AI-enabled portal UrbanZoom aims to improve housing market data transparency
TECHPRENEUR Michael Cho believes that the man in the street should have equal access to housing market intelligence as the real estate agent – and for free.
That was the motivation that drove him to create UrbanZoom – an online artificial intelligence (AI) enabled research portal that includes an auto-valuation tool and other useful transaction data designed to be user-friendly for home buyers and sellers in Singapore.
UrbanZoom is decidedly not a listing portal, since that space is over-saturated, with even the likes of Carousell Pro and Facebook Marketplace having entered the space.
This makes it difficult to innovate, value-add or compete on that front, he says.
Changes to parking provisions will be shot in the arm for car-lite vision
SINGAPORE is making yet another stride in going car-lite, this time with proposed bill amendments that will give the Land Transport Authority (LTA) more flexibility in calibrating parking provisions in private developments.
This will pave the way for fewer carpark spaces in upcoming housing precincts such as Kampong Bugis, Holland Plain and Bayshore as well as Jurong Lake District.
While details are scant for now as the LTA consults industry players on specific provisions, one prevailing view is that this could also usher in future reductions in carpark spaces in new developments near train stations.
Lendlease upbeat about take-up at Park Place Residences for Phase 2
AUSTRALIAN-LISTED developer Lendlease is hoping to replicate its success achieved during the Phase One sales of Park Place Residences at Paya Lebar Quarter (PLQ) last year.
Then, 210 units, or about half of the total units of the 99-year leasehold private condominium, were snapped up within the first day of sales.
This also exceeded the inital 40 per cent Lendlease had projected.
The final 219 units will be made available for sale during the second phase, set to launch on April 7, the developer announced on Monday.
Lian Beng Group unit intending to acquire Joo Chiat property for S$27m
A WHOLLY-OWNED unit of Lian Beng Group is intending to purchase a four-storey commercial building in Joo Chiat for S$27 million that is to be satisfied in cash.
On Monday, the construction cum property developer group said in a Singapore Exchange filing that Lian Beng (Joo Chiat) had on the same day accepted the purchase option granted by TTAT Investment for the proposed acquisition.
The building, OCN Building, occupies a gross floor area of about 2,300 sqm.
Sweden responds to worst housing slump since 2008 with more supply
SWEDEN’S government wants to add supply to a housing market that’s just gone through its biggest price slump in a decade.
The Social Democrat-led ruling coalition is intending to make property construction a key plank of its campaign ahead of the September election, according to Peter Eriksson, the country’s housing minister.
“Looking in the long term, the housing shortage is still very large, so there’s still a need to increase construction,” Mr Eriksson said in an interview on Friday in Stockholm.
En bloc fever may help boost lacklustre Singdollar bond market
THE en bloc fever of 2017 may help uplift the lacklustre Singdollar bond market which has been hit by interest rate volatility though strong issuers continue to get their deals done.
On Monday, the Land Transport Authority of Singapore sold a bumper S$1.2 billion worth of bonds, comprising two tranches, a 10-year S$300 million and 30-year S$900 million bonds at 2.75 per cent and 3.35 per cent respectively.
Generally, the bond market continues to be choppy but strong issuers such as the LTA will be well-received, said Clifford Lee, DBS Bank head of fixed income.
Property agencies’ Big 3 join forces in online platform
IN A marked showing of solidarity among industry rivals in the face of disruption, Singapore’s three largest property agencies have teamed up for the first time to launch an online platform for agents and consumers.
They seek to provide real-time accurate information for agents and consumers and, in the long-run, provide the industry with a more streamlined transaction process between salespeople and consumers.
Though led by PropNex Realty, ERA Realty and Huttons Asia, these big boys say they are not about to leave the one-man agencies or smaller firms behind.
Perennial to acquire Capitol project after S$528m buy-out
PERENNIAL Real Estate Holdings is set to walk away as the sole owner of the iconic Capitol Singapore project, after a business kerfuffle held up the development of the heritage site. Mainboard-listed Perennial will buy out its co-owner, Pontiac Land Group affiliate Chesham Properties, to the tune of roughly S$528 million.
The move was welcomed by industry watchers, who expect that the development – which includes a stalled hotel component – will be better placed to operate after consolidation.
CDL prices penthouses at New Futura from S$39.8m each
CITY DEVELOPMENTS is pricing its two penthouses at New Futura in Leonie Hill Road from S$39.8 million each, which works out to S$5,079 per square foot based on the strata area of 7,836 sq ft.
The penthouses, on the top two levels of the completed project’s two 36-storey towers, have five bedrooms each.
In addition to offering 360-degree views of the city, each penthouse comes with a 13-metre private pool, sauna and shower by the pool deck.
