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12 October 2018 / Issue 36

By in Weekly News Review with 0 Comments

Top News for the Week

  • Monetary Authority of Singapore watching property market after 5 July curbs
  • Lafe Corp calls off the purchase of Fairhaven, making it the second developer to back out of an en-bloc deal
  • S$105.3m Nassim deal is highest for GCBs in absolute price
  • Condo resale prices slip for 2nd month and prices are now down 5 per cent from their peak in July after property curbs.
  • Condo and HDB rents down in Sept, showing no signs of improving
  • Almost 90 per cent of the retail space at Jewel Changi Airport has been taken up ahead of its launch next year
  • S’pore is best place for expats- coming third for economics, fifth for families and sixth for experience
  • Singapore tops World Bank human capital study



Singapore, Indonesia commit to deepen trade, investment links

Singapore and Indonesia have accomplished much together in the last few years and can do much more together for the long-term benefit of their people, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Joko Widodo announced several new initiatives to take the relationship forward.

Mr Joko also announced a US$10 billion (S$13.8 billion) local currency swap and US dollar repurchase agreement between the two countries.

Two out of three agreements signed, which both leaders witnessed, will drive economic cooperation.

One of these was a Bilateral Investment Treaty, which establishes rules on how each country should treat investments and investors from the other nation.

It ensures protections for investors and gives them access to international arbitration in the event of investment disputes.

Singapore is Indonesia’s largest investor, with US$8.4 billion in realised investments in 2017. Both are also among each other’s top trading partners and sources of visitor arrivals.

The other agreements are on financial technology cooperation and cultural cooperation between the two neighbours.

Another agreement signed, between Enterprise Singapore and Indonesia’s Ministry of Industry, will foster deeper relations so the two countries can learn from each other on how industries can keep up with rapid technological change.

Links to the story:  links


Changi East gears up for massive airport building works

A huge plot of land next to Changi Airport will become a massive construction zone when major tunnelling works start next year and the construction of a new passenger terminal begins around 2020.

When construction peaks, about 20,000 workers, up from just 3,000 now, are expected to be based at the Changi East site.

The Changi East project is Singapore’s most ambitious attempt since Changi Airport opened on July 1, 1981, to cement Singapore’s status as a key aviation hub for regional and global traffic. By the time construction and other works are completed around 2030, Changi Airport will have almost doubled in size to cover more than 2,000ha.

The project involves the construction of Terminal 5, which will have an initial capacity of up to 50 million passengers a year – more than twice the size of any of the other three main terminals. Works also include the development of a three-runway system, which will become operational in the early 2020s. This is to allow the airport to handle a growing number of flights.

Link to the story:



S’pore is best place for expats

Singapore has topped the rankings as the best place for expatriates to live and work for the fourth year in a row.

It secured the top spot by doing well in the three main categories – coming third for economics, fifth for families and sixth for experience.

The annual HSBC survey polled 22,318 expats around the world, including about 500 here, in March and April. It found that 45 per cent of those in Singapore said they initially moved here to progress their careers, higher than the global average of 35 per cent, while 38 per cent did so to improve their earnings. The global average was 24 per cent.

It was not all the lure of money though – around 25 per cent said they moved here simply because they wanted a challenge.

As far as pay goes, the highest expat salaries were in Switzerland, the United States and Hong Kong.

Expats here earned an average of US$162,200 (S$224,000), about US$56,000 more than the global average, placing Singapore in fifth place.

Sweden was top for family; while New Zealand, Spain and Taiwan scored highest in the experience category.

Link to the story:


Singapore tops World Bank human capital study

The World Bank launched its inaugural Human Capital Index, which ranks countries according to how well they are developing their human capital based on five indicators: the probability of survival to age five, a child’s expected years of schooling, test scores, adult survival rate and the proportion of children aged under five who suffer from stunted growth.

Singapore topped the ranking: children born in the Republic today can be expected to fulfil 88 per cent of their potential to be productive when they grow up, given that they get a full education and enjoy good health.

The Human Capital Index found that around 56 per cent of all children born today will lose more than half of their potential lifetime earnings if governments do not take appropriate steps to prepare for healthy and educated populations.

