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The next few months should be rather interesting as a few projects that sit on the fringe of Singapore’s central business district (CBD) are launched. Just like in my previous review of Avenue South Residence by UOL, Riviere is developed by another established developer, Frasers Property. In today’s muted property market, it is interesting to see how such projects, with good locational attributes developed by reputable developers, fare. Of course, pricing must be in line with the current market sentiment as well.

Details about the development

Riviere is a 99-year leasehold property with a site area of 13,481.7 square meters. It is located along Jiak Kim Street and will be built on the site of the former Zouk nightclub. In December 2017, Frasers Centrepoint Limited placed a top bid of SGD$955.4 million for the site. That works out to SGD$1,732.55 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) and that is the highest unit land price achieved on a per square foot basis for government land sites sold, excluding commercial and white sites. This was a very bullish bid and is some 40 per cent higher than the SGD$1,239 psf ppr that Guocoland paid 18 months earlier for the plot of land which they are developing Martin Modern. The site was hotly contested and Frasers Centrepoint Limited beat nine other bidders for the plot of land.

It will have a residential component, serviced apartments and conservation warehouses. The residential portion will consist of two 36-storey towers with 455 units, the serviced apartments will consist of 80 units and there will be 3 conservation warehouses. It will face the Singapore River and thus there will be units with waterfront facing.

Where is the development located?

Riviere Location

Riviere is located along Jiak Kim Street. Many who were born in the 1970s and 1980s should know where the previous Zouk was. The iconic discotheque was located on this site. Zouk at Jiak Kim Street closes its doors around the end of 2016 and the plot of land was taken back by the state and eventually put for tender.

Currently, there are no MRT stations located around the area. However, there will be a Great World MRT Station along the Thomson-East Coast Line that will be ready in 2021. The Thomson-East Coast Line will open in stages with stage 1, the stations around Woodlands, to be ready by 2019, stage 2, the stations around Lentor to Upper Thomson, to be ready by 2020, stage 3, the stations around Mount Pleasant, Great World, Orchard and Gardens by the Bay to be ready by 2021, stage 4, the stations around the East Coast to be ready by 2023 and Stage 5, the stations around Badok to be ready by 2024.

Upcoming MRT Stations near Riviere

If you are walking from Riviere to Great World City MRT Station, according to Google Maps, it will take about 9 minutes and the distance travelled is about 650 metres.

Riviere to Great World MRT Station

Great World MRT Station will be located just one MRT stop away from Orchard MRT Station. By then, Orchard MRT Station will be the interchange for the Thomson-East Coast Line and the existing North-South Line. Great World MRT Station will also be two MRT stops away from Outram Park MRT Station which will be the interchange for the Thomson-East Coast Line, the East-West Line and the North-East Line.

Thomson-East Coast Line Stage 3

Currently, the closest MRT stations to Riviere are also Orchard MRT Station and Outram Park MRT Station. As the Great World MRT Station is not yet ready, I cannot include MRT journey times and cost into this property review.

If you are driving, according to Google Maps, it will take you 6 minutes to get to Orchard Road and the distance travelled is 2.3 kilometres.

Drive from Riviere to Orchard Road

If you are driving from Riviere to Raffles Place, it will take you 7 minutes and the distance travelled will be 2.4 kilometres.

Drive from Riviere to Raffles Place

The selling points of the development

The location would be the main selling point. Despite the fact that there is currently no MRT station nearby, the upcoming Great World MRT will improve connectivity greatly. In fact, Great World MRT Station will be just one station away from Orchard MRT Station and two away from Outram MRT Station. By the time Riviere is completed, the MRT stations would be up and running already. Residents will be able to use the MRT to get to Orchard or Outram MRT stations easily. If you include the walking time, residents should be able to get to Orchard and the CBD in under 30 minutes. Residents should include those that would like to live along the city fringe and thus would most probably be working in the CBD. The profile of tenants that would rent properties in the area are usually working professionals.

Riverfront living is not common in Singapore and Riviere is located along the Singapore river. Units that face the river should command a premium.

Riviere site. Aerial view with boundary. (Source: Business Times)

Possible bad points about the development

Price? The developer did purchase this plot of land at a premium. The breakeven cost for this development is about SGD$2,450 per square foot. Analysts are expecting a launch price of about SGD$2,700 per square foot. As of now, pricing has yet to be released so we cannot comment accurately on the pricing of Riviere yet.

Transacted prices of Mirage Tower and Tribeca are hovering just under the SGD$2,000 per square foot mark. Riviere will represent a premium over the neighbouring properties. A new project launch is usually sold at a premium to the resale market and I have always maintained that if buyers are going to purchase new project launches during the launch period, they have to identify units with unique selling points and good attributes like the units with the best facing and the ones with an ideal layout. Many buyers are attracted to developer launches as during launch there are a wide array of units available for selection. Moreover, these units do come renovated and with a defect liability period. The facilities in newer condominiums may also be more adequate than older developments.

URA resale transactions for Mirage Tower and Tribeca (April 2018 to April 2019)

Finally, Riviere is a 99-year leasehold development as compared to the neighbouring developments which are freehold.

My thoughts about the development

I have always maintained that if prices outside of core central region have crossed SGD$2,000 per square foot, think The Woodleigh Residences, then it is time to look at properties closer to the core central area. It still perplexes me why buyers would purchase a 99-year leasehold development at The Woodleigh Residences for over SGD$2,000 per square foot when they could get a freehold development at places like Mirage Tower or Tribeca for just under SGD$2,000 per square foot. That, however, is the state of the primary and secondary property markets in Singapore. I do think that if you put aside the huge mess that is happening in the area because of the construction of the Thomson-East Coast Line, the area around Great World City does have quite a lot of potential. For starters, it will have an MRT station come 2021, there are an existing shopping mall and a whole host of shops and amenities all around the area and it is very close to Orchard Road. In future, it will take commuters just one MRT stop to get to Orchard MRT Station and that will link to the North-South MRT Line.

Riviere

Riviere at Jiak Kim Street by Frasers Property

Pricing (Yet to be released)

Location 4/5

The recent new launches in 2019 have all had rather good locational attributes. The Thomson-East Coast Line is a very significant change to this area as it will connect what was once an area where if you did not have your own private transport you would not visit to one that will provide a direct link from Orchard MRT Station to Outram MRT Station. Moreover, travelling to the Woodlands area or to the east will be just a train ride away once the full Thomson-East Coast Line is operational. With the URA making announcements that it would be revitalising Orchard Road and the CBD, an area like Great World City should see increased demand from property buyers and tenants alike. Also, Riviere fronts the Singapore River and waterfront living is somewhat unique in an increasingly built-up Singapore. If it were closer to the MRT Station, this development would receive an even higher score.

Quality 4/5

As in my previous review about Avenue South Residence, I highlighted the importance of the developer. Many property buyers do not understand this but purchasing from a reputable developer would mean better quality and your property should be handed over on time. There are instances of developments not being completed and developers handing over developments with very poor quality. Frasers Property is a very experienced developer and has developed projects like One Jervois, Martin Place Residences, Soleil @ Sinaran and Seaside Residences among a whole host of other developments. It would be important to note that chances of a large, established developer slashing prices are extremely low. It does protect the interest of those who made purchases during the initial launch that the developer does not subsequently lower the prices for later buyers.

Yours Sincerely,
Daryl Lum

p.s. Disclaimer: I am a licensed real estate salesperson at the point of writing this review. My real estate agency is the marketing agency for Riviere. Buyers can approach me to purchase Riviere and I will earn a commission from the developer. My reason for writing this review is to share my personal view about the developments not as a real estate salesperson but in the neutral context of a buyer and hopefully share some insight to help buyers make a more informed buying decision.

You can access more information, floor plans and price lists, about Riviere and other new project launches here.

My other Singapore Property Reviews

My review of Avenue South Residence

My review of 1953 by Oxley Holdings

My review of Uptown @ Farrer

My review of The Florence Residences

My review of Treasure at Tampines

My review of Fourth Avenue Residences

My review of The Woodleigh Residences

My review of Kent Ridge Hill Residences

My review of Arena Residences

My review of Whistler Grand and Twin Vew

My review of Mayfair Gardens and Daintree Residence

My review of Parc Esta

My review of Jui Residences

My review of The Jovell

My review of JadeScape

My review of Stirling Residences and Margaret Ville

My review of The Tre Ver and Riverfront Residences

My review of Park Colonial

My review of Affinity at Serangoon and The Garden Residences

Other related articles:

My 2018 Singapore Property Market Review

How to select a good unit at a new project launch

Are Singapore property prices too high?

P.S. I have just started a YouTube Channel and I will be uploading weekly videos explaining the various investment terms and jargon which may come in handy for some. Do consider subscribing to my YouTube Channel for useful investment content videos. You can access my YouTube Channel here.

The post My review of Riviere by Frasers Property appeared first on Investment Blog by Daryl Lum.

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If you have been following my blog, you would realise that I do favour some developers heavily. UOL is perhaps one of my favourite developers and it’s latest offering is Avenue South Residence along Silat Avenue.

Details about the development

Avenue South Residence is a 99-year leasehold site with a total site area of 245,972 square feet and has a gross plot ratio of 3.7. In April 2017, UOL Group submitted the only and winning bid of SGD$1.035 billion to acquire the residential site. The price works out to SGD$1,138 per square foot. The consortium was made up of wholly-owned subsidiary UOL Venture Investments (UVI), UIC Homes and Kheng Leong Company (KLC). The muted response could be attributed to the fact that the capital outlay was restrictively large and there are five conserved buildings which are to be retained and restored by the bidder. Moreover, there was a cap on the number of dwelling units at 1,125 units and a cap on commercial gross floor area at 1,300 square meters or 13,993 square feet. The developer has to use prefabricated, pre-finished volumetric construction (PPVC). UOL had previous experience as one of their previous development, The Clement Canopy, is using this method of construction.

There is great interest in the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA’s) vision for Singapore’s southern waterfront. Dubbed the Greater Southern Waterfront, there are plans to develop the areas once used for port and industrial uses into a new major gateway and location for urban living along Singapore’s southern coast. Avenue South Residence is located just off where Keppel Road and Keppel Viaduct and it is the area south of Avenue South Residence which will be developed as the Greater Southern Waterfront.

Avenue South Residence will consist of two 56-storey towers and will have 1074 units of 1 to 4 bedroom units. The five conserved buildings will make up part of the development and they will be restored by the developer.

Where is the development located?

Avenue South Residence Location

Avenue South Residence is located along Silat Road. Currently, the nearest MRT Station is Outram Park MRT Station. It will take approximately 17 minutes to walk to Outram MRT Station and the distance covered will be around 1.3 kilometres.

Avenue South Residence to Outram Park MRT Station

There will be two other options for residents in 2025. By then, Cantonment MRT Station and Keppel MRT Station would have commenced operations. These two stations are located along the Circle Line.

Cantonment MRT Station should be the nearer option and since there is no point on Google Maps that represents Cantonment MRT Station, I will use block 110 Spottiswoode Park Road as a reference point. Based on Google Maps, it will take about 15 minutes to get to Cantonment MRT Station and the distance covered will be around 1.2 kilometres.

Avenue South Residence to Cantonment MRT Station

Outram Park MRT Station is located within the central business district (CBD). If you are travelling to Raffles Place MRT Station, it will take you 4 minutes across 2 stations and cost you $0.83.

Outram MRT Station to Raffles Place MRT Station

If you are going to Orchard MRT Station it will take you 9 minutes across 5 stations. You will need to make a change to the North East Line at Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station.

Outram MRT Station to Orchard MRT Station

If you are driving, it will take you about 9 minutes to get to Raffles Place. The distance travelled will be about 3.2 kilometres.

The drive from Avenue South Residence to Raffles Place

If you would like to drive to Orchard Road, it would take you about 11 minutes and the distance covered would be about 4.5 kilometres.

