A look at properties outside of Singapore

WITH the Singapore residential property market losing some of its shine after seven rounds of government measures, and the latest as well as the harshest introduced just last month, an increasing number of property investors are turning elsewhere.

Highwood House beckons

A favourite destination continues to be London. "Nearly all the London projects have benefited from overseas buyers as Southeast Asia continues to play a key role in the early stages of release," says Stephen Ho, CBRE's director of international project marketing, Asia. According to CBRE, 48% of all units under construction in London have been sold over the last year, surpassing the levels in the years running up to 2007, the peak of the market.

To be launched over the weekend of Feb 22 to 24 is Highwood House (left), a boutique development with just 18 apartments and a duplex located in Fitzrovia, the heart of London's West End. Highwood House is a refurbishment of a building with a late Victorian/Edwardian architectural façade. Lifts will be installed within the building, and the project is set for completion in 2Q2013. Units range from studios and one-bedroom apartments to two-bedroom apartments. Prices range from £1,400 ($2,686) to £1,700 psf, with prices starting from £589,000 for a 389 sq ft studio.

Highwood House is part of The Fitzrovia Collection, which includes the 25-apartment Cleveland House (launched in Singapore in 4Q2012 and fully sold to date). Like Highwood House, Cleveland House is also a restoration and update of a heritage building. The Fitzrovia Collection is a joint venture between Marcus Cooper Group and Oakmayne, two companies with extensive experience in developing projects in London's West End. The sole marketing agent for Highwood House is CBRE.

Mitsui Fudosan launches Tokyo projects in Singapore

Yet another leading Japanese developer has come to town in recent months to launch its projects in Tokyo. This time, it's Mistui Fudosan, which is no stranger in Singapore, having been a joint-venture partner with Hong Leong Group for more than four decades. Their joint-venture vehicle, TID Pte Ltd, has developed more than 30 residential projects in Singapore, ranging from the luxury St Regis Residences and St Regis hotel, to the boutique 65-unit Nathan Suites on Nathan Road, and the 293-unit Optima in Tanah Merah in the eastern suburbs.

Mitsui Fudosan will hold an exhibition in Singapore to showcase two of its high-end projects in Tokyo — The Roppongi Tokyo and Park Tower Toyosu.

The Roppongi Tokyo is developed by Mitsui Fudosan Residential Co in collaboration with Sumitomo Corp, Tokyo Tatenomo and Ken Corp. The project is located in the heart of Roppongi (below), a vibrant enclave that is popular among expatriates. The Roppongi Tokyo is just a three-minute walk to the Roppongi Station and also within a two-minute walk to Tokyo Midtown and Roppongi Hills.

Completed in October 2011, the 39-storey, high-rise The Roppongi Tokyo contains a mix of one- to three-bedroom apartments from the 12th to 36th floors. The luxury condo development offers quality specifications and a variety of hotel services such as valet parking, concierge service and housekeeping provided in partnership with Ritz-Carlton Tokyo. The project was launched earlier in Tokyo and is 90% sold to date. Pricing is said to be around $1,800 psf, according to Doris Tan, Jones Lang LaSalle's (JLL's) director of international property services, the exclusive marketing agent for both The Roppongi Tokyo and Park Tower Toyosu.

Park Tower Toyosu (above) is located in the Toyosu district, east of Tokyo's metropolitan centre, and overlooks Tokyo Bay. The project is jointly developed by Mitsui Fudosan Residential and Kintetetsu Real Estate. Park Tower Toyosu is a 19-storey, high-rise residential development with two- and three-bedroom apartments, with sizes starting from 650 sq ft. The project is scheduled for completion in October. Units from the 18th floor are said to offer not just spectacular views of Tokyo Bay, but of Mount Fuji across the bay. The project is located within a five-minute walk to Toyosu Station.

Corporate leasing will also be offered to those who want to put their units up for rental. Rental yields for the two projects are said to be in the range of 3.1% to 4%. However, buyers have to bear in mind that they will be subject to an income tax of 5% to 40%, depending on the amount of income after deducting expenses. There is also capital gains tax of 30% for those who sell their property within the first five years of purchase, and 15% for those who sell beyond five years.

The two Tokyo projects will be showcased in St Regis Singapore in a private dinner on Feb 15, and open to a public preview on Feb 16 and 17.

Cooling measures affecting luxury residential market in Asia

A flat 4Q closed a relatively stable 2012 in luxury residential real estate in Asia, according to Jones Lang LaSalle's (JLL) latest Residential Index. The outlook for 2013 is expected to remain flat as property cooling measures in Hong Kong, Singapore and China bite.

Capital values rose an aggregated 5% in 2012, up from the 4.8% recorded in 2011, according to the property consultant in a report on Feb 14. Of the nine luxury residential markets featured, six saw mild increases in capital values during the year, with declines registered only in Singapore (-5.6% y-o-y) and Shanghai (-0.5% y-o-y). Jakarta was the standout for the region, outperforming all monitored markets with growth rates of 27.5% on an annualised basis. "Steady sales activity and limited price growth in the short term is to be expected in 2013," according to Jane Murray, JLL's head of research for Asia-Pacific.

Prices in Singapore have eased slightly over the past year as a result of the government's cooling measures, which have reduced the number of buyers, observes Chris Fossick, managing director for JLL in Singapore and Southeast Asia. "While the cooling measures will remain in place, it is unlikely that prices will rise. The medium to longer-term outlook for the luxury condo market, however, looks good as Singapore's economy and population are expected to grow," he adds.

Despite policy restrictions, JLL expects Hong Kong's capital values to see a mild rise in 2013, supported by ongoing low interest rates. Capital values in Shanghai are also forecast to rise marginally this year, while prices in Beijing are expected to increase further on the back of stronger rental growth. Among the emerging Southeast Asia markets, Jakarta should continue to "outperform" in 2013 owing to strong underlying fundamentals.

This story first appeared in The Edge Singapore weekly edition of Feb 18-24, 2013.

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