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MAS watching property market after curbs

Singapore’s central bank is keeping a close eye on the property market after the city-state took a “decisive set of measures” three months ago to cool things down.

“It’s too early to tell what the implications from the last round of tightening measures are,” Ravi Menon, managing director at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said.

“It will take at least two to three quarters for the full implications to be understood. So we are watching that closely.”

The extra measures appear to be taking effect, with home prices growing at the slowest pace in five quarters in the three months through September, while bulk sales of condominium buildings have collapsed. Singapore has one of the world’s highest rates of home ownership at about 90 per cent.

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Condo resale prices slip for 2nd month after property curbs

Resale prices of private non-landed homes declined again last month as July’s cooling measures continued to bite.

Condominium and private apartment prices dipped 0.2 per cent from August to last month.

That followed a 0.3 per cent dip in August – revised up a tad from the earlier estimate of 0.2 per cent.

The declines since August have broken a 12-month run of rising resale prices.

The cooling measures continued to hit sales: Some 702 non-landed private homes were resold last month, 0.7 per cent down from the 707 moved in August.

Links to the story: in-sept


Condo and HDB rents down in Sept

The sluggish rental market for both private and HDB properties is showing no signs of improving, going by flash data.

Rents for condominiums and private apartments last month dipped by 0.4 per cent from August. They were unchanged in August.

Going by location, private rents in the prime or core central region (CCR) fell by 0.5 per cent month on month in September. Rents in the suburbs or outside central region (OCR) declined by

0.7 per cent, while rents in the city fringes or rest of central region (RCR) were unchanged.


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S$105.3m Nassim deal is highest for GCBs

In what is believed to be the biggest transaction in absolute price terms in a Good Class Bungalow (GCB) Area, a two-storey bungalow in Nassim Road near the Botanic Gardens was transacted earlier this year for S$105.3 million.

This works out to S$2,477 psf on the freehold land area of 42,515 sq ft in the plush locale.

The buyer is Tony Tung, the Singaporean chairman of Winson Group, which is involved in oil trading, marine bunkering and oil storage and terminal facilities.

Based on caveats data, 13 properties in GCB Areas have been sold for a total of nearly S$354 million in the third quarter of this year – higher than the S$169 million in Q2 this year and S$123 million in Q3 last year.

For the first nine months of this year, the tally stands at S$773 million – surpassing the S$587 million in the same period of 2017. Industry players note that for the first nine months of 2018, in addition to the S$773 million in caveated deals, there have been at least S$215 million in transactions completed in the same period for which caveats were not lodged by buyers.

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Lim Kim San estate sells Dalvey Rd GCB site for S$93.9m

The estate of the late Lim Kim San has sold a freehold Good-Class Bungalow along Dalvey Road for S$93.9 million – or S$1,804 psf based on the 52,059 sq ft land area. The elevated site is large enough to be redeveloped into three bungalows.

The buyer is understood to be a Singaporean member of the Tsai family of Taiwan. The family controls Homax Equity, a vehicle that its founder, billionaire Tsai Tseng Yu, has used to make real-estate investments since he struck out on his own in 2010, after having sold his shares in Cathay Financial Holding to his brothers.

The Dalvey Road deal takes the tally to 13 transactions totalling about S$354 million in GCB areas in the third quarter of this year – higher than the eight transactions adding up to S$169.1 million in Q2 this year; in the year-ago quarter, there were seven deals amounting to S$123.1 million.

The tally for the first nine months of this year is S$773.1 million – and this excludes a string of deals in GCB areas that were completed this year without caveats being lodged by their respective buyers.

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Lafe Corp calls off Fairhaven deal, forfeiting deposit in aborted collective sale

Developer Lafe Corp has backed out of efforts to buy the Fairhaven condominium, on factors such as property cooling measures and expectations of interest rate hikes.

Lafe Corp, which picked up the 15-unit freehold project in Sophia Road in a S$57 million collective sale in March, is forfeiting its deposit. The sellers have already been informed of the company’s decision.

Lafe Corp is not the first buyer to drop out of a collective sale after the cooling measures kicked in. Tee Land decided in July that it would not exercise its option to purchase Teck Guan Ville for S$60 million, and instead cut its losses with the forfeiture of a one per cent deposit.

