Jurong East and Nusajaya

Property values around Jurong Lake Distict and Gerbang Nusajaya are expected to rise thanks to the iconic High Speed Rail (HSR) project.

 Jurong Lake District is fast taking shape as a decentralised CBD with almost 500,000 sq m of office space plus 200,000 sq m of retail, food & beverage and entertainment space called Jurong Gateway with plans for 2,800 hotel rooms. Photo: Courtesy of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)

Jurong Lake District is fast taking shape as a decentralised CBD with almost 500,000 sq m of office space plus 200,000 sq m of retail, food & beverage and entertainment space called Jurong Gateway with plans for 2,800 hotel rooms. Photo: Courtesy of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)

By Khalil Adis

Jurong East in Singapore and Gerbang Nusajaya are set to enjoy further growth as they become new regional centres thanks to the iconic High Speed Rail (HSR) between Singapore and Malaysia although there will be a delay by two years to 2022 for that to fully materialise.

First announced in 2010, the project is the first of its kind in the region which will cut travel time from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur to a mere 90 minutes.

This is expected to spur cross-border investments on both sides of the causeway and enhance property values at the eight HSR stops spanning from Sungei Besi in Kuala Lumpur all the way to Jurong East in Singapore.

At the recent Leaders’ Retreat in Singapore, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong revealed that Jurong East has been chosen as the site for the Singapore terminus which will tie in with the government’s overall plans to transform the area into the country’s second Central Business District (CBD).

Noting that the project has received great attention both domestically and internationally, Lee and Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak said the HSR project will be a game-changer.

“Both Leaders were encouraged by the support and attention from the global community and looked forward to further progress on this game-changing iconic project which will boost connectivity, facilitate travel between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, enhance business linkages and improve people-to-people ties,” read a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Singapore’s new gem in the making

Back in 2008, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) had announced the Draft Master Plan for Jurong Lake District which comprised a new CBD and commercial hub along with retail malls and hotels.

The area is fast taking shape as a decentralised CBD with almost 500,000 sq m of office space plus 200,000 sq m of retail, F&B and entertainment space called Jurong Gateway with plans for 2,800 hotel rooms.

Once a sleepy neighbourhood blessed with a lake, Jurong East is now buzzing with life and currently home to a Grade ‘A’ office tower. Called Westgate, this is where CapitaLand, one of Asia’s largest real estate companies, now calls home. Meanwhile, Genting Hotel became the first hotel to make its mark in the district in April 2015.
This growth is set to receive a further boost from tourists and business travellers from Malaysia once the HSR project is completed as it will enhance the area’s desirability.

A property values booster
With the announcement of the HSR station within the area, property values are set to rise even more especially in the current bearish market.

If we follow historical trends in Singapore, properties which are located within close proximity of transportation hubs such as MRT stations tend to appreciate between 5 to 10 per cent over a long period of time.

Further boosting the property market in the vicinity is the demand to live in and around Jurong Lake District, thus leading to higher asking prices.

Homes near the terminus such as those in the neighbourhoods of Jurong East, Lakeside and Taman Jurong are already reporting a 1 per cent increase in asking prices despite the weakening market which is the result of the various cooling measures in place.

These neighbourhoods are 5 minutes away from Jurong Country Club which has been identified as the site for the terminus location

A matching CBD in Nusajaya

Gerbang Nusajaya's press conference. This township will serve as the gateway to Malaysia with a HSR station and mixed-use development. Photo: Courtesy of UEM Sunrise.

Gerbang Nusajaya’s press conference. This township will serve as the gateway to Malaysia with a HSR station and mixed-use development. Photo: Courtesy of UEM Sunrise.

While the station in Nusajaya has not yet been announced, government officials have indicated that it will be located close to Motorsports City near East Ledang.

In April 2015, Nusajaya’s master developer UEM Sunrise Berhad further revealed its comprehensive development plans for Gerbang Nusajaya which will have its own CBD similar to Jurong Lake District.

