Category Archives: Good Class Bungalows

Kingsmead Road GCB sold for S$29m

In what is the biggest transaction in a Good Class Bungalow Area in nearly a year, a house along Kingsmead Road where the late Raffles Institution principal Philip Liau used to reside is being sold for S$29 million.

The price works out to S$1,065 per square foot based on the freehold land area of 27,228 sq ft.

The buyer is understood to be Darwin Indigo, a nephew of Wilmar executive deputy chairman Martua Sitorus. Mr Indigo, who is in his mid-30s, is deputy country head (Indonesia) at Wilmar International. He also sits on the board of Kencana Agri Ltd, an associate company of Wilmar.

Market watchers expect Mr Indigo to redevelop the property.

On site are two buildings. The older structure is said to have four bedrooms and a hall, while the newer building is where the master bedroom, a spacious living room, dining area and kitchen are located. There is no swimming pool though interestingly, there is a well on the site.

The squarish plot has a frontage of about 50 metres along Kingsmead Road. It is next to the former residence of the late pioneer artist Chen Wen Hsi in addition to being a stone’s throw from the popular Nanyang Primary School.

Realstar Premier Group managing director William Wong estimates that it might cost around S$7-8 million to redevelop the site into a new bungalow. Depending on the specifications, the cost may be higher, say, S$10 million. “While the site is part of the Victoria Park GCB Area, Kingsmead Road is not a commonly sought after GCB locale – unlike, say, Belmont Road or Leedon Park nearby – as it comprises properties of various plot sizes, some less than 10,000 sq ft.

“That said, Kingsmead Road is an attractive location for people looking to buy a bungalow. It is a more serene, private locale compared to some of the roads in the immediate neighbourhood such as Coronation and Duchess roads. Moreover, “Kingsmead” is a nice-sounding name in an address. And it is so near Nanyang Primary.”

The S$29 million transaction is the biggest deal in a GCB Area since a S$32 million sale along Queen Astrid Park in July last year. That worked out to S$1,169 psf on land.

The Kingsmead Road property is being being sold by the estate of the late Evelyn Liau, wife of the former RI principal. Mr Liau passed away earlier, in 1993.

Q1 deals may signal market for Good Class Bungalows looking up

THE Good Class Bungalow (GCB) market may be headed for a pick-up in transaction volumes this year, if the results for the first quarter are anything to go by.

A mix of lower price expectations by owners and pent-up demand for the limited-supply, prestigious landed housing form has helped to narrow the price gap.

The result is that more deals were sealed in Q1 than in the previous quarter and in the year-ago quarter – notwithstanding the current weak economy and the stockmarket volatility at the start of the year, noted agents.

Realstar Premier Group managing director William Wong said: “With the economic slowdown, GCB sellers have been more realistic in pricing their properties, enticing buyers.”

CBRE’s analysis shows that nine properties GCB Areas were transacted for a total S$209 million in Q1. In the fourth quarter of last year, there were also nine deals, but they were worth only S$161 million; in Q1 last year, there were just four transactions that added up to S$95 million.

Douglas Wong, head of luxury homes at CBRE Realty Associates, commented: “Owners who bought GCBs several years ago have found it profitable to sell at today’s prices rather than later, in view of the uncertainties in the economic outlook.”

Realstar’s Mr Wong estimates that GCB prices posted in Q1 this year were nearly 15 per cent lower than they were in the peak in 2013. “Prices are gradually stabilising. However, a few GCBs sold below market valuation from late last year to Q1 this year would have an impact on overall GCB pricing. So there’s likely going to be a further marginal drop of 2 to 5 per cent before prices stabilise by the fourth quarter of this year.”

CBRE’s Mr Wong also predicts “a very marginal price decline” at most for the rest of this year, citing a build-up in pent-up demand as well as the strong holding power among most owners.

He said: “When owners lower their price expectations, buyers who have identified a property they fancy will start biting, in the fear that someone else may beat them to it and they’ll miss the boat to buy their dream home. It could then take them many more months to hunt for another another bungalow they like.

“When buyers jump into the market in this fashion, owners will start to hold prices.”

Another GCB veteran, Newsman Realty managing director KH Tan, argued that prices have stabilised and in some cases, started going up last month, when the stock market began to recover.

Last month, he brokered the sale of a bungalow along Swettenham Close off Holland Road at S$1,354 psf on land area – higher than the S$1,258 psf fetched last November for a bungalow along Peel Road, just 100 m away.

