‘Fire sales’ of penthouses in prime districts – what you can get for under $8.8 mil

By Valerie Kor and Timothy Tay / EdgeProp Singapore | May 15, 2020 6:00 AM SGT
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Pushing through deals during the “circuit breaker” period, when buyers are not allowed to view properties, has been a novel challenge for property agents, particularly for those handling apartments and condominiums in the resale market. For multi-million-dollar penthouses, it takes Herculean effort to get buyers to make offers for these luxury properties without any real-life viewing.
However, several distressed sales of penthouses have emerged in the prime districts. Is this a sign that the top end of the residential market is cratering as Covid-19 ravages the economy?
EDGEPROP SINGAPORE - The interior of the biggest duplex penthouse at The Ladyhill, which is now a receiver sale with a price tag of $8.3 million (Photo: Knight Frank)
The interior of the biggest duplex penthouse at The Ladyhill, which is now a receiver sale with a price tag of $8.3 million (Photo: Knight Frank)

Biggest penthouse at The Ladyhill

On the market is a 4,499 sq ft penthouse at The Ladyhill in prime District 10. It is scheduled to be put up for auction by Knight Frank on June 17. The unit is the biggest of 14 duplex penthouses in the luxury condominium development — the other penthouses have an average size of about 3,843 sq ft. “The penthouse also commands the best views as it is a corner unit and overlooks greenery,” adds Sharon Lee, head of auction & sales at Knight Frank.
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The property is a receiver’s sale, and has an asking price of $8.3 million ($1,845 psf). As far as Lee can recollect, this is the first distressed sale at The Ladyhill that will be put up for auction. “On a psf basis, the price of this penthouse is attractive, compared to the recent transactions,” she notes.
The penthouse, which comes with a private lift, originally had four bedrooms and a study, but the owner has merged two bedrooms into one; hence, it now has three bedrooms, says Lee.
EDGEPROP SINGAPORE - The 55-unit luxury condo, The Ladyhill, by SC Global Development was the first in its stable of luxury projects (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The 55-unit luxury condo, The Ladyhill, by SC Global Development was the first in its stable of luxury projects (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The latest transaction at The Ladyhill was for a 2,271 sq ft, four-bedroom unit on the third level that fetched $5.6 million ($2,466 psf) last November, based on caveat lodged then. Prior to that, a 3,283 sq ft, four-bedroom unit on the first level changed hands for $7 million ($2,132 psf) in April last year. In December 2018, a 4,167 sq ft, ground floor unit was sold for $10.3 million ($2,460 psf). All three deals were brokered by Lee.
In terms of absolute price, the ground floor unit sold for $10.3 million is the highest achieved at The Ladyhill, based on caveats lodged to date. On a psf price basis, the highest is $2,839 psf, achieved in April and October 2010, for two identical units of 2,325 sq ft on the second level, that were sold for $6.6 million apiece.
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The Ladyhill may have been launched for sale 20 years ago, and completed in 2002, but the 55-unit, boutique development located on Ladyhill Road, just off Orange Grove Road, continues to be sought after by discerning buyers, says Lee. “It’s very exclusive, located on a quiet street, next to Shangri-La Residences, near Shangri-La Hotel and within walking distance of the prime Orchard Road shopping belt,” she continues. “I have seen many luxury condos, but this development continues to hold its own, in terms of the space, finishing and quality of materials used.”
EDGEPROP SINGAPORE - The 4,499 sq ft, duplex penthouse was originally a four-bedroom-plus-study, but has been reconfigured by the previous owner into a three-bedroom duplex (Photo: Knight Frank)
The 4,499 sq ft, duplex penthouse was originally a four-bedroom-plus-study, but has been reconfigured by the previous owner into a three-bedroom duplex (Photo: Knight Frank)
A redevelopment of the former Ladyhill Hotel, the 55-unit, freehold condo was the maiden project of SC Global Developments’ Simon Cheong, and was designed by renowned architect Chan Soo Khian, principal of SCDA Architects. The Ladyhill marked the first of SC Global’s stable of luxury properties, which would include The Marq on Paterson Hill, Seven Palms Sentosa Cove and Sculptura Ardmore at Ardmore Park. Each successive development had set new benchmarks for the luxury market. More recently, SC Global has developed a series of properties under the Petit Collectibles brand. As the name indicates, it features luxury projects with smaller unit sizes catering to the younger affluent buyers.
Another penthouse at The Ladyhill has also been put up for sale by private treaty. The 3,842 sq ft, four-bedroom-plus-study is an owner’s sale, and has a price tag of $8.3 million ($2,160 psf).
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EDGEPROP SINGAPORE - A three-bedroom duplex penthouse at The Orange Grove is on the market for $8.68 million (Photo: The Edge Singapore)
A three-bedroom duplex penthouse at The Orange Grove is on the market for $8.68 million (Photo: The Edge Singapore)

