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Developers’ landbanks depleted by robust sales

ROBUST sales of new private homes have depleted the landbanks of most developers, amid a period of intense competition for new sites. This is the result of a open economy unknowingly benefiting from the wall of rescue monies meant for woes in their home countries. HK and London and presumably other countries/cities with stable political and economic environment are probably victims of the post GFC environment.

A survey shows that 16 of the 27 major builders have a smaller store of development land now, compared with January last year. The fall in developers’ landbanks comes despite the bumper supply of sites released by the Government over the past year.


Moreover, 19 developers had fewer than 1,000 apartments left in their landbanks as of the end of last month, according to the survey by DTZ Research. A further seven developers had between 1,000 and 2,000 units.

The developers’ landbank numbers do not take into account strong home sales this month, which should deplete landbanks even more.

A developer’s landbank comprises unsold units – including executive condominiums – from projects with planning approval and estimated number of units from sites yet to obtain approval.

Units in projects that have obtained their certificate of statutory completion, and redevelopment projects without planning permission, are excluded.

Developers’ landbank competition

City Developments and its parent company Hong Leong Group have the biggest stock, with 6,383 homes – made up of land parcels in Sengkang and projects like D’nest and Bartley Ridge that are being built.

Most other have fewer than 2,000 units in their developers’ landbanks.

Second-placed CapitaLand has 1,699 units, and Hongkong Land and its subsidiary MCL Land have 1,605 units.

IOI Corporation, Allgreen Properties, Wheelock Properties and Frasers Centrepoint all have fewer than 1,000 units each.

Experts note that many developers’ landbanks have been eroded by roaring home sales over the past year.

Privately held Far East Organization fell from second to fifth spot within a year, with its landbank down from 2,592 units to 1,498.

Frasers’ landbank fell from 1,951 units and third position in January last year to just 632 and 12th spot in the rankings.

CapitaLand, Keppel Land and Wheelock have moved up the league table after securing Government Land Sales (GLS) sites in the past 12 months.

At least two foreign players have also bucked the trend, gaining a larger market share by acquiring GLS parcels.

Chinese company MCC Land and Hao Yuan Investment have 1,484 units in total in their landbanks. This puts them in sixth position, up from 13th place last time.

While they are unrelated parties, their developers’ landbanks have been seen as one as they often work together on projects, DTZ noted.

MCL Land and Hongkong Land climbed from 13th spot to third this year.

DTZ’s head of Singapore research Lee Lay Keng noted that the GLS programme was the main source of growth for developers that expanded their landbanks, while those that missed out on many sites went down the rankings.

Developers’ landbank and future property price trends

As a result, most units in developers’ landbanks are in suburban areas, where most GLS sites are.

“In general, a developer should have a few projects on hand, but the number of units that constitute a ‘healthy landbank’ depends on the scale of these projects and the size of the developers, their business models and risk appetites,” noted Ms Lee.

Experts add that listed developers often face pressures to replenish their landbanks to bring in returns for shareholders, but high land prices and an increase in the number of bidders for GLS sites have thrown up challenges.

Tuan Sing Holdings chief financial officer Chong Chou Yuen noted that smaller contractors and groups of investors making their foray into development have made it more difficult to secure a site.

“Apart from GLS sites, one other area we might consider could be en bloc sites instead,” he added.

Commercial site in Jurong East draws strong interest

Lakeside Jurong East

A TENDER for a commercial site in Jurong East, at Venture Avenue that drew nine bids outstripped market expectations.

Experts said the keen response to the Jurong East commercial site could signal that developers are responding to potential demand from investors looking for alternatives to residential property.

Colliers International director of research and advisory Chia Siew Chuin added: “The commercial sector has not yet been affected by the Government’s property measures, although the planning authority is likely to be monitoring the unit sizes of planned commercial developments.

“As a result, interest from both investors and end-users is expected to be robust.”

Sim Lian JV (Vision) lodged the top bid of $701.1 million – or $1,009 per square foot – which was nine per cent above the $643 million offered by Capitaland unit Victory One for the commercial site in Jurong East.

Sim Lian’s $1,009 psf bid for the commercial site in Jurong East easily exceeded market expectations of $800 psf ppr, said CBRE research associate director Desmond Sim.

The Sim Lian offer makes the expected breakeven price of the commercial property in Jurong East to be about $1,700 to $1,750 psf, said Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research at SLP International.

Jones Lang LaSalle national director of research and consultancy Ong Teck Hui also noted that the highest bid exceeded the top offer for Paya Lebar Square at $872 psf ppr in April, 2011.

