Victoria Park Bungalow sold for S$40M

The Victoria Park Bungalow, in the prestigious GCB area, was built about 20 years agi and sits on a 999-year leasehold land of size 29,955 sqft. This translate to S$1335 psf based on land area. The 2-storey house with a basement is sitting on a regular-shaped elevated plot and said to have 5 bedrooms with a swimming pool and large koi pond.

Prime Sentosa Cove Bungalow sold for just $1108 psf

IN the same week that a bungalow on Sentosa Cove was sold at a near-record price, another sale has been concluded in the waterfront housing district at what some may consider a bargain basement price for an ultra-prime locale.

BT has learnt that a seafronting bungalow along Cove Drive with views of the Southern Islands has been sold for just S$1,108 per square foot on land area.

This comes barely a week after news of a bungalow along Ocean Drive being transacted at a near-record price of S$2,923 psf.

The price for the Cove Drive property has baffled property market watchers, given its posh location in the southern precinct.

Market observers note that the house appears to have been vacant since it was built about five years ago. The absolute price is S$9 million and the property is on 8,126 square feet of land with 99-year leasehold tenure starting Jan 30, 2007.

It spans two storeys and a basement. There is a pool on the ground level facing the Southern Islands. “The house appears to be properly finished but it’s just that the lighting and other fittings, furnishings are missing,” said a source. “Assuming one were to spend a further S$2 million fitting it out, the total cost of S$11 million would work out to S$1,354 psf – which still seems low.”

This could be a one-off transaction, just as the Ocean Drive deal could also be seen as a one-off and not reflective of a broad-based recovery of bungalow prices on Sentosa Cove to peak levels, he added.

The Ocean Drive bungalow, which changed hands for S$28 million, is on 9,580 sq ft of land with 99-year-leasehold tenure starting June 2005. The seller is said to have invested a few million dollars fitting out the interior.

That property fronts the sea but also has views of the container terminals and Singapore’s Central Business District. It is located in the northern precinct of Sentosa Cove, which was the first phase of the development of the waterfront residential district.

The Cove Drive bungalow is located in the southern precinct, where residential land parcels were sold later. The bungalow location, with its Southern Islands facing, is considered superior to the one along Ocean Drive and is in a quieter area.

Eden Hall land for sale

The British government has put more of the Eden Hall land around its High Commissioner’s residence in Nassim Road up for sale, after selling off a portion in 2001.

It has carved out two freehold land plots from the garden land for buyers with deep pockets interested in securing some of the plummiest land in Singapore.

The indicative price for Plot A, which is about 18,620 sq ft and comes with about 36m of Nassim Road frontage, is $40.964 million, or $2,200 per sq ft (psf).

The guide price for Plot B, which is about 15,634 sq ft and has a frontage of about 8m in Nassim Road, is $31.268 million or $2,000 psf.

“Based on recent market feedback, CBRE is very confident that these prices will be exceeded,” the marketing agent said.


Nassim’s tree-lined boulevards… on ample ground offer owners total privacy, right in the heart of town… Eden Hall is steeped in history and the sale of the two plots represents a landmark sale in the GCB market.

MS SAMMI LIM, associate director of investment properties at CBRE, on its confidence that land price will be exceeded

Eden Hall itself, a conservation bungalow, remains the official residence of Britain’s High Commissioner here.

CBRE noted that land for Good Class Bungalows (GCBs) in the Nassim Road area is tightly held and rarely available for sale.

“Nassim’s tree-lined boulevards… on ample ground offer owners total privacy, right in the heart of town… Eden Hall is steeped in history and the sale of the two plots represents a landmark sale in the GCB market,” said Ms Sammi Lim, associate director of investment properties at CBRE.

The properties are being offered on a vacant site basis.

The British government had, in 2001, sold off a portion of the site, which was originally more than 200,000 sq ft.

