New waterfront development in Penang aims to be iconic

Already one of the most popular states in Malaysia for foreign property ownership, Penang will now have a new mixed-use waterfront development named The Light City.

TheLIghtCityPenangPhoto credit: Perennial Real Estate Holdings

A joint venture between Perennial Real Estate Holdings and IJM Corportation, both companies have a 50% stake each in the IJM Perennial Development which will develop the landmark project that stands along the eastern coast of Penang in the Gelugor suburbs, near the Penang Bridge.

The 13.25 hectare project is targeted for a 2021 completion and will have a 4.1 million sq ft gross floor area on which sits the largest convention centre in Penang – The Penang Waterfront Convention Centre, 2 luxury hotels, an office tower, a retail mall and 2 residential developments – The Mezzo and The Essence. The developers hope to elevate Penang’s status as a destination for international conventions, events, exhibitions and retail shopping, and helping to create job opportunities for the state’s residents, to attract tourists and investors.

THeLIghtCityPenang3Photo credit: Perennial Real Estate Holdings

The Light City will be situated just a short drive from the Penang International Airport, which makes it accessible for visitors coming for future events and exhibitions at the convention centre. The 27,000 sq ft Penang Waterfront Convention Centre will contain a 76,000 sq ft multi-purpose hall, grand ballroom that seats 800 and pre-function areas with sea views.

 

Good class bungalows apple of high-net-worth buyers’ eyes

Land is rare in Singapore, hence the value of freehold properties. And if you own the land on which the property stands, the value of your asset could be even higher. And the rarities of rarities, sizeable landed properties oftentimes in exclusive enclaves surround by greenery and in prime locations, are the few and far in between Good Class Bungalows (GCBs).

BinjaiParkGCB1These highly sought-after and equally pricey landed properties are often considered long-term investments, especially by high-net-worth individuals or even exclusive funds. In the whole of Singapore, there are only 2,500 of these GCBs which are of at least 1,400 sq m (or the estimated size of a quarter of a football field) and 2-storeys tall. In addition to the size, the liveable “roofed area” can only take up 35 per cent of the entire plot of land, ensuring a majority of open space.

Out of these 2,500 Good Class Bungalows left in Singapore, 65 have been gazetted for conservation. Most of these are situated in areas where Singapore’s first plantations were located, including Bukit Tunggal, Caldecott Hill and Cluny Hill. Prices of GCBs vary from the expensive to the well, very expensive. In less centralised districts such as Caldecott and Binjai Park, these properties tend to be priced slightly lower than those in prime districts such as Nassim Hill and the surrounding Tanglin area such as Bishopsgate and Chatsworth. It is not uncommon to see prices of $20 million and up for these rare cream of the crop properties. And with the property sector feeling more upbeat this year, the second half may see more Good Class Bungalows transactions taking place.

 

 

Changes in the public housing landscape?

The ratio of home owners living in private homes versus HDB flats have been rising. The proportion of HDB flats in Singapore’s total housing stock is also smaller now compared to 10 years ago despite more public housing being made available with the government’s moves in the last few years to ramp up supply of new flats.

HDB flats STB photoPhoto credit: Singapore Tourism Board

Last year, with just slightly more than 1 million HDB units, the percentage of public housing stock stood at 73 per cent. In 2006, with 880,000 units, the proportion was 78 per cent. Respectively, the number of private condominium units and landed homes was 372,0000 and 243,000 with the percentage growing from 22 to 27 per cent within a decade.

Does this signify Singapore’s rising living standards and that more are now able to afford private housing? How has the functionality and affordability of public housing changed over the years? Recent government reports indicates that the percentage of BTO flat buyers who defer on their purchase after they have been invited to collect their keys is now less than 2 per cent. This could mean that more are now taking better stock of their finances and are able to make sustained payments for their new flats despite rising prices. The resale market could also be stabilising as more are finding it easier to sell off their existing flats within a reasonable grace period.

Bidadari HDB flats 2Photo credit: Housing Board (HDB)

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has however reminded buyers to take into account market fluctuations when computing the financing of their new home with proceeds from sales of their existing flat. In provisional cases where buyers are unable to find buyers for or let go of their existing HDB Flat, the government does offer time extensions and exercise some flexibility for example waiving the required forfeiture payment.

Success of collective sales continues

2017 continues to be a good year for the collective sales market with Shunfu Ville given the go-ahead from the Court of Appeal last week and the sale of One Tree Hill Gardens site for $65 million this year.

OneTreeHillGardensThe Lum Chang Group has purchased the latter freehold landed residential development site near Orchard Road at $1,644 psf. Its proximity to Orchard Road makes it a prime site that is rare also because of its freehold status. It is of sizeable land ratio and developers have expressed considerable interest. The site was initially put up for sale at $72.8 million. Despite the $7.2 million shortfall, individual owners of the 6 maisonettes and 7 apartments will still receive $4.3 to $9.1 million depending on the size of their units.

Under a 2014 masterplan, the freehold site is zoned for 2-storey semi-detached residential use within a 39,063 sq ft land area. What it could potentially yield are 8 semi-detached houses, 5 bungalows or 10 semi-detached homes and 3 bungalows. With such landed properties near Orchard Road a scarcity, the freehold homes will no doubt receive much interest from investors and high net-worth buyers.

venturaheightsWhile the market is still tender from the previous years of slow growth, developers are beginning to replenish land stock and collective sales may be their means to the ends as the government has recently cut back on the release of land plots. Though price-sensitivity continues to rule developers’ bids, the collective sale market will be active this year especially with more home owners enquiring about en bloc sales and the sale of Eunosville and Rio Casa last month.

