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28th September 2018

By in Weekly News Review with 0 Comments

Top News for the Week

  • Singapore population grew 0.5% to 5.64 million as of June 2018, much faster than the 0.1% growth in the previous 12 months
  • Investing in property has proven to be a good way to preserve, if not enhance wealth and to build up a retirement nest The URA’s benchmark overall private home price index in the second quarter of this year stood at 149 points, or 16.7 times the index reading of 8.9 points back in Q1 1975. Land scarcity, Singapore’s phenomenal transformation from backwater to a global city that has created investor confidence, and the state’s pro-home ownership policies to give a sense of belonging to the nation have all fuelled growth in the city’s property prices.
  • Qingjian Realty sells 300 units at JadeScape at an average price of $1,700 psf
  • Singapore property measures may have tempered buying of small units; units below 500 sq ft, accounted for 63 units or 11 per cent of new home sales in August, below the monthly average of 100 units registered from January 2017. In addition, recently launched projects which results showed low take-up for units under 500 sq ft with The Tre Ver in Potong Pasir, having as little as 6 per cent of the total number of caveats lodged.
  • Core inflation unchanged at 1.9% in August
  • Singapore office rents grow for sixth straight quarter in Q3 2018

Government

Online service launched to cut trade red tape

A single trade today can involve more than 25 parties, generating 30 to 40 documents and requiring 60 to 70 per cent of the information to be manually re-entered at least once.

But a new online trading service, which combines all customs and trade-related services into one platform, aims to cut back on such onerous paperwork.

The Networked Trade Platform (NTP) brings together four government certification services required for trading in and out of Singapore, as well as another 25 value-added services by third- party firms geared towards trade.

Three more government services will be moved to the new platform in the coming months.

The new service will eventually replace the government’s existing TradeXchange and TradeNet platforms.

It aims to raise productivity by digitalising the paper trail, boost competitiveness by giving more accurate data analysis and create opportunities for the third-party service providers.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/online-service-launched-to-cut-trade-red-tape

Govt tenders to be awarded based on both price and quality

Both price and quality, and not just price alone, will determine how government contracts are awarded in future, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat said.

This will let businesses adopt a longer-term perspective and invest in building capability, build their track records and win overseas contracts on top of local ones.

The price-quality method has been widely used by government agencies for some years already, particularly in the IT and construction industries. Now, it will be the main option they will use to evaluate tenders.

The review is meant to benefit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which take on government projects through enterprise and innovation. More than 80 per cent of government contracts go to SMEs today.

Besides the price-quality method, some types of projects will use a sandbox procurement approach.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/govt-tenders-to-be-awarded-based-on-both-price-and-quality

 

Economy

Core inflation unchanged at 1.9% in August

Singapore’s monthly core inflation remained unchanged at 1.9 per cent last month although the market expected it to rise.

Still, the figure is a four-year high.

Last month, higher retail and food inflation offset the slower rise in services inflation, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).

The past two months marked the fastest rate of increase since August 2014 when core inflation, which excludes accommodation and private road transport costs, rose 2 per cent.

Headline inflation picked up in line with expectations, inching up to 0.7 per cent from 0.6 per cent. MAS and MTI expect core inflation to average in the upper half of the 1 per cent to 2 per cent forecast range for the full year.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/core-inflation-unchanged-at-19-in-august https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/infographics/core-inflation-in-august-remains-at-4-year-high-of-19

 

Singapore ranks 13th on human capital list

Singapore jumped 30 spots in a study that ranks countries based on the number of years of peak productivity of workers, and is one of four Asian places in the top 20.

Singapore was ranked 13th worldwide out of 195 countries and territories in 2016, up from 43rd place in 1990.

The study looked at how education and health affected the number of years of peak productivity for workers aged between 20 and 64, or expected human capital.

Singapore had a significant increase in its expected human capital, from 17 years of productivity in 1990 to 24 in 2016. The three other Asian places in the top 20 were Taiwan at No. 5, South Korea at No. 6 and Japan at No. 14.

