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19 October 2018 / Issue 37

By in Weekly News Review with 0 Comments

Top News for the Week

  • Singapore economy grew better than expected in Q3, leading many economists to upgrade their forecasts for the year
  • The average size of new private dwelling units (including executive condominiums) in the Outside Central Area will have to be at least 85 sq m
  • New private dwelling units in nine areas (Marine Parade, Joo Chiat-Mountbatten, Telok Kurau-Jalan Eunos, Balestier, Stevens-Chancery, Pasir Panjang, Kovan-How Sun, Shelford and Loyang) will face a stricter criteria of 100 sq m
  • This will reduce the number of dwelling units by 18% and 30%, respectively
  • According to REDAS, this may make private properties out of reach for millennials and retirees
  • URA also specified new rules on condominium balcony size and width limiting balcony size to no more than 15% of the internal floor area of the unit and a minimum width of 1.5m
  • Sales of new private homes in September jumped 51% to 932 units. Huttons say this is a normalcy after the cooling measures and lunar seventh month. Huttons is expecting 9,000 to 10,000 units to be sold and a price increase of up to 10% for 2018
  • Morgan Stanley expects private home prices to rise by 8% in 2019, saying the correction is overdone

 

Government

MAS allows Singdollar to rise at slightly faster pace

The Singapore dollar will be allowed to strengthen a little faster after the central bank adjusted monetary policy, as it expects the economy to grow at a slower but steady pace amid rising trade tensions.

The adjustment means the dollar will be able to increase modestly against a basket of currencies of Singapore’s key major trading partners.

That could make imports a little cheaper, given fewer Singdollars will be needed to pay for them, but exporters might find their products are more expensive for foreign buyers.

This is the second time this year MAS has adjusted the dollar on an upward slope. The first was in April, marking the first monetary tightening in six years.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/mas-allows-singdollar-to-rise-at-slightly-faster-pace https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/mas-further-tightens-singdollar-policy

 

Singapore, Austria ink pact on digital and tech cooperation

Singapore and Austria will exchange ideas and know-how on their experiences with digital government, e-commerce and the challenges posed by emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.

Both countries inked a pact to step up cooperation in digitalisation and information and communications technology (ICT), during Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s official visit to the central European country.

The agreement will focus on the exchange of information and best practices in four broad areas: Digital Economy and Digitalisation Strategies, including helping small and medium enterprises and promising startups take advantage of technology; and promoting ICT skills in schools and in industry. Other components include Digital Government, Electronic Commerce and Digital Trade and lastly, Emerging Technologies.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapore-austria-ink-pact-on-digital-and-tech-cooperation

 

Most firms still unaware of industry transformation maps

Two years after the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) began to be rolled out for various sectors, a majority of firms are still unaware of these sectoral roadmaps or how to benefit from them, a survey by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) has found. Only two in five firms had heard of the ITMs. Of these, 62.5 per cent were not sure how to participate and benefit from them. Another 20.7 per cent intend to take part via the relevant government agencies, while 10.3 per cent plan to get involved via the trade association for their sector, and the remaining 6.5 per cent by collaborating with other companies.

One of the SCCCI’s recommendations arising from its survey is for trade associations to proactively engage government agencies in implementing the ITMs, or – if there is not yet such a roadmap for their industry – to approach agencies about developing similar initiatives or exploring how to fit within the existing ITMs.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/most-firms-still-unaware-of-industry-transformation-maps

 

Economy

Q3 growth better than expected; economists upgrade 2018 forecasts

Singapore’s economy turned in a better-than-expected report card for the third quarter, which led several economists to upgrade their full-year growth forecasts.

The economy grew 2.6 per cent year on year in Q3, down from 4.1 per cent in Q2, and 4.6 per cent in Q1, according to advance estimates released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

This makes Q3 the weakest print this year, but it still managed to beat economist expectations of a 2.4 per cent expansion. For the first three quarters of 2018, the Singapore economy clocked growth of 3.8 per cent – the best 9-month performance since 2013. The manufacturing sector was still the main growth driver in Q3, but its momentum has slowed considerably as earlier anticipated, hit by base effects, a fading electronics cycle, and trade war concerns.

Even with trade tensions and emerging market uncertainties casting a pall on the outlook, the economy is still on track to grow at a steady but more subdued clip for the rest of the year and 2019.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/q3-growth-better-than-expected-economists-upgrade- 2018-forecasts

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/spore-growth-slows-to-26-in-third-quarter

 

Singapore exports up 8.3%, but come in below expectations

Singapore’s export growth clocked a strong showing last month, led by non-electronic shipments and supported by the volatile pharmaceuticals sector again.

