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21st December 2018

By in Weekly News Review with 0 Comments

Top News for the Week

Government

Look back 2018: Year of transition for politics, policies

The leadership transition in the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) was a major headliner in an eventful year for domestic politics. Issues such as decriminalising gay sex and the multimillion- dollar civil lawsuits against three Workers’ Party MPs also dominated the national discourse.

In foreign relations, leaders from Asean and its key partners gathered here for their summit, as Singapore chaired Asean this year. But the meeting that drew world attention was the June summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

As 2018 comes to a close, a maritime dispute has erupted between Singapore and Malaysia. The two neighbours will meet in the second week of January to discuss the matter, which observers note is not likely to be resolved any time soon.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/politics/politics-year-of-transition

Look ahead 2019: 3 things to watch out for in politics, policies

Although the next general election must be held by April 2021, there is talk that it could happen as early as next year.

Now that leadership succession is settled in the People’s Action Party (PAP), observers will focus on how well the younger fourth-generation leaders work as a team and inspire confidence in voters. In the leading opposition Workers’ Party, which has six elected MPs and three Non-Constituency MPs in Parliament, Mr Pritam Singh is the new leader after he was elected unopposed as its secretary-general in April.

But there could be a snag. Mr Singh, along with former party chief Low Thia Khiang and chairman Sylvia Lim, are facing multimillion-dollar civil lawsuits over how they ran their town council.

The outcome of the 17 days of hearings in the High Court in October could have a major impact on the party’s election strategies.

Link to the story

https://www.straitstimes.com/politics/3-things-to-watch-out-for

Taxi, private-hire car firms offer ideas for masterplan

An integrated transport app that gives a choice of buses, trains, taxis and private-hire cars, with commuters paying a package price to use a combination of modes for their journeys.

Also, seamless transfers, with taxis and private-hire cars making pickups or drop-offs at bus stops. These were among the recommendations put forth by the National Taxi Association (NTA) and National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA) for Singapore’s next land transport masterplan.

The Government is currently seeking views on how to make mass public transport – what the Land Transport Authority calls “Walk Cycle Ride” – the preferred commuting choice for Singaporeans. Mass public transport includes cabs and private-hire cars.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/transport/taxi-private-hire-car-firms-offer-ideas-for-masterplan

Economy

Singapore November exports’ slide sounds caution on trade

Non-oil domestic exports (NODX) in November slipped 2.6 per cent from a high base a year ago

– a surprise drop which underscores the market’s cautious outlook for trade in the months ahead. The drop, which came after October’s 8.2 per cent jump, was the first year-on-year monthly decline since March 2018. This drop is worse than the expected 0 per cent and significantly below the market consensus forecast of 1.8 per cent.

Month-on-month, NODX slipped by a seasonally adjusted 4.2 per cent in November, fully cancelling out the 4.2 per cent increase in October, the latest official trade figures released by trade promotion agency Enterprise Singapore show.

A looming US-China trade war continues to cloud the outlook for trade-dependent Singapore, despite a three-month truce. Uncertainty over the dispute has led to significant declines in NODX shipments to China in recent months. Compounding the situation is a more tepid prospect for growth in the global economy next year, as well as China’s economic transition.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapore-november-exports-slide-sounds-caution-on-  trade

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/non-oil-exports-dip-26-after-rising-7-months-but-electronics- shipments-up

Singapore business confidence weakens for 2nd straight quarter

Business confidence among local companies has weakened for the second straight quarter, moderating significantly in the new year, according to the latest quarterly Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau’s (SCCB) Business Optimism Index.

The overall index eased from +9.19 percentage points in this year’s fourth quarter, to +7.19 percentage points for the first quarter next year. But against a year ago, this was up from +4.29 percentage points in the first quarter this year.

The figures, derived from a poll of 200 business owners and executives, represent the net percentage of respondents expecting improvements in the coming quarter compared with the same period last year.

