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3 EC sites, Upper Paya Lebar Rd private housing plot rolled out

Property consultants expect pullback in confirmed list supply of private housing sites in H1 2014

[SINGAPORE] As the government yesterday rolled out four residential sites - a private housing site in Upper Paya Lebar Road and three for executive condominium (EC) development - as scheduled for November, under the second-half 2013 Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme, the market expects a pullback of supply for the confirmed list for the next half-year.

"For the upcoming GLS programme, I think the government will continue to attempt to strike a balance between ensuring adequate supply to meet demand but at the same time, being mindful of the upcoming supply of private homes," said DTZ head of Singapore research Lee Lay Keng.

Ong Teck Hui, national director at Jones Lang LaSalle, observed that the supply of private homes (including ECs) rolled out by the Ministry of National Development on the confirmed list has declined from around 8,000 in H2 2010, H1 and H2 2011 to around 7,000 for each half-year of 2012 and H1 2013, before falling further to 6,000 in H2 2013.

"With the impact of the TDSR (total debt servicing ratio) framework being felt, the question is whether the authorities are going to keep to the 6,000-unit supply on the confirmed list or reduce it further in H1 2014."

He reckons that any confirmed-list cut will be compensated for by an increase in the reserve list quantum to maintain the 14,000-unit combined supply in the two lists.

Reserve list sites are triggered for launch only upon successful application by a developer, unlike confirmed list sites which are released according to a pre-stated schedule, regardless of market demand.

DTZ's Ms Lee reasoned that the authorities could release around 5,000-6,000 private homes including ECs in the next-half confirmed list (slightly down from 6,000 in the current half). But the mix could shift towards more ECs, given that demand remains strong while transactions in the private residential market have slowed.

ECs, a public-private housing hybrid, are expected to continue to sell well as they are not hit by the TDSR framework.

Alan Cheong, research head at Savills Singapore, said that the authorities would have to read the market carefully to see where demand is, in selecting private housing sites for H1 2014.

"They may have to release mid-sized sites that can yield 300-500-unit projects, instead of sites for mega projects of say, 700-1,000 units. And the sites should be well-located, preferably near MRT stations, and not be in 'saturated areas'.

"Ideally, I think they should moderate confirmed-list supply in H1 2014 although the market is still undersupplied until 2015. But they may have other objectives in mind such as town planning."

He thinks that the authorities could trim the quantum of private homes excluding ECs on the confirmed list from about 3,200 for H2 2013 to 2,800 for H1 2014.

The four sites on the H2 2013 slate yesterday can yield about 2,350 homes in total.

Most property consultants forecast that the private housing site at Upper Paya Lebar Road would fetch top bids of $500-650 psf ppr. Ong Kah Seng, executive director of R'ST Research, sees the winning bid as $470-520 psf ppr, which is more measured compared to Knight Frank's $700-750 psf ppr - the most bullish. Alice Tan, Knight Frank Singapore research head, puts the selling price at about $1,350-1,400 psf.

This would be significantly higher than the $1,260-1,280 psf average price achieved by the developers of Bartley Residences and Bartley Ridge nearby, said Jones Lang LaSalle.

JLL national director Ong Teck Hui sees the latest site as being less attractive than the two earlier projects since it is bounded by two major roads - Bartley and Upper Paya Lebar, which will result in a project being affected by noise.

Two EC sites are being offered on the confirmed list - at Canberra Drive and Anchorvale Crescent. Analysts estimate the winning bid for the Canberra site, about 1.2 km from Sembawang MRT Station, to be in the range of $320-380 psf ppr. The previous benchmark in the area was the SkyPark Residences site, which fetched $324 psf ppr last December. The project was launched on Saturday, with 52 per cent of the 506 units sold over the weekend, at an average price of $793 psf.

Analysts forecast the Anchorvale site's top bid tol be in the $330-400 psf ppr range. Nicholas Mak, executive director at SLP International, sees the site, right next to Cheng Lim LRT Station, and one stop away from Sengkang MRT/LRT Station, as "arguably the most attractive of the five EC sites on the confirmed list of the H2 2013" slate.

Along Choa Chu Kang Drive, next to the Rainforest EC project, an EC site was made available for application yesterday on the reserve list. Mr Mak thinks it is unlikely to be triggered in the next half a year, citing the large EC supply expected in the Choa Chu Kang area. Next month, two adjoining sites in Choa Chu Kang Grove will be launched on the confirmed list.

However, R'ST's Mr Ong said the Choa Chu Kang reserve list site has a high chance of being triggered for sale in H1 2014 and that bids might be fairly optimistic. He points to pent-up interest in EC projects going ahead, as projects on any EC sites sold around now are likely to be launched only in 2015 at the earliest, under current rules which allow an EC project to be launched for sale only 15 months from the date of site award or after the physical completion of the foundation works, whichever is earlier.

A maximum 3,110 EC units that are likely to be launched next year (all in the second half) may be insufficient given the average yearly demand of 3,770 EC units bought from developers in the past three years. "EC demand is set to grow even stronger going into 2014 and beyond, with TDSR encouraging prudent buying and more EC-eligible buyers opting for it over private condos," added Mr Ong.