The drive from Avenue South Residence to Orchard Road

The selling points of the development

The main selling point would be that it is located right at the fringe of Singapore’s CBD. If you are working in the CBD and would like to live in close proximity to the CBD, then Avenue South Residence would be one of your options. It is also located very close to Singapore General Hospital and demand could come from this area as well. The URA in its Greater Southern Waterfront plans did mention about extending the city and this should also bring about more offices and commercial activity to the area.

Avenue South Residence is going to be 56 storeys high and this will be one of the tallest residential buildings in Singapore. Units on the very high levels will have unblocked and unrivalled views of either the city or the waterfront. As the Greater Southern Waterfront project takes shape, this area will become even more desirable.

Recently the URA announced plans to revitalise the CBD. For a long period of time, the price growth in the non-core central regions has outperformed the core-central region. While living close to the CBD was a draw, the CBD had very little to offer residents post office hours and on weekends. However, the URA is making plans to revitalise the CBD and in time to come, the area will have a good mix of both commercial and residential activities. It is my view that it was always easier to integrate residential buildings to a business district than it is to integrate a business district into a largely residential area. For property investors this is a good thing. Rental demand would already be there as business activity is already part of the existing CBD. Demand for rent should be there and if the URA were to revitalise the CBD, it would end up as a very attractive proposition for those working in the area.

One of the selling points of this development would be the developer profile. UOL is one of the best developers in Singapore. They are experienced and their developments are usually of very high quality. There have been instances of poor workmanship by developers who have not always delivered on what they are supposed to. As land and construction costs rise, developers need to maintain healthy profits and some may place profits over quality.

Possible bad points about the development

It is not exactly near any MRT station. Having to walk more than a kilometre to the nearest MRT Station may be a challenge especially if the weather is not ideal. The closest option would be Cantonment MRT Station which would be ready by 2025. That would still require a 15-minute walk to get to the station. If the weather is bad, this can be quite of a challenge as the walk is rather unsheltered. On the plus side, residents who are working in the CBD should be able to use other forms of transportation to get to their workplace.

My thoughts about the development

I do favour city fringe developments. I do think that even though the URA is trying to decentralise business activity, companies will more often than not try to base their core business activities in the core central region and the CBD. Thus I do believe that the demand for properties in this area will always be prevalent. I do think that this development is extremely promising especially with the area around it going through rejuvenation and with plans for the Greater Southern Waterfront. It is right at the fringe of the CBD and very close to Singapore General Hospital (SGH). Getting to the CBD is rather convenient but residents should be using bus routes rather than the train system to get to the CBD.

Avenue South Residence is not located close to an MRT station. That is perhaps the downside of this development. However, the development is very close to the CBD and most residents would use the bus services or hire a taxi or private hire vehicle or drive to work. It is perhaps a very interesting development as it is convenient in terms of proximity to the city centre but yet it is not close to a train station. However, I do expect that a large number of residents will be drawn to the fact that this area is rather serene and unique as it is located in an area where it is easily accessible to just about anywhere in Singapore.

As of the point of writing, pricing has yet to be confirmed.

Avenue South Residences

Avenue South Residence

Pricing (Yet to be released)

Location 4/5

I do think that property buyers should take a look at developments close to the CBD now that the URA has announced plans to revitalise Orchard and the CBD. Prices in outside core central region have appreciated more than the core central region in recent years. In fact, in some cases, properties in places like Woodleigh have crossed the SGD$2,000 per square foot mark. Many buyers were attracted to the government’s development plans in places like Paya Lebar and Jurong. They bought into these areas as prices are expected, though not guaranteed, to appreciate with businesses and residential developments coming on board. This same thinking can now be applied to the CBD and the Greater Southern Waterfront. I was inclined to give Avenue South Residences a higher score for its location were it not for the fact that it is not close to an MRT station. Connectivity wise, this is truly at the fringe of the CBD, Sentosa and has easy access to CTE and thus the rest of Singapore.

Quality 4.5/5

I have always favoured developments by UOL. UOL, in my opinion, is one of the best developers in Singapore. Their developments are well thought out and quality wise, they are one of the best. If you are thinking that the profile of the developer is not very important, you may want to refer to these two articles:

Kingsford Huray gets no-sale licence for Normanton Park project

Buyers Of Two Freehold Condos Still Waiting On Completion Despite 2016 TOP

So yes, developers do vary vastly when it comes to quality and there are developments that do not obtain their temporary occupation permit (TOP) on time.

Yours Sincerely,
Daryl Lum

p.s. Disclaimer: I am a licensed real estate salesperson at the point of writing this review. My real estate agency is the marketing agency for Avenue South Residence. Buyers can approach me to purchase Avenue South Residence and I will earn a commission from the developer. My reason for writing this review is to share my personal view about the developments not as a real estate salesperson but in the neutral context of a buyer and hopefully share some insight to help buyers make a more informed buying decision.

You can access more information, floor plans and price lists, about 1953 and other new project launches here.

My other Singapore Property Reviews

My review of 1953 by Oxley Holdings

My review of Uptown @ Farrer

My review of The Florence Residences

My review of Treasure at Tampines

My review of Fourth Avenue Residences

My review of The Woodleigh Residences

My review of Kent Ridge Hill Residences

My review of Arena Residences

My review of Whistler Grand and Twin Vew

My review of Mayfair Gardens and Daintree Residence

My review of Parc Esta

My review of Jui Residences

My review of The Jovell

My review of JadeScape

My review of Stirling Residences and Margaret Ville

My review of The Tre Ver and Riverfront Residences

My review of Park Colonial

My review of Affinity at Serangoon and The Garden Residences

Other related articles:

My 2018 Singapore Property Market Review

How to select a good unit at a new project launch

Are Singapore property prices too high?

P.S. I have just started a YouTube Channel and I will be uploading weekly videos explaining the various investment terms and jargon which may come in handy for some. Do consider subscribing to my YouTube Channel for useful investment content videos. You can access my YouTube Channel here.

The post My review of Avenue South Residence appeared first on Investment Blog by Daryl Lum.

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As the world gets ever so interconnected, geopolitical factors are essential for any investor. Whether the investor is looking at real estate, equities or any other forms of investments, it is always wise to understand the local government’s policies and how they will affect asset prices. Real estate is very dependent on policies that are tied to matters such as immigration and borrowing rates. Location-specific factors like the ongoing development in a particular location, ease of transportation and natural catchment of demand from potential tenants and buyers are things that traditional property investors would focus on. However, in an ever increasingly connected world, property investors would have to understand more than just these location-specific factors to make an informed decision. They would have to grasp a better understanding of the overall micro and macro-economic outlook of the city to identify areas of potential growth and demand.

As someone who has been dealing with real estate since 2004, I have often encountered many individuals in my course of work who had bought property decades back and the value of their property has appreciated multiple folds. In my work, I do focus and have a deeper understanding of the Singapore and Bangkok property market and thus I will be referencing to these two markets heavily in this article. Property prices tend to increase the most when a city is in its infant stages of development. As a city like Singapore develops from third world to first, asset prices will increase in multiples. Thus it is not uncommon for us to encounter instances where property owners acquired their properties for a couple of tens of thousands of dollars and currently can sell the same property for over a million dollars. The wealthiest individuals in a city-state like Singapore tend to be directly or indirectly involved in property. This gives the investor a sense that property investment is the best form of investment.

Using the same success story of a city like Singapore and overlaying it on neighbouring countries will only cause some investors to grossly miscalculate their property investments. I have heard many investors remark, on countless occasions, that investing in cities like Phnom Penh or Ho Chi Minh will yield similar spectacular returns as what had happened previously in Singapore. They fail to realise that the rise in property prices in Singapore was a direct and indirect result of many factors. Incorruptibility and political clout is something that many of these cities do not have and thus it would be a huge mistake to assume that if a city like Phnom Penh currently looks like Singapore in the 1970s to 1980s, it will take the same path of development in the same period of time that Singapore took to build itself up to what it is today.

Governments around the world have the ability to, directly and indirectly, influence property prices through their policies. Direct influence can be in the form of implementing property cooling measures by increasing the amount of stamp duties which a buyer has to pay. Such measures were implemented to somewhat good effect in Singapore and Hong Kong to rein in property prices. It can also be in the form of direct assistance like the Federal Housing Assistance for Low Income Households in the US. Indirect influence can be in the form of immigration policies as a more lenient immigration policy will fuel housing demand and the converse will cause housing demand to fall. Property prices are essentially set based on demand and supply and governments around the world, through their policies, affect housing demand and supply markets directly and indirectly.

Singapore

In terms of population density, Singapore comes in at number three in the world after Macau and Monaco. Singapore is also the world’s second most expensive property market in the world after Hong Kong. In terms of price growth, Singapore has seen prices jump multiple folds since obtaining independence in 1965.

Indirect factors

One of the main reasons for this astonishing price growth is due to the incorruptibility of the incumbent government and the immigration policies which have propelled population numbers from just under 2 million in 1965 to about 5.6 million today. In my opinion, the three most important things that were put in place were the development of good infrastructure, far-sighted education policies and a conducive environment to encourage foreign direct investment. By good infrastructure, I am referring to an extensive public transportation network with efficient train and bus lines and international airports as well as adequate grade A office spaces in the central business districts as well as commercial and industrial spaces to support multinational corporations to set up base in Singapore. Tax structures were very friendly to companies that would like to do business in Singapore. This attracted many overseas companies into the city-state and it established Singapore as a financial and trading hub of the region.

A lot has been said about the Singapore government causing prices to fall with its property cooling measures. However, few have actually understood that it was the Singapore government that caused property prices and rents to hit record high levels in 2008. The immigration policies that were implemented by the ruling party at that point in time caused a huge influx of permanent residents and foreigners into Singapore. This was a boom for property owners as prices and rents shot up to record high levels. In fact, even until today, the period around 2008 is still the high point for rental prices in Singapore.

Private Residential Property Price Index (Source: Data.gov.sg) (Base Quarter Q1 2009)

Private Residential Property Rental Index (Source: Data.gov.sg) (Base Quarter Q1 2009)

Direct factors

The Singapore government does, from time to time, implement property cooling measures and loan restrictions on property buyers. These measures are targeted and have a direct and immediate impact on the property market. The latest round of cooling measures was implemented in July 2018 and since then, the exuberance in the property market that was prevalent before was greatly curtailed. The curbs on foreigners and entities buying properties in the city-state are restrictively high. For foreigners, the additional buyer stamp duties (ABSD) is at 20 per cent, on top of the usual buyer stamp duties of about 3 to 4 per cent and for entities, the ABSD is at 25 per cent. The measures also helped curb the locals from purchasing multiple properties as the stamp duties on multiple properties are also rather high.

Housing affordability is a hot topic when it comes to Singapore politics. As housing is most probably the largest ticket item that most households will purchase, an expensive housing market will contribute significantly to the cost of living. In the 2011 elections, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) lost a Group Representation Constituency (GRC) for the first time in Singapore’s history. It showed the public’s discontent with the immigration policies at that point in time as well as the rising cost of living. This caused the government to tone down significantly on immigration numbers.

Bangkok

Bangkok property prices have appreciated a great deal in the last decade. Residential property prices in Bangkok have risen by 49 per cent in the last decade with condominium prices increasing by 78 per cent for the same period. The Thai Baht has been the best performing currency in South East Asia for the same period. Thailand is seen as a safe haven for many investors and the Thai Baht has appreciated greatly against many regional currencies. For example, the Thai Baht has appreciated more than 40 per cent against the Indonesian Rupiah in a decade.