Three out of six indicators saw an expansionary first-quarter outlook: selling price, new orders and inventory levels. But the other three indicators – sales volume, net profits and employment levels

– slipped on a year-on-year basis. The net profits indicator was the hardest hit, slipping into contraction territory at -2.63 percentage points, against +2.63 percentage points in the first quarter this year.

Compared with the fourth quarter this year, two of the indicators – sales volume and net profits – were lower for next year’s first quarter. The other four indicators rose on a quarter-on-quarter basis. The selling price indicator rebounded into the expansionary zone from -0.98 percentage point in the fourth quarter to +6.84 percentage points in next year’s first quarter.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/spore-business-confidence-weakens-for-2nd-straight-quarter

Companies cite trade war as main risk to six-month outlook: survey

A very cautious optimism remains among Asian companies in the fourth quarter as they wait to see whether there will be any breakthrough in a trade dispute between the US and China, a Thomson Reuters/INSEAD survey showed.

Representing the six-month outlook of 84 firms, the Thomson Reuters/INSEAD Asian Business Sentiment Index edged up to 63 in the October-December quarter, slightly above a near three-year low of 58 seen in the previous period.

Anything above 50 indicates a positive outlook. But the latest result still marks one of the lowest readings since a rout in Chinese stocks in mid-2015 rattled world markets.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/companies-cite-trade-war-as-main-risk-to-six-month- outlook-survey

Singaporeans’ earnings up, progress on bread-and-butter issues: Report

Singaporeans earned higher incomes last year and unemployment remained low, even amid uncertainties due to the changing global environment.

They also saw improvements in bread-and-butter issues such as housing and healthcare.

These were among the findings flagged in the Singapore Public Sector Outcomes Review, which takes stock of how Singapore has fared in key areas of national interest such as the economy and transport.

The push for productivity – which is key to sustainable growth but has remained flat over the years

– also saw results, even though gains are still uneven across sectors.

Growth in real value-added per actual hour worked increased from 1.4 per cent in 2013 to 4.5 per cent last year, while growth in real value-added per worker picked up from 1 per cent to 3.8 per cent over the same period.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/productivity-up-more-jobseekers-helped-public-sector- report

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singaporeans-earnings-up-progress-on-bread-and-butter-issues-report

Residential

New private home sales soar in November

New private home sales for last month showed healthy demand, with 1,198 units sold out of 1,341 units launched-the highest since the July 6 cooling measures.

The figure is also a 52 per cent jump from the 788 units sold a year earlier, and up 146 per cent from the 487 units booked in October, according to figures released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

The figures exclude executive condominium (EC) units, which are a public-private housing hybrid. As many as seven new projects were launched last month. These new launches accounted for 830 units, or 69 per cent, of new private home sales last month.

Top sellers include city-fringe projects such as Parc Esta and Whistler Grand. For the year to date, the number of units sold stood at 8,644, or about 82 per cent of last year’s total volume of 10,566. In the first 11 months of this year, developers launched 8,655 private homes. Over the same period, they sold 8,644 private homes.

Most property consultants expect developers to end this year with sales of at least 9,000 private homes. The figure for last year was 10,566 units.

Huttons Asia head of research Lee Sze Teck estimates that for 2019, an estimated 17,000 to 19,000 units from en bloc sales and state tenders may be ready for launch.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/new-private-home-sales-soar-in-november https://www.straitstimes.com/business/nov-private-home-sales-rebound-seven-new-projects-launched https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/developers-november-sales-jump-but-challenges-lie-ahead https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/bumper-crop-new-launches-led-dramatic-rise-new-private-home-sales- november

Look back 2018: Year of ups & downs for property

It was a roller-coaster year for the Singapore property market, with the first half riding up to the top. Collective sales were so buoyant and private home prices rebounded so strongly that analysts predicted a new price peak by the end of the year.

