 5.1 per cent, the RCR up 2.9 per cent and the OCR increasing 2.4 per cent. Meanwhile, volumes rebounded from a minor dip in January, rising 20.6 per cent with an estimated 4, 830 units rented during the month compared with 4, 006 units in January. Year on year, rental volumes climbed 20.3 per cent, 32 per cent higher than the five-year average volume for the month of February. As for the HDB rental market, rents rose 0.4 per cent from January and 2.4 per cent year on year. Rents in mature estates and non-mature estates rose 0.5 per cent and 0.4 per cent from January respectively. Year on year, rents rose 2.7 per cent and 2.1 per cent respectively. Except for executive flats' rents, all flat types experienced rent increases from January. Three-room flat rents rose 0.4 per cent, four-room rents went up 1.1 per cent and five-room rents increased 0.5 per cent. Rents for executive flats fell by 3.6 per cent. Year on year, all flat types saw increases in rents. Three-room flat rents rose 2.2 per cent, four-room rents went up 3.1 per cent, while five-room rents increased 2.1 per cent. Rents for executive flats were flat. HDB rental volumes also rose 11.5 per cent from January and 17.9 per cent year on year. Volumes were 15.2 per cent higher than the five-year average volume for February. Four-room flat rentals took up 36.1 per cent of the volume for February, followed by 32 per cent from three-room flats, 25.5 per cent from five-room flats and 6.4 per cent from executive flats.

Source: Straits Times
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Condo resale prices and sales drop in February, hurt by coronavirus outbreak

SINGAPORE - Resale prices and sales of non-landed private homes were hit last month from what one market observer called a"triple whammy"of coronavirus, the Chinese New Year seasonal slowdown and supply of new units from recent launches.As a result, prices of resale homes in February slipped 0.8 per cent from January while sales volume fell 13.1 per cent, according to flash data released by real estate portal SRX Property on Tuesday (March 10). The month-on-month price decline is the biggest since a 1 per cent drop in October 2016, for SRX's data. Prices dipped across all three market segments, with homes outside the central region (OCR) posting the biggest decline of 1.3 per cent. Prices dipped just 0.1 per cent for apartments in the prime districts or core central region (CCR), and by 0.8 per cent for those in the city fringes or rest of central region (RCR). "The temporary pullback in sales is not surprising, "said Orange Tee & Tie's head of research & consultancy Christine Sun, who observed the"triple whammy". She said:"Given the heightened awareness of Covid-19, some owners and potential buyers had postponed their house viewings and this may have resulted in fewer deals being closed last month. Developers have also continued to launch new homes which may have drawn some demand from the secondary market. "Some potential buyers had also held off purchases amid hopes of lower prices in light of the current uncertain external environment. In comparison, sellers, especially deep-pocketed ones, maybe holding off for better offers. Sales may likely improve when the Covid-19 situation stabilises." Year on year, private resale prices were up by 0.8 per cent over February last year. All regions saw year-on-year price increases in February 2020: CCR by 0.8 per cent, RCR by 1.6 per cent and OCR by 0.2 per cent. An estimated 589 resale units were taken up in February compared to 678 units the previous month. While this was 10.9 per cent higher than in February 2019, it was 7.7 per cent lower than the five-year average volume for the month of February. Breaking down by location, 50.2 per cent of the volume came from from OCR, 25.3 per cent comes from CCR and 24.5 per cent comes from RCR. SRX's data also show the highest transacted price for a resale unit in February was $16 million for an apartment at Le Nouvel Ardmore in Ardmore Park in prime District 10. In the city fringes, a unit at 99-year leasehold Reflections at Keppel Bay in the Harbourfront area resold for $5.4 million. In the suburbs, the highest transacted price was $3.2 million for a unit at Grand Duchess at St Patrick's, a freehold property in the East Coast.

Source: Straits Times
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Hong Kong property tycoon Peter Woo to take Wheelock private

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Wheelock & Co, one of Hong Kong's largest property developers, is offering shareholders a 52 per cent premium to delist and become a private company. The Woo family, Wheelock's largest shareholder, is offering one share each of Wharf Real Estate Investment and Wharf Holdings to Wheelock investors, according to an exchange filing on Thursday. Investors will also receive HK$12 (S$2.14) cash for every share of Wheelock they own. The transaction aims to unlock shareholder value"through the elimination of the historical holding company discount of the company's stake in Wharf REIC and Wharf", Wheelock said. Other benefits of the proposal include higher dividend income from Wharf REIC and Wharf shares in addition to a return on cash, plus enhanced choice for"shareholders through separate and direct ownership of Wharf REIC shares and Wharf shares with higher trading liquidity", according to the statement. Wheelock holds around 66.5 per cent of the issued shares of Wharf REIC and about 70.7 per cent of Wharf, a property company that's also focused on development in mainland China and Hong Kong. The offer values Wheelock shares at HK$71.90 each, the statement said. That is 52 per cent more than the last trading price before the stock was halted on Feb 24 pending the announcement. Based on the total number of Wheelock shares outstanding gives a transaction value of around HK$147.6 billion. Based on the total number of scheme shares of 667.4 million gives a value of about HK$48 billion, with the Woo family needing to pay around HK$8 billion cash. "The number on the surface is large, but in fact the share prices of the other two companies are much lower, "Raymond Cheng, a property analyst at CGS-CIMB Securities, said."So there's a high chance for the major shareholder to succeed in the privatisation." Mr Cheng added that for Wheelock's other shareholders, the best result would have been all-cash.The plan has almost 85 per cent of the price paid by one unit of Wharf's shares and another unit of Wharf REIC, which are subject to market fluctuations, "he said.

