Singapore’s collective sales could ‘fuel the market’ in 2018

Singapore — Singapore’s property market could see a strong 2018 among Asia markets as collective, or en bloc, sales bring redevelopment, says Nicholas Holt of Knight Frank.

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Singapore named Asian city with highest quality of life


SINGAPORE : Singapore has once again been ranked as the top city in Asia in terms of quality of living, according to global human resource consultancy Mercer.

In the Mercer 2016 Quality of Living Rankings, Singapore was 26th in the world out of 230 cities ranked, unchanged from its ranking last year.

It has also been ranked as the top city in Asia in the past two editions of the survey.


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Property Update (25 June 2015)

Unified 2-room, Studio Apartment HDB scheme coming |

SINGAPORE : The Housing and Development Board (HDB)’s plans to bring studio apartments and two-room flats under a single scheme are underway, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan announces on a Capital 95.8 FM radio talk show.

Move comes as Khaw looks to give every S’porean couple a chance to live in an HDB flat

Move comes as Khaw looks to give every S’porean couple a chance to live in an HDB flat

HDB to raise income ceilings for BTO flats, ECs |

SINGAPORE — The Housing and Development Board (HDB) will raise the income ceilings — for the second time since 2011 — for Build-To-Order (BTO) flats and Executive Condominiums (ECs), said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday, as he looks to “give every Singaporean couple a chance” to live in an HDB flat even though they may have greater means and do not need Government-subsidised housing.

The new limits could be rolled out as soon as August or September. Around the same time, the HDB is also expected to launch a new “two-room flexi” scheme which has been in the works. The new initiative would merge the existing studio apartment and two-room-flat schemes, and offer buyers flexibility in lease lengths. Read more >>


Shift in housing policy ‘reflects S’pore’s changing circumstances’ |

SINGAPORE : National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan’s recent comment that every Singaporean couple — regardless of their financial means — ought to have a chance of living in Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats signals a shift in the Government’s thinking and could have profound implications on housing policy, experts said yesterday.

Nevertheless, some of them noted that it was an inevitable shift given Singapore’s changing circumstances and the need for public housing to retain its role as a social institution here.

And as the Government seeks to provide public housing to more people, there may come a time when income ceilings are removed, the experts said, and the authorities would have to ensure that HDB flats remain affordable to the lower-income group by providing them larger subsidies or putting in place restrictions that, say, dictate what flat types the more well-off can buy. Read more >>


Regulation and tax set to impact property markets in Asia Pacific region |

ASIA : Monetary policy, tax, regulations and underlying fundamental drivers such as demographics and urbanisation will have a significant impact on property markets in the Asia Pacific region, according to the latest real estate analysis.

The region’s economies are moving at multiple speeds with differing drivers and local dynamics, producing quite a wide range of housing market performance indicator, says the Asia Pacific residential review from international real estate firm Knight Frank.

‘Economic growth can certainly be a reasonable lead indicator as to which way housing markets will go,’ said Nicholas Holt, head of research for the Asia Pacific region. He also pointed out that despite facing many headwinds, the International Monetary Fund is forecasting stronger growth in 2015 for six out of the 11 major countries in the region.

‘While this should be a positive sign for home owners or investors, the reality is that in many cases there has been a divergence between short term economic growth and market performance,’ he added. Read more >>

Property Update (12 March 2015)


Parliament: Bill introduced to let HDB officers enter flats by force to repair ceiling leaks |

SINGAPORE – Housing Board flat owners may soon have to open their doors to authorised HDB officers, so that these officers can repair ceiling leaks more promptly.

On Thursday, Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee introduced a Bill in Parliament to amend the Housing and Development Act to allow this.

The proposed change to the law, if passed, will empower authorised officers to enter any flat at any reasonable time, after giving 24 hours’ notice.

This is to investigate whether any urgent repairs need to be carried out in a flat and to carry out the necessary repairs.

Before entering the premises, the authorised officer must produce proof of his identity, and an authenticated document showing his authority to do so.

If entry has been refused, the premises are unoccupied, or the flat’s owner or occupier are absent, the officer may be granted a warrant to enter forcibly if necessary, the Bill states.

