Further trim on land sale of private housing land expected

Property consultants expect the government to continue scaling back the supply of private housing land on the confirmed list for the first half of next year, given weak housing sales and the ongoing ramp-up in completions that is pushing up vacancies.

Expectations are also running high that the Ministry of National Development (MND) will release at least one office site through the confirmed list in the upcoming Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme for H1 2015, to ensure there is sufficient supply of office space post-2018.

However, while some say such a site is likely to be in the suburbs in line with the strategic planning intent of developing regional commercial centres outside the city such as in Paya Lebar, Jurong East and Woodlands, others think a CBD office site would be a better choice.

Most property consultants said the authorities are likely to continue keeping away from releasing hotel land – given weak visitor arrival numbers, as well as to avoid aggravating the ongoing labour shortage.

Some analysts also used the labour crunch argument, along with traffic congestion woes, to support their view that the government will ease up on land specifically for shopping centre development. Moreover, there is stiff competition from e-retailing and vacancy rates for retail space are increasing.

One analyst expects to see more mixed-use development sites adjoining or near MRT stations and transport hubs to optimise land use, or “white sites” on which a range of uses are permitted. This would allow developers to conceptualise the appropriate use for the site according to their reading of the various segments of the Singapore property market.

As for private housing land, a market watcher said that the period of supplying sufficient land to meet the pent-up demand arising from the large population growth between 2007 and 2009 is over. Now the state is likely to be looking at maintaining sufficient new supply to meet the long-term housing need, i.e. from new household formation.

For the private residential market, the general undersupply situation has been resolved and thus the GLS Programme may reflect a more sedentary pace in line with demographic trends.

MND has trimmed the supply of land for private homes (including executive condominiums) on the confirmed list of its half-yearly GLS Programme from about 8,100 units for each of the H2 2010, H1 and H2 2011 lists to around 7,000 units for each of the H1 and H2 2012, and H1 2013 programmes before clipping the quantum further to around 6,000 units for H2 2013, 4,630 units in the first half of this year and 3,915 units in the current H2 slate.

Property consultants’ projections for the H1 2015 confirmed list supply range from 1,900 units to around 3,700 units.

The government launches sites on the confirmed list according to schedule, regardless of demand.

On the reserve list – where sites are launched only upon successful application by a developer – land for around 6,000-7,000 private homes, including executive condominiums (ECs), is likely to be released, according to market watchers who spoke to BT.

This would be close to the 6,305-unit supply in the H2 2014 reserve list which acts as a buffer in case there is a pick-up in demand.

Consultants expect new private housing (including EC) sites to be unveiled in growth areas such as Jurong Lake District, Woodlands and Punggol (the last two are part of the vision for the North Coast Innovation Corridor), Sengkang and possibly the Seletar Farmway area.

One market watcher said that we could also see the first site from the Bidadari area being added to the reserve list.

Pprivate housing sites in older estates where there is sufficient infrastructure – such as Queenstown, Bedok, Clementi, Hougang and Bukit Batok – may also surface on the next-half GLS slate. This would help regenerate these areas and avoid urban decline.

For ECs (a public-private housing hybrid), many suburban areas – Punggol, Sengkang, Pasir Ris, Woodlands, Yishun, Sembawang and Choa Chu Kang – already have EC projects and have soaked up substantial demand for this housing form.

Another market watcher said that there is potential to release more EC sites in Jurong since the area is fast rejuvenating, and given the near sell-out of Lake Life at its recent launch.

Market watchers expect a supply of only 500 EC units in the confirmed list for H1 2015, one-third of the 1,520 EC units supply in the same list for H2 2014.

The EC land supply on the confirmed list could be trimmed 30-35 per cent to around 1,000 units, given the increasing vacancy rate seen in newly completed EC projects in recent months, among other factors.

For retail space, despite flat retail sales and labour constraints ranking high in the litany of worries for tenants, there is still room for suburban malls.

With rents still being high for retail and food & beverage operators at most well-located Orchard Road and suburban malls, the current dissatisfaction by these operators in the public sphere might prompt the government to inject fresh retail supply as part of the mix for commercial sites in order to ease occupational costs for retail start-ups and expansions.

