Monday, November 26, 2007

Want to go private? Pay up $190,000 first

Want to go private? Pay up $190,000 first

WANT to privatise?

Sure, pay us $144 million first, said the Ministry of Finance (MOF).

That’s how much it has valued the piece of land at Neptune Court, which it owns.

This means each household there will have to fork out about $191,000 to privatise their 99-year-leasehold estate before they can even think about selling it en bloc.

There are about 752 households in Neptune Court at Marine Parade and they have been leasing the land from the MOF for the past 32 years.

It looks like their proposed $1 billion enbloc dream will be scuttled for now.

As a rough comparison, residents in HUDC estate Eunosville will have to pay about $30,000 for the privatisation of their estate.

There are 330 apartments in Eunosville, located opposite Eunos MRT station.

At Neptune Court yesterday, there was an air of disbelief as groups of residents gathered to discuss the high price they have to pay.

A letter from the Neptune Court Owners’ Association was pasted on the notice boards by each lift landing, saying that the estimated cost of privatisation was about $144m.

This is probably one of the highest privatisation fees here.

The letter was put up on Wednesday.

Retiree Alex Lee shook his head while trying to calculate how much he has to fork out.

He paid about $500,000 for his 1,700 sq ft unit about 10 years ago.

Another resident, who has lived there for over 30 years, was also shocked at the amount.

This resident, who declined to be named, paid about $50,000 for his 1,600 sq ft unit.

He said: ‘I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw the amount. I don’t understand how they (MOF) arrived at this amount.


‘Who’s going to cough up this money? It’s very high. And even if the privatisation is successful, will the en bloc process be successful too?

‘I don’t think many residents here in their right mind will pay this amount. But I’m sure those en bloc die-hards will find a solution.’

The land area there is about 780,000 sq ft - about the size of 15 football fields.

All the residents we spoke to baulked at the amount MOF is asking for.

The Neptune Court Owners’ Association didn’t want to comment.

The MOF said that $144m for the common properties is a preliminary estimate provided to the residents so that they may decide whether or not to pursue privatisation.

This estimate was derived by comparing the capitalised value of the annual net rents at Neptune Court with those of a comparable private condo.

Said a MOF spokesman: ‘Should the residents decide to privatise the estate, the valuation will be updated based on the prevailing market conditions.’

In privatisation, the residents essentially pay HDB (or the MOF in this case) to take over the ownership of common property, such as carparks and landscaped areas.

Owners pay about $25,000 to $30,000 each for privatisation, which covers the cost of common property that has been transferred to owners, legal costs, survey and other processing fees.

Credo Real Estate’s managing director Karamjit Singh was surprised by the huge sum.

He said: ‘Normally, privatisation fees per household ranges from $12,000 to $30,000. This is a huge amount. It will be difficult to get residents to fork out $190,000.

‘Selling en bloc is slim but not impossible. It will be possible if the Government is willing to do a tripartite deal where it gets paid out of the sales proceeds paid by the developer.’

The estate started its en bloc efforts in May last year.

The committee hired law firm Phang & Co and property consultant Chesterton International to kickstart the privatisation and en bloc sale, according to a report in The Straits Times in May.

It offered owners a sale agreement that promised a reserve price of $1.37m or $1.67m, depending on the unit size.

Source : New Paper - 24 Nov 2007

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