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Singapore’s GDP to grow slower this year

The weak construction sector is expected to drag Singapore’s real GDP growth at a slower pace of three percent in 2018 from last year’s 3.5 percent, reported Singapore Business Review citing BMI Research.

The construction industry is forecasted to grow 2.4 percent in real terms this year, the same pace seen in 2017, mirroring weak investor sentiment within the residential and non-residential building sectors.

And with the property market showing incipient signs of recovering, BMI Research believes the construction industry will unlikely witness a significant pick up in the coming quarters.

“The government’s ongoing labour restructuring process and the still-weak property market continue to weigh on the construction sector and we expect the outlook to remain anaemic.”

With this, the government plans to use S$ 1.4 billion to support the local construction industry, said the thinktank. However, BMI Research expects the impact to be limited as construction companies continue to struggle with labour shortages and slower demand.

Nonetheless, Singapore’s positive business environment and sound economic fundamentals are expected to provide support for the city-state in the coming quarters.

BMI Research revealed that Singapore has a robust external position, with a net international investment position of around 250 percent of GDP as well as a considerable current account surplus of around 20.0 percent of GDP in 2016.

“In addition, Singapore’s operational risk environment remains sound, coming in at 82.2 (out of 100) compared to the regional average of 53.6 and we expect ongoing efforts to strengthen the already positive business environment to ensure that the republic remains an attractive investment destination over the coming years,” it said.

“This was reflected in Singapore’s retention of its second-place ranking in the World Bank’s 2018 Ease of Doing Business report, boding well for the country’s economic outlook.”

 

This article was edited by Keshia Faculin.

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2 freehold landed projects off Upper Bukit Timah launching this Friday

Artist’s impression of Kismis Residences, the first new launch of 2018.  

Singapore-listed property developer Low Keng Huat is launching two new freehold landed housing projects this Friday (5 January) to kick off 2018, marketing agent ERA Realty Network revealed in a statement. 

ERA and OrangeTee & Tie are jointly marketing both Kismis Residences and the adjacent TRANQUILIA@Kismis. This is the largest landed development to be launched after a long while in Lorong Kismis and Eng Kong Park, which is located off Upper Bukit Timah.

Kismis Residences is a 31-unit project that comprises eight corner terrace houses and 23 intermediate terrace houses.

Each house features five levels of living space and is served by a private lift. The built-in areas are large, ranging between 4,700 to 5,500 sq ft and include five en-suite bedrooms and a car porch. 

The intermediate terrace houses are priced between $ 4.155 million to $ 4.464 million, while the corner terrace houses are priced from $ 5.003 million to $ 5.282 million.

Meanwhile, the strata-landed TRANQUILIA@Kismis development comprises seven units. The approximate strata areas range from 4,359 sq ft to 5,597 sq ft, with prices from $ 3.521 million to $ 4.255 million.

The two projects are located close to Beauty World MRT station on the Downtown Line, shops and eateries at Bukit Timah Plaza and Beauty World Plaza, as well as educational institutions such as Ngee Ann Polytechnic and the National University of Singapore.

“Over the soft launch period in December 2017, we managed to secure buyers for 50 percent of the units released for sale. For Kismis Residences, nine out of the 15 units found buyers; while for TRANQUILIA@Kismis, two out of the seven units found buyers; making it a total of 11 units sold out of the 22 units that were released,” said Eugene Lim, key executive officer at ERA Realty.

Lee Yoon Moi, chief operating officer at Low Keng Huat, added: “We are pleased with the results thus far. It shows the strong following amongst home buyers for landed homes within this established neighbourhood.”

 

Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email romesh@propertyguru.com.sg

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Slight rise in number of property agents this year

There are now 28,571 registered property agents in Singapore.

The number of registered property agents in Singapore rose slightly to 28,571 as at 1 January 2018, up from 28,397 during the same period last year, according to data released by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) on Thursday (4 January).

This is still lower than the 29,262 registered agents seen at the start of 2016.

While CEA issued 66 new property agency licences and 1,344 new property agent registrations throughout 2017, a total of 44 property agency licences and 2,028 property agent registrations lapsed after 31 December.

Chia I-Ling, director, policy & licensing at CEA, said: “The increase in the number of registered agents could be due to a positive outlook on the real estate market.”

Lim Yong Hock, key executive officer of PropNex Realty, said: “In today’s market, increasing number of younger individuals are drawn to the real estate segment as the profession is no longer deemed as a “mid-career switch” option, but instead a long term rewarding career.

“In PropNex, we have fresh graduates and professionals who were doing really well in their previous careers joining us, drawn by their passion for properties and opportunities presented in the industry.”

CEA data also shows that the number of licensed property agencies fell to 1,269 as at 1 January from 1,286 a year ago.

The largest property agency in Singapore is PropNex Realty with 6,684 agents, followed by ERA Realty Network with 5,882 agents and OrangeTee & Tie (3,898).

10 largest property agencies

Source: Council for Estate Agencies

The number of salespersons at PropNex shot up by 21 percent from 5,510 last year, mainly attributed to a merger with Dennis Wee Group (DWG) in June.

“We are indeed witnessing a change in the real estate industry scene where many small to mid-sized firms might choose not to continue operating on their own and will instead consolidate their business with the bigger players,” noted Lim. 

