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Condo launches to drive new home sales up Last month's tepid new private home sales tally that spelt a soft end to an otherwise bright year could soon be a distant memory. In a lively start to the year, the new private home market is expected to welcome as many as four project launches by April. One standout is the highly anticipated Park Place Residences at Paya Lebar Quarter (PLQ) - part of a $3.2 billion mega mixed-use project by Lendlease and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. The other three upcoming condominium launches are Grandeur Park Residences in Tanah Merah, Clement Canopy in Clementi and Seaside Residences in Siglap. New home sales typically get a lift when a major project debuts on the market, particularly with brisk demand for smaller and more affordable units. Last month, developers sold just 367 new units - the lowest level in 10 months - on the back of a paltry 90 new units launched. Despite the subdued monthly sales, the number of new private homes sold last year still hit 7,972 units, up by about 7 per cent from the 7,440 shifted in 2015. Sales volume is expected to be around 8,000 to 9,000 units this year amid gradually returning interest from locals and foreign buyers. This upturn in market sentiment, market analysts say, bodes well for new home sales. With more people believing that the market is now close to the bottom of the down cycle, interest in the new launches will likely be sustained. Property agents expect Singland Homes and UOL Group's Clement Canopy to be the first cab off the rank, launching perhaps as soon as the middle or later part of February. One-bedroom units - popular with investors of late - will, however, be conspicuously absent at the 505-unit condo development. Clement Canopy will feature two- to four-bedroom apartments with sizes ranging from 635 sq ft to more than 1,500 sq ft. The Straits Times understands that the two-bedders will likely account for over a third of the total apartments. Among the upcoming launches, the highest profile project is probably the 429-unit Park Place Residences at PLQ, Lendlease's first residential development here. The project, expected to hit the market in March or April, is part of a massive integrated development in Paya Lebar Central that will also feature three office towers and a retail mall with 200 stores. Analysts say it is a project to watch, given its proximity to the MRT station and a sizeable mall. Such projects are expected to attract good demand, looking at the take-up rates of previous launches such as North Park Residences (77 per cent sold) and The Poiz Residences (80 per cent) sold. Park Place Residences at PLQ offers a mix of one- to three-bedroom apartments. Market sources said the indicative price for a one-bedder starts from about $780,000. Responding to an ST query, Lendlease said about a quarter of the total units, or 107 units, are one-bedders. The development will feature three pools, including a 50m lap pool. Another project vying for buyers' attention in March will be the 720-unit Grandeur Park Residences in Bedok South Avenue 3 by CEL Development, a unit of Chip Eng Seng Corporation. The condo project is near Tanah Merah MRT station and will likely include a childcare centre and two shop units, which are for sale. Indicative prices of the apartments are not out yet but property agents say they are likely to track close to prices of nearby projects such as The Glades at about $1,300 to $1,400 per sq ft (psf). Typical unit sizes at Grandeur Park Residences could range from about 420 sq ft to 1,450 sq ft across various types of one- to five-bedders. "The residents will enjoy exclusive Grandeur Park Club membership where complimentary fitness and lifestyle classes will be given," CEL Development told ST. In April, Frasers Centrepoint Singapore will roll out the 843-unit Seaside Residences in Siglap, featuring four 27-storey blocks offering one- to five-bedroom apartments and penthouses. The development, near East Coast Park and the future Siglap MRT station, could be priced between $1,550 and $1,650 psf, according to analysts. Pent-up demand for homes has stayed resilient despite the weaker economic outlook and property cooling measures. Market watchers expect home buyers to remain selective and price-sensitive, opting for projects that are well-located and competitively priced. They will transact only when they perceive a good deal. However, a rapid rise in interest rates would impact market sentiment, which may cause demand to retreat. Adapted from: The Business Times, 31 January 2017 DBSS flat resold for record $1.18m in Bishan A Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flat in Bishan has fetched a record $1.18 million in the priciest public housing resale deal