But the party ended on July 6, with unexpected cooling measures preventing any bubble from forming and stabilised prices to come in line with income growth and economic fundamentals. The move had an immediate effect and proved timely as interest rates rose, trade tensions weighed on global growth and a supply of more new homes is anticipated next year. The public housing market

had welcome news when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in August new schemes to boost the value of older Housing Board flats.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property-year-of-ups-downs

Look ahead 2019: 3 things to watch out for housing & property

Firstly, developers are likely to spread out launches. With an ample supply of homes in the pipeline, and buying decisions still tempered by last year’s cooling measures, higher interest rates and geopolitical tensions, developers are likely to spread out their project launches to maintain sale prices, analysts say.

Secondly, use of CPF funds for older HDB flats. By next year, buyers of shorter-lease flats may be able to use more of their CPF money for the purchase without compromising their retirement savings. This is something the Government is looking into, following concerns about the value of an HDB flat as its 99-year lease dwindles that came to the fore in recent years.

And lastly. all eyes on the Government’s development intentions for the next five years will be revealed in the updated masterplan from the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/3-things-to-watch-out-for https://www.straitstimes.com/business/all-eyes-on-cpf-loan-rule-tweaks-new-private-launches

New real estate sectors reflect changing lifestyles in Asia

According to figures from the UN, by 2050 there will be 1.3 billion people in the Asia-Pacific aged over 60 – which will amount to 25 per cent of the region’s population.

These demographic fundamentals, along with lifestyle changes and rapid urbanisation, have led to a growing demand for real estate that reflects a variety of life stages and living arrangements.

In turn, this has spurred the emergence of a new investment sector which includes student housing, co-living, en bloc residential (multi-family), senior living and aged care. For investors, these living sectors offer higher yields than core assets such as office buildings, as well as an opportunity for portfolio diversification.

Here in land-scarce Singapore, the student housing, senior living, co-living and multifamily sectors are still under-represented as developers typically opt for traditional residential projects. However, the aged care sector is growing rapidly, buoyed by the city-state’s greying population. A quarter of Singapore’s population will be 65 and over by 2030, with a third expected to need elderly care.

Aged care facilities focus on those aged over 70 who are unable to live independently. The current model is restricted mainly to nursing homes, which have wait lists of several months. Singapore’s Ministry of Health aims to have 17,000 beds by 2020 to close this gap.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the age spectrum, new accommodation models have emerged in response to rising property prices. Co-living, a shared residential format with flexible leasing and community spaces, offers accommodation to cater to the needs of millennials, many of whom are delaying marriage and starting a family, or eschew the traditional home-ownership model.

Co-living buildings in Singapore and Hong Kong are currently in the investor spotlight, with Singapore-based startup Hmlet raising US$6.5 million in Series A funding led by Sequoia India.

High housing costs and transient expatriate populations in these cities mean that they are emerging as hubs for co-living communities.

The co-living sector bridges a housing gap that is currently not supported by any other accommodation category – a place to stay for more than a trip, but less than a year. Hotel stays are typically a few days, while serviced apartments provide a solution for a few weeks to a few months.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/new-real-estate-sectors-reflect-changing-lifestyles-in-asia

All together now: The growing co-living scene in Singapore

There used to be a time when conventional wisdom warned against getting into a car with a stranger. But in an age where the likes of Grab and WeWork have transformed social norms, living with strangers is a concept that’s started to gain traction too. Of course, co-living isn’t new to Singapore, nor is it an entirely new proposition.

Billed as flexible, affordable and convenient, going the co-living route enables millennials and expatriates – or, in some cases, millennial expatriates – to rent a room in a shared apartment or an entire apartment in a co-living building.

Co-living pitches community spirit as one of the major perks of the set-up, while pairing together like-minded folks as roommates. Operators typically throw in utilities, housekeeping and Wi-Fi, a community manager to sort out snafus and (in a manner of speaking) friends.

For those new to the city, a key draw to co-living might well be the social events that are organised regularly by the operator, or the opportunity to hang out with like-minded individuals in shared common spaces.

