Sunday, February 28, 2010


District: 9
Location: Cavenagh Road/Orchard
Address: 65 & 65A – E Cavenagh Road
Developer: Hiap Hoe Group
Tenure: Freehold

The wife and I went to the “special preview” of WATERSCAPE @CAVENAGH yesterday afternoon. We have already given you the general scoop of WATERSCAPE in our earlier post (Feb 24th), so we will now attempt to fill in some of the “gaps”.

The first thing that struck us when we arrived at the sales gallery on the actual site is that the freehold plot does not quite look its 101,000sqft size – this is supposedly the largest piece of land on Cavenagh Road excluding the Istana grounds!

The sales gallery was filled with potential buyers and an army of marketing agents. Looking at the scale model of the development, we realize that WATERSCAPE is situated on the side of a hill that slops downwards from Cavenagh Road towards the CTE. And the first floor apartments are actually below ground level compared to Cavenagh Road/CTE. So the view from these units is basically a wall with some planted trees/shrubs.

To add on to our previous information about the unit types and sizes at WATERSCAPE:
• 1-Bedroom: 42 units
• 2-Bedroom: 28 units
• 2-Bedroom + Study: 15 units
• 3-Bedroom: 61 units
• 3-Bedroom + Study: 20 units
• 4-Bedroom: 10 units
• Penthouse: 24 units

Unit Listing (By Tower)
Unit List1

In terms of orientation of the 6 apartment blocks in WATERSCAPE, Blocks 65D & E are located along Cavenagh Road, while the remaining 4 blocks (65, 65A-C) and located behind (i.e. along CTE) and forms an odd V-shape with 65D&E. Blocks 65 & 65A-C are 7-storey high, whereas 65D&E are 6-storey blocks. The distance between the two rows of blocks is 15 – 20m at their nearest point and opening out to about 30m at their furthest point. So residents of stacks# 4 & 5 (Block 65) and stack #33 (Block 65E) may find themselves living a bit too close to each other for their own comfort.

Unit Listing (By Orientation)
Unit List2

In terms of facilities, WATERSCAPE sticks pretty much to the basics. You get a main swimming pool plus several other smaller “themed” pools, a club house that houses the gym and BBQ facilities on the rooftop, jogging track that runs around the condo, a children’s playground and that's basically it. There is no tennis court in this development.

The 200 carpark lots are housed in the basement – some of these are the “normal” basement lots while the rest belong to the mechanical “auto park” system. However, no info is available on the split between normal/mechanical.

The only showflat on display is a 1561sqft, 4-Bedroom unit (Type D). One unique feature of the apartments at WARERSCAPE is that there are no bay windows, planter boxes and even bomb shelter (this is centrally located at the emergency escape).

As we enter the main door, the wife and I were pleasantly surprised by how spacious the rectangular-shaped living/dining room is – the area can easily accommodate a large rectangular 8-seater dining table and a good-size sofa set and still feels roomy. If you require an even bigger living/dining area, there is the option of knocking down the wall of one of the adjacent common room. This transforms the living/dining to a huge L-shaped area, which is what the developer has done in the showflat. The living/dining area comes with 60cm x60cam large marble-slab floors and a ceiling height of 2.89m. The living room extends out to a small rectangular balcony, where you can probably put a small coffee table and 2 chairs to enjoy the view outside.

The kitchen is immediately on the right as you enter the main door. It is a long rectangular strip and can easily accommodate 2 -3 people working alongside. It comes with a full set of top/bottom kitchen cabinets and the cabinet drawers are the “anti-slam” type. “Gaggenau” (German brand) oven/hood/fridge is provided – we especially like the sophisticated design of the oven, which is something we have not seen in any of our previous showflat visits. You also get an induction hob instead of the traditional ones, which is a nice touch. However, the range of appliances given is definitely not as extensive as those you get in recent Far East projects.

The end of the kitchen extends to the yard area, which is spacious enough to house a washer/dryer and still has enough room for laundry drying and ironing. This is also where the Utility room is found – it can house a standard single bed but that is about all the space you get. A bathroom (usually for the domestic helper) is also provided here.

The common room (only 1 in the showflat as the other becomes part of the living/dining, remember?) is quite small but still good enough for two standard single beds with walking space in between. The common bath has homogenous tiles floor/wall and comes with “Hansgrohe” bathroom and “Lufen” toilet fittings. However, you only get the standard wall-mounted shower in the shower stall.

The Junior Suite is quite decent size, but creativity will be needed to try and fit a “Queen” bed and study table into the same room. The attached bathroom has the same furnishing/fittings as the common bathroom – only difference is that you get a rain-shower in the standing shower stall, in addition to the wall-mounted one.

The master bathroom is a tad small compared to similar-sized apartments at some of the other projects we have seen recently. You have hardly any space for other furniture once you put in a “King” bed. You also get a small balcony, with probably enough space for you to step outside for a breath of fresh air (or a smoke - “fresh air” to some). The master bathroom has marble floor/walls, a long bath with adjacent standing rain/wall-mounted showers and comes with “Hansgrohe/Laufen” fittings.

The wife and I are quite satisfied with the quality of furnishing and fittings in the WATERSCAPE showflat. The only issue we have is the tiny amount of wardrobe space in all the rooms, which seems to be a common complaint with new apartment projects these days.

4-Bedroom (Type D)
Type D (4-Brm)

What we like:
• The large living/dining area for the 4-bedroom unit, which stands out from a lot of the other 1500+sqft 4-bedder showflats we have seen so far. And if you can afford to sacrifice the adjacent common bedroom, you can have yourself a living/dining room that will equal that of many 1900 - 2000sqft apartments.

• Given its location, WATERSCAPE is only minutes drive away from almost anywhere around the city. It is also supposedly a 4 – 5 minutes walk to Somerset MRT station, although you will be subjected to weather elements as the walk is largely unsheltered.

What we dislike:
• The smallish bedrooms. But then again, something has to give to compensate for the large living/dining area.

• The first floor units that are outward facing at WATERSCAPE are all located below ground level (no view), while the stacks facing CTE and to some extent, those facing Cavenagh Road, will have to bear the brunt of the noise coming from these busy roads.

• The emissions from traffic along Cavenagh Road & CTE can be quite bad. The wife and I have noticed that the condos next door to WATERSCAPE all looked rather old and dirty, and we believe the smog from vehicles traversing on the two busy road/expressway has got something to do with this.

• Given that WATERSCAPE is sited across the road from The Istana, it is supposedly “very safe” given the amount of security presence around the area. Our marketing agent went as far as saying that WATERSCAPE probably does not need its own security guards. HOWEVER, we are concern that should we celebrate a tad too excessively after gaming on “13 Wonders” during one of our weekly overnight mahjong games, we may get shut down by the Istana security for being too noisy. Then again, maybe nobody will want to come play mahjong with us anymore if we moved into WATERSCAPE, given the challenge our kakis will face to find parking.

• Only 1 primary school is identified as being within 1-km of WATERSCAPE – ACS (Junior).

Pricing wise, units at WATERSCAPE is currently selling at around $1900 - $2000psf. As an illustration:
• The 1561sqft, 4-bedder (#04-33) costs $3.07 million, or $1967psf
• The 1561sqft, 4-bedder (#04-28) costs $3.12 million, or $1999psf

All the 4-bedroom units face internally towards the pools/clubhouse, and there are only 10 such units in total. Monthly maintenance wise, each share is about $60 - $80 (undecided) and the 4-bedder is equivalent to 6 shares.

As of yesterday, many of the bigger units (3-bedders and up) are still available. The official launch of WATERSCAPE is supposedly next week, and Developer has given notice that the psf price will be raised by 3% then.