The Republic’s non-oil domestic exports (Nodx) rose 8.3 per cent from a year ago in September, up from 5 per cent in August, with expansion in non-electronic exports outweighing a dip in electronics.

This figure, however, remained below analysts’ expectations of 11.1 per cent growth reflected in a Bloomberg forecast poll.

Non-electronic exports grew by 11.9 per cent last month, up from a 7.8 per cent rise the month before – with pharmaceuticals, non-monetary gold and food preparations contributing the most to this.

Electronic Nodx declined 0.9 per cent year-on-year as well, following a 1.5 per cent dip in August. Contributing the most to this slip were shipments of personal computers, diodes and transistors, as well as parts of integrated circuits.

In particular, exports to China dropped 17.8 per cent from the year before, with declines in both electronics and non-electronics. However, shipments to the US jumped 41.5 per cent overall compared with a year ago.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/spore-exports-up-83-but-come-in-below-expectations https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/sept-nodx-trails-forecasts-electronics-expected-to-slow

 

Deals likely to boost confidence

A planned US$10 billion (S$13.8 billion) currency swap deal and US dollar repurchase agreement between Singapore and Indonesia will boost confidence in uncertain times, say analysts.

They say both would serve as a second line of defence, complementing the existing Chiang Mai Initiative, a multilateral currency swap arrangement among Asean members plus China, Japan and South Korea. The Indonesia-Singapore deals would also signal growing trust between the two neighbours.

Under the planned swap that the central banks of both countries are finalising, Bank Indonesia could turn to the Monetary Authority of Singapore for up to US$10 billion worth of Singapore dollars for an equivalent amount of rupiah at the prevailing exchange rate.

After a pre-determined period of time, the two central banks will return the swapped currencies to each other at the same exchange rate as when the transaction was first made. Normally, the central bank that requested activation of the swap pays interest to the counterpart central bank.

Under the US dollar repurchase agreement, one central bank will provide the other with US dollars in exchange for pledged assets such as United States treasuries or government bonds. This would prevent the fire sale of assets that would exacerbate the situation in the event of a tight financial squeeze.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/deals-likely-to-boost-confidence-analysts

 

Singapore to attract more tourists with revamped attractions, data analytics

Even as Singapore continues to enjoy its status as a choice destination for quality events, the island state is working to enhance its overall attractiveness as a tourist destination, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat said.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of travel trade event ITB Asia, Mr Chee noted that visitor arrivals to Singapore increased 7.7 per cent year-on-year to 9.2 million in the first half of 2018, with about 15 per cent of visitors here for business travel and meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions (BTMICE).

Such visitors contributed S$2.2 billion or 22 per cent of Singapore’s total tourism receipts, excluding receipts for sightseeing, entertainment and gaming sectors.

Singapore is working to enhance its overall attractiveness as a destination with a strategy involving three key thrusts: investing in quality attractions and reinventing tourism offerings; attracting new visitor segments and increasing their spending; and forging strong partnerships with industry stakeholders to co-create innovative solutions.

To achieve the first thrust, Singapore plans to revamp the Orchard Road shopping belt to include more activities and attractions for tourists and locals alike. It may even incorporate more greenery and serve as a living lab for a new innovation district.

Plans for Sentosa Island include rejuvenating existing infrastructure and facilities.

Pulau Brani, a small island located between Sentosa and Keppel Harbour, and the Greater Southern Waterfront will be developed into new tourism attractions when the container ports at Tanjong Pagar are relocated to Tuas in the next decade.

Finally, STB will promote industry partnerships by funding Tourism Innovation Challenges to develop innovative solutions for industry needs. It has already done so for the hotels and travel agents sectors, and last month launched the MICE Innovation Challenge.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/consumer/singapore-to-attract-more-tourists-with-revamped-attractions-data- analytics

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/plans-under-way-to-reshape-sentosa-brani

 

Singapore ranks 2nd in updated Global Competitiveness Index

Singapore ranks second out of 140 economies in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index 4.0, an updated version of the annual ranking.

With a score of 83.5 out of a possible 100 in the ranking released, Singapore came in behind only the United States; the Republic was ranked third in last year’s Global Competitiveness Index.

Switzerland, ranked top in 2017, is fourth in the latest index.