“Since the Paya Lebar Square tender, demand for strata offices has surged tremendously resulting in optimistic bidding in today’s tender,” he said.

Jurong East is seen as a key commercial hub in the west, and includes existing and upcoming retail and lifestyle offerings like JCube, JEM and Westgate, said Mr Sim.

Ms Chia added: “With the prospects of growth for the entire Jurong East area as a regional commercial hub, a new project on the subject site would enjoy steady demand for its office units when completed.”

Commonwealth Ave site attracts S$562.8m top bid

A residential site (pictured below) at Commonwealth Avenue attracted just three bids when its public tender closed 5th February 2013.


Launched for sale on 18 December, the 99-year leasehold site has a land area of 130,101 sq ft and maximum gross floor area (GFA) of 637,496 sq ft.

A consortium comprising Intrepid Investments, Verwood Holdings and Hong Realty submitted the highest bid of S$562.8 million or S$883 psf on the site’s GFA. This was followed by Acresvale Investment with an offer of S$549.3 million (S$862 psf/GFA).

Desmond Sim, Associate Director, CBRE Research said: “The site is nestled in the Queenstown HDB estate, just across the street from Queenstown MRT Station. It is the first of several pockets of land that are on the GLS’ (Government Land Sales) reserve list. The sale of this site is in line with the government’s plan to rejuvenate the Queenstown-Dawson district and bring in new, young families.”

He added: “The latest cooling measures may have played a part in drawing a lower-than-usual number of bids. However, the large quantum of more than S$500 million filtered out many other players and kept it to a close fight between the bigger players. We expect the breakeven to be around S$1,350 psf and the launch price to be around S$1,600 psf.”

The land parcel is expected to yield around 700 housing units.

Strong demand seen for Queenstown condo site


TWO sites that could yield 1,300 homes were released by the Government yesterday.

One is a choice site next to Queenstown MRT station in Commonwealth Avenue that is tipped to fetch more than $500 million.

The other is a plot near Tanah Merah MRT station that was made available on the reserve list.

The 12,100 sq m Queenstown plot can accommodate 700 homes and is expected to attract keen interest from developers due to its central location.

Queenstown homes are in demand. Earlier this year, a Housing Board (HDB) resale flat there became the first unit to breach the $1 million mark, while new private launches in and around the area can go for about $1,500 per sq ft (psf).

Experts say the 99-year leasehold site is likely to be “heavily contested”.

Mr Lee Sze Teck, senior manager of training, research and consultancy at Dennis Wee Group, expects up to 10 bidders with a top offer of between $850 and $900 psf per plot ratio (ppr).

That prices the site at between $543 million and $574 million.

Demand could come from home-seekers who find private flats in the Alexandra area beyond their budget, he added.

Recent tenders for nearby sites in Alexandra Road and Prince Charles Crescent reflect optimism in the market, indicating that developers will keep chasing well-located sites in the central region, noted ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim.

He expects between five and eight bidders, with a top bid of up to $980 psf ppr – or $625 million.

Resale prices at Queens, a 99-year leasehold condo built about 10 years ago across the road from the site, are $1,300 psf on average, he noted.

Four residential sites from the government land sales (GLS) programme have already been sold in the Queenstown and Redhill estates since late last year, noted property consultancy Knight Frank.

Its research head, Mr Png Poh Soon, said this impending supply is likely to result in land bids being moderated.

The other sale site announced yesterday is a 25,800 sq m plot in New Upper Changi Road that can yield about 600 homes.

It was made available for sale on the reserve list by the HDB.

If the 99-year leasehold site is sold, it will bring to four the number of development plots recently acquired in the New Upper Changi Road and Bedok South Avenue 3 area.

These plots can collectively yield about 2,150 homes, Knight Frank said.

ERA’s Mr Lim added that even with the range of plots on the recently announced GLS programme for the first half of next year, the new site will still be triggered as developers want well-located mass-market land.

But developers might temper their bids as they look at better land under the newly announced GLS instead, Knight Frank’s Mr Png said.

Confirmed list sites go on sale regardless of interest, while reserve list plots are put up for tender only if a developer makes an acceptable initial offer.

Anytime now, the URA is expected to release the final two commercial sites in the H2 2012 GLS programme – a 1.2-ha confirmed list site near Jurong East MRT Station and a site along Cecil and Telok Ayer streets.

The latter will be made available on the reserve list.

Both sites are expected to have minimum office component stipulations.