Mr Tan said: “And don’t forget, the Peel Road bungalow was built about four years ago, while the Swettenham Close house is around 25 years old.”

Agents say the mood among buyers has improved lately, with a pick-up in viewings.

Mr Tan said: “We’re receiving more serious offers, unlike in Q4 last year, when many potential buyers were still throwing low-ball numbers at owners.

“For the whole of this year, I’m predicting 5 per cent price growth.”

CBRE Research expects 30 to 35 GCBs to be sold this year – similar to the 33 transactions last year.

The 2015 sales tally amounted to almost S$715 million and was an improvement from 2014, when 28 deals adding up to S$626 million were sealed.

Mr Wong of Realstar predicts 20 to 30 per cent growth in the number of deals this year, though the value of transactions may increase just 20 per cent, factoring in lower GCB prices in the earlier part of this year.

Agents told The Business Times that those in the market to buy a GCB include upgraders. Mr Tan of Newsman Realty said: “Some are moving from a smaller landed house or even an apartment, to a GCB.

“I’m working with several HNWI (high-net-worth-individual) Singaporeans who’re switching from overseas property markets back to Singapore.

“They believe that following the price correction, prospects for high-end residences will be better in Singapore in the next two years vis-a-vis the UK, the US, Australia and Japan and Hong Kong, where they had previously focused on.”

Some of these buyers include those who have become Singapore citizens in the past few years. “What they are doing now is looking to reduce exposure to the ABSD (additional buyer’s stamp duty) for instance, by selling their existing properties here or transferring them to family members,” Mr Tan added.

As for the profile of sellers, Mr Wong of Realstar has lately seen a number of people looking to divest their GCB because it has become too big for their needs, as their children may be working abroad.

Mr Tan said “in the past year, there have been more estates/trustees wanting to divest GCBs because of higher property taxes and weaker rents”. Among those who bought a GCB in Q1 this year was David Teo, chairman of listed Super Group. He is paying S$24.5 million or S$1,626 psf for a freehold property along Fifth Avenue off Bukit Timah Road.

Nanshan Group’s Song family buys GCB in Holland Park

Some members of the Song family behind Nanshan Group Singapore, which has been increasing its presence in the Singapore property market, are said to have bought a brand-new Good Class Bungalow (GCB) in Holland Park sold recently by Frasers Centrepoint for S$30 million.

Talk in the market has it that the purchase was made through Sui Yongqing, wife of Song Jianbo, eldest son of China-based Nanshan Group founder Song Zuowen.

The group, which is headquartered in Longkou City, Shandong Province, has interests as diverse as aluminium and golf courses to education, wine and real estate.

Ms Sui is understood to have become a Singapore citizen a few years ago. Her husband is believed to have become a Singapore citizen very recently.

Ms Sui, a director of Nanshan Group Singapore, is said to be an authorised signatory for the group’s business in Singapore. The couple, along with three of their four children, are said to currently reside in a condo in the Newton area. Their eldest daughter is in university in the US, according to a recent article in Lianhe Zaobao.

The S$30 million price of the freehold GCB translates to about S$1,991 per square foot (psf) on land area of 15,070.54 sq ft. The two-storey property has a pool, lift, five bedrooms, family area and a helper’s room.

Adapted from: The Business Times, 25 Nov 2014

GCB market stirring from slumber

After a quiet second quarter, the Good Class Bungalow (GCB) market has been stirring this quarter, with at least five transactions so far.

The biggest of them, amounting to S$35 million, is for an old bungalow along Ridout Road near Swettenham Road. The price works out to almost S$1,040 psf based on the land area of nearly 33,700 sq ft.

The buyer is understood to be the managing director of homegrown supermarket chain Sheng Siong, Lim Hock Leng. The freehold property sits on a conservation area within the Ridout Park GCB Area.

Industry observers say that while at least part of the existing house at the front of the site will have to be conserved, there should be scope for the new owner to build an annexe on empty land behind.

Along Dalvey Road, a seasoned property investor is understood to have picked up a bungalow for S$30.8 million. This translates to about S$1,666 psf based on the nearly 18,500 sq ft of land. The property is understood to have had a major spruce-up around six years ago.

Spread over two levels and a spacious attic, the house has six ensuite bedrooms in addition to a guest room. The living room is double volume and there is also a large pool.

