Singapore Rolls Out Biggest Industrial Land Sale Plan in a Decade, Despite Dim Demand

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The tender for this Kallang Way site will open in June (Image: Google)

Singapore is set to auction off 29 percent more industrial land in the first half of 2024 in its biggest offering of shed sites in a decade, although experts anticipate tepid bidding amid a slowing market.

In releasing its sale programme for industrial land for January through June, Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) on Wednesday said it will make available to developers five sites with a combined land area of 8.3 hectares (34 acres), with that amount representing nearly a third more land than the 6.43 hectares which the ministry made available through the five sites that were auctioned off in the second half of 2023.

With Singapore industrial vacancy already rising to 11 percent and rental growth slowing to 2 percent in the third quarter, according to Colliers, the property agency expects bidding for the sites to remain subdued on the back of a sluggish economy.

“This is to ensure that there is an adequate supply of land available to industrialists, especially for those looking to build their own facilities,” Catherine He, a Colliers director who heads the company’s research team in Singapore, said of the MTI plan on Friday. “However, with the increase in industrial supply available in the market and the weaker economy, bidding for these sites may be more muted than before.”

Biggest Pipeline in 10 years
Part of a biannual series of releases, Singapore’s land sale programme for the first half of 2024 is largest by area of any six-month plan released by MTI since the second half of 2014, when the government made available a combined 9.5 hectares of industrial land, based on data from Huttons Asia.

Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong

Colliers’ He noted that average plot size in the upcoming land sale programme has increased by 29 percent to 1.66 hectares, compared to 1.29 hectares in the preceding six months.

Alan Cheong, an executive director heading the research and consultancy team at Savills, believes companies will place offers depending on their needs but expects participation in the upcoming tenders will be influenced by weakness in the city-state’s domestic manufacturing sector.

“Bidders will commit to a decision based on their domain knowledge of how their respective industries will be fairing in (the) future,” Cheong said. “With more sites on the confirmed list, it gives the market a lifeline for if there is an unexpected pick up in manufacturing activity, it can be absorbed by this slack.”

The largest of the five sites in the upcoming programme is a 4.45 hectare plot on Kallang Way in Macpherson district, which will be made available in June with a 32-year tenure.

In the island’s western region, two neighbouring plots along Penjuru Lane and on Penjuru Road will be auctioned off in April and May, respectively, while the 0.9 hectare Plot 8 Jalan Papan near Jurong district, is set to hit the market next month. A 0.5 hectare site at Tampines North Drive 5 in the island’s easternmost region will be rolled out to potential buyers in February.

In addition to the main programme, the trade ministry in the same announcement revealed a reserve list of five additional sites spanning 5.46 hectares, which may be tendered if potential buyers express adequate demand for the additional space..

Supply Outstrips Demand
In its statement on Wednesday, MTI underlined that it will continue to offer more sites to ensure an adequate supply of industrial space in the Lion City.

In addition to the boost in supply in the coming months, Singapore’s government is also planning to add more industrial space in the longer term, with media reports earlier this week revealing a scheme to reclaim as much as 172 hectares of industrial land near the new port in Tuas district by 2029

Industrial rents across Singapore have been rising for three straight years, although quarterly growth in leasing rates softened to 2 percent in the third quarter from 2.1 percent in the preceding three months, according to a Colliers report.

With roughly one million square metres (10.7 million square feet) of newly built industrial space entering the market from 2024 through 2026 – 43 percent more than the 700,000 square metres leased on average each of the past three years – the agency sees vacancy, which is likely to  average 11.5 percent for 2023, rising further from the market’s 10.6 percent average from 2018 through 2022.


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