After visiting the WATERSCAPE sales gallery, the wife and I maintain that “not all District 9 projects are created equal”. We will probably consider the 4-bedroom unit since we really like the layout and large living/dining room, IF this project is sited somewhere else in District 9. And finding the $3 million to pay for it? That's just….a technicality.   :)


Saturday, February 27, 2010

ALTEZ (Review)

District: 2
Location: Tanjong Pagar
Address: 16 Enggor Street
Developer: Far East Organization
Tenure: 99-years Leasehold wef 6th Feb 2008

There’s never a low floor in ALTEZ – since the first level of apartments in this project actually starts on 10th floor.

ALTEZ is a 280-unit leasehold project located along Enggor Street. It consists of one 62-storey tower that rises some 250 metres from ground to top. The actual site is right behind The Icon – another Far East project that was completed in 2007. ALTEZ actually resides on a rather small land plot of less than 33,000sqft, which is sandwiched between buildings on three sides. The expected TOP of this project is 31st December 2015.

Location Map
Location Map
ALTEZ is a mixed-development project, consisting of commercial units (shops) on the ground level, which are integrated with Icon Village, i.e. the existing shops on the ground floor of The Icon. This offers convenience to residents of both condos as they have easy access to all the shops/F&B outlets within both developments.

The carparks (all 297 of them) are located on Levels 2 – 7, while the main recreational facilities are found of Levels 8 & 9. It seems that patrons of the ground level shops will have access to the carpark lots as well, so it will be interesting to see how the lots are allocated to the residents of ALTEZ (maybe “free for all” between 10am – 10pm?).

The sales gallery/showflat is actually located off-site, at a plot next to International Plaza that Far East has converted into a semi-permanent sales gallery of sorts for their new projects.

When the wife and I visited the sales gallery this morning, all the 1-Bedroom (located on Levels 10 – 19) and 2-Bedroom (on Levels 20 – 28) apartments are fully sold. Far East is only marketing their 1-Bedroom Lofts from Levels 30 – 34 for now, while the bigger units/units on higher floors will be launched at a later date.

We understand that there are several unit types and layouts available at ALTEZ
• 1-Bedroom Apartment: 527 – 603sqft
• 2-Bedroom Apartment: 829 – 1023 sqft
• 1-Bedroom Loft: 753 – 861sqft
• 2-Bedroom Loft: 1109 – 1184sqft
• 3-Bedroom Loft: 1507 – 1658sqft
• Penthouses: 2486 & 4058sqft

The main facilities available at ALTEZ are found on Levels 8 & 9. These include
• 50m lap-pool & water wall feature pool (L8)
• Gym and aerobics/fitness terrace (L8)
• Sun lounging deck (L8)
• Tennis court (L8)
• Basketball half court (L8)
• Different “themed” pools and pool cabana (L9)
• Outdoor lounge (L9)
• Children’s play zone (L9)
• Tennis viewing deck (L9)

In addition, residents will supposedly enjoy spectacular unblocked views of the cityscape all round, including Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa from the 5 sky terraces starting from Level 18 all the way up to the roof terrace on the 60th level. Each of the 5 sky terrace has its own theme

Hang-out @Level 18: An idea hang-out space, where you find a creek, waterside deck, an outdoor picnic terrace and lush landscaping.
Reflect @Level 28: A tree-lined boulevard and plaza terrace, with water feature that leads your eyes towards views of Sentosa and the sea.
Meet @Level 40: A community space for group tai chi or yoga. A mini “Amphitheatre” with tiered seating for creative get-togethers.
Review @Level 52: The perfect retreat and restorative space with stunning city views. Amenities include city lounge, garden sanctuary, elemental spa, heated spa pools and reflexology area.
Chill @Level 60: Where one can enjoy all round view of the city and the sea. Amenities include dining pavilions fitted with gourmet kitchens (ideal for parties), dining terrace with food preparation area (for family get togethers) and aromatic garden and chill-out lounge with cascading water feature.

The 1-Bedroom Loft showflat on display is the smallest 753sqft unit. The lower level comes with 60cm x 60cm marble-slab flooring and 2.8m ceiling height (double volume height of almost 6m around the staircase area leading to the upper level). The living cum dining cum kitchen area on the lower level is squarish shaped, and we reckon small furniture is the order of the day if you intend to fit both sofa and dining table comfortably into the rather small space. There is no balcony but a set of bay windows lined one of the walls. The kitchen is fitted with an extensive list of appliances, which include “Kuppersbusch” oven/hob/hood/ coffee maker, a built-in “Bosch” single-door fridge and “Bosch” washer/dryer. Far East has also thrown in a small “Vintec” wine fridge and a dish-drying rack mounted on top of the kitchen sink for good measures.

The master bedroom and bathroom occupies the whole upper level as you climb up the stairs. The master bedroom has wood-strip flooring and looks spacious enough even with a “King” bed. You also get separate “His” and “Her” wardrobes, which is a nice touch. However, the meagre wardrobe space means that “His” wardrobe will probably end up becoming “Hers”.

The master bathroom has marble floors/walls, and is separate from the master bedroom by glass partitions. The “single-piece” solid surfaced vanity top & moulded wash basin is very elegant, and you must check out the space-age looking square-shaped tap! It also comes with a sunken bath with both rain and hand-held showers. You get “Hangrohe” bathroom and “Kohler” toilet fittings.

1-Bedroom Loft (Showflat)
1-Brm Loft FP1

What we like:
• Location, location, location! Situated within the CBD and less than 10-minutes to Orchard Road, the new Marina downtown and Sentosa, one cannot argue against the centrality of ALTEZ. The condo is also surrounded by amenities found around the Tanjong Pagar area, in addition to the shops/F&B outlets located just downstairs. Given such, we expect good take-up rate for rentals from locals and expats alike working within the CBD and nearby. You also do not have to worry about ERP charges driving into work everyday. Then again, you probably will not need a car in the first place, especially when the Tanjong Pagar MRT station is just 200m away!

• The wife and I are pretty impressed with the quality of furnishings demonstrated in the show-flat. It gives you the feeling that you are at least paying good money for a quality project.

• Opportunity to live in the tallest condo in Singapore? Now that should count for something! The view from your apartment should be quite spectacular, provided that your unit is on a high enough floor to be unblocked.

What we dislike:
• The area around ALTEZ consists primarily of office buildings, so it can be really busy during office hours but quite deserted at night and during the weekends. One can always head to the NTUC Supermarket/ Restaurants/Bars/Karaoke along Tanjong Pagar Road for signs of life at night, but we reckon ALTEZ may not be the most ideal for families with small children.

• As mentioned earlier, ALTEZ resides on a small plot of land surrounded by building on 3 sides. So the claustrophobia you are feeling may not just come from the small unit that you are living in. And unless your apartment is located on the 30th level or above, you may find your view blocked by tall buildings like The Amara Hotel, The Hub Synergy Point, The Mapletree Anson or worse, The Icon condo (46-storey tall).

• We understand that there is no yard area for any of the unit types other than possibly the Penthouses. So there will not be a proper place to dry your clothes, and believe us when we tell you that your washer/dryer can never do as good a job. Far East has probably decided on such layout to maximize the unit space within the project. But this means that you are likely to find laundry hanging in front of the bay windows, much like what you can now see in some of the units at The Icon. Trust us – it is NOT a pretty sight!

• With the 743sqft one-bedder loft, there is only one toilet in the whole apartment – in the master bathroom. And given that you come into full view of the master bedroom and bathroom once you reach the top of the stairs (no thanks to the glass partitions separating the bedroom and bathroom), one’s modesty can quite easily be outraged. So if your guest needs to use the bathroom, be sure that there is someone “jagar-ing” the staircase while he/she is doing so.
But for those of you still interested in the 1-Bedroom Loft, you be pleased to know that some layouts do come with a power room on the lower level – you just have to pay more for these “bigger” units (powder room takes up space too, you know).

• No primary school within 1-km of ALTEZ that we can identify. Then again, the wife and I feel that this may not be a major concern to the targeted group of potential buyers.

As of this morning, 6 out of the 36 units of 1-Bedroom Loft have already been sold. The average price for the 743sqft unit is $1.65 million, which works out to around $2200psf.

