Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Jim Rogers predicts a new recession in 2012

Jim Rogers, the market sage, has warned the global economy is just two years away from another recession, but remains ill-prepared to cope with the after-effects.

Mr Rogers, the respected currency trader and hedge fund pioneer, cautioned that when the downturn takes hold “the world is going to be in worse shape because the world has shot all its bullets.”

Speaking in an interview with business television channel CNBC, the septuagenarian investor said that “since the beginning of time” there has been a recession every four-to-six years, and that’s mean another one is due around 2012.

However, he said that due to the extraordinary measures already adopted by central banks and governments around the world, the arsenal of available tools to combat the next recession is somewhat lacking.

With reference to Ben Bernanke, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, he said: “Is Mr Bernanke going to print more money than he already has? No, the world would run out of trees.”

Meanwhile, Robert Shiller, co-creator of the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller house price index, warned that the next downturn may come even sooner.

“For me a double-dip is another recession before we’ve healed from this recession. The probability of that kind of double-dip is more than 50pc. I actually expect it,” he said. His prediction came despite the S&P/Case-Shiller index for May showing a 4.6pc year-on-year increase in house prices in 20 major US conurbations.

As posted in The Daily Telegraph by James Quinn

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

HDB and Private resale prices reach new highs, again.

Singapore, you are fabulous with these new high property prices (again)!

Half-empty, most will probably struggle to pay off these huge loans for a long time to come. Half-full, we are now more or less a global metropolis competing with all the top dogs - Singapore (or rather her real estate prices) has certainly come a long way and truth be told we are really proud of what we have achieved.

Anyway, as splashed all over the headlines during the weekend:

Private prices has continued to go up, but at a more measured pace. Only 5.3 percent in this quarter! This has pushed the residential property price index to an all-time high as seen below:

HDB meanwhile, has also continued to move upwards by 4.1% in the 2nd Quarter 2010. Although resale transactions dipped 11% year on year (2nd Q 2009). The most eye-popping news however was that median Cash-Over-Valuation has made a vicious come back and increased to $30,000 (how is it that this figure is so round and perfect?). 96% of all resale flats sold with COV.

In timely fashion, HDB has also announced that it is increasing new flat supply again to meet demand from first-timer households and setting itself up for an epic oversupply and crash in 2014 to divert demand from the HDB resale market. Up to another 7,200 BTO flats will be launched in the second half of 2010 in Woodlands, Yishun, Punggol and Sengkang. In total about 16,000 brand new flats will be created in 2010 alone (that would house 16,000 families!).

Of course more Design Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) and Executive Condominium (EC) flats will supplement the increased supply.

Hmm...are these sky high prices here to stay?

As posted in by Francis

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Singapore's Consumer Prices Rise a Sixth Month on Transport, Housing Costs

Singapore’s consumer prices rose for a sixth month in June as an increase in car and electricity prices pushed transportation and housing costs higher.

The consumer price index climbed 2.7 percent from a year earlier, Singapore’s Department of Statistics said in a statement today. That was less than the 3.5 percent median estimate of eight economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Prices fell 1 percent from May, without adjusting for seasonal factors.

Singapore expanded at a record pace in the first six months of 2010, putting the economy in contention for the world’s fastest-growing this year. Faster inflation this year may prompt the central bank to maintain a policy of allowing the currency to appreciate to contain prices at its next review in October.

“You have to nip the inflation threat as quick as possible,” Geoff Howie, a senior vice president at MF Global Singapore Ltd., part of the world’s largest broker of exchange- traded futures and options, said before the report. “We see more gradual and modest appreciation” of the Singapore dollar.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore, which uses the currency instead of interest rates to conduct monetary policy, said in April it would undertake a one-time revaluation of the currency and allow a gradual and modest appreciation. Inflation will probably average between 2.5 percent and 3.5 percent this year, the central bank said.

Housing prices, the biggest component of the consumer price index, climbed 2.3 percent from a year earlier, and transport costs increased 10.3 percent. Food prices rose 1.2 percent.

The cost of buying cars and motorcycles has surged as rising demand and falling supply caused the prices for some vehicle permits to more than double since the end of December. Singapore controls pollution and congestion on its roads by selling a limited number of permits every year for each category of vehicles.