to date. The five-roomer is one of just 12 penthouse units in the three-block, 480-unit Natura Loft project. The flat's attractive points included its panoramic view, central location and spaciousness. At 120 sq m, the flat is larger than typical 110 sq m five-room Housing Board (HDB) flats today, but comparable to older HDB flats. The $1.18 million deal on Sunday beats previous records set by DBSS flats or the Pinnacle@Duxton HDB project. A City View @ Boon Keng DBSS unit went for $1.1 million in August, while one at the Pinnacle fetched $1.12 million in September. Though considered public housing, DBSS flats are developed and sold by private developers, not the HDB. Meant to provide condominium-style homes, the scheme was suspended in 2011 after public unhappiness over high selling prices. When originally sold via balloting, Natura Loft units cost $465,000 to $586,000 for 95 sq m four-roomers and $590,000 to $739,000 for five-roomers. Since meeting the five-year minimum occupation period last year, at least 25 other units there have been sold on the resale market: 14 four-room flats at prices ranging from $700,008 to $818,000, and 11 other five-roomers, from $830,000 to $1.04 million. However, such prices are not representative of the broader resale market, which has stagnated for the last 11/2 years. But they are within expectations for upmarket DBSS flats in the central town of Bishan. HDB resale flats in Bishan also fetch high prices. In the last six months, five-roomers there had sold for $600,000 to $878,000. Natura Loft's location near Catholic High School, which has a primary school section, could contribute to high resale prices. However, that the $1.18 million price works out to more than $900 per sq ft (psf) - for which the buyer could have bought private property. In the last six months, several resale condominium units in Bishan have been sold for about $850 to $1,000 psf. Private property has more flexibility as you can sell to foreigners, for instance. Only Singaporeans or permanent residents can buy DBSS units. Condominiums also have the advantages of being gated and having shared facilities such as pools, unlike DBSS developments. Natura Loft is one of several DBSS projects which became eligible for resale last year, along with City View, Park Central in Ang Mo Kio, and Parc Lumiere in Simei. Adapted from: The Straits Times, 1 February 2017 Time to relook property curbs, says consultancy firm It's time for the Government to consider "thawing" property cooling measures, according to an international property consultancy. The firm said in a report that one reason to reconsider the measures is the significant fall in property prices. Overall prices of private homes have fallen by about 11.2 per cent since the third quarter of 2013, it said, citing Urban Redevelopment Authority data. The luxury market has been most affected, with values declining by about 18 per cent from 2013, while those of mass market homes are down by 11 per cent. Transaction volumes have also fallen. While last year recorded a three-year high in sales of 16,378 private homes, this still pales in comparison with the 22,197 homes sold in 2012, according to URA data. Property prices are now at one of the most affordable levels on record, said an analyst with the firm, in a statement yesterday. He said the price falls show that cooling measures such as the additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) and the total debt servicing ratio have worked. Now could be the right time to consider measures that allow the residential market to resume a course for moderate growth and thus avoid a sharper correction down the line, he added. The ABSD, introduced in 2011, imposes a 7 per cent to 10 per cent tax on Singaporeans buying their second and subsequent properties, and 15 per cent on foreigners. The ABSD is limiting demand as buyers are holding back because they believe that the ABSD is temporary and will be withdrawn or changed. He suggested replacing the duty with a longer-term property tax that would steer buyers towards evaluating their capital investment against long-term costs such as taxes and management fees. The report also noted that the cooling measures have prompted Singaporeans to invest in property in countries such as Malaysia, Australia and Britain. Data from the Monetary Authority of Singapore said the value of overseas property purchases by Singaporeans reached a high of over $2 billion in 2013, although the value fell to $400 million in the first half of 2015. A more active local residential market will better support domestic growth as it will encourage Singaporeans to invest in Singapore rather than overseas, where the risks are higher. Adapted from: The Straits Times, 1 February 2017

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