Sunday, January 31, 2010


Art 1
District: 10
Location: Holland Road
Address: 1, 3 & 5 Taman Warna
Developer: Allgreen Properties
Tenure: Freehold

54 out of 68 units released were sold within the first week of release – now, that is quite an impressive debut. So the wife and I decided to visit the sales gallery of HOLLAND RESIDENCES yesterday to find out for ourselves what all the buzz is about.

HOLLAND RESIDENCES is located on Taman Warna road. In fact, the actual entrance to the development is almost at the exit point of Taman Warna into Holland Road. HOLLAND RESIDENCES resides on a long and rather narrow plot of only 74,000sqft, and consists of 83 apartment units in three 5-Storey blocks. The plot ratio is 1.4, and expected TOP of project is 30th June 2013.

HOLLAND RESIDENCES is developed by Allgreen properties, who also has projects like “One Devonshire” (Devonshire Road) , “Viva” (Newton/Thomson Road) and the upcoming “RV Residence” (River Valley Road) under its belt.

The sales gallery was buzzing with activities yesterday. We were “assigned” to this “sweet young thing” of a market agent who seemed more interested in responding to her text messages than attending to us. Maybe it was the causal manner we were dressed, or the fact that neither the wife nor I seemed to be carrying our cheque book with us. And just when we thought things could not get any worse, we were handed a photocopied set of floor plans… no brochure. You would think that for a supposed high-end project that is selling for over $1600sqft, they could at least provide you with a decently printed brochure! Good thing the wife had already received a set of the original (nice) brochure through a separate source, and we were really in no mood by then to pursue the matter further. ANYWAY…

In terms of orientation of the three blocks, Block 1 is located parallel to Taman Warna. It is nearest to the main entrance of the development, which features a circular driveway with a porte cochere drop-off point and central water feature. Block 3 is located next to Block 1 while Block 5 is diagonally opposite Block 3. Other than the main vehicular entrance into HOLLAND RESIDENCES, there are supposedly 2 other  pedestrian side-gates that open out to Taman Warna. From there, it is about a 10-min walk to the upcoming Holland Village MRT Station. Apartment units in HOLLAND RESIDENCES have North-West and South-East orientations.

There are several unit types and layouts at HOLLAND RESIDENCES:

• 1-Bedroom (10 units): 602sqft
• 2-Bedrooms (20 units): 957sqft & 979sqft
• 3-Bedrooms (24 units): 1356 – 1463sqft
• 3-Bedrooms Loft (10 units): 1883sqft & 1915sqft
• 4-Bedrooms (2 units): 1872sqft
• 2-Bedrooms Penthouses (5 units): 1614 – 1754sqft
• 3-Bedrooms Penthouse (1 unit): 1980sqft
• 4-Bedrooms Penthouses (11 units): 2185 – 2787sqft

All the loft units are on the ground floor, while all the 3-bedder apartments are served by private lifts. For the penthouses, only the 3 and 4-bedrooms units have private lifts, while owners of the smaller 2-bedder penthouses as well as the 1 and 2-bedder apartments will have to make do with common lifts.

The design theme of the facilities within HOLLAND RESIDENCES is “water village”. This starts from the oculus fountain by the glass-roof porte cochere, with water flowing past cascading streams to a multi-level landscape of infinity pool, lounge pool with underwater chaise lounge, cabanas, aqueduct feature Jacuzzi and a “floating gymnasium”. Other than the various “themed” pools and pool facilities, you will also get

• Jogging Track around the estate
• Basketball shooting area
• Fitness station
• Kid’s play area
• Covered BBQ pit
• 92 basement carpark lots

However, tennis lovers will be disappointed as there are no tennis courts in the development.

There is only one showflat available in the sales gallery – a 1883sqft, 3-Bedrooms Loft unit (Type C1). As you enter through the main door, you arrive into the dining area and then the living area. Both areas are rather small, and comes with 60cm x 60cm marble flooring. The ceiling height is generally 2.6 - 3.2m, except for the living area, which has a “double-volume” ceiling of 6.5m. The living room opens out to the PES area, which looked easily 200sqft (our marketing agent was unable to tell us the exact size). Each loft unit has its own private Jacuzzi at the PES – this looks plush but it makes the PES less functional.

The dry kitchen is opposite to the dining area as you enter the main door. To the left of the dry kitchen is a walkway that leads you to the common bathroom, a home shelter and the two common bedrooms. HOLLAND RESIDENCES is one of the rare developments we have seen so far that features both a home shelter and a utility room within the unit (except for the smaller 1 and 2-bedders, which have no utility room). The common bathroom has marble floors/walls, solid surface bath vanity, “Bandini” bath accessories/fittings and “Kohler” WC. The home shelter will provide you with ample space for storage. The 2 common bedrooms, which are very regular shape, are rather small and the wardrobe space provided is hardly sufficient unless you are one that survive on only a couple of shirts and pants. One of the common bedroom also has a strip of PES outside, which further eats into the living space.

The wet kitchen occupies only a small long strip behind the dry kitchen, and comes with both high & low cabinets, solid-surface worktop that incorporates the kitchen sink, “Miele” hood/hob/oven/built-in 2-door fridge and even a dish-washer. There is a small yard area with probably just enough space for a washer/dryer, and a utility room that comes with an attached bathroom. Judging from the size of the utility, you will probably have to custom fit a smaller single bed inside if you intend to use this as a maid’s room. There is also a service lobby access between the wet and dry kitchens.

The master bedroom is located on the upper level, and accessible via a flight of stairs tucked behind the living area. The bedroom is fairly good size, but the amount of wardrobe provided is again lacking. It comes with a small rectangular shape balcony, which is not very practical (in our humble opinion) considering that you overlook the road – not exactly a pretty sight. The master bathroom is partitioned by a glass panel, so you can actually see your partner showering as you enter through the bedroom door. Similar bathroom fittings and fixtures apply as per the common bath, in addition to a long tub and standing rain-shower stall.

3-Bedroom Loft (C1) Floor Plan:
3-Bedrooms Loft FP

What we like:
• Location – HOLLAND RESIDENCES is located within minutes’ drive from Orchard Road and a couple more from the CBD. It is also a short walk from amenities and F&B outlets in Holland Village, as well as the upcoming MRT. For nature lovers, Botanic Garden is in close proximity – about 15 - 20 minutes walk or a short 5 minutes drive if you prefer to leave the walking until you reach the Garden compound.

• The furnishing is of very good quality. Even the staircase leading from the lower to upper level looks very chic in design.

• The concept of having both a home shelter and utility room within the unit. Now you do not now have to choose between storage space or maid’s room.

What we dislike:
• The small living/dining area for the 3-Bedroom Loft, which makes the whole apartment looks rather “stingy” in terms of space.

• Although the Loft is supposedly 1883sqft, it does not really feel like an apartment of such size. However, you can understand why when you do the math - at least 300sqft is taken up by the PES/balcony, while the “double-volume” ceiling on top of the living area eats into another 80sqft or so. So effectively you are left with only 1500sqft of “interior” living space.

• Looking at the floor plan of the Penthouses, all the smaller 2 and 3-bedrooms penthouses, despite being 2 levels, have all their “interior” living space in the lower level. The upper level is made up of your own private garden and roof terrace – some buyers may be more than happy to pay for these roof top spaces, but such area is not very practical in our book.

• Looking at the site plan, some apartment units in Block 3 (Stacks #5, #06 & #7) and Block 5 (Stacks #16 & #17) are located very closely across from each other. So you may want to reconsider about these stacks if you require a lot of privacy.

• Taman Warna is a one-directional road – you enter via Holland Ave/Taman Warna T-junction (i.e. where Holland Village Shopping Centre is), and exit at the end of Taman Warna into Holland Road. We find this a rather roundabout way to get in and out of HOLLAND RESIDENCES.

• Despite the project being marketed as near to premier schools such as Nanyang and Henry Park Primary, we can only identify one primary school that is within 1-km of HOLLAND RESIDENCES – New Town Primary. So for those parents wishing to enroll their kids into Nanyang/Henry Park but have no affiliations with either, start working on the “school volunteer” or “grassroot” options.

As for pricing, the 1883sqft Loft is going at $2.93 million, which translates to around $1556psf. We were told that the psf price for the loft units has already factored in the larger PES and the "double-volume" ceiling. The two 4-bedrooms units (1872sqft) are not released for sale yet, but we understand that they will be priced at least $1800psf. And if the wife and I are really really interested in the 4-bedder apartment, we can always put in a cheque for developer’s consideration. And if there are more interests than units, the sale will be done via balloting. And you think trying to put your kids into good primary school is stressful!

Monthly maintenance wise, these ranges from $408 for the 1 and 2-bedders, $476 - $544 for the 3 and 4-bedders and $476 - $612 for the Penthouses - a tad high but one has to consider the small number of units in this project.