“Gerbang Nusajaya is the gateway to Iskandar Malaysia and will serve as the commercial and business engine for Nusajaya,” said the company in a statement.

Spread across 4,551 acres of land, this second phase of Nusajaya’s development will be designed with catalytic industries similar to the various economic drivers in Nusajaya and Medini.

Both these areas are home to tourism, logistics, finance, information communication technology and creative industry establishments just to name a few.

In anticipation for the HSR terminus in Gerbang Nusajaya, a number of catalytic developments have been planned.

They include Nusajaya Tech Park, a 519-acre integrated eco-friendly tech park and FASTrack Iskandar which is a 300-acre ‘motorsports city’.

This is the closest hint we can get on the possibility of the Nusajaya HSR station being located here.

With a gross development value of RM42 billion, property values for existing homes in Nusajaya and Medini will enjoy a boost from the economic spillover.

As it stands, condominium prices here range from RM800 to RM1,000 per sq ft.

In the near future, it could possibly increase by 5 to 10 per cent as the area will be developed over a period of 25 years.

An estimated 76,000 direct job offerings and 137,000 indirect job offerings are expected to be created as a result.

UEM anticipates Gerbang Nusajaya to have an estimated 220,000 population upon its completion, tying it nicely with its site for Nusajaya’s HSR terminus.

This article was first published by iProperty.com in its June 2015 issue.

Under pressure

The luxury market saw little transactions this year while developers are faced with a deadline to move unsold units.

The property cooling measures have worked and developers are feeling the bite as they are under pressure to move unsold units. Photo: Courtesy of Shutterstock.

The property cooling measures have worked and developers are feeling the bite as they are under pressure to move unsold units. Photo: Courtesy of Shutterstock.

Developers are feeling the heat from the property cooling measures in Singapore and are calling for the government to ease the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD).

Just last February, the local real estate body, Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (REDAS) repeated their calls for the abolishment of the ABSD that has impacted the luxury sector severely.

“Not many Singaporeans are buying into this segment, and prices have indeed come down substantially. The imposition of ABSD on this segment runs counter to the Government’s efforts to encourage foreign investment flows into the country, to activate the economy, grow investments and create jobs for Singaporeans,” REDAS President Augustine Tan was reported as saying in the media.

Indeed, Singapore appears to be losing its shine among foreigners as they now have to pay a 15 per cent ABSD while transaction volume has dropped significantly.

According to CIMB, foreign demand has fallen considerably.

Foreigners now make up less than 10 percent of new sales compared to 15 percent two years ago.

What defines the luxury market in Singapore?

Kasara - The Lakeside by YTL located within the prime area of Sentosa Cove. Photo: Courtesy of YTL.

Kasara – The Lakeside by YTL located within the prime area of Sentosa Cove. Photo: Courtesy of YTL.

Often defined as the prime areas of the Lion City, the luxury market includes Sentosa Cove, Orchard Road, Marina Bay, Newton, Tanglin and the CBD where condominiums are priced from S$2,500 upwards.

It also includes Good Class Bungalows (GCBs) and bungalows on Sentosa Cove where average prices are now around S$1,400 and S$1,600 per sq ft respectively.

There are altogether 39 GCB areas in Singapore that spans from Belmont Park to White House Park.

Typically, they are defined as houses with a minimum land plot size of 1,400 sq m and a building height of two-storeys only.

Planning guidelines also prevent high density developments in these areas giving it an air of exclusivity.

Primarily the address of choice for high net worth local and foreign investors, the high-end segment, however, has taken a beating as the property cooling measures take its bite.

Buyers’ market as transaction volumes dropped

According to the latest data from CBRE Singapore, a total of 136 caveats were lodged last year by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

This was a 44 per cent drop from the 243 caveats lodged in 2013.

The caveats tracked transactions involving luxurious condominiums priced from S$5 million onwards in the core central area of Singapore.

