IT'S only January and a second 99-year leasehold private housing site has been triggered from the government's reserve list for the first half of this year - a plot next to Bartley MRT Station which can be developed into a new condo project with about 620 units.
This follows the successful application for the site's release by an unnamed developer that has agreed to bid at least $191.78 million or about $288 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) for the site.
Earlier this month, the government announced that a reserve list plot near Bishan MRT Station was triggered for release with the successful applicant committing to pay at least $189.8 million or $300 psf ppr.
Analysts note that while the government has ample sites on the confirmed list - where sites are released according to a prestated schedule regardless of demand - for the current half, most of them are far from the city in locations like Choa Chu Kang, Tampines, Upper Changi, Sembawang and Punggol.
So they were probably drawn to the Bishan and Bartley plots which are closer to the city and near MRT stations. 'The Bartley plot is just one MRT stop away from Nex mall,' observed Knight Frank's head of consultancy and research Png Poh Soon.
While the successful applicants for the Bishan and Bartley reserve list plots would have submitted their applications before last week's property cooling measures were announced, some analysts say they would not be too surprised if developers continue to trigger a few more sites from the reserve list. 'It could be an opportunity to replenish their landbanks with new sites bought at less aggressive prices compared with before the latest cooling measures,' suggests Credo Real Estate executive director Ong Teck Hui.
Market watchers pointed to at least two remaining sites in the reserve list - two adjoining plots at Stirling Road near Queenstown MRT Station which can be developed into condominiums - that could be on developers' trigger watchlist.
Projects on sites in or closer to the city are more likely to enjoy investment demand from buyers thinking of leasing out the units. And usually developers can carve out smaller units from such projects and thus achieve higher psf prices.
Urban Redevelopment Authority also launched yesterday a confirmed list plot facing Bedok Reservoir that can be be developed into a five-storey project with about 640 units. Allowable developments include condominium/flats and serviced apartments.
Knight Frank's Mr Png expects top bids for the plot to be in the $450-500 psf ppr range and selling prices to be about $1,000 to $1,050 psf given the site's choice location near the future Bedok Town Park MRT Station under the Downtown Line.
Credo's Mr Ong has a lower land price expectation of about $280-320 psf ppr, with the top end of that range reflecting a breakeven cost of about $700 psf - to factor in a safety margin in case of price softening following the recent cooling measures.
BT understands that nearby, Frasers Centrepoint and Far East Organization are currently selling units at Waterfront Key and Waterfront Gold at average prices just shy of $1,000 psf.
On the other side of the reservoir, Sim Lian has been selling units at its Waterview condo at about $838 psf on average. It is developing the condo on a 99-year leasehold plot bought last year for $421 psf ppr.
As for the Bartley plot, Mr Ong predicts top bids could be in the $320-360 psf ppr range - with the upper end of the range translating to a breakeven cost of about $750 psf, again to leave a 'safety margin' for potential price declines.
He estimates a new condo project on the site could today sell for an average price of about $900 psf.
'Bidders would be cautious and factor in some cushion in case of a softening in private home prices. This will result in land bids being lower than those before the cooling measures were introduced,' said Mr Ong.