Land a landed property despite softer market?

Despite the softer real estate market, landed properties remain rare and in demand, particularly in land-scarce Singapore. Would this then be a good time to invest in one in preparation of a market recovery? How will the value of landed properties hold up in tough times?TanahMerahGreenHOUSEIn terms of availability, as of Q4 of 2016, only 1,352 new landed residential properties will be built by 2021. Sales volume for landed homes have also risen by 0.8 per cent in the last quarter of 2016. That said, the landed property market is recovering more quickly than expected. And perhaps despite sentiments of a flailing sector, sales figures have shown that the number of homes sold last year was close to that in 2013. The number of private homes sold overall have shown a 30 per cent dip from 2013.

The Total Debt Servicing Ratio framework implemented in 2013 has had some impact on the market, overall with landed residential property price index falling 14.1 per cent, likely due to the high stamp duties and price quantum. The demand for freehold landed properties have remained strong with prices of such properties in prime districts falling only 6.6 per cent. Most of the price decline came from leasehold terraces in non-prime districts and in the secondary market.

Thomson Grand condo project along Upper Thomson Road.

Freehold landed homes in or near the Central Region will continue to be popular amongst buyers and investors this year due to their accessibility, scarcity and potentially higher capital returns. Property analysts do however caution buyers to think beyond location and accessibility. Other factors such as growth prospects of the area, development potential in the surrounding township and rebuilding and construction costs should also be taken into serious consideration before closing the deal.

Luxury market makes for a suitable investment playground

Recent news of veteran banker and one of Singapore’s richest men, Wee Cho Yaw’s latest property purchase of 45-units at the luxury property, The Nassim for $411.6 million, may have reignited interest from potential buyers of high-end luxury apartment units.

Seascape at Sentosa Cove.

Seascape at Sentosa Cove.

Although property prices have fallen last year, the rate of decline has slowed and the luxury market has fared considerably better than the other property segment. Prices of high-end properties in prime districts, particularly in the Central Business District, Orchard road and Tanglin areas, have fallen 1.2 per cent last year. But the fall is still lesser than the 2.8 and 3.4 per cent in the city fringe and suburbs respectively. This segment also clocked more transactions last year, an increase of 48.7 per cent from 2015. Home sales in the city fringe and suburbs rose by 27.2 and 3.7 per cent.

Meyer Road Bunaglow2Property analysts are confident that the luxury market will find its footing more firmly this year as the supply of high-end properties will increase in the next few years. Though rents have fallen, those who have the holding power will come out tops in the long run, when the property cooling measures are relaxed. Most sellers put a 15 to 20 per cent premium on the value of freehold properties. Property auctions and en bloc sales could be activities to watch this year, especially for those with cash to spare and the financial endurance to last through at least the next few years.

 

Consumer confidence in property market improving

Though gradual, the property market seems to be coming out of a long hibernation and there are some bright sparks to make 2017 a warm one.

VIIOThe supply and inventory stock is gradually diminishing, by 8.4 per cent at the end of last year, aided by the restriction in land supply by the government last year, the key word being gradual. Fortunately, the decline in home and rental prices have also been gradual, with no sudden collapse. Last year’s rate of decline of overall private home prices was at a 3-year low, at 3.1 per cent. The 2 years before saw a 3.7 and 4 per cent decline, counting backwards.

QuinterraBy now, consumers and investors are used to the price decline, which has been a regular occurrence since 2013 when the property cooling measures began to kick in. In the current market, any news of slower price declines will be good news, and of stabilisation, even better news. Private home prices have finally landed on a level where an increasing number of buyers find affordable and investment-worthy, which explains the boost in new home sales from 7,440 in 2015 to 7,972 last year.

Properties in the core-central region fared the best in the second half of 2016, while non-landed homes in the city fringe and suburbs registered 2 and 0.6 per cent drops respectively. Landed properties fared unexpectedly well with a 0.8 per cent price increase in Q4. Property analysts are expecting property prices to bottom out this year, which could the year when the property market bottoms out. The authorities do not yet seem to show any signs of easing the property cooling measures, at least not in the first half of the year.

Freehold site to yield potential landed homes in Orchard road

The Orchard road belt has not seen landed homes in its midst, or at least new ones, for quite sometime now. They are few and far in between and usually cost more than an arm and a leg. But a freehold residential site near Orchard road worth $72.8 million might potentially yield landed homes.

OneTreeHillGardensThe One Tree Hill Gardens site measures at 39,063 sq ft and currently consist of 6 maisonettes and 7 apartment blocks or $1, 864 psf in asking price. The units here are of considerable sizes, ranging from 1,916 to 4,682 sq ft. Should the development succeed at a collective sale, each home owner could receive anything between $4 to $11 million. What the site could potentially yield are 13 detached and semi-detached houses. Considering the prime district, the rarity of landed homes across the board and more so in the centre of town, and the lack of sizeable residential sites readily available for redevelopment, marketing agent Knight Frank is confident of the interest the site will garner. Recent sales of sites in Grange Road, Cuscaden Walk and Hullet Road have all drew considerable bids of $190.5 million in total.

The area surrounding the One Tree Hill Gardens site is in itself an exclusive enclave of high-end apartments and some landed homes. Add on its future proximity to the upcoming Orchard Boulevard MRT station along the Thomson-East Coast Line and up goes its value.