Monday, August 31, 2009

Property Launches Update: Trevista selling like hotcakes

As posted in on 29 August 2009 by John Property Launches Update: Trevista selling like hotcakes

You've heard all about yesterday's frenzy at the Trevista showflat (if you've been living under a rock, here's an article from BT and ST). Well, we popped by today to take a look, and boy was it packed! A little word of advice to those interested - act fast and act now! Units are selling like hotcakes!

Here's a little appetizer before our main review, garnished with some prices and served with a couple of delectable photos.

Many units have already been sold. According to our sources, the 1 and 1+1BR units are all sold out, some low floor 2+1BR units remain and entire stacks of east-facing 3BR units are all gone! The developer is releasing more units as we speak, so if you're thinking of getting a unit there, better make your way down before all the good ones are gone (and frankly, most of them are).

Prices (as of yesterday and today)*

28 Aug 2009
13 flr, 463 sqft 1BR - about $530k or $1,145 psf
8 flr, 689 sqft 1+1BR - about $674k or $978 psf
9 flr, 861 sqft 2BR - about $776k or $901psf
22 flr, 1,270 sqft 3BR - about $1.198m or $943 psf

29 Aug 2009
7 flr, 689 sqft 1+1BR - around $704k or $1,021 psf
24 flr, 926 sqft 2BR - around $925k or $998 psf
15 flr, 1,012 sqft 2+1BR - around $1.007m or $995 psf
30 flr, 1,270 sqft 3BR - around $1.232m or $1,030 psf
27 flr, 1,733 sqft 4BR - around $1.468m or $847 psf

*Note that prices are indicative and always change, especially if the developer thinks the units are in demand. We'd advise that you check with your agent for the current price.

Our first impression so far?
Let's just say Centro Residences at Ang Mo Kio had better be worried.

We'll have the full review up soon, so stay tuned!

Drop me an email at for a full brief on the project.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Trevista - NTUC Union Members Advantage


All buyers of Trevista (including NTUC Union Members) enjoy the same price but NTUC Union Members are further entitled to the following benefits:

Special Benefits For NTUC UNION Member

NTUC Union members who purchased a unit in Trevista during the preview period will be entitled to 55,000 LinkPoints and a choice of 1 additional package (worth up to $3,000 for Type A & B & up to $6,000 for Type C & D):

a) 2-year Mortgage Protection Plan (MPP) by NTUC Income;

b) Integrated fridge within the apartment;

c) Family cash rebate - that is for Purchaser(s)' who has parents or children staying within Toa Payoh; or immediate family members who buy a unit in Trevista as well.

Terms and conditions

1) Buyer has to be a NTUC Union members who are paying $9/ month for subscription fee. (Refer to attached cards for reference) I.e Buyers need to have either card to enjoy the benefits above

2) Only 1-time credit of 55,000 LinkPoints will be credited to 1 Purchaser who is a NTUC union member regardless of the number of units purchased. For eg Buyer A bought #01-01 and #01-02. Linkpoints will only be credited to Buyer A once unless the joint owner, Buyer B for say #01-02 is also a Union member. Hence another 55,000 Linkpoints will be credited into Buyer B's account.

3) For the additional packages listed above,

a) To note this is only for a limited period and it will only be available during preview period.

b) The packages to the Buyer will be withdrawn if Buyer sub-sell the unit within 6 months from date of Option

ci) Family cash rebate - this is for Buyers who have parents/children's residing in Toa Payoh and evidence will be needed to show the Toa Payoh address; or
cii) Immediate family members who buy another unit in Trevista

d) MPP - subject to the normal assessment by insurer.
In the event if Buyers are keen to register as a NTUC member to enjoy this benefit, they can register via under "Sign Me Up" on the right hand column.

Preview targeted on 28 Aug 09, NTUC UNION Members are invited to go at 2pm.

Monday, August 24, 2009

No change to income tax treatment for individuals who sell their properties


1. Following the recent public consultation exercise, the Ministry of Finance has decided not to change the current income tax framework with regard to individuals who sell their properties.