As transaction volume dropped, so did prices, indicating that it is a buyers’ market as sellers become more realistic and are willing to sell below their asking price.

For example, according to CBRE Singapore, the average price of luxury apartments in the resale market fell 6.7 per cent year-on-year from S$2,825 per sq ft as at the end of 2013 to S$2,650 per sq ft during the same time last year.

The GCB market also saw a further slowdown in the second half of 2014 with 13 caveats lodged compared to 15 recorded in the first half of last year.

Data from CBRE showed that there was an 8.2 per cent decline in investment quantum in 2014 at S$626.14 million compared to the S$681.98 million figures recorded in 2013.

The average price also saw a marginal decline in 2014 at S$22.36 million compared to the average price of S$23.52 million recorded in 2013.

While average prices are showing a decline, the average per sq ft however is still holding up, recording a 6.7 per cent increase from S$1,338 per sq ft in 2013 to $1,428 per sq ft in 2014.

Over on Sentosa Cove, only three transactions were recorded as foreign investors stayed away from the market.

Data from CBRE showed that there was a 20 per cent drop on the average transacted price recorded at S$1,676 per sq ft in 2014.

Developers under pressure

With some developers stuck with unsold units in the primary market, CBRE notes that they are “likely to adopt innovative sales schemes to cut prices to market these homes in 2015”.

Indeed, developers face a deadline to move unsold units, failing which they have to pay a levy, calculated at 8 per cent, 16 per cent and 24 per cent of the property purchase price for the first, second and third extra years respectively.

One case in mind is Goodwood Residences which CBRE said was sold at an average price of S$2,450 per sq ft.

It notes that “the developer sought to beat the deadline of June 2015 when it has to pay a premium to extend the sales period

During the peak of the market back in 2010, such properties in the exclusive Bukit Timah enclave could command prices of around S$3,000 per sq ft.

As more luxury units come on-stream this year, others may also follow suit to cut prices to move unsold units.

Seven luxury projects totaling 467 units that were completed in 2014 included Ardmore 3, Hana, Le Nouvel Ardmore, Nouvel 18, Sculptura Ardmore, Tomlinson Heights and TwentyOne Anguilla Park.

Moving forward, the luxury market will favour those with deep pockets as it will mean more choices for them as developers scramble to find such niche buyers.

Forging stronger links

By Khalil Adis

Despite previous setbacks, the planned Woodlands-Johor Bahru RTS-MRT link is expected to reignite the local residential market 

Woodlands_Square_and_Woodlands_MRT_Station,_Singapore_-_20051111

Woodland MRT Station. Photo: Courtesy of WIkiCommons Media.

Developers and analysts are optimistic that the proposed Rapid Transit System (RTS)-Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) linking Malaysia’s Johor Bahru (JB) to Woodlands, Singapore will have a positive impact  on property values, enhance liveability around the transport hubs and reduce the notorious congestion along the Woodlands-Johor causeway.

“The opening of any MRT station will have a 5 to 10 percent value increase over the longer term,” said Donald Han, managing director of property firm Chesterton Singapore.

“The lure of being just a doorstep or an MRT station  away from Johor Bahru is also a tremendous plus, without having to negotiate perpetual causeway traffic jams especially on weekends.”

He added that the Woodlands North MRT station will be located next  to a proposed Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex and is within System (RTS)–Mass Rapid and the Woodlands Regional Centre, adjoining several offices and business parks to Woodlands, Singapore

Plans for a cross-border link have been on the table since the 80s, but have to date fallen to the wayside as a result of several bilateral disagreements.

The project was, however, revived in May 2010 and both Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak agreed to  jointly develop an RTS  Link.

“I think we will see more Singaporeans and Malaysians who are Singapore Permanent Residents buying second homes in JB city centre to take advantage of the RTS and accessibility to Singapore,” said Han.”The RTS will benefit JB city centre immensely. Singaporeans can now take advantage of ‘lower cost of living’ and to an extent having better lifestyle such as larger apartments with condo facilities at a price of an HDB flat.”

