More rental data to help track market rates

More rental data to help track market rates

DETAILED numbers on rent rates in the retail, industrial and office segments will be made available this week, in a move to improve transparency for businesses.

The data - for periods ranging from the first quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of last year - is being released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and JTC Corporation.

The move is a "milestone" that the Government hopes will help businesses make "informed decisions" before signing on the dotted line, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck at a briefing on the initiative yesterday.

"We hope that with more detailed data, businesses will have a better idea of market rental rates, which can in turn help them decide where to site their shops, offices and factories," added Mr Teo.

Only data on median rents sorted by the relevant street is available now.

The new set of figures, which will be compiled from stamp duty submissions to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, will include specifics not accessible before. These include refining retail and industrial rents by postal district as well as giving information on floor level and area.

Office rents will be further defined by location, such as the central region, city-fringe region and outside the central region, as well as by building classes.

Spaces in the Downtown Core and Orchard Planning Area are considered "Category 1" buildings, while the remaining office space is in "Category 2".

The new data will also include additional information on rents at the lower and higher ranges - called the 25th and 75th percentiles.

This is to give stakeholders a better sense of whether median rents are on the low or high side, said Ms Cynthia Phua, executive vice-president of Singbridge Corp and chairman of the Rental Practice Working Group set up by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF).

The SBF has been working with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the URA and JTC for the past year to devise the best format for presenting the data. The move underpins the SBF's Fair Tenancy Framework initiative unveiled on Tuesday that sets leasing guidelines and negotiation principles to help smaller firms and landlords understand what they are committing to.

Mr Teo pointed out that there are limits to what can be disclosed, given privacy rules, while only data points supported by at least three rental contracts in the quarter will be available.

Though the information will include rents at malls managed by real estate investment trusts, commercial office buildings and industrial factories, it excludes information on shophouse leases in both the private and public markets.

Mr Sin Lye Chong, group director of land sales and administration at URA, said he would look into this omission if the number of rental contracts grows. Mr James Teh, whose firm is in an industrial building, said the changes were "helpful".

"There's no way of telling if you're paying the market rent, unless you go around asking your neighbours what kind of rates they're getting," he said. "It's always good to have more transparency because it helps us make decisions."

Updated industrial data for the fourth quarter of last year will be published on JTC's website today, while the URA will publish retail and office data for the same period on its website tomorrow.

This article was first published on January 22, 2015.
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