Sales of Singapore properties to foreigners fall to 7-year low


SINGAPORE : Foreigners including the Chinese have cut their purchases of Singapore private homes to the lowest since the global financial crisis, leaving the market to depend on local buyers at a time when domestic interest rates are on the rise.

Foreigners, including permanent residents, bought 499 homes in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to data compiled by consultancy DTZ. That accounted for about 16 per cent of total transactions versus more than 30 per cent in the third quarter of 2011 just before an additional stamp duty was imposed to cool the market.


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DWG Q2 2015 Top Producers

DWG 2nd Quarter 2015 Top Producers

DWG 2nd Quarter 2015 Top Producers (via The Straits Times, 25 July 2015)

Congratulations to Noena de Leon and to all DWG 2nd Quarter 2015 Top Producers.


Property Update (22 July 2015)

MAS initiatives to help Singaporeans manage their finances better |

SINGAPORE : These include the Total Debt Servicing Ratio on property purchases, restrictions on housing and motor vehicle loans, the introduction of special savings bonds and facilitating easier and wider access to corporate bonds and exchange traded funds.

Property prices have softened, but the price correction has been modest, says Monetary Authority of Singapore managing director Ravi Menon.

Property prices have softened, but the price correction has been modest, says Monetary Authority of Singapore managing director Ravi Menon.

Too early to lift property curbs: MAS chief |

SINGAPORE: The moribund housing market may have set off a chorus of voices calling for the property cooling measures to be relaxed, but Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon said it is premature to do so as the price correction has been modest, putting paid to hopes among developers and homeowners of a market rebound.

“Property prices have softened somewhat, but like I said last year, in the context of the price increase that had occurred – 60 per cent over three years – the softening we have seen is really not all that much. So, it’s still premature to consider removing any of the cooling measures that are in place,” Mr Menon said on Monday (Jul 20) at the media briefing to release the central bank’s annual report.

Housing prices began their sharp climb in the middle of the 2009 as confidence returned to the market after the global financial crisis, before reaching their peak in the third quarter of 2013. The market has since fallen steadily but gradually after the MAS introduced in June that year the Total Debt Servicing Ratio framework for property loans to strengthen credit practices by financial institutions and encourage prudence among borrowers. Read more >>


Dolphin Villa ads unacceptable, says watchdog |

SINGAPORE : In April, the property developer behind a Batam villa project splashed a series of print advertisements promising views of Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and leaping dolphins at the residents’ doorsteps.

But now, Singapore’s advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (Asas), has objected to the ads, and asked the developer to change them.

It found three things unacceptable: claiming that landmarks such as Marina Bay Sands are visible from the villas, promising a guaranteed rental of 7 per cent a year and quoting an anonymous buyer on how wonderful the development is.

The watchdog reviewed the ads after a Sunday Times report in May on the villas, which cost $758,000 each and are being built around a lagoon of captive dolphins. Read more >>

Formerly known as The Spazio and Dapenso Building, 158 Cecil Street has won many accolades, including the top prize at the 2011 Skyrise Greenery Awards. Photo: Amir Sultan

Formerly known as The Spazio and Dapenso Building, 158 Cecil Street has won many accolades, including the top prize at the 2011 Skyrise Greenery Awards. Photo: Amir Sultan

158 Cecil Street being sold for S$240m |

SINGAPORE : A company linked to low-profile investor Denis Jen, who owns shopping malls in Australia, is buying 158 Cecil Street for S$240 million from a fund managed by Alpha Investment Partners, the fund management arm of Keppel Land.

The price works out to about S$2,100 per square foot based on the 14-storey building’s net lettable area of around 115,000 sq ft. 158 Cecil Street is on a site with a balance lease term of around 65 years.

Formerly known as The Spazio and Dapenso Building, the property underwent a major revamp several years ago.