Singapore had the highest score for education quality, which was based on tests among school- aged children, at 98 out of 100, in 2016.

Its functional health status score also remained high, at 82 out of 100, up from 78.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/spore-ranks-13th-on-human-capital-list

En bloc deals, better economy bolster Singapore tax coffers

The en bloc phenomenon in 2017 yielded windfalls of billions not just to home owners but also to the taxman.

Bolstered by a 50 per cent jump in stamp duty collection and higher corporate tax collection on an improved economy, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) collected S$50.2 billion in tax revenue for the financial year ended Mar 31, 2018, over S$3 billion more than a year ago. During the period, stamp duty jumped 49.6 per cent to S$4.9 billion as crowds thronged property launches and homeowners cashed out of collective sales. The party ended in July this year when the government tightened cooling measures to pre-empt potential runaway prices.

Stamp duty accounted for about 10 per cent of IRAS’ total tax collections, behind corporate income tax, which swelled from S$13.6 billion to S$15 billion to account for 30 per cent of total tax revenue.

Income tax – comprising corporate income tax, individual income tax (S$10.7 billion, up from S$10.5 billion) and withholding tax – accounted for S$27.2 billion of tax revenue, 6.3 per cent higher than the S$25.6 billion collected the year before.

Property tax revenue was consistent with the previous financial year at S$4.4 billion.

The total amount of tax collected by IRAS represents 66.2 per cent of the government’s operating revenue and 11.1 per cent of Singapore’s gross domestic product.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/en-bloc-deals-better-economy-bolster-singapore-tax- coffers

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/taxes-collected-rise-68-to-bumper-502b https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/fewer-top-earners-but-taxes-they-pay-have-gone-up

 

Strong growth in Singapore household financial assets in ’17

Strong growth in financial assets and a relatively stable debt level have boosted Singapore’s per capita financial assets to seventh place in a global ranking.

A report said Singapore’s per capita financial assets came to 90,650 euros in 2017, a growth of 8.9 per cent. In 2000, it was ranked 15th. In the regional ranking Singapore came in second after Japan, and Taiwan was third.

The report looks at global households’ wealth and debt levels. It described 2017 as an “exceptional” year overall, where financial assets of households rose significantly by 7.7 per cent. In 2017 several factors including synchronised economic growth and still-low interest rates converged to create a goldilocks environment for investors, where both equity and bond markets accelerated.

For Singapore, household financial asset growth of 8.9 per cent was the highest growth since 2012. The growth rate in 2016 was 7.3 per cent.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/strong-growth-in-singapore-household-financial-assets-in-      17

 

Tourist arrivals up 7.6% for first half of the year

About 9.2 million tourists visited Singapore between January and June this year, a 7.6 per cent increase over the same period last year.

The increase was highest for the month of June, when the Republic hosted the meeting between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. That month, 1.54 million visitors arrived in Singapore, up 11.32 per cent from the same period last year, according to figures from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

The second half of the year poses some uncertainty, however, because of factors such as the ongoing trade war between the United States and China.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/tourist-arrivals-up-76-for-first-half-of-the-year

 

Total population 5.64m, with number of citizens up 1% to 3.47m

Singapore’s total population rose to 5.64 million in the 12-month period ending in June this year, with an increase of about 30,000 that is driven mainly by births among Singaporeans and the addition of new citizens.

This 0.5 per cent growth is an improvement on the previous period’s 0.1 per cent, which is the slowest in more than a decade.

Of the 5.64 million, the number of Singapore citizens went up by 1 per cent to 3.47 million, according to the annual Population in Brief report released.

The rest comprises permanent residents (PRs) and non-residents, who include people who are here to work, their dependants and international students.

The number of PRs remains relatively stable at 0.52 million, while non-residents make up 1.64 million.