In summary, the wife and I quite like HOLLAND RESIDENCES but not enough to splash in excess of $3 million for a 4-bedrooms unit (IF we have that kind of money to begin with). And we stay true to our original opinion that the developer had better deliver on its promise of a fantastic “water village” view, as there is little else in terms of “view” otherwise. So does HOLLAND RESIDENCES justify the $1625psf and above price tag? Well, 54 buyers within the first week cannot be...erm...wrong, right(?!) But we can just see the marketing people at Parvis rubbing their hands together in glee… price increase…hehe…

View Location & Site Plans here:

View & Download Brochure here:
Holland Res Brochure

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Do spare us a few seconds of your time...

More than a month and 40 posts later, the wife and I have decided to do a straw poll to see if anyone will actually follow our blog.

We are braced for disappointment, so please say it as it is. Your assistance is much appreciated!
Smiley Face

Friday, January 29, 2010

HOLLAND RESIDENCES is selling like hot cakes!

The Business Times today reported that Allgreen Properties have sold 54 units at its Holland Residences condo at Taman Warna released this week. The average price of the 68 units released in the 83-unit project is $1625psf – this figure is weighed down by private enclosed spaces for ground-floor units in the five-storey freehold project.

Singaporean is said to have bought 80% of the units sold. One-bedroom units (601sqft) and two-bedders (957-979sqft) were the first to be snapped up at this week’s preview. The project also has three and four-bedroom units as well as penthouses. Prices of one-bedders start from $1.06 million. Two bedders cost between $1.63 million and $1.73 million. The most expensive unit sold was $3.6 million for a four-bedroom duplex penthouse.

The average price of $1600psf for Holland Residences is higher than the $1500psf at which Ho Bee is selling its nearby Parvis, a 12-storey condo at Holland Hill.

However, there are no one-bedroom units in Parvis; developers typically can command a higher psf price for smaller units as the lumpsum amount is still relatively small. Hence the tendency among some developers to build projects with a higher proportion of smaller units to achieve a higher overall average psf price for the development.

The wife and I have seen the plot of land that Holland Residences sits on – you can actually get quite a bird’s eye view of this from the sales gallery of Parvis, which directly overlook Holland Residences from on top of Holland Hill. The Holland Residences plot does not look very large, and given the 5-storey height limitation on the project, we really hope the pool view is worth it. This is because you are unlikely to get much of a view otherwise, despite the surrounding landed properties.

Having said that, it is immature (and probably unfair too) for us to comment on Holland Residences when we have not actually viewed it. And hopefully by the time we get to do so, there are still units available to keep the showflats going.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Especially for first time buyers - How much to pay and when?

You have been eyeing a particular new project for ages, gone down to the showflat a dozen times just to be sure it is “The One”, and now finally ready to put money on an apartment unit. So what do you do to complete the purchase and what can you expect in terms of a payment schedule?

Some of you property veterans may find this all too elementary, but here is a rundown on what to expect for the benefit of first time private home buyers:

The following is written based on a Progressive Payment option. The wife and I are no big fans of the Deferred Payment/Interest Adsorption Scheme – there is normally a 2 – 3% premium charged on the purchase price, and you find yourselves facing a hugely inflated monthly housing loan repayment when this finally kicks in.

1. Booking Fee
This is the money you need pay the Developer once you have decided to buy. You can call this the “Option to purchase/Exercising of Option” combined payment. This is typically 5% of the purchase price, and you have to pay this in cash, i.e. cannot utilize your CPF.

In the event that you change your mind about buying the property after you have put in the option, most Developers will allow you to “back out” by imposing a partial forfeiture of this 5% booking fee that you have paid.

2. Completion of Sale
This normally happens between 8 to 10 weeks from the day you put in the 5% option. By now, you would have engaged a conveyance lawyer and a bank to take the housing loan from.

To exercise the option, you need to pay another 15% of the purchase price. This can be paid either in Cash, money from your CPF (subject to fulfilment of all conditions on use of CPF for property purchase) or a mix of Cash/CPF. This 15% payment is paid to your lawyer, who will also collect Stamp Duty and some other fees from you – we will detail these in the next section. The legal fees will usually be fully subsidized by the bank that you are taking the loan from.

And should you decide to change your mind about the purchase after completion of sale, be prepared to forfeit the full 20% and possibly getting sued by the Developer for breach of contract. So if you really need to back out of the purchase at this juncture, a better option is to try and “flip” the unit even if it means suffering a small loss.

3. Stamp Duty and Other Fees
This is the biggest component of legal costs in the purchase of your property. A simple way to calculate this is to multiply the purchase price by 3% and deduct $5,400 from the result.
In addition to the Stamp Duty, there are several other fees that you need to pay:

• Mortgage Stamp Fees – maximum of $500

• Registration fees – This is payment to the Singapore Land Authorities (SLA) in order to register the transaction. Registration is a must to formalize the change in interest in the property. Unfortunately, we cannot remember how much this is, and our web search did us no favor. But it should not come up to be more than a few hundred dollars.

• Disbursements – These are expenses incurred by your lawyer on your behalf. Again, this is not big money, i.e. less than a hundred dollars normally.

4. Progress Payment Schedule
After the completion of sale, the balance payment will be based on a progress payment schedule. The schedule is based on the different stages of completion of work done at the project, as detailed in the Sales & Purchase Agreement.

A sample of such progress payment schedule is shown below. However, this will differ somewhat between Developers/Projects:

Purchase Price: $1,255,180

Progress Payment Scheme(%)             Amount
Booking fees - Paid (5%)                  $  62,759.00
Completion of Sale - Paid (15%)       $188,277.00
Foundation Work (10%)                   $125,518.00
Concrete Framework (10%)             $125,518.00
Brick Walls (5%)                              $  62,759.00
Ceiling Works (5%)                          $  62,759.00
Doors and Windows (5%)                $  62,759.00
Carpark, Roads & Drains (5%)        $  62,759.00
TOP (25%)                                      $313,795.00
Certification of Completion (15%)     $188,277.00

It usually takes up to a year after TOP for the Certification of Completion (CSC) to be obtained. So you usually do not have to pay the last 15% till then.

The bank will take care of the various stages of payment, in accordance to the amount of loan you have taken, and pay the Developer accordingly. The quantum of your loan will increase correspondingly and so will your monthly loan repayment amount.

So there you have it. Happy hunting!
Smiley Face


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Private home sales gather pace in January 2010...

The Business Times today reported that developers have sold more than 900 private homes so far this month. With another week to go, the tally is easily expected to cross 1,000 units by month end.

Besides Allgreen Properties’ Holland Residences, which will be previewed this week, Wing Tai is said to be making advanced preparation for an imminent preview of L’Viv at Newton Road. The average price is touted at $1,900-$2,000psf, which is significantly higher than the $1,700psf average price at which Ho Bee is selling its Trilight condo nearby.

Wing Tai is eyeing a higher psf price by offering smaller units. This will keep the absolute lump sum price per unit “affordable” to potential buyers. Deferred payment scheme will also be offered, as Wing Tai had clinched approval for it before the scheme was scrapped in 2007.

L’Viv has a total of 147 units, comprising 1+Study (72 units) of around 600sqft+, and 2+Study (72 units) of about 1000sqft. There are also three penthouses (all 3-bedders).

Trilight does not have any 1-bedders. It has two, three and four-bedrooms units as well as penthouses. The 2-bedders range from 1100 to 1200sqft.

Fortune Development is also slated to begin previewing this week RV Edge in the River Valley/Shanghai Road vicinity. The 108-units freehold project comprises mostly smaller apartments ranging from 1-bedders to 2+Study units, with the smallest unit measuring just 400sqft. Prices are expected to start from $600,000+ per apartment.

And as of yesterday, City Developments Ltd (CDL) has sold 85% or about 150 of the 177 units in total at its Cube 8 condo at Thomson Road, which it began previewing last week. 75% of the units sold are bought by Singaporean, with an equal mix of owner-occupiers and investors. This district 11 freehold project was initially priced at $1250psf on average, but prices were upped 2 – 3% for subsequent releases.

Other than the buying buzz created this month from the release of new projects, a steady stream of activity is also seen at existing projects that have been on the market for at least a few months:

• Ho Bee investment has sold about 60 units at its Parvis condo at Holland Hill and 10 units at Trilight since the start of the year.

• CDL is also understood to have sold more than 50 units at its Livia condo in Pasir Ris this month and the 724-units project is now left with about 10 units.

• UOL Group has sold 25 units at Double Bay Residences in Simei and 18 units at Meadows @Pierce along Upper Thomson Road so far this month.

The UOL Group plans to launch two projects in the first half of this year - a 99-years leasehold condo with 600+ units at Dakota Crescent (near Old Airport Road) and a project with some 170 units on the Rainbow Garden site in the Toh Tuck area.

If any developer is reading this blog, can the wife and I politely request that you spead your launches more evenly over the year? The will certainly help us reduce the existing backlog in our "To View" list, thank you very much!
Smiley Face


VISTA RESIDENCES - Hot off the grapevines!

The wife has received information today that Far East will raise the prices for VISTA RESIDENCES by another 2% come next Monday.

Also, the 4-Bedrooms showflat is now ready for viewing.

So for those of you who are interested in this project, bring your cheque book and head on down to the sales gallery before Monday!


