Complete Property Market Updates of Singapore

August 7, 2008

Prices of some new properties coming down

Filed under: About Singapore,General,Property Trends — Propertymarketupdates @ 4:08 am

Move may signal end of months-long stand-off between buyers and sellers

GOOD news for homebuyers: The prices of some new developments are finally starting to come down.

At least two new projects have been tagged with prices below what they were expected to fetch just months ago.

Shelford Suites (left)
Sold in March for: $1,869 psf – $1,905 psf
Current price: $1,600 psf

Dakota Residences
Planned price: $1,000 psf – $1,100 psf
Current price: $950 psf — PHOTO: CITY DEVELOPMENTS

This may be because developers are faced with no sign of improvement in the cooling property market, consultants say. They may be choosing to move units by making their projects more affordable rather than continuing to wait out the gloomy sentiment.

One example is Dakota Residences in Dakota Crescent, a 99-year leasehold project by Ho Bee Investment and NTUC Choice Homes.

Sales of its 348 units will start next Saturday at an average of about $950 per sq ft (psf) – below the $1,000 psf to $1,100 psf that Ho Bee had previously targeted.

This means a 1,300 sq ft three-bedroom unit would cost about $1.24 million, down from as much as $1.43 million previously.

‘After the land cost and building cost, the break-even price is actually almost $900 psf,’ said a property agent, who asked not to be named.

The Straits Times understands that about 120 units will be released in the first phase, and prices may go up by at least 5 per cent for the remaining units, depending on demand.

For now, the two- and three-bedroom units that face away from Geylang River are said to cost $950 psf to $970 psf, while the bigger four-bedroom units facing the river will go for $1,000 psf.

City Developments’ (CDL) Shelford Suites in Shelford Road has also started previews for its 77 units at about $1,600 psf on average.

Market watchers said this was lower than expected, as two units were sold in March for $1,869 psf and $1,905 psf.

Shelford Suites’ launch had been delayed for months as CDL waited for sentiment to improve.

Property consultants say the act of lowering prices may be the beginning of the end of a months-long stand-off between homebuyers and home sellers that has led to a slump in transactions.

Would-be buyers have proved strongly resistant to current property prices, which have jumped 36 per cent in the last five quarters, while sellers have refused to reduce their prices until now.

But while lowering prices may jump-start the market, a one-off reduction may not be enough to sustain sales, said Mr Colin Tan, the head of research and consultancy at Chesterton International.

‘Developers will have to continue to reduce prices if they want to maintain sales, as many projects are still out of the reach of owner-occupiers,’ he said.

Meanwhile, developers are gearing up to launch more mid-tier projects for an increasingly price-sensitive market.

East Bay, a 40-unit condominium at Tay Lian Teck Road off Upper East Coast Road, will be on sale in the coming weeks. Prices average $1,100 psf, starting at about $600,000.

Also in the east, Ivory at Ceylon Road has sold about five of its 28 units. Prices start at $558,000 for a 640 sq ft two-bedroom apartment, averaging $800 psf.

At 353 Pasir Panjang Road, a 19-unit boutique project will be completed soon, though sales have just started. A handful of units have been sold so far, with one-bedroom apartments going for $550,000, and three-bedroom units priced at $1.4 million to $1.5 million.

ONE-TIME PRICE CUT NOT ENOUGH

‘Developers will have to continue to reduce prices if they want to maintain sales, as many projects are still out of the reach of owner-occupiers.’ – MR COLIN TAN, head of research and consultancy at Chesterton International, who thinks one-off price reductions may not be enough to sustain sales

Source : Straits Times – 12 Jun 2008

July 24, 2008

Singapore is safest place in Asia: Mercer rankings

Filed under: About Singapore,General,Singapore Economy — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:41 am

It takes 9th place for personal safety; 32nd for quality of living

IN THE global quest to woo foreign talent, a good 30 cities are placed above Singapore in terms of quality of living, going by consulting firm Mercer’s latest rankings.

But solely on ‘personal safety’, Singapore is in the top league with the best – all of which happen to be in Europe.

In a ranking dominated at the top by Swiss and German cities, Singapore is 32nd in Mercer’s 2008 global quality of living survey, up two places from 2007.

Canadian and Australian cities, as well as New Zealand’s Auckland, also rank strongly in the top 25.

The annual survey covering 215 cities uses New York City as the benchmark with an index score of 100.

This year, top-ranked Zurich scores 108, while at the other end, Baghdad gets just 13.5 points.

Singapore’s index score is 102.9, a small improvement from 102.5 last year.