Thai Baht versus Indonesian Rupiah (10 years)

Indirect factors

Many people fail to realise that having an efficient rail network as well as good international airports is something that does not happen overnight. In the whole of South East Asia, perhaps only Singapore can boast a more comprehensive rail network. In terms of transporting people around the city, Bangkok’s rail network is still miles ahead of what Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta’s infant systems have to offer. In terms of tourist arrivals, Bangkok is number one in the world. Bangkok is a very livable and cosmopolitan city and the government has facilitated this greatly. The cost and standard of living have risen greatly over the past decade and for the first time in 2018, Bangkok joined the list of the 100 most expensive cities for expatriate workers. 

Bangkok’s geographical location is excellent as it is in the middle of South East Asia. It is integral to China’s plan to build a transportation network through the region. The Thai government, through the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI), has been very accommodating to foreign investments and have been very supportive of developing Bangkok into a transportation hub. In early 2018, after many years of planning, the Thai parliament approved the plans for the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). Bangsue Central Station is also slated for completion in 2021 and this will link Bangkok to Nong Khai, Hua Hin and Chiang Mai. The later phase will include a high-speed rail to Kunming, China. Due to these factors, foreign investments in Bangkok have risen sharply and consequently, property prices have appreciated as an ensuing result.

The Thai Central Bank has also adopted a very accommodating interest rate environment. Due to historically low interest rates, property buyers are encouraged to take on debt as the cost of debt is relatively low. Since inflation and the cost of living have been rising in Bangkok, property is seen as a way to keep up with inflation.

Direct factors

The Thai government has kept property acquisition cost rather low. Buying costs are negligible as compared to many countries around the world and foreigners are allowed to hold condominium titles. This is in contrast to many countries around the world whereby direct property ownership by foreigners is not allowed and in most cases have to be done through a nominee structure. In Thailand, a foreigner can have his name on the title deed and he can own freehold condominium units.

Recently, due to the excessive risk-taking culture of the local buyers, the Thai government has implemented loan restrictions on local buyers when it comes to multiple property purchases. The new rule requires buyers who are buying a second property to make a down payment of at least 20 per cent of the value to qualify for a mortgage exceeding 10 million baht. Lenders will also be prohibited from providing advances that exceed the value of the property. Since the announcement of these property curbs, buying activity has moderated and lenders have tapered expectations about the size of their mortgage business moving forward. I have always maintained my stand that financial innovation is generally good for the consumer and perhaps now is the time that Thai banks will be looking to overseas buyers to fill the expected gap from the reduction in local demand for mortgages. The Thai property loan has always been restrictively unattractive for overseas buyers and a lot of it stems from the fact that local demand for mortgages has all this while been strong.

My examples will have briefly touched on Singapore and Bangkok as two cities whereby property price movements have been a result of government policies. Investors should understand that one of the government’s role is to smooth out economic cycles and ensure that the local economy experiences a sustained and healthy growth rate. In its infancy, a city experiences a period of sustained price growth on all its assets. This is the wealth creation phase. As a city matures, it enters a phase where asset price growth has to be moderated. When a city is mature, one of the major concern of the local government will be wealth distribution and how to tackle inequality and maintain affordability when it comes to the cost of living. This can be seen from Singapore’s 53 years of independence. In the early stages, the government was interested in wooing foreign investors and property prices were very low at the start and they increased rapidly in the early years of Singapore’s development. Today, affordability is a hot button topic and the Singapore government is concerned that prices may run ahead of fundamentals and thus has put in place measures to curb excessive price increases. The property price growth rate which induced the government to come up with the latest property cooling measure would most probably have been tolerated or even encouraged in the early days of Singapore’s development. The Bangkok property market, in my opinion, is somewhere in the middle of all this. It is neither in its infancy nor is it mature enough such that the Thai government requires massive measures to curb price appreciation. I do think that the downpayment loan restrictions are put in place to protect the local banks in the event of a recession and property prices take a dip.

As the world becomes ever so interconnected, investors will start to look outside of their country when it comes to investing. I for one have always maintained that a government’s policies are integral to whether a particular property market is something that can be looked at. Instead of randomly assuming that low prices in underdeveloped markets will rise, investors should focus on whether conditions put in place by a particular government will encourage price appreciation.

Yours Sincerely,

Daryl Lum

Other related articles:

My views on the Singapore and Bangkok property markets

Thailand Property Market Outlook for 2019

Where are the up and coming property investment locations in Bangkok?

My 2018 Singapore Property Market Review

My 2018 Bangkok Property Market Review

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My previous Singapore property review was on Uptown @ Farrer and this particular development, 1953 by Oxley Holdings, is located just down the road from Uptown @ Farrer.

Details about the development

1953 is a freehold development located along Tessensohn Road. It is currently a row of shophouses which will be conserved and an additional building will be erected behind the existing structure. In November 2017, Oxley Holdings, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Oxley Amethyst, bought the freehold vacant land along Tessensohn Road for SGD$14.5 million. Subsequently, in December 2017, through the same subsidiary, Oxley Holdings purchased a cluster of properties known as 1, 3, 5, 7, 7A, 9, 9A and 11 Balestier Road for SGD$38.0 million. Subsequently, Oxley Holdings acquired the adjoining strip of state land and amalgamated the two plots of land which they acquired. These three acquisitions will make up the development 1953.

Currently, the cluster of properties look like this:

Current facade of 1953 by Oxley Holdings

The completed development, 1953, will look like this:

1953 by Oxley Holdings

There will be 72 units in total. There will be 58 residential units and 14 retail units. The residential units will consist of 2 studio units (441 square feet), 4 one-bedroom units (549 square feet), 28 one+study units (506 to 614 square feet), 4 two+study (614 to 786 square feet), 8 three-bedroom units (786 to 1152 square feet), 2 three+study units (915 to 969 square feet), 1 four-bedroom unit (1399 square feet), 1 two+family penthouse (1130 square feet), 1 three bedroom penthouse (1120 square feet), 5 three+family penthouses (1227 to 1238 square feet), 1 five-bedroom penthouse (1507 square feet) and 1 five+study penthouse (1658 square feet).

Where is the development located?

Location of 1953 by Oxley Holdings

1953 is located along Tessensohn Road. If you are driving from Lavender Street, Tessensohn Road is the second left turn once you drive onto Balestier Road. If you are walking towards Farrer Park MRT Station, according to Google Maps and I used 1 Balestier Road as the starting point, the distance is 550 metres and it will take about 7 minutes. The walk is relatively sheltered as you walk along the row of shophouses along Serangoon Road.

The distance from 1953 to Farrer Park MRT Station

If you are walking from 1953 to Boon Keng MRT Station, the distance is 400 metres and it will take you about 5 minutes to get there. The nearest entrance to Boon Keng MRT Station, entrance C, is just diagonally opposite Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital.

The distance from 1953 to Boon Keng MRT Station

The walk is relatively sheltered after you cross the junction.

Shelter to Boon Keng MRT Station

I will take Farrer Park MRT Station as a point of reference for this project just like I did for my previous review on Uptown at Farrer. The walking distance to both MRT stations are relatively decent but my preference is to Farrer Park MRT Station as there is no need to cross any major road junction. Also, when you get to the entrance C of Boon Keng MRT Station, you will still need to walk a short distance to the actual train station which then to me makes both distances just about equal.

Farrer Park MRT Station is located just at the city fringe. If you are travelling to Raffles Place MRT Station, it will take you 8 minutes and cost you $0.93. You will need to make a change at Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station.

Farrer Park MRT Station to Raffles Place MRT Station

If you are travelling to Orchard MRT Station, it will take you 6 minutes and cost you $0.93. You can make a change at Little India MRT Station of Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station.

Farrer Park MRT Station to Orchard MRT Station

If you are travelling to Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station, it will take you 4 minutes and cost you $0.83.

Farrer Park MRT Station to Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station

If you are travelling to Chinatown MRT Station, it will take you 8 minutes and cost you $0.93.

Farrer Park MRT Station to Chinatown MRT Station

If you are driving, it will take 7 minutes to get to Raffles Place. Please note that at the point of this Google enquiry it was non-peak hours and thus you should factor in additional time for peak hour traffic.

The drive from 1953 to Raffles Place

The drive to Orchard Road will take 6 minutes. As mentioned before, you will need to factor in some additional time for peak hour traffic.

The drive from 1953 to Orchard Road

The selling points of the development

The main selling point would be the location. I do think that the proximity to Farrer Park MRT Station is rather decent and generally sheltered. Also, the development is located at perhaps, in my opinion, the optimal distance from Farrer Park MRT Station. There is a lot of hustle and bustle around Farrer Park MRT Station and I would anticipate some degree of congestion if you live around Farrer Park MRT Station. 1953 seems to be away from the crowded portions of this area but yet at a decent walking distance to the MRT station and City Square Mall. This area is also littered with eating and shopping options. Lavender Street and Jalan Besar have multiple late night food options and when you drive onto the main road from Tessensohn Road, you are already on Balestier Road and in just a couple of minutes, you will reach popular food haunts in Balestier.

This development is also freehold. There is a strong debate about whether there is a difference between buying freehold or leasehold properties and there are many articles that have proven that leasehold properties do perform just as well and in some cases better than freehold properties. However, I do believe that not every leasehold development will be redeveloped and leases will eventually run out and land will be returned to the state. Consider the mega-development that is Treasure at Tampines where there will be 2,203 units. I do not think that when that development will be redeveloped during its 99-year tenure. Developments like Mandarin Gardens and Braddel View have set record high asking prices of SGD$2.79 billion and SGD$2.08 billion respectively. I doubt that developers have the financial muscle or appetite to purchase these developments en bloc. Perhaps in the future when the market is stronger and I do believe that even then, a consortium of a few large and financially sound developers will have to step in to make the purchase. There is a chance that such developments will never find a buyer throughout their lease and eventually the land will be returned to the state. Consequently, when the remaining lease gets dangerously low, homeowners will be forced to sell at very low prices to recoup something rather than to let the lease run down. I do believe that the debate on freehold versus leasehold will be fervently debated up to the point when a large number of leasehold properties see their lease terms ending.

The price is rather decent in today’s seemingly inflated property market. Don’t get me wrong, I do feel that current property prices are on the high side. However, I do think that if I were to fork out in excess of $2,000 per square foot for a unit at a 99-year leasehold new launch like The Woodleigh Residences, I would rather consider a development like 1953 where freehold units can be found at sub-$1,900 per square foot prices. Just for the record, I do think that The Woodleigh Residences is grossly overpriced by an overly optimistic developer. Also, just around the corner is City View @ Boon Keng. A cluster of HDB flats which were sold under the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS). A 5-room HDB flat at this cluster sold for SGD$1.185 million at the start of 2019. This to me does not make much financial sense but it does show you the state of property prices in this vicinity. I am just saying that if you are in the market for a new project launch, this is perhaps one of the developments you should be looking at if you are looking at a boutique development.

Boon Keng HDB Resale Flat Prices

I personally like the concept of incorporating conservation shophouses with a new building. I have been constantly griping about how unimaginative certain designs of certain new project launches are. I do think that 1953 works out to be something like what is seen on all the rendered drawings, will turn out to be a rather unique development in the area. Design wise I find it interesting and something a little different but perhaps that is because I have always personally had an affinity towards colonial and conservational buildings.

Possible bad points about the development

Congestion can be rather bad at times but then this is right at the city fringe and I would expect residents to use the MRT lines to get around Singapore. It is a good thing that if you are driving and turning out from Tessensohn Road, the entrance into the CTE expressway is just around the corner. Also, for some units, do expect some road noise. Tessensohn Road is much less busy as compared to the main Balestier Road. This whole area is a very busy and bustling part of Singapore so do expect congestion and some noise.

This is a boutique development and thus the facilities in this development are rather limited. There are facilities like a swimming pool and barbeque pit and communal areas for residents. If you want a condominium with a large comprehensive suite of facilities then this is perhaps not it.

