Govt to roll out land for record units of homes

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Nov 26, 2010
Govt to roll out land for record units of homes

By Esther Teo

THE booming housing market has led the Government to roll out enough land sites to accommodate a record-breaking number of new private homes.

If all the plots were taken up, developers could build at least 14,310 new homes, the Ministry of National Development (MND) said yesterday in unveiling the land sales programme for the first half of next year.

This beats the most recent release of residential land in the second half of this year, which could have yielded 13,905 homes - itself a record.

In all, the Government has lined up 31 sites that can be used for homes. And in what some consultants have called an 'aggressive stance', 17 of the sites have been placed on the confirmed list, with at least two sites to be released every month in the first half of next year.

The other 14 sites are on the reserve list. Confirmed list sites go on sale regardless of interest, while land on the reserve list is put up for tender only if developers table an acceptable initial offer.

Most of the residential sites on the confirmed list are new - 14 out of 17 - but only three on the reserve list are new. The rest are rolled over from the current government land sales programme.

The new sites are located mainly in suburban areas such as Punggol, Woodlands and Pasir Ris, to address the strong demand that has emerged for mass market private housing.

Four new executive condominium (EC) plots have also been added to the line-up - in Tampines, Choa Chu Kang, Punggol and Upper Serangoon.

Experts said the new supply should meet demand for more housing choice and stem further rises in mass-market condominium unit prices.

DTZ South-East Asia's research head, Ms Chua Chor Hoon, said a substantial number of units could be expected to be completed in a few years if developers soaked up the supply.

This, however, might lead to oversupply: 'too many units chasing after a smaller pool of occupants' if Western economies do not pick up by then and global growth is weak, she said.

Dr Chua Yang Liang, research head at Jones Lang LaSalle, noted that many of the new sites were placed on the confirmed rather than the reserve list.

'The more aggressive stance taken by the state to continue to flood the market with supply signals the serious implications of asset inflation,' he said.

He also offered a word of caution over a potential 'supply overhang'.

But Mr Liew Mun Leong, president and chief executive of property giant CapitaLand, said at a separate event yesterday that he did not think home prices would be depressed, even with this bumper supply of land.

'First and foremost, demand is still there. Developers still want to buy and get their inventories built up,' he said.

Mr Ong Kah Seng, Cushman and Wakefield senior manager of Asia-Pacific research, said the four EC sites - three of which are on the confirmed list - showed the Government's intent to continue helping the 'sandwich class' - those with monthly household incomes between $8,000 and $10,000.

However, he warned that interest for these sites may not be overwhelming as a few EC projects are already slated for launch next year. One such site put up for sale by the government in Jurong West recently did not receive any bids.

The MND will also launch more commercial sites to meet demand for office space. It will release one site each at Paya Lebar Road and Robinson Road on the confirmed list that can yield an estimated 92,120 sq m of commercial space.

The Paya Lebar site was originally on the reserve list but has been moved to the confirmed list to facilitate the early development of Paya Lebar Central into a commercial hub, the Ministry said.

A commercial site at the corner of Sims Avenue and Tanjong Katong Road will be added to the reserve list too, to provide for growth in the area.

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