In summary, the wife and I believe that ALTEZ is most suited for high income yuppies and DINKs, and should command fairly decent rentals given its location. We were told that a one-bedder at The Icon can easily fetch $4500 per month in rental, so ALTEZ should get at least the same rental, which will give you a rough yield of around 3%. This is assuming that the rental market will remain as buoyant beyond 2015 of course. And if we are one of the 5 winners of last night’s $10 million Toto draw, we may consider buying one of the loft units for investment purpose. But alas…

The sales gallery/showflat will be renovated to showcase the bigger loft units sometime in the near future. However, we are unable to get any specifics in terms of timeline. Also, no floor plan is available for the 2 and 3-Bedroom Lofts yet.

ALTEZ Slideshow

Friday, February 26, 2010

In the spirit of continual Improvement, we now have... Slideshow!

The wonders of Flickr!

Now we can just post a slideshow instead of  the usual boring URL link to our location/site plans, floor plans, showflat photos etc etc.

Coooool! :)


This pic should be "expandable" when clicked on


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Who's afraid of the big bad Property Market Interventionary Measures indeed!

The Business Times today reported that the buzz in private home sales appears to be continuing even after last Friday evening’s government announcement of new measures to cool the property market.

WATERSCAPE @CAVENAGH: About 45 units are said to have been sold since Saturday – the bulk of them one-bedders and some two and three-bedroom units. The majority of buyers of this 200-unit freehold project located in Cavenagh Road are understood to be Singaporean. Foreigners made up about 15 – 20% of purchasers.
The average price achieved is understood to be around $1873psf, with prices ranging from $1738 - $2010psf. The lowest-priced unit sold was a one-bedder of 581sqft on the second level that fetched $1.03 million or $1778psf.

L’VIV: Wing Tai is also understood to have sold slightly more than a dozen units over the weekend. This takes the total sales to about 35 units.
The 147-unit freehold project in Newton Road comprises almost entirely of one and two-bedroom units (both come with Study). The average price is said to be about $2000psf and buyers can purchase on the old deferred payment scheme (DPS) - They pay 20% of the purchase price initially with the rest deferred till the 32-storey project receives its TOP, which is expected around 2013. Developers that had obtained approval from the authorities to sell projects on DPS prior to the scheme being scrapped in Oct 2007 are still allowed to offer DPS.

THE LAURELS: Just hours before the government’s announcement last Friday, a joint venture between Sing Holdings and Forum Partners is said to have sold more than 40 units in this freehold project developed on the former Hillcourt Apartments site on Cairnhill Road. The units were sold at a one-day preview held for former owners of Hillcourt Apartments as well as the developers’ staff and business associates.
The price range quoted at the preview is around $2500 - $2900psf, although a one-bedder on the 18th floor is said to have been sold at just a shade below $3000psf. In absolute quantum, the highest- priced unit transacted was a penthouse with four bedrooms and a garden that fetched almost $9.9million or about $2040psf.
The buyers were mostly Singaporean, although some Indonesian who had formerly lived in Hillcourt are also said to have bought. THE LAURELS will be next previewed in a fortnight, on March 13.

THE VISION: Agents marketing this project are said to be collecting cheques ahead of the 99-year leasehold project’s preview planned in the second week of March. Those issuing cheques are said to have been told prices could be in the range of $1000 - $1200psf, although there will be an early bird discount.
THE VISION comprises 281 apartments housed in two 33-storey towers and 14 strata houses. The development will not have any one-bedroom apartments – units will be two, three and four-bedrooms as well as penthouses. The majority of the apartments are 3-bedders, ranging from 1259 – 1313sqft, with 3 ground floor units (inclusive of PES) of 1776 to over 2000sqft.

So does that mean that there is really no bubble forming in the property market? The wife and I think that the judgment is still out on that one. And besides, we still have 8 more months to go on our “price correction” prediction...  :)


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

THE ESTUARY: Sales Update

The wife just received the following text message from one of our many property agent contacts (we have no clue who he/she is - sorry to the person and thanks!).

15 stacks of THE ESTUARY were released last Monday (Feb 22nd) - a total of 233 units of various sizes. About 75% was sold by today, where buyers need not see the showflat. The balance units are all on the lower floors. New stacks will be released tomorrow. If keen, please go to the showflat early!

It looks like the showflat of THE ESTUARY is now opened to all, contrary to our earlier information.

So who's afraid of the big bad Property Market Interventionary Measures anyway? :)


THE VISION - Early Bird Discount!

The wife have received an email yesterday about the 5% early bird discount given to selected buyers of THE VISION.

We have reproduced the email content as received, typo and all - we would LOVE to see what the "Pen House" looks like.  (* no offense, Darren *)

Please feel free to contact Darren if interested - he is not related to us in any way, just for the record.

Early Bird Discount

New property tax rate for owner-occupied residential properties

You may already have read about the above revealed in Monday's Budget 2010. But for the sake of those who have not:

Current Treatment
Currently, owner-occupied residential properties are taxed at a concessionary 4% rate (instead of 10% for all other properties).
In addition, owner-occupied residential properties with annual values (AVs) below $10,000 can enjoy the on-going 1994 property tax rebates ranging from $25 to $150, depending on the Avs of their properties.

New Treatment
For property tax payable from January 2011, the 1994 property tax rebates will be replaced by a progressive property tax schedule for owner-occupied residential properties:
  • 0% for the first $6,000 of AV
  • 4% for the next $59,000 of AV
  • 6% for the balance of AV in excess of $65,000
Non-owner-occupied residential properties and other properties will continue to be subjected to 10% property tax.

The Annual Value (AV) is the estimated annual rent of a property, excluding the rent for furniture, fittings and service charge. The Inland Revenue Authorities of Singapore determines the AV of a property by analysing rents of similiar properties. According to a property consultant, a property with $65,000 AV would probably be worth around $2.5 million to $3 million currently.

In summary, with the new property tax treatment come 2011: The more expensive your property, the higher the property tax you can expect to pay - sounds fair to us.


WATERSCAPE @CAVENAGH: Fancy living next to the President?

The wife and I have been invited to a “special preview” of WATERSCAPE @CAVENAGH this Saturday. This freehold project in District 9 is located across from the Istana, and we understand that one stack has already been sold out during the Developer’s Preview.

Location Plan
Location Plan

Here are the preliminary project details

Lease Tenure: Freehold
Site Area: approx. 101,193 sqft
Address: 65 Cavenagh Road
Developer: Hiap Hoe Group
Estimated TOP: 2014
No. of Towers: 6
No. of Floors in each Tower: 6/7

Unit Types & Sizes:
1-Bedroom (581 – 754sqft): 42 units
2-Bedrooms/2+Study (1033 – 1389sqft): 43 units
3-Bedrooms/3+Study (1302 – 2992sqft) 81 units
4-Bedrooms (1561 – 2131sqft): 10 units
Penthouses [2 - 4bedrooms] (1033 – 2809sqft): 24 units

No. of Carpark: 200 (Basement, Mechanical “self park” system to designated lots)

Here are some of the floor plans:
1-Bedroom FP
2-Bedroom FP
3-Bedroom FP
4-Bedroom FP

We also understand that prices for WATERSCAPE @CAVENAGH start from around $1650psf onwards.

So do lookout for our review over the weekend!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Confirmed: THE ESTUARY previews this week

As confirmed by The Business Times today, MCL Land will preview THE ESTUARY this week. And all eyes in the property market are focused to see if demand has been dented by last Friday’s anti-speculation measures.

One and two-bedroom units – which have typically been popular among some speculators at property launches over the past year – make up nearly 40% of the total 608 units in THE ESTUARY.

MCL will preview about 200 units in this 99-year leasehold condo located in Yishun at an average price of about $750psf.

Property industry watchers will be focusing on the demand for smaller units – especially the 85 one-bedders which range from 590 – 603sqft. Smallish apartments have often been targets for speculators over the past year as the lump sum outlay is relatively more affordable. And for developers, smallish units can achieve the highest psf price.