My thoughts about the development

I do like this development together with Uptown at Farrer. If you are looking for something that is right next to Farrer Park MRT Station, then Uptown at Farrer may be for you. That is a 99-year leasehold condominium. However, if you want something that is freehold and do not mind walking a short distance to the MRT station, then 1953 would be it. I have always thought that this part of Singapore is rather overlooked. I have worked on renting out units in the vicinity on a couple of occasions and have found that demand is rather good for properties in this area. If you would like to know about rents in the area, do read my review on Uptown @ Farrer as I have some data on that and 1953 pretty much is in the same area.

1953

1953 by Oxley Holdings

Pricing 4/5

The freehold development has units priced at just above SGD$1,800 per square foot. I do think that the pricing is fair in today’s new launch market. This location, in my opinion, is rather central and with the HDB flats nearby crossing a million dollars, I do think that a freehold condominium would make better sense.

Location 4/5

Just slightly off Farrer Park MRT Station but still within walking distance. Convenience wise, there are loads of food options, City Square Mall is a very decent mall and if you are getting to town from 1953, it will not take you long.

Quality and Design 4/5

I think this is something unique considering having looked at so many new launches. I find it interesting that the developer amalgamated the different plots of land and will integrate an existing conservation shophouse with a newly erected building. I am not a fan of mechanised car parks though but I guess there was never sufficient space that could be catered since the existing structure had to be kept. I do like the colour scheme of the development. As I mentioned previously, at least this feels unique.

Yours Sincerely,

Daryl Lum

p.s. Disclaimer: I am a licensed real estate salesperson at the point of writing this review. My real estate agency is the marketing agency for 1953 by Oxley Holdings. Buyers can approach me to purchase 1953 and I will earn a commission from the developer. My reason for writing this review is to share my personal view about the developments not as a real estate salesperson but in the neutral context of a buyer and hopefully share some insight to help buyers make a more informed buying decision.

You can access more information, floor plans and price lists, about 1953 and other new project launches here.

My other Singapore Property Reviews

My review of Uptown @ Farrer

My review of The Florence..

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In the past year, interest rates have been steadily creeping up. A recent article by Channelnewsasia commented about this matter and highlighted that “some consumers will find it challenging to make their mortgage payments”. Let us first understand the mechanics of how interest rates rise and fall. My discussion will be centred around Singapore’s context.

Low-interest rates are an incentive to borrow as the cost of borrowing is low and a disincentive to save as the reward to save is correspondingly low. Since the Global Financial Crisis in 2007, the US Federal Reserve has kept interest rates artificially low. The crisis that almost caused the collapse of the world economy was so severe that it meant that the remedy had to be equally extensive. There was a time when lending was practically non-existent as banks held a great level of distrust among each other and anyone in the financial system. The US government had to initiate stress tests on banks, effectively giving a report score to each of the banks. This alone was insufficient and the US government embarked on an expansionary monetary policy where the government bought up assets like treasury bills from the system and thus flooded the market with a huge amount of cash. The US government lowered the Fed Funds Rate, the rate at which the Federal Reserve will lend money to financial institutions, to close to zero. This meant that the cost of borrowing was almost negligible and the reward for saving was insignificant.

For a tiny country like Singapore, we are effectively a price taker and there is no way for us to influence interest rates in the open market. The US’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017 was USD$19.39 trillion. In comparison, Singapore’s in 2017 was USD$323.9 billion. Interest rates in Singapore move in tandem with the rates in the open market and thus when there was an availability of cheap money in the market, banks in Singapore had to correspondingly lower their rates. If it were cheaper to borrow from foreign banks, businesses and borrowers alike would look abroad for funding. Since the end of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, interest rates have been extremely low. In fact, they have been low for the last decade. There were times when mortgage rates were around 1 per cent. In contrast, the HDB concessionary rate is at 2.6 per cent. This meant that for those who borrowed from private institutions like banks instead of HDB itself would have paid less on their mortgages. If you think about it, those who bought an HDB in 2008 and took a 15 or 20-year bank loan would already have completed more than half of their loan tenure at lower interest rates.

On one hand, the US economy was teetering. On the other hand, the Singapore economy was doing relatively fine and peoples’ incomes were rising. What happened was a deluge of cheap financing options to purchase properties, cars or to start a business among many others. The Singapore central bank does not manipulate interest rates and instead controls inflation through money supply. This meant that interest rates were free to float as what the open market dictated and for the longest time, it contributed to a prolonged period of risk-taking. Asset prices like property prices started climbing and the Singapore government had to step in with a few rounds of property cooling measures. Even so, after the market went tepid in 2013 after the implementation of the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR), property prices again started to rise in 2017 and 2018, thus prompting the Singapore government to implement the latest round of property cooling measures in July 2018.

I have always maintained my stand that the cost of borrowing is perhaps one of the key factors, if not the key factor, that affects asset prices. Even after multiple rounds of cooling measures, demand for assets like properties still remains strong. I do agree that the TDSR which the Singapore government has put in place does keep in check the level of debt that an individual can undertake. However, we must remember that the TDSR is calculated at the point of loan application. A simplified example of this would be when a buyer of a property may have an income of say $10,000 a month at the point of application and the total amount of debt he could undertake at that point in time is $6,000, i.e. 60 per cent of his income. This seems safe at the point of application as Singapore’s economy may be resilient and growing and since 2008, has yet to see a significant economic shock. If a downturn were to happen and he loses his employment and seeks a replacement job that pays him $6,000 a month, his TDSR would have changed to $3,600 from $6,000. Imagine if he had undertaken a monthly debt burden of $6,000 and the economy takes a downturn. There is no ruling to say that the debt obligations have to correspondingly come down when a borrower’s income is reduced. For now, Singapore’s economy is doing well and incomes are rising but there is every possibility that a downturn could occur. When that downturn may occur is anyone’s guess but my take on the matter will be when global interest rates rise, the global economy will start to be less expansionary and even start to contract. Rates have started to rise already and many property owners have seen their monthly instalments rise.

Let us look at how significant this rise in interest rates could be.

Loan quantum: $1,000,000
Tenure: 20 years
Interest rate: 1.1%
Monthly instalment: $4,643.69

Loan quantum: $1,000,000
Tenure: 20 years
Interest rate: 2.5%
Monthly instalment: $5,299.03

The additional monthly instalment is $655.34

This is typical of anyone who purchased a property before 2017. I personally was paying 1.08 per cent on my home loan in 2013. Currently, rates are in the region of 2.5 per cent and are slated to climb even higher. Let us see what will happen at 3.5 per cent and the seemingly improbable but not impossible 4.5 per cent.

Loan quantum: $1,000,000
Tenure: 20 years
Interest rate: 3.5%
Monthly instalment: $5,799.60

Loan quantum: $1,000,000
Tenure: 20 years
Interest rate: 4.5%
Monthly instalment: $6,326.49

There is a chance that a buyer could have purchased a property thinking that instalments at 1.1 per cent interest rates seem affordable. The fact of the matter is that if rates do climb to 3.5 per cent or more, monthly instalments could rise by 25 per cent or more. The last decade’s growth, in large parts, was fueled by cheap borrowing. There will come a day when interest rates will start to normalise and that day seems to be getting closer.

Now let us look at a very ironic scenario. The US Federal Reserve has stated that it would want to normalise interest rates and that would mean raising the fed funds rate. This is on the back of strong economic numbers coming out of the US. The only thing to stop the inevitable normalisation of interest rates would be a slowdown in the global economy. This means that for Singapore property owners, a bad US economy is good for their them as their mortgage repayments remain low. However, shouldn’t a bad US economy be bad for the global economy? I find it deeply perplexing that we are hoping for weak economic numbers so that interest rates will remain low. If so, isn’t any economic growth fueled by cheap borrowing then? We must always remember that Singapore is a price taker in the interest rate market and despite our economy being sound and healthy, rates are artificially low because of the global economy. Thus there is a disconnect between how well our economy is and interest rates. So when US interest rates rise, rates in Singapore will correspondingly have to rise. If our rates are much lower than the global market, namely the US markets with the US Dollar as the global reserve currency, then funds will flow out of Singapore and into places with higher returns. This is one of the main reasons why our mortgage rates have been rising. As borrowing rates rise, the cost of doing business will rise as well. This will cause some businesses to scale down and consolidate. This is where and how the slowdown should occur in Singapore.

Whether you are someone looking to purchase a property, a car or someone who is looking for credit to start a business, you will definitely be enticed by low interest rates. Investment decisions are largely shaped by sentiment and the cost of borrowing or what we refer to as interest rates. When interest rates are low, this disincentivises people from saving. Instead, it encourages borrowing. In today’s low interest rate environment, placing monies in fixed deposits will yield about 1 to 2 per cent per annum. However, once interest rates normalise and rise, the rewards for saving will rise accordingly. The scenario which has presented itself in the last decade was one of rising inflation but yet returns were very low. This encouraged individuals with cash to make investment decisions that will hopefully allow them to keep pace with inflation. The traditional thinking would be to purchase assets like property as traditionally property prices do rise in tandem with inflation rates and in many past instances, rose faster than inflation rates. I sincerely do think that we are in an era where asset prices have run so far ahead of themselves due to the fact that the last financial crisis warranted such an extreme injection of liquidity into the market. Looking at the stock market, namely the US stock indexes and you will find that they are all at record levels. Before the 2007 Global Financial Crisis, the Dow Jones was at about 13,000 before plummeting to about 7,000. Today it is at about 26,000.

Dow Jones Industrial Average Chart

I am not advocating that everyone stops investing. I do believe that by investing in properties and stock an investor can get better returns in the medium to long term if decisions are made wisely. I am advocating that investors of properties and stocks take a breather and understand how the markets got to this point and take a more realistic view of where the market will be moving forward.

Yours Sincerely,

Daryl Lum

The post How interest rates affect investment decisions appeared first on Investment Blog by Daryl Lum.

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Daryl Lum by Daryl Lum - 1M ago

This is a new project launch which I have been anticipating since the last quarter of 2018. It is located in an area where I feel that there is insufficient interest despite the fact that it is very centrally located.

Details about the development

Uptown @ Farrer is a 99-year leasehold development developed by Low Keng Huat (Singapore) Limited. The developer had won the site with a top bid of SGD$174.08 million during a tender exercise for the plot of land as part of the Confirmed List of the Government Land Sales programme in January 2017. There were 11 bids in total, surpassing the 7 to 10 bids that consultants were expecting. The tendered sale price of SGD$174.08 million also translates to a very bullish SGD$1,000.72 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr), also surpassing some consultants’ expectations of bidding to be around SGD$800 to SGD$850 psf ppr. The site is located along Perumal Road which is just next to Farrer Park MRT Station and just opposite the current City Square Mall and Farrer Park Hospital.

The development, Uptown @ Farrer will be a mixed-development with a single 21-storey residential tower with 116 units and there will be 7 retail units on the ground level. Next to the residential tower will be an integrated 18-storey tower with 240 units serviced by Ascott named Iyf Farrer Park Singapore. Iyf Farrer Park Singapore will include co-living features such as social kitchen and a lobby that can be converted into spaces for events, meetings and a cafe-reception counter.

The residential portion of the development will be Uptown @ Farrer. The 21-storey development will start from the 4th storey. The 1st storey will be the car park and retail outlets and the 2nd and 3rd storey will be solely car parks. The development features compact 2-bedrooms (516, 527 and 538 square feet), compact 3-bedrooms (700 square feet), compact 3-bedrooms with loft (732, 764, 829, 861, 1001, 1184, 1292 square feet), compact 3-bedrooms with private enclosed space (926 square feet), compact 4-bedrooms dual key (1033 square feet), 4-bedroom (1410 square feet), 4-bedroom with private enclosed space (1550, 1927 square feet), 4+1 bedroom (1647 square feet), 4-bedroom duplex (1830 square feet) and 5-bedroom duplex (2271 square feet).

Where is the development located?