In Asia (outside Australia and New Zealand), Singapore ranks highest, followed by the Japanese cities of Tokyo, Yokohama, Kobe and Osaka. And only two US cities – Honolulu and San Francisco – are above Singapore.

Mercer’s survey evaluates cities on 39 key indicators in all the major areas that affect the living environment – socio-political and cultural climate; the economy; health and sanitation; education standard; public services; recreation; availability of consumer goods; housing; and the natural environment.

It also produces a separate ranking on ‘personal safety’, covering issues such as internal stability; crime; effectiveness of law enforcement; and relationships with other countries.

Here, Luxembourg takes the top spot, followed by Bern, Geneva, Helsinki and Zurich, who all share second position.

Singapore – at No 9 overall, just ahead of Auckland and Wellington – is ’safest’ in Asia, followed by several cities in Japan and Hong Kong.

The Mercer quality of living survey serves as a guide to governments and major companies when sending staff on overseas assignments.

Said Mercer senior researcher Slagin Parakatil: ‘Establishing suitable allowances linked to local costs and quality of living is essential in encouraging expatriate employees with transferable skills to accept international assignments.’

Commenting on Singapore’s results, Wong Su-Yen, managing director of Mercer Asean, said that the island’s improved ranking this year reflects its strength relative to other cities in public services; transport; medical services; housing; and the socio-political environment.

‘On the other hand, Singapore could further improve its standing by enhancing its socio-cultural environment, recreation options and natural environment.

‘The just-released Leisure Plan by the Urban Redevelopment Authority aims to address precisely some of these issues,’ she added.

‘If Singapore continues to enhance its quality of living offerings, we believe the city will continue to rate favourably for expatriates looking to relocate to the region.’

Source : Business Times – 10 Jun 2008

Singapore leapfrogs Hong Kong as a financial centre

Filed under: About Singapore,General,Singapore Economy — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:39 am

Survey ranks it fourth worldwide but expert says it can’t stand still

SINGAPORE climbed to fourth place on MasterCard’s Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index this year, leapfrogging Chicago and Hong Kong along the way. It is now the number two city in Asia in this ranking of financial centres – with only Tokyo ahead of it.

‘The Centers of Commerce Index is a roadmap for corporations to identify and evaluate investment and market opportunities in a world where cities, instead of countries, have become the primary economic players,’ said Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, MasterCard Worldwide’s economic adviser in Asia-Pacific.

The index surveyed 75 cities using seven key indicators of varying weightages that evaluated a city’s legal and political framework, economic stability, ease of doing business, financial flow, business centre, knowledge creation and information flow, and livability.

Singapore’s ranking was driven by its strong showing in relation to the ease of doing business and its legal and political framework indicators, in which it ranked first and second overall, respectively.

Manu Bhaskaran, a member of the panel behind the index, attributed Singapore’s strength in these areas to prudent government leadership in facilitating commerce,

‘The government has made the right decisions in cutting taxes, bringing in talent and focusing on integrated resorts,’ said Mr Bhaskaran at the briefing on the index yesterday.

He is, however, quick to caution against complacency. ‘Singapore tends to do well in the ‘process areas’ which are related to bureaucracy. But other people can learn this formula and mimic it,’ he said.

Instead, Singapore would do well to shore up its competence in the knowledge creation and liveability areas, he said.

It is currently ranked 40th for liveability – an indicator measuring elements like personal freedom and quality of life. ‘To generate more knowledge creation, Singapore should keep adding more universities and encouraging foreign talent,’ said Mr Bhaskaran.

Singapore also has its work cut out if it wants to break into the top three, which is illustrated by the fact that the top three positions have been retained this year by London, New York and Tokyo.

‘London and New York possess critical mass, having amassed a concentration of analysts, investment banks and the support services that accompany them. Critical mass is something that we lack, especially in the financial flows area,’ said Mr Bhaskaran.

The key to overcoming this limitation is cross-border integration and higher levels of economic growth within the Asean region, he revealed. ‘Singapore has to be the capital city in the economic sense in Asean, in order for it to be in the top two,’ he said.

Source : Business Times – 10 Jun 2008

Singapore is easiest city in the world to do business

Filed under: About Singapore,General,Singapore Economy — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:37 am

It is also top in region for economic stability and legal/political framework: Survey

SINGAPORE has leapfrogged rival Hong Kong in a ranking of the most influential commercial centres around the world.

The Republic is now the second most influential centre in Asia, just behind Tokyo, according to the survey, which is said to be used by multinationals to help guide investment decisions.