TriTower Residence by MB

TriTower Residence by MB Buikders Sdn Bhd is the closest located near the RTS Station in Bukit Chagar. Photo: Courtesy of MB Builders Sdn Bhd,

Meanwhile, developers believe the RTS station in Johor Bahru will have a positive impact on the overall development of the Malaysian state.

“The Malaysia government’s decision will likely add value to our development, as it will further improve the commuting convenience for our residents, especially for those lacking their own transport and need to travel between Johor Bahru and Singapore frequently,” said Cindi Sim, Group Managing Director of MB Builders Sdn Bhd.

Under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Master Plan 2013, the Singapore government has put in place a decentralisation strategy to develop the Woodlands Regional Centre into a key business hub.

It will serve as a northern gateway to Iskandar Malaysia over the next decade and a half, with direct links to the Thomson Line and to Iskandar Malaysia.

Woodlands Regional Centre Draft URA Masterplan 2013. Photo: Courtesy of Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Singapore.

Woodlands Regional Centre Draft URA Masterplan 2013. Photo: Courtesy of Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Singapore.

Woodands Waterfront

The Land Transportation Authority (LTA) said the RTS would have co-located CIQ facilities on both sides, allowing commuters to clear immigration at a single location for each way of travel.

Four potential stations have been identified: Tanjung Puteri, JB Sentral 1, JB Sentral 2, and Bukit Chagar as the terminating station.

“Consequently, we expect that the RTS project will increase the capital appreciation and potential rental yield of TriTower Residence,” said Sim, whose firm’s TriTower Residence development is located just next to the planned RTS station in Bukit Chagar. “We expect the properties in Bukit Chagar will increase in value due to the RTS project as well as the new Komtar JBCC shopping centre.”

According to Sim, it would be more valuable to stay near to the transit stations following the rise in petrol prices and the recent toll hikes on both sides of the causeway.

Indeed, Johor Bahru is undergoing major transformations, boosted by MYR1.8 billion (USD549 million)worth of committed funds from Malaysia’s federal government. Ambitious projects in the pipeline include the rehabilitation of Sungei Segget, the revival of the city centre, a new entry gateway near the causeway, and a mixed-use development called Vantage Bay.

Likewise, buyers are anticipating new developments to be launched in the area that will benefit from the reduced travel time created by the RTS.

“The RTS will impact my investment decisions, but only within Johor Bahru or Zone A of Iskandar Malaysia,” said William Liong, a homeowner in Iskandar Malaysia. “Nevertheless, I would still be interested in Zone B, Nusajaya, as this area is not too dependent on the RTS. In Nusajaya, the High Speed Rail project and other catalysts wdriving the demand pattern.

Although the announcement of the RTS in Bukit Chagar has been much anticipated by market observers, officials from Malaysia and Singapore are still awaiting confirmation from either side in order to move on to the next phase of the project and approve the specific train station locations.

Despite the delays, however, they remain optimistic about the overall plan, and believe the crosslink will be mutually beneficial for both Singapore and Malaysia, especially in the manufacturing sector, which normally depends on cheaper workforce from Malaysia.

“Malaysian workers may rent apartments within JB City Centre and commute daily via RTS/MRT to Woodlands,” according to Chesterton Singapore’s Han. “It could be a win-win for both JB and Woodlands each holding their own attractive grounds co- existing in unison.”

This story was first published by Property Report in its January 2015 issue.

Singapore property market outlook 2015

What does the future hold for Singapore’s property market this year? Our Singapore correspondent gazes into the crystal ball to help agents and consumers navigate their way.

View of downtown Singapore at Marina Bay,

View of downtown Singapore at Marina Bay.

By Khalil Adis

Expect a subdued property market in 2015, driven by genuine home buyers, particularly in the mass market segment in the suburban areas.