Motoring tycoon Peter Kwee and “Popiah King” Sam Goi bought the roughly 109,000 sq ft parcel in April 2001 for $50.4 million. Mr Kwee took the larger part of about 63,300 sq ft.

He then sold 39,383 sq ft to Ms Oei Siu Hoa, a member of Indonesia’s Widjaja family and sister of businessman Oei Hong Leong, for $25.5 million in 2003. It is now 28M Nassim Road.

Mr Kwee sold the other part, a 23,922 sq ft plot, to former Sincere Watch chairman Tay Liam Wee for $47.84 million in 2012.

Mr Tay is expected to build a bungalow on the site, according to reports.

Mr Goi continues to own 28G Nassim Road, a 45,754 sq ft site.

After the two plots are sold, the Eden Hall site will still be sized at about 63,893 sq ft.

CBRE noted that over the last eight years, Nassim Road has had just three GCB sales.

Most recently, in April 2013, a company controlled by Wing Tai chairman Cheng Wai Keung and his wife put up a GCB at 33 Nassim Road for sale.

The 84,839 sq ft site, which has a price tag of about $250 million to $300 million, is not yet sold.

GCB deals down in Q3

NINE bungalows in Good Class Bungalow (GCB) areas were transacted at a total of nearly S$177 million in the third quarter, down from 11 deals worth S$282 million in the second.

The Q3 showing was, however, ahead of the seven deals that closed for a total S$167 million in the third quarter of last year.

In the first nine months of this year, the GCB sale tally was 24 deals totalling S$554 million, slightly ahead of the 22 transactions worth S$511 million in the corresponding year-ago period.

Among the deals entered into in Q3 2015 was that for a freehold bungalow in Tanglin Hill that went for S$25 million; the price works out to S$1,539 per square foot (psf) on 16,243 sq ft of land area.

Mapletree Investments chief executive officer Hiew Yoon Khong, the winner of the Outstanding CEO of the Year award at this year’s Singapore Business Awards, is buying the property from a low-profile property development company, a caveats search showed.

The property was previously transacted for S$10 million in 2006.

Singapore Christie’s International Real Estate managing director Samuel Eyo described the recent S$1,539 psf price for the property as “very reasonable” for the location, taking into account that the new owner is likely to rebuild the house.

“Assuming it will cost about S$500 psf on gross floor area of about 10,000 sq ft to build a new home, the break-even cost will amount to close to S$2,000 psf on land area,” said Mr Eyo.

Tanglin Hill is a popular GCB location because of its proximity to Orchard Road, he noted.

Data from URA Realis shows that there has been a general pick up in landed property deals.

DTZ’s analysis of URA Realis data shows that 326 landed homes changed hands in Q3 2015, up from 304 in Q2, and 246 transactions in Q3 2014.

In the first nine months of this year, the value of landed residential properties sold reached S$3.54 billion, up from S$3.07 billion in the same period last year. However, the latest figure is still shy of the S$5 billion transacted in the first nine months of 2013.

Lee Nai Jia, regional head for South-east Asia at DTZ, said:

“Demand for landed homes has increased as buyers find the current prices attractive enough. Most of the buyers are purchasing for owner occupation for their children or for multi-generational family living. Additionally, the limited stock for landed properties makes them an appealing asset to investors for capital appreciation.”

Besides owner occupiers and investors, developers have also been on the prowl for old houses to redevelop.

Last month, Roxy-Pacific inked a deal to buy an old bungalow sitting on 19,474 sq ft freehold site along Sea Avenue near Marine Parade. Roxy’s executive chairman Teo Hong Lim said the group plans to redevelop the site into a five-storey apartment project with about 25 units; the site is zoned for residential use with a 1.4 plot ratio (ratio of maximum gross floor area to land area) under the 2014 Master Plan.

The purchase price works out to S$789 per square foot per plot ratio.