The number of marriages involving citizens, however, rose 2.3 per cent to 24,417, an annual increase that is above the past decade’s average of 22,500 citizen marriages.

The median age of the citizen population also inched up from 41.3 to 41.7 years.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/total-population-564m-with-number-of-citizens-up-1-to-347m https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapore-population-up-05-at-564-million-in-june-2018

Residential

Qingjian Realty sells 300 units at JadeScape

Qingjian Realty (South Pacific) Group said it has granted options for the purchase of 300 units at the JadeScape condo within 24 hours of its sale opening.

The average transacted price net of discounts is S$1,700 psf, it added. Interest was balanced across all unit types.

The price for a three-bedroom apartment of 1,012 sq ft averages S$1.65-1.7 million.

Under the first phase of sales, Qingjian released 480 of the development’s 1,206 residential units. Qingjian said details on the next phase of sales will be announced later.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/qingjian-realty-sells-300-units-at-jadescape https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/jadescape-sees-strong-sales-on-launch-weekend

 

Safe as houses? The property investment story so far

It is in the collective consciousness of Singaporeans that owning property is a big part of being – and getting – rich. For many families in Singapore, investing in property has proven to be a good way to preserve, if not enhance, their wealth and to build up a retirement nest egg.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority’s benchmark overall private home price index in the second quarter of this year stood at 149 points, or 16.7 times the index reading of 8.9 points back in Q1 1975.

The staggering rise in value has made this investment asset class compelling to Singaporeans. And then, of course, there is also the so-called Asian trait of wanting to acquire property to leave for the next generation.

This article explores more.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/brunch/safe-as-houses-the-property-investment-story-so-far

 

Old is gold for these buyers of ageing HDB flats

When energy consultant Eric Ho was looking for his first marital home, the 49-year-old toyed with the idea of buying a small, new condominium unit in Bukit Batok or Pasir Panjang.

Instead, he splashed out $790,000 on a five-room HDB flat in Holland Drive in May last year, even though it had just 56 years left on its 99-year lease then.

This was despite a cautionary note from National Development Minister Lawrence Wong just two months earlier not to assume that every flat would be picked for the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers), where HDB flats are bought back by the Government for redevelopment and owners are compensated generously.

To Mr Ho, however, the deal was a no-brainer, given the flat’s size (119 sq m) and location – a prime spot between Holland Village and Buona Vista MRT stations.

There are many others like Mr Ho who are drawn to older flats despite the clock ticking on their leases.

Over the last 16 months, flats with 60 years or less left on their leases formed a larger proportion of resale transactions than in the same duration before March last year – when Mr Wong issued his warning.

From April 2017 to July 2018, they formed 14 per cent of transactions, up from 8 per cent between November 2015 and February 2017.

But the overwhelming majority of those interviewed by The Sunday Times – 19 of 25 residents across Holland Village, Dover, Marine Parade and Tiong Bahru – said they knew what they signed up for when they purchased their ageing flats.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/old-is-gold-for-these-buyers-of-ageing-hdb-flats

 

Staying in good shape

On July 11, 1989, a seemingly innocuous question from Dr S. Vasoo in Parliament yielded a response that took many in the House by surprise.

The Tiong Bahru GRC MP had asked what improvement works might be undertaken in his constituency, which had some of the oldest HDB flats at the time.

But instead of a parochial scheme to address just one ward, then Minister for National Development S. Dhanabalan announced an upgrading programme he described as heralding a “quantum change in the quality and character of public housing”.

Mr Dhanabalan’s announcement marked the start of the Main Upgrading Programme (MUP), an ambitious scheme to improve the interiors of flats, their exteriors and entire estates.

The MUP proved to be the first of several upgrading programmes announced over the past 29 years.

The latest was announced last month by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech, and is an expansion of a scheme already in place, the Home Improvement Programme (HIP). HIP is the main upgrading scheme now, and Mr Lee said it will be expanded to include 230,000 homes built between 1987 and 1997.