Early entrants such as 13 and Techsquat started the ball rolling in 2014 and 2015, but pulled the plug within a year as the concept failed to take off.

But since then, there’ve been new players in the co-living sector, some emboldened by flush investors. Established property players such as City Developments Ltd and The Ascott also have their eyes on the game and have started moving in. The relaxation of the minimum rental period for private homes from six months to three months in June last year is also seen as something of a boost.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/brunch/all-together-now-the-growing-co-living-scene-in-singapore

Non-Malaysian foreigners can rent HDB flats for longer from Jan 1

From 2019, HDB owners can rent their flats or bedrooms to non-Malaysian foreigners for a longer period of time.

Each new tenancy agreement would last a maximum of two years, six months longer than currently allowed. The revised tenancy period will apply to applications received from Jan 1.

The Housing Board said the revision will give flat owners “greater flexibility to secure a longer tenancy period with non-citizen tenants who may have work/immigration passes that are valid for a longer period of two years.”

The minimum rental period for a HDB flat is still six months.

The maximum tenancy period for Singaporeans and Malaysians remains unchanged at three years. There is no maximum period for tenants in private residences.

Property analysts said the change was a practical one that was a long time coming.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/non-malaysian-foreigners-can-rent-hdb-flats-for-longer-from-jan-1 https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/housing/non-malaysian-foreigners-can-rent-flats-for-longer-period

Commercial

Tender for Pasir Ris Central white site draws just three bids

A 3.8ha white site at Pasir Ris Central saw just three bids from developers at the closing.

Among the bidders was Far East Organization, while Singapore Press Holdings and Kajima Development submitted a joint bid.

The third bid was from Phoenix Residential and Phoenix Commercial. Both companies are owned by Allgreen Properties and Kerry Properties, which are in turn linked to prominent Malaysian business magnate Robert Kuok.

The 99-year leasehold site, which has been launched for sale off the Government Land Sales confirmed list, is to be developed into a mixed-use commercial and residential development.

The renewal plan for Pasir Ris includes key points such as giving a new lease of life to the town centre, refreshing park spaces and improving the walking and cycling experience there.

The bids received are being evaluated under a concept and price revenue tender system, as tenderers had to submit their concept proposals and tender prices in two separate envelopes.

Huttons Asia research head Lee Sze Teck pointed out that some developers already have enough in their land bank to keep them busy.

He said: “Some developers have bought enough land for the next two to three years.” In addition, this tender is via a concept and price system, which requires developers who have the relevant experience to participate.

Links to the story

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/three-bids-submitted-for-pasir-ris-central-white-site https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/tender-for-pasir-ris-central-white-site-draws-just-three-bids

JustCo to operate GuocoLand’s co-working space at Collyer Quay

Singapore-based JustCo has been tapped to operate GuocoLand’s 16,800 sq ft co-working space at 20 Collyer Quay, which will take the start-up’s portfolio to 15 centres in Singapore.

This comes as it is gearing up to break into new cities and countries across Asia next year such as Seoul, Melbourne, Sydney and Vietnam. It presently has a total of 23 centres across Singapore, Jakarta, Shanghai and Bangkok.

Slated to open in April next year, the new centre at 20 Collyer Quay will attract tenants such as large firms and Fortune 500 companies, according to JustCo.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/justco-to-operate-guocolands-co-working-space-at-collyer-quay

Clear skies for Singapore office sector – but beware potential headwinds

Singapore prime CBD Grade A office rentals are heading into their third year of increases on the back of steady demand amid tightening completion of new office space.

Property consultants are generally still painting a picture of clear skies, with the familiar set of demand drivers – coworking operators and other flexible office space providers, and tech companies – expected to lead the way. Some are also hopeful of more office demand from financial institutions.

