16 & 17 Nov 2013



September retail sales down 5.9%

Source: The Business Times

Retail sales slipped 5.9 per cent in September from a year ago as sales of motor vehicles and telecommunications apparatus and computers suffered double-digit declines. Stripping out sales of motor vehicles, retail sales dipped 0.3 per cent, data released by the Department of Statistics showed.

On a month-on-month, seasonally adjusted basis, retail sales edged up 0.5 per cent as vehicle sales improved over August by 19.1 per cent. Excluding vehicles, retail sales fell 2.5 per cent.

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New private home sales down 19% in October

Source: The Straits Times

Tumbling home sales last month could signal that the relentless pressure from cooling measures may have finally put the brakes on the once soaring real estate market.

New private home transactions fell 19 per cent last month from September, according to Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) data released on November 15. And the units that developers did manage to move were likely those that were priced “competitively”, consultants said.

This could indicate that the pace of overall price increases is slowing in the fourth quarter, they added, but they shied away from predicting a price drop. “I wouldn’t see prices turning yet. At most, they would remain flat,” said Colliers International research head Chia Siew Chuin.

Developers sold 1,009 new private homes last month, 19 per cent less than the 1,246 units moved in September. Figures exclude executive condominiums. Including exec condos, 1,108 new homes were sold last month. No exec condos were launched last month. Sales in suburban regions comprised 71 per cent of the total number of transactions while city fringe homes accounted for 21 per cent. Central areas accounted for the remaining 8 per cent.

Only 1,124 new private homes were put up for sale last month – 38 per cent lower than the 1,806 units released in September.

Consultants said new home sales could rise in November due to the launch of the 429-unit Alex Residences and 660-unit Duo Residences, which both went on sale earlier this week.

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Bumper sales at launch of Duo Residences

Source: The Straits Times

Duo Residences, the first project to be launched by M+S, a joint venture between Temasek Holdings and Khazanah Nasional, has recorded bumper sales. This could augur well for upcoming mixed developments similar to Duo, though some consultants warn it may shrink investment demand for the next few weeks.

The 660-unit project next to Kampong Glam had sold 468 units out of the 540 units released, as of 3pm on November 15, M+S said. This works out to a take-up rate of about 87 per cent within three days of concurrent sales in Singapore and Malaysia. As of 10pm on November 15, fewer than 100 units were left.

The average selling price was about $2,000 per sq ft (psf) and the highest price psf achieved was $2,600 psf for a studio apartment, M+S said in a statement.

Most of the buyers – 78 per cent – were Singaporeans. Of these, the bulk were investors. Malaysians accounted for 16 per cent of buyers. The remaining 6 per cent were mostly Indonesians, Chinese and Americans.

Consultants said the success of Duo’s launch indicates that competitively priced projects will do well as buyers are increasingly cost-conscious.

Colliers International research head Chia Siew Chuin said that since Clermont Residences and South Beach are likely to appeal to a different group of investors, their sales would probably not be hindered by Duo’s success. “Property investors are quite savvy and know what’s available on the market. Some may be looking for a trophy project and think Duo is suitable, but others may be holding out for other projects,” said Ms Chia.

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Redhill homes’ selling point: Location

Source: The Straits Times

Home prices in the area around Alexandra Road, north of the Redhill MRT station, may fall in the short term but the medium term outlook is positive.

Consultants say the appeal of the Redhill area lies in its location – close to both the Central Business District and the science parks in the Buona Vista area. Another draw is that the area is more affordable than the neighbouring Tiong Bahru and Jervois districts, partly because projects in Redhill tend to be on 99-year leaseholds, rather than freehold.

The most recent Redhill launch is the 429-unit Alex Residences in Alexandra View by SingLand. The project’s price was an average $1,650 per sq ft (psf) when its preview sales began. That average price is cheaper than that of its next-door neighbour, Echelon, launched last December by City Developments and now fully sold. The 508 units at Echelon were sold at an average $1,795 psf, according to Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) data.

Both Alex Residences and Echelon are on 99-year leaseholds.

Tenants in the Redhill area tend to be junior- to average-level expatriates with limited housing allowances, and foreign professionals working in the science and business parks around Buona Vista and one-north.

