GCB market lukewarm in growing optimism

The market for good class bungalows (GCBs) is lukewarm. However sales for smaller bungalows in GCB areas are on a upward trend. Good class bungalows (GCBs) are the most prestigious segment of landed property in Singapore.

On the GCB front, a caveat was lodged on June 12 for the most expensive one sold this year. The latest GCB sold was a $46 million bungalow in Queen Astrid Park on a 29,709 sq ft site, reportedly purchased by the family who controls oil trading group Hin Leong.

20 sales have taken place in GCB areas so far this year, worth a total of $432.2 million. These include properties with a plot size of less than 1,400 sq m. This is markedly more than the 14 transactions in the same period last year, which totalled $298.36 million.

Another upmarket landed segment, Sentosa Cove, has contrasting statistics. Sales at the exclusive waterfront precinct shot to seven this year from just four for the same period last year.

Overall, the number of landed homes sold has increased, driven by falling prices and limited supply of landed homes. 538 landed homes were sold in the second quarter – this is the highest quarterly volume since the fourth quarter of 2012. URA flash estimates released recently indicated that prices of landed residential properties fell further by 0.4 % for Q2, down from a 1.8 % drop in the previous quarter.

First GCB on 2017 sold in Jalan Kampong Chantek

The first transaction in a Good Class Bungalow (GCB) Area this year, a bungalow along Jalan Kampong Chantek off Dunearn Road was sold for S$27.59 million — about S$1,003 per square foot (psf) based on the freehold land area of 27,504 sq ft. The property is in the Swiss Club Road GCB Area.

Sited on an upward-sloping site is an old vacant house (11,000 sq ft built-up area) with two storeys and an attic level. There are seven bedrooms and a swimming pool. Ronald Te, co-founder of Super Group behind the famous 3-in-1 Super Coffee sachets, bought the property.

Super Group fellow co-founder David Teo bought a GCB along Fifth Avenue off Bukit Timah Road for S$24.5 million or S$1,626 psf last year. The two-storey house is next to the bungalow where Mr Teo and his family reside.

The Dutch tea and coffee group Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE) launched a takeover offer for the beverage group.

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.


GCB interest steady among buyers

The number of sales of Good Class Bungalows (GCBs) remains below the level they were at before the Total Debt Servicing Ratio was imposed in mid-2013, but there remains buying interest for this rare type of property.

Developer OUE said on Thursday that it is buying two GCB plots in Nassim Road for $56.58 million. The price of about $1,652 per sq ft (psf) across both plots was deemed attractive, given the last GCB sale in Nassim Road was for about $2,000 psf in February 2012.

But prices have not fallen significantly, even though another recent sale was at less than $1,000 psf in Victoria Park Close. Based on caveats lodged and including OUE’s purchase, 19 sites in GCB areas have been sold so far this year, with a total value of $438.17 million. This is comparable with 19 sites and a total value of $470.99 million sold in the same period last year.
Thirty-three of these sites with a total value of $714.78 million were sold last year, up from 28 sites worth $626.14 million in 2014.Sellers tend to be Singaporeans looking to move on to the next property, while buyers include new citizens.

Mr Zhang Yong, founder of a popular steamboat chain, bought a Gallop Road bungalow for $27 million in March, or at $1,700 psf. Newly minted Singaporeans from Indonesia have increasingly been looking around as well.

Some of the GCBs on sale include one in Bukit Tunggal Road, with a price tag of $38 million. It has a built-up area of about 14,000 sq ft and land size of 20,355 sq ft.

Windsor Park GCB sold for $21.8m

In a sign of some renewed interest in Good Class Bungalows (GCBs), one in Windsor Park estate has been sold for $21.8 million, the first GCB transaction in the estate since early 2013.

The freehold property at 122 Windsor Park Road, off Upper Thomson Road, has a land size of 20,383 sq ft, which works out to a price of about $1,070 per sq ft (psf).

This is just below the two transactions in January 2013, when 2 Windsor Park Hill was sold for $25.3 million or $1,125 psf; while 55 Windsor Park Road, a new house, went for $27 million, or $1,400 psf.

According to the property’s title deed, the latest buyer is from the Tng family, who runs a Singapore company in local development and construction. He is believed to be buying the place for his own use.

The house was completed in 2006 and has two storeys and a basement for parking. A roof terrace, for functions, is said to offer great estate views, as it overlooks most neighbouring plots.

The modern Balinese-style house has a swimming pool and several pond or smaller pool features over the entire ground level.

“There is interest in GCBs as potential buyers feel there has been some price decline. They are waiting on the sidelines and, if the sellers were to be a bit more flexible or reasonable in their pricing, a few more GCBs may be transacted in the next quarter,” said Mr Michael Lam, director of the GCB division at Global Estate Management, who brokered the latest deal.

GCB prices fell about 5 per cent last year but are holding up better than those of luxury condos, said Mr Ong Kah Seng, R’ST Research director. Deals have been slightly fewer. There were 12 GCBs sold for a total of $394.11 million in the first three quarters, down a tad from 16 GCBs for a total of $416.2 million in the same period last year, he noted.

However, buyers are still keen on homes in GCB areas, with about 20 such homes sold for about $500.5 million in the first three quarters of this year. Buyers interested in the Windsor Park area can also consider 53 Windsor Park Road, a 21,091 sq ft freehold GCB that is up for tender sale by Colliers at an indicative price of $27 million or $1,280 psf.

This modern Balinese-style house has two storeys and a basement for parking. It is said to have a roof terrace which offers great estate views, as it overlooks most neighbouring 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.


