Some real estate agents unhappy about PropertyGuru’s impending price hike

SINGAPORE — Local property search portal PropertyGuru’s decision to increase prices for property agents to list on its platform has sparked a backlash among some real estate agents.

A notice sent by PropertyGuru to its subscribers on Monday showed that the prices of its four new agent packages will range from S$880 to S$9,880 per year from Friday (Aug 4).
According to figures publicly available on its website, PropertyGuru has three packages that cost between S$630 and S$2,240 per year. A fourth package, which currently costs S$11,200 per year, is available on its official platform for agents, it said.

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Singapore stresses under a wealth of worries

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SINGAPORE – Morale in Singapore is at rock bottom. The tiny Southeast Asian nation has worked hard in the 51 years since its birth to establish an outsize voice on the global stage. Now the city’s economy is in the doldrums and its influence is in question as China flexes its muscles.

The Lion City is heading for a recession, or two straight quarters of economic contraction, after the trade-reliant economy shrank 2 per cent in the July-September quarter. Overall this year, the government reckons growth will be no faster than 1.5 per cent.

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Property Update (20 May 2015)

Executive flats hold up well amid overall decline in HDB resale prices | channelnewsasia.com

SINGAPORE: A 149 square metre (sqm) maisonette at Bishan Street 13 was sold for S$1.05 million last month. It is not the first time resale prices there have crossed the million-dollar mark. Another maisonette in the same estate went for almost S$1.1 million in October last year.

While not many executive flats like the one in Bishan have changed hands, housing analysts said prices of executive flats are holding up better amid an overall decline in HDB resale prices. One key reason could be their limited supply, and the bigger space that such flats offer.

Executive flats, which include maisonettes and executive apartments, were first built in 1980. But construction stopped when executive condominiums were introduced in 1995. Read more >>

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Developers face hefty extension charges over unsold units | businesstimes.com.sg

SINGAPORE : Property developers may incur up to S$90 million in extension charges for unsold units in their condo projects from April to December 2015, followed by S$238 million in 2016 if the health of Singapore’s real estate market does not improve.

This adds up to a staggering S$328 million that developers are expected to fork out in the worst-case scenario should they fail to sell any units by end-2016, according to calculations by property consultancy firm Cushman and Wakefield (C&W).

As at the end of the first quarter, developers had paid about S$119 million in extension fees for unsold units for condos completed from 2010 onwards. Condos completed before that were mostly fully sold in the property market boom, C&W said. Read more >>


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Singapore tops in Asia, third globally in ‘Business of Cities’ ranking | businesstimes.com.sg

SINGAPORE : Singapore is Asia’s top-ranked city across a broad range of indicators, beating Tokyo to take the third place worldwide, according to a report by global real estate firm JLL and The Business of Cities, a London-based intelligence and strategy group.

The report analysed some 200 globally recognised city performance studies. According to the results, Singapore pipped Tokyo across six of the strongest indices, making it Asia’s frontrunner in higher education, mobility, science, broadband and technology.

Worldwide, Singapore was in the third place after New York and London. Among the Asian cities, Hong Kong was in the second spot and Tokyo in third.

Singapore, which was the No 1 city globally for business friendliness, is also rising in popularity among tourists and expatriates for its growing buzz. Read more >>

China’s property sector haunted by ghost towns | channelnewsasia.com

CHINA : China’s property sector is suffering from many empty towns dotting its vast landscape, as the number of cities built has far outstripped the demand. The impact is prominent in the Tianjin metropolis, where ambitious development projects have either stalled or been left occupied.

The incredible real estate portfolio of Bill Gates, the world’s richest man

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By Madeline Stone, businessinsider.sg

With a net worth that’s estimated to be as much as $80.1 billion, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates is the richest man in the world.

Gates has exactly the kind of real estate portfolio you would expect from a billionaire, from a Washington mansion worth $123 million to multiple horse ranches across the U.S.

Gates has also made several secretive purchases through his ultra-private investment firm, Cascade.

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Gates spends most of his time at his 66,000-square-foot mansion in Medina, Washington. It took Gates seven years and $63 million to build this behemoth of a house, which is filled with lots of high-tech features. He purchased the lot for $2 million in 1988, but it’s now worth an estimated $123 million. (Read more about his house in Medina)

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Inside, a high-tech sensor system helps guests monitor a room’s climate and lighting. There’s also a trampoline room, a 60-foot swimming pool, six kitchens, and a dining hall that can accommodate up to 200 people.