As posted in Bloomberg by Shamim Adam

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Every fourth migrant in Singapore an Indian: says a newsdaily

Indian nationals settling down in Singapore due to its friendly-environment, now account for about a quarter of the total 1.79 million foreigners and permanent residents' population, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

According to a report published in The Straits Times the number of Indian nationals living in Singapore has doubled to 400,000 from 200,000 two years ago.

It also reports the number of Indians setting up companies in Singapore has doubled from 1,500 in 2006 to 3,000 now, most of whom are doing businesses in the information technology, finance, trading and food and beverages sector.

Tamil, which is the fourth official language in the city country after English, Chinese and Malay, is another magnet for Indian nationals from the Southern Indian states

considering settlement in Singapore, Nikhilesh Gupta,president of the Bengali Association, Singapore told the newspaper.

While top range professionals are moving into engineering, information technology and finance sectors, others work in the skilled and semi-skilled jobs in construction and marine industries.

Nikhil Engineer, 34, and his family relocated from London to Singapore two years ago. Engineer, who plans to stay permanently in Singapore, says he made this decision as Singapore is closer to his relatives in India and is a good place to raise his two young children.

In sports too, Indians' passion for Cricket has made this game more popular in the country. The daily reports Singapore Cricket Association, which says its domestic league has grown to 90 teams from 36 teams in 2007.

The shift in sports culture is evident over the weekends as cricket stumps have become as common as football goal posts on Singapore playing fields, reports the daily.

As posted in GNA

Friday, July 23, 2010

GIC Says Risk of Shocks May Trigger World Recession `Sooner Than Expected'

The global rebound is “fragile” and shocks could push the world toward another recession, according to Government of Singapore Investment Corp., manager of more than $100 billion of the nation’s foreign reserves.

Risks to the global recovery have increased due to Europe’s debt turmoil, continued deleveraging in the U.S. and protectionist pressures, Tony Tan, deputy chairman of GIC, said in a speech in Singapore today. The fund is ranked the world’s sixth-largest state investment company by Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute in California.

“The economic recovery, while real, is fragile and there is a risk that negative shocks could push the global economy towards a recession sooner than expected,” Tan said. “The strong rebound in global industrial production is peaking while monetary and fiscal policies, particularly in the larger emerging economies, are being normalized.”

Policy makers in most developed economies have refrained from raising interest rates from record lows amid concern the global recovery will falter. The International Monetary Fund this month said financial-market turmoil has increased the risks to the rebound, and Moody’s Investors Service lowered its credit ratings on Portugal and Ireland.

“The challenge for policy makers in many developed economies will be to convince markets that they have credible plans to ensure sustainable public finances over the medium to long term, while minimizing the negative short-term impact on growth,” Tan said. “While markets have focused on Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Italy, this risk remains high for the U.K., U.S., and Japan.”

Bernanke’s Comments

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said July 21 the economic outlook remains “unusually uncertain,” adding to concern the global recovery is losing steam. The comments sent crude oil and metal prices lower and triggered declines in stocks in the U.S. and Asia.

Developed economies will take a “long time” to recover fully from the global crisis and emerging nations such as Brazil, Russia, India and China will gain importance, Tan said.

The world economy may grow 4 percent in 2010, before expanding at a more moderate pace next year, he said. Growth in Asia excluding Japan may reach 8 percent this year, with China and India expanding 8 percent to 10 percent, Tan estimated.

Emerging Markets

“For investors, the rise of emerging markets will mean that a larger proportion of their investments will be in these markets,” he said. “Far from being a risky and perhaps optional part of their portfolios, emerging markets will become a core and unavoidable asset class in global portfolios.”

GIC’s investments in stocks accounted for 38 percent of its portfolio in the year to March 31, 2009, while bond investments represented 24 percent, according to its annual report released in September. Allocations to alternative investments, including private equity, real estate and hedge funds, made up 30 percent of its portfolio.

GIC bought stakes in Citigroup Inc. and UBS AG in 2008 as the collapse in the U.S. subprime mortgage market in 2007 froze credit markets and led to almost $1.8 trillion in losses and writedowns at financial institutions worldwide.

The global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 will likely “accelerate the shift in economic power from the developed to the emerging world,” Tan said. “Asia is at the cusp of the next stage in its development.”

As posted in Bloomberg by Shamim Adam and Netty Ismail

IRAS set to launch new e-Stamping website

Starting July 27, 2010 businesses and individuals in Singapore can e-Stamp their documents and pay stamp duty at IRAS’ new e-Stamping website.
With the new e-Stamping website, any individual can stamp his document electronically, from his home or office without the hassle of physically moving his legal/commercial documents to the stamp duty counters.

The new e-Stamping website is free of charge for anyone who wishes to stamp his document and pay stamp duty via the Internet.  All that one has to do is key in the details of the document on which stamp duty is payable and the system will automatically compute the amount of stamp duty he needs to pay. Once payment is made, he can print the “Certificate of Stamp Duty” immediately. The new e-Stamping website also allows registered users to view their past e-Stamping transactions or apply for stamp duty refund.

Under the Stamp Duties Act, documents relating to property and shares must be stamped and these include lease, sale and purchase, gift or mortgage of property. Currently, individuals have to go to the stamp duty counter at IRAS’ Taxpayer Service  Centre or Chinatown service bureau (operated by CrimsonLogic Pte Ltd) to have their documents stamped manually. The existing e-Stamping website is only available to law firms, secretariat firms and estate agencies and they have to pay a monthly subscription fee and transaction fee for every document stamped.

With the introduction of the new e-Stamping website on Tuesday, the existing e-Stamping website will shut down on 23 July 2010 (Friday).   In view of the switch over, the due date for all documents that must be stamped by 23, 24, 25 or 26 July 2010 will be extended to 2 August 2010.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

URA releases 2 land parcels for sale at Eunos and Sengkang

URA released 2 plots of land today at Jalan Eunos and Buangkok Drive/Sengkang Central. Both are meant for 99-year leasehold residential development.

The Jalan Eunos land parcel has a site area of 441,320 sqft, with a gross floor area of 621,788 sqft and can house 525 housing units. It is under the confirmed list of of the Government Land Sales programme and well...sits close to the PIE.

The Sengkang/Buangkok site has an area of 193,750 sqft, with a gross floor area of 592,306 sqft and can house approximately 495 housing units.

It will not take a genius to figure out that while the site at Buangkok is only on the reserve list and not exactly available until someone triggers the sale by application - it is the better of the two sites. Sitting so close to Buangkok MRT, it will be hot - and we are pretty sure the bidding war for it will be fast and furious. It takes about 2-3minutes to cross the road and get to the station from its location (similar to The Quartz).

As posted in by Cheryl Han

Monday, July 19, 2010

847 private homes sold in June 2010

According to the latest figures from URA, out of the 1,010 units launched, only 847 private homes were sold in the past month. This is a 21% drop from last month’s already low sales of 1,078 apartments.

April’s sales of 2,207 units were the highest so far, while total transactions for June is the lowest this year.

Was it really due to the June school holidays and the World Cup? Could it be something else?

Speculation aside, here are the most popular choices for June:
•    The Minton at Lorong Ah Soo, with 173 units sold (median price $871 psf)
•    La Brisa at Lor 28 Geylang, with 82 units sold (median price $960 psf)
•    Waterfront Gold at Bedok Reservoir, with 77 units sold (median price $996 psf)

Here are the more expensive units sold this month:
•    Nassim Park Residences, sold at $4,120 psf
•    The Ritz Carlton residences at Cairnhill Road, sold at $3,664 psf
•    Orchard View, sold at $3,548 psf
•    The Laurels, sold at $3,341 psf

The most drastic drop in sales percentage was that of the $1,000-$1,500 psf homes. Compared to May’s transactions of 736 units, June’s was only 306 units. This translates to a 58% drop in sales.

This is followed by high-end homes, which saw only 51 units sold in June, compared to May’s 109 units, which meant a 53% decease. Mass market condos with a price range of $751-$1,000 only fell by nearly 20%, with 345 units sold in June, compared to 422 sold in May. The Minton at Lorong Ah Soo still proves to be quite popular even though it did not see a sell-out crowd from the start, with 173 units sold at the median price of $871 psf.

We all know that the market has come to a slowdown in June, but what should be read is that prices are climbing but less buyers are biting. Perhaps buyers and investors are weary.

As posted in by Cheryl Han

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Changes to en bloc sale legislation effective today

The Land Titles (Strata) (Amendment) Act, enacted by Parliament on May 18, will take effect from today, July 15, the Ministry of Law said yesterday.

The key provisions of the new Act include:

Refinement of the Strata Titles Board's role to focus on mediation for en bloc sale applications.

Imposition of a two-year restriction period, from the date of the initial failed en bloc attempt. The first retry requires approval from 50 per cent of the combined share value or number of owners. For the second and subsequent re-tries, approval from 80 per cent is needed.

