Sunday 22 September 2013

Midtown Residences Review (Hougang Central)

DEVELOPER: Oxley-Lian Beng Pte Ltd

LOCATION: 1189 Upper Serangoon Road, 3 min walk to Hougang MRT

LAND SIZE: 57,047 sqft
Basement 2- Residential Car park
Basement 1- Commercial car park & Supermarket
Level 1-Duplex Restaurant & Retail Shops
Level 2-Duplex Restaurant & Retail Shops
Level 3-Facilities Deck & Residential SOHO Units
Level 4-9-Residential SOHO Units
Level 10-11-Duplex Penthouses
CAR PARK: 162 Residential lots; 87 commercial lots
ESTIMATED TOP DATE:31st December 2018

TOTAL NO. OF UNITS: 160 Residential SOHO units (3.3m high ceiling)
  • 1+Study (452sf)
  • 2-bedroom (646-667sf)
  • 3-bedroom (710-743sf)
  • 2-bedroom Duplex Penthouse (840sf)
  • 3-bedroom Duplex Penthouse (1292sf)
  • 3-bedroom Triplex Penthouse with Roof Terrace(1570sf)
    107 Shops (Including Duplex Restaurant, Supermarket and F&B Shop) 
  • Duplex Restaurant (from 700sf, 55 units)
  • Retail shops (322-344sf, 51 units)
  • Supermarket (3300sf, 1 unit)


The joy of everyday living comes alive at Midtown Residences! Hougang MRT and bus interchange is a mere 3 minutes walk away. In addition, all amenities are already built up in the mature estate of Hougang Central. So one does not need further elaboration on the excellent location for this development. There are also 2 level of shops planned for this mixed development. Residents thus can enjoy much convenience with shopping downstairs whenever they get bored at home.
Units Layout
Good rectangular design which is efficient space planning. However, the unit sizes are extremely small. For example, 3 bedrooms here are only 67sqm. My sense is that the units available are more suited for rental investment rather than for family living. Good thing is that the units comes with a 3.3M high ceiling hence the volume is increased which makes living in this development bearable by increasing the space available. Mezzanine floor can be built for the bedrooms to make use of the high ceiling. Bedroom on the Mezzanine and study below design is an option to make good use of space.
Interesting Points to highlight
(1) The parking for residents is at basement 2 whereas basement 1 is for shops owners and shoppers. Problem is each unit is entitled to only 1 lot. There may be parking issues for relatives and friends. It will be kind of embarrassing to ask them to park at the HDB multi storey carpark and then walk over to Midtown. But I guess if most of the units are for rental, then the tenants will be relying more on the MRT for transport hence freeing up enough lots for visiting relatives and friends.
(2) Facilities are fairly decent such as a 20m lap pool. There is also a multi purpose court where one can play basketball.
(3) Prices after discount is still at over 1450psf.This is shocking high. However, quantum remains affordable with the small unit sizes. Less than 1 Million dollars for a 3 bedder.
Final thoughts:
There are actually still lots of potential for further capital appreciation. The huge plot of land near Hougang MRT remains undeveloped. It is being reserved for a Mega shopping mall and residential project.


Saturday 21 September 2013

Soilbuild REIT- A Race to the Bottom

The Soilbuild REIT IPO debuts at $0.78 per share on 16 August 2013. It is 5.4 times oversubscribed and raised a total of S$929 mil. I was initially very excited as I was alloted 3 lots for the IPO. Unfortunately, it tanked immediately on the first day of its debut and shed 6% by closing. It became a race to the door for many investors. This was a sharp contrast to the recent SPH REIT IPO where price went up almost 10% on the first day of trading. 

Over the next few days, I accumulated over another 14 lots which help brings down the investment to an average price of $S0.735. I thought I got a good bargain with the discount to net asset placed out and a higher annual dividend yield at 8% but fate does make sports of man.....the market fear the tapering off of easy money by the Feds and at one point, Soilbuild REIT dropped to just a mere 70 cents per share. It remained in the doldrum for many weeks despite the efforts by the stabilizing manager.

Lessons learnt:
  1. Ensure presence of strong sponsor for future REIT IPO. SPH backed REIT is a good example. For soilbuild REIT, its sponsor disappear after getting it listed. 
  2. Stay away from such IPO that is without cornerstone investors who have strong holding power.
  3. It is a myth to think that Industrial REITs are super defensive in nature. This is not true. Healthcare REITs and Retail REITs are actually more defensive in nature. 
Another interesting point about Soilbuild is that its founder Lim Chap Huat actually make many millions listing then delisting and then repackaged his assets for listing. Mr Lim has subsequently went into the market mopping up millions of shares at around S$0.73 per unit. I guess he is the ultimate winner. 

Anyway, I took advantage of the market rally yesterday and say "Bye Bye" to my entire stakes in Soilbuild REIT. Will most probably redeployed the capital to other more defensive REITS. I wish Mr Lim and his Soilbuild empire all the very best.