The penthouses come with a Poggenpohl Entertainment Kitchen located next to the pool and deck.
The entertainment kitchen is designed by Porsche and imported from Germany.
The penthouses have finishes like marble flooring, fully-fitted kitchen, wardrobes and bathrooms.
However, they are not fitted with interiors like a showflat as high net worth individuals prefer to engage their interior designers, said a CDL spokesman.
Will SoReal Prop give incumbents a run for their money?
IT FELT surreal witnessing the launch of SoReal Prop, an online platform initiative that binds Singapore’s biggest rivals in the property agency business together despite their differences and competition in growth, marketing and recruitment.
That “historic” move led by PropNex Realty, ERA Realty and Huttons Asia came at a time when online property listings have become a major cost for agents and the fees charged by commercial property portals, mostly backed by venture capitalists, will likely continue to increase.
Healthcare benefits for PropNex agents and their dependants
REAL estate agents from PropNex, Singapore’s largest real estate agency, will be among the first to enjoy a healthcare benefits programme for self-employed workers in the real estate industry.
The real estate agency, with about 7,000 agents, has teamed up with medical benefits administrator MHC Asia Group and financial advisory SingCapital to launch the PropNex Associate Healthcare Benefits Programme for all of its agents and their dependants on Tuesday.
Under this programme, PropNex agents and their dependants will enjoy more than S$1 million in medical benefits, allowing for heavily subsidised consultation fees when they visit over 500 general practitioners (GPs), dentists, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners and MHC Medical Centre (Amara).
Oxley in final negotiations to sell block in Ireland project
OXLEY Holdings is in the final stage of negotiations to sell a 300-year lease of a block in its mixed-use development Dublin Landings, which is its first project in Ireland.
Dublin Landings, which was launched in October 2016, is situated along Dublin’s North Wall Quay.
The project will consist of 65,000 square metres of flexible Grade A office and retail space and over 270 luxury residential apartments.
In an update on the project, Oxley said that the total gross development value of Dublin Landings – comprising Blocks D1, D2, A, B and E – is expected to amount to approximately 835 million euros (S$1.4 billion). It is currently in the final stage of talks to sell Block D1 in a 300-year lease.
Singapore condo resale prices up 1.9% in Feb; units sold rise 11.3%: SRX
RESALE prices of condominiums and private apartments in Singapore continued to accelerate last month surpassing the last peak in prices seen in January 2014, according to flash estimates from SRX Property on Tuesday.
Prices in February rose 1.9 per cent from the previous month – higher than the 1.3 per cent month-on-month price rise seen in January, which was revised up from an earlier estimate of a 1 per cent increase.
This was also the seventh consecutive month of growth for the resale property price index.
February’s resale prices were 1 per cent higher than the peak in January 2014 and 7.6 per cent higher than a year ago, said real estate portal SRX.
China likely to see first real Reit this year: DBS Vickers
INVESTMENT bank DBS Vickers said on Tuesday that China is likely to launch the first authentic real estate investment trust (Reit) this year, as regulators seek to provide retail investors an additional investment platform and companies a fresh fund raising channel.
Obstacles such as high transaction taxes and regulations that restrict mutual funds from investing in commercial properties have delayed the Reit market in China from taking off for years.
Instead, over the past few years the market has seen many “quasi-Reits”, which are held by private equity funds and not open to public investment.
IOI Properties removes HK Land as partner for prime CBD project
IT looks like Malaysia’s IOI Properties will remain solely responsible for the mixed-use development in Singapore’s prime business district, after terminating the agreement with HongKong Land to jointly develop and manage the project.
But the news did not sit well with market watchers, who deemed it a negative surprise that would stretch IOI Properties’ net gearing.
It also sent shares of the Malaysian developer to a two-year low on Wednesday.
IOI Properties had said on Tuesday that the termination will not impact the development of the Central Boulevard site and that it is confident of completing the project.
APAC Realty in marketing deal with Chinese real estate firm MLN Overseas
APAC Realty, which owns ERA Realty Network in Singapore, signed an agreement with Chinese overseas real estate company MLN Overseas (Singapore) to help the latter’s Chinese clients manage their properties in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.
Under the arrangement, MLN will refer its Chinese clients looking to buy Singapore properties, either commercial or residential to ERA.
It will see them through the buying process including after-sale services.
ERA will also help MLN clients with after-sale services in Malaysia and Thailand for its properties.
These include more than 1,000 units in Malaysia and 400 units in Thailand, all residential, currently waiting to be leased out or resold.