For office supply, one analyst tipped Buona Vista as a likely location for a site on the confirmed list, given the success of Ho Bee’s The Metropolis office development in attracting multinational corporations to the area.

Another analyst suggested Woodlands; considering that the planners have focused a substantial portion of the regenerative effort around Jurong of late, the missing piece in the puzzle is Woodlands.

However, some industry players think it may take some time before Woodlands takes off as an office location.

Currently there are two sites for office development on the reserve list – a plot along Marina View (behind the V on Shenton project) and a land parcel on Beach Road (that includes the former police station). The latter was made available for application just last week and is hence likely to remain on the reserve list for H1 2015.

However, there is a fairly strong chance that the Marina View plot could be moved to the confirmed list to ensure that there will be a continuous supply of prime office space in the CBD that will be made available beyond 2018.

The office components of the two big M+S projects – Marina One and Duo – are slated for completion in 2017.

Another analyst thinks that the Marina View site is likely to remain on the reserve list as the quantum is large. A lack of interest if it were to be put on the confirmed list may erode confidence.

This year, MND has not released any land specifically for hotel development. There could be room for one to two mid-sized hotel plots.

There may be a case for the authorities to release land selectively for three to four-star hotels to align with changing demand of business and leisure travellers.

A Stunning Executive Condominium at Punggol Drive

A stunning new executive condominium, The Terrace rises over the Punggol Waterway, right at the corner of Punggol Drive and and Edgedale Plains in District 19. Just a skip away from Kadaloor LRT Station, and three stops (five minutes) away from the Punggol MRT Station, a 13,564-square meter plot will soon be transformed into a welcoming residential address.

The Terrace is a 99-year leasehold by Peak Square, presenting a collection of homes for growing families. The 17-storey complex will have 825 residential units, with three to five bedrooms each. Windows open onto Sengkang West Way or Sengkang Avenue, with unobstructed views for units from the sixth floor onwards.

Your new home at The Terrace will be a chic, ultra-modern dwelling, gracefully finished in granite and marble. The spaces will also be affixed with eminent international brands such as Daikin, Mitsubishi, and Bosch.

The development will feature complete leisure facilities for you and your loved ones to enjoy. Cool off at the 50-meter free-form pool, or just lounge at the a pool deck, Have some fun with the kids at the family pool and the wading pool, or just have some quality me-time at the hot tub or the hydro spa. Live a balanced life by paying attention to your health; spend some time at the indoor gym, the fitness alcove, or the tennis court. Make sure to also take advantage of the other amenities such as the clubhouse, the function rooms, the barbecue area, the fountain, the garden trail, and the children’s playground.

The tentative date for TOP is November 30, 2017, while full completion is targeted sometime mid-2018. The development is intended to be launched by October of this year.

The verdant, picturesque township of Punggol has managed to maintain much of its quaint, countryside character through the years. The Terrace is right in the middle of the dramatic improvements currently going on in Punggol, as the region is being transformed into an exuberant waterfront town.

Residents will certainly benefit from all the upcoming developments, such as commercial centers that will provide more options, and government projects that will beautify the landscape. You can certainly look forward to improved transportation, new community facilities, more recreational and entertainment centers, and an explosion of work opportunities.

Just nearby is Punggol Waterway Park, a lush,12.25-hectare, multipurpose area on Sentul Crescent. Suitably distanced from the hubbub of the metropolis , it’s a place where you can commune with nature and be transported to the rural charm of Old Punggol. The grounds also offer activity areas for children and adults, including a water park, exercise corners, gardens, picnic spots, and a heritage zone.

The new waterway is proposed to stretch a length of 4.2 km, running through the heart of the town and the Punggol Promenade. It will beautifully connect the Sungei Punggol and Sungei Serangoon Reservoirs.

