Tampines EC Site Awarded to Sim Lian, HDB Awards Ceremony 2023, Low October 2023 BTO Application Rates, and More

10 to 16 October 2023

The Council of Estate Agencies (CEA) revealed that 20 property agents have been fined and issued letters of censure for marketing empty HDB flats that had never been lived in, since January 2022. Meanwhile, some new residents at Tengah are contending with long walks through dusty construction sites due to limited transport options within the area.


1. First residential land returned to the state to be developed for public housing

The first residential plot of land that reached the end of its lease is being prepared for the development of public housing as part of efforts to rejuvenate Kallang, reported The Business Times.

The terrace homes occupying the area had 60-year leases that expired in December 2020. The homes have since been vacated, with the land returned to the state.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) stated that the proposed development will support housing demand and provide future residents easy access to amenities and transport hubs, such as Geylang Bahru and Kallang MRT station.

URA proposes to assign plot ratios of 2.4 or 2.8 for the land parcels along Upper Boon Keng Road.

Analysts expect the site to yield 200 to 400 housing units.

The site may be classified under the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) model, given its proximity to the Kallang River and the location at the fringe of the Downtown area.

Related article: National Day Rally 2023 Summary: Standard, Plus, Prime Flat Categories, More Single Housing Options, and More


2. 20 property agents found marketing empty, never lived in BTO flats

The CEA revealed that 20 property agents have been fined and issued letters of censure for marketing empty HDB flats which had never been lived in since January 2022, reported CNA.

The most recent involved two agents who marketed vacant HDB flats at Yishun Street 51 and Depot Road.

The agent who marketed the Yishun Street flat was fined $1,000, while the agent who marketed the flat at Depot Road was fined $500. Both agents were also censured.

While CEA did not divulge the name of the agents, a public register of property agents showed that Christina Au and Isabelle Loo – agents from ERA Realty Network – were fined $1,000 and $500, respectively, for marketing a flat even as the owners have not fulfilled the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP).

HDB said that it takes “violation of MOP rules seriously and will not hesitate to carry out enforcement actions”.

“Should investigations conclude that a flat was not owner-occupied during the MOP, HDB may compulsorily acquire the flat, impose a financial penalty of up to S$50,000, or issue written warnings,” it added.


3. Long dusty road ahead for some residents of Tengah

Some new residents at Tengah had to contend with long walks through dusty construction sites due to limited transport options within the area, reported CNA.

Notably, the sole bus stop in the estate, which is served by bus service 992 only, is situated along Plantation Crescent, right next to Plantation Acres’ Block 111.

This means a 10- to 15-minute walk for Plantation Grange residents. They would also have to walk 10 more minutes if they want to go to Bukit Batok Road, where there are more public transport options.

Aside from these, Tengah’s homeowners also had to face blocked footpaths and some are concerned about safety.

“There is only one bus and at night, this road is very dark and there is construction going around, it’s … not a safe place,” said a 51-year-old resident.

In another article, CNA reported that some Tengah homeowners who signed up for the centralised cooling system have complained of leaks and condensation.

Some residents also pointed out that the airflow coming from the cooling system was not cold enough.

“It’s cool. It’s definitely better than if you don’t turn it on, but it is not as cold as normal temperatures in air-conditioning,” said Manny, a flat owner at Plantation Grange.

Related article: Tengah: Singapore’s Upcoming ‘Forest Town‘


4. October 2023 BTO sales exercise posts underwhelming response amid new non-selection penalty

The HDB BTO Oct 2023 sales exercise saw 9,848 potential buyers applying for the 6,800 available flats as of 5pm on 10 October 2023, reported TODAY.

This works out to an overall application rate of around 1.4 times – which analysts describe as “underwhelming” and one of the lowest in recent years.

The last time overall BTO application rates dropped below two times was in November 2017, when it stood at 1.7 times for the 4,829 units offered.