“It is hard to find landed housing sites for redevelopment these days, partly because the government has increased the minimum plot size for apartment development to 1,000 sq metres (10,764 sq ft). Moreover, most of the big bungalows which can be redeveloped into apartments under the Master Plan have already been redeveloped.”

Expectations of owners are are also still ahead of the market, Mr Teo added.

For instance, in the Telok Kurau area, owners would be looking at about S$1,000 psf on land area, or S$700-plus psf ppr, which would translate to a breakeven of more than S$1,000 psf, he said.

Earlier this month, boutique property group Pinnacle Assets picked up an old freehold bungalow at 3, East Coast Avenue for S$46.38 million, or S$1,025 psf on the 45,249 sq ft land area.

The site is zoned for three-storey mixed landed housing and large enough for potential redevelopment into 14 to 18 conventional landed housing units, comprising a mix of terrace and semi-detached houses.

Ian Loh, executive director of investment and capital markets at Knight Frank who brokered the transaction said: “While such big plots for landed housing development are relatively rare, one can still find pockets of smaller plots with an old house on it that can be redeveloped into two to three new homes.”

Queen Astrid GCB site up for sale at S$49-51m

A FREEHOLD Good Class Bungalow (GCB) redevelopment site in Queen Astrid Park is put up for estate sale by tender, with an indicative price of S$49-51 million.

This works out to S$1,399 to S$1,456 per square foot (psf).

Located off Holland Road, at the junction of Queen Astrid Park and Coronation Road West, the 35,011 sq ft site is currently occupied by a single-storey detached house.

Colliers International deputy managing director Grace Ng noted that the indicative price is “inviting” when compared to the peak median price of S$1,749 per sq ft recorded in the second quarter of 2014.

In the second quarter of this year, the median price for detached houses with land area of 15,000 sq ft (1,400 sq m) and above in District 9, 10 and 11 is S$1,410 per sq ft.

GCBs are highly coveted here due to its scarcity, with only some 2,500 islandwide.

Ms Ng said that the GCB site at 2 Queen Astrid Park, which is nestled in an exclusive neighbourhood zoned for GCBs, would not have been available for sale had it not been an estate sale.

The draw of the GCB site at 2 Queen Astrid Park lies in its exclusivity as it is on elevated grounds in tranquil surroundings with lush greenery, and yet with easy accessibility to Holland Village and Orchard Road.

“Furthermore, there is the potential for sub-division into two smaller plots, which is a rare attribute and would appeal to developers,” Ms Ng said.

The GCB site enjoys wide double road frontages onto Queen Astrid Park and Coronation Road West, with good accessibility via the Ayer Rajah Expressway and Pan Island Expressway, as well as Holland Village and Buona Vista MRT stations. The tender for the site closes on Nov 12.

The second quarter of this year saw a surge in the number and value of transactions in GCB areas – to at least 11 deals totalling S$282.3 million, up from just four deals adding up to S$95.3 million in the first quarter.

In recent transactions involving GCBs, a 31,125 sq ft site at 45 Belmont Road was sold in June for S$1,420 per sq ft while a detached house sitting on a 21,426 sq ft site at 26 Bin Tong Park was also sold in the same month for S$1,400 per sq ft.

In July, a Queen Astrid Park GCB was sold for S$32 million or about $1,169 psf on a 27,373 sq ft freehold plot. This plot cannot be subdivided. The buyer was Liu and Lee Investment, a company led by the low-key property investor Liu Shek Yuen.

Elsewhere, prime Good Class Bungalow land along Nassim Road could come on the market in the next several months as the British High Commission mulls over the potential sale of unused land at the Eden Hall site.

Lien’s grandson pays $21m for Good Class Bungalow

A grandson of the late banker and philanthropist, Mr Lien Ying Chow, has bought a Good Class Bungalow (GCB) in Chee Hoon Avenue after taking part in a tender.

Mr Michael Lien and his wife paid $21.39 million or about $1,197 per sq ft (psf) for the 17,868 sq ft freehold plot, according to caveats lodged.