GCB site off Upper Thomson for sale

A FREEHOLD Good Class Bungalow (GCB) site off Upper Thomson Road has been put up for the sale by public tender at an indicative price of S$27 million, or S$1,280 per square foot.

Located at 53 Windsor Park Road, the site has a land area of 21,091 sq ft; it is now occupied by a bungalow that is part single storey and part double storey. It was built in the 1950s and sits on elevated grounds.

The property sits amid other landed housing and low-rise condominiums, and is near Thomson Plaza, Sin Ming Plaza, Thomson V, Thomson Imperial Court and the shophouses along Upper Thomson Road.

Stella Hoh, executive director of Colliers’ investment services, said: “With only 34 GCB plots in the area, there have been rarely any plots being offered for sale in the past few years. The last two recorded transactions in the vicinity were a 22,481 sq ft site sold for S$25.3 million in January 2013; another 19,280 sq ft property was sold for S$27 million in December 2012.”

She added that, going by caveats lodged, there were 25 GCB transactions worth a total of S$543 million last year. In the year to date, there have already been 20 GCBs transacted at a total value of S$485 million; the figures are expected to grow, given that this upper tier of the landed residential property market has had a rise in activity lately, on the back of more realistic asking prices from sellers.

The tender closes at 3pm on Oct 21. Colliers is the sole marketing agent for the sale.

GCB site in Cluny Hill sold for S$21.52M

A plum vacant freehold site of 15,097 sq ft in the Cluny Hill Good Class Bungalow Area is being sold for S$21.52 million or S$1,425 per square foot based on the land area.

The property is being sold by Standard Chemical Corporation. The buyer is Aston Holdings, Realstar Premier Group, which brokered the transaction, told BT.

A company search revealed that Aston is 90 per cent owned by Tan Koo Chuan, who also controls developer Yi Kai Group.

Based on caveats data, the Cluny Hill property was previously transacted in 2005 at S$6.64 million. The site includes three conservation trees.

Realstar Premier estimates it may cost S$6-8 million to build and fit out a new bungalow with a gross floor area of about 8,000-10,000 sq ft on the site.

The transacted price of S$21.52 million is lower than the S$24 million that the seller is understood to have looked for earlier this year.

The S$1,425 psf on land area at which the property is being sold is lower than the S$1,659 psf at which a GCB along Cluny Road facing the Botanic Gardens was transacted at in February 2014.

Market watchers suggest one factor for the lower price for the Cluny Hill property is that there is a power station next door.

Realstar Premier Group managing director William Wong said: “Most potential buyers of GCBs these days are looking for properties in the S$20-25 million range. About two years ago, in the first half of 2013, the budget was typically S$25-30 million.

“With sellers having lowered their price expectations, we are starting to see more GCB deals in this range and I believe there should be a pick-up in the number of transactions. At current levels, prices are attractive for buyers.”

He added that the typical profile of GCB buyers currently are new citizens as well as those living in smaller bungalows and aspiring to upgrade to a GCB.

GCBs are the most prestigious type of landed housing in Singapore. The Urban Redevelopment Authority has designated 39 locations on mainland Singapore as Good Class Bungalow Areas – with strict planning rules to preserve their exclusivity and low-rise character.


Binjai Rise mortgagee-sale GCB sold for about $13m

A partially completed Good Class Bungalow (GCB) at 15 Binjai Rise, located next to the noisy Pan Island Expressway, has finally been sold – after two rounds of auctions and a tender.

Talk in the market is that the price paid for the mortgagee-sale property was around S$13 million. That works out to about S$763 per square foot (psf), based on the land area of 17,035 sq ft.

A Hong Kong-based bank put up the freehold bungalow for sale. The borrowers are members of a family who were redeveloping the property for their own occupation.

The bank appointed Colliers International to market the property. It was introduced at the property consulting group’s auction in April at an opening price of S$19.5 million, but there were no bids.

It went under the hammer again at Colliers’ June auction, where despite a lower opening price of S$16.575 million, there were again no takers. Instructions were then given by the bank for the property to be put up for tender. The exercise closed in July, resulting in the recent sale.

Property consultants said that is it rare for a mortgagee sale of a Good Class Bungalow. The transaction of 15 Binjai Rise is not seen as sparking a trend.

The uncompleted bungalow has two storeys, a basement and an attic. The gross floor area is 13,378 sq ft, according to written permission granted by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. By some estimates, it may cost a further S$1-2 million to complete the construction.

Newsman Realty managing director KH Tan, a veteran GCB agent, said the price for 15 Binjai Rise is within his expectations.

“I didn’t think it would get more than S$800 psf given that, recently, a bungalow on Chee Hoon Avenue was sold for S$1,197 psf. That is in a better location on a hilltop in District 11, offering panoramic views. On the other hand, 15 Binjai Rise is in a noisy area, next to a busy expressway, and the site is slightly below road level.” Binjai Rise is in District 21.

The sale of the Chee Hoon Avenue GCB was by tender and brokered by Douglas Wong of CBRE.

Newsman’s Mr Tan, as well as other GCB agents, acknowledged that prices in GCB Areas have been soft lately.

He said he had expected the Chee Hoon Avenue bungalow – as well as another bungalow that changed hands last month in Queen Astrid Park for S$1,169 psf – to go for a higher price.

“My price expectation for the Queen Astrid Park property took into account the fact that around 5,000-6,000 sq ft of the 27,373 sq ft land area is not easy to use, due to the uneven terrain.”

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.”