Fragrance buys Jervois block for S$46.3m; Eu Realty sells two shophouses
A UNIT of Fragrance Group has bought Lotus at Jervois, a four-storey freehold apartment block, for S$46.3 million.
The price works out to around S$1,683 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) inclusive of an estimated development charge of S$200,000. Fragrance Group, controlled by tycoon Koh Wee Meng, is expected to redevelop the District 10 property.
The existing development – comprising 20 rental apartments ranging from one bedroom with study units to four-bedders – was built some 20-plus years ago.
Under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Master Plan 2014, the 19,741 sq ft site is zoned for residential use with 1.4 plot ratio (ratio of maxium gross floor area to land area).
Condo rents up 1% in Feb, HDB rents up 0.5%: SRX
PRIVATE non-landed home rents rose by 1 per cent in February 2018 from a month ago, higher than the 0.5 per cent rise in January, flash estimates from SRX Property on Wednesday showed.
In individual sectors, non-landed private residential unit rents in core central region (CCR), rest of central region (RCR), and outside central region (OCR) rose by 2.3 per cent, 0.2 per cent and 0.7 per cent, respectively.
On a year-on-year basis, rents last month were down by 0.7 per cent from February 2017.
The OCR led with the biggest drop of 2.3 per cent, followed by a 0.1 per cent drop in the RCR. In the CCR, however, rents saw a 0.6 per cent increase.
Minbu Villa up for collective sale with S$145.8m reserve price
THE collective sale fever in Singapore is showing no signs of abating with Minbu Villa, a freehold development located off Balestier Road, launched for collective sale by tender at a reserve price of S$145.8 million.
This translates to a land rate of S$1,355 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr).
The site has a land area of 38,426 sq ft, and a gross plot ratio of 2.8.
Completed in 1981, the 10-storey development comprises 33 apartments and a penthouse.
Subject to approvals from the relevant authorities, the site may be developed up to 36 storeys with an allowable gross floor area (GFA) of 107,593 sq ft, marketer Savills Singapore said.
Discontent over New Zealand’s ban on foreign home buyers
RICH-LISTERS like Californian billionaire Ric Kayne have issued a warning to New Zealand – banning house sales to foreigners could hurt the country’s reputation and turn wealthy investors away.
Mr Kayne, who has built an exclusive golf course in New Zealand and wants to expand his investments, is one of several rich businessmen who claim the proposed new law will have unintended consequences.
They are seeking amendments to the draft legislation or its withdrawal in its current form. “The vision we have for what we would like to contribute to New Zealand is now being threatened,” Mr Kayne wrote in submissions to a parliamentary committee examining the proposed law change.
The new rules will “impact on us personally, and others like us who, having discovered this country, want to devote considerable resources to preserving, protecting and enhancing it”.
China’s Jan-Feb property investment up 9.9%
CHINA’S real estate investment over the first two months of 2018 grew at it strongest pace since 2015, with developers rushing to roll out new projects as a government crackdown on risky financing triggered worries about future financing.
But property sales growth softened from a year ago, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed, indicating efforts to stem speculation in the sector were paying off.
Real estate, which directly affects 40 other business sectors in China, is seen as one of the biggest risks for the country this year.
CNY lull, absence of launches cause 28% drop in Feb new home sales
SINGAPORE developers sold 377 private homes – excluding executive condominium (EC) units – in February, a 28 per cent drop from the 524 units sold in January, as developers held back from launching new projects during the Chinese New Year festivities, amid a depleting inventory of units for sale in the market.
This was according to figures released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority on Thursday. There were only two new launches. Parksuites, a 119-unit project by Far East Organization in Holland Grove, soft-launched 50 units and sold three at a median price of S$2,215 psf.
Nim Collection, a 99-year leasehold landed development, launched 26 units and sold three units as well, at a median price of S$1,661 psf.
Mandarin Gardens ‘likely to draw joint ventures and foreign players’
WITH an eye-popping reserve price of S$2.45 billion and sprawling size of over one million sq ft, Mandarin Gardens could be a tough sell.
But if what could be the nation’s largest residential en bloc deal ever materialises, it will likely involve several developers joining hands – perhaps including a foreign developer.
Owners of the 1,006-unit condominium at Siglap Road could pocket between S$1.58 million and S$5.07 million, Raymond Khoo, business development director and division director for marketing agent C&H Realty, told The Business Times.
Education needed to make ‘foreign Reits’ more welcome in the local market
There is a prejudice institutional funds based in Singapore sometimes have towards Singapore real estate investment trusts (S-Reits) that hold foreign assets, but as more of such instruments join the local bourse, their attitude may have to change.
This comes as the Singapore Exchange continues to woo more of such foreign-asset S-Reits to list here.