The countries in this year’s top 10 remain nearly the same as last year’s, though with some shuffling of places, and Denmark having replaced Finland.

The WEF cited Singapore’s openness as its defining feature and noted that it ranked first for infrastructure – one of the index’s 12 pillars – with a near-perfect score of 95.7.

The WEF notes, for example, that while Singapore is the most “future-ready” economy, it trails Sweden in having a digitally skilled workforce.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapore-ranks-2nd-in-updated-global-competitiveness- index

 

Singapore 3rd in global life expectancy rankings

Singaporeans are expected to remain among the longest-lived people in the world in 2040, according to a new study published in the medical journal, The Lancet.

Researchers estimate the average lifespan in Singapore will go up from 83.3 years in 2016 to 85.4 years by 2040, placing it third out of 195 countries.

Spain is expected to place first with an average lifespan of 85.8 years, while Japan will come in second at 85.7 years.

Other countries predicted to be in the top 10 include Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, Israel, France, Luxembourg and Australia.

The study also highlighted the top 10 causes of death in each country. For Singapore, the top three in 2040 are forecast to be lower respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, followed by dementia and ischaemic heart disease.

Links to the story

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/spore-3rd-in-global-life-expectancy-rankings https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/consumer/global-longevity-rankings-to-change-by-2040-says-study

 

Singapore ranked 9th globally in wealth per adult: Credit Suisse

In terms of wealth per adult, Singapore is ranked ninth among the world’s major economies, with the figure having risen 5.3 per cent to more than US$283,000 between mid-2017 and mid-2018. Credit Suisse Research Institute’s 2018 Global Wealth Report, released on Thursday, has Switzerland still in pole position among the world’s richest nations. Its wealth per adult stands at US$530,240, followed by Australia with US$411,060.

Singapore’s wealth per adult has risen by more than 146 per cent since 2000, with the increase coming mainly from high savings, asset price increases and a rising exchange rate from 2005 to 2012.

Its average debt of US$53,000, accounting for 16 per cent of total assets, is moderate for a high- wealth country.

Singapore’s total wealth is about US$1.3 trillion; this is forecast to grow by 4.6 per cent a year in the next five years to US$1.6 trillion in 2023.

The number of millionaires in the Republic grew 11.2 per cent to 183,737. This is expected to go up by 5.5 per cent a year in the next five years to hit 239,640.

Ultra-high-net-worth individuals, each with more than US$50 million to their name, numbered about 1,000 in mid-2018, 1.1 per cent more than the year before.

Globally, wealth grew by 4.6 per cent to US$317 trillion, outpacing population growth. Wealth per adult went up by 3.2 per cent, raising global mean wealth to a record US$63,100 per adult.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapore-ranked-9th-globally-in-wealth-per-adult-credit- suisse

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/183737-millionaires-in-singapore-up-11

 

Flexible working could contribute S$54.8b to Singapore economy by 2030

A study of flexible working in 16 markets has found that this non-traditional working arrangement could contribute S$54.8 billion to the Singapore economy come 2030. 73,000 more jobs are likely to be created in the flexible working category in Singapore by then.

Flexible working’s current contribution to Singapore’s gross domestic product is valued at S$27.3 billion, or an estimated 6.1 per cent of GDP.

Flexible working currently contributes to 3.2 per cent of GDP in China, 8.7 per cent in Hong Kong,

5.0 per cent in India, 8.1 per cent in Japan, 10.9 per cent in UK and 9.1 per cent in the United States.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/flexible-working-could-contribute-s548b-to-singapore- economy-by-2030

 

Consumer spending may be hit by inflation in 2019

Real private consumption next year is likely to rise by 4 per cent amid real wage growth and a tight labour market, but consumer spending and sentiment may be weighed down by the threats of rising imported inflation.

That’s the prediction of a Fitch Solutions Macro Research report published. The projected 4 per cent increase in real private consumption would be an increase from the 3 per cent for this year. It is likely to outstrip Fitch’s forecast of 2.9 per cent real GDP growth for 2019, down from an estimated 3.3 per cent in 2018. The report said reasons for the slower growth in 2019 come from prolonged trade conflict between the United States and China, rising interest rates, and existing curbs on the housing market.

Fitch also found that unemployment will remain low next year at 2.2 per cent, flat compared to this year, and while real wage growth has been slow to pick up, it expects wages to rise as the government continues to restructure the workforce by reducing the flow of foreign labour, which will force employers to increase wages to maintain productivity.