Along Oriole Crescent (near Linden Drive) in the Raffles Park GCB Area, a bungalow recently changed hands at S$15.7 million. This reflects around S$1,566 psf based on slightly over 10,000 sq ft of land.

The property boasts a wide frontage, and includes two annexes separated by a pool. The bungalow has seven ensuite bedrooms and is said to feature a lot of chengai wood and teakwood.

Earlier this month, BT reported two other GCB transactions this quarter – one in Gallop Park at S$25.2 million and another along Jervois Road at S$18.8 million.

The S$125.5 million worth of deals in GCB Areas so far this quarter is a marked improvement from the S$82 million transacted in Q2 this year. CBRE Research figures show that year to date, 20 transactions in GCB Areas have been sealed for nearly S$470 million.

Last year, 29 bungalows in GCB Areas were sold for a total of S$682 million.

Source: Business Times – 23 August 2014

Leng Beng’s elder son buys Jervois Rd GCB for S$18.8m

Sherman Kwek, chief investment officer of City Developments, has picked up a Good Class Bungalow for S$18.8 million. This works out to about S$1,247 per square foot on freehold land area of about 15,073 square feet.

Sitting on an elevated, triangular-shaped site near the confluence of Jervois Road and Tanglin Road, the two-storey bungalow is said to have six en suite bedrooms and a small swimming pool. The total built-up area is around 7,600 sq ft.

Mr Kwek, who is in his late 30s, is said to be buying the property from a couple. He exercised the option for the purchase last month.

Based on caveats information, this would be the fourth time the property is changing hands in the past 11 years. It was previously transacted in 2003, 2006 and 2007.

Mr Kwek is the elder son of City Developments and Singapore Hong Leong Group executive chairman Kwek Leng Beng. He is also a council member of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In another GCB deal, motoring tycoon Peter Kwee is believed to have exercised an option last month for the purchase of a house in Gallop Park for S$25.2 million, translating into S$1,574 psf on land area of about 16,010 sq ft.

Mr Kwee is understood to be buying the property as trustee for another party. Under a complex deal, the seller – who is understood to be formerly from China, have completed his university education here and to be now a Singaporean – is said to have granted an option in the fourth quarter of last year.

The two-storey Gallop Park bungalow has about 7,000 sq ft built-up area; it has six bedrooms and a swimming pool. The property is believed to have been renovated a few years ago. The latest deal would mark the fifth time the property is changing hands in the past eight years; the earlier transactions were at about S$7.5 million in March 2006, S$12.3 million in July 2007, S$13.1 million in September 2008 and S$21 million in December 2010.

Other recent GCB transactions are said to include an option granted recently for an Oriole Crescent property for around S$15.7 million. It has land area of about 10,220 sq ft and built-up area of some 7,000 sq ft.

A property at Dalvey Road is also said to be selling at S$30-plus million. It is said to have five bedrooms in addition to a granny room and a guest room. The bungalow is on nearly 18,490 sq ft of land.

GCBs are the most prestigious type of landed housing in Singapore because of the planning constraints imposed by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, which has designated 39 locations on mainland Singapore as Good Class Bungalow Areas (GCBAs).

Typically, GCBs have a minimum land area of 1,400 square metres (15,069 sq ft). However, when GCBAs were gazetted in 1980, they included some slightly smaller existing sites. Nonetheless, these are still considered GCBs as they would be bound by the other GCB planning rules if they were to be redeveloped.

For instance, such plots cannot be further sub-divided and they cannot be built more than two storeys high (plus an attic and a basement).

15 deals in GCBAs have been done in the first half of this year totalling slightly over S$344 million, an improvement from just eight deals of S$233 million in the second half of last year.

Source: Business Times – 7 August 2014

Sentosa Cove villas relaunched at a discount

Ximeng Land, controlled by mainland China parties, is relaunching the balance 12 luxury villas on Pearl Island in Sentosa Cove at $2,185 psf on land area. The price is inclusive of a 5 per cent discount to the $2,300 psf list prices for the units. A year ago, the developer’s asking price was $2,400 psf.

Absolute prices vary from about $14.3 million to $25.5 million per villa. Pearl Island is one of the five man-made islands in the upscale waterfront housing district.