He also unveiled HIP II, a second round of upgrading for these flats when they are around 60 to 70 years old, which will start in about 10 years; and the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (Vers), which lets residents in selected older estates vote on whether they want to go en bloc as their flats near the end of their 99-year lease.

The schemes, ranging from MUP, which was completed in 2012, to HIP II, will have seen billions of dollars spent on upgrading Housing Board estates, with the work ranging from details such as grab bars for the elderly installed inside bathrooms to substantial infrastructure changes such as increasing the size of a flat and having lifts on every floor. The works were heavily subsided, with the Government fully funding some essential components too.

A total of 680,000 flats will have benefited from the major upgrading programmes – MUP and its successor, the HIP – and hundreds of thousands more from other estate renewal schemes.

Clearly, the maintenance of ageing HDB flats has long been a key government policy. Insight looks at how the upgrading programmes are a necessity to ensure the physical integrity of the country’s public housing, and are also an important building block in terms of shoring up political support as part of the social contract between the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) and voters.

Link to the story: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/housing/staying-in-good-shape

 

End of a golden age?

Like a monolithic cruise ship permanently “docked” by the Kallang Basin, Golden Mile Complex has a special place in the hearts of some of its long-time residents.

But the journey might soon come to an end as the building has secured more than 80 per cent of votes from owners to launch a collective sale, according to a notice dated Aug 3.

Residents voted for the sale despite their attachment to the building due to frustration with the aged strata title property.

Golden Mile Complex was part of the Government’s first land sales programme beginning in 1967 that offered land parcels for sale with a 99-year lease period.

The stepped terrace structure was completed in 1973 at a cost of $18 million.

Residents and business owners told The Sunday Times that they are hoping the property will sell for $900 million.

Links to the story: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/end-of-a-golden-age

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/losing-its-lustre-the-golden-mile-dilemma

 

Upper East Coast residential site goes on market for $26m

A freehold landed residential site in Upper East Coast has gone on the market with an asking price of $26 million, its sole marketing agent said.

The land price works out to $914 psf for the 28,449 sq ft plot, which is zoned for three-storey mixed landed housing.

Two pairs of semi-detached homes – 9 and 9A, Jalan Haji Salam, and 11 and 11A, Jalan Haji Salam

– are being sold collectively.

Recent Urban Redevelopment Authority transaction data for the district shows a freehold semi- detached home in Sennett Place going for S$4.7 million earlier this month, or S$1,129 psf, while a bigger house in Lucky View was sold for S$8.3 million, or S$1,001 psf, the month before.

The tender exercise closes on Oct 31 at 3pm.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/upper-east-coast-residential-site-goes-on-market-for-26m https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/upper-east-coast-landed-homes-launch-s26m-collective-sale

 

Space was luxury then, small is trend now: SC Global changes tack

The times they are a changing – even for high-end home buyers. And luxe developer SC Global is rolling with it.

The Simon Cheong vehicle, known for building “Mansions in the Sky” at The Marq, is now going small with its new collection, aptly named Petit Collectibles.

The approximately 55-unit Petit Jervois in River Valley, the first project under this new brand, will be mostly one and two-bedders spanning 800 sq ft to 1,000 sq ft, and will launch by the end of the year.

The Business Times understands it is expected to be launched at around S$2,800 to S$3,000 psf range.

The freehold Petit Jervois will also be its first Singapore project in three years. SC Global scooped up the former Jervois Gardens condo in September 2017 in a S$72 million collective sale.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/space-was-luxury-then-small-is-trend-now-sc-global-changes-tack https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/luxe-property-developer-going-big-with-smaller-units

 

Singapore property measures may have tempered buying of small units

Going by recent government data, demand for one-bedder apartments, typically favoured by investors in the new home sales market, seems to have moderated, and the buying trend seems to have shifted to slightly larger units.

According to an analysis of caveats, small units below 500 sq ft, usually the size of one-bedders, accounted for 63 units or 11 per cent of new home sales in August, below the monthly average of 100 units registered from January 2017.