With the goal of promoting “Green Living By the Waters”, the project will include an array of new communal facilities and activity centers. This will open up the community to enjoy the outdoors and appreciate the environment, enriching everyone’s way of life.
Waterway Point Mega Mall

One of the best things about living at The Terrace is its proximity to Waterway Point, Punggol’s upcoming waterfront shopping complex. It’s situated right next to the Punggol MRT Sation. A project of top-tier property developers Far-East Organization and Sekisui House, Waterway point will be the central shopping and leisure center for Punggol New Town. This supermall is part and parcel of the enhancements to the new and improved waterside township, and will be open for your enjoyment by next year.
Other Nearby Leisure Hubs

Shopping, dining, and recreation are richly offered by nearby shopping centers like Compass Point, Punggol Plaza, and Rivervale Mall. Don’t forget the upcoming developments like Seletar Mall

The site is also near Tampines Eco Green, Sengkang Sports and Recreation Centre, and Sengkang Riverside Park. Seletar Country Club, Marina Country Club, and Singapore Orchid Country Club are also within the vicinity. The upcoming Safra Club will be ready as soon as next year, featuring a host of play and entertainment amenities for children and adults alike.
Accessibility and Connectivity

The area is accessible via the Tampines Expressway and the Kallang Lebar Expressway. You can drive to the CBD , Marina Bay or Orchard Road in under 30 minutes.

If you prefer public transportation, you can take the Punggol LRT Line East Loop. You can also catch a ride at the Punggol Bus Terminal or the Sengkang Bus Interchange.

Capitaland Singapore Enbloc of Marine Point

CapitaLand has said it will acquire enbloc property Marine Point for S$100.68 million.

The latest acquisition brings CapitaLand’s pipeline of homes in Singapore to 2,600 units altogether.

Marine Point, located in the Marine Parade neighbourhood, will be acquired at S$1,056 per square foot per plot ratio. This is inclusive of a development charge of S$12.8 million, said CapitaLand in a statement.

CapitaLand plans to redevelop Marine Point into a distinctive condominium with 150 units, comprising one-bedroom plus study and two-bedroom apartments.

Marine Point sits on a 4,755 square metre (51,185 square feet) freehold site with a maximum gross floor area of 9,986 square metres (107,488 square feet).

Currently, there are 32 units in the existing development.

The Marine Point transaction is expected to take place in third quarter of this year, subject to approval by the Strata Titles Board.

CapitaLand said it will maximise the height of the new development to about 19 storeys.

Wong Heang Fine, chief executive officer of CapitaLand Residential Singapore, said: “This will give the majority of the apartments a good view of the surrounding skyline and the sea. We plan to have the new development ready for launch in the first half of 2012.

He expects strong response from young families and professionals who have grown up in the area.

The Marine Point site is situated along Marine Parade Road, opposite nearby amenities in the Marine Parade Town Centre and Parkway Parade shopping mall.

A range of retail, F&B and entertainment facilities, as well as the popular East Coast Park, are located just minutes away.

The site is near well-known schools such as Tao Nan School, CHIJ (Katong) Primary, Tanjong Katong Girls’ School, Ngee Ann Primary School, Victoria School and Victoria Junior College.

It is also easily accessible by major expressways such as East Coast Parkway as well as numerous bus services.

Updated: It is understood the launch of the said condominium at the land parcel to be named as Marine Blue.

Source: Channel NewsAsia – 27 Jan 2011

Freehold St Patrick’s Gardens goes en bloc for $172m in 2011

ST PATRICK’S Gardens estate off East Coast Road has been sold for $172 million – the second-biggest collective sale in year 2011 but still below what the owners had initially counted on.

The price UOL Group paid for the freehold condominium on site works out to $812 per sq ft (psf) per plot ratio (ppr), inclusive of a 10 per cent balcony allocation.

When it was launched for sale in June, the block had an indicative price of $188 million, or $888 psf ppr, including the additional balcony space.

It failed to get a buyer and owners relaunched the 98-unit development in October without an indicative price.

The Straits Times understands that the $172 million sale price was slightly below the reserve price and that marketing agent Colliers International had to collect the 80 per cent support for the sale again.

The owners of the flats, whose sizes range from 89 sq m to 146 sq m, are expected to receive between $1.53 million and $2.06 million in gross proceeds.

The 137,561 sq ft site has an allowable gross plot ratio of 1.4 and can be redeveloped to five storeys accommodating 176 units of 1,200 sq ft each, Colliers had earlier said.