The market expects Reit listings to form a significant part of the initial public offering (IPO) pipeline this year.
The hard numbers also show that foreign-asset S-Reits have done better than their “local” counterparts on the stock market this year.
Chip Eng Seng exits Tower Melbourne project with A$55m sale
CHIP Eng Seng Corporation is exiting from Australian redevelopment project Tower Melbourne, now that it has found a buyer willing to pay A$55 million (S$56 million) for the site.
The group said on Thursday that it has entered into an agreement with the purchaser, who is not related to the company or its controlling shareholders.
This property, which was acquired by the group in September 2011 for A$25.5 million, was originally a commercial building.
CDL to launch new Tampines condominium
DEVELOPER City Developments Limited (CDL) is launching a new condominium project in Tampines, starting from S$596,000 for a one-bedder.
On Thursday, CDL announced that The Tapestry, which has 861 units, will be the “first premium suburban condominium launch” this year.
The 99-year leasehold property comprises seven 15-storey blocks, with unit sizes ranging from 441 sq ft for a one-bedroom unit to 1,765 sq ft for the largest five-bedroom, dual-key apartments with study.
Read more: The Tapestry by CDL
Surbana Jurong, Vanke to develop industrial new towns in China
TEMASEK-owned Surbana Jurong has inked a memorandum of understanding with Vanke Industrial Town Midwest (Vanke) – a unit of China Vanke – to jointly develop industrial new towns in China’s midwest regions.
According to the firms, an industrial new town is an urban development model in China which integrates industrial developments and urban living.
It aims to create sustainable cities for residents to live and work in.
The first project that both parties will work on is Vanke’s Jianzhou Dream Town in Chengdu, with Surbana Jurong providing the design for the city.
Asian investors push global property to new high
INVESTORS from Asia powered global real estate investments to an all-time high in 2017, and are likely to dominate the market in 2018 as the range of capital sources within the region continue to increase, according to a report by Cushman & Wakefield on Thursday.
The findings come from its Global Investment Atlas 2018 study which found that Asian investors accounted for 52 per cent of the record US$1.62 trillion of capital deployed for all kinds of property investments globally last year, topping 2016’s US$1.43 trillion.
Asian buyers were also responsible for 46 per cent of all cross-border investments.
Oxley to raise S$78.1m from placement of 156.8m new shares
OXLEY Holdings on Thursday entered into a placement agreement for the issue of 156.8 million new shares at S$0.51 apiece to raise S$78.1 million.
The issue price represents a discount of about 8.8 per cent to the volume-weighted average price of S$0.559 for trades done on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) on March 14, it said in a filing with the SGX on Friday morning.
Oxley shares traded at S$0.555 on March 14 before being halted pending the announcement of the share placement agreement.
Tenders launched for parcels at Mattar Road, Silat Avenue
SINGAPORE’S Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has launched two residential sites at Mattar Road and Silat Avenue for sale by public tender under the confirmed list of the first half 2018 Government Land Sales (GLS) programme.
The land parcel at Mattar Road, which is under a 99-year lease, has a site area of 6,230.2 square metres with a maximum gross floor area (GFA) of 18,691 sq m. It can yield an estimated 250 units.
The site at Silat Avenue, also under a 99-year lease, occupies an area of 22,851.6 sq m and with a GFA of 84,551 sq m.
It can yield a maximum of 1,125 housing units. The site is zoned for residential and residential with commercial at the first storey.
En-bloc fever may be cooling
ENGINEER Andy Goh has stopped saying hello to some neighbours in his condominium. The mood in the 596-apartment Cashew Heights complex is “tense and stressed” after an initiative late last year to offer it for collective sale to a property developer, said the 49-year-old.
A firm opponent of the deal, worth at least S$1.88 billion, he feels outnumbered by owners who want to cash out.
Recalling a meeting in his condominium last month, Mr Goh, who worries the sale price won’t allow him to buy a new home of comparable size, said his dissenting voice was drowned out by the other owners.
Bukit Sembawang Estates secures Katong Park Towers for S$345m
BUKIT Sembawang Estates has successfully tendered for the en bloc sale of Katong Park Towers at a price tag of S$345 million -20 per cent above its reserve price of S$288 million, marketer Cushfield & Wakefield said on Friday.
This translates to a land rate of S$1,280 per sq ft per plot ratio up to the development baseline, taking into account an estimated S$60 million for the lease upgrading premium.
The tender attracted a total of 10 bids and all were above the reserve price.
According to director of capital markets at Cushman & Wakefield, Christina Sim, owners at Katong Park Towers will receive proceeds ranging from S$2.25 million to S$3.23 million for typical units, depending on their floor area and size.