Entities controlled by Singapore property tycoon Kwek Leng Beng and his Malaysian billionaire cousin Quek Leng Chan have joined forces for the $980 million purchase of a freehold site in Singapore’s upscale River Valley precinct.
Their acquisition of Pacific Mansion in District 9 marks the biggest collective sale in more than a decade and the second-highest on record, according to CBRE, which brokered the deal.
Singapore-listed GuocoLand, controlled by Mr Quek, announced yesterday that it has successfully tendered for the site with Intrepid Investments and Hong Realty.
Both Intrepid Investments and Hong Realty are majority-owned by Hong Leong Investment Holdings (HLIH), which is effectively controlled by Mr Kwek, though other family members also own stakes in these companies.
GuocoLand and Intrepid Investments each hold a 40 per cent stake in the project, while Hong Realty owns a 20 per cent interest.
The latest deal marks the largest transaction in the current collective sale cycle, exceeding Tampines Court’s $970 million and Amber Park’s $907 million, and is surpassed only by the sale of Farrer Court for $1.34 billion in 2007.
CBRE director of capital markets Galven Tan said that the tender for Pacific Mansion drew interest from a handful of local and foreign developers.
Consultants estimate that the land cost for the Pacific Mansion site may translate to a break-even price of $2,530 to $2,800 per sq ft (psf), and a potential selling price of $3,000 to $3,200 psf for the upcoming project.
In just the first three months of this year, 14 collective sales have clocked total proceeds of $5.6 billion, which is already 64 per cent of the total proceeds of $8.7 billion from 30 collective sale sites for the whole of last year.
As HLIH is deemed a substantial shareholder of GuocoLand, Intrepid Investments and Hong Realty are deemed interested persons of GuocoLand under Singapore Exchange’s listing rules.
Pacific Mansion comprises 288 apartments and two commercial units. Owners representing more than 80 per cent of the strata area and share value of the development have consented to the collective sale. Each residential unit owner will stand to receive a gross payout of $3.26 million to $3.48 million. The shop units will receive between $2.2 million and $4.5 million.
Retiree Peter Chia, 60, who has been living in Pacific Mansion for the past 10 years, welcomed the news of the collective sale.
“It is a good price,” he said, adding that he has not decided where he will live in the future.
He said a new development could help breathe new life into the area, noting that the ageing property was not well-maintained.
But not everyone is glad. A resident, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lim, said he bought a three-bedroom apartment in Pacific Mansion in 2016 and would incur a 12 per cent seller’s stamp duty (SSD).
He said he has failed to get an SSD waiver from the authorities even though he did not sign on the collective sales agreement. The SSD, estimated to be $384,000, would have to be paid even before he receives the sale proceeds. “This defeats the purpose of the SSD because I am not a speculator,” said Mr Lim, adding that he spent $40,000 to $50,000 on renovations.
A series of blockbuster land deals in Singapore this year signal the property market is set to break out of its prolonged slump next year. A Chinese group lobbed a winning record bid for a residential plot, while Guocoland paid a record per-square-foot price for an office development site in the Central Business District.
Office rents last quarter rose for the first time in 2½ years and home prices ended a four-year slide.
The spending spree may not be over, with more than $3.3 billion of land deals set to be completed by the end of the year, pushing the annual total to $14 billion, the highest since 2011, according to Cushman & Wakefield.
“Singapore’s residential and office market has passed its inflection point, embarking on an exciting recovery journey,” said Cushman director of research Christine Li.
“With brighter economic prospects and improved market sentiment in the next two to three years, developers are increasingly sourcing land sites to ride the wave of growth for the rest of the decade.”
Singapore in March relaxed some home-buying restrictions, unleashing pent-up demand in a market where property ownership as a proportion of household assets is near a record low.
Home prices could rise as much as 10 per cent next year, according to analysts from Morgan Stanley, BNP Paribas and UOB Kay Hian.
Brokers including Cushman and CBRE Group predict office rents will climb 7 per cent to 9 per cent as an oversupply of space eases. The resurgence in deals suggests Singapore is on course to emulate Hong Kong’s red-hot property market, where home values have surged to record highs – following a jump in land prices last year – and office towers have fetched eye-popping prices. With housing affordability much better in Singapore, there may be a surge in demand next year, according to BNP Paribas.
“Singapore’s property market has largely turned the corner, underpinned by a brightening economic outlook,” JLL Singapore head of research and consultancy Tay Huey Ying said.
Residential and Grade A office assets are poised to remain investor favourites for the rest of this year and next year, she said. Residential land sales were boosted by redevelopment deals, or so-called collective sales, where a group of owners band together to sell entire apartment blocks, allowing developers to knock them down and build anew in a city where new residential land sales are tightly controlled by the Government.
These deals have topped $6.3 billion this year, the highest since 2007.
Private home prices rose 0.5 per cent in the third quarter of this year, the first time prices have increased in four years, according to flash data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Monday (Oct 2).
Prices of private property in Singapore have declined for 15 straight quarters since 2013, when new major property cooling measures were announced. Those measures saw the introduction of rules to restrict home buyers’ monthly debt payments, and came after a series of property curbs imposed since 2009 to rein in the market.
In the latest quarter, the private residential property index was 137.3 points, an increase of 0.7 point from the second quarter. This represents a rise of 0.5 per cent, compared to a 0.1 per cent decline in the previous quarter.
Prices of non-landed private residential properties increased by 0.2 per cent in the Core Central Region, compared to the 0.5 per cent fall in the previous quarter. Prices in the Rest of Central Region was unchanged, after registering an increase of 0.6 per cent in the previous quarter. Prices in the Outside Central Region increased by 0.7 per cent, after registering a 0.3 per cent decline in the previous quarter, URA said.
The flash estimates are compiled based on transaction prices given in contracts submitted for stamp duty payment and survey data on new units sold by developers up until mid-September.
The statistics will be updated on Oct 27 when URA releases the full real estate statistics for the quarter.
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