MCL is reportedly pricing its one-bedders at $835psf on average, translating to a lump sum investment of about $500,000. The two-bedroom units range from 904 – 926sqft and have an average price of $780psf. The three-bedders (1184 – 1302sqft) cost $722psf on average, while the four-bedders (1453 – 1528sqft) have an average price of $689psf.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Time to use those "flippers" for Snorkelling now...

The Sunday Times yesterday has reported that sub-sales of non-landed homes fell to a three-year low last year, with the proportion at 14% of total non-landed sales, said the latest report from property consultancy DTZ. The figure is below the 16% in 2008 and 15% in 2007, but much higher than the 2 – 11% registered between 1998 – 2006.

A sub-sale is one where buyers buy a new apartment, then resells it before it is built. These deals are usually used as an indicator of speculative activities in the property market.

There were some concerns about the rise in speculative buying in the middle of last year when prices were rising. In mid-September, the Government announced cooling measures which appeared to have tempered speculative interest. And new measures announced last Friday could further dampen such interest.

The Government said it would levy a stamp duty of about 3% on sellers of private homes if they were to sell the homes within a year of purchase on or after Feb 20th this year. It also lowered the loan-to-value limit to 80% for all housing loans provided by financial institutions, from 90% previously.

The Government has introduced these new measures to “temper sentiments and pre-empt a property bubble from forming”. And the moves come despite the comparatively lower speculative activity now.

DTZ noted that the median sub-sale price of non-landed homes rose by 3.8% to $1090psf in the 4th quarter of last year, while the median sub-sales prices rose by a hefty 24% in the whole of last year.

In the last three months of last year, Casa Merah in Tanah Merah saw the highest number of sub-sale transactions, followed by Ferraria Park in Changi. Median sub-sale prices at Casa Merah rose to $800psf in the 4th quarter, up from $770psf in the 3rd quarter and $671psf at the end of 2008. Both projects were granted Temporary Occupation Permits (TOP) in the 3rd quarter of last year.

Newly completed projects or those nearing completion usually attract a higher level of sub-sales as the new buyer can move in or rent it out quickly.

As far as 2010 is concern, sentiments are mixed amongst property experts on the trend for sub-sales. Some feel that sub-sales as a proportion of total home sales may rise as many projects will be completed this year. Others think that with the new “cooling” measures, sub-sale numbers may hold steady this year. But most generally do not expect sub-sales to rise significantly in 2010. This is because mass market prices may not rise substantially this year, so there may not be many gains to be made in the sub-sale market for the majority who have bought mass market properties last year.

However, high-end prices are expected to rise more than mass market prices this year, but runaway prices like those seen in 2007 are unlikely. And for those who intend to flip their properties, they can only do so when the market is rising very fast. Although the new measures are unlikely to scare away all the speculators, these will make them think very carefully about flipping as the Government could introduce more measures if needed, like capital gain tax, for example.

Reading between the lines, the wife and I have come to this conclusion: if we have some spare cash in hand (a big IF), the high-end market is where we should put our money in terms of property investments in 2010. But this is only if we can afford at least the 20% initial capital outlay and have the sustaining power to hold on to the property for a year. And in between this period, we have to pray real hard that the property market will remain buoyant so that we can have the option of selling our investment property for a profit once the year is up.

Should we decide to sell the property within the 1-year time bar, a decent size (say, 1200sqft) high-end property will easily costs us $2.64 million (at a conservative $2200psf) these days. Even with a gross profit of $300K, this may only give us a “nett” profit of about $100K after all deductions (i.e. stamp duties, agent’s commission, penalty on early redemption of housing loan etc). And to even get $300K gross, we will need the property price to appreciate by $250psf. Hard-earn money indeed!

Projects With the Most Sub-sales

When will the showflat at THE ESTUARY be available for viewing?

XS has asked the question in our message box.

According to what little we know from our source, there will be an exclusive preview for The Developer's invited guests and business associates on 25th and 26th February 2010. So these people will get first pick of the cherries...or

On 27th Februray 2010, the sales gallery/showflat may be opened to other potential buyers via special preview invitations by the marketing agents . And agents holding blank cheques from their potential clients will get the first opportunity to pick the apartment units on their buyers' behalf on 27th February.

Unfortunately, there is still no news on when the sales gallery/showflats will be open to the rest of us "normal, walk-in" folks. But the wife and I will try to do a status update as soon as we know.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Would you buy a 366sqft freehold apartment in Siglap for $600K?

It was reported in the papers that at least one unit at the freehold SIGLAP V at East Coast Road has been sold for $1634psf – an eye-popping psf price for a project that is not located centrally. SIGLAP V has also achieved a high median price of $1508psf across the 50 units sold in January, according to data from URA.

The hefty psf price at SIGLAP V has supposedly not deterred buyers because most of the apartments are relatively small. The 114 units available include one-bedders starting from 366sqft in size and one-bedroom plus study units starting from 463sqft. This means that the absolute price for a small unit is fairly modest. For a 366sqft one-bedder unit selling at $1634psf, for example, the buyer would have to fork out around $598,000.

“The psf price may raise eyebrows but if you look at the total quantum, it’s very affordable”, said one property consultant. “SIGLAP V’s location is a selling point. It is next to Siglap Centre and is near schools, cafes and other amenities”, said another.

Developers have launched shoebox apartments since early 2009 in bid to keep overall prices attractive amid uncertain times. And the formula has worked to some extent. The 72-unit SUITES @GUILLEMARD for example, was sold out even though some units measured just 258sqft.

“That’s where the market niche is for some of these developers with small land parcels. The projects have smaller units and may not offer a full range of facilities, but they allow people to own a private address at a fraction of the cost”

The wife and I are constantly puzzled by all the talk about “absolute price/total quantum” that seems to be the new marketing buzzword. Yes, $598K may be affordable amount in total quantum speak for some to own a private address, especially given the high psf prices we are seeing in the property market these days. But unless you are an investor or a bachelor/bachelorette seeking your own little pad, 366sqft is a rather tiny space even for a couple buying their first private home to stay in.

If you consider similarly land scare Hong Kong, which is famous for its shoebox apartments, we understand that a typical one-bedroom unit these days is at least 400sqft. And one does not have to worry about balcony, planter-boxes and bomb shelter eating into the already small living space.

Sure, the absolute price/total quantum may be affordable, but will you be happy living in a cage-like apartment? We reckon that it may be a better option to remain “public” (HDB), where you can easily get almost 4 times the living space for the same $500+K price quantum and probably in a more central location too. But as per always, this is just IOHO.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

CUBE 8 Floor Plans... if it is not too late!

Cube 8 Art1

A friend of ours (thanks Elaine!) has sent us the floor plans for CUBE 8 last month. Thinking that the wife and I will get to this project in good time, it did not occur to us to put the floor plans on our blog until we get the chance to review the development.

However, it has been a case of “too many new projects, too little time” for us. And our recent attempt to visit the sales gallery of CUBE 8 was unsuccessful as it was closed – we are not sure if they are just closed for the CNY period or are now on a “view by appointment" basis, since we understand that more than 167 of the 177 units in this project are already sold. And in the spirit of  "better late than never", here are the floor plans for CUBE 8.
For the uninitiated, and those who just returned from Mars, CUBE 8 is possibly THE hottest selling project when it was launched in January this year. This freehold project developed by City Developments Limited is on Thomson Road (almost right next to the Thomson Road/Balestier Road junction) on the site of the former The Albany and Thomason Mansion. It is located next to The Arte (another CDL project) at Thomson, which was launched for sale in March last year. While the two projects are adjacent, The Arte is in District 12 wile CUBE 8 is in District 11.

The 36-storey CUBE 8 has 177 apartments, comprising 39 one-bedroom units, 58 two-bedders, 67 three-bedders, 9 four-bedroom apartments and 4 sky villas (2-level penthouses).