Mr Lien is executive chairman of Wah Hin & Co, founder of Leap Philanthropy and a board director of Temasek Holdings.

The freehold bungalow, in a cul-de-sac off Adam Road, was put up for sale by CBRE at an indicative value of $25 million.

The detached house, built in the 1960s and renovated in 2005, is partly two-storey and partly one.

The property’s built-up area is about 3,300 sq ft, excluding the car porch and rear terrace, with two bedrooms and a study room. It was believed to be a trustee’s sale.

In another deal late last month, a Queen Astrid Park GCB was sold for $32 million or about $1,169 psf – on a 27,373 sq ft freehold plot.

The buyer was Liu and Lee Investment, a company led by the low-key property investor Liu Shek Yuen.

The Hong Kong-born Dr Liu is said to have global investing experience and had, in 2001, led the purchase of a 201,782 sq ft freehold Jervois Road GCB site from HSBC.

Singapore Christie’s Homes managing director Samuel Eyo said buyers, especially end users, have been returning to the GCB market. Some are newly minted Singapore citizens, he said. “Deals have been done recently and I expect more to come.”

More GCBs sold recently

A COUPLE of large Good Class Bungalow transactions have been inked recently.

Seasoned property investor Thomas Chan is said to be selling a bungalow at Belmont Road for more than $44 million. The price translates to $1,413 per square foot on the land area of about 31,125 square feet.

On the freehold elevated site is a 15-year-old bungalow with about 9,000 sq ft of built-up area. The property is said to have five bedrooms and a pool.

Market watchers point out, however, that the site is large enough to be subdivided into two plots of at least 1,400 square metres (15,069.46 sq ft) each. This is the minimum land area stipulated by the Urban Redevelopment Authority for Good Class Bungalows (GCBs) – the most prestigious type of landed housing in Singapore.

Mr Chan is understood to have paid $30.5 million for the Belmont Road bungalow in July 2009.

Based on market talk, Newsman Realty was the sole marketing agent in the latest sale of the property.

Interest in big-ticket GCBs seems to be on the rise. Last month, 35 Ridout Road was transacted at nearly $91.69 million. On an absolute quantum price basis, this is believed to be the biggest transaction in a Good Class Bungalow Area.

The price is slightly higher than the previous record of $87.5 million, set in 2001, involving a 291,000 sq ft parcel in Swettenham Road in an asset swop deal between Singapore Press Holdings and Lum Chang.

The price for 35 Ridout Road works out to $1,251 psf based on the 73,277 sq ft land area.

Caveat information lists the buyer as Soon Hock Property Development, which is known for developing strata industrial properties. The company’s sole shareholder is Tan Yeow Khoon, who is chairman of listed Cogent Holdings.

Mr Tan is said to have acquired the freehold Ridout Road site with the intention of building a house for his family; they currently live in Sentosa Cove.

That said, industry observers reckon that it would not be surprising if the family were to carve out part of the Ridout Road site for sale – beyond what they require to build their own house.

On the site are an original two-storey bungalow with two single-storey outhouses and a large open green field on an elevated level.

The trustee sale came on the market in March due to a court order arising from the resolution of a dispute in the family of the late property tycoon Chow Cho Poon.

Among the properties he developed was the former Chow House along Robinson Road, which in 2010 was sold as part of a group of nine properties for a total of more than $175 million.

More landed homes sold amidst price drops

MORE landed homes are being sold now that prices have fallen significantly from their 2013 peak.

From the start of this year to April 30, 316 landed homes changed hands, a 15.3 per cent jump year on year, going by caveats lodged.

Experts said prices have come down to attractive levels and are unlikely to fall much further.

Prices of landed properties were down 7.2 per cent in the first quarter, from their peak in the third quarter of 2013.

