Friday 15 June 2012

Sites for 14,185 homes up for sale

Exec condos feature strongly in residential plots to be released
By Esther Teo, The Straits Times, 14 Jun 2012

THE Government is moving to keep up with the red-hot demand for property by rolling out 39 sale sites in the second half of the year that could yield 14,185 homes.

Several of the plots are in suburban areas like Punggol, Sengkang and Jurong, where demand, especially for executive condominiums, remains high.

The release of land is in line with the previous six months' supply. For the first half of this year, supply that could accommodate 14,140 units was released, while in the second half of last year, it was 14,195.

The National Development Ministry said yesterday that despite the 86,000 private homes in the pipeline - of which 38,000 remain unsold - demand for private housing remains strong.

The new land release comprises a mix of residential, commercial, hotel and mixed-use sites, with 15 plots on the confirmed list and 24 on the reserve list.

Confirmed list sites go on sale regardless of interest, while those on the reserve list are put up for tender only if developers make an acceptable initial offer.

Sales figures suggest developers will be eager for more land.

An average of 2,290 homes were sold in each of the first four months of the year, well ahead of the monthly average of 1,300 units from 2008 to last year.

However, prices remained mostly flat, with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) price index inching down 0.1 per cent in the first quarter of this year.

Many of the newly released residential sites are in the suburbs, with executive condo plots making up half of all confirmed list residential sites.

Experts say this indicates the Government's intent to keep catering to the so-called 'sandwich class' - likely first-time home buyers and HDB upgraders with a monthly household income of $10,000 to $12,000.

They say demand for land is also expected to remain healthy, but noted that areas like Pasir Ris, Punggol and Sengkang have hosted many new launches, so interest might be more subdued.

Mr Png Poh Soon, head of research at Knight Frank, said executive condos featured strongly in the latest sales programme as they are priced attractively and have seen strong interest from developers and home buyers.

But some experts have raised concerns of an oversupply once homes built on sites released since the Government Land Sales programme was ramped up in the second half of 2010 hit the market.

The ministry yesterday also said that a further 80,280 sq m of commercial space will be made available on the confirmed list. This includes a site in Jurong as part of plans to develop commercial hubs outside the city.

Six hotel sites are up for grabs on the reserve list, potentially adding to the 12,000 rooms already in the pipeline.

Six more EC plots confirmed for year
By Amanda Tan, The Straits Times, 14 Jun 2012

FIRST-TIME home buyers and aspiring upgraders will have a wider range of executive condominium (EC) units to choose from, going by the Government's latest land sales programme.

Six plots in heartland areas such as Pasir Ris, Punggol and Sembawang are on the confirmed list for the second half of the year.

These sites could yield a total of 3,100 units, augmenting the 2,900 from five EC plots placed on the confirmed list in this half of the year.

ECs have become increasingly popular, especially after the household income ceiling for eligibility was raised last year from $10,000 to $12,000.

There were 1,557 new EC units sold in the three months to March 31, up from 608 in the same period a year ago.

Several of the new sites rolled out yesterday will have to jostle with other EC-slated sites already released.

Take the new site in Pasir Ris. Any project built on it will have to compete with the recently launched Watercolours EC.

The Punggol Way EC site will add to others in the pipeline, such as the one at Punggol Central released in the first half of this year.

ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim said the best of the six new plots is the one at the corner of Pasir Ris Drive 3 and Pasir Ris Rise, as it is near the sea and lifestyle amenities.

He added: 'I don't expect the bids to be aggressive, given the number of developments under construction in the area...

'It is possible that developers will price the units competitively, but it depends on market conditions.'

Mr Lee Sze Teck, senior manager of research and consultancy at Dennis Wee Realty, noting that some of the sites are in Punggol and Sengkang, said: 'Some of the flats in these towns could be reaching the minimum occupation period of five years, and the household income of these families could have breached $10,000.

'To provide an avenue to satisfy the upgrading aspirations of these households, the Government is pushing out sites for private residential development, including ECs.'

He added that the Commonwealth Avenue plot was the choicest of the other plots slated for private projects as it is opposite the Queenstown MRT station and relatively close to town.

Mr Lee said that another site slated for commercial and residential use - in Yishun Ring Road - is also attractive 'as it plugs a gap in the neighbourhood', which has a need for amenities.

The nearest mall, Northpoint Shopping Centre, is some distance away.

Home buyer Ron Gunawardana, 32, said he would be interested in EC sites around Sembawang.

The Singaporean shipping supervisor recently considered upgrading to the newly launched One Canberra EC but wants to 'look at a few more choices before committing'.

He added: 'It's not really important whether the site is located in that neighbourhood. I'm more interested in the design of the units and facilities in the condo.'

Big boost for suburban commercial centres

Release of land sites part of govt push to develop alternative hubs
By Esther Teo, The Straits Times, 14 Jun 2012

NEW commercial land sites are to be released for sale to help boost commercial centres taking shape outside the city centre.

The announcement yesterday is part of a strong push by the Government to develop these centres.

The Ministry of National Development (MND) released a slew of land parcels for sale in key suburban areas such as Jurong and Paya Lebar.

For instance, a 1.2ha commercial site in Venture Avenue in the Jurong Gateway area will be available in December as part of the government land sale programme for July to December.

The MND said that this 'will continue the momentum to develop the area into a vibrant commercial hub... and provide the opportunity for the development of more affordable office space that can cater to users who do not need a central business district location'.

Another site in Jurong Town Hall Road, for a hotel with zn estimated 510 rooms, is also being offered on the reserve list.

Confirmed list sites go on sale regardless of interest, zhile those on the reserve list are put up for tender only if developers make an acceptable initial offer.

Other suburban areas earmarked for future growth are also set to see their skylines change, with new sites being offered.

A 2.07ha commercial site in the Paya Lebar area, for instance, is up for sale on the reserve list.

The site, at the junction of Tanjong Katong Road and Sims Avenue, can yield an estimated 86,940 sq m of commercial space, although the developer will also have the option of building some homes on the plot.

Paya Lebar Central is one of the three commercial hubs selected to provide alternative locations for businesses and to bring jobs closer to homes as part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) decentralisation strategy.

The other two are Jurong Lake District and Kallang Riverside.

But residents of Punggol can also look forward to enjoying a new recreational area, with a commercial site at Punggol Point 'envisioned to be developed into a rustic seaside dining destination'.

It will be put up for sale in December as part of the URA's plans to transform the area into an attractive waterfront promenade for sports and recreation.

The MND also said in a statement that, apart from the government land sale, various other agencies are planning to introduce an extra 86,000 sq m of commercial space.

The supply will come partly from various vacant state properties managed by the Singapore Land Authority as well as new commercial space in parks, Housing Board estates, community centres and MRT stations.

One example is the former CID headquarters at Eu Tong Sen Street, which will be tendered out for commercial uses.

Experts say these sites are likely to draw interest as developers are keen to ride on the Government's strategic development plans.

HSR Property Group special adviser Donald Han said that the Government typically releases residential sites, then office sites and possibly hotel sites as towns mature and develop.

'Developers tag on these strategic areas as they know that the Government will pump in investments and build up the infrastructure there.

'There is also the first mover advantage which plays an important part in helping the developer control the entire area as it progresses,' he added.

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