Uptown @ Farrer Location Map

Uptown @ Farrer is located along Perumal Road. It is just opposite City Square Mall and if you come out from Exit G of Farrer Park MRT Station, it will take you about a minute to get to the condominium. This is perhaps the closest condominium to Farrer Park MRT Station.

The walk from Farrer Park MRT Station to Uptown @ Farrer

Here is a video of the walk. This is perhaps as close as one can get to Farrer Park MRT Station.

The walk from Farrer Park MRT Station to Uptown @ Farrer - YouTube

Farrer Park MRT Station is located just at the city fringe. If you are travelling to Raffles Place MRT Station, it will take you 8 minutes and cost you $0.93. You will need to make a change at Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station.

Farrer Park MRT Station to Raffles Place MRT Station

If you are travelling to Orchard MRT Station, it will take you 6 minutes and cost you $0.93. You can make a change at Little India MRT Station of Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station.

Farrer Park MRT Station to Orchard MRT Station

If you are travelling to Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station, it will take you 4 minutes and cost you $0.83.

Farrer Park MRT Station to Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station

If you are travelling to Chinatown MRT Station, it will take you 8 minutes and cost you $0.93.

Farrer Park MRT Station to Chinatown MRT Station

If you are driving, it will take you 11 minutes to get to Raffles Place and the distance travelled will be 7 kilometres.

Drive from Uptown @ Farrer to Raffles Place MRT Station

It will also take you 11 minutes to drive to Orchard Road and the distance travelled will be 5 kilometres.

Drive from Uptown @ Farrer to Orchard MRT Station

The selling points of the development

The main selling point would be the proximity to Farrer Park MRT Station. This is perhaps one of the most important factors when looking for a good property in Singapore. This is especially true for those who are looking to purchase a property to rent. Tenants value convenience and I have always stressed the fact that even during periods of weak rental demand, properties near the city fringe, next to an MRT station will still see demand. Low rent is still better than no rent and this is perhaps what many landlords are facing in today’s increasingly challenging rental market. The fact that it takes a mere minute to get to Farrer Park MRT Station from the development and it takes 8 minutes to get to Raffles Place MRT Station means that residents at Uptown @ Farrer should be about to get to the Central Business District in perhaps 10 to 15 minutes depending on the waiting time for the train.

I do like developments along the North-East Line (NEL). I do think that the NEL offers a very direct line to the city centre. I would expect residents of Uptown @ Farrer to be users of public transport more often than not as driving is simply less convenient than taking the MRT.

The next selling point would be the fact that Uptown @ Farrer is part of an integrated development with some retail element on the ground level as well as a serviced apartment managed by Ascott next to it. The serviced apartment portion of the development should be well managed by the very experienced Ascott group. For those who are looking for longer-term options at perhaps slightly more affordable rates, then Uptown @ Farrer would come across as a very viable option.

The fact that the development is located right opposite a large shopping mall, City Square Mall, is a huge draw for tenants and homeowners. The convenience of having amenities like supermarkets and easy food options is a huge plus. To get to City Square Mall, residents would just need to cross the road or take the MRT underpass to the mall. There are also many other famous food options located around the area.

Possible bad points about the development

This area often faces congestion but then this is something you would expect from a property right at the city fringe, right next to the MRT station. In some sense, this is not always a bad point as the main reason for this congestion is because of all the amenities in the area. Just do take into account the occasional traffic jam in the area if you are driving. There is also a temple next to the development which may cause some noise disturbance. This can be mitigated by choosing the right units in the development.

My thoughts about the development

I have been looking forward to this development ever since the developer obtained the plot in January 2017. I have always advocated looking at developments which are right next to the MRT station. Moreover, Farrer Park MRT Station is located right at the city fringe.

Looking at the rental transactions for City Square Residences for January 2019, a one-bedroom unit rented for between $2450 to $3000, a two-bedroom unit rented for between $3000 to $3500, a three-bedroom unit rented for between $3700 and $4200 and a four-bedroom unit rented for between $4800 and $5000. The demand is very healthy judging by the number of transactions in a month. I have often stressed that there is no data to show how long it took for a unit to be rented out from the time it is placed on the market. From my personal experience in dealing with properties in this area, namely City Square Residences, the time it takes to get a tenant, assuming the asking rent is in line with market pricing, is very short.

City Square Residences Rental Transactions for January 2019

If you were to take into account the major developments in the area, namely those with 400 or more units in the development, there are only City Square Residences (910 units) and Kerrisdale (481 units). The other development to take note would be the upcoming Sturdee Residences (305 units) which is located along Sturdee Road and in my opinion, not comparable in terms of convenience to Uptown @ Farrer. There are not many new developments in the area and thus competition for tenants should not be strong. I do think that after reviewing so many other developments in so many other areas, this area does seem like it is a bit under the radar to many would be property buyers.

Many buyers may gripe about the environment being less than ideal as there are many foreign workers in the area and that this is an area which is close to the Little India riot a couple of years ago but the area has been significantly cleaned up and judging from the rental transactions in the area, I do not see many tenants being put off by these factors.

Uptown @ Farrer

Pricing (To be confirmed)

As of now, we are still awaiting the pricing for Uptown @ Farrer. I do hope that the developer does price this attractively.

Location 4.5/5

I really like this location. There are not many upcoming developments around Farrer Park MRT Station and Uptown @ Farrer is the nearest development next to the MRT station. It is also just across the road from City Square Mall and the area is littered with amenities. If it is not already obvious enough from my review, this development is something which I am really looking forward to.

Quality and Design 4/5

I do like the fact that this is going to be part of an integrated development with a serviced apartment block which will be managed by Ascott. This should be well managed as Ascott has a brand reputation to uphold. This development should stand out among the buildings around it. If the artist’s impressions are anything to go by, the facade looks like a nice blend of contemporary colours. I do like the fact that the development starts on the 4th level, above the car parks.

Yours Sincerely,

Daryl Lum

p.s. Disclaimer: I am a licensed real estate salesperson at the point of writing this review. My real estate agency is the marketing agency for Uptown @ Farrer. Buyers can approach me to purchase Uptown @ Farrer and I will earn a commission from the developer. My reason for writing this review is to share my personal view about the developments not as a real estate salesperson but in the neutral context of a buyer and hopefully share some insight to help buyers make a more informed buying decision.

You can access more information, floor plans and price lists, about Uptown @ Farrer and other new project launches here.

My other Singapore Property Reviews

My review of 1953 by Oxley Holdings

My review of The Florence Residences

My review of Treasure at Tampines

My review of Fourth Avenue Residences

My review of The Woodleigh Residences

My review of Kent Ridge Hill Residences

My review of Arena Residences

My review of Whistler Grand and Twin Vew

My review of Mayfair Gardens and Daintree Residence

My review of Parc Esta

My review of Jui Residences

My review of The Jovell

My review of JadeScape

My review of Stirling Residences and Margaret Ville

My review of The Tre Ver and Riverfront Residences

My review of Park Colonial

My review of Affinity at Serangoon and The Garden Residences

Other related articles:

My 2018 Singapore Property Market Review

How to select a good unit at a new project launch

Are Singapore property prices too high?

P.S. I have just started a YouTube Channel and I will be uploading weekly videos explaining the various investment terms and jargon which may come in handy for some. Do consider subscribing to my YouTube Channel for useful investment content videos. You can access my YouTube Channel here.

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Clients often ask me which developers’ offerings should they consider when looking for a property in Bangkok. Sansiri would often come up as a viable option for buyers as they have a presence in their major markets. Sansiri’s offices span cities like Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore to name a few. To set the record straight, Sansiri is not the largest developer in terms of market capitalisation on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) but it is listed on the SET and perhaps among the top 10 developers in Thailand. In fact, the largest developers in Thailand are not aggressive in the overseas markets. What I do favour about Sansiri is them having sales representatives in various regions as well as having their correspondences and contracts provided for in English.

Recent condominium developments in Bangkok have had standards cranked up a couple of notches. The innovation which developers in Bangkok have come up with have been rather creative but I personally think that this series of developments by Sansiri is one of the most unique on offer.

Details about the developments

XT Phayathai is a freehold development about 700 metres from Phayathai BTS and Airport Rail Link. There is an old building that is sitting on the plot of land and it will be demolished before construction on XT Phayathai will start. The size of the plot of land is approximately 3 Rai and XT Phayathai will consist of 1 residential building with 2 towers. Tower 1 will be 41 storeys tall and Tower B will be 37 storeys tall. The total number of units will be 1435 and the development is expected to be completed in 2023. There will be 1 and 2 bedroom units in the development.

XT Huai Khwang is a freehold development just next to Huai Khwang MRT Station. The size of the land is approximately 6 Rai and the development will consist of 1 building with 2 towers. Tower A will consist of 43 storeys and Tower B will have 14 storeys. The total number of units in XT Huai Khwang is 1405 and the development is expected to be completed in 2021.

XT Ekkamai is a freehold development located along Sukhumvit Soi 63, just north of the junction of Sukhumvit Soi 63 and Thong Lor Soi 10. The size of the land is approximately 2 Rai and will consist of 1 residential building of 38 storeys and 1 mechanical building with 9 storeys and 3 levels of basement. The total number of units is 537 and the development is expected to be completed in 2020.

Where are these developments located?

XT Phayathai

Phayathai BTS and Airport Rail Link to XT Phayathai

XT Phayathai is located along Sri Ayutthaya Road and is about 700 metres of 9 minutes walk to Phayathai BTS Station and Phayathai Airport Rail Link. Phayathai BTS is 2 BTS Stations away from Siam BTS Station which is where popular tourist shopping malls like Siam Paragon and Siam Discovery are located. The surrounding area around XT Phayathai is filled with government offices, schools and tuition centres. Just opposite the road is Phayathai 1 Hospital and about half of the journey to Phayathai BTS is Pullman Bangkok King Power Hotel. XT Phayathai is a very nice residential area that is situated just at the fringe of the main Bangkok shopping belt.

Ratchaprarop Airport Rail Link to XT Phayathai

If you land in Suvarnabhumi Airport, you can take the Airport Rail Link directly from the airport to Phayathai Airport Rail Link or alternatively you can stop at Ratchaprarop Airport Rail Link and walk to XT Phayathai. The walk is slighly shorter, approximately 600 metres and will take 8 minutes.

Phayathai is already an interchange between the Airport Rail Link and The BTS Line. In future, there will be a light red line which will pass through Phayathai Interchange. This Light-Red Line will bring commuters to the Bang Sue Grand Station.

XT Huai Khwang

Huai Khwang MRT to XT Huai Khwang

XT Huai Khwang is located right next to Huai Khwang MRT Station. Once you come out of the MRT Station, the condominium is located next to it. It should take a minute or less to get to the condominium.

Huai Khwang MRT Station is located one stop from Thailand Cultural Centre MRT Station and two stops from Rama 9 or Phra Ram 9 MRT Station. Thailand Cultural Centre is where the Stock Exchange of Thailand is located and will be the interchange between the Blue MRT Line and the upcoming Orange Line. The Orange Line will have stations at Pratunam and Ratchathewi which is one BTS Station away from Siam BTS.

XT Ekkamai

XT Ekkamai Location Map

XT Ekkamai is located just around the corner from where Thong Lor Soi 10 is. It is located one street away from Sukhumvit Soi 55 which is where many popular dining establishments and high-end hotels and community malls are located. Properties along Sukhumvit Soi 55 are extremely expensive and are very popular among the expatriate community in Bangkok.

In future, there will be a Grey train line that will have a station named Thong Lo 10. It should be located along Thong Lor Soi 10 and XT Ekkamai is located very close to Thong Lor Soi 10. The Grey Line, even though work has yet to commence and is still in its planning stage, is essential to bringing residents from Thong Lor, Ekkamai, Phra Khanong and On Nut to the Sathorn Financial District.