In such cases, the officer is authorised to break open doors or windows to enter the flat, and demolish any obstacles in the way of repair works. Read more here >>


Former homeowners renting HDB flats a ‘worrisome trend’: Maliki Osman |

SINGAPORE: More families entering the public rental system used to be homeowners, and this is a “worrisome trend”, said Minister of State for National Development Maliki Osman in Parliament on Wednesday (Mar 11).

Five years ago, these families used to comprise only 52 per cent of public rental applicants, but the proportion is 59 per cent today, Dr Maliki said at the 2015 Committee of Supply debates. Some of them have enjoyed housing subsidies and cashed out more than once, thus rendering them no longer qualified for subsidised HDB flats, he added.

“In a rising property market, or when one is financially strapped, the temptation to sell is a very real one. But my advice – resist the temptation and don’t cash out. Keep your home; protect your nest egg. Life may be harder in the short-run, but it will work out,” Dr Maliki said. Read more here >>


Orchard loses retail shine to heartland |

SINGAPORE : Experts say training and more emphasis on integrating the shopping experience offline and online could help strengthen big-name retailers.

Metro Holdings, which opened a new department store in Centrepoint in the final quarter of last year, said that a “disappointing level of sales resulted in losses being incurred by the new store”.

Department store operator Isetan (Singapore) had earlier reported a net loss of $3.1 million for the year ending Dec 31 on the back of higher rents and slower sales.

Other than Isetan’s new store at Jurong East, sales at its outlets registered lower sales for the year compared with 2013, “due to the challenging and competitive environment”.

Guan Chong, head of the marketing programme at SIM University’s School of Business, added that competition from e-commerce firms and a tighter labour supply have hit profits. Read more here >>


Singapore Budget 2015: New mosque to be built in Tampines North |

SINGAPORE – A new mosque will be built in Tampines North to serve those living in the area and in neighbouring Pasir Ris to meet an expected rise in demand as more new homes are completed.

Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim made this announcement on Thursday, during the debate on the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth’s budget, adding that the mosque would also cater to those working in industrial estates in the vicinity.

Tampines North, which covers about one-fifth of Tampines, is expected to have 21,000 new homes. Read more here >>


Why expats call this utopia |

Imagine a major metropolis where traffic flows quickly on green highways; where streets are sparkling clean and restoration is nearly as vigilant as sanitation; where four main ethnicities (Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian) co-exist in tropical tolerance with a large community of foreigners who live and raise kids without fear of crime or the slightest impolite slight. Parks, museums, art spaces and architectural icons are world class.

There’s a reason — actually a multitude of them — why Singapore ranks high on surveys of places to live and work.

“Singapore is all about convenience,” said Richard Martin, a self-described older expat who works for International Market Assessment. “And it’s a brilliant location to cover Asia.”

But there’s always a downside to every utopia. Singapore’s cost of living keeps rocketing — especially in contrast to neighbouring Indonesia and Malaysia­— and ranks as the world’s most expensive city for 2015, according to the latest data by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Recently, resentment against foreigners has surfaced. Out of a population of 5.6 million, 1.32 million are foreign workers, according to a Singapore government statistics for 2014. Recent estimates by the website and others put the number of expats” at around 600,000 — referring to professional and managerial workers who are more skilled, earn much more, are often on employment pass visas.

A new law requires employers to seek local talent for two weeks before offering jobs to outsiders for positions paying under S$12,000 ($8,760) a month, or less. Read more here >>


Asia Property Investment to Moderate, Yet Remain Strong in 2015 |

According to CBRE’s newly published Asia Pacific Investor Intentions Survey 2015, despite a slowing Asian economy, commercial property investing in the region is expected to remain strong in 2015 as appetite for prime core assets rises.

CBRE further reports overall intention to invest in real estate assets remains strong but will moderate from last year. Major markets, China, Japan and Australia, remain the top investment destinations with other mature markets moving up the rankings, as outbound investment intention stays strong. Read more here >>


Understanding Inheritance and Estate Tax in ASEAN

Posted on March 10, 2015 by ASEAN Briefing

Inheritance and estate taxes (sometimes referred to as “death taxes”) can have a significant financial effect upon your assets if you are not ready for their imposition. While ASEAN is working to standardize many financial regulations throughout the economic community, inheritance and estate taxes are still imposed differently depending on the country.