Another boon to wage growth is that overall unemployment has remained lower than job vacancy rates, which suggests a tight labour market.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/consumer-spending-may-be-hit-by-inflation-in-2019

 

Residential

Bigger average unit size expected to temper condo prices

The average size of new private flats outside the central area will have to be at least 85 sq m, a regulatory change that will cut the number of units allowed in a project – something that developers say would sound the death knell for en bloc deals and moderate condo and land prices in the affected areas.

This comes as the URA has observed smaller unit sizes in new private housing projects, which in turn could put pressure on local infrastructure.

The revised maximum number of allowable dwelling units will help to manage potential strains on local infrastructure and safeguard the liveability of residential estates, while encouraging developers to provide a more balanced mix of unit sizes to cater to the diverse needs of homebuyers.

The 85 sq m and 100 sq m limits reduce the number of units in a development by 18 per cent and 30 per cent respectively, curbing developers’ ability to prop up profit margins by launching smaller units. The number of shoebox units entering the market will also come down in the longer term.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/bigger-average-unit-size-expected-to-temper-condo-prices https://www.straitstimes.com/business/ura-cuts-number-of-units-allowed-to-be-built-in-condos-private-flats

 

New guidelines may price some buyers out of market: Redas

The revised rules to cut the maximum number of private housing units allowed in a project outside the central area could price some buyers out of the market, said the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (Redas).

With developers expected to build fewer and bigger units, the overall average prices of new private apartments may rise on reduced future supply, analysts say.

The rules kick in for new development applications submitted on or after Jan 17. The move will curb the proliferation of shoebox units and is aimed at reducing potential strains on infrastructure.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/new-property-rules-will-affect-prices-redas https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/new-guidelines-may-price-some-buyers-out-of-market-redas

 

Analysts say ongoing collective sales attempts will be hit hard

The new average unit size benchmarks for private non-landed property announced on Wednesday Oct 17 may be the “final nail in the coffin” for collective sale sites that have yet to find buyers, or those that have yet to secure the 80 per cent mandate to launch for public tender.

Unless developers have already bought land and obtained planning approvals, more stringent guidelines requiring them to build fewer and bigger units will likely eat into developers’ profit margins.

For collective sale sites yet to be launched, 29 are located outside the central area, while 16 are located within the nine designated areas for more stringent controls.

For Government Land Sales sites yet to be launched, 14 are located outside the central area. Land prices could drop by 20 to 40 per cent if developers aim to keep price levels at $1.5 million per unit with a 10 per cent profit margin.

Link to the story

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/analysts-say-ongoing-collective-sales-attempts-will-be-hit-hard

 

New rules on condominium balcony size and width

In the light of a growing trend of oversized condominium balconies, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) moved on Oct 17 to cap balcony sizes for the first time.

The URA will impose a limit on the sizes of balconies in private homes to no more than 15 per cent of the internal floor area of the unit.

Balconies must also now have a minimum width of 1.5m so that the outdoor space can be used meaningfully by residents.

There are no such limits currently. The rules will come in for new condos with development applications submitted after Jan 16 next year, and do not apply to units that are already built.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/new-rules-on-condominium-balcony-size-and-width

 

URA’s revised guidelines a cooling measure not by design?

Is the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s announcement to raise the minimum average unit size for non-landed housing developments Outside the Central Area (OCA) – the second part to the July 6 property cooling measures?

At a glance, the answer would be “no”.

The revised guidelines cutting the maximum number of units allowed in a project was released through a circular, along with two others, by URA’s development control group.

The guidelines are probably something the statutory board’s plannners had been working on for some time to moderate the reduction in home sizes, and to seek a better match between housing supply and demand profiles. Cooling measures, on the other hand, come under the purview of their colleagues who handle property market research and surveillance.

The revised guidelines were motivated by the planners’ concerns about the liveability of Singapore’s non-landed private housing estates, given that developers have been carving a higher number of units out of their projects in recent years. The new rules aim to encourage developers to build a more balanced mix of unit sizes to cater to the diverse needs of homebuyers including big families.

Moreover, projects with a high number of units tend to generate more vehicular traffic; getting into and out of the development may put a strain on roads in certain locales.

Going forward, with the increase in the minimum average-unit size, developers would be able to build fewer units in a condo or private apartment project; to maximise the allowable gross floor area, this would translate to having larger units. All other things being equal, to keep the absolute prices of units affordable to buyers, developers would have to market them at lower psf rates – which in turn will bring down the project’s average psf price.

