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.

BinJai Rise GCB site put up for auction by lender

A GOOD Class Bungalow (GCB) property put up for sale by a bank will emerge at a Singapore auction for the first time in several years. On April 29, a 17,035-square-foot freehold site at 15 Binjai Rise that is being redeveloped will go under the hammer at an auction.

Market sources say the indicative price is S$20 million, which would work out to S$1,174 per square foot (psf) based on its land area. On the corner site is an uncompleted bungalow that will also have a swimming pool; the redevelopment is approved for 13,378 sq ft gross floor area, according to written permission granted by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

By some estimates, it may cost a further S$1 million to S$2 million to complete the construction. To tear down the existing partially built structure and undertake a fresh construction, the cost would be higher, around S$5 million to S$6 million. The regular-shaped plot has a north-east facing and is located in a cul-de-sac behind the Pan Island Expressway (PIE).

The mortgagee (or lender) is believed to be a Hong Kong-based bank. The borrowers are understood to be members of a family who were redeveloping the property for their own occupation.

Mortgagee sales of GCBs or GCB sites rarely surface at auctions, say industry watchers. Singapore Christie’s Homes managing director Samuel Eyo said this could be due to the fact that “in recent years, most GCB buyers, whether they have purchased for their own occupation or for investment, have taken only 50-60 per cent loan-to-valuation (LTV), even if they could have qualified for more – as a matter of prudence”.

“Hence if they are stretched and need to sell the property, they have sufficient buffer to divest it themselves at lower-than-market value – without letting the property slip into the hands of the bank.”

And where GCBs do end up at auctions, typically they are put up for sale by their owners, and not the mortgagees. For instance, in 2013, GCBs in locations such as White House Park, Eng Neo Avenue and Chee Hoon Avenue were placed for auction by their owners. Since 2014, though, owners have pulled back from putting their GCBs for auction sale due to the general lull in the GCB market after the introduction of the total debt servicing ratio framework in late-June 2013, say some market observers.

GCBs are the most prestigious type of landed housing in Singapore, with strict planning constraints. The last time a GCB property went under the hammer as a mortgagee sale was in 2007, for 3C Swettenham Road. The freehold property sold for S$16.5 million or S$639 psf on its 25,802-sq-ft land area at a July 2007 auction. The property comprised a two-storey bungalow with an attic, a two-storey annex building and a swimming pool.

In 2010, No 39/39A Ridout Road had been advertised for auction as a mortgagee sale but was later withdrawn.

No 15 Binjai Rise will go under the hammer at Colliers International’s auction next Wednesday. RealStar Premier Group managing director William Wong described the S$1,174 psf indicative price for the property as reasonable, given that owners of older completed GCBs in the Binjai area have been asking mostly for S$1,300-

S$1,600 psf depending on the condition of the house.

“The pull factor of this property is the pricing. The drawback is the proximity to the PIE resulting in noise. Still, there will be takers; they can do the design to reduce the noise. I also know some GCB owners who keep their windows and doors shut all the time, with 24-hour air-conditioning,” he added.

Industry players believe that 15 Binjai Rise is likely to be a one-off phenomenon and is unlikely to spark a trend of a rise in mortgagee sales of GCBs. “Most of the clients we are servicing are prudent and buying for own occupation,” said Mr Eyo.

Other properties that will be offered at Colliers’ auction next Wednesday, to be held at Amara Hotel, will include a freehold two-storey semi-detached house on a 4,265-sq-ft site along Jalan Bumbong in Kranji. The owner is said be eyeing S$4 million.

Buyers keen on an apartment may be interested in a two-bedroom loft unit at Miro at Lincoln Road. The owner is seeking S$2.2 million for the 1,302-sq-ft unit in the freehold development near Newton MRT Station.

Another property that will make its auction debut at the Colliers event is a 2,196-sq-ft apartment at Golden Mile Complex on Beach Road comprising three bedrooms, a study and a maid’s room on a site with a balance lease term of 53 years. This is a mortgagee sale with an indicative pricing of around S$1.45 million. The 15th-storey unit boasts unblocked river and sea views.

Another mortgagee sale property going under the hammer on the same day is a two-storey freehold penthouse with roof terrace at Esterina in Haig Avenue. The indicative pricing for the 2,540-sq-ft unit, which has four bedrooms, is S$2.1 million.

According to figures released earlier by Colliers, the number of properties sent to the auction block by lenders increased to 159 last year from 32 in 2013 and 24 in 2012. For Q1 this year, the figure was 56 properties, up from 47 in Q4 last year and 22 in Q1 2014.