The selling points about the developments

I mentioned earlier that these developments by Sansiri had something unique on offer and to me, this will be one of the key selling points of the developments. Granted that the number of new project launches in Bangkok is high, Sansiri has come up with quite a novel concept for their XT series of developments. Owning a condominium under the XT series will allow you access to the co-sharing facilities of other condominiums in the XT series. For example, if a buyer bought a unit at XT Phayathai, he could go to XT Ekkamai or XT Huai Khwang and use the shared facilities there. Some examples of the co-sharing facilities are co-working and play space, photo studios, cooking studios, arts and crafts studios. Sansiri is trying to redefine the concept of owning a condominium. They are making it seem like buyers are joining a club. This is on top of buyers already gaining access to Sansiri’s VIP lounge at Siam Paragon for Sansiri family members.

The next selling point would be the location of these developments. All three are located in prime locations. XT Phayathai is near Phayathai BTS which is 2 BTS stations away from Siam BTS and thus is very centrally located in Bangkok. XT Huai Khwang is located on the fringes of Rama 9, the new Central Business District (CBD) of Bangkok and XT Ekkamai is located in Ekkamai and close to the portion of Thong Lor where expatriates and wealthy Thais frequent. All 3 will benefit from the upcoming improvements and expansion of Bangkok’s rail network.

Price wise, considering the neighbouring developments and the fact that these developments are developed by Sansiri, is rather reasonable. XT Phayathai is priced at approximately THB 168,000 per square meter, XT Huai Khwang is about THB 165,000 per square meter and XT Ekkamai is at about THB 185,000 per square meter. Out of the 3, I do think that XT Phayathai’s pricing is rather attractive considering that competing new project launches in the area are going for about double that price per square meter. I did rank XT Phayathai very favourably in my 2018 Bangkok Property Market Review.

My thought about the developments

I do think that the mock-up units at the sales galleries are a little gaudy. I do think that even though the XT series are targeted at millennials, they could have done better with the choice of colour. Out of the 3, I favour XT Phayathai for the location and pricing. If buyers are looking for something next to the MRT Station then XT Huai Khwang would be it. XT Ekkamai would appeal to those who are familiar with the Ekkamai and Thong Lor area.

For buyers looking at XT Phayathai and XT Ekkamai, they need to be aware that these are very large developments with 1,435 and 1,405 units respectively. Buyers need to select the right units in the developments to give them a better chance of renting or reselling in the future. Many buyers neglect the fact that they have to select the right unit in a new project launch and in many instances, this may be more important than selecting the right development. Units with unique selling points, good facing, away from road noise and units on levels with easy access to facilities are just some of the things that buyers should take note of when selecting a unit. This is even more important when there are more than 1,400 units in a development.

XT Phayathai

XT Phayathai by Sansiri

Pricing 4.5/5

I find it very reasonably priced. Units are generally priced at around THB 180,000 per square meter for a mid-level unit. A 1-bedroom unit in the area currently rents for approximately THB 25,000 onwards.

Location 4/5

I would give it a higher score if it were nearer to the train station. However, once you get to Phayathai BTS and Airport Rail Link, you are located about 5 minutes to Siam BTS which is 2 BTS stops away. You are also on the Airport Rail Link which leads you to Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Quality 4/5

Sansiri’s quality is undeniable. However, I am rather perplexed at the design choices of the whole XT series. However, XT Phayathai’s colour scheme is the best out of the 3. You can view videos of the sales gallery in the links below to understand what I mean.

XT Huai Khwang

XT Huai Khwang by Sansiri

Pricing 3.5/5

Prices in this area have been climbing but Sansiri’s offering is priced at a slight premium as compared to other developments in the area. This, however, is right next to the MRT station. You cannot get any closer to the train station than this.

Location 4/5

Huai Khwang is turning out to be the next Chinatown. This area is very popular with the Chinese and it is one station away from Thailand Cultural Centre MRT Station, which is where the Stock Exchange of Thailand is located. That particular MRT Station will also be an interchange with the upcoming Orange Line.

Quality 4/5

Once again it is from Sansiri. I am giving the same score to all three developments. The quality is undeniable but I am just not too impressed by the choice of colour schemes chosen.

XT Ekkamai

XT Ekkamai by Sansiri

Pricing 4.5/5

Just a couple of metres away and you will reach Thong Lor Soi 10. Prices there are significantly higher than those at XT Ekkamai.

Location 4/5

It is Ekkamai and Thong Lor. This is where the affluent Thais and a large part of the expatriate community likes to frequent and live in. You will get a large number of Japanese looking for properties in this area. Granted that the Ekkamai BTS Station is a distance away but this area is still hotly sought after. There is a huge Don Don Donki Mall coming up just around the corner. The future Grey Line will have a station at Thong Lor Soi 10. I am inferring this from the station’s name, Thong Lo 10. The Grey Line is still in its planning stage but I do believe the line is essential as it gets commuters from this area to the Sathorn Financial District, thus alleviating the huge congestion on the current lines during peak hours.

Quality 4/5

This rating is the same for all 3 developments.

Yours Sincerely,

Daryl Lum

p.s.Disclaimer: I am a licensed real estate salesperson at the point of writing this review. My real estate agency in Singapore is the marketing agency for all 3 developments. I also run a real estate company in Bangkok and we are marketing Sansiri’s developments. Sansiri is one of the developers which our company is working with. I maintain a web portal InvestBangkokProperty.com where we list the various new project launches in Bangkok. The purpose of this review is to provide my thoughts and insights for buyers looking to invest in these developments.

My other Bangkok Property Reviews:

My review of Noble Ploenchit and 98 Wireless

Other useful articles:

My 2018 Bangkok Property Market Review

Thailand Property Market Outlook for 2019

Where are the up and coming property investment locations in Bangkok?

The good locations for property investment in Bangkok

A compelling case to invest in Bangkok

Guide to buying a property in Thailand

Thailand Property: Legal and Tax Issues

Recognising the different property title deeds in Thailand

Can a foreigner take a property loan in Thailand?

Buying property in Bangkok: Payment procedures

A guide to the top property developers in Thailand

Thailand Property Market Outlook for 2018

How to get an Investment Visa in Thailand

Thailand as a retirement destination

How to get a Retirement Visa in Thailand

My personal experience purchasing a property in Bangkok

Things to take note when investing in an overseas property

Factors that determine the property price in Bangkok

Looking to buy a Bangkok condo? Things to take note of.

Thailand property inheritance laws: taxes, succession and wills

How to get an Investment Visa in Thailand

The post My review of XT Phayathai, XT Huai Khwang and XT Ekkamai appeared first on Investment Blog by Daryl Lum.

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The en bloc wave that occurred in late 2017 and early 2018 took over quite a number of privatised HUDC estates. The former Florence Regency is one such example and is making way for a new development named The Florence Residences.

Details about the development

The Florence Residences is a 99-year leasehold development developed by Logan Property. Logan Property is a listed developer on the Hong Kong stock exchange. They have been making forays into the Singapore property market and made waves when it jointly placed a record bid of SGD$1 billion in a Government Land Sales exercise for the plot of land at Stirling Road. That project, Stirling Residences, was launched in 2018. Back in October 2017, Logan Property purchased the 336-unit former HUDC estate, Florence Regency, for SGD$629 million. Each owner received gross proceeds of between SGD$1.84 million and SGD$1.89 million. In its place will be The Florence Residences and there will be 1,410 units spread out in 9 blocks over 389,239 square feet of land. There will be 216 1-bedrooms, 72 1-bedroom + study, 264 2-bedroom classic, 292 2-bedroom deluxe, 52 2-bedroom + study, 232 3-bedroom classic, 154 3-bedroom deluxe, 64 4-bedroom classic, 16 4-bedroom deluxe and 48 5-bedroom units. The development is expected to be launched in early 2019.

Where is the development located?

The Florence Residences Location Map

The Florence Residences is located along Hougang Avenue 2. It is right next to the former Serangoon Junior College which has since merged with Anderson Junior College and moved to Ang Mo Kio. It is just across the road from Hougang Stadium and Hougang Swimming Complex. It is located right in the middle of both Hougang MRT Station as well as Kovan MRT Station.

The walk to Hougang MRT Station

According to Google Maps, the distance is about 1.1 kilometres to walk to Hougang MRT Station. You will need to cut across the road and walk through the landed property enclave. Here is a video of the walk.

If you are travelling to Singapore’s Central Business District (CBD) it will take you 21 minutes to get to Raffles Place MRT from Hougang MRT. It will cost you $1.47 and you will need to make a change at Dhoby Ghaut MRT to get onto the North-South Line.

Hougang MRT Station to Raffles Place MRT Station

If you are getting to Orchard MRT Station, it will take you 19 minutes and cost you $1.47 as well. You can either make a switch to the Circle Line at Serangoon to get to the North-South Line via Bishan or you can make a change at Dhoby Ghaut and head back down to Orchard Road.

Hougang MRT Station to Orchard MRT Station

One of the advantages of the North-East Line, in my opinion, is the relatively short time it takes to get to town. It only takes 17 minutes and costs $1.39 to get to Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station which is an intersection of three train lines and you are essentially already along Singapore’s main shopping belt, albeit the tail end of Orchard Road.

Hougang MRT Station to Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station

An alternative would be to walk to Kovan MRT Station. According to Google Maps, it will take 14 minutes and the distance travelled would be 1.2 kilometres. This path is generally more sheltered as compared to the walk to Hougang MRT Station. There are shops and amenities along the route as well. I would expect residents to use this option more frequently.

The walk to Hougang MRT Station

Here is a video of the journey to Kovan MRT Station.

The distance and time taken are almost identical. I personally prefer the walk to Kovan MRT Station but that may just be down to my preference.

As Hougang MRT and Kovan MRT Stations are just one stop away on the same MRT line, the cost and times taken to travel around Singapore are almost the same.

Kovan MRT Station to Orchard MRT Station

Kovan MRT Station to Raffles Place MRT Station

Kovan MRT Station to Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station

The selling points of the development

The main selling point would be the relative size of the development. There have been too many cases of boutique developments having issues like high maintenance fees for relatively paltry facilities. The fact of the matter is that a larger development does allow for more comprehensive facilities are the cost of maintaining these facilities can be spread out among many residents. I do think that 1,410 is a large number of units and the plus side of this would be that costs can be shared and thus there will be more facilities to be shared among the residents. The Florentine is located right next to this development and is a boutique development with very limited facilities yet the maintenance fees should be similar if not higher than what residents of The Florence Residences will be paying.

The next selling point, even though I do think that it may be slightly a bit euphoric at the moment, is the announcement of the Cross Island MRT Line. This new Cross Island Line was announced on the 25th of January and will have 12 stations passing through areas such as Changi, Loyang, Pasir Ris, Hougang and Ang Mo Kio. Thus Hougang MRT Station will be an interchange between the North-East line and the Cross Island Line. When completed in 2029, it will cut down travelling times for more than 100,000 households. This will provide a boost for properties located along the MRT stations along the Cross Island Line although I will try to taper expectations a little. Demand should increase when the line is up in about 10 years time. The benefit of convenience will be felt by households living closest to the MRT Stations. It would be wise for investors to look at how properties along the Thomson East Coast Line have fared since the announcement and use that as a gauge to how the Cross Island Line will affect property prices. The Florence Residences is not exactly very near Hougang MRT Station but when the line is up in 2029, it will provide convenience to the residents living in The Florence Residences.

I do think that the vicinity is littered with good food, wet markets and a whole host of amenities. If you travel along Upper Serangoon Road, you will find a lot of eating places. The food centre at Kovan, as well as both Heartland Mall and Hougang Mall, provide residents in the area with shopping options. I do think that this area is a nice place to live due to the host of amenities on offer.

Possible bad points about the development

It is not exactly near to either Hougang or Kovan MRT Stations. If buyers are looking to purchase to rent out in future, they have to be aware of the stiff competition that they will have from developments nearer to the MRT stations. Midtown Residences and Naung Residences are closer to Hougang MRT Station and Kovan Melody and Kovan Residences are just two of many condominiums that are nearer to Kovan MRT Station. There is competition for tenants from other developments in the area.