An estate tax collects tax calculated on the net value of the deceased’s overall property, while an inheritance tax is calculated on the inheritance received by individuals.

Below we provide a snapshot into the current and future regulations relating to these types of taxes in the ASEAN member nations.

In the Sultanate, estate duty is payable and applied to all immovable property located in Brunei and movable property outside of the country, exceeding the accumulated amount of B$2 million (US$1.4 million). The tax rate is currently set at three per cent.

No inheritance or estate tax is levied in Cambodia. Legally speaking, foreigners are not allowed to inherit in Cambodia, and must first apply for citizenship if they want to qualify. However, one strategy to circumvent this problem is by holding the property through a resident company.

Indonesia does not levy inheritance tax. As long as there is no business or employment relationship, there is also no gift tax.

However, if real estate is transferred after the death of a proprietary, a real estate transfer tax can be levied.

Lao PDR and Myanmar:
Neither Laos nor Myanmar levies inheritance taxes. However, in the case of Myanmar, inheritances and gifts are subject to stamp duty.

Inheritance tax in Malaysia was abolished in 1991. Until then, net worth exceeding MYR2 million (US$543,000) was taxed at five per cent, and a rate of 10 percent was imposed on net worth exceeding MYR 4 million.

The Philippines:
Currently, the Philippines have an estate tax in place. After deducting all expenses, losses, debts and taxes related to the property, the taxable inheritance amount is arrived at.

Nonresident foreigners are only liable to estate tax for property located within the territory of the Philippines. The following deductions are available for citizens and resident foreigners, before arriving at the taxable threshold:

  • PHP 1 million (US$22,500) “standard” deduction
  • PHP 1 million for the family home
  • PHP 200,000 (US$4,500) for expenses relating to the funeral
  • PHP 500,000 (US$11,260) for medical expenses that occurred in the year before the deceased’s death


Similar to Vietnam, there are “compulsory heirs” in the Philippines. Depending on the heirs’ relationship to the deceased person, at least one half of the hereditary estate is reserved for distribution between the heirs. The hereditary estate is the difference between the assets and the liabilities of the deceased.

All property, which the deceased gifted during his lifetime will be regarded as an advance from his estate – and labeled collation. The value of that property will be included in the hereditary estate. Even if the property was gifted upon birth of the heirs, the law will still regard that as collation. Of course, this will only apply to gifts of great value (real estate, cars, stocks, jewelry, etc.).

The “compulsory heir rule” does not apply to foreigners. However, in some cases (e.g. foreigners owning property in the Philippines) inheritance issues of expatriates might become subject to renvoi, meaning that these issues are referred back to the Philippines

Before 2008, Singapore levied a tax called the “Estate Duty”, however, this was removed in order to encourage more local and overseas investors to hold their assets in the city-state.

Before the abolition of the Estate Duty, immovable property, bank accounts, publicly listed shares and items in a safe deposit box were all taxable.

In August 2014, the head of Thailand’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), General Prayuth Chan-ocha approved plans to reform the tax system – which included the creation of an inheritance tax. The 10 percent tax will be levied on values over the amount of US$ 1.5 million, effectively making this a wealth distribution tax.

Any inherited property exceeding VND10 million (US$460,000) is taxed at a flat rate of 10 percent. However, exemptions from inheritance tax are made if the income is generated from the inheritance of real property as long as one of the following relationships is applicable to the heir and the deceased person: husband and wife; parent and child, including adopted children and foster parents; Mother and father-in-law, Child-in-law; Grandparent and Grandchild; Sibling.

Since in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam land belongs to the Vietnamese people as a whole, real estate property cannot be inherited, but the right to use these lands can be. Only Vietnamese nationals can be legal owners of immovable property, meaning that immovable property must be sold and foreign beneficiaries can only inherit the amount equal to the value of the property.

Certain persons (ex. convicts, persons breaching their duty to support the deceased, and persons forcing the deceased to include them in their will) are not allowed to inherit. In Vietnam, the rule of compulsory heirs is also applicable, meaning that minor children, fathers, mothers, spouses, and adult children who are incapable of working will inherit shares of the bequeathed property, regardless of the content of will.