“Supply of landed properties in prime areas is limited, and buyers may be trying to get some good deals as developers may have to sell to avoid Qualifying Certificate penalties,” said Mr Samuel Eyo, managing director of Singapore Christie’s Homes.

Another factor driving sales is that developers and buyers are anticipating the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) for second-time buyers will be tweaked – at the latest, by the end of the year – said Realstar Premier Group managing director William Wong.

Many developers are buying sites for redevelopment – typically old bungalows to be torn down and rebuilt – with the expectation that demand will have returned once the houses are ready.

These include sites at Robin Road, Hillcrest Road and Oriole Crescent.

Sales by Realstar, which specialises in bungalows, have nearly returned to levels last seen two to three years ago, when Realstar was doing about 20 deals a month. This number fell by over 50 per cent during the last two years.

Mr Wong said: “This year should be a good year for the landed housing market.”

More viewings and negotiations are occurring in the Good Class Bungalow market as well, said Mr Douglas Wong, CBRE head of luxury homes.

This includes interest from newly-minted citizens.

A furnished bungalow in Bishopsgate sold at a record $2,190 per sq ft last month, or $33 million, to a China-born Singapore citizen.


Bishopgate GCB sets record psf

At least a couple of eye-popping deals have taken place in the Good Class Bungalow (GCB) market of late.

First, a record price of S$2,190 per square foot of land area has been set, from the sale of a luxuriously built and furnished bungalow in Bishopsgate.

The absolute price is S$33 million for the two-storey freehold property, which has a basement and is on land of over 15,000 sq ft. The bungalow is three years old.

Second, word in the market is that the over 73,000 sq ft freehold GCB site at 35 Ridout Road that was put on the market in March has been sold.

The price is believed to have crossed S$90 million. Details of the transaction are scant

The trustee sale came on the market in March due to a court order arising from the resolution of a dispute in the family of the late property tycoon Chow Cho Poon.

At S$90 million, the price works out to S$1,228 psf on land. The property – which is located within the cul-de-sac of Ridout Road, Swettenham Road and Peel Road – is nestled in a tranquil environment among lush greenery.

On site are an original two-storey bungalow with two single-storey outhouses and a large open green field on an elevated level.

The sprawling land is large enough to be potentially subdivided into four smaller plots of at least 1,400 sq m (over 15,000 sq ft). This is the minimum land area stipulated by the Urban Redevelopment Authority for GCBs – the most prestigious type of landed housing in Singapore.

Another of the planning constraints imposed by URA for GCBs is that they cannot be built more than two storeys high (plus an attic and a basement).

URA has designated 39 locations on mainland Singapore as Good Class Bungalow Areas.

Over at Bishopsgate, the S$2,190 psf on land price busts the previous GCB record price of S$2,110 psf set in October 2012, when bungalow investor George Lim sold a newly built property in Leedon Park with a land area of 15,640 sq ft.

Spanning two storeys and a basement, the property has six bedrooms and a pool. Completed in 2011, the property obtained Building and Construction Authority’s Greenmark Gold Plus award.

The Bishopsgate property transacted recently is a modern house completed in 2012. The architecture, interior and landscape design were done by SCDA.

Designed around a Tembusu tree, the property has two wings connected in the middle by a sunken courtyard featuring a 60-foot high copper tree sculpture with water trickling down, creating the sound of soft rain.

One wing houses the living and entertainment areas while the other wing is more private, where the study and master bedroom are housed.

The basement includes a wine cellar, entertainment room and gym. In all, the home has four bedrooms and a swimming pool. Privacy features include a gated driveway, and tall hedges and trees concealing the pool and outdoor pavilion.

The property was built and sold by Timothy Chia, founder and chairman of Hup Soon Global Corporation. He is also chairman of Gracefield Holdings and sits on the boards of several listed companies.

The buyer is said to be a former Chinese citizen turned Singapore citizen. Realstar Premier Group brokered the transaction.

