Interest in mixed-use en-bloc developments picking up: analysts

En-bloc property sales have lost its shine so far this year.

A total of nine en-bloc properties have been successfully transacted this year to date.

This compares to 29 transactions in the same period last year.

Although developers have turned cautious as cooling measures and requirements to build and sell out all the new units in five years start to bite, experts said interest in mixed-use en-bloc developments – especially those in the outer regions – is fast picking up.

The fad in property collective sales has turned towards mixed-use properties.

These are developments that have both residential units as well as space for commercial use.

Analysts said such mixed developments like Novena Ville are gaining traction among developers.

En-bloc sale specialists Credo Real Estate said mixed-use en-bloc property sales have seen a 10 to 15 per cent rise over the past year.

Karamjit Singh, managing director of Credo Real Estate, said: “There is also another hybrid segment of the market, involving mixed use where the developer can explore options including having some retail component, commercial component.

“That is beginning to get some traction nowadays because it opens up opportunities for developers to create new products, to capitalise on changing investment patterns and also changing lifestyles.”

The declining interest in en bloc transactions is partly due to the high asking prices from sellers.

Norman Ho, partner at Rodyk & Davidson, said: “It is quite different talking about en bloc 15 years ago and today, because en bloc today…the value of the property has gone up and replacement cost has become a lot higher, so increasingly owners do not want to participate anymore.

“Because today you see the incremental value in en bloc is only 50 per cent as compared to the early days where it was 300 per cent. There were other issues (also) such as if it is a residential en bloc, developers buying it have to pay additional stamp duty. So it is quite difficult to get through an en bloc these days.

“Also, the laws have changed that states that lawyers must witness signatures, so increasingly it is more difficult to do en bloc. However, en bloc is one of the very few avenues to have freehold land, as compared to government tender. So there will always be interest in en bloc.”

Demand for mixed developments in suburban areas has risen in recent years, with more than 600 shop units sold last year, more than double the 300 units sold in 2009.

Some analysts said the yields for commercial markets ranged from 4 per cent to 6 per cent while residential properties, depending on the location and market conditions, can be as low as 2 per cent and as high as 3.5 per cent to 4 per cent.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 6 Jun 2012