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Property Update (27 February 2015)

First Up, “The World’s Fastest-Growing Economies This Year” |

The world is expected to grow 3.2 percent in 2015 and 3.7 percent next year after expanding 3.3 percent in each of the past two years, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists. China, the Philippines, Kenya, India and Indonesia, which together make up about 16 percent of global gross domestic product, are all forecast to grow more than 5 percent in 2015. Bloomberg’s David Ingles reports on “First Up.”


Ease stamp duties on high-end properties: REDAS |

SINGAPORE: In its latest call for the Government to scale back on property cooling measures, the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (REDAS) took aim at the imposition of the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duties (ABSD) on the high-end real estate market.

Speaking at its Lunar New Year celebration lunch held at Shangri-La Hotel on Friday (Feb 27), REDAS President Augustine Tan said the high-end market is “not a segment the Government needs to safeguard”.

“Not many Singaporeans are buying into this segment, and prices have indeed come down substantially. The imposition of ABSD on this segment runs counter to the Government’s efforts to encourage foreign investment flows into the country, to activate the economy, grow investments and create jobs for Singaporeans,” said Mr Tan.

“Some high net worth foreign investors, who create jobs for Singaporeans and who have many choices of where they want to be from the world over, now feel that they are not welcome in Singapore,” he added.

Turning to vacancy rates, Mr Tan said the estimated supply of more than 75,000 completed private residential homes from 2015 to 2019 will bring the rate to a “new record high”. This will lead to a further slip in home rentals and prices, he said, impacting homeowners and investors. Read more here >>


Singapore January bank lending dips as commerce, financial loans decline |

SINGAPORE: Total bank lending in Singapore fell in January from the previous month, as a drop in loans to general commerce and financial institutions offset increases in lending to manufacturers, central bank data showed on Friday.

Loans and advances by domestic banks in the city-state amounted to S$607.47 billion (US$447.89 billion) last month, compared with S$607.91 billion in December, according to data from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

January bank lending grew 4.3 per cent from S$582.24 billion a year earlier.

Housing and bridging loans in January increased to S$178.27 billion from S$167.33 billion a year earlier. These loans stood at S$177.43 billion in December.

Loans and advances in non-Singapore Asian currencies (ACU) were S$553.65 billion in January, up from S$541.17 billion in December. Read more here >>


The Implications of China’s Growth Slowdown |

The once extraordinary rate of Chinese economic growth is slowing. In 2014, China’s GDP grew at an official rate of 7.4 percent, slightly less than the stated goal of 7.5 percent. Although more recently monthly data have been more robust, the trend towards slowing growth seems inexorable.

A decelerating Chinese economy, coming at a time of global economic uncertainty (especially in the eurozone), could have dramatic economic implications throughout the world. However, the repercussions of a Chinese economic slowdown would not be limited to the economic sphere. Given the incredible importance of economic growth to political stability – both within China itself and East Asia in general – adapting to a dampened Chinese economy will be a pivotal challenge in the Asia-Pacific.

While an official GDP growth rate of 7.4 percent would be the envy of most major economies, this figure represents China’s lowest economic growth since 1991. And of course, economic data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics is not completely trusted by all observers. Local officials (and the central government itself) have a vested interest in exaggerating their economic performance. Capital Economics, a London-based research group, monitors the Chinese economy by looking at the five factors of electricity output, freight shipmen, construction, passenger travel, and cargo volume. According to this China Activity Proxy, recent annual growth is closer to 5.7 percent.

Regardless of the statistical specifics of the Chinese slowdown, this development poses some degree of political risk for the Chinese state. For more than two decades economic growth has been the major factor in ensuring political stability in China. Many Westerners forget that the massive protests that rocked Beijing and other Chinese cities in 1989 coincided with the biggest economic crisis of the post-Mao era, with annual inflation of 30 percent leading to panic buying throughout the country. Read more here >>


Weaker demand from overseas buyers hits London prime property market |

Prime property prices in London fell by 4.3% in the last quarter of 2014 due to weaker demand from international buyers, a new analysis suggests.
This weaker demand is driven by actual and potential tax changes as well as shifts in the relative value of the exchange rate, according to the report from residential data firm Hometrack.

It points out that overseas buyers of prime central London property saw capital values rise by 80% over the last five years. The drop in the value of sterling between 2007and 2009, combined with a 17% fall in property prices made London look very good value to overseas buyers with extremely strong demand in 2009 and 2010.