14,000 new private homes in pipeline for first half of 2013

The Government will sell land that can be developed to more than 14,000 new private homes, including about 3,100 Executive Condominiums (EC), in the first half of next year. The sale keeps the Government’s strong and steady supply pipeline as it seeks to keep housing prices stable after they hit a record high in the third quarter this year.

The Confirmed List for 1H2013 of the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme will comprise 12 private residential sites, including five land parcels set aside for ECs, and a mixed commercial-cum- residential site, yielding a total of more than 14,000 new private homes, the Ministry of National Development (MND) said yesterday.

These sites can yield about 6,900 homes and more than 355,000 sq ft of gross floor area for commercial use. Most of the residential sites in this programme, including the five EC sites, are located in Outside Central Region or the Rest of Central Region, where more affordable private housing is expected to be built.

The Government has also put 19 sites on the Reserve List in the 1H2013 GLS programme, the MND said. These include 11 private residential sites, one commercial-cum-residential site, two commercial sites, four hotel sites and one white site that gives developers more development options. These sites can yield about 7,100 private homes, more than 3 million sq ft of commercial space and about 1,740 hotel rooms.

Under the Reserve List, a tender will only be launched when a developer submits an application committing to bid at a minimum price acceptable to the Government.

Ms Chia Siew Chuin, Director of Research and Advisory at Colliers International noted that the total pipeline supply of 14,000 new private homes under the 1H 2013 GLS programme almost matches the total supply of 14,185 units made available under the 2H2012 GLS and the 14,140 units under the 1H2012 GLS.

“Evidently, the Government is not going to ease off on land supply for private residential development until private housing prices movements are stable,” she said.

She added that some of the sites have attractive attributes that will lure developers, singling out a 409,000 sq ft site at Coronation Road / Victoria Park Road for landed housing.

Coronation road landed site

“Surrounded by mostly low-rise housing and good schools, and given the premier address, this site will be very sought after by developers. It has been more than a year since a landed residential site was made available on the Confirmed List,” she said.

Other sites at Mount Sophia, Kim Tian Road and Faber Road are also expected to draw much interest.

On the Reserve List, the sites with strong potential to be triggered could include those located near MRT stations, such as the ones at Toa Payoh Lorong 6/Toa Payoh Lorong 4, Prince Charles Crescent and Geylang East Ave 1, she added.

Mr Lee Sze Teck, Senior Manager of Training, Research and Consultancy at DWG, noted that the Government continued with the strong supply of EC sites to satisfy demand for the hybrid housing type and partly to moderate any increase in private home prices.

“Most of the EC sites are in the north and north-east. Both these regions already have a steady supply of EC sites this year. In the north-east, a number of HDB flats, particularly in Punggol have reached or are going to reach the five-year minimum occupation period,” he said.

“At the same time, the Government is stepping up development plans for Punggol. Rather than re-channel upgraders’ demand to other estates, the Government is providing another alternative to the upgraders,” he added.

Of the 3,111 EC units, 30 per cent or 933 units will be allocated to second-timers. Together with the large supply of Build-To-Order HDB flats and ECs launched for sale from 2010, this means that the resale market will see an influx of supply starting next year, Mr Lee noted.

“There could be an imbalance in the resale market if there is no growth in demand,” he said.

$332.7m top bid for Alexandra View

A closely watched tender for a residential site at Alexandra View drew a top bid of $332.7 million, or $970.18 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr), yesterday.

Singland Homes, which put up the top bid for the 99-year leasehold site, Alexandra View (Parcel B), beat five other bidders.

The Alexandra View land parcel is located within an established residential estate and a short 10 minutes’ drive to Orchard Road, the Central Business District, Marina Bay and the Southern Waterfront area where VivoCity and Sentosa are located.

Situated next to Redhill MRT station, future residents will enjoy convenient access to all parts of Singapore. The future residential development will also be well connected to major arterial roads and expressways such as Alexandra Road, Tanglin Road and Ayer Rajah Expressway.

$332.7m top bid for Alexandra View Parcel B

In addition, residents of the Alexandra View land parcel development can enjoy quiet respites at the nearby recreational parks at Telok Blangah Hill and Mount Faber. Recreational facilities such as the Delta Sports Hall and Swimming Complex are also located just a short 10 minutes’ walk away.

The future residential development will provide ideal homes for families with school-going children. Reputable schools located in the vicinity include Crescent Girls’ School and Gan Eng Seng Primary School.

Diverse and convenient shopping, dining and entertainment options are available at the nearby Tiong Bahru Plaza, Alexandra Village, Anchorpoint Shopping Centre, Queensway Shopping Centre and IKEA Alexandra.