Link to the story: collective-sale


Tulip Garden sale proceeding

The marketing agent for Tulip Garden, has quashed speculation that the S$906 million en bloc sale of the Farrer Road project has hit a speed bump.

The market talk centred on the sale being scuppered because the number of residential units being planned by buyer Asia Radiant had not been approved by the authorities.

In an announcement in April this year when the bid was awarded, China developer Yanlord said the site could yield up to 670 residential units with a plot ratio of 1.6. The redeveloped project is slated for completion by 2023.

The deal marks Yanlord’s maiden entry into Singapore’s prime freehold residential property market.

Links to the story:


En bloc sales in Singapore cool after July property curbs

Singapore residential-property investment sales have fallen after the latest round of housing curbs put the brakes on en bloc redevelopment deals.

Just two redevelopment sales worth S$353 million were completed in the third quarter, down from S$3.8 billion of transactions the previous quarter.

Commercial and industrial property helped prop up investment sales. Office sales rose 54 per cent to S$2.1 billion last quarter, and industrial property deals jumped 73 per cent to S$1.2 billion.

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Punggol residents to get integrated town hub in 2021

Punggol residents can look forward to new amenities, such as a hawker centre and regional library, coming under one roof when the Punggol Town Hub opens in 2021.

Other amenities include a childcare centre and healthcare facilities. In addition, there will be a revamped Punggol Vista Community Centre, which will be about seven times the size of the current void deck community centre.

The hub will be located opposite Waterway Point shopping mall and next to the upcoming Punggol Regional Sports Centre.

When completed, it will be connected to Punggol MRT station via a linear green park, and to the Punggol Regional Sports Centre via a pedestrian overhead bridge.

The cycling path around the hub will also integrate with the larger cycling network in Punggol.

Link to the story:


HDB ethnic quota: Tough sell for owners of minority race

When account director Vijeshwariee Yoganathanput her five-room flat in Redhill Road up for sale in October last year, she thought she would have no problem selling it within a few months, given that it was opposite an MRT station and on the 26th storey.

However, after 10 fruitless months, only one offer came in.

Ms Vijeshwariee, 37, eventually sold her flat at $813,000 last month – more than $60,000 below the average price of about $880,000 that other five-room flats on high floors in the vicinity had fetched over the past five months.

She believes the reason is that her block had reached the ethnic quota for Chinese residents. That meant she was able to sell the flat to only people from minority races, a factor that significantly reduced the pool of potential buyers.

More attention is being focused now on home owners like her who have been affected by the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP), which specifies the proportion of units in an HDB block and precinct that can be owned by a particular racial group to ensure a balanced mix.

More minority flat owners could be facing such issues now. An analyst noted that 30 per cent of HDB blocks had reached at least one ethnic quota as of July this year, up from 27.9 per cent in 2016 and 24.4 per cent in 1989, when the EIP was implemented.

Link to the story:


Mixing rental and purchased flats

The Straits Times understands that at least five rental blocks that are integrated into a neighbourhood have been built since 2008. Two are in Tampines, and the other three in Bishan, Punggol and Pasir Ris.

Opportunities to encourage social mixing across classes, and reduce class stigma, are set to expand with Build-To-Order (BTO) project Marsiling Greenview in Woodlands Street 13, which was completed a few months ago. It is the only public housing project here that integrates rental and sold flat units in the same block, with two other BTO projects – in Bukit Batok and Sengkang – due to be completed in the next few years.

ST interviewed 20 residents of rental blocks that are integrated into the community and found mixed views about such attempts at integration. Nine of them believe that mixing has benefits. The rest of the residents interviewed were either against such integration, or had mixed feelings.

Link to the story:



People’s Park Centre owners to vote on collective sale bid

People’s Park Centre owners will be voting on whether to accept a reserve price of $1.3 billion, which analysts say is the highest so far for a mixed-use collective sale in this cycle.

At an extraordinary general meeting (EOGM) on Oct 23, they will decide whether to accept the reserve price and method of apportionment for their first collective sale attempt. The development, which has 120 apartments, 256 offices, 324 shops and a carpark, has 51 years left on its lease.