The usual expected peak hour congestion in the roads around the area is during peak hours. To travel along Upper Serangoon Road at around 8 to 9 am will result in you getting caught in a huge jam just before Serangoon MRT Station and this congestion usually continues till just after Woodleigh MRT Station. The plus side is that the North-East Line brings commuters to town in a very short time so I do think that residents should utilise the MRT line to get to town during the usual peak hours. There are a lot of developments coming on board that are along the North East Line. Woodleigh is also developing into a huge town and this should add pressure on the roads around the area during peak hours. Taking the train would be a much better option in my opinion.

My thoughts about the development

Personally, I do like this area because of the amenities. I live and grew up somewhere nearby and have seen how Kovan transformed from a little sleepy neighbourhood to what it is today, with multiple developments and amenities. This area is also easily connected via the North-East Line to other parts of Singapore and with the upcoming Cross Island Line coming onboard in 2029, it will add further convenience to the area. Buyers have to be aware of other rival developments in the area. I do think that competition for tenants will be high and the Cross Island Line will not be ready until a decade later so the added convenience will come a while after the project has been completed. I do think that a development like this would be more suited for own stay. After dealing with some boutique developments with little to no facilities, a development like this with a whole host of amenities does make a difference. Taking a look at the boutique development next to it, The Florentine, which coincidentally I have some experience marketing units in the development, buyers and tenants do look to buying or renting a condominium because of the facilities. The development is tucked within a cluster of HDB flats and beside a landed property enclave and is walking distance to a whole array of food options along Upper Serangoon Road. It is also within 1 kilometre of Xinmin Primary School, Holy Innocents Primary School and Montfort Junior School. As there are 1,410 units, picking the right unit will be important for buyers. Purchasing prime units with good facing and with unique selling points will help when the unit is put on the market for sale or rent in the future.

The Florence Residences

Pricing (To be confirmed)

As of now, we are still awaiting the pricing for The Florence Residences

Location 2.5/5

I do think that it is a little far to walk to either Hougang or Kovan MRT Station. However, the area is filled with a lot of amenities and is within 1 kilometre of 3 good primary schools. The Cross Island Line should bring further convenience to residents once it is operational in 2029, although that is still 10 years away.

Quality 4/5

Logan Property Holdings is not a small player in property development. They may be new to the Singapore market but their previous development, Stirling Residences, has well thought out layouts and a good range of facilities. I do particularly like the spaced out layout of the various blocks in The Florence Residences. The units facing Hougang Avenue 2 should experience undesirable road noise but then these units are limited to certain units in two blocks. The rest of the units are away from the main road. Design wise I do find the buildings a little uninspiring but I do like that the pool is made the main centre feature of the development and the blocks are perpendicular to it rather than parallel. The units overlooking the landed properties will have permanent unobstructed views.

Yours Sincerely,

Daryl Lum

p.s. Disclaimer: I am a licensed real estate salesperson at the point of writing this review. My real estate agency is the marketing agency for The Florence Residences. Buyers can approach me to purchase The Florence Residences and I will earn a commission from the developer. My reason for writing this review is to share my personal view about the developments not as a real estate salesperson but in the neutral context of a buyer and hopefully share some insight to help buyers make a more informed buying decision.

You can access more information, floor plans and price lists, about The Florence Residences and other new project launches here.

My other Singapore Property Reviews

My review of 1953 by Oxley Holdings

My review of Uptown @ Farrer

My review of Treasure at Tampines

My review of Fourth Avenue Residences

My review of The Woodleigh Residences

My review of Kent Ridge Hill Residences

My review of Arena Residences

My review of Whistler Grand and Twin Vew

My review of Mayfair Gardens and Daintree Residence

My review of Parc Esta

My review of Jui Residences

My review of The Jovell

My review of JadeScape

My review of Stirling Residences and Margaret Ville

My review of The Tre Ver and Riverfront Residences

My review of Park Colonial

My review of Affinity at Serangoon and The Garden Residences

Other related articles:

My 2018 Singapore Property Market Review

How to select a good unit at a new project launch

Are Singapore property prices too high?

P.S. I have just started a YouTube Channel and I will be uploading weekly videos explaining the various investment terms and jargon which may come in handy for some. Do consider subscribing to my YouTube Channel for useful investment content videos. You can access my YouTube Channel here.

The post My review of The Florence Residences appeared first on Investment Blog by Daryl Lum.

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Treasure at Tampines is going to be a barometer as to how the property market would pan out in 2019. The development will have 2,203 units and will be the largest condominium in Singapore. To put this into a perspective of how massive this development is going to be, the last four property reviews which I did was Fourth Avenue Residences with 476 units, The Woodleigh Residences with 667 units, Kent Ridge Hill Residences with 548 units and Arena Residences with 98 units. These four developments have a grand total of 1,789 units which is still about 81 per cent of the number of units which Treasure at Tampines will place onto the market. It was rumoured that there was only one bidder for this development as the site was very large. The buyer, in this case, Sim Lian, will have to sell all of the 2,203 units within 5 years of acquiring the land to avoid paying additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD) on the land price.

Details about the development

Treasure at Tampines is a 99-year leasehold development developed by Sim Lian. The development will be built on the site of the former Tampines Court, along Tampines Street 11. Tampines court was a privatised HUDC development with 560 units. This size of this plot of land is 701,164 square feet. Sim Lian acquired Tampines Court in an en bloc sale back in August 2017 for $970 million. This meant that each unit owner received about SGD$1.71 million to SGD$1.75 million from the collective sale. Previously the development had failed in two collective sale attempts in 2008 and 2011. The price that Sim Lian paid works out to be about $676 per square foot per plot ratio. Sim Lian will make two payments to the government, one to enhance the intensity of the site to a gross plot ratio of 2.8 and another to top up the remaining lease to 99 years and this will cost the company a further SGD$359 million.

Where is the development located?

Treasure at Tampines is located along Tampines Street 11. It is located close to the PIE entrance and exit. It is located next to Tampines Town Council and very close to a wet market, food centre and other HDB shophouses at Blocks 137, 138 and 139.

Drive to Tampines Mall from Treasure at Tampines

The drive to Tampines Mall is about 1.2 kilometres and will take 6 minutes.

Walk to Tampines Mall from Treasure at Tampines

Walk to Tampines MRT from Treasure at Tampines

The walk to Tampines Mall will take 16 minutes and will cover 1.2 kilometres. The walk is generally not sheltered, although you can take the longer route as indicated in the map above. Following the grey route would mean walking under the MRT track which is sheltered. The path under the MRT track is also a park connector. This route will also take you to Tampines MRT Station which is located along the East-West MRT Line.

If you are travelling to Singapore’s Central Business District (CBD), it will take you 23 minutes and cost you $1.63. You can take a direct route via the East-West Line or make a few transfers. The travel time is similar.

Tampines MRT Station to Raffles Place MRT Station

If you are travelling to Orchard Road, it will take you 25 minutes and it will cost $1.71.

Tampines MRT Station to Orchard MRT Station

If you are travelling from Tampines MRT Station to Changi Airport MRT Station, it will take you 12 minutes and it will cost $1.39.

Tampines MRT Station to Changi Airport MRT Station

Instead of travelling to Tampines MRT Station, you can elect to cross over the PIE and walk to Simei MRT Station instead. The walking distance and time taken to Simei MRT Station is actually rather similar. In this instance you would be crossing the PIE to get to Simei.

Walk to Simei MRT from Treasure at Tampines

From Simei MRT Station, it will take you 22 minutes to get to Raffles Place MRT Station and it will cost $1.63. It is a direct train ride without having to make any switches to any other train line. I would recommend this as the ideal route to take to get to Raffles Place.

Simei MRT Station to Raffles Place MRT Station

If you are travelling to Orchard Road, it will take you 24 minutes and cost you $1.67. You will need to change to the Downtown Line and then to the North-South Line. Alternatively, you could change to the North-South Line at City Hall MRT Station.

Simei MRT Station to Orchard MRT Station

From Simei MRT Station to Changi Airport MRT Station will take 14 minutes. It will cost $1.35.

Simei MRT Station to Changi Airport MRT Station

Tampines West MRT Station is the third option for residents at Treasure at Tampines. The distance to walk to this MRT Station is about 1.1 kilometres and it will take about 15 minutes. The route is rather unsheltered.

Walk to Tampines West MRT from Treasure at Tampines

The journey from Tampines East MRT Station to Raffles Place MRT Station will take 24 minutes and will cost $1.71. You will need to change train lines on two occasions. You can also make a change at Tampines MRT Station and get onto the East-West Line which will bring you directly to Raffles Place MRT Station.

Tampines East MRT Station to Raffles Place MRT Station

The journey to Orchard MRT Station will take 27 minutes and cost $1.75.

Tampines East MRT Station to Orchard MRT Station

The journey to Changi Airport will take 10 minutes and cost $1.29.

Tampines East MRT Station to Changi Airport MRT Station

The selling points of the development

The main selling point about the development is its size. Having 2,203 units gives Treasure at Tampines the edge in terms of economies of scale. On the other scale, there are small boutique developments with very high maintenance charges and yet have extremely limited facilities. In fact, it is not uncommon to see 1-bedroom units in small boutique developments with maintenance fees of about $300 a month. The facilities may just include an extremely small pool and perhaps a BBQ pit corner. Treasure at Tampines will have extremely comprehensive facilities and yet I am expecting the maintenance fees to be reasonable. The facilities should be very extensive.

The next selling point would be that it is located right next to a whole range of amenities like a wet market, food centre and many shops in the HDB blocks right next to it.

Possible bad points about the development

The development is not near an MRT Station. The more sensible option would be to walk to Simei MRT Station which is still about 1.3 kilometres away. It is almost right in the middle of 3 MRT stations which means that it is not close to any. The walks are not sheltered.

The traffic at Tampines Street 11 may be rather congested. As it is, it is a single lane road. Increasing the number of units on this particular plot of land by four times may cause traffic to get even more congested. This was perhaps the reason why Sim Lian had to sacrifice 7 to 8 per cent of the land to build the slip road to the Pan-Island Expressway.

My thoughts about the development

Location wise it is perhaps not the best. However, this has been the case for just about all new project launches in Tampines. There isn’t a condominium next to an MRT station in Tampines. Being a new project launch, it should launch at a per square foot price that is higher than those in the resale market. If you are looking to purchase a development in the area to rent out, I personally would think that options in the resale market like My Manhatten and Modena would offer better value. Transactions at My Manhatten are in the price range of around $1,200 to slightly below $1,400 per square foot although there was a one bedroom unit that transacted at $1,518 per square foot in August 2018. Modena prices are in the $900 to $950 per square foot range. These developments are situated right next to Simei MRT Station and would attract tenants easily. They may be older developments but if I were looking to purchase a unit to rent out, proximity to the MRT station would be of paramount importance. Also, having 2,203 units would mean really intense competition for tenants.

My Manhattan and Modena past transactions

Even though this development is not one to buy to rent out, it should excel as a good development to buy for own stay. I do believe that if the pricing is set to somewhere around $1,300 per square foot thereabouts, this development could prove popular with HDB upgraders in Tampines. Having such a large development would mean that the facilities will be very comprehensive and yet maintenance charges can be kept affordable. Any client purchasing Treasure at Tampines should purchase for their own stay. Selecting a good unit should be challenging though, with so many units on offer. If buyers purchase the right units, i.e. those with prime facing and optimal layouts, they could do well in the long run. It would be wise to remember that there are 2,203 units and when buyers intend to sell, competition is going to be fierce. It would be important to select the prime units or units with unique selling points which would stand out in the resale market in future.