Ms Tang Wei Leng, Colliers’ executive director for investment services, also said the project does not fall under recently announced rules by the Finance Ministry that require developers to complete and sell all the units in a residential development within five years or pay an additional stamp duty of 10 per cent.

Land bought on or before Dec 7 with the option exercised on or before Dec 28 are not subject to these rules. The option to purchase St Patrick’s Gardens was issued before Dec 7 and already exercised, Ms Tang noted.

UOL said the deal will be financed by internal resources and bank borrowings.

The sale comes after a cluster of shops and homes at Henry Park Apartments went for $176 million earlier this month.

The amount is also slightly more than that for the collective sale of Hong Leong Garden Shopping Centre, which sold for $171 million in September.

It is understood that UOL group will soon to launch new condominium at this site naming it 70 St Patrick’s.

Still no go for collective sale of Tanglin Shopping Centre

An ageing Orchard Road landmark has failed in its second collective sale attempt, as not enough owners want the property to go on the market.

Owners of the strata-titled Tanglin Shopping Centre did not manage to garner the required consent of 80 per cent of owners before the collective sale agreement expired at midnight on Wednesday.

The owners who signed the collective sale agreement represented a 69.36 per cent stake in the property. The property has 173 owners in total.

For the building to be put on the market, owners of 80 per cent of the property – by both share value and strata area – must sign the agreement before it expires.

The sales committee garnered the 80 per cent level by strata area, but the percentage by share value fell short.

The 44-year-old building comprises a six-storey podium block of shops, eateries and medical suites, and a 12-storey tower block of offices.

The first attempt at a collective sale in 2011 fell through when the reserve price of $1.25 billion was not met.

This would have worked out to about $4,200 per sq ft (psf) of potential gross floor area, assuming the 68,512 sq ft freehold site had been redeveloped.

The reserve price for the second attempt was $1 billion, or about $3,200 psf per plot ratio.

The hotel arm of Singapore-listed property group City Developments, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, holds the largest stake in the building at 34 per cent. It announced last November that it had signed the collective sale agreement.

Sales committee chairman Len Hoo, the managing director of family firm C.T. Hoo, which owns an office unit and a jewellery shop in the building, suggested that the Government look into bringing down the requisite collective sale consent level for older properties, to facilitate redevelopment.

Mr Hoo pointed to a number of other ageing strata-titled malls in the Orchard Road area, including Ming Arcade, Far East Shopping Centre and Orchard Towers, some of which have also tried and failed to launch collective sales.

It can be tough for owners to hit the 80 per cent consent level, especially as premiums on collective sale prices “are not as high as they used to be”, he added.

An owner who did not sign the collective sale agreement – and who holds two office units in the property – said revisions in the reserve price had not been made in favour of office unit owners.

Speaking to The Straits Times on condition of anonymity, the owner said office unit owners were underrepresented in the sales committee, which mainly comprised owners of retail units.

For his part, Mr Hoo is considering joining the ranks of owners who have sold their units and cashed out.

“To stay here would cost a lot of money because of the rising building maintenance costs… Maybe I’ll have to think about moving on,” he said.

<Business Times – 27 August 2014>

Marina One – An Iconic development by collaboration of Singapore and Malaysia

Marina One is a joint venture between Khazanah Nasional and Temasek Holdings. It is the second development overseen and developed by M+S Pte Ltd; its first project being the very impressive DUO Residences which was well-received during it was launched.

Marina One Singapore is set to become its most prestigious integrated refurbishment of Singapores new essential business district (CBD). With a gross floor area of 3.67 million rectangle feet, it features every centrally positioned vibrant garden surrounded by four GreenMark Platinum rated towers which often will house 1042 exquisite city residences, as extremely prime office and retail space..

With an entirely gross floor locale of 341,000 sqm on four parcels of land spanning 2.62 hectares, this valuable development will offers commerce, high-end households and retail offices alongside world-class developments in Marina To the district such like Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Flyer, Esplanade Theatres and Landscapes By The Bay. This award-winning designing received international fame at the newly released Asian Pacific Homes Awards, picking enhance national awards due to Best High Rise Architecture, Best Mixed-Use Architecture and Best Mixed-Use Development maybe even before its launch.