Meanwhile, the mid to high-end segments, which tend to attract many speculators, will see very little transactions due to the various cooling measures such as the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD), Sellers’ Stamp Duty and Total Debt Service Ratio (TDSR).

This is in line with the Singapore government’s promise during the 2011 general election to ensure property prices remain within reach for first time home owners and those who genuinely need a home.

2015 will be a crucial year for both developers as well as the government as each has their own vested interest – developers must sell off their units within two years upon completion while the government wants to ensure property prices remain sustainable.

As a result, those in the mid to high-end segment will be under pressure to sell off their remaining units, failing which they have to pay a levy, calculated at 8 per cent, 16 per cent and 24 per cent of the property purchase price for the first, second and third extra years respectively.

The public housing market

Often referred to as the HDB (Housing Development Board) market, the government has been rolling out new supply of 22,455 Built-To Order (BTO) flats in 2014.

Public housing was a contentious issue during the 2011 general election as there was limited supply of new BTO flats, forcing many to turn to the resale market where it is more expensive or couples to delay their marriage.

Million dollar HDB flats had become the norm, and as a result, many had expressed their discontent via the ballot box.

Since then, the HDB has been rolling out almost 20,000 new flats per year to ease pressure from the resale market.

In 2014, most of the demand from singles and first-timer families had already been met by the HDB.

As a result, lesser flats will be launched by the HDB in 2015 – a total of 16,900 new BTO flats to cater to first-time families, second timer families and for those applying to live with or near their parents.

Most of the new launches will be taking place in the suburban areas.

According to the HDB, it will offer about 3,940 flats in Bukit Batok, Geylang and Hougang for new sales launches in February 2015.

This is good news for genuine home owners as they will have more choices and do not have to buy from the resale market.

In addition, the costs will be significantly lesser, including whatever grants that they would qualify for.

Resale HDB market

The resale HDB market will continue to see a downward trend in the Resale Price Index (RPI) due to the new supply of 16,900 BTO flats coming on-stream next year.

According to the HDB, the RPI fell by 1.7 per cent from 195.7 points in the second quarter of 2014 to 192.4 points in the third quarter 2014.

This is expected to fall even further next year.

For those looking to sell your HDB flat, it will be a tough market ahead as it will be buyers’ market.

Therefore, sellers must have a realistic selling price if they want to sell off their flats within a short time frame, particularly those who urgently need cash.

I would urge those who with holding power, to wait till 2016 before you sell off your HDB flat.

For buyers, particularly those who cannot wait three years to get your new HDB flat, this is the time to start house hunting as sellers will be more realistic in their pricing.

For agents, the resale market will be rather subdued, driven by those in the suburban areas.

Agents must advice their clients to be more realistic in their asking prices when marketing their properties.

The private property market

It will be a subdued market ahead in the private property sector with most of the launches centred in the mass market segment.

Mass market projects will drive the market in 2015 as they are more affordable and driven by genuine home owners.

Buyers, this is the time to start hunting for new homes.

Agents should focus on the mass market segment.

The oversupply and existing stock in the market will add pressure to rental yields and for developer to offer more carrots to lure potential home buyers.

According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), there would be about 97,180 private housing and executive condo (EC) units in the overall pipeline supply.

Of this, 4,336 units (including ECs) will be completed in the last quarter of 2014.

Overall, 20,852 units will be completed in 2014.

Another 23,769 units (including ECs) are expected to be completed in 2015.

Developers who had launched their mid to luxury segment projects in the past will likely reduce prices so that they can get rid of their stock before the levy kicks in.

According to the URA, the stock of completed private residential units (excluding ECs) increased by 4,512 units in the third quarter of 2014.

It is also highly likely we will see more of such developers asking from an extension from the government.

Developers who had bought land banks in the mid to luxury end of the market are unlikely to launch them in 2015.

Investors looking to rent out your units, it will be a tough market ahead.

