Singaporeans loving the luxury homes foreigners can’t buy

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) – Some of Singapore’s most desirable houses come with a catch: only locals can own them.

That foreign buyers – notably from China – who for years helped drive demand for luxury homes, can’t buy these dwellings, hasn’t dented their appeal. Their scarcity and the exclusivity they confer have pushed prices of the homes – known as Good Class Bungalows, or GCBs – to record highs, even as the broader property market cools.

Just about 2,500 GCBs dot the city-state, ranging from colonial-era houses to architect-designed modern homes with cantilevered verandas, infinity pools and expansive landscaped gardens, a world away from the high-rise apartments most Singaporeans call home.

In a recent blockbuster deal, Mr Tony Tung, the chairman of Hong Kong-based oil trader Winson Group, bought a bungalow near the Botanic Gardens for $105.3 million, The Business Times reported earlier this month, saying it was a record for a GCB. Nearby, a Singaporean member of the Tsai family, who made their fortune in insurance in Taiwan, snapped up a bungalow for $93.9 million.

More records may soon be broken. A new bungalow near the Botanic Gardens, featuring a central courtyard pool and water garden, will soon hit the market with an asking price of $3,500 per sq ft. That would surpass the previous record of $2,700 per sq ft set last year, according to Mr KH Tan at Newsman Realty, who is handling the sale.

“Due to scarcity and exclusivity, the GCB market has always been regarded as the jewel of the residential market and a coveted trophy asset to the well-heeled community,” said Ms Sammi Lim, director of capital markets at real estate agency CBRE Group. “GCBs have proven to be a resilient asset class through market cycles.”

That’s proving to be the case again as a rally in home prices stalls following the imposition of further property curbs in the middle of 2018. House values declined 0.1 per cent in the three months ended Dec 31, snapping five straight quarterly gains.

The citizenship requirement isn’t the only restriction on GCBs. The plot must be at least 1,400 sq m, and the house can’t take up more than 35 per cent of the land, or be more than two stories high. Such luxurious use of space is another status symbol in one of the world’s most densely populated countries, where about 7,900 people are crammed into each square kilometre.

Singapore is also one of the wealthiest nations on Earth – home to the ninth-highest number of millionaires – according to Credit Suisse Research Institute’s 2018 Global Wealth Report.

That has helped underpin activity in the GCB market, with the number of transactions rising 47 per cent in the second half of 2018 compared with the first six months of the year, according to CBRE.

Typical buyers are super-wealthy locals and foreigners who have attained citizenship, said Mr Tan, managing director at Newsman Realty, which specialises in bungalow deals.

“The super rich want to buy the best diamond, the best car, so in Singapore residential, the Good Class Bungalow is the best you can get,” Mr Tan said.

CREDITS: THE STRAITS TIMES

Good Class Bungalows Fetch Record Prices Amid Market Slowdown

Despite a slowdown in the property market, prices of Singapore’s good class bungalows (GCBs) continue to soar to record heights even though foreigners are not allowed to acquire this type of asset, reported Bloomberg.

With just about 2,500 units across the city-state, GCBs – which can only be purchased by Singapore citizens – range from colonial era homes to architect-designed modern houses with expansive landscaped gardens, cantilevered verandas and infinity pools.

Aside from the citizenship requirement, GCBs must have a land area of 1,400 sq m, with the house – which should not be more than two storeys high – taking up not more than 35 percent of the site.

A recent blockbuster deal saw Hong Kong-based oil trader Winson Group chairman Tony Tung acquire a bungalow located near the Botanic Gardens for $105.3 million – reportedly a record price for a GCB.

A Singaporean member of the Tsai family, who made a fortune out of insurance in Taiwan, also purchased a bungalow for $93.9 million.

Market watchers expect more records to be broken soon. In fact, a bungalow near the Botanic Gardens is set to enter the market with an asking price of $3,500 psf – surpassing the previous record set last year at $2,700 psf, revealed KH Tan, managing director at Newsman Realty, which is handling the sale.

“Due to scarcity and exclusivity, the GCB market has always been regarded as the jewel of the residential market and a coveted trophy asset to the well-heeled community,” said CBRE director of capital markets Sammi Lim. “GCBs have proven to be a resilient asset class through market cycles.”

This seems to be the case again as Singapore home prices have been on the downtrend lately following the government’s release of additional property cooling measures last year. In the three months ended 31 December 2018, home prices dipped 0.1 percent, ending five consecutive quarterly gains.

The growing number of millionaires in the city-state also helped underpin activity in this market segment. CBRE revealed that the number of GCB transactions rose 47 percent in the second half of 2018 from H1 2018.

Typical buyers of GCBs are super-wealthy locals as well as foreigners who have received their citizenship, said Tan.

“The super rich want to buy the best diamond, the best car, so in Singapore residential, the Good Class Bungalow is the best you can get,” noted Tan.

CREDITS: PROPERTYGURU

Nyon Condo Preview Includes Heritage Tour

Homegrown developer Aurum Land has come up with a unique way to attract home buyers to the upcoming preview of its Nyon condominium in Katong, which starts on Saturday (16 Feb).

It plans to offer side-car tours to visitors from its showflat at Kallang Airport Way in a bid to showcase the area’s colourful conservation shophouses and terrace houses adorned with ornate facades, which will help people see the neighbourhood in a new light.

“The purpose of the side-car is to bring buyers to sit in this heritage vehicle and tour within the vicinity of Joo Chiat, Katong and Amber. There, the buyers will be able to have a feel of how this area has been transformed to be hip and cool,” said the developer.

Located at 12 Amber Road, the freehold project draws inspiration from Peranakan culture and is a short walk from the future Tanjong Katong MRT station on the Thomson-East Coast Line, which is anticipated to start operating by 2023.

The development will feature a single 18-storey tower with 92 units sited on a 28,409 sq ft plot. There are three layouts available from one- to three-bedroom units sized from 484 sq ft to 1,615 sq ft.

Indicative prices start from about $1.2 million ($2,400 psf) for a one-bedder measuring 484 sq ft, $1.7 million ($2,250 psf) for a 721 sq ft two-bedder and $2.6 million ($2,200 psf) for a 1,216 sq ft three-bedder.

Situated between the Amber Skye and 16 @ Amber condominiums, the site was purchased for $58 million ($2,545 psf) in 2017.

The official launch of Nyon is scheduled on 2 March and the project is expected to be completed by 2022.

Aurum Land has completed various boutique residential projects in recent years, including the Asana, a 48-unit freehold condo along Queen’s Road in prime District 10.

CREDITS: PROPERTYGURU