Developers can be expected to become more cautious, especially after weighing the more punitive ABSD regime on residential land purchases under the July 6 package – and are likely to lower the psf ppr rate they offer for land.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/opinion/uras-revised-guidelines-a-cooling-measure-not-by-design

 

Morgan Stanley – Curbs won’t cool private home prices

Investment bank Morgan Stanley has deemed concerns over property cooling measures and higher interest rates as “overdone” while also predicting that house prices here will shoot up next year. The American firm said that it predicts private home prices will rise by 2 per cent each quarter until the end of next year. That points to a 2 per cent rise in this quarter and an 8 per cent rise over the course of next year. Its surprisingly bullish forecast is in contrast to other research teams.

Morgan Stanley acknowledged that “the market remains unconvinced about the housing market’s near-term outlook”, but said concerns about cooling measures, interest rate hikes and an economic slowdown were “overdone”.

It noted that home prices rose in four of the five previous rate hike cycles between 1993 and 2007

– and rising rates “tend to coincide with improving economic growth, which supports housing demand”.

The firm believes investors and foreigners will still buy despite the cooling measures. It noted “healthy demand” from Housing Board upgraders and collective sale beneficiaries, adding that supply is still tight “as unsold inventory of 28,000 units (including from launches in the pipeline) is still below historical levels”.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/curbs-wont-cool-private-home-prices-morgan-stanley https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/morgan-stanley-sees-8-home-price-hike-in-2019-despite- cooling-measures

 

New private home sales up 51% in Sept

Developers sold 932 private homes last month, up 51 per cent from the 617 units they moved in August and around 42 per cent ahead of the 657 units booked in September last year.

The September figures exclude executive condominiums.

If these were included, developers moved 944 units last month – up 47.5 per cent from August’s 640 units and 4.2 per cent ahead of the 906 units sold in September last year.

Last month’s top-selling project was 99-year leasehold JadeScape on the former Shunfu Ville site near Marymount MRT station, with 327 units sold at a median price of $1,669 psf.

Selangor Dredging’s freehold Jui Residences in Serangoon Road, which was also launched last month, racked up 31 sales at a median price of $1,704 psf.

Oxley Holdings sold 82 units at Mayfair Gardens in Rifle Range Road at a median price of $1,945 psf, while Tripartite Developers’ project The Jovell, located in Flora Drive in the Loyang area, moved 41 units at a median price of $1,259 psf last month. Both projects are on 99-year leases.

Real estate group Huttons Asia said that the rebound in September was expected “largely due to return to normalcy after cooling measures, more launches and the end of the lunar seventh month”. Mr Lee Sze Teck, head of research at Huttons, said that he expects up to 3,500 units to be launched in the last quarter of this year.

These include mega launches such as the 1,399-unit Parc Esta at Eunos, 716-unit Whistler Grand at West Coast and 548-unit Kent Ridge Hill Residences at Pasir Panjang.

In terms of sales, developers may sell 9,000 to 10,000 units during the entire year, he added.

As fpr the outlook for the private market, Mr Lee said that even though buying sentiment overall is still strong, the marginal price increase of 0.5 per cent in private home prices for the third quarter of this year — reflected in URA’s flash estimates — showed that the cooling measures have been successful in keeping prices flat.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/new-private-home-sales-up-51-in-sept https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/new-private-home-sales-rebound-in-september https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/new-private-home-sales-jump-42-september-ura-10828422 https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/private-home-sales-soared-september-two-months-after-cooling-measures https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/developers-gear-up-for-flurry-of-launches-before-year-end

 

Buyers willing to shell out extra for integrated development projects

Convenience is king among property buyers in Singapore, this much is clear.

They want a place to call home, but so much the better if home is part of a larger development where they can shop, run errands and seamlessly connect to the MRT as well.

Property buyers are prepared to pony up premiums for projects with that extra value and accessibility, to the tune of anywhere between 7 per cent and 19 per cent within their launch year, compared to new sales of leasehold projects in the same district.

The average selling prices and rents of seven such projects – all leasehold projects – launched since 2007 were studied. All commanded premiums over other leasehold projects in their districts. (Marina One was excluded due to insufficient comparables.)

These projects make up less than three per cent of the entire private non-landed residential stock in Singapore of about 294,000 units in Q2, going by Urban Renewal Authority (URA) figures, the report said.

Rents also often fetch a premium going by the data in Q2.