Resale market

The private property market will also continue to see a downward trend in terms if the Private Property Index (PPI), due to the various cooling measures, new supply coming on-stream, Government Land Sales (GLS) programme as well as unsold units from 2014.

Figures from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) showed that prices of private residential properties decreased by 0.7 per cent in the third quarter of 2014, following the 1.0 per cent decline in the previous quarter.

This was the fourth straight quarter of price decline.

Price decline will likely be steepest in the luxury segment with fire sales expected from investors without any holding power.

Expect fire sales on Sentosa Cove, Orchard Road, Tanglin, Novena, Marina Bay and the CBD areas.

Buyers, this is the time to snap good deals as it will be a buyers’ market sellers will be more realistic in the asking price.

Sellers, be prepared to sell at a loss.

Agents, this is also a good market to focus on.

This story was first published by iProperty.com Malaysia

SMART expo targets investors from Singapore

Singapore chosen as Asian city to kick off SMART Investment & International Property Expo 2014

The crowd at last year's SMART expo. Photo: Courtesy of SMART Expo Ltd.

The crowd at last year’s SMART expo. Photo: Courtesy of SMART Expo Ltd.

Dubbed recently as the “world’s most expensive city” by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest Worldwide Cost of Living survey, Singapore has been aptly chosen as the Asian city to kick off this year’s SMART Investment & International Property Expo 2014 on 29 to 30 March at Marina Bay Sands.

Cost of living and the various property curbs have made it increasingly challenging for investors from Singapore to purchase their next property.

Buoyed by the strength of the Singapore dollar against this backdrop, overseas properties have become popular among Singaporeans and investors based in Singapore.

SMART is Asia’s longest running international property & investment expo and its impeccable timing to hold it in Singapore will certainly interest Singaporeans’ and the region’s growing consumer appetite for purchasing overseas properties.

The expo will be led by international giants of the property industries such as SDB Properties (Malaysian property), Tarian Real Estate (Australian property) and Walton International (North American land investments), the best in luxury overseas properties will also be on display and for the investors picking.

Whether you’re looking to own a beachside villa in Phuket, a condo unit in Tokyo or investment property in London, the exhibition offers a unique showcase of world’s best residential developments.

Some of the highlights of the two-day expo will include key seminar topics from noted speakers in the real estate industry.

Among notable real estate personalities headlining the expo include Song Seng Wun, Executive Director & Regional Economist of CIMB Research Pte Ltd & Benjamin Goh, Vice President of CIMB Securities, Mohamed Ismail Gafoor, CEO of Propnex Realty Pte Ltd and Khalil Adis, Founder of Khalil Adis Consultancy Pte Ltd.

There will also be a panel discussion on “Top 5 Cities to Invest” featuring international experts giving their tips on which regions they would buy property.

The panel will be moderated by property journalist and consultant Khalil Adis.

Khalil Adis will be hosting the expo over the two days, moderating the panel discussion and closing the expo with his talk on Iskandar Malaysia.

Khalil Adis will be hosting the expo over the two days, moderating the panel discussion and closing the expo with his talk on Iskandar Malaysia.

“I am thrilled to be part of this year’s SMART Investment & International Property Expo. I look forward to meet the various speakers, moderate the panel discussion and close the expo,” said Adis.

There will also be great onsite deals available for the smart property investor which will include Downtown Melbourne condominiums from US$550,000, luxury apartments in Boracay, Philippines for under US$150,000, award-winning 5-star beach view residences in Bali for under US$800,000 and luxury condominium in Iskandar Malaysia for less than US$200,000.

Khalil Adis will be closing the expo on Sunday at 4pm where consumers can sign up for his investors’ club.

To register your attendance, click here

Tackling the great income divide

More help on the way for the low and middle-income families

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam delivering Budget 2014 earlier today. Photo: Screen grab from Singapore Budget 2014 live webcast.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam delivering Budget 2014 earlier today. Photo: Screen grab from Singapore Budget 2014 live webcast.