Alpha acquired the property for S$235.5 million in 2007 from KOP Properties, which agreed to complete a major refurbishment before delivering the property in 2009 to Alpha, which positioned the asset as a green building. Read more >>

he Hudson Yards development stands at dusk in this aerial photograph taken above New York on June 19. (Bloomberg: Craig Warga)

he Hudson Yards development stands at dusk in this aerial photograph taken above New York on June 19. (Bloomberg: Craig Warga)

Manhattan builders face clash over visas |

NEW YORK, USA : As Related Cos.’ $20 billion real estate complex rises on the far west side of Manhattan, legislators in Washington are debating the fate of a program that has been critical to building it.

The caissons underpinning the 28-acre Hudson Yards project, and steel beams rising for towers from Seattle to Los Angeles, are resting on the same foundation: a bedrock of cash from Chinese individuals. Developers are taking advantage of a record amount of money that’s flowing through the EB-5 program, which grants green cards to foreigners that invest a minimum of $500,000 in projects that create jobs.

Lawmakers are pressing for changes to EB-5 when it comes up for renewal by Congress in September. Proposed legislation seeks to redirect investments to poor and rural communities and would make it tougher for developers to access funds in big cities such as New York, where at least $3.2 billion of EB-5 cash has gone toward building the skyline since 2010, according to a study by Jeanne Calderon and Gary Friedland, professors at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

“It wouldn’t be the death knell, but it would change everything dramatically,” said Dan Dwyer, a New York-based lawyer with Dai & Associates who specializes in EB-5 financing.

The bill, S. 1501, sponsored by senators Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, and Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, aims to ensure that the poorer areas that were the intended beneficiaries when the program began in 1993 are being adequately served. The measure also proposes stricter oversight to guard against fraud, and raising the minimum investment to $800,000. Read more >>


Property Update (1 July 2015)

The drop in the Resale Price Index released by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) is the eighth consecutive quarter of decline, according to flash estimates.

The drop in the Resale Price Index released by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) is the eighth consecutive quarter of decline, according to flash estimates.

HDB flats resale prices continue to slide, down 0.4% in Q2 |

SINGAPORE: Flash estimates of the Resale Price Index (RPI) for the second quarter of 2015 showed a 0.4 per cent decline in the prices of Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats over the previous quarter, HDB announced on Wednesday (Jul 1).

The flash estimate for the index is 135.0, HDB said, down from 135.6 in the previous quarter – an eighth consecutive quarter of decline.

The RPI for the full quarter will be released on Jul 24, along with more detailed public housing data, HDB added. Read more >>


Shoebox units lead non-landed home price slide in May |

SINGAPORE : PRICES of completed non-landed private homes in Singapore fell 0.6 per cent in May from April, according to the flash estimate for the NUS Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI).

This has translated into a 1.6 per cent decline over the first five months of this year.

The fall in May was sharpest among shoebox units of 506 square feet or below that saw a 1.3 per cent drop in prices. Excluding these small units, non-landed private homes in the central region slipped one per cent in May from a month ago.

Units in the non-central region dipped 0.1 per cent in May, the sub-index shows. 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. Read more >>

Singapore will relax rules that currently require banks to segregate their domestic and international operations into separate accounting entities, as part of moves to simplify its banking regulations.

Singapore will relax rules that currently require banks to segregate their domestic and international operations into separate accounting entities, as part of moves to simplify its banking regulations.

Singapore to ease banks’ local and offshore regulations |

SINGAPORE : Singapore will relax rules that currently require banks to segregate their domestic and international operations into separate accounting entities, as part of moves to simplify its banking regulations.

Banks in Singapore need to divide their local and offshore operations into domestic banking units (DBU) and Asian Currency Units (ACU). This division was created in the late 1960s to boost the growth of the Asian Dollar Market – in which US dollars and other foreign currencies were transacted – while safeguarding the local banking system. Read more >>


British Expats in Hong Kong, Singapore Leveraging Rising Rents in UK |

UK : With Hong Kong and Singapore topping the list of the world’s most expensive cities to live in, British expats are taking advantage of rising rents and long-term property inflation back home and purchasing buy-to-let investments in the UK.

