Bargain-hunting continues in prime districts

By Tay Hock Meng / The Edge Property | February 12, 2016 10:00 AM SGT
With the stock market plunging, the economic outlook deteriorating and mounting speculation about another global financial crisis, it was no surprise that distressed sales in the prime districts continued to pop up in the first two weeks of January. Those that sustained the greatest losses were units purchased at the height of the last property boom, between the second half of 2007and early 2008, say property consultants.
The most notable was the sale of a mid-level unit at Turquoise in Sentosa Cove. The 2,153 sq ft, three-bedroom unit fetched $3.01 million ($1,400 psf), according to a caveat lodged on Jan 7. The previous owner paid $5.65 million ($2,623 psf) for it when the project was first launched in 2007, hence recognising a capital deterioration of 46.6%. The 91-unit, 99-year leasehold six-storey condominium project with views of the waterway was developed by Ho Bee Land and completed in 2010.
A mid-level unit at Turquoise in Sentosa Cove was sold for $3.01 million ($1,400 psf) in January.
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Jeremy Lee, assistant division director, ERA Realty is marketing a 2,134 sq ft, three-bedroom unit one floor below with an asking price of $5.8 million($2,718 psf). According to Lee, the owner is reluctant to slash the asking price as it is already at the level that he purchased the unit for in 2007, when many of the units were sold at prices ranging from $2,500 to $2,700 psf, he adds.
With transaction prices hovering in the range of $1,400 to $1,693 psf from last September till now, more buyers have been lured back to the market in search of similar bargains. “With the current market weakness and rising interest rates, homeowners and investors who are over-leveraged may find it tough to maintain their mortgage payments,” adds Lee. This could mean more distressed sales are on the horizon.
Over at the 338-unit freehold Scotts Square on Scotts Road, a three-bedroom unit located on the18th floor was transacted for $3.5 million ($2,803 psf) on Jan 4. The seller, believed to be a Singaporean, had purchased it in 2007 for $4.7 million ($3,766 psf), and has therefore sustained a 25.6% decline in capital value. “It’s likely that there will be more units at Scotts Square sold at prices in the $2,800 to$2,900 psf range,” says Bruce Lye, managing partner of SLP Inter national’s SRI5000. One of the agents at SRI5000 is said to have brokered the recent deal at Scotts Square.
At 8 Napier, a 2,013 sq ft, three-bedroom unit on the seventh floor fetched $6.44 million ($3,200psf), according to a caveat lodged on Jan 6. The unit is believed to be one of the 17 three-bedroom units of 2,013 sq ft purchased by a fund managed by Alpha Investment Partners (AIP), the property fund management arm of Keppel Land, in 2012.The fund scooped up all 17 units in a bulk sale for$100 million, or an average of $2,800 to $3,000 psf.
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The units sold to AIP were part of the original19 purchased by MGPA (now part of BlackRock) at the peak of the market in late 2007, at an average price of $3,550 psf.
Completed in 2010, the freehold 8 Napier has 46units and is located next to Gleneagles Hospital. Itis a short walk from the Singapore Botanic Gardens, recently listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Over at Duchess Residences, a 1,464 sq ft, three-bedroom unit on the fourth level of the six storey block changed hands for $2.49 million ($1,701 psf), according to a caveat lodged on Jan 7. The unit was purchased in 2007 for $3.22 million ($2,200 psf), which represents a loss of 22.7%.
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Launched in mid-2007, Duchess Residences saw an average price of $1,825 psf and a high of $2,300psf. The 120-unit, 999-year leasehold condo was fully sold and completed in 2011. The project was a joint venture between UOL Group and Low Keng Huat.
Micah Lim, senior associate director of JKL Consultants, is currently marketing another 1,464 sq ft unit priced at $3.22 million ($2,200 psf), which is equivalent to the price level eight years ago. Even though transaction prices at Duchess Residences are at the $1,701 to $1,811 psf level since last June, some owners are staying firm on their asking prices as the property is located in the vicinity of top schools such as Hwa Chong Institution, Chinese High School and Nanyang Primary School on Bukit Timah, as well as a short distance from the Tan Kah Kee and Sixth Avenue MRT stations on the Downtown Line 2, which opened in December.
This article appeared in the City & Country of Issue 712 (Jan 25, 2016) of The Edge Singapore.