Apartment owners each stand to get between $1.83 million and $4.07 million; office owners, between $419,000 and $3.129 million; and shop owners, from $139,000 to $15.9 million. The owner of the carpark stands to get $55 million.

Link to the story:


Rochor’s Golden Wall Centre hits en-bloc market again

Golden Wall Centre has launched its second attempt at a collective sale, with a reserve price of S$260 million – little changed from what the strata unit owners wanted in a 2016 bid.

This works out to a land price of S$2,194 psf ppr for the freehold commercial property at 89, Short Street in Rochor, which is zoned for commercial use.

The building, which is slightly more than 100 metres from Rochor MRT station, occupies a 24,239 sq ft site with a gross floor area of about 118,488 sq ft, for a plot ratio of 4.88.

The tender closes on Nov 23.

Link to the story:


59 shop units in Ming Arcade up for sale en bloc at $51m

Dozens of shops in a commercial building in the prime Orchard area are up for collective sale. The guide price for the 59 units in Ming Arcade – a freehold strata-titled block near the junction of Orchard and Cuscaden roads – is $51 million, or about $4,470 per sq ft.

Ming Arcade, which was completed in the 1980s, has a total of 88 units on 10 floors, including three basement levels. Located in the Orchard Road shopping belt, it is near a number of private medical facilities, including the Camden and Gleneagles medical centres.

The 59 units make up nearly a third of the development’s total share value. The units range in size from 140 sq ft to 334 sq ft, and their combined strata floor area is about 11,410 sq ft.

Ming Arcade is on a 12,132 sq ft site, with a gross plot ratio of 4.2 and a maximum height of 20 floors. No development charge is payable up to the approved gross floor area of 55,046 sq ft for commercial use.

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Russian cybersecurity firm Group-IB to move global HQ to Singapore

Moscow-based firm Group-IB has spent close to a decade fighting and investigating cybercrime in countries all over the world. Now, the company is training its sights on Singapore as the catalyst for an expansion into South-east Asia.

In fact, Group-IB is so confident of Singapore’s potential that by the end of this year, the city will be where the new global headquarters is based.

The company is in the midst of moving its intellectual property to Singapore, and the plan is to have 90 staff – comprising 15 from Moscow and the rest hired locally – here in two years’ time.

It is also targeting to hit a 100 per cent year-on-year growth in international revenue once it announces a new technology in Singapore next year. The new technology will offer a different perspective on cyber detection methods and reduce costs for organisations.

Link to the story:


US telco CenturyLink to open security ops centre in S’pore

American telecommunications company CenturyLink said that it will be opening a new security operations centre in Singapore by early next year.

This is part of efforts to better address the cyber security needs of its Asia-Pacific enterprise customers.

CenturyLink operates seven security operations centres around the world in locations including Denver in the United States and London.

The one coming up in Singapore will be its eighth.

Link to the story:


Why strata malls are struggling to survive

Analysts say these kinds of malls often struggle to survive because they do not have a central management to oversee the tenant mix. Tenants however point out that some malls are poorly designed.

Even some that are quite new and in relatively good locations near MRT stations struggle to get any traction with consumers.

Take the revamped King Albert Park Residences, which has two floors of retail space. Fewer than a third of the units on either floors were occupied when visited last month.

Shop owners agree it is hard for retailers to survive but say food and beverage (F&B) or niche businesses have a higher chance of staying open. Other shops survive because they serve a niche group of customers.

Link to the story:


No Signboard licks its chops over fried chicken franchise

No Signboard Holdings’ appetite for expansion looks unsated, as the food and beverage operator unveiled a 10-year exclusive master franchise deal to sell Korean-style fried chicken in Singapore and Malaysia.

The deal gives No Signboard the right to set up Mom’s Touch Chicken and Burger outlets on either side of the Causeway.

The group, which mainly runs a chain of seafood restaurants, said that the franchise agreement was in keeping with a long-term strategy of diversifying its restaurant portfolio.

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Electronics retailer Newstead Technologies in liquidation

Home-grown electronics retailer Newstead Technologies, which owns brands such as Apple reseller Nubox, is currently in liquidation.