For instance, the median rent at Orchard Residences in Q2 was S$6.73 psf a month, much higher than the overall median rent of non-landed homes in district 9, which was S$4.42 psf per month.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/buyers-willing-to-shell-out-extra-for-integrated-development-projects https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/home-buyers-willing-to-pay-more-for-integrated-projects

 

No end in sight for buyers of 2 new condos

Sycamore Tree condominium in Joo Chiat and Laurel Tree condominium in Hillview Terrace are due to be completed by 2016.

But till today, construction has yet to be completed.

Such cases are very uncommon, property lawyers tell The Straits Times, as developers typically have to complete by a certain deadline to avoid getting into trouble with their lenders.

They say developers also want to avoid compensating home buyers liquidated damages – which are calculated daily – for delays.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said the Controller of Housing – which administers regulations related to developers, among other property issues – has received feedback from several buyers on the Sycamore Tree and Laurel Tree projects.

A URA spokesman said it has asked the developers to update the buyers on the progress.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/no-end-in-sight-for-buyers-of-2-new-condos

 

Single-storey detached house in Serangoon Gardens on sale for S$11.5m

A single-storey detached house in Serangoon Gardens with the potential to be developed into two homes has been launched for tender with a price of S$11.5 million, or S$1,085 psf on land.

Located at 18/20 Berwick Drive, the house spans two adjoining lots with a combined land area of about 10,602 sq ft. The tender will close at 3pm on Nov 15.

Subject to planning approval, the site could potentially accommodate either a pair of detached houses, two pairs of semi-detached houses or a combination of both housing types, said Savills Singapore in a statement.

It also comes with a frontage of about 33 metres and a depth of 30 metres.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/single-storey-detached-house-in-serangoon-gardens-on-sale-for- s115m-0

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/single-storey-detached-house-in-serangoon-gardens-on-sale-for- 115m

 

Commercial

New life for 13 more colonial bungalows at aerospace park

Thirteen more conserved colonial bungalows at Seletar Aerospace Park are being refurbished for retail, F&B and office use.

They will join four other bungalows which were renovated as food outlets that opened last year at the park’s food and lifestyle hub, The Oval.

The latest works are expected to be completed next year, and statutory board JTC has launched a request-for-interest for their use.

Seletar still houses around 130 other residential colonial bungalows, which are located outside the aerospace park zone.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/new-life-for-13-more-colonial-bungalows-at-aerospace-park

Retail

Hello Kitty cafe saying goodbye early next year

Singapore’s first Hello Kitty-themed cafe, which opened amid much fanfare more than two years ago at Changi Airport’s Terminal 3 arrival hall, will be closing early next year.

It added in a statement that its last day of operations will be on Feb 8 next year.

The decision to close the cafe comes with the end of the company’s licence and partnership with Sanrio, the Japanese company which owns the Hello Kitty brand.

To mark its departure, the cafe will be throwing four tea parties in December.

Tickets to the party, priced at $138 per pair, include canapes, gelato as well as limited-edition Hello Kitty merchandise.

The sessions, which will be held at the cafe, will also feature games, quizzes and lucky draws.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/food/hello-kitty-cafe-saying-goodbye-early-next-year

 

Retail sales dip 0.4% in August to $3.8b

Lower vehicle sales were again behind another month of declining turnover in the retail sector. Takings dipped 0.4 per cent in August from the same month last year to $3.8 billion. This came hard on the heels of the 2.7 per cent decline in July.

Online sales contributed to about 4.6 per cent of the sector’s haul in August.

But if motor vehicles are excluded, retail notched up a 2.4 per cent rise in August receipts, against a 0.1 per cent uptick in July.

Vehicle sales fell by 12.8 per cent in August over the same month last year, although this was better than the 15.2 per cent drop in July.

Other segments under pressure included computer and telecommunications equipment, which lost 3.8 per cent year on year, an improvement on the 6.9 per cent slide in July.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/retail-sales-dip-04-in-august-to-38b

 

Cashless supermarket to open in Pasir Panjang

A new supermarket in Pasir Panjang does not accept cash. And even if it did, there are no cashiers to accept it.

Shopping comes with a difference at Habitat by Honestbee supermarket – a 60,000 sq ft retail space with a fully automated checkout system where customers pay using a smartphone app and robots pack their groceries into bags.

The cashless store, the first of its kind in Singapore, is a rare move by a tech start-up into the bricks-and-mortar retail space.

Created by home-grown company Honestbee, it stocks 20,000 products, including fresh produce, seafood and meat.