Source: Straits Times
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Thailand's richest man plans nation's tallest skyscraper

BANGKOK • Thailand's richest man wants to set another record. Billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, via his recently listed property unit Asset World Corp, has set his sights on building the nation's tallest skyscraper. Details are scant - no official height has been set and completion is not expected until 2025 - but the tower, at the centre of another US$948 million (S$1.32 billion) project on the banks of Bangkok's Chao Phraya river, is emblematic of Asset World's aggressive growth strategy. Asset World's chief executive Wallapa Traisorat, Mr Charoen's daughter, said:"It embodies what our company aims to do - set new trends and lift the benchmark." The skyscraper will be a"new landmark"and draw more visitors to Thailand, she said. Its planned construction, however, comes at a difficult time for the South-east Asian nation's property and tourism markets. Bangkok is facing an apartment glut, with 100, 000 empty units and more to come. And Chinese investors, who for years have propped up the real estate sector, are staying away because of travel curbs and economic havoc caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Foreigners are set to account for as little as 10 per cent of apartment purchases this year, down from a fifth two years ago, consultancy Agency for Real Estate Affairs estimated. Tourism in Thailand, meanwhile, which comprises around 20 per cent of gross domestic product, is also taking a hit because of the outbreak. Receipts tumbled 3.6 per cent last month from a year earlier to 188.8 billion baht (S$8.3 billion), hurt by a 10 per cent slide in outlays from Chinese visitors, data released earlier this week showed. Ms Wallapa is not perturbed, maintaining that the impact will be short-term. Bangkok was named the world's most-visited city in 2018 for a fourth consecutive year, ahead of Paris, London, Dubai and Singapore, according to a 2019 Mastercard ranking. "There will be growth this year, "she said, declining to specify any targets for the company. "The tourism industry has always managed to bounce back." Asset World is partnering Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the firm behind the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The skyscraper will surpass Thailand's current record, the Magnolias Waterfront Residences at IconSiam, which stands at 318m and was completed in 2018. To be built adjacent to the company's flagship riverside mall, Asiatique, the tower will house hotels, shops and offices. Its energy-saving design will mean there is the possibility of harnessing wind power, Ms Wallapa said. Asset World is separately in talks with three hotel chains for possible partnerships and already works with brands including Marriott and Hilton, she said. The group has several other ambitious plans in the wings. It aims to build Thailand's biggest convention hotel by the beach in Pattaya on Thailand's east coast and is set to become the nation's largest hotel owner by 2025 with more than 4, 000 rooms in the pipeline.

Source: Straits Times
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SPH Reit offers tenants tailored help to weather coronavirus outbreak

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - SPH Reit is giving its tenants additional help to weather the coronavirus outbreak in the form of assistance packages tailored to individual tenants' circumstances, it said on Thursday (Feb 27). The real estate investment trust (Reit) plans to engage its tenants to assess the impact of Covid-19 on their businesses and adjust the packages accordingly "as tenants with different trade types have different operating metrics", said SPH Reit CEO Susan Leng. The relief packages come on top of the 15 per cent property tax rebate announced in Budget 2020 that SPH Reit plans to pass on to qualifying tenants. It will also introduce initiatives to encourage visits to its assets in March 2020, such as offering more complimentary parking and preferential rates or full waivers for the use of atriums or common areas for collaborative events with tenants. The malls under SPH Reit will continue to operate on standard hours, but tenants will be allowed to shorten hours to reduce staff costs and aid in manpower planning. "With the outbreak of Covid-19, it is imperative that we work together to overcome the challenges and better position ourselves post Covid-19, "said Ms Leng. "The tenants' assistance scheme, together with the other initiatives, will help mitigate the decline in footfall and tenant sales in our assets, "she added. SPH Reit's manager has also put in place precautionary measures such as intensifying cleaning and disinfecting of its malls, especially at high human traffic contact points such as toilets, lifts, refuse bins and hand rails. Units of SPH Reit closed at $1.03 on Thursday before the announcement, down two cents or 1.91 per cent.

Source: Straits Times
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