Monday, January 25, 2010


Impression 2
District: 10
Location: Mount Sinai/Holland
Address: 2, 6 & 8 Ridgewood Close
Developer: Singapore Land Limited (SingLand)
Tenure: Freehold

One wonders why it took us so long to review this particular project, given that it is located almost right at our backyard. But in all fairness, this is the second visit to THE TRIZON for the wife and I – the first was back in November last year. And frankly, the first impression we had on this project was far from good. This is because of a number of “dubious” representations in the 4-Bedroom showflat

• A “Baby Grand” was straddling between the balcony and the living room – now how often do you see that happening in real life?

• The space in front of the main door was “marbled up” - this gave the perception (at least to us) that this space is part of the unit’s area, which in fact it isn’t.

• A loft was built within the “double-volume” master bedroom, and we were told at that time that this is an option at owner’s expense after the Certificate of Completion (CSC) for the project is obtained. However, we found out later that such construction, even if we are prepared to pay for it, may not be approved.

But in the spirit of unbiased reviewing, we decided to revisit the sales gallery of “THE TRIZON” yesterday.

THE TRIZON is a freehold project consisting of 289 apartment units in 3 iconic towers of 24-storey each. It is sited on a 194,000sqft elevated plot - where the former “Himiko Court” used to stand. The entrance to THE TRIZON is located on Ridgewood Close off Mount Sinai Drive. There will also be a side-gate from the development that will lead to the Pandan Valley/ Mount Sinai Drive intersection, from which is a short 3-mins walk to the main Holland Road and about 8-mins walk to Dover MRT Station. The expected TOP of THE TRIZON is end-2014.

Orientation-wise, Tower 8 is located directly opposite to Towers 2 & 6, and separated by the lap-pool. Towers 2 & 6 house the larger 3 and 4-bedroom units, while Tower 8 houses mainly the smaller 2 and 3-bedders. All apartment units are N-S facing.

THE TRIZON is a full-facility condominium project. But as a departure from the many new projects that have exploited sky terraces to their deaths, all the facilities in THE TRIZON are located on ground level. These include

• A 50m lap-pool and other “themed” pools
• A tennis court and a multi-purpose court (* basket-ball court soccer, anyone?)
• Entertainment pavilion with private pool
• Landscape spa alcoves with Jacuzzi
• Jogging track within the development
• Clubhouse – function room/gym/steam rooms

There will also be a total of 312 underground carparks within the development.

There are several unit types available at THE TRIZON

• 2-Bedrooms (55 units): 1012sqft & 1044sqft
• 2+1 Bedrooms (45 units): 1195sqft & 1346sqft
• 3-Bedrooms (95 units): 1550 - 2110sqft
• 4-Bedrooms (83 units): 1959 - 2314sqft
• Penthouses (11 units): 1776 - 7083sqft

When we first visited THE TRIZON, there were 3 showflats within the sales gallery. This time around, only 2 showflats are open for public viewing. The 4-Bedrooms showflat is currently closed for “improvement works”. This made us wonder if we are not the only ones that have issues with the “representations” of the previous 4-bedders showflat.

The first showflat is the 1894sqft, 3-Bedrooms unit ((Type C1a). Access to the unit is via common lifts (no private lifts for this development, sorry!). You get 3.34m high ceiling, marble flooring for the rectangular shaped living/dining area and even the kitchen. However, for a supposed high-end project, the developer can certainly do better than the small 60cm x 30cm marble-slabs that are used for the floors. The balcony is long and rectangular, and takes up almost 250sqft.

There is no dry kitchen, which actually works for this unit as you get more space in the living/dining area. The wet kitchen is good-sized, and comes with full set of top & bottom cabinets. You also get “Smeg” brand hob/hood/oven/dishwasher, “Damixa” kitchen sink/faucet and a built-in single-door fridge (quite small). The yard is definitely big enough for laundry chores, but it may be a challenge to fit a regular-size single bed into the home shelter/maid’s room.

The two common bedrooms are of decent-size, which you will have no problem putting a queen-sized bed into. The common bathroom (quite big) has homogenous tiles for the floor/walls and comes fitted with “Hansgrohe” bathroom accessories.

Now for the master bedroom: this is where the “double-volume” (6.7m) ceiling height comes into play. And this time around, the marketing agent did specify that building a loft here may be possible, but is subjected to approvals from first the MCST and then the BCA, and only after the CSC is obtained. However, there is no guarantee that approvals will be granted. The master bathroom is very elegant, with marble floor/walls, a standing rain-shower and a step-down sunken bath. You also get separate “His/Her” bathroom sinks, which is a nice touch.

The other showflat is the 1012sqft, 2-Bedrooms unit (Type A2). You get the same marble floors, a much smaller rectangular-shaped living/dining area, a rectangular balcony/planter area that takes up about 80sqft, a long strip of a kitchen that comes with top/bottom cabinets and similar kitchen accessories minus the fridge and dishwasher. There is no yard in this unit, and the tiny home shelter is situated in the living room itself (less than ideal).

The common bedroom can probably manage a queen-sized bed, while the common bathroom is surprisingly large for such a smaller-size apartment. The master bedroom is of decent size, and the funny thing about the master bathroom is that there is a tub but no overhead shower – it comes with one of those retractable hand-held showerhead, which you will have to hold on to as you take your shower.

What we like:
• The quality of furnishing and fittings, which we felt is a close second to Parvis. We especially like the luxurious look of the master bathroom.

• All areas (except maybe the home shelter) in both showflats are very regular in shape and highly functional. This is especially important for the smaller units, where space is a premium.

• The location – THE TRIZON is easily accessible from either Mount Sinai Drive or from Pandan Valley. It is also located very close to amenities like Jelita Shopping Centre, Ghim Moh wet market/food centre, Clementi Central Hub & Holland Village, and within walking distance to Dover Road MRT Station.

• The Mount Sinai area is one of the most popular Expat address. So one can expect good rental yields.

What we dislike:
• The 1894sqft 3-bedder unit is actually much smaller than it sounds. If you minus the 250sqft of balcony space and the 118sqft of void area in the master bedroom (* remember the “double-volume” ceiling?), you are left with an “interior” area of about 1526sqft.

• Back to the “double-volume” master bedroom – unless you can really utilize the 6.7 ceiling height, like building a loft, you are basically paying for another 118sqft of useless space above your head. Sure, you can always hang a nice big chandelier in your master bedroom for kicks, but have you considered the complexity involved in keeping it clean? Better get ready that super-long ladder and hope you are not afraid of heights…

• Only one primary school is located within 1-km of THE TRIZON – Henry Park Primary. The only consolation is that the school is co-ed, and if the past three years are anything to go by, no balloting for phase 2C!

The sales gallery for THE TRIZON has been up for about 3 months now. However, the project is supposedly still on private preview basis, with the main launch only happening after the Chinese New Year. At present, only units in Towers 6 & 8 are released for sale. We were told that almost 80% of the 180 units released so far have already been sold – only 7 units of the 2-bedders and 10 units of the 3-bedders remain.

As far as pricing goes, units at THE TRIZON are currently selling at the $1400-1600psf price range. And here is a sample of what you need to pay

• Tower 6, #16-05 (1894sqft, 3-bedder Type C1a) - $2.73 million, or $1441psf
• Tower 8, #16-13 (1550sqft, 3-bedder Type C2) - $2.44 million, or $1574psf

We understand that the layout for Type C1a and C2 are almost similar, with C2 being 344sqft smaller because of

• No double-volume ceiling in master bedroom 
• Smaller kitchen/yard 
• Smaller master bathroom with normal tub instead of sunken bath
• No walk-in closet in master bedroom 

For those who are really interested in THE TRIZON, you may be interested to know that the project is currently already at its 50% progressive payment stage.

On a parting note, the wife and I were really glad that we decided to visit THE TRIZON again yesterday, as our opinion of the project has definitely taken a change for the better. It will probably go into our “To Consider” list now, if we are shopping for a new apartment and have about $2.5 million to spare. But we will probably give units that have "double volume" ceilings a miss. It will also be interesting to see if substantial alterations are made to the 4-Bedroom showflat once they are done “renovating” it.

View Pictures and Floor Plans here:

Want to know how much you actually made out of that property sale?

After our recent post titled Just when you think you have made that tidy profit "flipping"... (January 20th), we have received a request for a working spreadsheet to calculate the "Nett Profit" of a property sale after deducting all known costs.

And being the obliging people that the wife and I are, here is a downloadable spreadsheet that allows you to do just that... or at least put you around the ballpark.

The usual disclaimer follows (refer to spreadsheet). The calculation will probably apply for both old and new properties, but we reckon it will work better with new property that is unconstructed/under construction, as the "costs" associated with old properties may be more complicated than what we have envisaged.

Have fun!

DOWNLOAD 'Nett Profit Calculator'


Sunday, January 24, 2010


District: 19
Location: Serangoon/Lorong Chuan
Address: Grace Walk
Developer: Far East Organization
Tenure: Freehold

It is bad enough when you have a marketing agent that does not know what he is talking about. It is even worse when he cannot even sell to the right audience. This was what the wife and I encountered when we visited the sales gallery for VERDANA VILLAS yesterday.