Expect no changes to the property cooling measures, more help for the low-to middle-income families and more steps to take care of senior citizens – that is the takeaway from today’s Budget 2014 announcement by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

The property curbs, particularly the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) introduced in July last year, have worked to reduce sales volumes and transactions.

It takes into account existing loans, making it even more difficult for property investors to obtain housing loans.

As a result, prices of private residential properties fell for the first time since the first quarter 2012.

According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the Private Property Index (PPI) decreased by 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 to reach 214.3 points.

For the whole of 2013, developers sold 14,948 units, significantly lower than the 22,197 units sold in 2012.

In the HDB market, the Resale Price Index (RPI) fell by 1.5 percent from 204.8 points in the third quarter to 201.7 points in the fourth quarter of 2013.

For the entire 2013, the RPI registered a decline of 0.6 per cent – the first annual decline since 2005.

Meanwhile, zero or low cash-over-valuations are now the norm.

Collectively, the cooling measures seem to have worked effectively to ensure property prices remain affordable for all.

A more polarised society?

Singapore has over the years, become an increasingly polarised society defined by the haves and have-nots.

In early 2000, the government introduced various immigration policies and tax incentives to attract the wealthy to make Singapore their home.

The city is currently home to Jim Rodgers and Eduardo Saverin.

The tiny city-state also has a special zone called Sentosa Cove with the tagline: “The world’s most desirable address”.

Wealthy foreigners applying to buy homes on Sentosa Cove can get fast track approval from the Singapore Land Dealings (Approval) Unit.

According to the Boston Consulting Group, the city-state boasts the highest concentration of high net worth individuals in 2012 at 16 percent.

In less than a decade, the city has become a playground for the rich.

Interestingly, during the same year, Singapore’s income inequality, also defined as the Gini coefficient, was the second highest after Hong Kong among developed economies at 0.478 points.

That, however, had eased in 2013 according to recent government data to 0.463 points.

Budget 2014 – a more caring government?

Singapore's glitzy city skyline. The city is a playground for the rich. However, it also has the second widest income gap among developed economies after Hong Kong.

Singapore’s glitzy city skyline. The city is a playground for the rich. However, it also has the second widest income gap among developed economies after Hong Kong. Photo: Shutter stock.

The measures announced by Mr Tharman earlier today seem to indicate that the government is listening to the growing voices of discontent and is prepared to do more to narrow the income gap.

In fact, it appears more help is on the way to help the less well-off.

One of the measures is a one-off GST Voucher-U-Save Special Payment this year to help low and middle-income families deal with the high cost of living in Singapore.

Those living in smaller HDB flats will also be given a helping hand in the form of housing rebates.

This means the lower income will have more cash in hand to cope with day-to-day living expenses.

Mr Tharman said around 800,000 flat dwellers are expected to benefit from the rebates.

Another reprieve the government has given is the rebates for the Service & Conservancy Charges, ranging from one to three months.

Families living in one- and two-room HDB flats will get the most help with three months worth of rebates for this year.

Meanwhile, three- and four-room households will receive two months of rebates.

There is no way to tell how poor the really poor are in Singapore as there is no clear definition on the official poverty line.

However, a recent BBC report about the poor in Singapore shows just how far some in society have been left behind despite the country’s economic success.

“In this house no one can afford to fall sick at all,” said Nurhaidah Jantan who was quoted in the report.

Mahatma Ghandi once said: “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”

Now, that is something worth pondering on the current state Singapore is in.

This article was first published by PropertyGuru Singapore.

Infographic on Singapore property outlook 2014

Khalil Adis Consultancy Infographics Singapore Property Outlook 2014

Khalil Adis Consultancy Infographics Singapore Property Outlook 2014

Here’s a bite-sized infographic on Singapore’s Property Outlook 2014 from the article I wrote for your easy digest.

Share the infographic so everyone knows the market outlook, prediction and hotspots or read more here > bit.ly/KAC2014

#askKhalil for anything related to the property market