Singapore sits in fourth spot globally in the MasterCard Worldwide Centres of Commerce Index, up two places from last year. Hong Kong fell from fifth to sixth.

Although the Republic trails London, New York and Tokyo, it beat them in terms of a key criterion used to compile the ranking – the ease of doing business.

In last year’s inaugural ranking, Singapore came in fourth in this area, which covers a range of factors, including quality of life, investor protection, health and safety, and corporate tax levels.

Mr Mark Ellwood, the managing director of recruitment firm Robert Walters Singapore, attributed the high score to how easy it is to set up a business and to hire foreign talent here.

Mrs Mildred Tan, the managing director of Ernst & Young Associates, said: ‘Singapore is very pro-business, and institutions gravitate towards environments that are open and welcoming.’

She called the ranking a ‘positive reinforcement’ for firms considering doing business in the Republic.

‘When it comes to relocation, they will look at various things, from tax incentives to telecommunications infrastructure. The study will be another indicator for them whether to start here, to remain here, or to grow here.’

Singapore was also top in the Asia-Pacific for two of the other six criteria used in the ranking: economic stability and the legal/political framework.

The ranking of 75 cities is drawn up by a panel of academics and other experts.

It serves as ‘a road map for corporations to identify and evaluate investment and market opportunities in a world where cities, instead of countries, have become the primary economic players’, said Dr Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, MasterCard Worldwide’s economic adviser.

He said Asia ‘is experiencing a renaissance in terms of economic growth and social development’.

Eight Asian cities feature in the top 25 this year, up from five last year. ‘The growth performance of China and India has shifted the economic centre of gravity towards Asia,’ said Dr Hedrick-Wong.

Mr Manu Bhaskaran, the head of economic research at the Centennial Group and one of the eight members of the Worldwide Centres of Commerce research panel, said that given time, Singapore could overtake Tokyo as the top Asian centre of commerce.

‘Tokyo has not opened up the way the US, Europe, Dubai and Singapore have,’ he said, adding that Singapore’s absolute score of 66.16 points was not far behind that of Tokyo (66.6).

The other four criteria used in the ranking are volume and connectivity of financial flow, reputation as a business centre, knowledge creation and information flow, and liveability.

One of Singapore’s biggest challenges appears to be its place in the bottom half of the 75 cities in terms of liveability.

While Vancouver in Canada emerged as the world’s most liveable city, Singapore ranked 40th – or fifth in the Asia-Pacific.

MasterCard said a relative lack of personal freedom dragged its score down.

As was the case last year, the top three places in the study went to London, New York and Tokyo, in that order.

First-timers in the top 25 include Shanghai and Amsterdam.

Mr Bhaskaran said the Chinese city could rise further, as it was ’sitting on top’ of what is probably the most dynamic economy for the next 20 to 30 years.

Strong showing

SINGAPORE’S sterling ranking is the result of its strong position in the Asia-Pacific.

Here’s how the Republic fared in the region based on the seven criteria used:

Legal/political framework: No. 1
Economic stability: No. 1
Ease of doing business: No. 1
Volume and connectivity of financial flow: No. 4
Reputation as a business centre: No. 2
Knowledge creation and information flow: No. 4
Liveability: No. 5

Top 10 cities

TOP IN REGION

Tokyo maintained its third spot in this year’s survey, making it the highest ranked city in the Asia-Pacific.

The MasterCard Worldwide Centres of Commerce Index ranked 75 cities according to their ability to connect markets and commerce on a global level.

At the top are:
1. London
2. New York
3. Tokyo
4. Singapore
5. Chicago
6. Hong Kong
7. Paris
8. Frankfurt
9. Seoul
10. Amsterdam

GOOD PROSPECTS

Singapore stands a good chance of overtaking Tokyo in the ranking, says Mr Bhaskaran.

Source : Straits Times – 10 Jun 2008

Singapore upgrades

Filed under: About Singapore,Community Voices,General — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:16 am

Does the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Draft Master Plan live up to its ambitious vision? What do you like most about the plan, and what would you change or add?

THE URA’s Draft Master Plan focuses boldly on decentralisation, bringing buzz to the outskirts. I am positive that with this plan in place, Singaporeans will be able to enjoy the convenience of living, working and playing right at their doorsteps. The result of this plan is the creation of mini-communities within the larger community, and this will foster stronger ties among residents and improve the quality of life. With Singaporeans living longer and retiring later, this plan solves the need for convenience in housing, leisure, work and travel options. I am excited to see Singapore’s next level of development in the decade ahead.