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In October 2014, Gates purchased the 228-acre Rancho Paseana for $18 million. The property includes a racetrack, guesthouse, office, veterinarian’s suite, orchard, and five barns. (Take a tour of the ranch >>)

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There’s a three-quarter-mile dirt racetrack on the property, located in Rancho Santa Fe, California.

Those buildings are filled with equestrian decor. Weight-loss expert Jenny Craig previously owned the property before selling it to Gates.

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Gates also owns another horse farm in Wellington, Florida, which he purchased for $8.7 million in 2013. The family’s daughter, Jennifer, is an avid equestrian, and they had previously rented the house when in Florida for her competitions.

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Gates made headlines last year when it was revealed that he had racked up thousands of dollars in daily fines for placing his “horse-waste storage facility” too close to a nearby pond. It’s unclear whether he has resolved the issue with the city of Wellington. (Read more)

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In 2009, Gates reportedly purchased a Wyoming ranch that once belonged to Buffalo Bill Cody. Though the price he paid for the 492-acre property was never reported, it was originally listed for $8.9 million. (Source: Gawker, Zillow)

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According to the Wall Street Journal, Gates owns nearly half of the Four Seasons Holding’s hotel chain through Cascade, including hotels in Atlanta and Houston. Gates shares 95% ownership with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia. (Source: Wall Street Journal)

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In 2013, Gates and several unnamed buyers paid $161 million for the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco. The hotel is now worth $200 million, the Wall Street Journal says.

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Cascade has also been linked to the purchase of more than 4,500 acres of farmland in Suwanee County, Florida, near the community of McAlpin. A subsidiary of Cascade paid nearly $28 million for the tract of land. (Source: Tampa Bay Business Journal, Bloomberg)

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His cofounder also has quite the portfolio. (The Incredible Real Estate Portfolio Of Microsoft Billionaire Paul Allen)

Source : http://www.businessinsider.sg/bill-gates-home-and-real-estate-portfolio-2015-5/

Property Update (28 April 2015)

How will Asia react to Japan’s new foreign policy? | cnbc.com

JAPAN : John Lee, adjunct associate professor, School of Social and Political Sciences at University of Sydney, explains why the Asian region, excluding China, will likely welcome Japan’s new foreign policy.


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Prices of completed apartments and condos up 0.2% in March: NUS index | businesstimes.com.sg

SINGAPORE : Prices of completed non-landed private homes in Singapore rose 0.2 per cent in March over February, according to the National University of Singapore (NUS) flash estimate released on Tuesday.

The sub-index for Central Region (excluding small units of up to 506 square feet or 47 square metres) rose 0.1 per cent in March.

Central Region is defined by the university’s Institute of Real Estate Studies (IRES) as districts 1-4, including the financial district and Sentosa Cove, plus the traditional prime districts 9, 10 and 11.

The sub-index for Non-Central Region (again excluding small units) rose 0.3 per cent in March.

Islandwide prices of small apartment and condo units eased 0.4 per cent, however.

IRES also published the revised index values for February, which showed overall prices falling 0.2 per cent from January, a gentler decline than the 0.3 per cent drop it earlier estimated. Read more here >>


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Singapore’s growth supported by G3 recovery, offset by slowdown in China: MAS | businesstimes.com.sg

SINGAPORE : The growth of the Singapore economy will be supported by a firmer recovery in the G3 countries but offset by China’s slowdown, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore on Tuesday.

“A firmer recovery in the G3 will provide a broad-based boost to the external-oriented sectors of the Singapore economy,” said the MAS in its April macroeconomic review.

G3 comprises the US, Japan and the eurozone.

The G3 is forecast to grow 1.9 per cent in 2015, up from 1.3 per cent in 2014. The US is expected to grow 2.9 per cent, Japan one per cent and eurozone 1.5 per cent. In 2014, the US grew 2.4 per cent, Japan had zero growth and eurozone grew 0.9 per cent.

“However, the extent of the uplift will be capped by developments in specific markets and industries,” it said.

Uncertainties include a slowdown in China, corporate realignments in the IT industry and continued weakness in the oil-related transport engineering sectors due to a downshift in oil and gas exploration.

China is slated to grow 6.9 per cent in 2015, down from 7.4 per cent last year. Read more here >>

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Asia Property Markets Benefit from 2014 Private Equity Funding Activity | worldpropertyjournal.com

ASIA : According to CBRE, the Asia Pacific real estate private equity fund environment totaled $14 billion in 2014, its highest since the global financial crisis (GFC), though still well below the $28 billion peak recorded in 2007. CBRE is also predicting that 2015 will continue to see a positive environment for fund raising, though does not expect further significant increases given that 2013 and 2014 were both very active years. 2014 saw fund raising by 42 APAC private equity real estate funds, an increase from previous years driven by the ongoing demand for access to the region.