Treasure at Tampines

Pricing (To be confirmed)

As of now, we are still awaiting the pricing for Treasure at Tampines

Location 2/5

I do think that the location is not the most ideal as it is not near to an MRT station and it is located along a very small road. I do think that there may be some congestion along Tampines Avenue 11 when Treasure at Tampines is completed.

Quality 4/5

Sim Lian Group is a very experienced developer. It is very experienced in developing mass market condominiums. Its recent developments include Treasure Crest in Sengkang, Wandervale in Choa Chu Kang and Hillion Residences in Bukit Panjang. I particularly like their past development Clover by the Park in Bishan. Sim Lian Group does put great thought into their developments with well thought out layouts.

Yours Sincerely,

Daryl Lum

p.s. Disclaimer: I am a licensed real estate salesperson at the point of writing this..

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I have been a real estate agent since I graduated from the university. In fact, I joined my first real estate company in the final year of my degree course. I have been dealing with Singapore properties since 2003 and Bangkok properties since 2013. Since my time in the local and overseas property market, many have asked me why the choice to focus on the Singapore and Bangkok property market.

I have marketed and sold properties in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Japan, the UK and perhaps another one or two locations which I may have missed out. It was purely based on the fact that the agency that I was in was marketing a certain development in a certain country and I just went with the trend. It was also perhaps a trend to move swiftly from one location to another based on market sentiment. After a while, I made the choice to focus on the Singapore and Bangkok property market and tried to better understand these two markets. Here are my views of what has transpired all these while and what I think will happen moving forward.

The Singapore Dollar and Thai Baht have done well against the US Dollar over the last decade and should stay stable moving forward

Singapore Dollar versus USD (10 years) (Source: XE Currency)

Thai Baht versus USD (10 years) (Source: XE Currency)

In the past decade, the Singapore Dollar and Thai Baht have appreciated against the US Dollar. Both currencies have seen appreciation rates of about 10 per cent, with the Thai Baht perhaps appreciating just a tad more than the Singapore Dollar. In contrast, other major and regional currencies have generally weakened against the US Dollar with a few like the Chinese Yuan and Cambodian Riel generally flat.

British Pound versus USD (10 years) (Source: XE Currency)

Chinese Renminbi versus USD (10 years) (Source: XE Currency)

Euro versus USD (10 years) (Source: XE Currency)

Japanese Yen versus USD (10 years) (Source: XE Currency)

Hong Kong Dollar versus USD (10 years) (Source: XE Currency)

Indonesia Rupiah versus USD (10 years) (Source: XE Currency)

Malaysian Ringgit versus USD (10 years) (Source: XE Currency)

Vietnam Dong versus USD (10 years) (Source: XE Currency)

Cambodian Riel versus USD (10 years) (Source: XE Currency)

I have a client from Indonesia who purchased a property in Bangkok and Singapore and sold them at just slightly higher than what he bought them for. He bought the Bangkok property for THB 13.15 million and sold it for THB 13.85 million and he bought the Singapore property for SGD $2.5 million and sold it for $2.65 million. If we were to take the numbers at face value, we would see that he did not profit much from capital appreciation of the properties. However, when you consider the appreciation of the Thai Baht and Singapore Dollar against the Rupiah, the gains in terms of Rupiah are phenomenal.

Thai Baht versus Indonesian Rupiah (10 years)

Singapore Dollar versus Indonesian Rupiah (10 years)

Both the Thai Baht and Singapore Dollar appreciated more than 41 per cent against the Indonesian Rupiah and thus when the client converted the monies back to his home currency, his Bangkok and Singapore properties yielded him gains of almost 50 per cent.

The lesson to take away from this would be that cities like Bangkok and Singapore are not places whereby demand is derived solely locally. The overseas property investors tend to look at these cities as viable options to park their funds. Bangkok and, to a greater extent, Singapore do come across as the more economically stable cities to invest. In times of great turmoil across the world, the flow of wealth has started to turn to one of capital preservation and the Thai and Singapore economy are perhaps the two more stable places for funds to flow into. The Thai economy has reduced its reliance on tourism and its recent positive economic numbers were on the back on a broader-based economic expansion in sectors like agriculture and manufacturing.

A property is still a shelter first and an investment tool second. Singapore and Bangkok are one of the most livable cities in the region.

When I first broadened my horizon to marketing properties outside of Singapore, I did do my homework and travelled to various cities to have a better understanding of how the various markets worked. What I found out was that Bangkok, just like Singapore, is a very open society and a very open economy. More than that, it was a place whereby people genuinely wanted to live in. The main purpose of having a property is for shelter. The notion of property investment has become so pervasive in our society that we see bricks and mortar as a way to make money than a place to stay. Buyers should be asking whether buying that certain property would be a good home to whoever who lives in it before thinking about whether it will make money. In fact, the basic factors that make a property a good place to live, factors like a safe environment, good amenities nearby, good schools, good and efficient transportation, competent government, are factors that will make the property a good investment. This is the primary reason why I am not positive about the property markets in places like Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar. Yes, these high-risk countries offer the potential for supernormal profits if the area develops but I am not hopeful that there will be much progress for investors to see any significant capital gains in the next decade. Even places like Singapore take years just to add an additional train line to its rail network. I find it perplexing when I was told that in a decade Cambodia will develop a rail network that will be able to rival Bangkok’s. That was four years ago and to date, no work has been started. On top of that, security is a startling issue in places like Phnom Penh. Crime is very prevalent even in extremely central areas where business activity congregates.

When I travel to Bangkok, I do feel safe on the streets. Of course, I do mainly only travel around downtown Bangkok but never once did I feel that my security was threatened. When I speak to other foreigners or people who are living in Bangkok, they share the same sense of security living in the city. There will still be pockets of crime all over Bangkok and corruption is still a drain on the government although I do believe that this situation is improving. Bangkok will not be as safe and corrupt free as Singapore but I think when you compare it to other cities in South East Asia, Bangkok is very safe.

In the six years which I have been dealing with Bangkok properties, I have dealt with many clients who bought properties in Bangkok for retirement purposes. I have also sold properties to those who have been working in the city and would like to own their property rather than to rent one. This is in contrast to many other cities in the region whereby properties are seen as a pure investment tool. Placing monies in a developing country in hope that the area will develop and then you can sell it off for a profit does seem like a good plan. However, the truth is that the surrounding area is not going to develop for maybe another decade or two perhaps and even if it does, there may not be a prevalent resale market in place for you to sell off your property. There will just be more supply coming on board from other developers. My stand is that if you are willing to wait for decades for your property in Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar to appreciate, why not take the same wait on the property market in Singapore or perhaps central Bangkok? The odds that property prices will rise in 20 to 30 years should be just as good in Singapore than it is in these developing countries.

Investing in property is rather different from investing in stocks. The price of seemingly riskier stocks is much lower than plunging your monies in a property. You can diversify your portfolio of stocks to include a wide array of counters with different risk profiles. You cannot and should not do the same for property investment. You really need to know what you are getting yourself into and this is the reason why I have been sticking with the Singapore and Bangkok property market for such an extended period of time.

Local demand should weaken but foreign demand should increase

2019 will be a turbulent year fraught with a great deal of uncertainty. As the global economy heads for an anticipated slowdown, the US and China trade war will only exacerbate matters. Throw in Brexit which, in my opinion, is going to be an extremely horrible outcome for the British people, and you should have a perfect storm for a global slowdown.

In Singapore, local demand from should weaken as buying fatigue starts to set in. This coupled with the fact that there is no corresponding slowdown in supply as more than 60 new project launches are coming on board in 2019, should see property prices soften. However, Singapore is sticking out like a sore thumb as a stable, safe haven for the rich of the world to park their funds in. Yes, the stamp duties are extremely restrictive but then the strength of the Singapore dollar is a very huge draw for the wealthy to be looking at Singapore. London as a financial centre is under threat due to Brexit and Hong Kong’s ability to continue as an autonomously governed area is increasingly under threat from Beijing’s interference. Singapore is an independent city-state, with a stable government and business-friendly policies. This is the reason why Singapore will continue to attract an inflow of wealth from around the world. When wealthy foreigners look at investing in Singapore properties, they will most probably be looking at properties in the core central region. For a long time, price increases in the outside central region and the rest of central region have outpaced the core central region. I do think that prices in the core central region have a good chance of narrowing this gap in the next year. The wealthy will most probably purchase one large purchase rather than multiple smaller purchases.

In Bangkok, the situation is also similar. 2017 and 2018 saw a huge buying frenzy and the price increase was perhaps higher than what we saw in Singapore for the same time period. Demand from the locals was very high and the Thai government stepped in and placed loan to value restrictions on locals purchasing multiple properties. This should slow down the demand and curb some excessive risk-taking by the Thais. Foreign demand, however, is extremely strong. The buying interest from the Chinese is increasing as the date for the opening of the Grand Bangsue Station draws closer. Bangkok is central to China’s One Belt, One Road initiative and the Grand Bangsue Station has three planned routes that lead up to Kunming, China as well as connects down south eventually to Singapore. The Chinese have the financial clout to make this initiative a reality and are taking over the Japanese in funding major infrastructure projects in Bangkok. Buying interest from the Chinese is still healthy. Price growth should moderate though. The past few years have seen significant price increases in the market. The Thai Baht has been the best performing currency against the US Dollar in South East Asia for the last decade and this strength should continue especially if the proposed elections in March are concluded smoothly. It is wise to note that the estimated 4.1 per cent GDP growth in 2018 was driven by strong domestic demand stemming from an upswing in private consumption and investment. Despite what many foreigners would like to think, local Thais do invest heavily in Bangkok properties and there are many local developers, in fact, many of the larger Thai developers, who do not actively market their products overseas as the demand from the locals is sufficient.

Prices should moderate

Despite my relatively positive take on both the Singapore and Bangkok property markets, my positivity stems from the fact that there is relative turmoil in the Eurozone, the US and a slowdown in the Chinese economy. I do believe that property prices are relatively high and they are due for a correction. That being said, I do not foresee a large correction as Singapore and Bangkok are seen as safe havens in relation to the rest of the region and possibly the world, especially when you look at Singapore. I do agree that there is an oversupply in both markets and supply has gotten ahead of demand. I would expect prices of new project launches and the resale markets in both Singapore and Bangkok to come down a little. More so in Singapore where developers have a deadline of 5 years from the date of land acquisition to sell out all their units or be faced with a huge tax bill. I do think that there is buyer fatigue in both property markets and prices are due for some moderation.

Geopolitical matters play a huge role in shaping both Singapore and Thailand’s economy

Not many people are aware that Thailand is actually the 8th largest economy in Asia with a GDP of USD$455.22 billion in 2017. Its economy is heavily dependent on exports which make up two-thirds of its GDP. Singapore’s exports make up just over half of its GDP. Both countries are heavily dependent on trade and thus any global economic slowdown would adversely affect the economies of these countries and sentiment in the respective property markets should suffer. The World Bank recently trimmed Thailand’s 2019 GDP growth to 3.8 per cent from 3.9 on the back of the elevated trade tensions between the US and China.

I really cannot guarantee that the property markets in either Singapore or Bangkok will rise or fall. As a real estate agent, I do notice that it is getting very difficult to rent out properties in Singapore, especially if the property is not near a train station. This coupled with the fact that there is going to be more than 60 new project launches in 2019 does pose a very big question of whether demand can keep up with upcoming supply. As for Bangkok, I do get locals wanting to live in condominiums rather than landed properties. They value the convenience of having facilities and having someone to manage the property for them. Even so, risk-taking was deemed to be excessive and the recent government loan to value limits are meant to curb buying from the locals. Due to these reasons, I expect overall prices to be soft in both markets. However, because of the perception of Singapore and Bangkok being safe havens for investors, The correction is not expected to be too significant.

The post My views on the Singapore and Bangkok property markets appeared first on Investment Blog by Daryl Lum.

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