At the press business to unveil the styles design, Singapore’s Prime Minster, Mr Lee Hsien Loong commented that may the development would be an famous project located in the store of this new corporate district for many so many years for come. That he added why it used to be a project to turn into very proud of or which would thrive, increase and add to the city.

Residents of Marina One Residences will experience the entire best of living, running and playing, in time periods of lifestyle, business, entertainment, dining, and convenience. Marina One is often next as a way to Marina Stop Square – a course landscape to playground just that is just above Marina Bay Spot MRT. Distance Coast Parkway (ECP) expressway is nearby the spot and it is only a 20-minute drive to successfully Singapores Changi Airport in addition , other parts of Singapore.

Marina A Residences new item has two levels and / or offers a luxurious 90 metre panel pool prepared with spa seats; that you simply 200 block meter gymnasium, a health and wellbeing garden, Water gymnasium equipment, a jacuzzi, Teppanyaki Terraces, fitness stations, BBQ Terraces, a wine bottles room, a great private room for dessert equipped with kitchen, a particular residents bar for enjoyable or taking a nap and a suitable playground because children.

This a few development is going to be ended up selling out quickly, just like its predecessor, DUO Residences, due of strong venture and interest from Singapore and Malaysia, the provide winning acquiring and landscape design, its prestigious location, and its convenience.

Developed by the real M+S Pte Ltd, Marina One Residences is besides that set out as a prestigious development, whose uncommon investment value and substantial location surely adds to finally its efficiency. With this sort home boasting luxury, accessibility, convenience, as well as even investment decision potential every one of at those maximum level, home purchasers of Harbour One Houses can dream of some easy yet luxurious having lived in this best tactic.

Fernvale tenders reflect drop in market confidence

The latest state land tender for a pair of adjacent private housing sites in Fernvale Road in Sengkang showed a thinning in tender participation rates as well as land prices – compared with two sites in the area sold last year before the total debt servicing ratio kicked in.

This reflects less confidence among developers given current weaker market conditions, said industry players.

At yesterday’s tender for the 99-year plots, Parcel A along Fernvale Road drew just four bids, and the next-door Parcel B, three bids – down sharply from the eight and nine bids respectively for the two sites tendered in April and June last year respectively.

While the earlier sites, which are now being developed into Riverbank@Fernvale and Rivertrees Residences condos, are slightly superior as they boast water-frontage, the latest pair of sites along Fernvale Road are closer to the Jalan Kayu amenities such as food and beverage outlets.

The top bids for Parcels A and B in Fernvale Road – S$438.17 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) and S$448.35 psf ppr respectively – are also significantly lower than last year’s winning bids of S$489 psf ppr and S$533 psf ppr for the Riverbank@Fernvale and Rivertrees Residences sites respectively. Against the land price of Rivertrees Residences – the highest bids for Parcels A and B on Fernvale Road are lower by 17.8 per cent and 15.9 per cent respectively.

A tie-up involving Chip Eng Seng, Kim Seng Heng Realty and Heeton Homes placed the highest bids for both parcels in the latest tender. Analysts attribute the slightly higher bid for Parcel B to it being closer to Thanggam LRT Station. The introduction of the TDSR (total debt servicing ratio) framework in late-June 2013 has reduced property transactions.

Analysts polled by BT when the sites were launched by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in June this year had forecast top bids of $420-480 psf ppr for the two sites, with around five bids for each plot.

When contacted last night, Raymond Chia, group CEO of Chip Eng Seng, which is leading the consortium that placed top bids for both Fernvale Road plots, said: “Clinching both sites is more of a strategic move to better manage construction costs and overall planning for the development. We’re exploring whether to do separate projects for the two sites or a single development, but we should have nearly 1,400 units in all, encompassing a range of unit sizes.”

Chip Eng Seng is taking the majority 60 per cent stake in the consortium, while a joint venture between Kim Seng Heng Realty and Heeton Homes will hold the balance. “With both Chip Eng Seng and Kim Seng Heng involved in the construction business, we should be able to contain our costs better,” said Mr Chia.

The breakeven costs for the two sites are estimated at around $850-890 psf. And the consortium is hoping to launch the initial phase in first-half next year at around $1,000 psf on average.