Changes in currencies have delivered even stronger gains, it explains. Russian buyers have seen the biggest gains on the weakness in the rouble in the last six months.

However, rouble backed buyers who do not already own London property will now find it much more expensive to buy which looks set to impact demand and pricing levels with a drop in prime London prices in the last quarter of 2014. Read more here >>

Property Update (26 February 2015)

First Look Asia – In Studio, “The Property Brothers” |

Want to fix your home and looking for some renovation tips and ideas? The Property Brothers joined us in studio to explain how they turn nightmare homes into dream ones.

First Look Asia – Real Deal, “Investing Overseas” |

Buying property is a popular form of investment in Asia. But what are the perks and risks when buying overseas? Sean Tan, General Manager, at shared some investment tips and insights on trends to look out for in 2015.

Record number of new home completions this year could show up in higher asset values as well as liabilities on household balance sheet |

Record number of new home completions this year could show up in higher asset values as well as liabilities on household balance sheet |

S’pore households’ net worth grows a slower 2.3% |

SINGAPORE: Growth in Singapore households’ net worth continued to moderate last year as the rise in the value of their financial assets slowed and the aggregate value of residential properties on their balance sheet dipped despite the higher number of dwelling units.

Data released by the Singapore Department of Statistics showed a 2.3 per cent rise in households’ net worth (assets less liabilities) from a year ago to S$1.47 trillion at the end of 2014, easing from a 4.2 per cent rise in 2013 and 8.2 per cent growth in 2012.

As expected, households saw a 1.1 per cent dip in the value of residential property assets to S$819.6 billion, with the main drag coming from public housing.

In line with the drop in HDB resale prices last year, the total value of public housing assets on households’ balance sheet contracted 4.4 per cent to S$394.7 billion – steeper than the 0.7 per cent fall seen in 2013. The steeper fall in value occurred despite a 0.4 per cent increase in HDB households to 965,200 in 2014.

Private housing assets held up better, with their total value on households’ balance sheet up 2.2 per cent at S$425 billion. A 10.8 per cent jump in private property households possibly offset the impact of a 4 per cent drop in private residential prices last year. As at end-2014, there were 231,200 private property households. Read more here >>


New office space could go as fast as firms seek quality |

SINGAPORE: The surge in the supply of new office space over the next two years is likely to be absorbed fairly quickly as firms want high-quality facilities, property consultancy Cushman & Wakefield said yesterday.

It also noted that the technology sector was quickly becoming one of the biggest drivers of demand.

“Unlike in previous years during boom times, office tenants last year were mainly driven by relocations to better-value propositions in newer buildings, rather than the need to upsize,” said Cushman & Wakefield research head Christine Li.

Calling this trend a “flight to quality”, she said Grade A office rents may climb a further 5 per cent to 6 per cent this year.

Office rents in the Central Business District (CBD) shot up 14 per cent last year, the biggest increase in Asia, according to consultancy JLL. But analysts reckon that a bumper crop of new office completions over the next two years could put a lid on rents. Read more here >>


Building social inclusiveness through property design |

SINGAPORE: Building rental units next to new Build-to-Order flats and getting real estate students to also study social sciences – some of the ideas raised by Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing to have more social inclusiveness in Singapore.

Mr Chan was speaking to 50 engineering and real estate students from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) at a dialogue on Wednesday (Feb 25).

Homes today provide greater privacy – for instance, common corridors are no longer seen at newer blocks. Flat owners can have greater privacy this way, but it can have social implications, said Mr Chan.

“In short, today’s privacy will be tomorrow’s social isolation,” said Mr Chan.

“That common corridor doesn’t just serve a functional role to allow people to get from the lift lobby or staircase back to their house – it allows mixing, it allows people to get to know their neighbours, it allows people to walk past and greet each other,” he explained.

“When we take away that in the name of privacy, then we have to ask ourselves the next design that we need to incorporate that will allow people to have privacy and at the same time, not create a situation where in 20 to 30 years’ time, we will have an aged population with a social problem.”

Mr Chan said in fostering social interaction, those in the real estate industry have an important role. Developers could consider building different types of flats, including rental units, in a single project to bring together people of different social and economic status. Read more here >>