Another analysis looked at recently launched projects which results showed low take-up for units under 500 sq ft; at The Tre Ver in Potong Pasir, for example, such units made up as little as 6 per cent of the total number of caveats lodged.

Before the cooling measures, such small units were highly popular among investors at developments like The Tapestry in Tampines due to their lower prices.

Other analysts have said launches from September may be more indicative of market sentiment after the imposition of cooling measures.

At popular projects like Twin Vew (in West Coast Vale), Stirling Residences (Stirling Road) and Riverfront Residences (Hougang), the most common type of unit offered were between 600 and 1,299 sq ft. It is logical that units of these sizes made up the higher number and higher proportion of units sold by developers in July and August.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/singapore-property-measures-may-have-tempered-buying-of-small-  units

Hospitality

Higher charges at Changi have not kept travellers away

Higher fees and charges introduced at Changi Airport on July 1 have not kept travellers away, despite some initial fears that Singapore’s competitiveness as an air hub may be affected by the increases.

On the contrary, both Changi Airport and the Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group have recorded strong traffic growth since then.

Last month, passenger traffic continued to be strong, boosted by growth across all regions, and hit

5.68 million passengers. The year-on-year increase of almost 8 per cent for the month of August was the highest in five months.

The higher charges are necessary to partly fund Changi Airport’s major expansion plans, which the Government has said repeatedly are critical to secure Singapore’s future as a key aviation hub.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/transport/higher-charges-at-changi-have-not-kept-travellers-away

 

Hilton gears up for regional expansion as travel market grows

Hotel group Hilton will triple its presence in the Asia-Pacific in the next three to five years as it introduces new brands and expands the footprint of existing brands in the burgeoning travel market.

Growth in the global travel and tourism industry is being propelled by an emerging middle class as well as a hunger for experiences, highlighted Hilton’s chief executive officer Christopher Nassetta, who described this period as the golden age of travel.

The Hilton group – which celebrates its centennial next year – has a portfolio spanning 14 brands including luxury brands such as the Conrad and Waldorf Astoria, and the eponymous Hilton.

Worldwide, the group has over 5,450 hotels, with another 2,370 hotels in the pipeline. Of the latter, 471 are in the Asia-Pacific, which is nearly twice the 243 operating hotels that it has in the region today.

Here in Singapore, the group has three hotels – the Conrad Centennial, the Hilton and the Hilton Garden Inn Serangoon.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/hilton-gears-up-for-regional-expansion-as-travel-market-grows

 

URA site for hotel in Chinatown up for tender

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) released a government land sales site in Chinatown for hotel use, with the land parcel possibly yielding as many as 390 rooms.

The 99-year leasehold, 5,121.4 sqm (55,130 sqf ) site, at the junction of Cross Street and Club Street, has a maximum gross floor area (GFA) of 24,310 sq m.

Subject to the authorities’ approval, up to two-fifths of the GFA can be used for serviced apartments or commercial uses, except for offices. Some of the acceptable commercial uses could be shops, restaurants, fitness centres and medical clinics, according to the tender brief.

The Club Street project can be built up to four storeys in the low-rise zone, and 75 metres above sea level in the high-rise zone, which is to be set back from Club Street and Mohamed Ali Lane, where there are shophouses.

It is estimated that the top bid would be between S$282 million and S$320 million, or a unit price of S$1,080 to S$1,223 psf ppr.

The Club Street hotel tender closes at noon on Jan 15, 2019.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/ura-site-for-hotel-in-chinatown-up-for-tender

Commercial

Two Tras Street conservation shophouses on sale for $22.6m

Two conservation shophouses in Tanjong Pagar have been put up for sale by the same owner in an expression of interest exercise, according to an announcement from the marketing agent.