Also bidding for Parcel A yesterday were a City Developments-TID partnership (bidding around S$400 psf ppr), Sim Lian Land (S$361 psf ppr) and Koh Brothers (S$321 psf ppr). Vieing for Parcel B were Flair Development, controlled by Wee Ee Chao (S$418 psf ppr) and Sim Lian Land (S$392 psf ppr).

<Business Times – 8 August 2014>

Leng Beng’s elder son buys Jervois Rd GCB for S$18.8m

Sherman Kwek, chief investment officer of City Developments, has picked up a Good Class Bungalow for S$18.8 million. This works out to about S$1,247 per square foot on freehold land area of about 15,073 square feet.

Sitting on an elevated, triangular-shaped site near the confluence of Jervois Road and Tanglin Road, the two-storey bungalow is said to have six en suite bedrooms and a small swimming pool. The total built-up area is around 7,600 sq ft.

Mr Kwek, who is in his late 30s, is said to be buying the property from a couple. He exercised the option for the purchase last month.

Based on caveats information, this would be the fourth time the property is changing hands in the past 11 years. It was previously transacted in 2003, 2006 and 2007.

Mr Kwek is the elder son of City Developments and Singapore Hong Leong Group executive chairman Kwek Leng Beng. He is also a council member of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In another GCB deal, motoring tycoon Peter Kwee is believed to have exercised an option last month for the purchase of a house in Gallop Park for S$25.2 million, translating into S$1,574 psf on land area of about 16,010 sq ft.

Mr Kwee is understood to be buying the property as trustee for another party. Under a complex deal, the seller – who is understood to be formerly from China, have completed his university education here and to be now a Singaporean – is said to have granted an option in the fourth quarter of last year.

The two-storey Gallop Park bungalow has about 7,000 sq ft built-up area; it has six bedrooms and a swimming pool. The property is believed to have been renovated a few years ago. The latest deal would mark the fifth time the property is changing hands in the past eight years; the earlier transactions were at about S$7.5 million in March 2006, S$12.3 million in July 2007, S$13.1 million in September 2008 and S$21 million in December 2010.

Other recent GCB transactions are said to include an option granted recently for an Oriole Crescent property for around S$15.7 million. It has land area of about 10,220 sq ft and built-up area of some 7,000 sq ft.

A property at Dalvey Road is also said to be selling at S$30-plus million. It is said to have five bedrooms in addition to a granny room and a guest room. The bungalow is on nearly 18,490 sq ft of land.

GCBs are the most prestigious type of landed housing in Singapore because of the planning constraints imposed by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, which has designated 39 locations on mainland Singapore as Good Class Bungalow Areas (GCBAs).

Typically, GCBs have a minimum land area of 1,400 square metres (15,069 sq ft). However, when GCBAs were gazetted in 1980, they included some slightly smaller existing sites. Nonetheless, these are still considered GCBs as they would be bound by the other GCB planning rules if they were to be redeveloped.

For instance, such plots cannot be further sub-divided and they cannot be built more than two storeys high (plus an attic and a basement).

15 deals in GCBAs have been done in the first half of this year totalling slightly over S$344 million, an improvement from just eight deals of S$233 million in the second half of last year.

 

Gross rental yields in uptick for first-half 2014

With the recent resale prices of private condos falling at a faster clip than rents, gross rental yields picked up in the first half of this year in all regions across Singapore, after having slid since 2009.

Going by Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) data compiled by STProperty, the recovery was led by suburban areas, especially the north-east.

Market watchers say that this rebound is likely to be a blip, as the leasing market is softening and vacancy rates are on the rise.

They reckon that, with buyers of private homes being more driven by the prospects of capital appreciation than by gross yields, the slight improvement in yields is unlikely to influence their buying decisions.

The report by STProperty yesterday derived median gross rental yield in each planning area based on the annualised median gross rent per sq ft and the median resale price per sq ft for that area, which implicitly assumes that units being rented out can fetch those resale prices based on recent transactions.

It showed gross rental yields in the north-east region recovering to 4.03 per cent in the first half of this year, up from 3.73 per cent last year. Yields for the entire north region inched up to 4.14 per cent from 3.90 per cent last year.