$25m home off Adam Road for sale

A freehold Good Class Bungalow (GCB) in Chee Hoon Avenue has been put up for sale via a tender exercise that closes on May 20.

The indicative value of the property is $25 million, which translates to $1,399 per square foot (psf) based on a land area of 17,868 sq ft.

“With its frontage of about 39m and an average depth of about 42m, it is suitable for additions and alterations or redevelopment to optimise the potential of this land,” CBRE said in a news release yesterday.

CBRE is the sole marketing agent for the tender exercise.

The property is located in Chee Hoon Avenue, in a cul-de-sac, off Adam Road.

It comprises a part one/part two-storey detached house, which was originally built in the 1960s and renovated in 2005.

The property’s built-up area is about 3,300 sq ft (excluding car porch and rear terrace of about 1,000 sq ft) with two bedrooms and a study.

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Bukit TImah – Novena

The Bukit Timah area is a particularly prominent location with a high land value. The area of Bukit Timah has an extensive flora and fauna compared to other parts of Singapore, and contains Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, which is partially responsible for its high land value. The nature reserve was established in 1883.

The Bukit Timah Race Course, a thoroughbred horse racing facility, was opened in 1933 and operated until 1999.

The area includes educational institutions such as Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road), Singapore Chinese Girls’ School, Methodist Girls’ School, Hwa Chong Institution, National Junior College, Raffles Girls’ Primary School, Nanyang Primary School, Nanyang Girls’ High School, Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary School, Saint Joseph’s Institution and Ngee Ann Polytechnic amongst others.

The nearby area hosts many bungalows, typically expensive in land-scarce Singapore, as well as high rise condominiums. Many expatriates and well-heeled Singaporeans live in this region.

This region was later extended and Upper Bukit Timah (District 21) was formed. The Keretapi Tanah Melayu from Malaysia has a passing loop station here along its rail network from Johor Bahru to Tanjong Pagar.


Novena and its roads (Jalan Novena Barat and Novena Terrace), buildings (Novena Ville and Novena Gardens), as well as the MRT station in this area are named after the popular Saturday Novena devotion sessions held at the Church of Saint Alphonsus (Novena Church) at 300 Thomson Road. It is so popularly known as the Novena Church that many people, especially non-Catholics, are unaware that the actual name of the church is The Church of Saint Alphonsus.

The current premises of the Novena Church were owned by a wealthy Chinese businessman, Wee Kah Kiat. The premises were bought over by the Redemptorist priests in 1948 where a small church dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help named the Church of Saint Alphonsus was built in May 1950. As accorded to tradition, the novenas to Our Lady of Perpetual Help began in January 1949 and were heavily publicised and instantaneously became widespread in 1951 as intended by Pope Pius XI. Unlike the traditional Wednesdays, the town of Novena celebrates their Novena prayer celebrations and services on a Saturday.

Housing in Novena tends very expensive because of its prime location and facilities. Novena has no HDB flats, but is made up of condominiums and private housing. There are many condominiums in Novena such as Birmingham Mansions, Thomson Euro-Asia and Lion Towers. Newer condominiums include Strata, Novena Suites, Novellis, Soleil at Sinaran (2010) and coming soon (2010) a 5-star serviced hotel across the street from Tan Tock Seng Hospital. These condominiums generally surround the main schools in the area, which are, Saint Joseph’s Institution Junior, formerly known as St Michael’s School at Essex Rd and San Yu Adventist School, on the corner between Thomson Road and Chancery Lane with Balestier Hill Secondary School at Novena Rise.

Serangoon Gardens

Serangoon Gardens Estate is a private residential estate in Singapore. The occupants are mostly Singaporean families and a small number of expatriates in the area.

Serangoon Gardens is one of the oldest estates on the island, and was built in the 1950s. The estate was built to house the British officers based in Singapore. The roads have British road names.

The estate was upgraded in 2001 as part of the Singapore Government’s plan to improve the older private housing estates in Singapore. Open roadside drains were covered up. It has new streetlights and road signs, and the estate’s parks were also upgraded.

Serangoon Garden Circus was used as one of the locations for the country-wide millennium celebrations.

Regal Homes for REAL investor

Whether for stay or for investment, land is always the best choice for the well-heeled. Landed houses in Singapore, due to its scarcity and versatility, are in rage these days. Despite the headwinds of global and local economy, landed homes present resilience against price drops, and when economy picks up, they are among the best performing.