The three-storey leasehold commercial properties, which are both in Tras Street but are not adjacent, have a guide price of $22.6 million, or about $2,800 per sq ft based on gross floor area. The buildings have been extensively renovated and are fully occupied, with food and beverage tenants on the first floors and a serviced apartment operator leasing the upper floors.

The smaller of the two shophouses, which has a land area of 1,298 sq ft and a floor area of 3,852 sq ft, is being offered for $10.8 million.

The other, with a land area of 1,494 sq ft and a floor area of 4,218 sq ft, is going for $11.8 million. The expression of interest exercise closes on Nov 1 at 3pm.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/two-tanjong-pagar-conservation-shophouses-up-for-sale-with-s226m- price-tag

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/two-tras-street-conservation-shophouses-on-sale-for-226m

 

Freehold Serangoon Building on sale with $52m guide price

A freehold commercial property in Serangoon Road has been put up for sale, with the marketing agent highlighting the possibility of naming rights for the buyer.

The six-storey building at 291 Serangoon Road – also known as Serangoon Building – has an indicative guide price of $52 million, or $2,611 psf, based on a gross floor area of 19,913 sq ft.

Located at the corner of Serangoon Road and Burmah Road, the 5,455 sq ft site has a gross plot ratio of 3.0. Its potential uses include retail, showroom, fitness centre, medical suites, entertainment and serviced apartments, subject to approval from the authorities.

Tenants now include food and beverage operator Sitara Restaurant on the first floor, a nightclub on the second and third floors, and offices in the rest of the building.

The property is less than 200 metres from Farrer Park MRT station, and is across the road from the upcoming Centrium Square project, where two floors of retail space were sold for $135 million in 2016 to a Bangladeshi tycoon.

The expression of interest exercise closes on Nov 6 at 3pm.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/freehold-serangoon-building-on-sale-with-52m-guide-price

 

Singapore office rents grow for sixth straight quarter in Q3 2018

Singapore office rents have increased for the sixth straight quarter in the third quarter of 2018, coming closer to beating the last high seen at the start of 2015, amid near-term tightening in CBD (central business district) space and strong demand from occupiers.

Gross effective rents of Grade A office space in the CBD edged up 2.3 per cent quarter-on-quarter in Q3 2018 to average S$9.93 psf per month. That is an 18 per cent increase over the six quarters, putting rents just 6 per cent below the Q1 2015 peak of S$10.56 psf per month.

Rent growth in the quarter was broad-based across all sub-markets. But the pace of CBD Grade A rent growth has also been decelerating for three consecutive quarters, from a recent high of 4.2 per cent quarter-on-quarter in Q4 2017, to 2.3 per cent quarter-on-quarter in Q3 2018.

Next year could also see a peak in the squeeze for space as the withdrawal of Chevron House for refurbishment will shrink the leasing stock at a time when the market is void of new completions, although the completion of the redevelopment of Park Mall and Funan located outside the CBD in 2019 could relieve some upward pressure on Grade A CBD rents.

More supply will come from 2020 onwards. ASB Tower and Afro-Asia I-Mark are due to be completed in 2020, and this will be followed by the scheduled completion of CapitaSpring and the redevelopment of Hub Synergy Point in 2021.

In 2022, IOI Properties’ development in Marina Bay and GuocoLand’s development on Beach Road should be completed.

Over the next four years (2019-2022), the CBD will see an average annual new supply of 0.8 million sq ft, slightly under the 10-year historical average net take-up of 0.9 million sq ft.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/singapore-office-rents-grow-for-sixth-straight-quarter-in-q3-2018-jll- study-0

 

Payments software firm sets up Apac hub in Singapore

Stripe, the San Francisco-based payments infrastructure firm, said on Thursday that it will build its Asia-Pacific (Apac) engineering hub in Singapore, and that it has raised US$245 million in a new venture round that values it at US$20 billion.

The company has started hiring teams of engineers for its new hub, and is aiming to take in more than 100, The Business Times understands. They will sit with the Stripe Singapore team at its existing location, a co-working space in the Central Business District.