The central area recorded the smallest improvement in yields to 3.39 per cent, from 3.37 per cent last year.

Topping the list of planning areas are Ang Mo Kio, Yishun and Sembawang in the north, followed by north-eastern areas Sengkang and Hougang. Six planning areas attracted rental yields of 4 per cent or more, including Geylang, which came in sixth.

The lowest-yielding areas are the prime locations, including Orchard, Newton, Tanglin, River Valley, the Southern Islands (Sentosa Cove) and Bukit Timah. Homes in the Orchard area attracted the lowest gross rental yield of 2.7 per cent.

Commenting on the report, property consultants said this dynamic could shift, with the huge supply of completed condos coming onstream, mainly in the suburbs.

But rising vacancy rates and the difficulty of securing tenants are weighing on the minds of investors, on the back of URA data showing vacancy rate islandwide spiking to 8.3 per cent in the second quarter; this was higher than the 7.3 per cent in the third quarter of the 2009 recession year.

News dated: 7 August 2014

On the road towards balance

FOR Singaporean motorist Mohd Noh Omar, his frequent visits to Johor Baru may soon come to an end following the recent news of the implementation of the Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) on all Singapore-registered vehicles entering Malaysia.

The 39-year-old may have to settle with entering Johor Baru less than his regular twice a week visits to the southern city.

“Johor Baru is where I normally unwind after my shift ends in Changi Airport. This has been my practice for the past five years,” said Noh, who works as a forwarding executive.

On July 17, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that the government agreed to the implementation of the VEP following a request from the Johor government.

This announcement came shortly after the Singaporean authorities announced a hike in the republic’s VEP for foreign cars from S$20 (RM51.40) to S$35 per day beginning Aug 1. The Singapore Land Transport Authority also said the Goods Vehicle Permit for lorries would be increased from S$10 to S$40 per month.

However, the Johor government had pointed out that the request was submitted to Putrajaya more than five months ago. This news was welcomed by the state government, as well as many Johoreans.

The Johor government has been awaiting the Federal Government’s go-ahead to implement the VEP for Singapore-registered vehicles entering both the Causeway in the city and the Second Link in Gelang Patah.

The VEP was proposed back in 2006 and 2010 as a means to curb losses incurred as a result of foreign vehicle owners buying subsidised petrol and diesel.

At that time, the state government had proposed a RM20 levy on Singapore-registered cars, with RM5 to be channelled back to the state for road maintenance. But nothing came of it until recently.

Noh said with the implementation of the VEP by Malaysian authorities, entering the state capital would be an additional burden for him.

“The VEP levy will be an additional charge. This is despite the fact that Singaporeans like us spend money in Johor.”

However, Noh said he did not mind if the VEP was pegged below RM10 for cars and RM5 motorcycles.

And many other Singaporean motorists shared the same view as Noh, with thousands frequenting Johor Baru, popularly known as JB, daily for food and entertainment.

At the same time, this will also affect several thousand Singaporean citizens who are permanently residing in Johor Baru. Many Johoreans are of the opinion that introducing the VEP is a good measure, depending on the charges.

For the past three decades, Singaporeans have taken advantage of their high exchange rates to shop in Johor. Many businesses in Johor Baru have flourished over the years by catering to Singaporean customers.

Johoreans agree that this was the main reason why Johor Baru’s cost of living was constantly on the higher end compared with other cities within Peninsular Malaysia.

The increasing prices of basic amenities, houses, urban sprawl and transportation are some of the problems the average Johorean wants addressed.

With the implementation of the VEP, it is hoped that that this can assist in bringing about a healthy balance between businesses and the cost of living in Johor Baru, as well as play a part in Iskandar Malaysia’s economic growth region, which encompasses the entire south Johor.

Singapore’s proximity to the Johor Baru city centre have provided the latter with a significant volume of trade and tourism.

These advantages, however, have had some negative impacts on Johor Baru. The development has brought with it rapid population growth and higher cost of living for residents.

It is hoped that the VEP introduced by the Malaysian authorities can contribute to minimising these transborder challenges that are becoming more complex, difficult and costly to effectively solve.

News dated: 24 July 2014