Established in 1998, Newstead owns brands such as Digital Style, Nubox and, and has outlets in several shopping malls here.

The Straits Times reported last year that the retailer was to be the largest IT anchor for the new Funan shopping centre when it opens next year. Newstead had originally intended to occupy multiple concept stores in the new mall, spread across 15,000 sq ft.

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New brands, local flavour at Jewel Changi Airport

Almost 90 per cent of the retail space at Jewel Changi Airport has been taken up ahead of its launch next year.

About a quarter of the more than 280 stores – spanning about 53,800 sq m – at the retail and lifestyle complex will be flagship stores and brands which are new to Singapore.

They will include the Pokemon Centre Singapore – the only permanent retail store for the popular game franchise outside Japan – which will offer merchandise such as games and toys unique to Jewel.

Popular American burger franchise Shake Shack’s first Singapore outlet at Jewel, as well as that of fast-food chain A&W’s first Singapore outlet since it ceased operations here in 2003 will be opening at Jewel.

Other food and beverage retailers making their Singapore debut will be Chongqing restaurants Xiao Bin Lou and You’s Kitchen, Swiss chocolatier Laderach and Norwegian seafood restaurant Pink Fish.

Sportswear giant Nike will also have a 1,000 sq m store at Jewel, its largest outlet in South-east Asia.

Shaw Theatres will have an 11-screen cinema, complete with an Imax theatre, at the location which is in front of and connected directly to Terminal 1.

With the aim of showcasing local brands to an international audience, about 45 per cent of the retailers will be from Singapore.

Tiger Beer will introduce its first concept store, The Tiger Street Lab, offering unique seasonal brews as well as merchandise and street food.

Singapore chef Violet Oon will have a 350 sq m restaurant, her largest to date, offering local delicacies such as dry laksa, beef rendang and satay.

Local restaurant chain Collin’s will also have its first halal eatery, El Fuego by Collin’s, which will be run by chef Koh Han Jie, the first Singaporean to win the Young Talent Escoffier Asia competition.

While Jewel’s opening date has not been officially announced, The Straits Times reported last month that it is likely to open at the end of March next year, with tenants being told to be ready by then.

Links to the story: march-2019-opening


Burger joint Shake Shack to open at Jewel Changi Airport

Famous New York burger chain Shake Shack has confirmed that it will open its first outlet in Singapore at Jewel Changi Airport.

In Singapore, Shake Shack is partnering SPC Group, a global food company based in South Korea with 30 brands and over 6,000 stores worldwide, including seven Shake Shack locations in the greater Seoul area.

Jewel Changi Airport, a 10-storey mainly commercial development, is expected to open by the end of March next year.

Link to the story:


$1.7b spent by end-2017 on industry transformation

About $1.7 billion of the $4.5 billion earmarked for Singapore’s future economy road map has been spent as of the end of last year.

This figure was revealed in a report by a parliamentary committee of MPs tasked with examining government spending.

Of the $1.7 billion, $1.54 billion went to raising the industries’ capabilities, while the rest was spent on helping firms access markets and financing transformation projects.

Besides the ITMs, the report also examined the funding of Singapore’s Smart Nation push and large infrastructure projects such as the future Changi Airport Terminal 5.

Link to the story:


Going digital with ABB’s innovation centre

An innovation centre opened by engineering giant ABB will let customers get up close and personal with a range of new technologies – including those that can improve life on the factory floor.

One idea is to have staff wear smart glasses, which allow ABB experts far away to see on their screens the problems that have arisen and give guidance on how to resolve them.

Business owners can now view such innovations at the 30,000 sq ft facility in Ayer Rajah Crescent. The centre houses training rooms as well as a collaborative operations centre, where customers can see how they can use data analytics and be guided on how ABB provides specialist help.

There is also a digital solutions facility that demonstrates how ABB’s automated systems can work, including being able to detect workers not wearing proper safety gear.

The centre will serve the process industries and the infrastructure, manufacturing, transportation and utilities sectors.

Links to the story:


Penguin Random House to set up regional headquarters in Singapore

Local authors will soon have a shot at publishing with the world’s biggest trade publisher in their own backyard, with Penguin Random House planning to set up a South-east Asian publishing arm headquartered in Singapore.

