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Project News
Beauty World site set to catalyse area's rejuvenation
01 Jul 2020
A JUST-RELEASED 99-year leasehold commercial and residential site near Beauty World MRT station has many strong attributes, say property consultants...
Beauty World site set to catalyse area's rejuvenation
01 Jul 2020
BT 20200701 KRANAK1 4161499
According to URA, the Beauty World precinct is envisioned to be a green urban village that will be a centre of community life and southern gateway into Bukit Timah's nature attractions. PHOTO: URA

A JUST-RELEASED 99-year leasehold commercial and residential site near Beauty World MRT station has many strong attributes, say property consultants.
However, the cloud of uncertainty amid the Covid-19-induced economic slowdown and its big-ticket investment quantum - the land price alone is widely expected to be at least S$1 billion - may cause potential bidders to be cautious, they added.
On a brighter note, overall business sentiment may lift by the time the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) dual-envelope tender for the 3.22-hectare plot along Jalan Anak Bukit closes in nine months' time, on March 30, 2021.
Knight Frank Singapore research head Leonard Tay said: "Interested parties will have the chance to wait for more clarity as Singapore emerges from the Covid-19 crisis."
Property consultants polled by The Business Times expect the site to fetch anywhere from just a single bid to 10 bids. Their forecasts of the top bid too vary widely, from S$750-1,250 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr). In absolute price terms, this would range from S$780 million to S$1.3 billion.
Given the large investment outlay in this project and to reduce risk, developers are expected to form consortiums to bid for the site.
"Due to the scale of the project and its impact on the surrounding, a concept-and-price tender is indeed appropriate to ensure the quality of the development," said JLL Singapore senior director of research and consultancy Ong Teck Hui.
The subject site is envisioned to be a landmark residential and commercial development to help rejuvenate the Beauty World area, he added.
URA said that bidders are required to submit their concept proposals and tender prices separately.
The concept proposals will first be evaluated against a set of criteria specified - the three broad categories are: quality of design concept, quality of public realm, and the track record of the developer and design teams.
"Only compelling concept proposals will be shortlisted to proceed to the second stage of evaluation, which will be based on price only. Tenderers are encouraged to propose quality concepts that are closely aligned with the planning vision for the site, while submitting a competitively-priced bid," the URA added.
The site can be developed upto a maximum gross floor area (GFA) of 96,551 square metres (sq m), or nearly 1.04 million square feet (sq ft). Of this, at least 5,000 sq m shall be for a bus intechange. Up to 20,000 sq m GFA shall be for commercial use.
The remaining GFA shall be for residential use - potentially equating to about 845 residential units. The residential component could comprise private flats, serviced apartments, or a combination of the two.
Of the maximum 20,000 sq m GFA for commercial use, no more than 7,500 sq m can be for shop and restaurant use, including such use within the bus interchange and any outdoor refreshment areas.
The remaining commercial GFA can be allocated for other commercial uses including office, commercial school, medical clinic, gym and recreation/entertainment uses if permitted by the authorities.
The successful bidder will be reimbursed the cost of designing and building the bus interchange by the Land Transport Authority.
ERA Realty's head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said: "The new mixed-use development that will eventually be built on the subject site would be a much-needed catalyst to rejuvenate the Beauty World neighbourhood."
Noting that the project's residential component is likely to be launched for sale in 2022, Mr Mak added: "By then, the negative impact of the Covid-19 outbreak would have subsided and the Singapore economy would have recovered. Hence, if this project is reasonably priced, it will likely be one of the more popular developments among the new residential launches at that time."
That said, Cushman & Wakefield's associate director of research for Singapore and Southeast Asia Wong Xian Yang highlighted possible competition from several nearby existing and upcoming launches, including View At Kismis, Daintree Residence, Verdale, The Linq@Beauty World and Forett @ Bukit Timah.
And despite the site's strong attributes, one drawback is that it is right beside the Pan Island Expressway, which could result in higher noise and dust levels for the future development.
The attractions of the site include its being located within 1km of top primary schools such as Methodist Girls' School (Primary) and Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary School, noted Mr Ong of JLL.
Huttons Asia's research director Lee Sze Teck said that "integrated developments are favoured by (home) buyers for the seamless connectivity to a MRT station and bus interchange and a mall".
The upcoming Bukit Timah Community Building, which will include a market and hawker centre, will bring added convenience to the whole Beauty World area, he added.
Colliers International's head of research for Singapore Tricia Song said: "This site has good potential for placemaking, to capitalise on the mainly private residential catchment, education institutions, and the vast nature elements including Bukit Timah Hill in the vicinity."
The site is being offered under the confirmed list of the first-half 2020 Government Land Sales Programme.
In its release, the URA said: "Located within one of Singapore's endearing identity nodes, the Beauty World precinct is envisioned to be a green urban village that will be a centre of community life and southern gateway into Bukit Timah's nature attractions."
With the completion of the Coast-to-Coast trail, upcoming completion of the Rail Corridor and Rifle Range Nature Park, as well as the new public and private development projects in the area, the sale of this site for a mixed-use integrated transport hub will further spur the rejuvenation of Beauty World, inject vibrancy into the area and enhance the overall commuting experience with convenient connection between the Downtown Line and bus services.
"The vision is for the... site to be a distinctive development and identity marker for the Beauty World precinct when completed. It is envisaged to offer a lushly landscaped and attractive living environment that is well connected to the surrounding nature attractions. It should include thoughtfully-designed public spaces and pedestrian networks that are well integrated with transport and community uses," the URA added.