CBRE predicts that the majority of raised funds will translate into direct real estate investments in the region in the coming year, helping to drive up the turnover of overall capital activities by 5% in 2015.

Asia Pacific remains a major focus for international investors, with an increasing number of new groups looking at the region for the purposes of portfolio diversification and long-term investment. However, it remains challenging for cross-regional investors to invest directly in Asia Pacific due to the lack of transparency in many markets and their lack of experience in the region. Investors are therefore channeling their capital to these newly formed funds.

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Read more here >>

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Global Property Investors’ Focus on Europe Intensifies in 2015 | worldpropertyjournal.com

EUROPE : According to a new report by Cushman & Wakefield, European real estate is set to stay firmly in the spotlight for global investors with a resulting two-year window of high activity and attractive relative pricing driven by improved property investment supply, portfolio restructuring, rising prices and the impact of quantitative easing.

Their report, Capital Views – The Allure of Europe, says while activity has spread rapidly around all corners of Europe from the core, on to the South and now towards Central Europe, global money has lagged behind, staying close to the biggest hub markets. The UK, Germany and France took three quarters of all global money in Europe in the past year for example. According to Cushman & Wakefield, this is now changing however, Southern Europe in particular coming on to the global radar. Spain for example is now the only country other than UK to draw capital from all global regions. This change is expected to accelerate in 2015 as global investors turn to more new markets across the region.

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Read more here >>

Property Update (14 April 2015)

New powers for HDB officers | channelnewsasia.com

Members of Parliament debated the Housing and Development Board (HDB) amendment bill, which seeks to grant HDB officers more powers to enter a flat to carry out urgent repairs.

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Five-room flat at Pinnacle@Duxton goes for record $1.06m | straitstimes.com

SINGAPORE : Resale prices for units at The Pinnacle@Duxton premium HDB project have set a new record, with two five-room units being sold for more than $1 million each in transactions completed this month.

One unit on the 28th to 30th floor was sold for $1.06m, while the other on the 46th to 48th floor fetched $1.05m, according the Housing Board website. The size of each unit is 107 sq m.

There were at least four other five-room units which were sold between $1m and $1.04m this year, according to Shin Min Daily News.

Four-room units are also popular, said the evening daily. At least six such units were each sold for $910,000 and above this year. Read more here >>

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Singapore condo resale prices dip 0.2% in March but more units sold: SRX Property | straitstimes.com

SINGAPORE : Resale prices of non-landed private residential properties continued to cool, dipping 0.2 per cent in March from February, according to flash estimates from SRX Property on Tuesday.

Year on year, prices have dropped 3.9 per cent from March last year.

March 2015 prices were down 6.2 per cent from the recent peak in January 2014; The price change in February 2015 has been revised from no change to a 0.4 per cent decrease.

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Read more here >>


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Parliament: Khaw Boon Wan explains how HDB flats are selected for Sers | straitstimes.com

SINGAPORE : Flats are selected for the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers), depending on whether there are suitable rehousing sites, whether redevelopment is viable economically, and whether there are financial resources available to fund the programme.

Housing Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Monday explained in Parliament how the Government selects Housing Board blocks for the scheme, in response to a question from Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten).

Under Sers, old estates are redeveloped, and affected owners get compensation and rehousing benefits, including new replacement flats at subsidised prices.

Mr Khaw said precincts are picked for Sers “on a selective basis”. Read more here >>


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China real estate group cuts debt by reclassifying | bdlive.co.za

CHINA : China’s Evergrande Real Estate Group has cut leverage on its balance sheet over the past two years to a third by classifying some of it as equity, according to analysts’ calculations based on its public filings.

Evergrande, the most indebted developer among China’s top-10 property firms, is seeking additional funding to expand, and a lower proportion of debt to equity makes it easier and less costly for a company to borrow.

Evergrande lowered the proportion of debt on its balance sheet by issuing so-called perpetual debt instruments and classifying them as equity, corporate filings for 2013 and 2014 show. The developer also increased fair value gains on some of its properties.

The accounting treatments are legal and not uncommon. But they effectively mask the amount of debt a company actually holds and, in Evergrande’s case, they might obscure how highly leveraged it was, analysts said. Read more here >>

Property Update (7 April 2015)

Rise in cases of illegal use of private homes | channelnewsasia.com

SINGAPORE : URA says there were 2,500 cases of unauthorised use of private residential properties in 2014, up from 2,100 cases in the previous year. It also says a Geylang apartment that caught fire last Friday was illegally used as a dormitory.