2. Under the current framework, IRAS considers the facts and circumstances of each case to determine if the individual owner concerned should be subject to income tax on the property disposal gains. In practice, IRAS has assessed gains from property disposals to be taxable income for only a small number of individuals – typically those who regularly transact in property.

3. Under the proposal that was put up for public consultation, individuals who sold their properties would be certain that the gains they made would not be subject to income tax if they had not sold any other properties in the preceding four years. Under all other circumstances, whether the gains from a property sale were subject to income tax would have continued to depend on the facts and circumstances of the case.

4. The proposed change to the Income Tax Act was in response to public feedback over the years that there should be certainty of non-taxation for individuals who did not transact frequently in properties. As the Ministry of Finance has emphasised earlier, the proposal concerned changes in the income tax framework from a long term perspective, and was not aimed at influencing the property market cycle. In particular, the proposed change involved no tightening of the current income tax treatment for individuals who sell their properties.

5. The proposal was put up for feedback under the Income Tax Act public consultation exercise from 22 June to 14 July 2009. 64 comments were received on the proposed relaxation of income tax treatment for individuals who sell their properties. Of these, 60 comments were not in support of the proposed change. Salient public feedback on the proposed change included the following:
• The proposed change could bias property purchase decisions towards investing in one bigger property rather than numerous smaller properties. This is because certainty of non-taxation would be provided for disposal of one property within any four years, regardless of the property’s value.
• There were many other possible factors, besides the frequency of property disposal, which could merit granting certainty of non-taxation. These factors include the holding period of the particular property (for example, a property may have been held for a very long time but disposed off together with another property within the same four-year period). Other factors include the circumstances leading to the disposal. However, to cater to all such factors would not be straight forward, and would make the income tax treatment for property disposals complex.
• The proposed change could create inadvertent uncertainty for individuals who sell more than one property within any four years, even though there was no change to the current income tax treatment for such cases.
6. The Ministry of Finance sees merits in these points raised in the public feedback to the proposed change. It has also considered possible alternatives for providing certainty of non-taxation to individuals who sell their properties. The alternatives, however, bring drawbacks and complexities of their own.

7. The Ministry has therefore decided that it is, on balance, best to retain the current framework of income tax treatment for individuals who sell their properties. With this decision, IRAS will continue to consider the facts and circumstances of each disposal to determine if the individual owner concerned should be subject to income tax on the property disposal gains.

8. This current approach of levying income tax on individuals who derive income from selling their properties is a common tax treatment adopted in many other jurisdictions[1] - irrespective of whether that jurisdiction imposes a capital gains tax on property transactions.

9. The facts and circumstances that IRAS considers in determining whether an individual is deriving income from selling his property, similar to other tax authorities, include the situation leading to the sale, how long the individual has held the property, and how frequently he has been selling properties. As in the past, IRAS does not expect that many individuals will be assessed as having to pay income tax on gains from selling their property.

10. The government’s response to public feedback on the other changes to the Income Tax Act are contained in another press statement (“MOF accepts for implementation majority of suggestions received on draft Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2009”) released today.

21 August 2009

Circular 090814 - MOF

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Property Launches Update: Trevista pricing and launch date

As posted in
on 19 Aug 2009 by John Property Launches Update: Trevista pricing and launch date

Update: Trevista pricing and launch date

UPDATE: You might have already heard, or you might have already guessed, the Toa Payoh condo Trevista would be going for around S$1,000 psf.

And according to our sources, you need to bring a signed cheque along if you want to enter the VVIP preview this weekend.

We've found some listings online (PropertyGuru) that saw a 2BR, 926 sqft unit going for around S$949,000 or S$1,024 psf. A 465 sqft Studio is going for about S$474,000 or S$1,019 psf.

Our sources also confirmed the $1,000 psf asking price.

Compared to the 99-year leasehold, 11-year old Oleander Towers (sitting right beside Toa Payoh MRT), caveats lodged in June this year averaged S$725 psf.

One other interesting development is that agents are now asking for signed cheques from interested buyers first before being allowed into the VVIP or VIP previews. Obviously it's a way to weed out the curious onlooker from the serious buyer. What's more, it creates an impression that there are plenty of eager buyers waving cheques to get in - excellent PR! Kudos.