The unit sizes are
• One-Bedroom: 560sqft
• Two-Bedrooms: 893 – 926sqft
• Three-Bedrooms: 1335 – 1475sqft  (* walk-in closets in Master Bedroom for the 1400+ sqft layouts)
• Four-Bedrooms: 1905sqft  (*Actually a 4-bedroom+Study)
• Sky Villas: 3025 – 3229sqft  (* Powder room, large open roof terrace c/w private Jacuzzi)

Just going by the floor plans alone, we quite like most of the unit layouts although there should be a powder room provided in the 4-bedroom unit (in an ideal world at least). The location of CUBE 8 is also quite central and well served by the nearby PIE/CTE. It is also within 15 – 20 minutes drive of Orchard and CBD under normal traffic conditions. But the constant heavy traffic along Thomson and Newton Road (especially the stretch just in front of Novena church), not to mention Lornie Road during the morning/evening rush hours, may put paid to any desire to get anywhere fast.

The wife and I can probably deal with the traffic. But what concerns us most is the fact that CUBE 8 is located way too close to comfort to a certain old condo that is supposedly…now how shall we put this gently…resided by not just human occupants and their pets. So it is probably the main reason why we will give this project a miss.

The average transacted price for CUBE 8 in January was reportedly around $1250psf, valuing the three-bedroom units at $1.6 - $1.8million, while the four-bedders cost around $2.5million. The sky villas will set you back by $3.6 - $3.8million. But we reckon the prices would have increased, probably by more than once, by now.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

More new property launches coming our way soon!

Now that the CNY holidays are out of the way, The Straits Times have reported that at least six projects are being prepared for launch, while others have started preview sales or will have new phases released.

1. L’VIV: Wing Tai is preparing to sell its 147-unit L’VIV in Newton Road at an average price believed to be about $2000psf. The units at this freehold 32-storey development will be fairly small. About half are one-bedroom apartments of between 600 and 700sqft, while the rest are two-bedders of about 1000sqft in size. There are also three penthouses of more than 2000sqft. The developer is offering the deferred payment scheme for a limited period for this project, which is expected to be completed in 2014.

2. ALTEZ: Far East has started selling units at ALTEZ, a 62-storey (wow!) project along Enggor Street at Tanjong Pagar, located near its Icon condominium. ALTEZ is set to be the tallest residential development in Singapore when completed in 2015. A hundred units have already been sold, at prices ranging from $1600 - $2000psf. Sales at this 99-year leasehold condo reportedly started last Wednesday.
The units sold were one and two-bedroom apartments on the 10th to 22nd floors. Another batch of two-bedroom apartments on the 23rd level and higher will be released for sale today. So far, 60% of the buyers have been foreigners.
The project has 280 units, ranging from one-bedders of 527sqft to a 4058sqft penthouse.

3. 18 SHELFORD ROAD: Popular Holdings is also preparing to start sales of its boutique development, 18 SHELFORD ROAD, this weekend. This freehold project in Bukit Timah will have 19 units, but Popular has declined to disclose the selling price. Recent transactions for new launches like Shelford Suites, a nearby development, are about $1400psf.

4. THE NASSIM: CapitaLand may also start selling the 55-unit THE NASSIM on the former ANA Hotel site, closer to the middle of the year. Analysts expect prices to exceed $3000psf.

Several new launches are also expected in the mass market segment. These include

5. THE VISION: Agents are gearing up to market THE VISION at West Coast, on West Coast Highway, and next to Waseda Shibuya Senior High School. The 99-year leasehold development will have 295 units in total: 281 apartments and 14 strata houses. Sizes start at about 800sqft for a two-bedroom unit and go up to 2700sqft for a penthouse and about 5000sqft for the strata houses.

6. THE ESTUARY: MCL Land is also said to be gearing up to launch THE ESTUARY at Yishun, which will have 608 units. This freehold project will have one-bedroom to four-bedroom apartments, from under 700sqft to over 1500sqft. Indicative prices are said to be about $850psf.

In addition, Frasers Centrepoint is laying plans for its new project on the former Flamingo Valley freehold site at Siglap, which it may launch after the first quarter. The five-storey development will have 393 units, including one-bedroom to four-bedroom apartments, duplexes and penthouses. Prices have not been released, but the nearby Siglap V, located across the road from Siglap Centre, has reportedly sold units at between $1000psf and $1500psf.

More new private housing options to choose from, more money making opportunities, or will more property speculators get burnt? Time will only tell…


Wednesday, February 17, 2010



District: 16
Location: Upper East Coast/Bedok
Address: 40 & 42 Eastwood Road
Developer: Fragrance Realty Pte Ltd
Tenure: Freehold

Welcome to the realm of “Mickey Mouse” apartments, where the largest studio unit is only 420sqft and penthouses are less than 1200sqft. Welcome to EASTWOOD REGENCY.

After a couple of “misses” over the past couple of weeks (including one Sunday afternoon when we overslept through our nap and ended up at Trilight instead), the wife and I finally managed to get to EASTWOOD REGENCY yesterday.

EASTWORD REGENCY is a 75-units low-rise condo project consisting of 2 Blocks of 5-storey each. This freehold project sits on an odd-shaped plot of about 28,000sqft, and currently is expected to TOP by 31st December 2013. It is developed by The Fragrance Group – a boutique developer who is also responsible for smaller projects like The Cotz, Prestige Loft and Parc Imperial etc.

The actual site/sales gallery is located on Eastwood Road – you travel till the end of Upper East Coast Road that joins onto Bedok Road - Eastwood Road is just round the bend and across from Bedok Food Centre. For those of you who know where Laguna 88 condo is, EASTWOOD REGENCY is located right next door to it.

In terms of unit size, EASTWOOD REGENCY is probably THE project with the tinniest of apartments we have seen so far. The different unit types and sizes are:
• Studio: 388 – 420sqft
• 1-Bedroom: 452 – 517sqft
• 2-Bedrooms Penthouse: 1012 – 1184sqft

Given the “small project” status, the facilities in EASTWOOD REGENCY are understandably basic – you get a lap pool, children’s pool, gym, BBQ area and Children’s playground/Fittness corner. There will be a grand total of 75 carpark lots – 55 of these will be in the basement while the remaining 20 are surface level/“open air” carparks. It will be interesting to see how the Management go about allocating between the basement and surface carpark lots, if there are more than 55 car owners within the condo.

Normally the wife and I will get to the pricing last. But we felt compelled to tell you in advance (so you may decide if you wish to read on) that the average price for the studio and 1-Bedroom apartments in EASTWOOD REGENCY is $1200psf, while the penthouses are going at a lower average of $1075psf. And if you need to do a double-take on the price, you are not alone. $1200psf for an apartment in Bedok you say? Well, at least 20 people seemed to think that the condo is worth its asking price, if the number of units sold so far is any indication.

The showflat on display is the 420sqft Studio (Type A). Once you enter the main door, all you can see is a living area that is almost fully occupied by the “Queen” bed, the tiny kitchen (the developer calls it the kitchenette) and the bathroom. Other than these, there is probably just about enough room to fit a small square dining table for two into the apartment (as per what they did in the showflat). One wonders why the developer still include a balcony in such small units, as this, together with the small squarish bomb shelter, will eat further into the already small space of the apartment.

In terms of furnishing, the unit comes with 60cm x 30cm marble-slab flooring that covers almost the whole apartment except for the balcony, bomb shelter and bathroom. The kitchenette is equipped with “Electrolux” induction hotplates and oven, as well as a built-in single-door fridge. The bathroom has ceramic tiles floor/walls and comes with a standing shower cubicle (not the rain shower type, sorry!) as well as “Grohe” bathroom fittings. The small wardrobe besides the bed is functional but nothing to shout about aesthetically. For an apartment with a $1200psf price tag, the quality of furnishing is really quite disappointing.

Studio (420sqft) Floor Plan
Studio Floorplan

What we like:
• For a small project from a “boutique” developer, the quality of their marketing brochure is certainly quite impressive. And it comes in the perfect size too, for my A-4 size scanner that is.