When set up, Stripe’s Singapore hub will count as the company’s fourth hub globally, after those in San Francisco, Seattle and Dublin. The new hub will build and expand the startup’s global payments and treasury network for its growing user base in the Asia-Pacific.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/startups/payments-software-firm-sets-up-apac-hub-in-singapore https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/singapore-to-be-asia-pacific-engineering-hub-for-online- payments-firm

Retail

Great Singapore Sale to be revamped, shortened

The Great Singapore Sale (GSS) will be shortened from 10 weeks to one month when it returns next year, and expand beyond its focus on discounts.

The changes are part of efforts to revamp the event that observers say has lost its lustre in recent years.

Announcing the change, Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) president R. Dhinakaran said next year’s event will focus on the “sensory and social experience”, showcasing the Singapore story through a fusion of art, technology and entertainment with retail and food and beverage.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/great-singapore-sale-to-be-revamped-shortened

 

Fate of Marina Square’s Emporium Shokuhin uncertain as debt exceeds $1m

It was billed as a mega emporium with markets and restaurants, a gourmet paradise catering to Singaporeans’ love of all things Japanese, but the fate of Emporium Shokuhin at the Marina Square Shopping Mall now hangs in the balance.

Epicurean Concepts Marina Square, the company at the core of the emporium, filed for judicial management last week, saying it was unable to pay its debts of more than $1 million. It indicated it had a potential investor for the business, and its application for judicial management would protect it from its creditors in the meantime.

Meanwhile, the landlord took possession of the 34,000 sq ft premises over the weekend. The entrance blocked off and workers putting up signs saying “Emporium Shokuhin is closed”.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/marina-square-emporiums-fate-uncertain-as-debt-exceeds-1m

 

Industrial

Vibrant Group in talks over sale and leaseback of its Jurong Island property

Vibrant Group’s subsidiary, LTH Logistics (Singapore), is in exclusive discussions with an international real estate fund about the possible sale-and-leaseback of its chemical logistics and warehousing facility for over S$220 million.

Located at 121 Banyan Drive, the property comprises two plots of land: one with a six-storey ramp-up warehouse facility and ancillary offices, and the other, with two blocks of single-storey warehouse facility and an open yard.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/vibrant-group-in-talks-over-sale-and-leaseback-of-its-jurong- island-property

 

Sabana Reit collects overdue rent on Changi property

Sabana Shari’ah Compliant Industrial Real Estate Investment Trust (Sabana Reit) has received overdue rent on a property in Changi, three weeks after the manager slapped the tenant with a notice of termination.

There should not be any material adverse financial impact on distribution per unit (DPU) for the property this year after the S$2.15 million payment is applied to settling the rental arrears.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/sabana-reit-collects-overdue-rent-on-changi-property https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/sabana-reit-ends-spat-with-changi-south-tenant

 

Sabana Reit to sell data centre to Ascendas-Singbridge

Sabana Shari’ah Compliant Industrial Real Estate Investment Trust (Sabana Reit) is selling a data centre in Tai Seng to the Ascendas-Singbridge Group.

A conditional sale and purchase agreement was signed to sell Geo-Tele Centre for $99.6 million with Ascendas-Singbridge as the buyer.

The purchase price, to be paid in cash, is $60 million higher than the book value of the six-storey property at 9 Tai Seng Drive, based on an independent valuation commissioned by Sabana Reit’s manager.

Ascendas-Singbridge said the acquisition is part of its efforts to grow its data centre portfolio. It plans to carry out renovations that will be completed in early 2020.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/ascendas-singbridge-named-as-buyer-of-sabana-reits-geo-tele-data- centre

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/sabana-reit-to-sell-data-centre-to-ascendas-singbridge

 

Overseas

HK property developers cut prices

Property developers are cutting prices in Hong Kong to lure buyers amid the increasing downside risks in the world’s least-affordable housing market.

