Week in Review – 21 May 2015

Singapore top in Asia for business
Singapore has been ranked the most business–friendly city in Asia, according to a study conducted by real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) and intelligence and strategy firm The Business of Cities Group. The report was based on 200 globally-recognised studies that evaluated cities’ quality of life, economic growth, reputation, influence and business and finance sectors. Singapore fared well in governance, financial maturity and infrastructure, surpassing even Tokyo in terms of education, mobility, science, technology and broadband. On a global level however, the city-state is behind New York and London due to its lower rankings in purchasing power, cost of living and business occupancy cost. 
New private home sales jump to highest volume in 11 months
The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) reported last Friday that 1,124 new private homes were sold in April, an 83 per cent increase from the 613 units sold in March. Transactions were also the highest since last May, registering 1,488 sales. 
The surge was partially due to the large volume of new launches in April. Mr Donald Han, Singapore-based Managing Director at real estate broker Chesterton, told Bloomberg that developers have been launching a larger number of projects and more affordable homes. Some of these homes cost under S$1,500 per square foot.
Approximately 66 per cent of April’s sales were attributed to Yishun’s North Park Residences and Botanique at Bartley, which sold 486 units and 254 units respectively. Mr Nicholas Mak, Executive Director of Research and Consultancy at property firm SLP, told TODAY that although both developments are situated near MRT stations, North Park Residences is likely better-received as it is a part of an upcoming integrated development. 
Despite the improvement in private home sales for the fourth consecutive month, buyer sentiment remains guarded. Mr Eugene Lim, Key Executive Officer of real estate agency ERA, told Today that the successful sales of North Park Residences and Botanique at Bartley were attributed mainly to their prices, considered affordable in the current market. For the month of May, analysts expect sales volume to drop due to a slowdown in launches. 
New Housing Developers Act to increase transparency and protect more home buyers 
Revised measures of the Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) Act will be administered on May 25. The new rules will provide the public with more information on the private residential property market, increasing market transparency. 
According to the Ministry of National Development, housing developers are now required to submit detailed transaction data every week. This includes transacted prices of individual units, sales volumes and value of any benefits extended to buyers. The information will then be available on the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) website every week. 
The Option to Purchase and Sale & Purchase Agreement forms will be amended to protect potential purchasers of private homes. Beginning July 20, developers will have to indicate the value of benefits offered to buyers. 
MND will also introduce the Housing Developers (Show Unit) Rules to ensure that developers’ show units are accurate portrayals of actual housing units. For example, one of the rules states that the floor area of the show unit and actual housing unit need to be same. External and structural walls that are included in the unit also need to be illustrated in the show unit. These rules will be implemented on July 20 to allow time for adjustments to comply with the new rules.
Executive flats going strong despite fall in HDB resale prices
Executive flats, consisting of maisonettes and executive apartments, have held up better amid falling Housing and Development Board (HDB) resale prices. Two maisonettes at Bishan Street 13 have been sold above S$1 million this year.
Executive flats were first built in 1980, but construction was stopped in 1995 during the introduction of executive condominiums (ECs). Buyers today are attracted to the luxurious space – a private unit of the same size in today’s property market will cost at least twice the price or more. There is also a limited supply in the market, as executive flats make up only seven per cent of the property market.
Paya Lebar Central poised to become commercial centre
Paya Lebar Central is next in line for redevelopment in becoming a major commercial centre. A 165,000-square metre (sqm) site owned by Australian developer Lend Lease and sovereign wealth fund Abu Dhabi Investment Authority at Sims Avenue and the Geylang Canal is part of a plan to create commercial sites outside of the city area. This is to tackle traffic congestion and provide jobs nearer to homes. 
Over half of the area will be allocated to office space, while the rest will consist of 440 private homes and a shopping mall spanning over 40,000 sqm. Lend Lease, which manages shopping malls such as Jurong East’s JEM, Parkway Parade and 313@Somerset, says that it also plans to bring new brands into the retail mall. 
ECO World Malaysia debuts gallery in Singapore to showcase international projects
Eco World Development Group Berhad (EcoWorld Berhad) has launched its first EcoWorld Gallery @ Singapore, showcasing the company’s Malaysian and international projects. Singapore’s reputation as a global hub and its proximity and business ties with Malaysia, were driving factors for Eco World to establish its gallery in Singapore.
The Group currently has 15 projects, including three residential developments and three business parks in Iskandar Malaysia. The remaining projects are in Penang and Klang Valley. 
Moving forward, Eco World will launch two new projects in Iskandar and a business park in the Senai corridor.
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