The physical store also allows Honestbee and its partner merchants to experiment with new retail strategies and technologies.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/cashless-supermarket-to-open-in-pasir-panjang https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/startups/honestbee-cross-pollinates-supermart-with-dining-and-sweetens-it-with-   tech

 

Little India retailers feeling the pinch in run-up to Deepavali

Cash registers in Little India should be ringing non-stop at this time of the year as Deepavali is approaching, but the plunging Indian currency is making customers think twice.

Retail businesses that serve people from India blame the falling currency for the sales slump, with customers preferring to remit money earned here to India.

The Indian rupee hit a record low this month in the wake of a strong United States dollar.

One Singdollar could buy 53.52 rupees on Oct 17, up from 50.26 on Aug 10. On Jan 2, one Singdollar could buy 47.7783 rupees.

Remittance companies said a rising number of people are sending more money from Singapore to India.

The number of transactions also rose by 54 per cent in August compared with July.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/little-india-retailers-feeling-the-pinch-in-run-up-to-deepavali

 

Industrial

Companies eye Singapore for data centre storage, cloud leasing

More companies are looking to lease existing buildings for data storage, and some tech companies are building their own facilities. With the announcement from Google and Facebook that they are setting up data centres here, this burgeoning new sector has been thrust into the limelight.

Across the Asia-Pacific, the data centre market is expected to grow by 27 per cent annually, , and Singapore is set to be a key beneficiary.

This wave of demand presents excellent opportunities for investors, creates jobs, and elevates Singapore’s status as a tech hub. South-east Asia’s rising Internet and social media use, as well as the growth of e-commerce mean that the city-state is becoming a hotbed for tech companies looking to use it as a gateway to enter other markets.

Singapore is one of the “Big Four” in the region when it comes to data centres, along with Hong Kong, Sydney and Tokyo. While both Hong Kong and Singapore are popular choices for companies looking to set up headquarters, Singapore has an edge with its stable geopolitical climate, supportive regulatory environment and relatively cheaper land costs. The Singapore government has also prioritised diversity of locations and greenfield availability for data centres, allowing the market to evolve and meet demand.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/companies-eye-singapore-for-data-centre-storage-cloud-leasing

 

ST Engineering launches robots for logistics industry

Singapore Technologies Engineering (ST Engineering) has developed robots that can operate in factories, warehouses and other spaces in the logistics sector.

The five machines, collectively known as STrobo, were unveiled at the Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific trade fair at the Singapore Expo.

They consist of pallet trucks and stackers, tow tractors, forklifts and trucks that can operate in very narrow aisles, all suited to performing routine and repetitive material handling tasks.

The robots are the company’s first foray into making material handling equipment and mark its latest move to expand its operations beyond the defence industry.

In July, ST Engineering Land Systems won a $54 million contract to supply 111 double-decker buses that will include a passenger information display system.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/st-engineering-launches-robots-for-logistics-industry

 

Skilled workforce key in shaping future of manufacturing in Singapore

Singapore’s approach towards Industry 4.0 is “not simply about technology”, said Senior Minister for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon.

At the heart of its manufacturing strategy is how the city-state can better organise itself, and how the workforce and companies can respond more nimbly to rapidly-changing economic and technological trends.

One instance of collaboration is the Industrial, Internet of Things, Innovation (I3) Platform established by A*Star as a consortium to develop and accelerate the adoption of Internet-of-Things technologies and solutions by the industry.

To date, some 17 companies, including Rolls-Royce and local SME Genesis Networks, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish long-term partnerships with I3. The platform will focus on developing and integrating smart manufacturing technologies such as sensors, industrial data analytics, and cybersecurity.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/skilled-workforce-key-in-shaping-future-of- manufacturing-in-singapore

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/training-of-workers-changes-along-with-tech-revolution

 

3D printing facility to be set up at PSA’s Pasir Panjang Terminal

The world’s first 3D maritime printing facility will be built at PSA’s Pasir Panjang Terminal, to create parts that can be used for port equipment.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) signed an agreement to set up the facility. It will feature state-of-the-art printers and use a specialised maritime digital cloud supported by blockchain technology for increased security of file transfers.

With additive manufacturing, customised ship parts such as propellers previously produced by original manufacturers at specific locations can now be printed whenever and wherever needed, at ports-of-call or even on-board ships.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/transport/3d-printing-facility-to-be-set-up-at-psas-pasir-panjang-terminal-0 https://www.straitstimes.com/business/3d-printing-facility-to-be-built-at-pasir-panjang-terminal

 

‘Digital twin’ to test upcoming Tuas mega port’s design

A “digital twin” of the upcoming Tuas Terminal mega port is being developed to help researchers evaluate the impact different layout designs and concepts can have on the efficiency of port operations.