Vanke Property Overseas released 231 units of its new project Le Point in Tuen Mun, with prices as low as HK$9,878 (S$1,728) psf, the lowest in the primary new-home market in about two years. Rising new house supply in September adds further pressure on property prices. Nearly 6,000 units from eight residential projects will be offered in September, up 20 per cent from August, the most in five years.

Developers have begun to offer perks such as free rail tickets to attract buyers. Some are selling apartments at steep discounts, and others are not providing mortgages due to concern that rising borrowing costs may increase defaults.

The expected US interest rate increase and Hong Kong prime rate hike also fuelled the volatility in the foreign-exchange market in the former British colony.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/hk-property-developers-cut-prices

 

KL says no to Malaysian property projects solely aimed at foreigners

Foreigners are welcome to buy and own properties in Malaysia but real estate developers will not be allowed anymore to build projects solely aimed at foreign buyers, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said.

He did not mention any specific project, but Dr Mahathir has in recent weeks criticised the Forest City development on four man-made islands in the Johor Strait, facing Tuas in Singapore.

The Malaysian government is now studying the feasibility of reducing foreign ownership in the Forest City development, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said.

Forest City would eventually house 700,000 people. Some 70 per cent of home buyers there so far were from China.

Mr Lim said Malaysia welcomes foreign direct investments (FDI) as long as it brought tangible benefits to the people and does not overburden the nation.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/kl-says-no-to-malaysian-property-projects-solely-aimed-at-foreigners

 

Home prices in 20 US cities rise at slowest pace in nearly a year

Home price gains in 20 US cities grew in July at the slowest pace in almost a year, a sign demand is increasingly bumping up against affordability constraints, according to newly released data.

July marked the fourth consecutive month that annual price gains in the 20-city index decelerated. That’s in sync with other reports indicating housing is stalling as buyers shy away from higher prices amid mortgage rates near the highest since 2011, in addition to a lack of choice among affordable properties.

At the same time, steady hiring and elevated confidence are supporting demand. Prospective buyers – especially younger ones or those purchasing for the first time – may get further relief as home-price appreciation moderates, although it is still outpacing wage growth.

All 20 cities in the index showed year-over-year gains, led by a 13.7 per cent increase in Las Vegas and a 12.1 per cent advance in Seattle.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/home-prices-in-20-us-cities-rise-at-slowest-pace-in-nearly-a-year

 

US new home sales rebound in August, but trend weakening

Sales of new US single-family homes rebounded in August after two straight monthly declines, but the underlying trend still pointed to a weakening housing market against the backdrop of rising mortgage rates and higher home prices.

The Commerce Department said that new home sales rebounded 3.5 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 629,000 units last month.

July’s sales pace was revised down to 608,000 units from the previously reported 627,000 units. Sales in June were also much weaker than previously reported. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales, which account for about 11 per cent of housing market sales, rising 0.5 per cent to a pace of 630,000 units in August.

New home sales are drawn from permits and tend to be volatile on a month-to-month basis. They increased 12.7 per cent from a year ago.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate has increased more than 60 basis points this year to an average of

4.65 per cent. House prices rose 5.9 per cent in July from a year ago.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/us-new-home-sales-rebound-in-august-but-trend-weakening

 

Sydney mansion sold for record A$100m

Australian technology billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and his fashion designer wife Annie have bought a brick and gable-roof mansion in Sydney’s opulent eastern suburbs for a reported A$100 million (S$98.6 million), setting a record.

Fairwater, the former home of the Fairfax family, is the largest privately owned beachfront holding on Sydney Harbour, an 11,210 sq m estate just 5.5km from the city centre, according to Christie’s International, which handled the sale.

Media valued the deal at about A$100 million, which would make the residence the country’s highest-priced.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/sydney-mansion-sold-for-record-a100m https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/most-expensive-home-down-under-sold-for-99-million

 

 

 

 

By:

Lee Sze Teck Head, Research

 

 

 

 

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