Singapore Land has in the nearby vicinity a low-rise condo with about 109 units on a plot that it clinched at a state tender in February.

Mon Jervois, which has a Jervois Road address, is expected to be launched in late January.

“(For the Jervois Road site) we are looking at about $2,000 psf,” said Michael Ng, group general manager of Singapore Land and its parent, UIC.

Assuming it is awarded the site, the developer plans to erect a 43-storey residential tower.
The break-even cost will be about $1,500 psf, which translates to a selling price of about $1,700 psf, said Mr Ng.

“(The project will be) geared towards younger executive couples looking to buy for owner-occupation, or investors looking to rent the units out to expatriates working in the central business district or Orchard Road vicinity.”

The majority of the units will feature two bedrooms or two-plus-one and will be in the range of 800-1,000 square feet.

Joining the fray to protect its unlaunched project was a consortium comprising City Developments’ unit Sunmaster Holdings, Hong Leong Group’s Intrepid Investments and Hong Realty’s Garden Estates, which put up a bid of $271 million, or $790.30 psf ppr.

The consortium’s Echelon is a 43-storey condo with 508 units, and is located next to the subject site. Echelon is Previewing soon on 29th Dec this year, find out more here…

The second highest bid, which was put up by Far East Orchard and FCL Topaz, came in at $300.1 million, or $875.1 psf ppr.

The lowest offer for the land parcel was $268 million, or $781.56 psf ppr, which came from Mezzo Development.

Novena white site attracts top bid of $493m

Novena white site

A bullish top bid of almost $500million was lodged for a mixed-use site next to Novena MRT station in a 9-cornered contest yesterday. The Novena white site attracts top bid of $493 million.

The bid of $492.5million or $1632psf per plot ratio – is the highest ever submitted for a white site, which can accomodate a variety of uses. It easily beat the old record of $1409psf ppr lodged for a white site at Marina View by MGPA in September 2007.

Experts say the generally high bids could have been driven by the good sale prices for some strata-titled retail and office spaces and the buoyant tourism industry. The top offer came from a consortium comprising Hoi Hup RealtySunway Development and Hoi Hup JV Development, whose shareholders include Straits Construction and Hoi Hup Realty.

CapitaLand units Swift One, Swift Two and Taipan Trustee came in second with a $444.9 million bid. Other bidders included Far East Orchard, Sim Lian Group, Guthrie and UEM Land, which placed the lowest bid of $340.5million or $1128psf ppr. The 6677 sqm plot on the corner of Thomson road and Irrawaddy road has a maximum gross floor area of 28,043sqm, at least 30 per cent of which must be allocated for a hotel.

The rest can be for residential, office, or retail and complementary commercial uses, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said.

Hoi Hup added that apart from the mandated 30% hotel use, the remaining space will be for medical suites and shops, the latter to be in the basement and first storey.

Mr Lee Sze Teck, senior manager of training, research and consultancy at Dennis Wee Group, noted that the Novena area has not seen a new supply of office space for some time.

Demand for strata-titled office space in the fringe central business district area, like Novena, has typically been strong, which has likely attracted developers, he said.

Novena is a growing medical hub. Tan Tock Seng HospitalNovena Medical CentreNational Skin Centre, National Neuroscience Institute and Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital are all in the vicinity.

“As a hotel-cum residential site, a top bid of around $1300 to $1400 psf ppr would have been expected,” Mr Ong, Jones Lang LaSalle Real Estate’s national director of research and consultancy said.

“The strong bidding also factors in the ultra-convenience with the Novena MRT station below and shopping and eating facilities at Novena Square and other amenities nearby.”

Conveniently situated next to Novena MRT Station, the site enjoys excellent connectivity. The white-site is also highly accessible to the Central Business District (CBD) and Orchard Road.

The reserve list site at Novena (at junction of Thomson Road and Irrawaddy Road) was put up for sale in October after a developer committed to bid not less than $211.3 million for the mixed-use land parcel.

Novena white site aerial view

Jurong hotel site draws surprise top bid of $238m

Jurong Hotel Site | SGRealist.com21-Nov: With the Jcube recently opened this year and Lend Lease’s shopping mall – Jem – to be completed by mid 2013, the Jurong Gateway is set to be a bustling hub in the years to come! And now as surrounding parcels of land along Jurong Town Hall Road and Jurong Gateway zoned commercial, there will be a critical mass of business operating in Jurong East, other than the current International Business Park (IBP).

