There is room for growth in private home sales if overseas buyers return: CDL

Suntec City View From High Up

SINGAPORE – While Housing Development Board (HDB) upgraders have assisted to keep new private residence sales buoyant, the probable return of foreign buyers in the midst of vaccine roll-outs and less closed borders could ignite the market, said a City Developments (CDL) official on Thursday (March 25).

Mr Chia Ngiang Hong, Group general manager at CDL, gave a briefing that developers had sold around 23,000 residential units during the 2013 to 2014 peak, while 9,982 units were sold last year and 9,912 transacted in 2019.

“Therefore, there is still area for growth,” he said. “With the vaccination rolling out smoothly and many nations trying to come up with reciprocal (travel) arrangements, we are hoping more foreigners and investors will enter the market in the near future.”

These remarks from Mr Chia came ahead of the condominium preview of the 165-unit leasehold One-North Eden, a western Singapore project conceived after the pandemic erupted.

The project comprises two towers near One-North MRT station and Buona Vista MRT interchange.

The finesse of the towers are inspired by nature and the conservation of 4 heritage trees, while a pixelated facade was designed to resemble a climbing vine on a tree trunk, said analysts.

The One North Eden location will draw crowds, as there is currently a lack of housing serving the corporations in that area.

This development is designed for the “new norm” of working from home because of the pandemic. It includes retail units on the ground level to serve as convenience, and has function rooms ready to host work related meetings.

New residential prices have maintained stability even as property developers’ margins have dropped because of increasing land and related expenses, which account for 60 to 75% of total expenditure, while construction has become pricier amid pandemic disruptions, Mr Chia said. Fortunately Penrose site location was gotten cheap from the last GLS, so savings can be passed on to the consumer.

Mr Chia also commented, “I need to emphasise that 1 size doesn’t fit all”, when questioned if CapitaLand’s restructuring decision to divide its more lucrative property management business from its real estate development arm will become an example for other property players.

“Our business model differs from theirs in terms of scale and our residential property development component. CapitaLand’s residential property portfolio is quite different from ours,” he said.

“At some juncture, if there’s a possibility, we will explore some type of restructuring, but it may not necessarily be similar to CapitaLand’s… The situation is rather different between us and CapitaLand.”

“In terms of assets that (can be) extricated for value, we do possess substantial assets in the portfolio. However CapitaLand does not have a similar type of asset on their side.”

Mr Chia noted that CDL has an excellent record of winning tenders for land from the GLS programme too, and has its sight on a white site within Kampong Bugis that URA has made available for application. That’s near to where Penrose condo is.

The white site, which is on the reserve list, will be available for sale to a master developer to permit for a thorough masterplan development in phases, including the implementation of a district-wide “car-lite” movement and the sustainable urban solution.

The 8.2 hectare site could build up to 4,000 new homes and 50,000 square meters of gross floor area for serviced apartments, offices, retail options, and for the use of the community.

If CDL obtains the site, it could “give substantially a good land bank for the long term”, said Mr Chia.

“By far, no one has activated it, but we acknowledge they are bringing forward the tender. We have to observe how the authorities respond to the real estate market’s need for land replenishment.”

He topped that remark saying that private residences that are aiming for a collective sale but are “very big in terms of monetary quantum, like Mandarin Gardens and Braddell View”, will meet more challenges.

“The ones that are less than $1 billion will draw more interest.”

CDL head of property development and executive vice-president, Ms Lee Mei Ling, said that “in terms of bidding for new land, there won’t be a big rush. Every developer will be cautious”.


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