However, interest rate hikes, trade wars, geopolitical tensions leading to slowdowns in the global and Singapore economies, are among the factors that could potentially dampen office demand on the island.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/clear-skies-for-singapore-office-sector-but-beware-potential- headwinds-0

Retail

Newer strata malls fail to deliver

Investors in recently-built strata malls have so far seen lower-than-expected rents, occupancy and footfall, they and various experts told The Business Times.

Occupancy of around 10 strata malls completed in the last five years years is below 80 per cent according to an estimate. That compares to an occupancy rate of 92.4 per cent for retail space islandwide, as of the third quarter this year.

Transaction volume for strata retail units completed in the past 10 years slid from 635 in 2012 to 19 last year. Prices have also eased for these newer strata malls. As an example, the 270-unit The Promenade @ Pelikat this year saw three transactions, between S$1,781 and S$2,029 psf. That’s down from the 253 transactions at S$1,858 to S$3,871 psf in 2012.

Rents has also fallen from an anticipated S$15 psf at KAP Residences Mall when the development was completed in 2016, to S$6 psf as of late November, and occupancy till then was under 50 per cent.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/consumer/newer-strata-malls-fail-to-deliver

Kimly to focus on core biz of running coffeeshops

After aborting the acquisition of a drinks manufacturer, Kimly Ltd will be focusing on its core business of operating coffeeshops by serving up more outlets as well as diversifying its product offerings.

It would improve its operational efficiency as well, incorporating technology to streamline the processes at its central kitchen and outlets.

In a press briefing, the operator listed last year on the Catalist unveiled its business plans that would see the expansion of its bread and butter of operating food outlets. The number of

coffeeshops and food courts it operates is expected to rise from 67 to 70 by next financial year ending September 2019.

Kimly’s chief financial officer Karen Wong Kok Yoong said that the company has on average been able to add three to five outlets a year to its stable.

The company believes the new evaluation system adopted by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) this year for coffeeshop bidding would help its expansion plan. According to Kimly, HDB is currently building over 30 sites with completion in next five years.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/kimly-to-focus-on-core-biz-of-running-coffeeshops https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/kimly-to-develop-own-brand-of-coffees-and-teas-amid- probe

Industrial

Woodlands industrial site on reserve list triggered for tender: JTC

JTC said it has accepted an application to put up an industrial site in Woodlands Avenue 12 for sale by public tender.

The land parcel made available for sale is on the reserve list of the second half 2018 Industrial Government Land Sales (IGLS) Programme.

A site on the reserve list is triggered for launch if a developer’s indicated minimum price in its application is acceptable to the state.

JTC said it had received an application with a committed bid price of at least $36 million.

The public tender for the land parcel is scheduled on Dec 26, with a tender period of six weeks.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/woodlands-industrial-site-up-for-tender https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/woodlands-industrial-site-on-reserve-list-triggered-for-tender-jtc

Shophouses

Duck & Hippo founder sets another record price for shophouse

Duck & Hippo group founder James Heng continues to pile up on conservation shophouses.

He is paying S$14 million for 31 Keong Saik Road. This works out to about S$4,300 psf based on estimated built-up area for the three-storey freehold property – surpassing the S$4,259 psf he paid for 21 Boon Tat Street in September this year. That price was already a new high for conservation shophouses in Districts 1 and 2, said property agents.

Market watchers noted that whereas both levels of the Boon Tat Street property are approved for food and beverage use, only the ground level of the three-storey 31 Keong Saik Road is approved for F&B use. Moreover as a street address, Boon Tat Street is considered more prime than Keong Saik Road.

The ground floor of 31 Keong Saik Road is leased to restaurant Butcher Boy, while offices occupy the upper levels.

Based on caveats data on URA Realis, the transaction value of shophouses has already reached S$1.399 billion in the first 11 months of this year – surpassing not only the S$1.033 billion for the whole of last year but also the high of S$1.385 billion in 2012, prior to the introduction of the total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) framework in late-June of 2013, which dampened shophouse deals from the second half of 2013.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/duck-hippo-founder-sets-another-record-price-for-shophouse

Hospitality

Singapore hotels get a ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ boost

After Singapore’s residential and office markets made comebacks this year, the next property sector to bet on might just be its hotels.