Growing distress

At the other end of Orange Grove Road, just off Stevens Road, is the 72-unit The Orange Grove. The luxury, freehold condo by Ho Bee Land was completed in 2010. A three-bedroom duplex penthouse with private jacuzzi is on the market by private treaty sale. The 12th-floor penthouse is a mortgagee sale, and is listed by Knight Frank at $8.68 million ($2,222 psf).
The latest transaction at The Orange Grove was for a 2,153 sq ft, three-bedroom unit on the ninth floor that changed hands for $4.85 million ($2,253 psf).
Meanwhile, at Belle Vue Residences, in the quiet Oxley Walk enclave in prime District 9, a 3,552 sq ft, three-bedroom duplex penthouse is available for sale by private treaty too. A mortgagee sale, it has a list price of $5.41 million ($1,523 psf), according to Knight Frank.
The duplex penthouse at Belle Vue Residences was first purchased for $7.4 million ($2,083 psf) back in September 2012. The 176-unit, luxury freehold condo was developed by Wing Tai Holdings and designed by renowned Japanese architect Toyo Ito.
EDGEPROP SINGAPORE - A duplex penthouse at Belle Vue Residences is on the market for $5.41 million (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
A duplex penthouse at Belle Vue Residences is on the market for $5.41 million (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Simplex penthouse at Soleil@Sinaran

At Soleil@Sinaran, a 4,930 sq ft penthouse is on the market for $8.5 million ($1,724 psf), with SRI as the marketing agent. The five-bedroom unit is one of just four penthouses in the 417-unit private condominium developed by Frasers Property. The 99-year leasehold condo has twin 36-storey towers and was completed in 2011. The award-winning project was designed by Architects 61, with Tierra Design as the landscape architect.
Located in prime District 11, Soleil@Sinaran is within walking distance of Novena MRT Station, which is linked underground to three shopping malls, namely Velocity, United Square and Square 2. The location is also close to the planned HealthCity Novena, the CBD and Orchard Road shopping belt, says Tony Koe, managing director of SRI.
Each tower of Soleil@Sinaran has two penthouses — of 4,715 sq ft and 4,930 sq ft respectively. The penthouse that is on the market is a simplex occupying the entire 36th floor of one tower. It has private lift access and comes with a private roof terrace fitted with a lap pool, jacuzzi and barbeque pit. The 4,715 sq ft penthouse in the same tower was sold for $8.8 million ($1,867 psf) in January 2017. At the other tower, the two penthouses were sold for $9.5 million ($2,015 psf) and $10.8 million ($2,191 psf) in 2014.
EDGEPROP SINGAPORE - The living room of the 4,930 sq ft penthouse at Soleil@Sinaran with an unblocked city view (Photo: SRI)
The living room of the 4,930 sq ft penthouse at Soleil@Sinaran with an unblocked city view (Photo: SRI)
The owner of the penthouse that is on the market is a Singapore permanent resident. He purchased it for $9.76 million ($1,980 psf) in 2011, when the project was newly completed. It was his residence until 2017, when he relocated to Hawaii. The unit has been leased out for $15,000 a month since then.
The penthouse was first put up for sale in 2018 with a price tag of $9.5 million ($1,915 psf). However, it failed to find a buyer then.
The asking price has now been adjusted to $8.5 million, and the unit is marketed by SRI agents, associate division director Chriss Lee and senior associate sales director Darren Timothy Tan. The rental lease for the penthouse will expire at the end of the year. However, the rental agreement also comes with a break-lease clause and a three-month notice period to the tenant if the unit is successfully sold before the end of the lease period, according to the SRI agents.
When SRI first began marketing the penthouse in March, there were interested buyers. However, safe distancing measures and the circuit breaker that followed have curtailed all property viewings until June 1. Viewing of the unit will resume from June 2, says SRI’s Lee, to give buyers the opportunity to see the actual unit before committing to a purchase.
EDGEPROP SINGAPORE - Unblocked view from the master bedroom of the penthouse at Soleil@Sinaran (Photo:SRI)
Unblocked view from the master bedroom of the penthouse at Soleil@Sinaran (Photo:SRI)

‘Fire sale’ opportunities?

“Most foreign buyers who are cash-rich are using this opportunity to hunt for ‘fire sale’ opportunities,” says SRI’s Lee. “There is strong demand for units with a generous floor size, such as this penthouse at Soleil@Sinaran.”
The owner of the penthouse wants to sell now as the lease is expiring and he does not want to continue having to maintain a property in Singapore, adds SRI’s Tan.
Another attraction of the penthouse at Soleil@Sinaran is the rarity of a single-storey penthouse, the size of the unit and the 360-degree city view, notes SRI’s Koe.
EDGEPROP SINGAPORE - High networth individuals who had withdrawn from the Singapore market because of the cooling measures in July 2018 are now returning and looking at buying opportunities (Photo: SRI)
High networth individuals who had withdrawn from the Singapore market because of the cooling measures in July 2018 are now returning and looking at buying opportunities (Photo: SRI)
“Many foreign buyers prefer units that have a large floor plate, and single-level penthouses, which generally transact at prices above $10 million,” he adds.
According to Koe, high-net-worth individuals, who had withdrawn from the Singapore market following the ninth round of property cooling measures and a hike in the additional buyer’s stamp duty for foreigners to 20% in July 2018, have returned. “They are now hunting for ‘fire sale’ opportunities in Singapore,” he adds. “These buyers know that it is a good time to enter the market.”
Knight Frank’s Lee agrees. “The market we are in right now is certainly very unique,” she observes. “While there are businesses that have suffered [amid the pandemic], there are others that have done well — the supermarkets, healthcare sector — and there are people who are still looking for property in Singapore, especially those who saw how quickly the market recovered from SARS and do not want to miss this buying opportunity.”
Check out the latest listings near The Ladyhill, The Orange Grove, Soleil@Sinaran, MRT Stations and Schools
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