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Mass to mid-tier properties draw interest as showflats reopen after 10-week halt
22 Jun 2020
SALES for new private homes got off to an encouraging start for developers as showflats reopened...
Mass to mid-tier properties draw interest as showflats reopen after 10-week halt
22 Jun 2020
BT 20200622 NRSHOWFLATS22 4151810
Visitors at The Florence Residences sales gallery. Over 20 units of the 1,410-unit development were sold over the weekend. PHOTO: PROPNEX

SALES for new private homes got off to an encouraging start for developers as showflats reopened their doors over the weekend after a 10-week hiatus.

Starting on Friday, visitors made their way to sales galleries for the first time since the circuit breaker kicked in, with mass market and mid-market segments garnering the attention, real estate agencies told The Business Times.

The pace of sales has picked up compared to the circuit breaker, possibly due to pent-up demand, said Emily Eng, executive director (residential services) at OrangeTee & Tie, adding that some projects saw sales of between five and fifteen units each over the weekend. OrangeTee & Tie was marketing over 50 projects.

"Activities are still concentrated on mass to mid-tier projects, as opposed to the luxury segment," Ms Eng added. Projects marketed by OrangeTee & Tie that have been selling well include Daintree Residence, The Florence Residences, Parc Esta, JadeScape, Stirling Residences and Treasure at Tampines.

According to ERA Realty Network key executive officer Eugene Lim, viewing slots for showflats were full. As at Sunday night, developers had sold a total of 140 units over the weekend across nearly 60 show galleries, he added. The tally includes units sold by other real estate agencies in addition to ERA.

Not all developers chose to reopen their showflats over the weekend, BT understands.

Alvin Tan, executive director of PropNex International, told BT: "People are coming in to the showflats, most of the slots were taken."

Of the sales conducted, most were for the mass-market projects, while the high-end segment is still on the slow side, added Mr Tan, who thinks that new home sales for June could top May as sales pick up. PropNex is currently marketing 90 Singapore residential projects.

During the circuit breaker, overall sales of new private homes took a massive tumble, plunging 58 per cent month on month to 277 units in April, before rebounding by over 75 per cent month on month to 486 units in May. Sales for both months were down significantly from the 737 units and 952 units sold in April 2019 and May 2019 respectively.

As per guidelines from the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Controller of Housing, viewings of the show galleries have to be by appointment, with a maximum of five people per group (including the real estate agent). Generally, developers appear to be allotting time slots of between one and two hours.

Developers also have to limit the number of people in the show gallery and within show units to not more than one person per 10 square metres of space. As such, the number of groups that the show gallery can entertain at any one time will vary depending on its size.

Logan Property sold over 20 units for 1,410-unit The Florence Residences over the weekend, which takes the total number of units sold over the 51 per cent mark, group executive director CB Chng told BT. Meanwhile, another of its projects, the 1,259 unit-Stirling Residences in Queenstown, sold over 10 units; with this, it is more than 80 per cent sold.

"We're encouraged with the sales performance, said Mr Chng. "I hope the momentum can be sustained."

Over 100 units at The Florence Residences were sold during the circuit- breaker period while Stirling Residences sold more than 40 units, he added.

SingHaiyi Group opened its show gallery for the 1,468-unit Parc Clematis on Saturday and Sunday, during which it received 550 visitors (including real estate agents). Over the two days, seven units were moved, the majority of which were two- and three-bedroom units.