The Leisure Plan shows foresight in planning, as it complements the housing, industry and travel infrastructure. This will further enhance Singapore’s greenery and waterfronts, and ensure the city does not become a concrete jungle – all work and no play. Consideration could be placed on a recent trend where Singaporeans are selecting homes in established neighbourhoods with ample amenities such as hospitals, schools, shopping facilities and accessibility, rather than those in the developing outskirts. By encouraging the public to be in tune with the development of infrastructure, and allowing them to monitor the process and celebrate milestones in the progress, they will be assured that Singapore as a country – and not just select neighbourhoods – is the place where they can truly live, work and play.

Deborah Ho
CEO
DBS Asset Management Ltd

THE URA’s Draft Master Plan to transform Singapore into a network of sub-metropolitan areas and a ‘live, work and play’ haven is timely.

The four redevelopments, namely, Downtown Core Precinct, Jurong Lake District, Kallang Riverside and Paya Lebar Central, must not all be more of the same. I would like to suggest that each should have its own identity and character to offer the widest range of ‘live, work and play’ options for Singaporeans.

For example, the Downtown Core Precinct can be the top nightlife entertainment centre in Singapore, building on the two integrated resorts, the Singapore Flyer and SingTel Formula One. The buzz should be permitted to flourish 24/7, much like Las Vegas.

Jurong Lake District can be transformed into a premier site for theme parks capitalising on the current tourist attractions, which can all be linked by a monorail system to enhance the visitor experience and to take in the lake and reservoirs in the area. Adding a softer touch to the existing industrial estate will certainly give it a much-needed lift. Kallang Riverside can be promoted as a centre for sea sports and other leisure activities, given the proximity of the Sports Hub. Paya Lebar Central can be developed into a vibrant entrepreneurial campus or hub much like Silicon Valley, where budding entrepreneurs can show off their innovations and inventions throughout the year. This could be the place where investors and start-ups meet to seal deals.

I interpret the Draft Master Plan as the government’s recognition of the past, present and future contributions of Singaporeans. Singaporeans work hard and deserve to enjoy a higher quality of life. Why not, when we can now afford it. That said, we must also make sure that the needs of the less fortunate are not forgotten. Singaporeans must continue to work towards being a more gracious society, if we are to reap the full benefits of the Draft Master Plan. Going forward, we have the unparalleled opportunity to work hard and play hard, befitting our status as a First World nation.

Lim Soon Hock
Managing Director
Plan-B Icag Pte Ltd

I THINK the URA has drafted a novel plan with great foresight for a tiny island with no natural resources and limited space that is facing increasing competition for business and talent from the region.

I especially welcome the plan to build more new homes, which I feel is overdue, considering the rising rental costs and foreign population. Creating quality housing at affordable prices is key to helping Singapore stay competitive and continue to attract and retain talent.

But along with providing more affordable waterfront homes, to bring people closer to nature, I think the Master Plan should also encompass plans for an eco-oriented city – much like the Sino-Singapore eco-city project in Tianjin, China. Besides bringing people closer to nature, we should also remind people to treasure and protect our resources. Including such elements as energy-saving buildings, environmentally friendly water and power supply and intelligent waste management will be the icing on the cake, and will showcase Singapore as a true model city for sustainable development.

Hans-Dieter Bott
Managing Director
Siemens Pte Ltd

THE Master Plan is indeed an exciting and ambitious vision for our city. It will position Singapore as a global, economic and cosmopolitan city, without losing its Asian and tropical uniqueness. It provides for balanced urban living with nature, green and blue, facilities for ‘live, work and play’.

While the URA’s artist impressions and videos are captivating, my concern is how much of these will tie in with our economic growth and how much will remain a paper plan. While we need to have such a vision, it must also be rooted in sound economic foundations for it to be achievable. We are in a sense competing with global cities like London, Beijing, Dubai, New York and Tokyo, and a city too can falter in its vision.

My second point is that a Master Plan is like a tapestry which acknowledges past contributions yet allows future additions. And the future must include the role of the private sector. On this note, the government needs to have a good sense of whether developers, both local and foreign, will buy into this vision.

Thirdly, lofty ideals if pitched too high could seem costly to the man in the street. He is concerned about mundane issues like accessibility, transportation, facilities, spaces, choices and, of course, cost. The plan should include cheaper and larger spaces, either public or private. An example of the latter would be loft spaces in cheaper zones (think New York) so that creative, young people without much money can thrive.

Lastly, on a pragmatic note, and because our company is in the business of protecting buildings and infrastructure, we see a need to build robustness in the city against natural hazards and terrorism. It might sound strange talking about this in relation to the Master Plan, but increasingly there will be a need to embed security and protection, just as the Master Plan needs to touch base with economics.