The hotel industry is heading into 2019 in good shape after boosts to visitor arrivals from the Trump-Kim summit in June and the success of romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians.

Average occupancy rates touched 87 per cent this year, the highest in a decade.

Revenue per available room rose 4 per cent to S$190.40 through October from a year earlier, reversing years of declines. Average daily room rates inched higher for all but luxury accommodation.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/singapore-hotels-get-a-crazy-rich-asians-boost

Marina Bay carnival to make a splash with new rides, favourites

If you loved last year’s Prudential Marina Bay Carnival, billed as Singapore’s biggest carnival, get ready for even more fun and excitement when it returns for a second edition next Saturday.

This time, the funfair will have more rides and games – 50, up from more than 40 last year – coming from all around the globe.

Four new rides are also expected to be introduced, such as the Wave Swinger – the centrepiece of this year’s carnival – where riders will be swung around in seats attached to a rotating roof.

Murals of local landmarks Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands will also be painted on the ride, which is making its first appearance in South-east Asia.

This year’s event will be held only at the Bayfront Event Space, unlike last year’s edition, which spanned the space and The Promontory.

It will cover about 23,000 sq m, smaller than last year’s 25,000 sq m, and its duration is shorter.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/marina-bay-carnival-to-make-a-splash-with-new-rides-favourites

Genting’s mega cruise ship books Singapore stop

Genting Hong Kong, the cruises arm of Malaysian casino and leisure giant Genting Group, is ready to position more ships in Singapore – a move that will boost the country’s global cruise hub ambitions.

The first of a fleet of “Global-class” ships – potentially the largest cruise ships in the world by capacity – will be cruising in Asia in 2021, carrying up to 9,500 passengers, Genting HK chairman and chief executive Lim Kok Thay said at the company’s 25th anniversary commemorating its first cruise from Singapore in 1993.

Dream Cruises, the only cruise line operating from Singapore on a year-round basis, has carried more than 400,000 passengers in the last year. “As we add in more ships, we would expect that number to double or even triple. In the last 25 years, we have delivered roughly 6.5 million cruise passengers to Singapore,” he said.

The cruise industry has seen significant passenger growth in Asia in recent years. The number of cruise passengers in the region hit a record high of four million last year, a 20 per cent year-on- year increase. By 2035, South-east Asia could receive up to 4.5 million passengers a year.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/gentings-mega-cruise-ship-books-spore-stop https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/transport/genting-to-launch-worlds-biggest-cruise-liners-in-singapore-from-2020

Overseas

China’s Nov property investment rises but soft sales signal problems

Property investment in China picked up in November, in contrast to other key data where growth weakened sharply, though soft home sales and land purchases pointed to a dim outlook for the sector amid a slowing broader economy.

Real estate investment, which mainly focuses on the residential sector but includes commercial and office space, rose 9.3 per cent in November from a year earlier, accelerating from 7.7 per cent in October, according to Reuters calculations based on data released by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). China reported retail sales grew at their weakest pace since 2003 and industrial output rose the least in nearly three years in November.

For the first 11 months, property investment increased 9.7 per cent from the year-earlier period, the same percentage as in January-October. In the previous months, the percentage increase had dropped for three months.

The upbeat headline number for November was largely buoyed by more construction starts. Measured by floor area, such starts surged 21.7 per cent from a year earlier, up from 14.7 per cent in October, according to Reuters calculations.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/chinas-nov-property-investment-rises-but-soft-sales-signal-problems

Chinese city’s property policy reversal a test of central govt resolve

The Chinese city of Heze has reversed a rule designed to curb real estate flipping, boosting shares in property developers on Wednesday and sparking speculation that more cities could follow suit as slowing sales weigh on the economy.