Since 2010, Ximeng has sold seven of the project’s 19 villas at prices ranging from $1,904 psf to $2,228 psf on land area. The buyers comprise Singaporeans, Indonesians and mainland Chinese. The seven units sold include two adjacent units bought by members of the Liu family that controls Ximeng Land. One was purchased for $17.1 million or $1,904 psf on land and the other, for $19.5 million or $1,906 psf. The highest absolute price achieved for the seven sold units was $27 million (translating to $2,162 psf), for a bungalow on 12,486 sq ft of land – the biggest of Pearl Island’s 19 villas.

The project received Temporary Occupation Permit in the first half of 2012. The villas sit on plots ranging from 6,555 sq ft to 12,486 sq ft and with total floor areas (including roof terrace) of between 8,000 sq ft and 11,000 sq ft. Each villa comprises two storeys in addition to a roof terrace and basement. All four levels are accessible by a private home lift.

The bungalows have five to seven bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms.

The basement of each unit houses a lounge and wine cellar, and semi-open garden in addition to a concealed utility area, a maid’s room and toilet. The top floor houses an entertainment room with powder room and a roof terrace. Each villa is built with wet and dry kitchens fitted with Miele refrigerators, wine chiller, ovens and cooker hoods/hobs. Big imported marble tiles cover the floors of the living, dining and bathrooms. Stairs also have marble slabs.

Each villa has its own private berth (imported from France) and swimming pool.

Ximeng Land is owned by the majority shareholders of Ximeng Asset Holdings Co, the parent company of Beijing Ximeng Real Estate Co, a developer of luxury building projects in Beijing, Yantai and Jinan, according to a December 2007 news release issued by Sentosa Cove Pte Ltd announcing the award of Pearl Island to Ximeng Land.

A company search of Singapore-incorporated Ximeng Land (S) Pte Ltd listed its shareholders as Liu Yangang, Liu Yanguo and Liu Yanqiang, all Chinese citizens based in Beijing.

Ximeng Land was awarded the 99-year leasehold site in late 2007 for $215.65 million, or $1,350 psf on its land area of 159,740 sq ft.

Sentosa Cove is the only place in Singapore where foreigners who are not Singapore permanent residents (PRs) may buy a landed home, though this is subject to LDAU’s nod. A foreigner, whether a PR or not, is allowed to buy only one landed residential property on Sentosa Cove, which must be for owner occupation and cannot be rented out. The one landed property limit is on a per-family basis, including economically dependent children. Thus, if a non-Singaporean couple already owns a landed home in Sentosa Cove, their non-Singaporean children who are still studying and not economically independent would not qualify to buy another landed property in Sentosa Cove. The same treatment applies to grandchildren. However, grown-up children/grandchildren who are economically independent from their parents/grandparents may apply to buy their own landed home on Sentosa Cove.

The Sentosa Cove bungalow market is experiencing a dry patch. there has been just one caveat lodged Tfor a bungalow on Sentosa Cove so far this year. BT understands that the deal may not have gone through.

Last year, there were 18 bungalow transactions totalling $367 million. The average price works out to $20.16 million per transacted bungalow and $2,096 psf on land area. In 2012, 23 properties were transacted at a total of $461 million – with an average price of $20.5 million per transacted bungalow and $2,164 psf.

Source: Business Times – 24 May 2014

Good Class Bungalow market starting to recover

Activity in the Good Class Bungalow market is starting to pick up with a few deals done recently.

Along Margoliouth Road off Stevens Road, a two-storey, old bungalow has changed hands for $30.8 million. This works out to $1,696 per square foot on its land area of 18,161 sq ft.

Located at a cul de sac, the freehold property has a swimming pool, five bedrooms and a maid’s room. It is likely to be redeveloped.

The property is being sold by a retiree couple. The buyer is understood to be Imelda Tanoto. The Singapore citizen owns an adjoining bungalow while her parents are said to own another bungalow nearby.

Ms Tanoto is the eldest daughter of Singapore-based Indonesian tycoon Sukanto Tanoto of the Royal Golden Eagle International group, a holding company with businesses in a range of industries including paper, palm oil, construction and energy. It owns Singapore-headquartered Asia Pacific Resources International Limited, one of the world’s biggest producers of fibre, pulp and fine paper.

Over at Bin Tong Park, philanthropist Saw Swee Hock is said to have sold a two-storey bungalow for $31.5 million or $1,551 psf on land area of 20,315 sq ft. The buyer is believed to be Singaporean tycoon Goh Cheng Liang of Nippon Paint fame.

The property is said to be one of three adjacent bungalows held by Professor Saw as investment properties.