Liu Chunlin
CEO
K&C Protective Technologies Pte Ltd

BEING a firm advocate of family values, what I like most about the Master Plan is the wide range of leisure activities available. I can imagine Singapore being a much more interesting and exciting place to live with a round island route that offers many possibilities. Such opportunities not only encourage healthy living but also family days-out to enjoy each other’s company. This will be another step closer to work-life balance.

The plan also gives Singaporeans less reason to complain that they have nothing to do besides watching movies or indulging in the nation’s favourite pastime, shopping.

I applaud the move to create more ‘Uniquely Singapore’ experiences with the slated developments of wetlands and attractions closer to nature. Singapore will no longer be known just as a bustling concrete jungle but also a place that offers scenic reprieve.

Furthermore, tourists can look forward to a kaleidoscope of Singapore’s attractions – both the popular tourist attractions and those off the beaten track.

With much more to see and do, visitors would extend their vacation in Singapore, thus boosting the country’s tourism industry. And with more vibrant nightlife on the horizon, Singapore would also be known for its energetic and cosmopolitan landscape.

However, my concern is that with commercialisation, some of the leisure activities would become expensive indulgences and tourist traps. It should be highlighted that we don’t always have to pay to have fun – and we shouldn’t.

Annie Yap
CEO
The GMP Group

THERE are an estimated 141,000 households in the surrounding residential areas as well as more than 14,000 businesses around the locality. However, as Paya Lebar Central increasingly becomes an important employment centre, the sizeable resident population in the public housing estates of Geylang, Aljunied/Paya Lebar, Marine Parade and Bedok would benefit by forming the labour base for this new commercial node.

Existing commercial buildings or high-tech industrial buildings in the vicinity of Paya Lebar Central could also witness a strengthening of value over time as the entire area becomes a recognised place for work, shopping and community activities.

Pauline Goh
Managing Director
CB Richard Ellis Singapore

SINGAPORE has limited land resources and the URA’s plan to adopt a winning formula of ‘live, work and play’ in Kallang and Paya Lebar is indeed a step in the right direction. Given today’s high inflation rate and the seemingly unending increases in petrol prices, the ability to reduce commuting and have your place of work and recreational facilities nearby are factors most Singaporeans welcome.

While it is great for someone to be able to live, work and play in one area; doing this from Monday to Friday, year in and year out, can become ‘claustrophobic’ after a while.

For the next step, perhaps the URA or other relevant authorities could work jointly with the private sector to look at plans to jointly invest in and develop mega types of recreational facilities, such as a mega theme park or even an indoor ski resort, to provide a quick weekend getaway in some of the islands lying south of Singapore – without the hassle of flying.

While Singapore provides a safe environment, conducive business climate and political stability that augur well to attract foreign talents, the URA’s provision of a wholesome plan to ‘live, work and play’ will enhance our competitiveness to draw talents to Singapore.

Norman Yeow
Managing Director
Sanford Rose Associates

AS A global citizen, I have lived and worked in major cities throughout Japan and other countries prior to my current posting in Singapore. If Singapore can realise the Draft Master Plan 2008, the country will truly become one of the world’s few cities that successfully integrate residential, commercial and social needs.

Any thriving city needs buzz (which results from human activity), yet many of the world’s major cities currently sacrifice living standards in some way to generate buzz. It goes to show that holistic urban planning is easier said than done.

The Draft Master Plan 2008 suggests that the government has already identified the all-important goal of harmoniously blending diverse residential, commercial and social needs. To realise this goal, Singapore must seek innovative ways to ease the growing pressure on public resources (such as transportation or telecommunications networks) due to increased human activity.

For example, the strain on transportation networks could be reduced if round-the-clock broadband Internet connectivity – increasingly prevalent nowadays – allows residents to interact online for work or play. High-speed, on-demand Internet connectivity is an example of what Fujitsu Asia calls ‘ubiquitous computing’, and facilitates human interaction via large inter-connected networks and end-user devices including computers and handheld gadgets.

In addition, telecommunication needs inevitably increase with human activity, so the national broadband network should be regularly upgraded to ensure minimal system downtime and sufficient headroom for future growth.

As a leading IT and communications solutions provider, Fujitsu Asia can contribute indirectly to Singapore’s efforts in realising the Draft Master Plan 2008, by deploying solutions for ubiquitous computing or building high-speed telecommunication networks.