Gregory Sim, deputy chief executive officer of SingHaiyi, said: "We are encouraged by the response from potential buyers who visited the Parc Clematis sales gallery over the last two days. We hope that being able to visit the sales gallery and seeing for themselves our unit layouts and quality fittings will help potential buyers make up their mind."

In April and May, the developer sold nine units and 55 units at Parc Clematis respectively, and a further 52 units from June 1 to 18 before Singapore commenced Phase 2 of the circuit breaker.

According to SingHaiyi, about half of the sales during the period before Phase 2 when the sales gallery was closed came from home buyers who made their decision after virtual viewings, and the other half from those who had visited the sales gallery prior to the circuit breaker.

Over the weekend, Sim Lian sold 14 units for Treasure at Tampines, while Chip Eng Seng Corporation's subsidiary CEL Development sold five units at its Kopar at Newton project. These included one two-bedroom unit at S$1.55 million, three three-bedroom units at S$2 million to S$2.45 million and a three-bedroom junior penthouse for S$3.7 million.

CSC Land moved a four-bedroom, 1,249 square foot (sq ft) unit for close to S$1.9 million at its 520-unit Twin VEW project. To date, 90 per cent of Twin VEW - which was launched for sale in May 2018 - has been sold.

Qingjian Realty (South Pacific) Group sold 11 units of JadeScape since it re-opened its sales gallery on June 19.

Cheryl Huan, chief operating officer, sales and leasing group, for Far East Organization, said: "Since Friday, we have opened seven properties for viewing by appointment and have brought more than 25 groups of potential homebuyers to the show galleries."

She noted that some prospective homebuyers are still cautious, adding: "We have been scheduling our viewings gradually, while we continue to host virtual appointments where our staff talk potential homebuyers through a virtual viewing."

On Friday, it sold a 3,068 sq ft triplex unit at Parksuites after a virtual viewing. The mixed-use development in Holland Grove Road has 119 residential units and 18 retail units.

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Showflat reopening a relief for developers, but new launches unlikely till July
17 Jun 2020
DEVELOPERS will get some reprieve this week after getting the green light to reopen sales galleries...
Showflat reopening a relief for developers, but new launches unlikely till July
17 Jun 2020
BT 20200617 NRSHOWFLATS17TURQOP 4147326
Frasers Property will reopen the showflat for its 455-unit residential Rivière this Friday as the country adapts to the "new normal". PHOTO: FRASERS PROPERTY

DEVELOPERS will get some reprieve this week after getting the green light to reopen sales galleries for residential projects starting Friday, although new launches aren't expected to make their debut just yet.

Launches are more likely to take place from July as developers will need time to roll out marketing activities while others may take a wait-and-see approach given the weak economic climate, consultants say.

The latest announcement is good news for developers, said Cushman & Wakefield's associate director (research) for Singapore and South-east Asia, Wong Xian Yang, after restrictions aimed at curbing the pandemic prompted the closure of sales galleries back in April. "(Virtual) viewings can work, but showflats still ultimately help to boost sales."

However, he doesn't think that developers will rush to launch new projects this month. "Due to Covid-19, things are a bit different. There are a lot of things that developers need to get clearance for and get clarity on. They will need time. Launches should ramp up from July onwards," Mr Wong added.

"It will take time to get the whole machinery cranking again," said ERA Realty's head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak, who expects July to be the earliest that major launches will take place.

On the other hand, it may be easier for small projects to prepare for a launch, with end-June being a possibility, he added. Mr Mak also pointed out construction of sales galleries may have been affected by the halt of construction activities during the two-month-long "circuit breaker".

Huttons Asia research director Lee Sze Teck highlighted that developers may time their launch depending on a variety of factors such as sentiment, the readiness of their showflats and competing projects. "The extension of the ABSD by six months gives developers some leeway to launch their project," he added.

Given that some projects were unable to launch in April and May, developers may be mindful that launches could potentially bunch up in the third quarter and may take a wait-and-see approach to avoid the competition, Mr Wong also said.

Since the circuit breaker was implemented on April 7, developers have had to shutter their show galleries, denting sales for new residential projects. In a circular to licensed developers on Tuesday, the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Controller of Housing (COH) informed developers that they could resume operations from June 19, although measures have to be introduced to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus.