Other than that, the wife and I are really at a loss for words on what else we like about EASTWOOD REGENCY. Okay, maybe the fact that the project is within minutes walk to the famous cuttlefish/kangkong stall in Bedok Food Centre?

What we dislike:
• One of the main selling points of EASTWOOD REGENCY is the supposed greenery view of the adjacent Laguna Golf & Country Club. But in reality, you are either overlooking the landed homes along Eastwood Road or the tennis courts of Laguna 88, depending on whether your unit is facing the front or back. So for those of you who expect to see the same vast amount of greenery from your apartment balcony as per illustrated in the newspaper adverts, you may be in for some disappointment.

• 1184sqft 2-bedder split over 2 floors, with balcony/bomb shelter on the lower level and a large private roof terrace on the upper level, and they actually call this a Penthouse? And to add salt to injury, THIS is the largest of the penthouses available in EASTWOOD REGENCY. Maybe it is just us and our idiosyncrasies, but we tend to consider such small units as “apartments on the highest floor” rather than penthouses, as (IOHO*) we normally associate a penthouse with unit that is no less than 2000sqft in size. So the wife and I are still trying very hard to come to terms with the concept of “baby penthouses”.

• $1200psf on average for an apartment in EASTWOOD REGENCY? One can harp on the freehold status and “greenery” view of this project, but you can get the same view from much bigger apartment units at Laguna 88 next door. Sure, you can argue that Laguna 88 is 10 years old and leasehold, but we figure it is probably still a better buy given the bigger living space that the apartment units offer and at half the psf price (according to the the latest URA transaction data).

• For investors contemplating a unit at EASTWOOD REGENCY for rental income, you may want to double-check on the rental potential of the area. As far as we know, getting decent rental yields for condo units at the Eastwood area can be quite a challenge given the locality and the already severe competition for rentals amongst the existing condo developments. This is especially when you are paying $1200psf, despite the lower overall price quantum of about $500K for Studio and $600K for the one-bedder units.

In summary, the wife and I feel that an apology is in order to the guys at Centro Residences (Ang Mo Kio) – we did say before that their price is “Siow” IOHO*, but the price of EASTWOOD REGENCY actually makes Centro looked cheap… price-wise, of course.

View Site and Floor Plans here:

*IOHO = In Our Humble Opinions

Hot off the Telly: 1400 new private home sold in January 2010

The 9.30pm News today reported that January 2010 saw a total of 1,476 new private homes sold. This is nearly three times more than the 481 units sold in December 2009, and the first monthly increase since July 2009. 76% of the new launches were well above $1,000psf.

Half of the January 2010 new private homes transacted were from the prime district (e.g. Urban Suites at Carnhill). This is in line with property analyst expectations that the mid and high-end project sectors are set to shine this year.

However, analysts expect February sales to fall to 700 - 800 units due to the Lunar New Year break, but sales between March to June are expected to hit over 1000 units/month.

Despite the bullish outlook, it is unlikely that 2010 will see the kind of runaway prices that were previously seen in 2007. This is due to weak consumer demands in the West, credit tightening in China and the possibility of more government interventions in the property sector.

It was also reported that close to 30,500 private home deals were transacted in 2009. This is 131% more than 2008, but still lower than the more than 37,000 units sold in 2007.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lao Hu Lai Le....!

2010 CNY Greetings

Friday, February 12, 2010

THE SHORE (Review)

Art 1
District: 15
Location: Katong/Marine Parade
Address: 81 – 87 Amber Road
Developer: Far East Organization
Tenure: 103-years Leasehold

Why is this project called THE SHORE you may ask, since it is not exactly near the beach? Well, this is because the swimming pools on the ground level actually have real sand around them and sand also covers the bottom of the pools as well. This allows residents to enjoy the senses of beautiful shores right at their doorsteps.

But what intrigued the wife and I most about THE SHORE is not the sandy “beaches” and pools, rather the fact that this is one of the rare projects that has no bay windows or planter boxes in each apartment unit. So we finally decided to pay a visit to the sales gallery at lunch yesterday to check out the showflats.

The SHORE is located at the corner of Mountbatten and Amber Road, where the former Rose Garden used to be. The entrance to the sales gallery (and also where the main entrance to THE SHORE will be located) is along Amber Road, after the right turn from Mountbatten/Amber Road junction.

THE SHORE (or The Shore Residences) is a 408-units condo project consisting of 6 towers of 20-storey each. It is built on a 191,000sqft L-shaped site and has a plot ratio of 2.1. As some of you may recall, this is one of the two developments (the other being The Greenwood) that Far East has decided to sell on a 103-years lease although the land is freehold. The expected TOP of THE SHORE is December 2013.

In terms of unit size, THE SHORE has a mixture of 1 to 4-Bedroom units. Towers A1/A2 and D1/D2 have only 1 and 2-bedders, while the bigger 3 and 4-Bedrooms and penthouses are found in towers B and C. The different unit types and sizes are:

• 1-Bedroom (84 units): 592 – 732sqft
• 2-Bedrooms (208 units): 872 – 1055sqft
• 3-Bedrooms Compact/Regular (88 units): 1141sqft/ 1292 – 1507sqft
• 4-Bedrooms (24 units): 1378 – 1432sqft
• Penthouses (4 units): 2766sqft

The facilities in THE SHORE centre on the “sandy” swimming pools fronting the four towers on the ground level. So you can expect things like spa pool and pavilions, lagoon pools, BBQ cabanas, “Shore Bungalows” – which are like club houses with dining facilities, and even a strip of sandy beach.

The 409 carpark lots are found within an L-shaped carpark podium that is 5-storey high, located behind the towers. In other words, you get a multi-storey carpark in this project with just about enough carpark lots for each apartment unit. And given the apparent lack of public parking around the development, your visitors are better advised to take public transportation to save them from the frustration of having to hunt for parking spaces. More facilities are available on the rooftop of the carpark podium - a 50m lap pool (normal with no sand), “Cliff Villa” and Garden Pavilions, more BBQ pavilions, steam rooms, gym and TWO tennis courts.

There are 3 types of showflat at the sales gallery. The first is a 1292sqft 3-Bedroom (Regular) unit (Type C1). As you enters the front door, a narrow walkway leads you into the rectangular living/dining room. We were surprised at how small this is, i.e. if you minus off the 100sqft of balcony that has been “marbled” up to conjure the impression of a much bigger living/dining area. But you can technically do the sdame, since the balcony doors are those that you can “fold and tuck”’ towards the sides. It comes with 60cm x 30cm marble-slab floor and 2.85m ceiling height.

The dry kitchen comes with solid surface top, its own sink and cabinets. This extends to the L-shaped wet-kitchen, which is rather small. Far East has thrown in quite an extensive range of kitchen appliances - you get “Bosch” hood/hob/oven /microwaves/coffee maker/2-door fridge, a small “Vintec” wine-fridge and even a sophisticated looking set of dish drying rack on top of the kitchen sink. There is a small yard area with a small wash basin/low cabinet incorporated. The bomb shelter/maid’s room (will fit a single bed and probably nothing else) and toilet are located at the yard.

The common bath is quite good size, with marble floor/walls and “Ideal Standard/Newform” bathroom fittings.

The pleasant surprise actually comes from the bedrooms – the 2 common bedrooms that are next to each other are very good size for a 1200+sqft apartment. The lack of bay windows actually allows you to maximize the space in each room without having to rack your brains on how to incorporate the bay window ledge into your room design. As such, you get a much bigger room. The wardrobes looked to be of good quality, and it comes up the same UV light panels for moisture adsorption ala Silversea.

The master bedroom is big – it is fitted with a “King” bed and still looked very spacious. It also comes with a gorgeous L-shape transparent glass wardrobe, which unfortunately is a tad too small in our opinion. The master bathroom is decent size, and separated from the bedroom by “glass walls” all around. So you can actually admire your partner taking a shower, or a dump, for that matter. You get a long tub, a separate standing shower stall fitted with overhead rain shower, and “Ideal Standard/Newform” bathroom fittings. We especially like the creamy-white marble floor/black marble walls colour combination in the bathroom.