The conversation went something like this:
Him: Welcome to Verdana Villas! Looking for a house for own-stay or investment?
Me: Own-stay.
Him: Then Verdana is the best choice. Our houses are much lower priced compared to the $4 - 6 million you have to pay for similar cluster-house projects in Lornie Road.
Me: But Lornie Road is like District 11, whereas you are District 19. So it’s not exactly “apple to apple” is it?
Him: ……..
Him: Your children are studying? You know, we are located near very good schools like the French School, Australian School….
Me: Er…. We are buying for our own-stay, and we are neither Australian nor French. So what good are these schools to us even if they are right next door?
Him: ……………….

Humour aside, VERDANA VILLAS is a freehold cluster housing project located at Grace Walk, off Lorong Chuan. It sits on a long strip of land of about 104,000sqft, and consists of 54 units of cluster Semi-D and 2 units of Bungalows. The vehicle entrance into VERDANA VILLAS is via Grace Walk, while vehicle will exit into Lorong Chuan. There will also be two side-gates located along Grace Walk for those on foot. All villas have five floors – basement, ground, second, third and roof terrace. The expected TOP of this project is in December 2014.

VERDANA VILLAS is developed by the Novelty Group. For the uninitiated, Novelty Group is a mid-sized developer that is responsible for several medium to high-end projects like Lucida (Suffolk Road), Iridium (Newton), Luma (St. Thomas Walk) and the infamous Amanusa (Yio Chu Kang Road) - where Novelty was taken to court by the Amanresorts in Bali for violation of “well known mark” over the use of the “Amanusa” name.

The sizes of units available at VERDANA VILLAS are
5-Bedrooms Semi-D Villa: 4327 – 4951sqft
6-Bedrooms Bungalow Villa: 8019 & 9128sqft

In terms of facilities, there is really not much to shout about, which is typical of cluster-housing developments. You get a 20m lap-pool, steam bath/gym and 2 carpark lots per villa in the basement. Visitors will have to find their own roadside parking along Grace Walk.

The bungalow villas come with your own private pools on the ground level, while all the Semi-D villas have a 13m lap-pool on their rooftops. Each villa also comes with your own home lift, which is handy for those who are not particularly enthusiastic about stairs-climbing. The “built-in” area in each level of the Semi-D villa is supposedly 13.5m x 5m, which gives you about 730sqft per floor. This area excludes most of the PES space on the ground floor, which can vary quite a bit in size depending on the actual villa you select. We will not elaborate on the villa layouts, as you may see these for yourself in the e-brochure below.

There is no “showflat” per se at the sales gallery – what you get is a “representation” of the living/dinning/ kitchen and the master bedroom/bathroom areas, which will give you some idea of the space as well as the quality of furnishing & fittings you can expect to get with your villa.

At least part of the Living/Dining area in each Semi-D villa comes with double volume ceiling (6m) and 90cm x 90cm large marble-slabs flooring. The dry kitchen top is equipped with its own induction cooker and hood. The wet kitchen is surprisingly small, with possibly just enough space for two people to work in. “Scholites” brand hob/hood/oven/microwave are provided, as well as a small single-door “Teka” fridge. The master bedroom looks quite big and has ample wardrobe space. The master bathroom has marble floors/walls, separate tub and rain-shower cubicle, and you get “Duravit” brand bathroom sink/toilet bowl and “Gessi” bathroom fittings.

What we like:
• The “built-in” area for VERDANA VILLAS, if it is indeed 730sqft/floor for the Semi-D villas, is a more accurate representation of the house area you are actually buying as compared to, say, ESTRIVILLAS (reviewed on 27th Dec 2009). There is definitely much lesser of what the wife and I deemed as “unaccounted for” space for the former.

• The quality of furnishing and fittings - the large marble-slabs in the living/dining room look really nice, while the master bathroom is also very elegant.

• Guests can actually enter your house from the ground level – there is a gate at the PES in front of your villa. Once through the gate, you arrive at a door that opens into the living room. This is unlike ESTRIVILLAS, whereby for most of the units, your guests can only enter your house via the “main door” in the basement or through the back-door in the kitchen on the ground level.

What we dislike:
• The small wet kitchen, which is a major complaint with the wife as she does quite a bit of “heavy duty” cooking.

• Grace Walk is actually a rather narrow road, with a row of terrace houses on the opposite side. So finding roadside parking may be a problem since you have to compete for spaces with the terrace house owners with multiple cars.

• VERDANA VILLAS is marketed to be within close proximity of amenities, e.g. Chomp-chomp, Lorong Chuan MRT and the upcoming Nex Mall – which is supposed to be the regional mall in Serangoon Central. But as far as we are concerned, none of these are really within comfortable walking distances from the development. So you risk getting a heat stroke or drenched if you intend to walk to these places. Your nearest “supermart” is probably the CALTEX station across the road from Lorong Chuan, which also sells “Old Chang Kee” curry puffs.

• Traffic along Lorong Chuan/Serangoon Garden Way during rush hours can be a nightmare, while your most direct access to the city/CBD area is via the CTE. And you probably know by now how much the wife and I “love” the CTE.

• The only primary school that is within 1-km of VERDANA VILLAS is CHIJ Our Lady of Good Counsel – not much of a choice and none for those with boys.

As of yesterday, 20 of the 56 villas in VERDANA VILLAS have been sold. This includes one of the bungalow (9128sqft). With regard to price, this varies slightly depending on the actual unit you are interested in. As an illustration, the Semi-D villa #33, which is 4456sqft, will cost you $2.96 million. This translates to around $664psf.

In summary, the wife and I believe that VERDANA VILLAS is an “acquired” taste - the development will probably appeal most to those who are already living around the Yio Chu Kang/Serangoon/Hougang area. And until they do something about the unpredictable nature of traffic on the CTE, we will probably give it a miss.

View Pictures and Site Plan here:

View E-Brochure and Floor Plans here:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Another sign of pickup in the luxury property market?

The Business Times yesterday reported that CapitaLand has rung in more sales from Urban Suites. It has now sold 126 units - 90% of the 140 launched to date, and 76% of the 165 in the freehold project located in the Cairnhill area.

CapitaLand launched the second phase of this project recently, and has sold another 66 units. These include homes sold in Jakarta last weekend. The units went for $2500 - 2800psf. Prices rose by 4% from the $2400 - 2700psf range in the first phase of the launch.

All the two-bedders and many of the three-bedders have been sold. Two of the five penthouses available were also picked up, one for around $8.6 million and the other over $9 million.

On the whole, some 70% of the buyers were foreigners, from countries such as Indonesia, China, Australia and Canada. Indonesians alone made up 40% of buyers.

The wife and I have heard that viewing at Urban Suites is by invitation only. So we will advise you not to hold your breath waiting for our review on this project. This is unless someone from CapitaLand is reading this... and be so kind to send us an invite....anyone?


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Just when you think you have made that tidy profit "flipping"...

Let's say you have bought a 1000sqft apartment in a new project (unconstructed) for $1.25 million back in September 2009, and have taken a loan of $1 million from the bank to cover the purchase.

You realize today that in just four months, the price of the unit has jumped by $150/sqft. This means you have made a cool $150K in profit! So you decide to engage an agent and managed to sell the apartment for $1.4 million.

Before you head out and start spending that $150K, here are some food for thought:

Buying Price of unit: $1,250,000
Selling Price of unit: $1,400,000
Profit: $150,000

HOWEVER, you have to pay
Agent's Commistion (usually 2%): $29,960 (inclusive of GST)
Stamp Duty you paid on purchase:  $32,100
Penalty for undisbursed loan (assuming 100% undisbursed at 1%): $10,000
Legal fee (on purchase): $2500
Legal fee (on sale): $2500
Stamp fee: $502
Nett Profit: $72,438

So the supposed $150K profit has suddenly shrunk by more than 50%. Some may argue that 70 grand over 4 months is still pretty decent money, but the sale is definitely not as fantastic a deal as originally perceived....

Pardon us if we are stating the obvious here, but the math has recently dawned on the wife and I when we had the chance to ponder over a similar deal. Hopefully, this may set some of you thinking too.


Monday, January 18, 2010


Artist Impression
District: 15
Location: Dunman/Tanjong Katong
Address: 10 Rose Lane
Developer: TKE Development Pte Ltd
Tenure: Freehold

The wife and I decided to take on a “smaller” project yesterday. So we went in search of an “Apartment Status” development on the eastern side of Singapore - the land of “baby penthouses” and tiny apartment units. And we found just the right candidate in MELROSE VILLE.

MELROSE VILLE is a 28-unit, 5-Storey project situated on Rose Lane, just off Tanjong Katong Road. It is located on a small 14,000sqft plot, and is expected to TOP by 31st December 2011.

The project is developed by TKE Development Pte Ltd, which pardon our ignorance, is a developer that neither the wife nor I have heard of till yesterday. Subsequent web search proved futile in revealing any useful info about this developer. But we understand that TKE has also developed “Çasero @Duman”, which was completed in 2008. This is another small project (15 units) located on Dunman Road, which was supposedly sold out within the first day of launch!