The venture is called Penguin Books Singapore and will launch next year with some 50 titles in print and digital formats.

It aims to discover and publish local and international English language adult and children’s fiction and non-fiction from Singapore and Malaysia, as well as from Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brunei and Myanmar.

Link to the story:



US$90,000 for ocean view property in crisis-hit Nicaragua

Nicaragua’s political crisis, which erupted in April, has claimed more than 400 lives and forced tens of thousands to flee the country.

It’s also paralysed an economy which had been one of the region’s better performers in recent years. Amid the chaos, investors with a lot of stomach for risk are moving in to buy up assets at knock- down prices.

Real estate values have tumbled at least 25 per cent since the bloody unrest began as homeowners sell at steep discounts in order to leave the country or avoid foreclosure, creating a market for bargain hunters.

In Nicaragua, a two bedroom, two bathroom house built in 2014 on a 6,372 sq ft lot with Pacific ocean views was listed as “half-priced” at US$90,000. A more luxurious beach townhouse at Pelican Eyes Resort in tourist hot-spot San Juan del Sur just sold and its adjacent unit with the same layout is available for a “reduced price” of US$165,000.

By comparison, prices for a parking space in Brooklyn’s The Parking Club start at US$185,000.

Link to the story:


Home owners see red over developer price cuts

Home buyers angry that apartments are being sold for much less than what they paid swarmed property developers’ marketing offices across China over the Golden Week holiday, demanding their money back.

A sales centre for Xinzhou Mansion, a project of Country Garden Holdings located in Shangrao, a city in Jiangxi province, was mobbed, videos and pictures circulated on social media show.

Its windows were smashed by scores of protesters throwing rocks. They were furious that Country Garden is selling units for prices around 30 per cent lower than a year ago.

Similar demonstrations took place at One Mansion in Shanghai, another of Country Garden’s projects. There, apartments are going for as much as 25 per cent less than two months earlier.

In Zhangzhou, a city in south-eastern Fujian province, people protested outside the offices of a Ronshine China Holdings project, waving banners that called the firm an “unscrupulous developer”.

The unrest is a further sign that China’s toppy property market is beginning to cool. Firms in the nation are already offering free luxury cars and hefty reductions to shift stock, the discounts suggesting debt-laden developers are pulling out all the stops to raise revenue.

Link to the story:


HK plans artificial islands to ease housing woes, create jobs

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has unveiled a divisive land reclamation proposal to build houses, infrastructure and transport networks on artificial islands around Lantau – the city’s largest outlying island – to turn it into a double gateway to the world and the Greater Bay Area as part of a longer- term development strategy.

The islands – situated near Kau Yi Chau and Hei Ling Chau in the central waters, as well as the coastal areas of Tuen Mun – will have a total area of about 1,700ha and provide up to 400,000 residential units for up to 1.1 million people. Of these, 70 per cent of the units will be for public housing.

The development is expected to create some 340,000 jobs over the next 20 to 30 years. Reclamation works are to start in 2025, with the first batch of flats to be available in 2032.

To free up more land for housing, studies on redevelopment of brownfield (or previously built- upon) sites in the New Territories will be quickened, while industrial buildings will be converted to provide transitional housing for those waiting for public housing.

Mrs Lam also pledged to raise the ratio of public to private flats in new developments to 70:30, from 60:40.

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Rentals for condominiums in Toronto reach new record

Renting a condo in Toronto keeps getting more expensive. The average monthly rent for a condo in the Canadian city jumped 7.6 per cent in the third quarter from a year ago to a record high C$2,385 (S$2,522).

While the number of new condo rental leases signed grew slightly in the third quarter from last year to 8,186, the market still remains exceptionally tight. Average lease prices in purpose-built rental buildings completed since 2005 in Toronto surged 17 per cent to C$3.09 psf as higher-rent properties were completed in the past year.

Toronto’s rental market continues to tighten as demand for housing in the city soars from millennials, downsizing baby boomers and an influx of new tech and financial-services workers. At the same time, high home prices and new government regulations have also priced out many buyers, pushing them into the rental market.

Link to the story:






Lee Sze Teck Head, Research





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