Said Chia. “As the industry continues to evolve, CEA encourages property agents to upskill and leverage technology to keep pace with the changing business environment and meet increasing consumer expectations.”

Lim revealed that PropNex has invested more than $ 10 million in the last five years to provide a range of trainings and development programmes for salespersons to raise their knowledge, skills and service standards, in order to remain relevant in the industry.

PropertyGuru is organising an Agent Summit 2018 on 16 January. Find out more about the future of real estate agents and technology. To register, please click here.

Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email romesh@propertyguru.com.sg

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Singapore economy to grow 3.3% this year

The Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) survey showed that analysts expect Singapore’s economy to grow 3.3 percent year-on-year in 2017, up from the earlier forecast of 2.5 year-on-year in September, reported Singapore Business Review.

In terms of indicators, analysts were more bullish on the manufacturing sector which is expected to expand 10.6 percent year-on-year, finance and insurance (3.7 percent year-on-year) as well as wholesale and retail trade (1.7 percent year-on-year).

The construction sector’s outlook, however, turned sourer as it dropped from -4.2 percent year-on-year to -7.6 percent year-on-year.

Meanwhile, 47 percent of the respondents believe the electronics sector offers a strong potential upside for the economy.

External growth and property market recovery are cited by 40 percent and 27 percent of the respondents, respectively. Exports upswing, on the other hand, accounted for 13 percent of all responses, down from 35 percent during the previous survey.

Although the composition of the top three downside risks from the September survey remained the same, more respondents, at 67 percent, felt the Chinese economic slowdown poses a significant potential downside.

Global trade protectionism and geopolitical uncertainty in the Middle East and North Korea continue to be major concerns.

The survey revealed that 40 percent of the respondents expect them to hinder economic growth, down from September’s 47 percent.

 

This article was edited by Keshia Faculin.

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This app is changing the way we live and work

Franklin Tang, founder of Habitap.

Smart home apps in Singapore are slowly evolving from the confines of individual buildings to multiple distinct communities.

For instance, developer M+S, a 60:40 joint venture between Malaysia’s Khazanah Nasional and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings, recently launched the first mobile app here that connects businesses, residents and visitors across its two integrated projects – Marina One in Marina Bay and DUO in Bugis.

“What M+S has effectively done is to build a single community across two spaces,” said Franklin Tang, founder of Habitap, which developed the app called MySphere.

It is the first smartphone tool in Singapore that enables employees to pass through the turnstiles at the office lobbies of Marina One and DUO Tower and use the lifts with a tap of their mobile devices.

The app, which took six months to complete, not only authenticates the user, but is also secure thanks to encryption technology by HID and commercial-grade firewalls.

With MySphere, residents and office occupants can enjoy the amenities at both properties. These include their respective event spaces and auditorium facilities, as well as hotel rooms, function rooms and ballrooms at DUO’s Andaz Singapore hotel.

Moreover, the app will provide the first seamless, completely automated visitor management system at both developments. There are also features for booking residential facilities, calling handyman services, problem reporting, and alerting people in case of emergency.

Aside from borrowing an umbrella, mobile charger or wheelchair, MySphere can also be used by residents, office workers and visitors to utilise concierge services, call a taxi and make restaurant reservations.

Users can enjoy conveniences and perks with M+S’s partners like mobile commerce platform PageAdvisor and from transport services oBike and Telepod. In addition, they can make use of retail promos and an M+S loyalty rewards programme.

Among the users of the app is Nick Freeman, general manager of PizzaExpress, one of DUO’s F&B tenants.

“MySphere helps us to communicate directly with the residents and office occupants at DUO and Marina One so we can offer them the opportunity to connect with us and learn about our latest products and offers,” he said.

“This type of channel is invaluable in creating loyal customers as it gives us a platform to reach out to those people who are most likely to visit us daily.”

Notably, developers like Singapore-based Keppel Land and Chinese firm Qingjian Realty set the trend for smart home apps in Singapore.

An app developed by Habitap is currently being used at Keppel Land’s Corals at Keppel Bay and The Glades condominiums. It is also set to be introduced at Highline Residences in Tiong Bahru, which is expected to be ready by 2018.

Ng Ooi Hooi, Keppel Land’s president of regional investments, previously revealed that residents love the convenience brought about by smart home apps.

Meanwhile, Qingjian Realty intends to implement its hiLife app in all its existing and upcoming developments such as the Le Quest mixed-use project that’s slated for completion by end-2021.

According to Tang, there was never the idea of pairing apps with a building two years ago due to issues such as educating contractors and architects on the technology.

But he noted that more developers are now looking to leverage on such technology. Previously, cost was an issue, but demand for such apps has become market driven, he said. In fact, Habitap’s 25-strong tech team is growing quickly as demand for such apps is outpacing supply.

Still, there is more room for growth, noted Tang, citing the example of only two in 10 homes here having digital door locks, compared to seven in 10 in Korea.

Over the next three years, he expects to see more apps in the market, with next-generation software capable of carrying out more functions. There’s even the possibility of app users in Singapore accessing facilities and services in overseas developments.

In fact, Habitap has been appointed to develop a smart app for two overseas projects, and expects to secure another two commercial developments by year-end.

“We already have several projects lined up for 2018 and 2019,” noted Tang.

 

Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email romesh@propertyguru.com.sg

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