Being a small project, MELROSE VILLE has the most basic of facilities – all you get is a 16.5m x 5.2m swimming pool, Jacuzzi and BBQ pits. There are a grand total of 28 carpark lots on the ground level, and the whole building will be serviced by just one lift. So for residents intending to purchase bulky furniture, do make sure that (a) it can fit into the lift, and (b) the lift is functioning that day. There is also no security guard service, with access in/out of the development via an auto-gate.

The types/sizes of unit available in MELROSE VILLE are
• 1+1 Bedrooms (15 units): 517 & 592sqft
• 2+1 Bedrooms (3 units): 818sqft
• 3-Bedrooms (6 units): 872sqft
• 1+1 Bedrooms Penthouse (1 unit): 1270sqft
• 3-Bedrooms + Family Area Penthouse (1 unit): 1421sqft
• 4-Bedrooms Penthouse (2 units): 2077 & 2088sqft

There is not exactly a showflat at the sales gallery – we rather call it a “representation” of the type of furnishing and fittings that you can expect to get with your unit. But instead of asking you to visualize what your unit will look like by staring at the tiles/marbles/fittings hanging from a wall (ala “The Interlace”), all the furnishing and fittings are put in their proper places in a “mock up” of the various living spaces within the unit.

Basically, what you can expect in your unit at MELROSE PLACE are
• 2.9m high ceiling
• 60cm x 30xm marble-slab flooring in the living/dining area
• Parquet flooring in all the bedrooms
• Homogenous floor and wall tiles in all bathrooms – only shower cubicles are provided even for the master bathroom. So no lazing in the tub after a long day at work.
• “Grohe” shower/bath fittings
• “Toto” wash basins and toilet bowls
• “Ariston” hob/hood – you have to procure your own oven, fridge and washer/dryer.
• “Hansgrohe” kitchen mixers
• “Rubine” kitchen sink

What we like:
• We were actually quite impressed with the furnishing provided by MELROSE VILLE. The materials used for the wall, flooring and wardrobes looked to be good quality and very pleasing to the eyes.

• MELROSE VILLE is located within walking distance from amenities, e.g. City Plaza, Tg Katong Complex, Old Airport Road Food Centre etc. It is also supposedly a 10-min walk to the upcoming Dakota MRT station.

What we dislike:
• The wife and I are not particularly excited about the location of MELROSE VILLE. Yes, it is supposedly located in prime District 15, but as the saying goes… there is D15, and there is D15. Rose Lane is also a rather narrow road with a row of inter-terrace houses on the opposite side. So good luck to second car owners or guests trying to find road-side parking.

• If you have been following our posts, you will realize by now that neither the wife nor I are fans of “Mickey Mouse” apartments. We still cannot come to terms with how a 1270sqft apartment can be called a “penthouse”, and regard this as utter degradation. Even with the so-called 2000+sqft penthouse units in MELROSE VILLE, be prepared for 400 - 500sqft of roof terraces, judging from the floor plans that we have seen.

• From the floor plan, all units have their utility room located either in the living room or within the kitchen – not very ideal if you intend to use this as the maid’s room.

• Again from the floor plan, all units have very small yard area. So expect quite the challenge when it comes to doing your laundry.

• Unless you are Korean, we are unable to locate any primary school within 1-km of MELROSE VILLE.

MELROSE VILLE was launched only 2 weeks ago, and 50% the units have already been sold. Most of the units were supposedly bought for rental purposes – we were told by the marketing agent that units at MELROSE VILLE can easily fetch rentals of $2800 - $3000/month, but somehow we are not too convinced. For those interested in the penthouses, you be happy to know that as of yesterday, all 4 units are still available.

In terms of pricing, units in MELROSE VILLE are asking around $1100 - $1300psf, with the penthouse prices average around $1000psf. The 1421sqft, 3-Bedroom + Family area penthouse is selling at $1.45 million, which translates to about $1020psf. In our humble opinions, MELROSE VILLE is somewhat over-priced. We can almost hear the voices of protest - given the freehold status, supposed D15 location and especially when nearby leasehold property like 'Silversea" is selling at above $1500psf. But we are not exactly comparing "apple for apple" here, are we?

In summary, MELROSE VILLE is definitely not an option for yours truly.

View Site and Floor Plans here:

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Artist Impression
District: 20
Location: Ang Mo Kio
Address: 59 Ang Mo Kio Ave 8
Developer: Far East Organization
Tenure: 99-years Leasehold

When the wife and I first heard about Far East launching CENTRO RESIDENCES with prices starting from $1100psf back in August last year, the first reaction that came to mind was… “Siow” (Crazy). We wondered why anyone would consider paying such high price for a project that is
• Leasehold
• Located in a suburban estate (Ang Mo Kio)
• Located near to other condo projects that were selling at less than $850psf
• Consisting of what we can only deem as “Mickey Mouse” sized apartments: the 4-bedders are less than 1300sqft, unless you opt for the penthouses.

This was despite the fact that CENTRO RESIDENCES is located at the heart of Ang Mo Kio Town Centre, next to AMK Hub mall and its air-conditioned bus interchange, and just across the road from Ang Mo Kio MRT station. These were the main selling points of the project.

However, we seemed to be proven wrong when a total of 93 out of 144 units released in the first phase were sold within the first 3 days of preview. The good take up rate has prompted Far East to announce that they will market CENTRO RESIDENCES in phases over the next three years till the TOP of the project, so as to take full advantage of the vast potential expected for the enhancement of real estate values in the Ang Mo Kio area. They were also confident that CENTRO RESIDENCES will be fully sold before its TOP. Prices for the remaining units were further raised to about $1250psf, with one units transacted at $1289psf.

So the wife and I finally decided to see for ourselves what all this hype with CENTRO RESIDENCES is about, and we made our way to the sales gallery yesterday.

The sales gallery for CENTRO RESIDENCES is located on an open ground along Ang Mo Kio Ave 8 next to “Grandeur 8” (another condo), about 700m away from the actual site.

CENTRO RESIDENCES consists of 329 apartment units located within a 34-storey Tower. The land size that CENTRO RESIDENCES sits on is rather small, about 69,000sqft, which explains the high plot ratio of 4.9. The expected TOP of this project is in 2013. The apartment units actually start from the 7th floor, providing residents a panoramic view of the city skyline or the lush greenery at Ang Mo Kio Town Garden East/West parks.

The recreational facilities at CENTRO RESIDENCES are situated on the 6th and 34th storeys, presenting all residents with scenic views while they relax or work-out. At Level 6, the range of facilities include
• Fully-equipped dining pavilions and spa villas
• A 50m lap-pool
• Hydrotherapy pools
• Sofa Jacuzzi
• Aqua chairs
• Gymnasium

The Sky Villa at Level 34 offers more recreational options. You can enjoy a dip in the pool as you take in the spectacular garden and city views.

In addition, there is a tennis court, a basketball half-court, fitness and children’s play areas on the ground level. The 2nd – 5th levels in the Tower are dedicated to carparks, but strangely enough, only 276 carpark lots are provided for residents of the 329 apartments. We were told that apartment units that do not want a carpark lot will get a $100 deduction from their monthly maintenance fee.

There are several unit types and layouts available at CENTRO RESIDENCES
• 2-Bedrooms (124 units): 743 – 893sqft
• 3-Bedrooms compact (136 units): 904 – 1001sqft
• 3-Bedrooms (36 units): 1206sqft
• 4-Bedrooms compact (28 units): 1281sqft
• 4-Bedrooms Penthouse (5 units): 1712 – 2357sqft

There are 2 showflats in the sales gallery. The first is a 1206sqft, 3-Bedrooms unit. It comes with 2.9m high ceiling, 60x30cm marble-slab flooring for the living/dining area, and a rectangular balcony that is almost 100sqft. The common bathroom has homogenous-tiles flooring and “Ideal Standard/Remer” bathroom fittings.

The wet & dry kitchens form an L-shape with each other, with a sliding glass door separating the two. Kitchen cabinets have anti-slam drawers, and kitchen appliances that come with the unit include “Teka” oven/hood/hob and “Bosch” fridge & washer/dryer. The wet kitchen area is so small that it will be quite a challenge for two people to work comfortably inside. The small yard has a tiny built-in sink – barely enough space for you to do laundry. There is also a small L-shaped utility/maid’s room that can probably accommodate a small custom-made bed but nothing much else.

The master bedroom does not look small, but it will probably be a bad idea to put in a king-sized bed. It comes with an open concept wardrobe, and you can choose to have the partition wall for the master bathroom either in glass or concrete. The master bathroom has marble floors/walls, “Ideal Standard/New Form” bathroom fittings, and a tub with rain-shower. The 2 common bedrooms are square-shaped, and a little on the small side.

The other showflat is what they called the “3-Bedrooms compact” unit. The unit is 904sqft, and comes with the same floors/walls furnishings and kitchen/bathroom fittings as the 3-Bedrooms unit. However, the balcony is L-shaped, and the usual small L-shaped kitchen applies. There is no utility/maid’s room & toilet and not much of a yard area to speak of, so you can probably forget about installing overhead laundry rack.

The master bedroom is surprisingly quite decent sized, and you have the option of sunken bath or tub with overhead rain-shower in the master bathroom. The “normal” common bedroom is square-shaped and probably can ft a queen-sized bed if you utilize the bay window as part of your bed frame, while the other “compact” common bedroom is at almost 2/3 the size - this is probably more suited as a study or playroom.