Launch date tentatively set for 28 August 2009.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Condo Review: Waterfront Key

As posted in
on 7 Aug 2009 by John Condo Review: Waterfront Key

About Waterfront Key

Situated right in front of Bedok Reservoir, the 437-unit Waterfront Key is jointly developed by Far East Organization (Centro Residences) and Frasers Centrepoint (8@Woodleigh). This 99-year, District 16 condo is made up of eight 15-storey blocks with a unit mix ranging from 2BRs to Penthouses. TOP is scheduled for Dec 2015 (that's 6 years from now!).

Marketed heavily as waterfront living (their brochure proudly proclaims "Live at the water's edge"), residents are separated from the scenic waters of the reservoir by only the four-lane Bedok Reservoir Road. So this is not some sales and marketing spin (like when 'near' is not so near or when a '3 minute walk' is actually 10 minutes), one is literally living at the water's edge.

Facilities are "full condo" which include a 50m lap pool, tennis courts, hydro-therapy pool and jogging track.

Interestingly the next door Waterfront Waves (launched circa late 2007) is also developed by the same pair above, so they share the same showroom and the same waterfront living concept.

First Impression
One cannot help but notice the calming presence of Bedok Reservoir, the view is fantastic and the sunsets are something worth looking forward to. We noticed immediately the two tennis courts in the scale model, something of a rarity these days. The condo also sits on large plot of land, hence they can afford to dedicate a significant area to facilities like tennis courts, gym, sauna and function rooms. Parking is all underground.

Residents get to choose from two views - the Reservoir view and the Bedok Town Park view. Reservoir views are limited to the larger 3 and 4 BRs while the smaller 2BRs are left with the Park (and canal) view.

There was also some kind of promotion going on, we saw a mini notebook, a mountain bike and some other freebies placed in the corner. Apparently when you buy a 'star' unit, you get to keep all those items. We were wondering if that's more counter-productive - would buyers think there's something wrong with the unit if freebies must be thrown in to sweeten the deal?

While we were there, all the 2BR units were sold (according to the agent) and only five of the eight towers were released - Blocks D, E, F,G and H.

Waterfront Key units facing the reservoir get a wonderful view

Undeniably the proximity to Bedok Reservoir is a big plus. The view is truly unique and few mass market condos in Singapore can lay claim to true waterfront living. One can sit by the shore and have an enjoyable picnic in the evenings, go for a relaxing run or canoe even.

Buying a car would be a good idea if you want to live here. Waterfront Key is some distance away from the amenities, MRTs and shopping malls in Tampines and Bedok. If you wish to get to either of those places by bus, the bus stop is located conveniently outside the condo. The trip will take about 15 to 20 minutes.

There are plenty of schools nearby, notably Temasek Polytechnic right across the reservoir. The future fourth university and Changi Business Park are a 10 minute drive away. The Bedok Park Connector, which leads to the East Coast Park is close by as well.

Note that the future Downtown Line could be running right below the project, with the proposed "Reservoir" MRT station about 800m away (Source: SinGeo. Edit 08 Aug 2009: There is no official information from LTA as to where exactly this station will be.) The line is scheduled to be completed by 2016.

Unit Types and estimated Floor Sizes (sqft)
Sadly, the brochure gave no indication of the number of units and its sizes, here's what we could gather online:

2 BR - 866 to 1,178
3 BR Compact - 1,007 to 1,108
3 BR - 1,133 to 1,742
3+1 BR - 1,331 to 1,880
4 BR- 1,488 to 1,566
PH - 2,860 to 3,038

Choice of Units
The best units would be the ones with an expansive view of the reservoir, which means all those north facing units from blocks A to E. Anything above the sixth floor would guarantee an unblocked view (we hope). One might also want to check where the bus stops are when choosing units. We feel the best apartments would be Units 02, 05, 12, 13 and 15 on floors 10 and above.

Interior and Layout*

The interiors are standard fare - bay windows, large balconies and average-sized bedrooms. All units come with bomb shelters which open into the kitchen. The kitchen itself feels small and rather crammed. Appliances include the cooker hood and hob. The bathroom fittings are average, nothing too fancy. However, the finish of the bathroom walls and floors look good. Of note are the living room floors, which are marble. Bedrooms have timber flooring.

*We'd like to point out that in the brochure given to us, there were no details regarding the type of fittings, the appliances and finishings of the units in Waterfront Key. In fact, apart from core info like features and layouts, very little information was provided about the unit sizes, the type of units, the security features, etc.

Information regarding the finishings and so on were obtained from the property agent who guided us through the showflat. We suggest buyers ensure that they know in detail what they are getting when they sign on the dotted line.


While we were there, a 7th floor, 1,518 sqft 4 BR unit facing the reservoir was going for around S$1,449,000, which works out to S$955 psf. However, they were willing to give a 'special 10% discount' which then computes to around S$860psf. A 14th floor, 1,173 sqft 3BR Compact unit (facing the Bedok Town Park) came to S$1,020,000 or S$869psf, after 'discount': S$783 psf.

Note that the developers have raised their prices, it was reported on July 20 (BT - "50-60 units sold at Volari, 120 at Waterfront Key") that prices were averaging S$735psf.

It's obvious that the quantum for 3BR units and above (around S$1.2 million and above) is putting off buyers with a tighter budget, like the current crop of HDB upgraders. They are snapping up units under that magic $1m mark, which is why the 2BR here are apparently all sold out.

Next door Waterfront Waves (TOP late-2012) had the last five caveats lodged (as of 7 Aug 2009) at an average of S$710. A 1,292 sqft unit went for S$1,081,190 (or S$837psf) in July 2009. Another 1,281 sqft unit went for S$754,400 or S$589 psf.

Baywater (TOP 2006) - which is also next door - averaged S$620 psf for the two caveats lodged in June 2009

Final Word

With 437 units at Waterfront Key, this would be one crowded condo. The location is not the best too. However, the view and proximity to the reservoir are big pluses, and the developers have done well to play that unique selling point up.

Buyers can consider the potential appreciation that comes with the Downtown line in 2016, but you have to wait a good seven years or longer for that to happen (if it happens). Even so, you should also look at the other condos that are much closer to the proposed Reservoir station. Note also that there are other condos near existing MRTs (Optima and Double Bay Residences) going around the same price or lower.

If you like living near Bedok Reservoir and don't really need the view, then it would be prudent to look at other condos nearby which offer a more competitive rate.

Condos can command a premium by virtue of it's location, especially if it's very close to an MRT or close to the CBD. In the case of Waterfront Keys, we're just not sure if being beside Bedok Reservoir justifies that extra cost. If you're comfortable paying premium, then we feel you should only think about those units with the Reservoir view. It's pointless forking out more if you don't at least get to look at sunsets from your bedroom.

We would love to hear your comments or showroom updates here.

[UPDATE 17 Aug 2009: Waterfront Key has sold 191 units at median price of $734psf. Source: ST- "Pte homes sales hit high"]

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Condo Review: Optima @ Tanah Merah

As posted in
on 5 Aug 2009 by John Condo Review: Optima @ Tanah Merah


This condo sold out in a matter of three days. Initially we thought a review of a sold out condo would be pointless. But with units appearing on the subsale market within a matter of days and since we actually made our way down to Tanah Merah, it would be a pity not to review Singapore's hottest selling condo. We're sure you'd want to know why it's such a popular project.

About Optima @ Tanah Merah

This 297-unit project has five 14-storey blocks that is located right across the Tanah Merah MRT. This District 16, 99-year leasehold project is expected to TOP in mid-2014 and is developed by TID Pte Ltd - a joint venture between Mitsui Fudosan of Japan and The Hong Leong Group.

It comes complete with "full condo" facilities, including a 50m lap pool and a tennis court.

First Impression

It's hard to miss Tanah Merah MRT right across the street. And the developers have intentionally built the showroom entrance right next to the MRT exit. Indeed, residents only need to walk a very short distance to enter the condo from the side gate, via card access of course.

We see immediately that Optima @ Tanah Merah is built on quite a small plot of land. Major facilities like the pool and gym are squeezed right between the blocks, one might feel hemmed in while relaxing in the pool. Thankfully, the parking lots are all in the basement.