Noboru Oi
Group CEO
Fujitsu Asia Pte Ltd

THE URA has already accomplished a very challenging feat, having successfully given the downtown area the much needed boost in the areas of business, hospitality and leisure. I am confident that the URA’s Draft Master Plan 2008 will work towards strengthening Singapore’s position as a distinct global business hub. The aim to help Singapore achieve a good balance of ‘live, work and play’ will also contribute to a better quality of life for both locals and foreigners living in Singapore.

One of the most attractive and significant aspects of the Master Plan is the objective of bringing jobs closer to home. Not only will this help all of us to achieve a better work-life balance, Singapore will also live up to its reputation as a city that boasts endless business opportunities.

In addition, residential areas that are further from the city also hold a lot of potential to be transformed into mini-hubs, with each focusing on a special business niche. Such initiatives, however, should be implemented without compromising the serenity and comfort that residents value in their neighbourhoods.

Charles Reed
CEO
DoCoMo interTouch

I THINK the URA’s latest Draft Master Plan, though ambitious, is workable if it is able to achieve a critical mass of residents, job opportunities and recreational facilities within each hub. A lot has to go into the final planning to ensure that there is the right mix of each element of ‘live, work and play’.

What’s interesting about this latest Master Plan is the aim to have distinctive features in each hub, for example, emphasising the lake element in the Jurong Lake District. This makes it very different from the monotonous satellite towns of the 1970s like Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio where one cannot really differentiate one town from another. By emphasising the unique features of each hub, they will appeal to different segments of the population.

Wee Piew
CEO
HG Metal Manufacturing Ltd

THERE is no doubt that the URA’s Draft Master Plan will deliver the Singapore government’s vision to raise the quality of living, working and playing in Singapore very significantly. The development of the island-wide network of parks and park connectors will provide Singaporeans with an excellent opportunity to better appreciate what nature has to offer, and hopefully make everyone more environmentally sensitive.

In view of Singapore’s ageing population, the needs of the elderly must not be overlooked in the plan. It is also important to ensure that the new facilities are affordable, pleasurable and accessible to the masses so that nobody is marginalised.

Darren Thomson
President & CEO
Manulife

Source : Business Times – 9 Jun 2008

No signs of a recession, says Tharman

Filed under: About Singapore,General — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:09 am

But the hike in fuel prices in Malaysia will cause discomfort here

SINGAPORE is not heading for a recession, said Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, although fuel price increases in Malaysia would lead to discomfort.

‘From all indications we have at this point, I don’t think we’re heading for a recession.

‘But there will be discomfort on the ground,’ he said, speaking to Channel NewsAsia at the Entrepreneur-in-You Carnival at Republic Polytechnic.

At the event, about 7,000 people turned up to pick up tips on starting their own business.

‘Unfortunately, the fuel price increase in Malaysia does mean that vegetable, poultry and some other prices will go up. We can’t avoid that,’ he said.

Malaysia’s decision to trim subsidies for petrol and diesel and raise pump prices has meant that overnight, there has been a 41 per cent increase in petrol prices, from 80 Singapore cents to $1.13 per litre, while diesel prices rose 63 per cent, from 66 cents to $1.08 per litre.

Prices of a range of goods are set to go up as the cost of trucking them in rises, and fresh food tops the list.

But practically everything imported from Malaysia, including building materials, will also cost more soon.

He added that it was fortunate that rice prices globally were going down.

‘But overall, we’re in a situation which isn’t temporary – this will be with us for a while.

‘Commodity prices are much higher than what they used to be,’ he said.

This was being tackled through government measures such as Growth Dividends, goods and services tax (GST) credits, as well community initiatives on the ground, he said.

Source : Straits Times – 9 Jun 2008

July 8, 2008

Singapore safe place to do business: study

Filed under: About Singapore,General,Singapore Economy — Propertymarketupdates @ 4:28 am

Republic ranked together with Japan, Germany & Australia

SINGAPORE is a very safe place to do business, according to findings from French credit insurance firm Coface’s Business Climate@ratings.

The study, released yesterday, provides two ratings for 150 countries – a rating on risks inherent in the business climate, and a more holistic rating that takes into account the business climate, economic and financial prospects and company payment behaviour.

Singapore’s ratings of A1 in both areas signify the lowest category of risk on a scale with seven levels in increasing order, numerically up to A4 and then alphabetically up to D.

This places Singapore in the top band, which includes Germany, Australia and Japan.

The purpose of the ratings is to assess the overall quality of a country’s business environment – whether financial information there is available and reliable, whether the institutional framework is favourable to inter-company transactions and whether the legal system provides fair and efficient creditor protection.