What we like:
• Location – at least this is what most buyers of CENTRO RESIDENCES were sold on, and is also the biggest selling point of the project. Being centrally located within the Town Centre next to the AMK Hub, you get over 200 outlets of shopping and dining pleasures and other amenities almost right at your doorsteps. The bus interchange integrated into the shopping centre provides good transport connections around Singapore, while the MRT station opposite is a mere five stops away from Orchard (or so we were told, since the wife and I do not take the MRT much).

• If you have kids going into primary 1 in 2014-2015, you may be reassured by the fact that there are at least 2 primary schools that are situated within 1-km of CENTRO RESIDENCES – Jin Shan Primary and Mayflower Primary.

What we dislike:
• Location – I know this may sound like a contradiction, but we actually think that being located right in the middle of the Town Centre and next door to a shopping mall/bus interchange/MRT is more a bane than boon. The constant flow of human traffic around you and the noise they generate is not something that we like to go home to.

• The actual site of CENTRO RESIDENCES is a rather small plot of land that is stuck between the AMK Hub on one side, some HDB point-block on the other, Ang Mo Kio Ave 8 with the MRT station in front, and more HDB blocks at the back. I do not know about you, but just thinking about it makes us feel a tad claustrophobic.

• The units in CENTRO RESIDENCES form a triangular shape around the tower, with an open central atrium located within (refer to stack-layout picture for better visuals). All the kitchens/yards face inwards towards the central atrium. So you are likely to get a rather dark kitchen irrespective of the time of the day, while depending on the hot air from your air-con compressors to air-dry your clothes rather than natural breeze.

• Although there is no showflat for the 4-Bedrooms compact unit, we understand from the floor-plan that there is only 1 common toilet in the living room to be shared among the 3 common bedrooms. This is definitely less than ideal.

• The wife and I do not fancy “Mickey Mouse” units, as they violate our human rights for individual spaces. It is inevitable given the space constraints we face in Singapore and the high property prices, more and more housing units are being built using the “Hong Kong” model. Speaking from personal experience, we have previously stayed in a 1250sqft “2+Study” unit for a couple of months. I got a rude awakening every morning from the noise that my 5yo son generated in the living room, and he woke up like at 6am everyday! So we really cannot imagine ourselves living in a 1208sqft 3-bedder, or worse, an 885sqft 2-bedder unit.

• The CTE, which is the main expressway that residents with cars at CENTRAL RESIDENCES will take for access into the City/CBD area. The wife and I are always very perplexed by the traffic condition at CTE. With the AYE/PIE, one can almost anticipate the “heavy traffic” times during the day. But the CTE can be jammed up at any time of the day, even on weekends. So this makes the journey less “predictable”.

• And finally, the price. At $1,250psf or more, we see little upside for a suburban 99-years leasehold project. This is irrespective of its supposedly convenient location within an established and rejuvenated estate. Not when the other full-facility condo project, “Grandeur 8”, located less than 700m down the same road, is currently selling at a price of around $800psf. One can always argue that the later is an older project, and provides different set of lifestyle living compared to CENTRO RESIDENCES. But the price gap is way too huge for potential buyers weighing the 2 options to disregard.

A total of 156 units are released for sale as of yesterday. These comprise apartments from the 7th to 19th floors. Out of which, 103 units have been taken up - these are primarily the smaller 2-bedrooms and 3-bedrooms compact units. We were told that buyers were mainly HDB upgraders currently living in the Ang Mo Kio/Bishan/Yio Chu Kang area and investors seeking rentals. We were told that there may be a good demand for rental at CENTRAL RESIDENCES due to its relatively good proximity and accessibility to the City/CBD area. In addition, rental demand may be boosted by the Australian and French schools located nearby. But the wife and I are a bit sceptical about the later, as Caucasian families with school going children will probably not opt for small apartments like those found in CENTRO RESIDENCES.

For those who are interested, a 904sqft 3-Bedrooms compact unit on the 17th floor (stack 4) will cost you $1.16 million after discount. This translates to about $1283psf. The monthly maintenance is a low $30/share, so expect to pay only $210/month for the 3-bedder (7 shares) or an even lower $110/month is you opt not to have a carpark lot.

After our visit, the wife and I still arrived at the same conclusion… “Siow”! We expect a lot of price resistance to the exorbitant $1200-1300psf price level that Far East is currently asking for CENTRO RESIDENCES after the initial buying euphoria. And this may already be showing – it looked like only 10 additional units were sold after the first preview.

View location/site plans and unit layouts here:

Friday, January 15, 2010

JARDIN - Latest Marketing Promotion

The wife received an email on above today.

Thought we share it with those of you who may be interested in the project. Please note the freebie is supposedly given to the next THREE buyers only.

Jardin - Latest Marketing Promotion


Regarding the two new EC condo sites launched today...

Both The Straits and Business Times today have reported that the Government has launched two executive condominium (EC) sites - one in Sengkang and the other in Yishun.

EC are a hybrid of public and private housing. They are strata-titled apartments with facilities comparable to private condos. New ECs are sold with initial eligibility, ownership and resale restrictions similar to public housing; but these are completely removed after 10 years.

Of the two 99-year leasehold plots on offer, the Sengkang plot, near Buangkok MRT Station, will be more highly sought after and hence should fetch a higher unit land price, say property consultants. It can be developed into 520 apartments and is just one MRT stop away from Compass Point mall.

The Yishun plot, which can yield about 385 units, is not within walking distance of an MRT station, although it could make for a conducive living environment. It is close to Yishun Park, Orchid Country Club and Lower Seletar Reservoir. The Yishun plot is next to a completed EC project, LILYDALE.

Property consultants that Business Times polled predict that land bids for the more popular Sengkang plot would range from about $190 to $300 per square foot per plot ration (psf ppr), with target selling prices of $550-600psf. Three EC projects in the north-east region – PARK GREEN, THE RIVERVALE and THE FLORIDA – were reportedly sold at average prices of $525-546psf in Q4 2009.

For the Yishun plot, consultants expect bids of around $150-$210 psf ppr with average selling prices of $500 -580psf. Units in LILYDALE next door were reportedly transacted at $494psf on average last quarter.

The last EC project was Far East Organization’s La Casa in Woodlands, which was released at an average price of about $380psf in May 2005 and completed in 2008. But a Punggol EC site that was launched in September 2008 had no takers.

Last year’s sharp recovery in 99-year leasehold mass-market private condo prices has revived the need for ECs, say analysts. Suburban home prices rose by an estimated 11.2%, and prices of ECs have been on the rise in tandem with the mass market boom. A CB Richard Ellis report last November found the median resale prices of ECs had increased 63% in recent years – from $319psf at the bottom of the market in the 3rd quarter of 2006 to $519psf in October last year.

They have inched even higher in the past 3 months, with homes in good locations hitting around $600-700psf. A 1,464sqft home at Bishan Loft, for example, sold for $1.12 million or $765psf in December, according to data from the URA.

The price increases seen over the past year have left a group of “sandwich-class” buyers who have been priced out of the market and are looking for alternatives.

EC’s were originally introduced in 1996 to provide for middle-income buyers who wanted private property living but were unable to afford the prices. The $10,000 income ceiling for new EC buyers is above the $8,000 for those seeking to buy new public housing flats from HDB.

The two new EC sites launched today come with a twist – the winning tenderers will have to set aside 95% of units in the initial month of sale for first-time home buyers. That is, those that have not receive a housing subsidy. First time buyers can continue apply for the $30,000 housing grant.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

SG Property Outlook/New Property Launches in 2010

The Business Times today reported that on a yearly basis, 2009 saw the second highest number of new private home sold. Developers sold around 14,500 new homes last year – second only to the record take-up of 14,811 units in 2007.

However, caveats lodged show that the total value of the homes sold is only around 60% of that in 2007, in spite of the high volume of new sales last year. The lower quantum was attributed to the dominance of mass-market and mid-tier homes that were sold in 2009, compared to 2007 when high-end homes stole the limelight.

But this is expected to change in 2010. Analysts reckon that the take-up in 2010 will moderate to 8,000 – 10,000 units. But the activity is expected to move into the high-end luxury segments.

Over the last year, prices of mass and mid-range private homes have caught up with and even surpassed that seen during the previous peak. But for the high-end /luxury segment, prices are still some way off their peaks. This ranges from 19% (Goldman Sachs) to 25-30% (Savills Singapore). Goldman Sachs expect high-end prices to rise by 10-15%, while Savills are even more bullish – they are confident that high-end/luxury prices will move as much as 30% over the next 12-24 months.

The paper also provided a list of possible launches in 2010:
New Launches 2010
It sure looks like another busy year of showflat viewing for yours truly and the wife!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

For Buyers of CLOVER BY THE PARK...


I am sure you must have wondered what the view from your unit will actually look like.