Based on data from CBRE Research, from January to April this year, six properties were sold in GCB Areas totalling S$125.82 million.

For the whole of last year, there were 28 transactions amounting to S$626.14 million.

Ridout bungalow in family row almost sold

A PRIME good-class bungalow that has been caught up in a 10-year-long family dispute is finally close to being sold.

The new owner of the 73,277 sq ft site at 35 Ridout Road is expected to be revealed around May 22 after a tender process that attracted a top bid of about $85 million.

But it has been a fractious journey to get to this point.

The property was the family home of the late property investor Chow Cho Poon, who died in 1997, leaving his estate to his wife and three sons. His daughter was left just $1,000. However, she will get more from her mother’s bequest.

Nine properties in the estate, including the office building Chow House, which is now being redeveloped into Crown at Robinson, were sold for about $175 million in 2010.

But his will sparked friction and held up its execution.

Then Mr Chow’s wife executed a deed of trust and a deed of family agreement to redistribute her share of his estate as well as her own assets.

The sprawling home in Ridout Road that had been left to her was placed in a trust, which also contained shares, cash, jewellery and other objects. Her sons were to get a 30 per cent cut each and her daughter, 10 per cent.

The rest of her assets went into an estate, from which her sons would get one-third each and her daughter, $500,000.

But this just clouded the legal waters. After she died in 2002, the estates of both parents could not be settled due to outstanding debts and loans that were disputed.

Assets had mainly been tied up as shares in the companies, but this was resolved when the firms were liquidated following a court order in 2008. The death of both parents and the tangled wills ignited bitter disputes among the children that have involved many legal actions.

The daughter, Mrs Betty Sheares, sued her brothers in 2004, claiming they failed to give her any information on the administration of the trust.

In 2005, youngest brother Kwok Ching, an eye surgeon, sued the other two, claiming they acted oppressively against him as a minority shareholder in the family’s companies.

The firms were later ordered to be wound up on the application of eldest son Kwok Chi, who is also an eye surgeon.

“Looking at the actions of the parties over the years, the outlook for an amicable resolution of their various difficulties with one another appears bleak,” said Justice Judith Prakash at the time, adding that a clean break could benefit them all and “reduce the prospect of further litigation”.

No one has lived in the house since Mrs Chow died. The three brothers live in Hong Kong and Mrs Sheares lives elsewhere in Singapore.

But that has not stopped disputes arising over it.

While some simply wanted it sold at the best market price, second son Kwok Chuen, an architect, said in an affidavit he strongly opposed the sale of the house, which was purchased by his late father in the 1950s.

“I have many fond memories of my family in the property (and) am sure my siblings share the same sentiments… It has always been my late mother’s wish and intention for the property to remain within the family and preserve our family heritage,” he said.

He could not buy out his siblings’ shares, but asked the court to direct that the property be subdivided into four plots, with the family home retained.

The siblings also squabbled over items in the house. These included two portraits of the parents, said to have been done by the late Singapore pioneer artist Liu Kang, and 174 pieces of jewellery.

A resolution drew nearer in 2011 when Padang Trust Singapore, appointed that year by the sons as the new trustee of the trust set up by Mrs Chow, sought guidance from the High Court, including what to do with the house.

The court ordered that the property be put up for tender, with the trustee to then conduct an auction among the four siblings within a month after the tender closed to give them the right to top the highest bid.

But if any of them sought to buy the property, they were barred from using their entitlement as a beneficiary against the purchase price.

Now, more than 10 years after the death of both parents, Mrs Sheares, who is the daughter-in-law of the late president Benjamin Sheares, and her brothers stand to get millions.

The Ridout Road property was put up for tender by DTZ in March and the tender closed last month with nearly 10 bids, the highest at about $85 million. A re-tender late last month could have resulted in an even higher bid.

The site of the two-storey bungalow, with two single-storey outhouses, is large enough to be divided into four plots of good-class bungalow land, DTZ said.