The automatic dissolution of any Sales Committee that has not received any signatories to its Collective Sales Agreement (CSA) within one year of the Committee's formation. For existing committees who have not collected any valid signatures for their CSA as of the date of commencement, the one-year period begins on the date of commencement of the new Act.

Expansion of the disclosure requirements to stipulate that candidates standing for election to the Collective Sale Committee must declare the extent of ownership that he or any connected person has in the strata development.

Stipulation of a one-hour waiting time for the quorum of 30 per cent of share value to be reached, failing which the Extraordinary General Meeting would be dissolved.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Waterfront living more Indians are buying into it

FROM the plush sofas in the elegant living room of their Sentosa Cove bungalow, the Thakran family enjoys taking in the view beyond their patio and the plunge pool... the Singapore skyline, punctuated occasionally by tankers taking on their cargo at the Tanjong Pagar container terminals.

The only intrusion to the calm, soothing sound of waves breaking gently on the shoreline, a hop, skip and a jump from where they sit in their 13,000 sq ft bungalow, is the occasional blare of a ship's horn.

That view was one of the reasons Mr Ravi Thakran, his wife Anjali and their sons Ishaan and Soman moved to the exclusive gated community on Sentosa last year.

The lifestyle was the other reason.

"I was looking for something more peaceful. It just fit the bill fabulously," said Mrs Thakran.

For Mr Thakran, who is LVMH's group president of South Asia, South-east Asia and the Middle East, his Sentosa Cove home is a sanctuary from his very busy schedule and gives him an opportunity to spend more time with his growing boys, aged 12 and 13.

He also wanted to give them a home where they could enjoy the outdoors, cycling and swimming, more than they would if they continued to live in their city condominium.

"This place gives a sense of space. At this age, it's great for kids to have that life and even for us to spend that time in this environment," said Mr Thakran.

It was for the same reasons that their friends - Mr Mahesh Sivaswamy, managing director of Orient Express Lines and vice-chairman of the Transworld Group of Companies, his wife Mala Mahesh and their children Mithila and Murli - moved into Coral Island in Sentosa three years ago.

Their 10,000 sq ft bungalow comes with a swimming pool and a dock in their backyard.

"When we first saw this place, there were no buildings yet but we liked the environment and the atmosphere. We even saw a peacock walking across the road. It gave us a feeling of how it would be to live here," said Mrs Mahesh.

The family admits it has since bought into the lifestyle, lock stock and boat. They enjoy long walks on the beach, have an electric buggy to get around the island and have a 12m boat moored at their dock. They take it out to the Southern Islands for weekend jaunts and picnics.

Said Mr Sivaswamy: "In Singapore, despite there being so many buildings, it is such a well-planned city, you get connected to nature here."

Waterfront living is the new buzzword, especially after a Chinese businessman recently spent a cool $36 million on a bungalow in Coral Island. And Indians are increasingly buying into it, say real estate agents.

While it is well known that condominiums in the East Coast, especially those with a sea view, are popular with Indians, waterfront homes are also fast becoming destinations of choice.

Orange Tee's team associate director Jasmine Png, who deals with the high-end properties in Sentosa, told tabla! that she is seeing more Indians, mainly professionals who have lived in the United States and Europe, keen on buying waterfront homes that average $2,000 psf.

And even though some who sign along the dotted line may rent out the property, their eventual goal is to live in them.

Ms Png said: "One client bought two condominium units, rented one out and kept the other for himself as a holiday home. Those who rent their waterfront apartments eventually want to stay in them after a few years. They like the lifestyle, it's exclusive, has an international feel with so many nationalities living here and there is more privacy."

The Indian community has also been eyeing the other waterfront-living choices mushrooming around the island.

Among those that have caught their eye is Waterfront Gold condominium along Bedok Reservoir which comes with a skypark that serves as an observation and exercise deck with views of the reservoir.

Real estate agent Jessie Nathan told tabla! that the Bedok Reservoir properties have been popular with her Indian clients and several of them have bought units in Waterfront Gold.

"They like the fact that the units have a view of the water and it is in the East," she said.

Waterfont Gold is the third in a series of four projects that Far East and Frasers Centrepoint call the Bedok Waterfront Collection which plans to maximise the draw of the reservoir.

Waterfront Waves, Waterfront Key and Waterfront Isle are the other three projects that are part of the collection.