The wife and I have asked ourselves the same question too. So we have decided to try and emulate the kind of view that you are likely to get from some of the apartment stacks at CLOVER BY THE PARK. The photographs are taken from a HDB point-block nearby to CLOVER. More importantly, this particular HDB block has almost identical facing/orientation as the two towers at CLOVER. So here goes

CLOVER Site-Plan:

1. Bishan Park view - Tower 6, Stack# 13 - 16 (Low Floors)

2. Bishan Park View & Beyond - Tower 6, Stack# 13 - 15 (High Floors)

3. Bishan Park View & Beyond - Tower 6, Stack# 16 (High Floors)

4. Ground & City View - Tower 6, Stack# 9 & 10;   Tower 2, Stack# 6 & 7

5. Ground & City View - Tower 2, Stack# 6 (20th Floor and above)

We will not promise you an exact match to the view from your unit, but we hope this will help satisfy some of that curiorsity.

On a related subject, the wife and I are somewhat perplexed by why units at CLOVER are not selling as fast as we felt it should. This is especially if you compare its current psf price of less than $850psf relative to neighbouring new projects like CENTRO (above $1200psf) and TREVISTA (above $930psf). All three are 99-years leasehold projects located in the heartlands, just a stone throw away from each other and almost equal in terms of convenience, accessibility and availability of amenities. Those familiar with Oscar Wilde may argue that "some heartland projects are more equal than others", but lest you forget, Bishan was (and probably still is) one of the hottest area for flat buyers, with record setting prices for HDB units being achieved just not so long ago. So CLOVER should technically be as popular with, e.g. HDB upgraders, around the Bishan/Ang Mo Kio/Toa Payoh area as compared to CENTRO and TREVISTA.

According to URA records, 498 of the 616 units at CLOVER were sold as of Nov 2009. This is after more than 2-years since its first launch.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

JARDIN (Review)

Artist Impression 1

District: 21
Location: Bukit Timah
Address: 966 Dunearn Road
Developer: Far East Organization
Tenure: Freehold

Tranquillity Awaits -
My garden home in the sky, a lush stroke of green across the blue.
Drudgery of the day behind me, hubbub of the city hushed.
A sweet respite, my senses awake.

No, the wife and I are no closet poets. But those who are can certainly take a leaf off JARDIN’S marketing brochure.

JARDIN is another of them “older” new development that the wife and I decided to take a chance on today. First launched in July-2007, JARDIN sits on a long and somewhat narrow plot of land of about 90,000sqft, and consists of one 10-storey block with 140 units. The expected TOP for this project is 2013.

The main entrance into JARDIN is along Dunearn Road, right next to the Dunearn/Clementi Road intersection. The sales gallery is located at the actual site itself.

The unique selling point of JARDIN is that the project is made up of largely loft units – 90 of the 140 apartment are Lofts. And while most other condo developments (e.g. Cyan) only have 1 or 2-bedroom lofts, JARDIN offers much bigger loft units with 3+1 and even 4+1 bedrooms.

The other unique feature of JARDIN is the French-themed garden terraces at alternate levels along the Loft corridors. These gardens extend from the loft units, merging living spaces with nature. An ideal spot for quiet reflections and parties, these gardens at the doorsteps offer the prefect combination of garden-living in high-rise environment.

The facilities in JARDIN centre within the ‘pavilion-style’ roof-top club - The Garden of Pleasures – which offers recreational facilities such as an infinity pool, aqua gym, reading pavilion, alfresco café, function pavilion and the elemental spa. However, tennis enthusiasts will be disappointed to know that there is no tennis court in this project. And for those who seeks a pool-facing view, you will have to be contented with the view of the swimming pools at “Gardenvista” (the condo next door) that JARDIN overlooks. We understand that there will only be 145 carpark lots available in 2 basement levels, so parking is likely to be a contentious issue in future estate AGMs.

There are quite a number of unit types available at JARDIN, depending on whether you are looking for single- level apartment or Loft

• 2-Bedrooms Apt: 958sqft & 1098sqft*
• 2+1 Bedrooms Apt: 1087sqft & 1098sqft, 1249sqft* & 1259sqft*
• 3-Bedrooms Apt: 1206sqft & 1292sqft*
• 1-Bedroom Loft: 958sqft & 990sqft*
• 2-Bedrooms Loft: 1012sqft & 1130sqft*
• 2+1 Bedrooms Loft: 1098 – 1163sqft & 1216* – 1249sqft*
• 3+1 Bedrooms Loft: 1690 – 1722sqft & 1776* - 1787sqft*
• 4+1 Bedrooms Loft: 1776 – 1787sqft & 1851* - 1862sqft*
 * denotes ground-floor unit type

There are 2 showflats within the sales gallery. The first is a 1851sqft, 4+1 bedrooms, ground-floor loft unit. It comes with a private lift that opens directly to your living/dining room in the lower level. The living/dining room has 60cm X 60cm marble-slabs flooring, and the general ceiling height for the lower level is 3.45m. However, one section of the living room underneath the void area actually has the fully extended height of 6.6m. You also find one of the three common bedrooms in this level, next to the home shelter/maid’s room. There is only one bathroom/toilet in the lower level for sharing between your guests, the maid and occupant of the bedroom. The yard cum launderette is lodged between the bedroom and kitchen, and is accessible via a door within the bedroom or from the kitchen. At the yard, a back door will provide you access to the garden terrace outside. The dry and wet kitchens are arranged in a row next to each other, and come with full length kitchen cabinets. The developer is surprisingly stingy with kitchen appliances, with only “Kuppersbusch” hood/hob & oven provided for the unit.

A staircase in the living/dining area (next to the private lift doors) leads you to the upper level, with an in-built storage provided on the mid-level stairs landing. You have the option of a marbled staircase with stainless steel railings, i.e. an extension from the marble flooring in the living/dining room, or the conventional wooden staircase with matching stairs railings. As you come up the stairs, the master bedroom and study are on opposite side to the two other common bedrooms. One of the common bedrooms is squarish and decent sized, while the other is L-shaped. Both bedrooms share a single bathroom/toilet located in between the rooms.

Both the master bedroom and bathroom are good sized. A set of L-shaped windows in the master bedroom allow you to overlook part of the living room below, as well as view of the pool area of “Gardenvista” located directly opposite the unit. The master bathroom has a sunken bath with rain-shower, and you can choose to have the partition walls between the master bedroom and bathroom either in concrete or glass. You can also choose to convert the study next door to a walk-in closet.

The other showflat is a 1098sqft, 2-bedrooms ground-floor apartment. There is no private lift access for the apartment stacks – the main door opens into the rectangular shaped living/dining room. You get 60cm X 30cm marble-slabs flooring, and the ceiling height is about 3.3m. The kitchen is also rectangular in shape, with the home shelter/maid’s room located within the kitchen itself. There is a small L-shaped yard behind the kitchen, but no toilet/bath. The bedrooms and common toilet/bath are tucked to one side of the apartment. The common bedroom is (you guessed it) rectangular shaped, while the master bedroom across is squarish and has a small walk-in closet that leads to the master bathroom.

What we like:
• The larger loft units, i.e. the 3+1 and 4+1 bedders. JARDIN is the only development we have seen so far that offers units of such sizes.

• All the living areas within the 2-bedrooms apartment are very regular with no odd corners. The showflat actually felt surprisingly spacious for an apartment with a “built-in” area of only 960sqft, since the other 150sqft is taken up by the PES.

• JARDIN is quite centrally located – there are numerous restaurants sprawled across the area and nearby shopping malls, such as Bukit Timah Plaza and King Albert Park, provide a range of amenities including supermarkets and retail shops. It only takes about 15 – 20 minutes by car to get to the CBD or Orchard Road shopping district, via AYE and Dunearn Road respectively. The upcoming Blackmore MRT station is located almost right across the road from JARDIN.

What we dislike:
• The common toilet on the lower level of the 4+1 Loft is located in the centre of the unit. Such layout, in “Feng Shui” speak, will result in all your wealth being flushed away. The wife and I are also no fans of fully enclosed toilet without natural ventilation.

• The position of the home shelter, which usually serves as the maid’s room, in the living/dining room area of the 4+1 Loft is not exactly ideal. The domestic helper will have to access the yard area through the bedroom on the lower level, or take a roundabout route across the kitchen. It also gives her far less privacy than the traditional “home shelter in the yard area” layout. One option is to use the bedroom in the lower level as the maid’s room, which we suspect is something many buyers with domestic helper may end up doing.

• There is insufficient bathroom at the lower Loft level. We will much prefer an additional toilet/bath in the yard area for the domestic helper.

• Although JARDIN is built with a 44-metres ingress from the main road, this may not necessarily be sufficient insulation from traffic noises along Dunearn Road and the busy intersection that the development is situated next to. So you will either have to bear the brunt of the noise pollution, or have your windows permanently shut.

• There is not much ground within JARDIN, given the long and narrow strip of land it resides on. And the wife and I are not particularly thrilled about having to depend on your neighbour’s pool and grounds for a view, no matter how much the marketing brochure tries to convince us that this is actually a Japanese gardening technique of Shakkei (borrowed scenery), which supposedly extends the garden experience of JARDIN beyond its development.

• For parents that have kids enrolling into primary school in the next couple of years, we can only identify one school that is within 1-km of JARDIN – Methodist Girls’ Primary School.