The business climate rating mainly comprises business data compiled by Coface on the quality of information available on companies and the legal protection given to creditors.

This rating is supplemented by an assessment of institutional framework quality, which reflects the quality of institutions whose strengths and weaknesses can affect companies.

The parameters considered include such standards as public service effectiveness (government, education, health, infrastructure), regulatory quality, rule of law and extent of corruption. They are based on data from external sources.

These are: a government effectiveness indicator maintained by the World Bank Institute, based on the quality of public services provided and civil service efficiency; the Human Development Index, created by the United Nations to rank the quality of life in countries; and an infrastructure quality index (energy, transport, telecommunications) published by the World Economic Forum.

Not all countries received the same business climate and overall ratings, owing to imbalances in levels of financial information, creditor protection and the institutional environment.

For 39 countries including China and India, or 26 per cent of the 150 countries, the business climate was rated lower than the country’s overall risk level.

For 17 countries including Turkey and Israel, or 11 per cent, the business climate was rated higher.

Source : Business Times – 5 Jun 2008

June 27, 2008

$17m widening of CTE to begin on Monday

Filed under: About Singapore,General,Regulators — Propertymarketupdates @ 3:33 am

1st phase to last till end-2009, but delays to traffic will be minimal

WORK will begin on Monday to widen the Central Expressway (CTE), but officials say the construction will cause minimal delays on Singapore’s busiest thoroughfare.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will add a fourth lane on both sides of a 1.5km stretch between Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 and Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3.

The work, which will cost $16.9 million, is scheduled to last till the end of next year. The LTA said for most of that time, the expressway’s six lanes will remain open.

However, it will close after 11pm on some nights for repaving and to remove an overhead pedestrian crossing.

This is the first phase of a plan to ease congestion on the CTE, which is plagued by traffic jams during morning and evening peak periods.

The Ministry of Transport hopes the work, together with the opening of the Circle Line, Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway and North-South Expressway, will ease congestion on the north-south stretch.

The LTA also plans to expand another 5.5km section of the CTE from the Pan-Island Expressway to Yio Chu Kang Road by 2011.

As part of the project, a new sheltered overhead bridge – replacing the old uncovered bridge – will be built to connect Housing Board blocks with the Serangoon Gardens private estate.

To keep the racket down, the LTA will use noise reduction blankets on its hoardings and put noise guards on machinery.

The authority will also use, for the first time, a more costly method of installing pipes running under the roads.

Unlike the usual ‘cut-and- cover’ method, where motorists have to be redirected to their lanes, the pipes are laid underground without the need to tear up lanes.

Source : Straits Times – 31 May 2008

Transforming Singapore

Filed under: About Singapore,General,Regulators — Propertymarketupdates @ 3:04 am

Regardless of the market sentiment, the three “L’s” – Location, Location, Location – will always remain fundamental to the property sector. As such, it pays to know where the best real estate locations are likely to be.

And with the Draft Master Plan 2008 having outlined new key growth areas, hot spots and hubs, there is no guesswork required.

Source : Business Times – 29 May 2008

Singapore Master Plan: New vision for Kallang Riverside

Filed under: About Singapore,General,Regulators — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:56 am

The area is set to evolve into the next prime area at the edge of the city, say NICHOLAS MAK and TEO JUNRONG

THE Kallang planning area, positioned along the picturesque Kallang River and within close proximity to the Central Business District (CBD), has enormous development potential. Made up of nine sub-zones, it covers a land area of about 920 hectares that includes 101 hectares of water body.


Taking sports to a new level: When the $1.2 billion Singapore Sports Hub is completed by 2011, it will add vibrancy to Kallang Riverside due to its close proximity to the area

Since the announcement of the 1998 Master Plan, planners have envisaged the Kallang area as an urban waterfront district. This vision includes it being a centre for sports, recreation and leisure with residential developments flanking the riverbanks. There were also plans to transform the Kallang planning area into a major commercial centre to capitalise on its proximity to the Central Area.

In particular, under the 1998 Master Plan, Kampong Bugis, a sub-zone of the Kallang planning area, was slated to be a transition between the Central Area and the sports and recreation areas at Kallang Basin.

High-density residential buildings along with recreational facilities will be orientated towards the river to take advantage of the waterfront view. Some of these plans have already materialised. Waterfront residential developments, such as Pebble Bay and Camelot, can now be found facing the Kallang Basin.

The latest Master Plan aims to build on the earlier vision for Kallang. The new planning sub-zone will be the Kallang Riverside, which refers to the areas on both sides of the Kallang River, bounded by Nicoll Highway, Kallang Road and Sims Way. With a total land area of 64 hectares available for development, Kallang Riverside is to be transformed into a new lifestyle district, offering waterfront homes with an exciting mix of retail and entertainment facilities.

In addition, the area will also be developed into a commercial hub outside the city centre, providing various business alternatives and employment opportunities. Kallang Riverside will embrace the nationwide vision to make Singapore a great city in which to live, work and play.

Work

As mentioned earlier, Kallang Riverside aims to become a major commercial hub outside the city centre. There will be over 200,000 square metres of new office space added to the area. Its proximity to the CBD will be an advantage, as it will provide an alternative location to the existing CBD. The resulting projected increase of 21,000 office workers in Kallang could provide the necessary pool of demand for the upcoming retail and entertainment outlets.

Live

Homes with waterfront views usually command a premium and the prices of some of these homes fall within the high-end price segment in Singapore. Distinctive waterfront homes within a lush park setting are planned to be developed on the western side of the Kallang River.

The proposed 4,000 new waterfront homes will have a range of heights to ensure that scenic views of the beachfront will not be obstructed. For instance, there will be varying residential plot ratios of 3.5 to 5.6 under the 2008 Master Plan for the area to the west of the Kallang River. Future developments can also adopt a resort-style design, to take advantage of the beaches and water edge location. These new homes could also be relatively more affordable and could be priced in the mass market and mid-tier segments.

In order to allow the water features and landscaping elements to seamlessly extend the lush park setting, developments here will be encouraged to go ‘fenceless’. This will be similar to one-north Residences, where such a fenceless environment was created to enable pedestrian connectivity and interaction among the community.

This will also pose challenges and opportunities for architects, as they need to create this seamless environment for the developments in Kallang Riverside without compromising on the security of the residents.

With the presence of the various live-work-play elements, together with its waterfront location and proximity to the CBD, these developments are likely to be attractive to homeowners and investors.

Kallang Riverside will also take advantage of its distinctive tropical character and surrounding water features by forming a substantial hotel cluster to cater to family and business travellers. Under the 1998 Master Plan, the area to the east of the Kallang River had been zoned for residential purposes. Under the 2008 Master Plan, the zoning has now been changed to hotel and white sites.

The hotel zoning will have plot ratios ranging from 2.1 to 3.5 while the white sites zoning will have plot ratios ranging from 1.5 to 4.9. There are plans for up to 3,000 hotel rooms available along the banks of the Kallang River.

Due to tourism initiatives such as the Formula One race, Youth Olympics and the integrated resorts, the number of visitors to Singapore is anticipated to rise over the medium term from the 10 million in 2007 to about 17 million by 2015. As a result, more hotels are needed to meet the rising demand. Tourists should find hotels along the Kallang Riverside an attractive choice, with their scenic views, proximity to the CBD as well as major tourist attractions.

Play

Kallang Riverside will go through a metamorphosis to become a new lifestyle hub, with a vibrant mix of retail, food and beverage outlets, and entertainment facilities. It is close to key attractions such as the Sports Hub and the Illuma entertainment centre.

Costing some $1.2 billion, the Singapore Sports Hub would be completed by 2011. The integrated complex includes a 55,000-seat capacity stadium with a retractable roof, a 6,000 capacity aquatic centre, a multi-purpose arena and over 41,000 square metres of commercial space. It will be Singapore’s premier land and sea sports, entertainment and lifestyle hub, hosting major international events and playing a critical role in taking sports in Singapore to a new level. Due to its close proximity, the Sports Hub is likely to add vibrancy to Kallang Riverside.

Illuma, located in the Bras Basah-Bugis district, is slated to be Singapore’s first urban entertainment centre. Spanning a site area of 8,921 sq m, the complex aims to provide an exciting mix of arts and entertainment facilities all in one location, drawing both locals and tourists alike.

Within the development, public spaces will be provided to serve as venues for street performances, bazaars and open-air concerts. Likewise, this upcoming project would be something that the residents in Kallang can look forward to.

With its sandy beaches, waterfront views, and close proximity to the city, Kallang Riverside is indeed situated in a unique spot in Singapore. As the Master Plan gradually materialises, Kallang Riverside will evolve into the next prime area at the edge of the city. The growing population in the area would provide the critical mass to support these upcoming residential and commercial developments. In time to come, Kallang Riverside might become one of the places in which residents can truly live, work and play.

The writers are with Knight Frank’s Research & Consultancy Department

Source : Business Times – 29 May 2008

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