SINGAPORE - THE Ministry of National Development (MND) brought some joyous tidings with the announcement that it will release some plum sites for private housing in the first half of the coming year. Many are in locations that have been rarely touched of late as part of the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme.
MND is trying to pull off a balancing act. It will be releasing roughly the same quantum of land over the next six months as it did in the current half-year. It is seeking the right balance between developers' appetite for residential land and potential oversupply as a record number of homes come onstream in the next few years.
Still, market watchers were surprised by the choice sites up for grabs. These include a landed housing site in Coronation Road/Victoria Park Road that can generate about 140 landed homes. The plot is next to the Victoria Park and Rebecca Park Good Class Bungalow Areas. It used to be a Chinese cemetery, where graves were exhumed sometime ago. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will launch this site in March.
In June, the URA will roll out a site on Mount Sophia, a chunk of which comprises an area which most recently housed the arts enclave called "Old School" and formerly accommodated the Methodist Girls' School. The 2.4-ha site - which includes the former Trinity Theological College and Nan Hwa Girls' School - can be developed into a low-rise condo of about 505 units.
Yet another low-rise condo site is at Faber Walk in the Ulu Pandan area which can yield about 210 units, slated for launch in April. All three land parcels are on the confirmed list, where sites are launched according to a pre-stated schedule, regardless of demand.
In the reserve list, a 2-ha plot on Siglap Road - next to Victoria School, flanked by Mandarin Gardens and Laguna Park, and facing East Coast Park and beach - will be made available in May. As it is on the reserve list, it will be launched for tender only upon successful application by a developer.
"The prime quotient in the GLS Programme has gone up," says Jones Lang LaSalle's head of investments Karamjit Singh. "I suppose they would have figured that supply in the mass-market segment has been well provided for in the past three years' GLS Programmes, and it is probably time to start introducing some supply a few notches higher," he added.
He acknowledged that these plum sites pose competition to en bloc sale sites - the traditional source of high-end residential development land. "But again, developers know that en bloc sites are mostly freehold whereas GLS plots are 99-year leasehold. Ultimately, it boils down to value and price proposition."