The simulation is one of several projects that is being developed at the newly launched Centre of Excellence in Modelling and Simulation for Next Generation Ports (C4NGP).

The $18-million centre uses simulation analytics and artificial intelligence to optimise operations, such as how to move the most number of containers in the least amount of time.

The digital twin can also be used to simulate potential disruptions to operations at the Tuas Terminal mega port, which will open from 2021. Such disruptions include natural disasters and extreme weather events.

The multibillion-dollar Tuas project – which will be twice the size of Ang Mo Kio town – will be opened progressively from 2021.

When fully completed by 2040, it will be able to handle up to 65 million twenty-foot equivalent units of cargo a year.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/transport/digital-twin-to-test-upcoming-tuas-mega-ports-design

 

Overseas

Central London holding up despite worst market since 2010

Central London is defying the worst UK housing market for any October in eight years. Tentative signs of a rebound in some of the capital’s most expensive districts saw asking prices for homes in inner London climb 2.4 per cent from September to an average £625,064 (S$1.1 million), according to a property website.

In Britain as a whole, values rose one per cent, the smallest gain for the month since 2010. The increase in part reflects the seasonal pickup in the market after the summer, though there’s still plenty to be worried about. A report found a subdued market and significant caution among potential buyers.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/central-london-holding-up-despite-worst-market-since-2010

 

UK investors going downmarket in search of better property returns

Battered by tax hikes, real estate investors are seeking out cheaper homes in the north of England that incur lower stamp duty and offer higher returns than properties in other parts of the country. The latest investment figures show that landlords spent 30 per cent less in the first half of the year than in the same period in 2015, before the stamp-duty increases were announced, according to data compiled.

A sales-tax surcharge on second home owners and landlords introduced in 2016 compounded plans to phase out tax relief on mortgage payments unveiled by former chancellor George Osborne in 2015.

That, together with a gloomier outlook for the UK’s housing market after years of rapid growth in London and the south-east, has driven the total value of homes bought by landlords to a five-year low.

In total, £12.1 billion of homes were bought by landlords in the six months through June, down from a record £21.2 billion two years earlier.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/uk-investors-going-downmarket-in-search-of-better-property-returns

 

China property market feels fresh chill as ‘winter’ looms

China’s property developers usually look forward to the months dubbed “Golden September and Silver October” as the high season for new home sales. This year is proving to be quite different. Instead, they are feeling a chill and one major realtor has warned that “winter” is coming as developers struggle to maintain sales momentum despite gimmicky promotions and discounts.

After almost two years of local and central government measures to calm the red-hot market, more signs are emerging that the property sector, a major pillar of China’s economic health, is finally slowing down.

They come as the Chinese economy faces broader headwinds, including from an intensifying trade war with the US and the effects of a campaign by the central government to clamp down on easy credit – a campaign that has weighed on both property buyers and developers.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/china-property-market-feels-fresh-chill-as-winter-looms

 

Reclaiming land vital to HK’s growth, analysts say

Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s plan for massive land reclamation is necessary for Hong Kong’s growth as it will provide relief to the city’s land shortage crisis and help it stay competitive in the region, say observers, as criticisms mount over the project off Lautau island.

Economist Terence Chong said land reclamation must “be done at all costs” because the city is facing a serious bottleneck.

“We don’t have enough labour. We do not import labour like Singapore does and we don’t have enough land for our development,” said Associate Professor Chong, who is executive director of the Lau Chor Tak Institute of Global Economics and Finance at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Man-made islands will be built around Lantau and these will be connected by transport networks. The artificial islands will provide additional land area of 1,700ha or up to 400,000 residential units for as many as 1.1 million people. The government has pledged that 70 per cent of the units will be public housing.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/reclaiming-land-vital-to-hks-growth-analysts-say

 

 

 

 

By:

Lee Sze Teck Head, Research

 

 

 

 

This document has been prepared by Huttons Asia for general information only. Huttons Asia does not guarantee warrant or represent that the information contained in this document is correct. Any interested party should undertake their own enquiries as to the accuracy of the information. Huttons Asia excludes unequivocally all inferred or implied terms, conditions and warranties arising out of this document and excludes all liability for loss and damage arising directly or indirectly there-from. All rights reserved.

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