These include controlling the number of people in the show gallery and within show units to not more than one person per 10 square metres of space; viewings by appointment only, capped at five persons per group (including salespersons); using the SafeEntry visitor management system to log people in; maintaining a minimum distance of one metre between groups; wearing masks; and regular cleaning and sanitising of high-touch areas.

Developers have to submit a checklist of the safe management measures in place at their show gallery to the COH at least two working days before they re-open.

Real estate agents will also be able to conduct physical viewings from June 19. The Council for Estate Agencies issued a separate advisory on Tuesday, listing the measures and precautions that need to followed.

City Developments Ltd (CDL) told The Business Times that it is targeting to reopen all its six showflats on Friday, subject to the necessary approvals. Its projects are Sengkang Grand Residences, Piermont Grand, Haus on Handy, Amber Park, Boulevard 88 and Whistler Grand.

A spokesperson said: "CDL has been actively adapting and implementing initiatives to prepare for the reopening of showflats, such as deploying GovTech's SafeEntry visitor management system, conducting deep cleaning at our showflats and the provision of hand sanitisers and hand soap, on top of temperature screening, to all visitors."

Anchorvale - a joint venture between Evia Real Estate and Gamuda Land - is also among the developers aiming to receive visitors at its sales gallery for executive condominium OLÁ.

Meanwhile, Forett at Bukit Timah, a freehold project by Qingjian and Perennial Real Estate Holdings, is now expected to launch in Q3 this year. Yen Chong, deputy general manager for Qingjian Realty (South Pacific) Group, said: "The circuit breaker has inevitably affected the work for the upcoming Forett sales gallery, but it was necessary to ensure everyone's well-being. We will continue to observe the situation as Singapore moves into the next phase of re-opening."

In the meantime, the sales gallery for Qingjian's project, JadeScape, will re-open its doors from Friday morning. However, viewings will be by appointment only, and walk-in visitors will be turned away. Other measures include safe-distancing marks and staggered appointment hours.

Similarly, Frasers Property will also reopen the showflat for its 455-unit residential Rivière this Friday as the country adapts to the "new normal".

According to a Frasers Property spokesperson, the company has - in line with recommendations by the authorities - prepared and put in place health and safety measures such as split-team arrangements for staff and salespersons, as well as temperature scanning, safe distancing, and the use of SafeEntry to support contact tracing for all visitors to the showflat.

The spokesperson added: "We will minimise social contact by limiting group sizes, arranging virtual appointments whenever possible and shortening the opening hours of the showflat. In addition, we will prepare the reopening of the showflat with cleaning and disinfecting processes to ensure a safe and hygienic environment for all."

Since May 2019, Frasers has sold 55 of the 100 units launched at Rivière. Prices start from S$1.48 million.

As Singapore's economy progressively opens up, some consultants expect that developers will continue to use virtual viewings to complement physical viewings, as it offers prospective buyers a convenient way to gather information about a project from the safety of their homes.

During the circuit breaker, sales of new private homes plunged 58 per cent month-on-month to 277 units in April, before rebounding by over 75 per cent month-on-month to 486 units in May. This is down from 737 units and 952 units in April 2019 and May 2019 respectively.

With the local economy reeling from the fall-out of the pandemic, new private homes sales for 2020 as a whole could take a big hit. Cushman & Wakefield's Mr Wong forecasts that sales for this year will clock 6,900 to 7,900 units, while ERA Realty's Mr Mak puts the figure at 7,000 to 9,000 units. This is down from the 9,912 new private homes sold in 2019.

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April home sales dive 62%; May unlikely to see improvement
14 May 2020
Data from Realis as at May 12 shows 277 new sales transactions, excluding ECs; virtual showflats fail to drum up sales...
April home sales dive 62%; May unlikely to see improvement
14 May 2020
nz housing 140520
Sales volumes for new private homes appear to have tumbled sharply in April as developers were forced to shutter sales galleries and prospective buyers stayed home, while the extended circuit breaker could spell a poorer performance in May. PHOTO: ST FILE

SALES volumes for new private homes appear to have tumbled sharply in April as developers were forced to shutter sales galleries and prospective buyers stayed home, while the extended circuit breaker could spell a poorer performance in May.

As at May 12, data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) Realis showed there were 277 new sales transactions of private homes, excluding executive condominiums (ECs), slumping 62 per cent year-on-year. Including ECs, which are a private-public hybrid, there were 293 new homes sold in April.

