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Landed housing plot draws top bid of just $77.80 psf

Business Times – 12 Mar 2008

Only one other offer made; poor show seen as sign of uncertain market

IN what is seen as a sign of an uncertain property market, a landed housing parcel in Jurong West drew only two bids, and a low top bid of $11.8 million – or just $77.80 per square foot (psf) – at the close of a government land tender yesterday.

The higher bid, put in by Boon Keng Development, was significantly below what analysts had said the site could fetch.

Cushman & Wakefield managing director Donald Han, for example, reckoned that the plot would fetch $200-$250 psf of land area.

‘The price is really below expectation,’ said Mr Han yesterday. ‘But with the market sentiment being so weak, you can expect wild swings in prices. Developers will be sitting on the sidelines or might not want to bid their best prices.’

The other bid was put in by Sunway Concrete Products, a unit of Malaysian- listed Sunway Holdings. It offered $10.3 million, or $68.1 psf of land area.

Li Hiaw Ho, executive director for research at CB Richard Ellis, said that both bids were ‘relatively conservative’ and reflected the current cautious sentiment in the market.

The 99-year leasehold site on Westwood Avenue has a land area of 151,759 sq ft. Property analysts estimate that some 50-60 landed homes can be built on the site.

‘Nevertheless, based on the highest bid of $78 psf, terrace houses on this site could still be sold for $900,000 to $1 million each,’ Mr Li said. This is slightly higher than recent transactions of intermediate terrace houses in nearby Westwood Park and Westville, which were between $820,000 and $990,000 each.

Potential buyers, Mr Li added, could comprise locals working in the manufacturing firms in Jurong and Tuas, as well as academics at nearby Nanyang Technological University.

Market watchers, however, said that it is possible that the government might not award the site because of the low price.

The price looks especially low when considering other recent government sales of landed housing plots, Mr Han pointed out.

In October, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) auctioned off 12 sub-divided landed housing plots near Sembawang Beach which can be developed into a total of 57 landed homes. The auction fetched a total of $37.09 million, which worked out to about $285 psf of land area on average.

And in January, the government decided not to sell a short-term office site in Aljunied because the sole bid offered too low a price. The decision followed a recent string of lower-than-expected offers for state land.

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