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Fewer private home owners buying resale public flats over past three years

Source: Lianhe Zaobao, Sunday, Page 1

The number of private property owners buying Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat units has been gradually falling over the past three years. This follows a change to the regulations in 2010 that required these owners to sell off their existing private homes within six months of buying an unsubsidised resale flat. According to figures from the HDB, there were 25,136 resale HDB flat transactions in 2012. Private home owners consisted 4.1 per cent, or 1,036 transactions. This is down from 6.2 per cent of all resale flat transactions in 2011.

Nonetheless, private home owners who do sell their homes often prefer 4-room or larger flat units. The median Cash-Over-Valuation (COV) paid by these homebuyers are also relatively higher than other groups of buyers. Data from the Ministry of National Development shows that private homeowners who bought resale HDB flats paid a median COV of $52,000 in 4Q 2012. This is higher than the $38,000 and $32,000 paid by the first-timers and second-timers respectively.



Niche is the new normal

Source: The Business Times

A journalists’ bar, a cat cafe and two eateries specialising in ribs and wings that are offering fresh dining experiences with their esoteric concepts.

Scoop will open on November 20 at Ann Siang Hill. The 1,600-sq ft  journalists’ bar will screen news and sports programmes from its two televisions all day and serve up comfort food and popular dishes from its other outlets such as burgers, pizza and a mac-and-cheese dish flavoured with truffle paste.

Neko no Niwa will open on the second floor of a Boat Quay shophouse at the end of November. The 500-sq ft space will  be home to 10 cats, which cafe patrons can play with as they sip their java and take in views of the Singapore River.

Ribbery and Wine Co is a ribs specialist eatery that has opened in the Sixth Avenue Centre along Bukit Timah Road. The two-storey 80-seater restaurant offers beef, lamb and pork ribs in 12 exciting variants. And at East Coast Road, Wings World is a casual 40-seater eatery that serves only wings.

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Open For Business

Source: The Straits Times

Spuds & Aprons is a new casual restaurant offering Western, Asian-inspired and local delights tha has opened at Mount Faber. The month-old eatery seats 60 people indoors and another 160 outdoors in its garden area.

Sushi Dai opened quietly two weeks ago at Marina Mandarin Singapore. The 30-seat restaurant is its first overseas outlet, outside of Japan. At the same time, Ippudo Ramen Express first express outlet has opened in the heart of the CBD at Asia Square Tower Two.

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Continental tilt

Source: The Business Times

Brioni, an Italian fashion house specialising in made-to-order men’s suits and luxurious tailoring, recently unveiled its first standalone boutique at Marina Bay Sands. The 1,720 sq ft store opened in September, while Italian leather goods label Valextra has just opened its 800 sq ft boutique in Paragon.

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Comeback hotels

Source: The Business Times

What was once Paramount Hotel and Shopping Centre is now the 229-room Village Hotel Katong which opened earlier this month. The facade of the buildings and the number of rooms had not changed, but everything else is new, following a $30 million refurbishment. The hotel also has eight suites, which come with a kitchenette, laundry and sitting area, which is suitable for long-staying guests.

At Seah Street, Naumi Hotel which opened in 2007, recently completed a year-long transformation and reopened its door last month. The entire hotel was gutted out save for the very popular infinity pool on the roof top. With better space planning, the number of rooms has increased from 40 to 73. They are now slightly smaller than before.

Meanwhile, after more than a decade’s absence, the Westin brand is making its comeback to Singapore. The 305-room Westin Singapore occupies levels 32 to 46 of Asia Square Tower Two near Marina Bay, making it a first for Singapore to have a hotel within an office building.

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LTA awards $757m in MRT contracts

Source: The Business Times

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has awarded two civil contracts totalling $757 million for Thomson Line’s Springleaf and Upper Thomson stations.

At a contract sum of $383 million, construction of Springleaf station and its associated tunnels was awarded to Leighton Contractors (Asia) Limited (Singapore Branch) – John Holland Pty Ltd joint venture (JV).

The contract for the construction of Upper Thomson station and its associated tunnels has been awarded to Sato Kogyo (S) Pte Ltd for $374 million.

Construction works for these contracts are expected to start by the first quarter of 2014, and the two Thomson Line stations are scheduled to complete in 2020.

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Suntec Reit buys Sydney freehold site

Source: The Straits Times

The trustee of Suntec real estate investment trust (Reit) is buying a freehold property in North Sydney’s business district for A$413.19 million (S$480 million). The site, which will accommodate a 31-storey building still under construction, will be the Reit’s first acquisition outside Singapore.

Suntec said that the tower block is targeted for completion in early 2016, and it will have a net lettable area of 423,915 sq ft.

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