The URA is due to release the total number of new private homes sold in April on Friday, which incorporates the option-to-purchase (OTP) issued by developers to buyers and makes adjustments for lapsed OTPs. Thus, the official data released Friday could differ from volumes as at May 12.

According to Huttons Asia's director of research Lee Sze Teck, around two thirds of the transactions in April took place before the circuit breaker kicked in on April 7. "It could be due to buyers holding back for the circuit breaker to be lifted in May - which did not happen - or their preference to see the physical units before committing," he said.

Nicholas Mak, head of research & consultancy for ERA Realty, added: "Moreover, economic headwinds from the Covid-19 outbreak also dampened housing demand."

Tricia Song, head of research for Singapore at Colliers International, noted that over 90 units were sold after April 7 as there is a two-week grace period for options to be exercised. She added: "Some transactions could also have happened after the circuit breaker kicked in as buyers have seen the showflats before the circuit breaker and made the decision after April 7." 

While developers have been increasingly turning to technology to market their projects to prospective buyers during the circuit breaker, analysts say that buyers are likely to adopt a wait-and-see approach when it comes to hefty purchases such as property.

"While virtual showflats have seen increased interest from potential buyers, not many actual sales have materialised as local buyers still prefer to see and feel the actual size, layout and finishes of the unit," Ms Song went on to say.

But while the transaction volume was low in April, it is still higher than some months during the 2008/2009 Global Financial Crisis where new home sales plunged well below 200 units, pointed out Ong Teck Hui, senior director (research & consultancy) at JLL.

The best selling projects in April were Kopar at Newton (83 units), Treasure at Tampines (28 units), Riverfront Residences (17 units) and JadeScape (12 units).

According to some analysts, 15 Holland Hill was the only launch last month before the circuit breaker commenced. Data from Realis shows that one unit from the project was purchased on April 2.

Drilling down by region, OrangeTee & Tie's head of research & consultancy Christine Sun noted there was a higher proportion of new homes sold in the Core Central Region (CCR) in April at 36.8 per cent, vis-a-vis March where the proportion stood at 6.8 per cent.

By absolute figures, the number of units sold in the CCR in April climbed to 102 units, more than doubling from 45 units in March, Ms Sun went on to highlight, with demand largely stemming from projects Kopar at Newton and The M.

"It is encouraging to see sales still going strong for luxury homes," she said. "This may indicate that despite the pandemic, Singapore remains an attractive investment destination to wealthy investors."

Meanwhile, with the circuit breaker extended until June 1, May could bring another month of sluggish sales for new private homes, especially considering that the bulk of April's transactions took place even before the circuit breaker kicked in.

Looking ahead, there are unlikely to be any new project launches in June, reckons Mr Lee, adding however that developers could be encouraged to launch in July ahead of the lunar seventh month in August should June bring firm demand.

JLL's Mr Ong expects developers may take a cautious stance when it comes to launching new projects, while the government's recent move to extend the additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) deadline by six months takes some of the heat off them.

Mr Ong said: "The continuation of sales in April, albeit at a low volume, suggests that there are still buyers in the market despite the current crisis. If Covid-19 is under better control and show flats reopen, we can expect monthly sales of new private homes to improve, although the recession is likely to impact sales performance."

Still, JLL projects that total transaction volumes of private homes this year could slump by 40-50 per cent from 2019's tally of 9,912 units.

Mr Mak reckons projects which could launch in June or July include Cairnhill 16, Forett@Bukit Timah, Hyll on Holland and Verdale.

He added: "Some developers will keep their options open. They will want to gauge demand for their project first before deciding. It is hard to do that during the circuit breaker." 

Even when the circuit breaker is eventually lifted, safe distancing measures will likely remain in place - which will temper crowds at showflats - while the economic environment could affect buyer sentiment.

For the year as a whole, Ms Song projects that the sale of new homes could drop by 20 per cent to 8,000 units, and expects developers may trim prices by 3-5 per cent. She said: "With about 2,300 units sold year-to-end April, we assume there will be some pent-up demand and more developer launches before the year ends."

Ms Sun said: "Due to increasing market uncertainties, buyers seem to be more selective and price sensitive." She also projects prices of new homes may come down by 3-5 per cent this year. "We observe that projects that are well-located and attractively priced continue to attract buyers." OrangeTee & Tie expects that developers will sell 6,500 to 7,500 new homes this year.

Meanwhile, Huttons expects the total sales for new units this year could fall to 7,000-8,000 units, while ERA Realty puts this year's tally at between 6,000 and 8,000 units.

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