Thursday, January 3, 2013

Potential Forestville buyers left in the dark


No word yet on when sales can start; developer 'working closely' with URA
Straits Times
Jan 03, 2013

Buyers who flocked to the showflat to book units at the controversial Forestville executive condominium (EC) are still no wiser about the fate of their applications.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has not indicated when sales can start.

It said in a statement yesterday: "When the Forestville EC project will be made available for sale will depend on many factors, including the outcome of the investigation and the developer's business plan."

Developer Hao Yuan Investment could not give an idea of the timeline. It said "there were some technical issues with regards to Forestville EC", adding that its architects are working closely with the authorities to resolve them.

The decision has left potential buyers uncertain about a range of issues, including the fate of any deposits placed, whether they will still get their desired unit and if the layout of the unit will change.

The controversy began last Friday when the EC at Woodlands was launched despite the URA telling Hao Yuan that morning that it was not allowed to sell any of the units.

On Monday, the URA said the developer had not obtained approval to sell units because it "had launched the project with some proposed changes to the development's plans which had not been approved".

The URA statement added that the developer had been told to close its showflat and stop any marketing activity.

It added that "financial and legal expressions of sale such as placement of deposits for the booking fee or issuance of options are not allowed for this project".

The URA said the developer had proposed alterations to the project that had not been approved so it is possible that floor layouts and unit sizes could be changed.

This affects the share value of each unit. The share value determines a purchaser's share in the housing project and is used to compute his contribution for the recurrent maintenance fees and charges for the common property.

Some buyers have placed cheques with agents.

Normally this would have resulted in an Option-to-Purchase (OTP) being issued, but the URA ban on sales imposed last Friday meant the developer could issue only "expressions of interest".

Industry experts said that an expression of interest is not binding and a developer is under no commitment to sell a unit to a potential buyer without an OTP.

"An OTP is essentially an irrevocable offer by the vendor to sell the property or unit to you based on the terms and conditions," said Mr Lee Liat Yeang, a partner at Rodyk & Davidson's real estate practice group.

Without this, the buyer cannot be guaranteed a unit, he noted.

Buyers can withdraw from this non-binding agreement if they do not like the design changes that might have to be made to the project in order to get URA sale approval, said Ascentsia Law Corporation's law director Kenny Khoo.


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