Jurong hotel site’s top bid of $238m

A record price has been set for hotel land in Singapore – $1,167.35 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr). This is for the first hotel development site, a 99-year lease and maximum permissible gross floor area of 18,957sqm, at Jurong Town Hall Road.

A state tender drew 11 bids from major players in the industry including Ascott Holdings, City Developments and United Engineers Developments but Tamerton Pte Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Resorts World Singapore (RWS) topped them all with its $238.2 million bid.

“The enthusiastic bidding shows developers’ confidence in the development of Jurong East into the next major commercial hub outside the central business district (CBD),” Mr Lee Sze Teck, senior manager of training, research and consultancy at property firm Dennis Wee Group.

Far East Organization unit Boo Han Holdings in partnership with the group’s listed vehicle, Far East Orchard, submitted a bid of $204.8 million or $1,003.56 psf ppr, placing it in second position.

This was 16.3 per cent lower than the top bid by RWS, which is also a wholly owned subsidiary of Genting Singapore.

Foray into Jurong a strategic move

HSR Property Group special adviser Donald Han said RWS’s foray into Jurong is a strategic move aimed at capturing the Malaysian visitors market.

“If they do not cater to some of their clients from Malaysia, who patronise their casinos but who do not have the budget for the $300-$400 rooms in Sentosa, they would lose out significantly on a potential income base,” Mr Han explained.

He added that the hotel development would most likely be a three-star property. The Jurong Country Club is just behind the hotel site and there will be plenty of retail amenities such as JCub, Jem, Westgate, IMM, Big Box in Jurong East.

Other bidders for the site were United Engineers Development ($984.50 psf ppr), Legend Land which is linked to Hotel 81 ($950.74 psf ppr), and City Development’s Redvale Investments and Redvale Developments ($784.12 psf ppr).

Though the record bid by Genting Singapore surprised most analysts BT spoke to, they are confident about demand for the upcoming hotel.

“The estimated breakeven of between $550,000 to $580,000 per room may appear to be slightly on the high side for an untested area like Jurong East, but it could still be acceptable for Genting which, because of synergies arising from its RWS operations, has a captive market to itself. Filling up the bulk of the rooms should therefore be more confidently executed for them than by others,” explained Savills Singapore research head Alan Cheong.

Other than providing accommodation for visitors to RWS, the hotel will also be well placed to cater to the growing business community in Jurong East, explained Mr Han.

“The timing is right and the fact that the hotel will be ready in the next three years or so, it will be right where the action is when the surrounding developments in Jurong Gateway are completed,” Mr Han said.

Promising long-term plans for Jurong Gateway

Said Jones Lang LaSalle national director Ong Teck Hui: “The long-term plans for Jurong Gateway do look very promising with a strong mix of office, retail, residential, hotel, entertainment and food & beverage uses. The site’s close proximity to Jurong East MRT station, upcoming developments like Jem, Westgate and others make it particularly attractive.”

RWS currently owns six hotels with 1,500 rooms. This development is the group’s first hotel away from Sentosa.

Four new sites released in November 2012

To provide developers and home-buyers with more choices for private housing, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Housing & Development Board (HDB) are releasing four sites for sale in November 2012.

The two land parcels at Jurong West Street 41 (Parcel A) and Ang Mo Kio (AMK) Avenue 2 are launched for sale today under the Confirmed List. In addition, Parcel B at Jurong West Street 41 is also made available today for application on the Reserve List. The mixed commercial and residential site at Yishun Ring Road will be launched for sale by public tender on 27 November 2012.

Together, these four sites can yield about 2,045 residential units.

Land Parcel at Ang Mo Kio Ave 2

AMK Ave 2 |

This site is located in an established residential area. The land site is at the intersection of Ang Mo Kio Ave 2 and Ang Mo Kio St 13. It is well connected to Central Expressway and Seletar Expressway. The future Mayflower MRT Station at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4, part of the new Thomson Line to be completed in 2021, is located nearby.

Two Land Parcels at Jurong West Street 41

These two land parcels are located within an established residential area. They are well connected to major arterial roads and expressways such as Boon Lay Way, Pan Island Expressway and Ayer Rajah Expressway. In addition, Lakeside MRT Station is located nearby.

Land Parcel at Yishun Ring Road

Situated at the junction of Yishun Ring Road and Yishun Avenue 9, the site is in the midst of an established HDB town with many upcoming new public housing developments. It is located near the Yishun MRT station and well-connected to Central Expressway and Seletar Expressway.