The policy reversal, announced by the city’s government, was the first of its kind since authorities around the country began taking steps about two years ago to control soaring house prices, according to state-run media. It comes as China’s economy loses steam and new home price growth slows, particularly in smaller cities like Heze.

In an announcement on its website, Heze’s municipal housing and urban-rural development bureau said it was cancelling provisions introduced last year that required purchasers of new or second- hand homes to hold them for two or three years, depending on their residency status, before being eligible to sell.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/chinese-citys-property-policy-reversal-a-test-of-central-govt-resolve

Want to buy a London home? Brexit isn’t the only thing to watch

Brokers have been quick to blame the uncertainty around Brexit for the downturn in London property prices, but beneath the surface there’s a number of factors suggesting declines may be inevitable no matter what the outcome.

Home values in the city have finally turned negative, according to a Bloomberg analysis of Land Registry data, months after analysts expected them to begin falling. It’s also becoming increasingly apparent that the housing market may be in worse shape than it looks. According to one metric, sales are at a record low.

Here are eight other things to look at, underscoring that the capital’s property market is heading for trouble: Luxury rebound myth, Off plan sales slowdown, Net immigration, Tech downturn, Big buyers turn sellers, Deals, Construction slowdown and Broker woes.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/want-to-buy-a-london-home-brexit-isnt-the-only-thing-to-watch-0 https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/want-a-london-home-brexits-not-the-only-thing-to-consider

Vancouver home prices continue to decline

Home prices in Vancouver fell 1.9 per cent in November from a month earlier, the most in a decade, extending a recent run of declines for Canada’s most expensive real estate market.

The figures suggest momentum earlier this year may have been just a blip, as consumers adjust to tougher federal mortgage qualification rules.

After rebounding to a record in May, prices nationwide have dropped for six straight months, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported, and are hovering at levels little changed from mid- 2017, when interest rates started to rise.

The decline in home ownership affordability is caused by this year’s new mortgage stress-test remains very much in evidence. While national home sales were anticipated to recover in the wake

of a large drop in activity earlier this year due to the introduction of the stress-test, the rebound appears to have run its course.

From a year earlier, prices fell 1.4 per cent to C$1.04 million (S$1.06 million).

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/vancouver-home-prices-continue-to-decline

US housing starts in Nov up but single-family segment still weak

US homebuilding rebounded in November, driven by a surge in multi-family housing projects, but construction of single-family homes fell to a 1 1/2-year low, pointing to deepening housing market weakness that could spill over to the broader economy.

The report from the US Commerce Department on Tuesday also showed housing starts fell in October instead of rising as previously reported.

Underscoring the housing market weakness, single-family home completions dropped for a third straight month in November to their lowest level in more than a year.

Housing starts increased 3.2 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.256 million units last month.

Data for October was revised down to show starts dropping to a rate of 1.217 million units instead of the previously reported pace of 1.228 million units.

November’s increase in homebuilding followed two straight monthly declines. Housing starts fell

3.6 per cent on a year-on-year basis in November.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/us-housing-starts-in-nov-up-but-single-family-segment-still-weak

HK to sell cheap homes to help people get on property ladder

Hong Kong’s government is set to sell its first batch of cheap homes under a new programme to help people get on the property ladder in the world’s least affordable housing market.

The “starter homes” in Kowloon, across the harbour from Hong Kong Island, will be priced at about 38 per cent below market levels – or around HK$13,000 (S$2,300) psf – the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported citing unidentified sources.

Another government programme to provide cheap apartments this year saw more than 260,000 applications for 4,431 flats, while home ownership has tumbled to the lowest level in nearly 30 years.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/hk-govt-to-sell-cheap-homes-in-worlds-least-affordable-city https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/hk-to-sell-cheap-homes-to-help-people-get-on-property-ladder

 

 

 

By: Lee Sze Teck (HuttonsResearch)

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