You can't beat being literally right next to the MRT. That however comes with a few caveats, the noise of the trains in the early morning and the view of the tracks for the low to mid level units (make sure you draw those curtains if you're doing something naughty).

Malls, amenities, food centres are all one or two stops away via Bedok, Simei and Tampines MRT. It's also close to Changi Airport, Singapore Expo, the future fourth university and Changi Business Park, a plus point for buyers looking to rent out.

The area is quiet, apart from the trains. It's mostly residential, so not much noise apart from kids playing in the park and the empty field either side of the project.

Cyclists and joggers would appreciate the Bedok Park Connector which is nearby and connects the East Coast Park and Bedok Reservoir. East Coast Park is a short drive away too.

Obviously it's some distance away from town. A train ride to Orchard would take about 20 to 25 mins, same if you drive or take a taxi.

Unit Types and Estimated Sizes (sqft)

32 x 1 BR (484 - 797)
78 x 2 BR (700 - 1,163)
67 x 2+1 BR (915-1,292)
65 x 3 BR(1,195 - 1,948)
13 x 3+1 BR (1,259 - 1,948)
24 x 4 BR (1,421 - 1,539)
16 x Penthouse (1,346 - 2,336)
2 x Sky Villa (2,960)

Choice of Units
Top floor penthouses facing the East Coast Park would have the best view (and according to the brochure a sea view as well). Units facing Casa Merah, and the empty plot of land to the West are not ideal. The next best units would be ones facing the east where only low floor landed properties would be in your way. High floor units 03, 04, 07, 08 and 11 would be ideal.

Interior and Layout

The finishings are above average. One thing that wowed us was the master bathrooms which were tiled in stone (which looked very much like marble) making it look very luxurious. The bathroom fittings were top quality - Grohe and Duravit, toilet seats were not 'quiet-close' though. Some units have a bathtub, some just have a spacious shower stall.

The living room floors are laid with homogenous tiles. The kitchen comes with cooker hob, hood and nicely, a built-in oven. The bedrooms are nothing much to shout about, average-sized (small) with bay windows. Balconies have large planter boxes.


When it opened for sale, we heard prices were going around an average of S$790psf. Developers then raised the price to an average of S$810 to S$820psf due to the crazy response.

2BR and 2+1BR units went for about S$860psf (S$700-800k range), 3BR were going for S$820psf (around S$980k region). Studios were hitting close to the S$1,000 psf mark.

By comparison, July's caveats of next door Casa Merah (TOP 2010) came to an average of S$728 psf.

In terms of price, had it not sold out, we feel it could have come down a bit more in the later months when all the frenzy has died down. That said, given that it sold out within three days, we guess many people feel it's quite fair. Don't forget the proximity to the MRT commands a premium too.

Final Word

Singaporeans know a good deal when they see one, and Optima is no exception. In case you've been living under a rock, here is what happened.

Frankly it's hard to fault Optima @ Tanah Merah, the location is excellent, the finishings above average for a mass market condo and the MRT is right next door. The minus points - the small plot size, the 99-year leasehold and the distance from town - are not significant.

In the end, we feel the Optima would still sell well, regardless of whatever the property climate. It looks like TID has got the formula just about right, other developers should take a leaf from their book.

We would love to hear your comments or showroom updates here.

Drop me an email at for a full brief on the project.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Property Launches Trevista at Toa Payoh

As posted in
on 3 Aug 2009 by John Property Launches Trevista at Toa Payoh on the way

Trevista at Toa Payoh on the way
The Trevista is a 99-year, 590-unit condo is to be build right in the heart of Toa Payoh. The three tower, 39-storey condo is developed by NTUC Choice homes and has a unit mix of Studio, 1+1, 2, 2+1, 3 and 4 bedrooms.

Estimated Units and Sizes (sqft)
19 x Studio (465)
25 x 1+1 BR (690)
117 x 2 BR (860 – 926)
19 x 2+1 BR (1,012)
298 x 3 BR (1,100 – 1,280)
112 x 4 BR (1,560 – 1,730)

Expected Date of Completion
Late 2012

[Update 17 Aug 2009: We've added the site layout for Trevista. Note that most of the units are generally East-West facing.]

Drop me an email at for a full brief on the project.