Analysts attributed the lukewarm response mainly to the penalty for non-selection of flats, which kicked in during this month’s exercise. They believed that applicants decided to hold back due to fear of being penalised.

Aside from the new rules, potential buyers may also be waiting for the attractive projects set to be launched in the upcoming BTO exercise in December 2023, they said.

On the flipside, the lower application rate means almost all first-time buyers will have a chance to select their flats, noted analysts.

Related article: HDB BTO Dec 2023 Launch: Bedok, Bishan, Bukit Merah, Bukit Panjang, Jurong West, Queenstown, Woodlands


5. Tampines executive condominium (EC) site awarded to Sim Lian

The 99-year EC site at Tampines Street 62 (Parcel B) has been awarded to Sim Lian Land and Sim Lian Development after the consortium submitted the highest bid of $543.28 million, revealed HDB.

Launched for tender on 14 March 2023, the site has an area of 28,000.2 sq m and a maximum gross floor area (GFA) of 70,001 sq m. It is expected to yield 700 housing units and received seven bids during the close of its tender in July.

Huttons Asia said the EC market is drawing a lot of interest given the strong sales seen at past EC launches.

“The top bid of $721 per sq ft (PSF) ppr speaks of the confidence the developer has for ECs in Tampines,” it said, noting that EC sites in Tampines generally tend to have a slight premium compared to other locations.

Located near the upcoming Cross Island line and a future mixed-use development along Tampines Avenue 11, the area has more than 2,000 HDB flats, generating a pool of upgraders when they reach the five-year MOP in 2024 and 2025.

Related article: Executive Condos: Guide to Buying ECs in Singapore (2023)


6. Choa Chu Kang to get new mixed-use developments, recreational spaces

Choa Chu Kang will get new mixed-use developments, more recreational spaces and better connectivity as part of the Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) programme, revealed HDB.

Choa Chu Kang consists of several neighbourhoods, including Keat Hong, Yew Tee, and Teck Whye – where the first HDB flats of the town were completed in 1977.

Located right next to the Yew Tee and Choa Chu Kang MRT stations, the mixed-use developments will offer added dining, commercial and transport options.

The Heart of Yew Tee integrated development, for instance, will feature the town’s first hawker centre as well as a kidney dialysis centre, a polyclinic, retail shops, and a community plaza.

Choa Chu Kang Park, the town’s largest park, will be upgraded to offer improved landscaped and community spaces.

The authorities also plan to introduce various social and recreational spaces along certain sections of the North-South Line MRT viaduct, to encourage residents to take on a more active lifestyle.

Pedestrian and cycling connectivity across the town will also be improved, with the road along Choa Chu Kang Terrace set to be closed to traffic and pedestrianised.


7. 26 projects win HDB award for design, construction and engineering excellence

Despite major site constraints, construction firm Welltech Construction received a high CONQUAS Star score of 97.8 for its quality workmanship at Clementi Peaks, said HDB.

This comes as Welltech had identified key project challenges from the outset and implemented innovative solutions to manage them, including the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Virtual Design & Construction (VDC), which allowed them to virtually simulate construction activities and make refinements before actual construction.

They also utilised mobile applications to track and tag defective items during construction, while computer vision enabled them to detect potential safety hazards at the construction site and take prompt corrective action.

Notably, Welltech is one of the eight winners of the HDB Construction Award. It will be among the 26 HDB Design, Construction, and Engineering Awards to be presented by National Development Minister Desmond Lee on 16 October 2023.

“Amidst challenging times for the construction industry, our building partners have worked hard to deliver quality projects, while demonstrating excellence in design and engineering,” said HDB CEO Tan Meng Dui.

He pointed out that it was encouraging to see many industry partners adopt greater use of technology to raise “productivity while maintaining high construction standards and safety”.


8. Growing gap in expectations hamper en bloc sales

Singapore’s collective sales market continued to struggle in Q3 2023, due to a tentative and uncertain market outlook.

Knight Frank noted that among the biggest challenges facing the collective sale market is the growing gap in expectations between property owners and developers, reported Singapore Business Review.