Offshore bank, Skipton International has seen a lot of interest from expats living in Hong Kong and Singapore since launching a range of buy-to-let mortgages for Brits living and working abroad. The Asian countries are in the top four of the costliest cities for expatriates, according to the Mercer’s 2015 Cost of Living Survey. The survey takes into account housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment, and has Hong Kong in the second slot and Singapore fourth. Read more >>

Property Update (4 May 2015)

First batch of SkyVille at Dawson residents receive their keys |

SINGAPORE : The first batch of residents at SkyVille@Dawson, a new generation public housing development slated to be completed by the by the third quarter of 2015, have received the keys to their units on Saturday (May 2).


New HDB flats not as pricey as some think |

SINGAPORE : New Housing Board flat prices are overestimated by the public, and the majority of prospective flat buyers are willing to pay more than the current average prices.

A new survey of more than 1,400 residents by the National Development Ministry showed that one in five of them intended to buy a flat in the next five years.

The issue of pricey new flats has been a rising concern in recent years, with National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan promising to fix the issue when he first took charge of the ministry.

Measures such as delinking prices of new flats from those of the resale market have brought prices down.

But perceptions that new flats are expensive continue to linger, according to the survey conducted in November. Read more here >>


Foreign property launches edge down this year |

SINGAPORE : There have been fewer launches of overseas property from traditionally popular markets such as London and Australia so far this year, although there is a surge of interest in new frontiers like Cambodia.

There were 78 overseas project launches in the first quarter, well down on the 103 in the same period last year, said CBRE consultants.

Australia accounted for 26 of those – down from 40 a year earlier – while there were 24 from Britain, down from 30.

The rest included 11 from Japan, six from Malaysia, and four from Cambodia, up from none in the first quarter of last year. Read more here >>


Villas being built near Batam in lagoon with dolphins, developer eyes Singapore buyers |

INDONESIA : An Indonesian developer says Singapore buyers are showing keen interest in a project promising villas built over the sea, with dolphins at the residents’ doorsteps.

Batam-based developer PT Batam Island Marina and its Singapore investment partner Seven Seas FID are planning 64 villas, each shaped like a round bamboo hut and built around a lagoon with dolphins which residents can feed and play with.

Priced at $758,000 each, the villas were launched here two weeks ago with a blaze of advertisements showing dolphins leaping out of the water, and the Marina Bay Sands skyline on the horizon. The project is coming up in the midst of six small islands known collectively as Pulau Manis, 3km off Batam. Read more here >>


Australia cracks down on foreign property buyers |

SYDNEY–The Australian government has toughened penalties to stop foreign investors from illegally buying homes in the country’s overheating property market, saying those breaching investment laws would face three-year jail terms and fines of as much as 637,500 Australian dollars (US$500,400).

The bid to crack down on money illegally flowing into Australian real estate comes amid growing public concern that wealthy Asian investors are bidding up prices, making the country’s property market increasingly unaffordable. House prices in Sydney alone have risen 14.5% in the year to April, according to property-data provider Corelogic RP Data.

While stressing the government remained “pro-business and pro-investment, ” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at a press conference Saturday that investment rules needed to ensure “that the foreign investment we need really is in Australia’s national interest.”

“There is no doubt that if we have foreigners illegally coming into the existing residential property market, that is driving up prices,” Mr. Abbott said. “What we want to do is to ensure that illegal foreign investment is not unnecessarily driving up prices.”

The government said the new rules, including a new application fee, would be enforced from the end of the year. Read more here >>

Property Update (28 April 2015)

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

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.


Prices of completed apartments and condos up 0.2% in March: NUS index |

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 >>


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

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 >>


Asia Property Markets Benefit from 2014 Private Equity Funding Activity |

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.


Read more here >>


Global Property Investors’ Focus on Europe Intensifies in 2015 |

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.


Read more here >>

Property Update (17 April 2015)

Is the property market booming or bubbling? |

Peter Hobbs, research managing director at IPD,discusses property markets across the world.


3-month Sibor falls below 1% amid improved outlook for Sing dollar |

SINGAPORE: The benchmark three-month interest rate in Singapore fell for a third straight session on Thursday (Apr 16), dropping below the psychological 1 per cent level amid an improved outlook for the local dollar.