The next showflat is a 1141sqft 3-Bedroom (Compact) unit (Type C2). The "Compact" 3-bedder is almost a replica of the "Regular" in terms of layout and the interior furnishings/fittings/kitchen appliances provided. The noticeable differences are

• No proper yard to speak of – The bomb shelter/maid’s room is located at the end of the wet kitchen, and there is no additional bathroom here as well.

• The common bathroom has marble flooring but only ceramic tiles for the walls.

• The common bedrooms are diagonally opposite to each other (instead of adjacent) and one of these is very small. This is because the back of the master bedroom’s wardrobe “sticks” into this room.

• The master bedroom is slightly smaller in size, but is still good for a “King” bed.

• The master bathroom does not have separate long tub/standing shower. What you get is a long tub with a rain shower fitted on top of it.

Floor Plan: Type C1 & C2
C1 & C2

You will see that the layout for the 1378sqft 4-Bedrooms (Type D2) is almost the same as that for the regular 3-bedder (Type C1). The only difference is that the third common bedroom is located in the "void" next to the common bathroom.

Floor Plan: Type D2

The last showflat is the 883sqft 2-Bedrooms unit (Type B1). This is actually the one that both the wife and I liked best. It has a very nice layout that makes the unit felt far more spacious than the tiny 883sqft of space it occupies. Again, this unit comes with almost exact kind of interior furnishings/fittings/kitchen appliances as the other two showflats. It has a small squarish living/dining room and a tiny L-shape wet/dry kitchen combined. The bomb shelter is located at the end of the kitchen, but there is no yard or toilet. Both the common room and bathroom (marble floor/ceramic wall) are surprising good size, while the master bedroom is very spacious and fitted with the same eye pleasing L-shape glass wardrobe - so make sure your clothes are not ugly and neatly stored. The master bathroom has a sunken bath with overhead rain shower.
Floor Plan: Type B1

What we like:

• NO BAY WINDOWS OR PLANTER BOXES! Or have we not remonstrated on this point enough? :)
It is amazing the amount of additional space you can get out of your unit just by eliminating these, as demonstrated by the showflats we saw at THE SHORE. Definitely something that the other developers should think about, especially for projects with “mickey mouse” units!

• The very functional unit layouts, especially with the 2-bedder, which makes the units feel larger than their actual sizes.

• The quality of interior furnishings and fittings provided, which adds an additional level of “class” to the apartments.

• The unique “beach by the pool” feature – now you do not have to thread across to East Coast Park for your “sun and sea” fix. We have forgotten to ask if salt-water is used in the pools though.

• THE SHORE is relative close to the City/CBD, as well as the upcoming Marina Sands IR. You can also find almost all the amenities you will need at Parkway Parade, which is only minutes’ away by foot. Last but not least, you will be spoilt for choice with the numerous eateries just down the road (i.e. along Katong/Joo Chiat Road).

What we dislike:
• The living/dining room for the 3-bedder showflats is disproportionately small compared to the bedrooms. The wife and I will prefer a slightly bigger living/dining space since we do entertain from time to time.

• The 6 towers are built too close to each other. The distance between Tower B and the adjacent Tower C is only a mere 2 meters apart from each other! Looking at the site plan, we feel this may not be a suitable project for those with claustrophobia.

• THE SHORE is likely to be “blocked” on 3 sides – by high-rise apartments (e.g. Esta, Vertis) on the left, Paramount Hotel on the right, and The Seaview Condo at the back. It is only unblocked in the front, given that there are height restrictions imposed on developments across from Mountbatten Road. However, you are met face-on by the ugly Katong Shopping Centre building, which is definitely not a pretty sight. The consolation is that this mall is up for en-bloc sale and thus may not be around by the time THE SHORE is ready for occupation.

• If you are familiar with Mountbatten Road, you will know that it is quite a traffic nightmare along this stretch of road especially during rush hours. The situation can only get worse as more new condos (e.g. One Amber) start to come online.

• Only one primary school is within 1-km from THE SHORE – Tanjong Katong Primary. This is a very popular primary school and if past history is anything to go by, balloting is still the order of the day for those living within 1-km from the school.

The take-up rate for THE SHORE is pretty good. Since its official launch at the start of this year, we estimate (from the big wall chart listing all the units that are sold) that almost 70 – 75% of the launched units have been sold. This includes all the 1-bedders and all but 2 units of the regular 3-bedders. Units in Tower C are not launched yet, and we were told that there will be a price adjustment (upward, of course) from 1st March onward.

Price wise, here is a sample of what you can expect to pay:
• A 1141sqft 3-bedder on the 14th floor (South facing) costs $1.59 million, or around $1393psf

• A 1292sqft 3-bedder on the 4th floor (North Facing) costs $1.50 million, or $1161psf

• A 883sqft 2-bedder (#13-02, facing the small orchid located between The Shore and The Seaview condo) costs $1.13 million, or $1280psf

• A 883sqft 2-bedder (#14-01, facing the lap-pool/facilities on top of the carpark podium) costs $1.2 million, or $1359psf

In summary, the wife and I believe that Far East has finally got it right with THE SHORE by eliminating the bay windows and planter boxes, which in our humble opinion, are just a waste of good space. Buyers who are comfortable with “smaller” units will be pleased with the relatively smaller quantum amount you need to foot for a unit at THE SHORE. And to add the icing on the cake, we were told that it will be at least one year after the first 20% down payment before the next trench of payment is due. However, for those who are thinking of buying a unit for rental, do be forewarned that almost 80% of the smaller 1 and 2-bedders sold thus far are supoosedly bought by investors. So you are likely to face quite a fair bit of competition on the rental front – not just with fellow investors at THE SHORE, but also from the new projects nearby.

View Site and Floor Plan here:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


So how can the wife and I not do a comparison between WATERFRONT KEY and its counterpart next door, WATERFRONT WAVES, especially when the showflats of both are currently found in the same sales gallery?

Well, we simply cannot. So here goes.

However, we will only compare the 3-bedroom showflats, as this is the only type of showflat that WATERFRONT WAVES still displays at the sales gallery. And we must caution that the two showflat layouts are not the only ones available at the respective projects.

Waterfront Key vs Waterfront Waves
3-Bedroom Floor Plan: WATERFRONT KEY

3-Bedroom Floor Plan: WATERFRONT WAVES

So which of the two project is a better buy? We shall let you be your own judge.
As for the wife and I, we prefer the 3-bedder at WATERFRONT WAVE, but we felt that it is somewhat over-priced on a psf basis compared to WATERFRONT KEY. But given that almost 95% of the 405 units in total were already sold, and the fact that most of the remaining 3-bedders are reservoir facing, we reckon WATERFRONT WAVES can afford not to price down on the unsold units.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

THE VISION: A new property launch in the West...finally!

This may not be breaking news to some, but the wife and I reckoned that we are probably the first people to share this with you on a "non commercial" basis.

We understand that THE VISION, to be located at West Coast Crescent, will be launching soon. Here are the preliminary details of this new project:

Location: West Coast Cresent (District 5)
Tenure: 99-years wef 25 June 2006
No. of Units: 295
Expected TOP: March 2015
Description: 2 Towers of 32/33-storey & 14 3-storey Strata House units
Developer: Grand Waterfront Development Pte Ltd

Location Plan & Site Layout

Unit Types:
• 2-Bedrooms: 818 – 904sqft
• 3-Bedrooms: 1259 – 1313sqft
• 4-Bedrooms: 1604sqft
• Penthouses: 2702sqft
• Strata Houses: 4919 – 5328sqft 

View from Blue Horizon Condo (next door)

Preliminary Floor Plans

All we can say is: We will get to THE VISION... eventually.  :)


Monday, February 8, 2010

What? No tennis court in this new condo project...??!

Tennis Court

If you happen to have read our post on WATERFRONT KEY, you will remember the praise (probably the only) we had lavished on this project for having two tennis courts when even some of the comparatively higher-end developments have only one or none.