“[This has been] exacerbated by increasing costs, interest rates and the prohibitive increases in ABSD rates, all in a climate of economic pessimism,” said Knight Frank.

It added that the rising costs have prompted developers to look to the Government Land Sales (GLS) confirmed list.

Moreover, the withdrawal of Wing Tai subsidiary, Wincove Investment, from the $76.3 million sale of Holland Tower also dampened sentiment in the en bloc sales market.

Meanwhile, the sole en bloc sale of Far East Shopping Centre at the end of Q3 2023 provided a much-needed boost into the rather gloomy collective sale environment, which had been impacted by the recent hike in Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rate for foreign property buyers.

With this, Knight Frank believes foreigners residing in properties that are undergoing a collective sale process will unlikely sell due to significantly higher replacement costs for them.


9. Work on the Cross Island MRT line Punggol extension officially started

Construction works for the Cross Island Line (CRL) Punggol extension have officially begun, with passenger service anticipated to start by 2032, reported The Straits Times.

Spanning 7.3km, the Punggol extension comprises four stations – namely, Pais Ris, Elias, Riviera, and Punggol.

The Punggol MRT station will be connected to the North East MRT line, the Riviera station to the Punggol LRT line and the Pasir Ris station to the East-West MRT line.

Acting Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat said the extension will slash travel time between Punggol and Pasir Ris to just 15 minutes, from 40 minutes by bus ride.

Time spent on travelling from the east of Punggol to the Loyang industrial area, via the Riviera station, will also be cut from 45 minutes by bus to just 20 minutes by train.

To minimise disruptions and inconveniences to residents during construction, the LTA has taken steps to reduce noise, vibration, and dust. The measures include using electric excavators and battery power pack generators, which emit less noise compared to conventional diesel-powered ones.


10. HDB resale price growth slows amid buyer resistance

The slower price growth recorded for HDB resale prices indicates that more consumers are saying no to rising prices, said OrangeTee.

With this, it expects demand to be diverted to the BTO market as more flats are set for sale in the upcoming sales exercise, reported Singapore Business Review.

HDB flash estimates showed the resale prices climbed 1.2% in Q3 2023, down from the 1.5% increase posted in the previous quarter.

The price growth in Q3 2023 was primarily driven by four-room flats, which saw average prices increase by 1.8% quarter-on-quarter to $589,992 during the period under review from $579,740 in Q2 2023, showed HDB data. It was followed by executive flats, which increased by 1.2% to $837,138 from an average of $827,549.

The decline in prices was evident across 10 towns, with Geylang registering the biggest quarterly drop at 3.6%, followed by the Central Area at 3.4%. Comparatively, only six towns registered quarterly price drops in the Q2 2023.

11. Shophouse sales to hit $1.5 billion in 2023

Singapore shophouses have transformed from urban relics into a highly sought-after symbol of sophisticated living, reported Bloomberg.

Notably, Singapore has about 6,500 historic shophouses that were given conservation status. They were built during the colonial era between the 1840s and the 1960s, with the early ones serving merchants and their families.

Now shophouses are sought after for hipster restaurants, bars, and boutique hotels.

Demand for these properties is also driven by the city-state’s efforts to regulate housing prices.

This comes as measures rolled out by the government, such as additional levies on locals purchasing second homes and on foreign residential property buyers do not apply to commercial properties. Notably, most shophouses fall under this category.

With this, shophouse prices in Singapore soared to a record $5,500 PSF – doubling the prices on Manhattan’s Upper Fifth Avenue, dubbed the most expensive shopping street in the world in 2022.

Sales of shophouses also surged 44% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) to $415 million in Q2 2023, said Knight Frank.

Looking ahead, Mary Sai, Knight Frank Singapore’s Executive Director of Capital Markets, expects shophouse sales to hit by up to $1.5 billion this year.


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Marcus Lee, Content Executive at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this story, email: marcuslee@propertyguru.com.sg.

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