At the latest fixing on Thursday, the three-month Singapore interbank offered rate (Sibor), which is used to set floating-rate mortgages, slipped to 0.94654 per cent from 1.01241 per cent on Wednesday. This is the lowest level in about a month.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) surprised financial markets on Tuesday by keeping monetary policy unchanged, sparking a rally in the Singapore dollar. The majority of forecasters had expected MAS to let the local dollar weaken slightly against a basket of currencies – either by widening the policy band in which the Singapore dollar trades or by recentering the midpoint of the band.

A softer Singapore dollar puts upward pressure on local interest rates as investors seek higher yields as compensation for holding the weakening currency, while a stronger currency helps keep interest rates down. Read more here >>


Does Singapore’s Orchard Road need a revamp? |

SINGAPORE : Orchard Road has long been regarded one of Asia’s best shopping streets, but the time is ripe for reinvention, the boss of a century-old retailer in Singapore told CNBC.

“20 years ago, we had the ‘Great Singapore Sale.’ Since then, I think we haven’t really re-invented anything,” said Christophe Cann, managing director of Robinsons Group, in an interview with CNBC’s ” Managing Asia .”

“Back then, it was convenient for regional customers to shop in Singapore because what they could find here, they couldn’t find elsewhere. But now, it is a different ball game,” he said.

Amid the population and consumer boom in other parts of Southeast Asia, global brands now have the option to set up shop elsewhere in the region, significantly reducing the need for people to travel to Singapore to shop. Read more here >>


Old and boring, but outperforming |

SINGAPORE : As is true with any market, the residential property market is not monolithic. In Singapore, it consists of many different segments, including the Housing and Development Board’s Build-to-Order and resale flats, as well as private condominiums and landed homes.

Within each market segment, specific areas and homes perform differently and have reacted to the Government’s property cooling measures and loan curbs in different ways.

SRX Property data shows that overall private non-landed housing prices have fallen 6.2 per cent since their market peak in January last year. The luxury housing project Ardmore Park, however, has seen prices plunging 23 per cent in roughly the same period. The reason for the difference in price depreciation is that the supply and demand characteristics in Ardmore Park’s pocket of the market are different from those of the overall condominium market. Read more here >>


Quezon City, Philippines, tops emerging market property searches |

PHILIPPINES : The most sought-after destination for real estate in emerging markets is Quezon City in the Philippines, says a specialist website.

The most populous city in the Philippines and Metro Manila’s largest city topped the list of most searched for locations in the first three months of 2015, with 49,244 inquiries on global property portal Lamudi.

Property demand in Quezon City is fuelled by employees of top multinational companies, including Emerson, Citibank and several call centre companies based there.

In second place was Karachi, in Pakistan with 44,981. Despite limited land availability, residential developments are still being launched with the southern part of the city favoured most.Read more here >>


Vietnam to open up property market to foreigners |

HO CHI MINH : Come July, the potential pool of buyers for CapitaLand’s Vista Verde condominium project in Ho Chi Minh City will grow exponentially.

A new law will allow foreigners with valid residential visas, as well as foreign companies, to buy in. Now, only those married to Vietnamese or foreigners deemed to be contributing to national development can own property.

Singapore developer CapitaLand says what makes Vietnam real estate compelling is a higher yield on rent compared to other countries in Asia.

CEO of CapitaLand Vietnam Chen Lian Pang says this ranges from 6 to 7 per cent depending on the location and type of property. “Vietnam has just gone through the bottom (economic) cycle. It is picking up, so there is a lot of upside actually.”

The sector is betting on three groups of buyers: a growing domestic middle class, returning overseas Vietnamese, and foreign executives moving in to set up manufacturing outposts. Read more here >>


California Home Sales Take Off in March |

CALIFORNIA, US : According to the California Association of Realtors, California’s housing market continued to pick up steam as existing home sales and prices propelled higher, with both posting back-to-back increases in March 2015.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 391,680 units in March, according to information collected by C.A.R.

Sales in March were up 6.3 percent from a revised 368,400 in February and up 7.3 percent from a revised 365,120 in March 2014. The year-over-year sales increase was the first back-to-back sales gain since December 2012 and the largest observed since May 2012. The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2015 if sales maintained the March pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales. Read more here >>