Frasers Centrepoint Homes chief operating officer Cheang Kok Kheong told The Business Times that "the masterplan ensures that all units have excellent views, either of the reservoir, pools or the landscape".

The reservoir has park facilities where residents can kayak, dragon boat, sail, wake board and fish.

Sentosa Cove also recently saw three launches of waterfront condominums: The Seascape developed by Ho Bee and IOI in a joint venture, The Residences at W Singapore and Lippo Group's Marina Collection next to ONE°15 Marina Club.

Others from the community, like public relations officer Charu Mehrotra, have their eye on Waterway Terraces, the Build-To-Order project in Punggol from the Housing Development Board (HDB).

"My husband and I have been discussing upgrading to another flat and this development is something we would be keen to look into," she told tabla!.

Waterway Terraces will be built along a 4.2km waterway that connects Sungei Punggol and Sungei Serangoon, with parts of the waterway and promenade featuring sandy coasts as well as a sports activities area and horse riding centre.

PropNex's corporate communications manager Adam Tan told tabla! that young couples will be keen on this premium public housing and expects the project, which will be ready in the first quarter of 2015, to be oversubscribed.

"The interior finishings are of a higher quality, while the design of the overall project connotes a feel of private property living. On top of that, Waterway Terraces is literally waterfront property. Compare $374,000 for a 5-room flat in Waterway Terraces with a $2.5m apartment on Sentosa of a similar size. Would-be residents at Waterway Terraces will find this attribute to be immensely appealing."

While Indians have really taken to the concept of waterfront living and the premium lifestyle it offers, there are a few who point out a few downsides too.

One of them, an Indian Singaporean who lives in a Sentosa Cove condominium that has a beautiful view of the Southern Islands from his balcony, says he misses the easy access of the city condos.

"I also own an apartment in the city and you can have access to a high-end meal or you can go to a food court with nightclubs and bars close by. Sentosa Cove wouldn't appeal to everyone as accessibility is an issue. If you have a young family, schools aren't that nearby and there are not that many restaurants here at the moment," he said.

Then, just to show that he may be buying into the lifestyle too, he added: "But if you like having a low profile yet active lifestyle, this is the place."

THE Waterside, Laguna Park, Pebble Bay, Costa Rhu, Mandarin Gardens... these are just some of the condominiums that Indians flock to in Singapore.

Some of them, especially those that offer views of the sea off the East coast, can house more than 300 Indian families.

What is it that draws these Indians to this part of the island? Is it the view, the location or the proximity to others in the community?

Mrs Prabha Rao, who has been in Singapore for 10 years and has been living in the Waterside for eight years, admits: "I chose the East Coast because of the sea view. I also like the fact that East Coast Park is right next to us for our morning and evening walks."

Miss Manavi Sharma, who has been in Singapore for 17 years and has been living in Siglap for 14, sings praises of the facilities offered by the condominiums and neighbourhoods of the East:

"It's open, it's spacious and not that congested. There are a lot of facilities around the area, a lot of restaurants, good Indian restaurants, and good malls, such as Parkway Parade."

The proximity to the airport and the city centre via the East Coast Parkway (ECP) is also a plus factor.

Mr Kiran Deshpande, who has been in Singapore for 22 years and has been living in Mandarin Gardens for over 10 years, says: "I travel a lot and when I was choosing a place to stay, the proximity to the airport was very important at the time."

Though it may not be the deciding factor, living with hundreds of other Indians as neighbours has its advantages.

Mrs Rao says: "I don't miss India as much, because I have all my Indian friends just here. There's even an e-group for Indian Waterside residents and I can connect with all of the 200-plus Indian families that way."

Adds Miss Sharma: "You feel like you're back home. It's nice to go down and meet people who speak not only Hindi but also the different dialects. I'm half Maharashtrian so it's nice to go down and meet people who also speak Marathi."

So are there any downsides to living in the East?

Just one, according to Miss Sharma: "I think the only problem would be connectivity. I don't have an MRT nearby. The buses go everywhere but it just takes longer." The closest MRT station to Mandarin Gardens is Bedok, about 2km away.

This, however, is not a problem any longer for those staying in the Tanjong Rhu area. Since the new Stadium MRT station on the Circle Line opened in April, residents of the condominiums in that area - Pebble Bay, Costa Rhu and the Waterside among them - have seen their commute times shorten substantially.

As posted in Tabla! by Sheela Narayanan and Urvija Banerji