The demographer and statistician’s philanthropic acts include a $30-million donation in 2011 to the National University of Singapore for establishing the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.

The market is also abuzz with talk of a deal in the early stages for a two-storey bungalow in the Cluny area. Its pricing of about $30 million reflects slightly under $2,000 psf on land area. Standing on the site is a five to six-year old bungalow. Like the Margoliouth and Bin Tong Park properties, the Cluny bungalow is freehold.

Including this property, there would be at least six transactions in GCB Areas since the start of the year, totalling about $170 million. That is a quarter of the $687.8 million of deals in GCB Areas sealed last year, which also showed 29 transactions for 2013.

Last year’s showing was a sharp slowdown from the 54 transactions totalling $1.17 billion in 2012 – blamed on the January 2013 property cooling measures which raised additional buyer’s stamp duty on purchases of residential properties, including those by Singaporean investors. Loan-to value limits were also lowered and minimum cash downpayments increased for those applying for their second or subsequent home mortgages.

A bigger blow came in late June, when the total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) framework was announced, along with the shutting of a loophole that some property investors had been using to avoid paying higher ABSD rates and to circumvent the tighter LTV limits.

GCB transaction data for 2013, only seven properties changed hands after the TDSR rollout, compared with 22 before that.

Source: Business Times – 20 February 2014

Kingsford owner is $33m bungalow buyer

The owner of Kingsford Development, a Shenyang-based developer that has been making news in Singapore at state land tenders, has bought a plum bungalow on Sentosa Cove for $33 million. The building sits on 18,794 square feet of land, one of the largest for a bungalow plot in the upscale waterfront housing district.

Cui Zhengfeng was a Singapore permanent resident but became a Singapore citizen recently, BT understands. The 99-year leasehold bungalow he bought, along Cove Drive, is two storeys high with a basement and a rooftop pool, which has views of the Southern Islands.

At $33 million, this is the biggest transaction in absolute price terms since the $39 million for a seafronting property, also on Cove Drive, that Susan Lim and her husband Deepak Sharma sold in the first quarter of 2012.

Mr Cui’s bungalow does not front the sea. Nevertheless, it enjoys seaviews as the house in front of it is a single-level property. The price he paid works out to $1,756 per square foot on land area.

There was another transaction late last year on Cove Drive at $16.18 million, or $2,074 psf, on land area of 7,804 sq ft. The two-storey property comes with a basement and attic; it has five bedrooms and a ground-level pool. It was sold in brand-new condition by its Singaporean owner, who built the bungalow about a year earlier.

For the whole of last year, 18 caveats were lodged for Sentosa Cove bungalow purchases, totalling nearly $367 million. Though this was lower than the 23 deals at $461 million in 2012, what was noteworthy about the pace of deals last year was a big push in the last few months. BT’s previous update published on Oct 4, 2013, listed 11 caveats in January-September totalling $224 million.

The seven additional caveats that have surfaced since takes the tally for the second-half 2013 to 10, slightly ahead of the eight transactions in the first six months.

Because such buyers are looking for a bungalow on Sentosa Cove to live in, they are more receptive towards accepting ABSD as part of the cost of purchasing a property in Singapore.

However, a foreigner who is not based here but shopping around the world for investment properties would be more reluctant to foot the 15 per cent ABSD, especially for a big-ticket purchase such as a Sentosa Cove bungalow, say market watchers.

Another transaction involving a Singapore PR buyer brokered by Newsman earlier last year was a bungalow on Paradise Island which sold for $15.5 million, or $1,898 psf, on land area. The property is spread across two storeys and an attic and has six bedrooms. It was bought by a European said to be involved in the financial industry with his office in Singapore.

Last year, their prices hovered around $2,000-2,100 psf – against the $2,200-2,300 psf range in 2012. Back in the 2010 heyday, it used to be $2,500-2,600 psf.

Market watchers suggest a couple of factors behind the rising PR share. One, the government no longer allows them to buy landed homes in Good Class Bungalow Areas on the mainland. Before this rule change, which is thought to have taken place sometime in second-half 2012, PRs could buy a landed home in a GCB Area with up to 15,000 sq ft land area.

Agents also recount anecdotal evidence of foreigners becoming PRs before buying a landed home on Sentosa Cove to qualify for a lower ABSD rate, though criteria for obtaining PR status have been tightened in recent years.

Source: Business Times – 18 January 2014