Malaysia passes controversial anti-terror Bill | channelnewsasia.com

MALAYSA : Debate on the Prevention of Terrorism Bill dragged from Monday morning (Apr 6) till the wee hours of Tuesday. The Bill was finally passed at 2.27am.


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Prices of leasehold non-landed homes more resilient than freehold properties: Study | todayonline.com

SINGAPORE : Amid the sluggish property market in recent years, prices of leasehold private homes appear to have been more resilient than those which are freehold, according to a study by consultancy Cushman & Wakefield.

Cushman & Wakefield said prices of non-landed freehold homes saw a steeper drop of over 4 per cent since the third quarter of 2013, compared to the 1 per cent decline for those on a 99-year leasehold. Its study was based on the price indices of freehold and leasehold condominiums compiled by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

However, analysts have said transaction volumes have been thin, and that could have affected the overall numbers. Read more here >>


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Pockets of light in gloomy home market | asiaone.com

SINGAPORE : There has been much doom and gloom in the property market since cooling measures hammered buying sentiment but the pain seems largely restricted to a small segment of the market.

Private home prices have fallen 1.1 per cent from the fourth quarter, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) property price index released on Wednesday. The index is compiled from stamp duty data from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.

But new figures from developers and caveats lodged with the Singapore Land Authority showed that not all projects have suffered steep price declines. In fact, some have even managed to eke out respectable gains. Read more here >>


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Singapore investments soar in Myanmar | asiaone.com

MYANMAR : Singapore’s investments in Myanmar are soaring, with the amount pumped in by organisations rising 41.5 per cent from 2012 to hit $311.4 million in 2013.

Spending has been particularly strong in the areas of urban development, connectivity and finance, said Ms Lai Shu Ying, the South-east Asia director of trade agency International Enterprise (IE) Singapore.

She attributes this to Myanmar’s abundant natural and human resources and its strategic location at the crossroads of India, China and South-east Asia.

The level of investment is striking, given that it has been only three years since Myanmar’s economic liberalisation.

And there is more to come, with one in four Asian enterprises planning to expand into Myanmar this year, according to a survey by the United Overseas Bank last year. Singapore was Myanmar’s third-largest trading partner in 2013, while bilateral trade was valued at $3.23 billion last year. Read more here >>


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Ayala Land buys into MCT Bhd. in first foray into Malaysia | bworldonline.com

PHILIPPINES : Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI), Philippine’s second largest property conglomerate by market value, said it bought a minority stake in Malaysian property developer MCT Bhd. in a P1.9-billion ($43-million) deal that would expand its footprint in Southeast Asia.

The transaction was through a private placement coursed through ALI’s wholly owned subsidiary Regent Wise Investments Ltd., which will gain 9.16% of MCT Bhd. and a seat in the Malaysian company’s seven-member board, ALI officials told a media briefing yesterday.

In a separate disclosure to Bursa Malaysia yesterday, MCT named ALI President and Chief Executive Officer Bernard Vincent O. Dy as a non-independent, non-executive director and a member of its remuneration and nomination committees.

MCT, which began operations as Modular Construction Technology Sdn. Bhd. in 1999, yesterday debuted on the main market of Bursa Malaysia via backdoor listing after “the completion of the reverse takeover exercise of GW Plastics Holdings Berhad,” the Malaysian builder said in its web site. Read more here >>

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Britain’s new property hotspots will see house price hikes | telegraph.co.uk

BRISTOL, UK – The number of homes sold in the Bristol postcode encompassing Avonmouth nearly doubled in 2014 from the previous year, fuelling fears that Britain’s latest property hotspots could develop into regional house-price bubbles.
Avonmouth, next to the Royal Edward Docks (a vibrant area that has benefitted from extensive regeneration) was the district with the biggest increase in transactions last year, as sales jumped 94.5pc in 2014, according to new analysis from property agents Hamptons International.

The number of sales rocketed 128 to 249 over the year and house prices grew 21.1pc, double the rate of the national average.

In the Hamptons 2014 index of British postcodes by transaction volumes, neighbouring Redcliffe in Bristol city centre came second with sales up 93.2pc last year.

The surge in transaction levels was driven by a growing demand to live in Bristol, one of the UK’s leading tech scenes, a relatively large number of new-build developments and high use of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme. Read more here >>