The wife and I happened to flip through The Business Times Weekend at breakfast this morning (we actually bought the papers over the weekend but were too busy to read it), and there it was right on the front page – “Condos hit the sweet spot, even without a tennis court.” (* Thank you, Ms Emilyn Yap)

The first paragraph of the report echoed pretty much the sentiments that the wife and I have about the new projects these days - Paying big money does not necessarily get you everything these days, at least when it comes to buying a private apartment – so aptly put by Ms Yap.

New homes going for as much as $2600psf can offer designer furnishings and place you in a coveted district, but they may no longer come with large common spaces or even tennis courts traditionally associated with a private address.

Ms Yap has listed Marina Bay Suites, Sophia Residence and Illuminaire on Devonshire as examples of projects in the core central region (CCR) whereby home seekers would not find tennis courts. And further from town, buyers have paid as much as $1345psf at Alexis or $1514psf at Suites @Guillemard, where there is just a margin of space around the buildings, and swimming pools and gyms congregate on the rooftop. So you do not have to go around searching for that tennis court at these developments ‘cos there is none.

Many projects these days apparently cannot offer large landscaped grounds or a full range of facilities simply because their sites are not big enough. A tennis court alone measures 78ft x 36ft, taking up 2808sqft. While a developer could try to tuck a court just nicely into a smallish site, it could become a “disamenity” to residents living too close to the noise. In fact, there are buyers who do not expect to see tennis courts for smaller projects within or near town. Even if they really see one, they’ll be asking if it will be too near to their units – this, according to EL Development managing director Lim Yew Soon.

EL Development has three projects in CCR which do not have tennis courts – Illuminaire on Devonshire, Parc Centennial and Rhapsody on Mount Elizabeth – but they are sold out.

Many projects are still able to command high prices because of their location. This is especially so if owners intend to rent the apartments out. The absence of a tennis court, for instance, may mean a longer search for a tenant but rents are unlikely to be dented much. At the end of the day, “location is everything”.

Guocoland is banking on Sophia Residence’s location near Dhoby Ghaut MRT station to attract buyers. The project does not have a tennis court, but home seekers’ main buying criterion, according to the developer, was to be in the city, to have easy MRT access to all parts of Singapore and also a property which offered attractive rental yield.

Beyond site constraints, high land prices may be prompting developers to cut back on common spaces and certain facilities. But that’s not to say that all developers have free rein on the site design. The URA has rules on site coverage, which indicate how much space buildings can occupy. For developments classified as flats/apartments and condominiums, site coverage cannot exceed 40%.

Still, developers are careful to keep features which residents cannot seem to do without, namely swimming pools and gyms. And only where possible, they will incorporate tennis courts.

As it becomes harder to find prime projects offering large ground spaces and complete facilities, existing developments with these features (e.g. Ardmore Park) are likely to stand out.

Call us old fogies if you like, but the wife and I can still remember a time not so long ago (i.e. definitely after policemen have stopped wearing shorts) when you can expect certain facilities that will come “standard” with a private condo development – and tennis court is one such “standard” facility.

The wife and I like to reiterate that neither of us are tennis enthusiasts. And other than the few BBQ parties/ Functions (less than 5) we hold within a year and our son’s occasional forays to the swimming pool, we normally do not use the facilities within our condo much. But as per any typical condo residents, we like to rest easy knowing that the “full facilities” are there and available should you wish to use them. But with new condo launches these days, you will often get marketing agent telling you…“Oh, this is a full facilities condo project – only the tennis court is not provided”.

This is the reason why we felt that the older condos (e.g. Bayshore ParkHillcrest Arcadia, off the top of our heads) actually provide you with more bang for your buck, as they belong to a generation of developments whereby the words “full facilities” carry far less ambiguity. And given that the current prices of older condos are still very much lagging the prices for new launches, this makes the former an even better proposition than the later – this is as usual, in our humble opinion (IOHO), of course.

Opinion, anyone?


Sunday, February 7, 2010


YM has asked us for our opinion on CLOVER BY THE PARK versus BISHAN LOFT. Given the space limitation on our message box, we have chose to reply to his question on the main post.

The wife and I must first caution that while we are somewhat familiar with CLOVER (having been to the showflat a couple of times), we have never step into BISHAN LOFT ever so whatever comments we make on the later is based solely on our research from the Web.

So here is our stab on the question:

1. Apartment Status
CLOVER is a private condominium, while BISHAN LOFT has an Executive Condominium (EC) status. EC is basically an advanced version of the old HUDC apartments - EC are now built by private developers and are fully privatized, but buyers (especially for newly built EC) have to adhere strictly to certain Government (HDB) laid guidelines and eligibility conditions. Two such eligibility conditions regarding resale of EC are

• First-hand owners of EC can only resell their apartments in the secondary market after five years. After the initial 5 years, they can only sell their apartments to Singaporean and PRs.
• Foreigner can only purchase EC from the secondary market after 10 years, when all restrictions are lifted.

With private condominiums, no such buying/selling restrictions exist. So buyers of resale EC may be faced with a smaller pool of suitors should they decide to resell their units before the 10-year "time bar".

In terms of facilities provided within the condo, there is usually little difference between private and EC, as both are typically full facilities projects.

2. Apartment Availability Status
Resale units in BISHAN LOFT (TOP in 2004) are currently available in the secondary market. However, you have to wait till at least December 2012 before you can move into CLOVER. So for those buyers who needs an apartment like…NOW, CLOVER is not really an option unless you are prepared to go on rental somewhere else (or bunk in with your folks) while waiting for the condo to TOP.

3. Apartment Sizes
This is where our comments may be questionable: We understand that the typical 2 and 3-bedder unit in BISHAN LOFT is 1100-1400sqft, while the 4-bedder is 1400-1500sqft. There may be bigger 3 and 4–bedroom units in this condo, but we have failed to find any during our search, excluding the penthouses, of course.

Assuming the above is true, and if you are looking for bigger apartment units, then CLOVER is probably the better choice. Their typical 2 & 3-bedders are 1300-1600sqft, while the normal 4-bedders are almost 1750sqft.

4. Project Location
This is one where BISHAN LOFT certainly has the advantage. It is located within a stone throw (ok, make that about 600m) away from Junction 8 Shopping mall and Bishan MRT Station. You will probably have to take a bus (or drive) to get to these locations from CLOVER, as walking will take you a good 20 – 25 minutes at least.

5. Price
This will probably be the top consideration for most potential buyers.

A check on the URA website reveals that from Sep 2009 to Jan 2010, a total of 14 transactions were concluded at BISHAN LOFT at a price range of $675 – $795psf. There was a lone transaction in Jan 2010 for an 1130sqft unit at $801psf.

At CLOVER, the price range for transactions concluded from Sep to Dec 2009 is $670 - $880psf. No transaction is recorded for Jan 2010 yet, but 9 transactions were done in Dec 2009 alone at prices ranging between $713 - $848psf.

In summary, whether you choose BISHAN LOFT or CLOVER will largely depend on factors like:

• When do you need the apartment – i.e. in the next couple of month, or next few years?
• New versus Old – are you happy with a resale unit, or are you prepared to wait a few years for a new project to compete?
• Location – especially if you do not own a car
• Unit size – do you need a bigger 4-bedder, or will a 1500sqft apartment suffice?
• Price – how much in terms of price quantum are you prepared to pay?

On a personal note, we expect an upward price adjustment for CLOVER in the coming months, as we understand that almost all the “good facing” units have been sold. And when you consider the prices that neighboring projects like Trevis and Centro Residences are now asking, there is certainly some price upside potential for CLOVER. Having said that, everything is based on the assumption that the economic conditions do not head south - this is anybody’s guess at the moment.

Anyone else has more to add on this subject, or a differing opinion maybe? It will be great to start a discussion thread in the “comments” section of this post.

Oh and by the way, SG PropTalk is exactly 2 months old today!