In summary, the wife and I have concluded that JARDIN is not really for us - assuming we have the money to buy it that is - as the cons far outweigh the pros. And in our case, there is really only one “pro” - we love the Loft unit!

For those of you who are interested in JARDIN, please note that only the apartment units are currently released for sale. Far East has suspended marketing of the Loft units after the initial launch – these were units on the first and third storey, of which 60% were sold. The reason for the suspension, as we understand it, is due to public resistance to the price. The 3+1 and 4+1 Lofts were supposedly transacted at $1900-$2,000psf previously, before sales were put on hold. But the marketing agent that was attending to us did say that she is willing to seek developer’s approval if we are really interested in the Loft units on the first or third floor, and are willing to pay at least $1800psf for the 3+1 Loft or $1900psf for the 4+1 Loft.

And as for the apartments, only units from 1st – 4th floors are launched, and the take up rate has supposedly hit 70%. The selling price for apartments is also lower – from $1500psf up.

View Site and Floor Plans here:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Artist Impression 1
District: 12
Location: Toa Payoh
Address: 21 – 25 Toa Payoh Lorong 3
Developer: NTUC Choice Homes
Tenure: 99-years Leasehold (from 15/07/2008)

The wife and I visited one of the hottest selling condo projects in 2009 during lunch time today – TREVISTA. As some of you may recall, this project was launched at the end of August 2009. Some 320 of the 590 units in total were snapped up within the first preview day of the first phase launch. Agents were seen armed with blank cheques from clients keen to secure better units and who had given them authorization to book units on their behalf. The developer (Choice Homes) had originally released 210 units, but had to release another batch of 190 units in the early evening to satisfy demand. The price for the second batch was raised by about 2 – 3% from the initial average price of $898psf. But demand remained so strong that Choice Home had to stop issuing queue numbers after 9pm and told those streaming into the showflat site to return the next day.

TREVISTA is the first private condo that is launched in the mature Toa Payoh estate since 1996. That was when City Development Ltd launched the freehold “Trellis Tower” at a reported average price of $900psf.

TREVISTA is what the wife and I deemed as a “Heartland Condo” project, similar to developments like “Clover by The Park” in Bishan and even “Centro Residences” in Ang Mo Kio. It is located at the intersection of Toa Payoh Lorong 2 & 3, and sits on a 150,000sqft arrow-shaped site with a plot ratio of 4.2. One unique feature of this project is that the ground level is actually elevated by some 4.5m, while the “basement” carpark is really where the actual street level is. The project consists of 3 Towers of 39-Storey each, with a total of 590 apartment units. The expected TOP is December 2012.

The main entrance to TREVISTA is located along Toa Payoh Lorong 3, but there is another vehicle entrance/exit at Lorong 2 that is catered to residents only.

The facilities that come with TREVISTA are quite extensive. These include:
• A Sky Garden on the 39th floor of Tower 23, where you will supposedly get an unblocked view of MacRitchie Reservoir and the City skyline.

• 50 X 12m Lap Pool that looked quite huge in the site model.

• Aqua gym, water lounge pool and children’s play pool.

• Aroma garden and Spa alcove.

• Club house with gym and steam room, 2 tennis courts, golf putting green, basketball practise corner, fitness corner and even a rock climbing wall.

• 2 party pavilions where you can do all your outdoor entertaining and parties.

In terms of parking, we were assured that one carpark lot will be available for each unit, with some “spares” for second cars and visitors. The total number of lots, however, is still unknown.

There are several unit types and layouts available at TREVISTA:
• 1-Bedroom: 463sqft
• 1-Bedroom + Study: 689sqft
• 2-Bedrooms: 861 – 926sqft
• 2-Bedrooms + Study: 1012sqft
• 3-bedrooms: 1098 – 1281sqft
• 4-Bedrooms: 1561 – 1787sqft
• 4-Bedrooms + Study: 1776 – 1808sqft

There are 2 showflats at the sales gallery. The first one is a 1701sqft, 4-bedder unit (Type D1) located at stack #8. No private lift this time, as the 3 common lifts is shared amongst the units on the same floor. The apartment comes with 2.8m ceiling height and 60cm X 60cm marble-slab flooring, and there is a rather sizeable built-in storage space next to the main door as you enters the unit – this we like as one common problem with new condo projects these days is the lack of storage area.

The living room is L-shaped, which we find a tad small. This is because the dry kitchen takes up quite a bit of room within the living/dining area. This is one layout that may be better off without the dry kitchen, which cuts part of the living room into half. The wet & dry kitchens are fitted with “Teka” oven/hood/hob/sink, “Hansgrohe” faucets and both top & bottom kitchen cabinets. Those of you that cook frequently may be pleased to know that TREVISTA uses piped gas, so there is no fear of your gas canister running out when you are in the middle of frying that sambal fish.

The yard area, where the home shelter/maid’s room and toilet are located, is quite small. This is compensated by a small balcony area behind the wet kitchen, which is ideal for laundry. The main balcony in the living room is somewhat odd-shaped, but is long and wide enough to accommodate an 8-seater long dining table especially if the planter box area is decked up.

The common bathroom has homogenous tiles flooring/ceramic walls and “Hansgrohe” faucets. The master bedroom and the 2 common bedrooms are all very decent sized, and come with good quality wardrobes. The master bathroom is also quite big, and has separate shower cubicle/bath tub, “Hansgrohe” faucets and “Bravat” sink/toilet bowl. The junior suite, however, is rather small and faces the west sun (hot!).

The other showflat is a 1281sqft, 3-bedrooms unit (TYPE C2), which is located at stack #11 and #12. The unit has a long rectangular living/dining area, with homogenous tiles flooring. A row of bay windows lined the entire length of one side of the living room, while the balcony is on the other side. So there is no lack of natural lighting with this unit. The balcony is again odd-shaped, but large enough to fit a 6-seater long dining table if desired. The unit has both wet and dry kitchen, but no proper yard space for laundry. The home shelter/maid’s room and toilet are located at the end of the wet kitchen area. The master bedroom is decent sized but the 2 common bedrooms seem a bit small. Other than no marble floor for the living/dining area, the furnishing and fittings are somewhat similar to the 4-bedder.

What we like:
• Location, location, location – TREVISTA is supposedly a 3-mins walk to Bradell MRT station, and 5-minutes away from Toa Payoh HDB hub where you will find most of the amenities you need. The surrounding HDB estate also provides you with local supermarts, coffee shops and wet markets (we think!). TREVISTA is also about a 10 -15 minutes drive to CDB/Orchard area via CTE.

• As TREVISTA is built on elevated ground, this allows the rubbish collection centre to be concealed in the “basement” level. The rubbish collection centre is located after the main entrance to the left. The rubbish collection trucks go straight into the collection centre, do their job, and then straight out. All these are done behind public eyes, and both you and your guests are spared the ugly sight of pieces of discards lying about as per some condo with external rubbish collection centres.

• We are pleasantly surprised by the quality of furnishings we found in the showflats, which we dare say are much better than some of the other projects we have seen (think Meadows @Pierce, for one).

What we dislike:
• The living/dining room even for the 1701sqft unit is rather small. This is unless you push the dining room out to the balcony, which will then allow you more space in the living room.

• Without sounding like a snob, “Heartland condo” like TREVISTA, which is located within HDB estates, may not appeal to everyone. This is despite the comparabe living styles provided by such condominium, and its proximity to amenities available around the matured HDB estates. Thus you may find yourself limited by the pool of potential suitors on the resale or even rental front.

• The only primary school we can identify that is within 1-km of TREVISTA is CHIJ Toa Payoh. So no joy for parents with boys.

Pricing wise,
• The 1808sqft, “4-Bedrooms + Study” unit on the 26th floor (#26-09) will cost you $1.625 million (=$899psf).

• The 1733sqft, 4-Bedrooms unit on the 21st floor (#21-08) is priced at $1.563 million (=$902psf).

• For a 1281sqft, 3-Bedrooms unit on the 28th floor (#28-12), you will have to pay about $1.288 million (=$1005psf).

• Monthly maintenance cost for a 4-bedder unit is around $300-350. Apparently, the developer has not released the “per share value” information yet.

We feel that the current price at TREVISTA still represents good value, given its convenient location and quality furnishings. As of today, only about 80 units are left – these are mainly the larger 3 and 4-bedder units. We were told by the friendly marketing agent that the “4 + S” units from 20th floor onwards in stack #09 are the best facing, as you get the MacRitchie Reservoir view. However, the wife pointed out that all such units are west facing, so you will also face the full wrath of the afternoon sun. The 4-Bedrooms units above 20th floor in stack #01 are also preferred, as you supposedly get unblocked view from both the front and back of the unit. TREVISTA is also one of the last condo project that still offers the Interest Absorption Scheme (aka Deferred Payment).

In summary, we feel that TREVISTA will probably be popular with HDB upgraders, or price conscious buyers looking for good-sized apartments in a convenient and relatively central location. Those interested in TREVISTA should contact Darren Tee of CBRE (mobile: 98238986) – Darren is not related to us in any way. He just happened to be the friendly and knowledgeable marketing agent that served us today.

View site and floor plans at: