Bukit Sembawang’s Watercove boasts sea views, freehold tenure

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/ The Edge Property
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July 14, 2017 11:00 AM SGT
When listed property developer Bukit Sembawang Estates previewed Watercove in May, the first units to be snapped up were the strata terraced houses with unobstructed views of the Johor Straits and direct access to the beach.
The first two units to be sold were the corner terraced units. One of them has a strata area of 4,230 sq ft and not only fronts the sea but is also just steps away from the 15ha Sembawang Park; it therefore fetched $3.16 million. The other, which has a bigger strata area of 4,521 sq ft and also fronts the beach, was sold for $3.37 million ($745 psf), based on caveats lodged.
“These buyers have been eyeing the project for a long time,” says Joseph Tan, executive director of residential services at CBRE, joint marketing agent for Watercove with Edmund Tie & Co. “Watercove is the only seafront landed housing project in Singapore that is freehold.” As only 33 terraced units have such premium sea views at Watercove, more than half have already been snapped up, he adds.
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The first phase of Watercove has been substantially sold since its preview in May
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First phase substantially sold
The 80-unit Watercove was officially launched on the weekend of July 8 and 9. Of the 30 units released in the first phase, only a handful are still available for sale. Units sold range from $2.25 million for terraced houses without sea views to upward of $2.6 million for seafront terraced units.
For the 106-year-old Bukit Sembawang Estates, this also marks its last freehold development in Sembawang, an area where the developer has had a presence for more than half a century. Among Bukit Sembawang’s earliest housing estates in Sembawang were Sembawang Straits Estate and the neighbouring Straits Gardens. The projects consisted of houses on Andrews Avenue and Andrews Terrace.
“Bukit Sembawang has been developing houses there since the 1960s, and they are all freehold,” says Ng Chee Seng, CEO of Bukit Sembawang. “The neighbourhood around Watercove is all state land, which the government has since sold for landed housing development on 99-year leases.”
Anglers at the beach next to Sembawang Park
Sole freehold development amid leasehold sites
These leasehold developments include the adjacent eight bungalows by Fragrance Group called Bungalows by the Sea. Behind the bungalows are Goodland Group’s Shoreline Residences terraced houses on Inggu Road and Shoreline Residences II on Wak Hassan Drive. Located near Watercove and also in the Wak Hassan neighbourhood across the road from Sembawang Park is Sunway Development’s Avant Parc, with 15 terraced houses completed in 2014.
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In the vicinity of the landed housing estate is Tuan Sing Holdings’ upcoming Kandis Residences. The 130-unit condominium development is located on a 99-year leasehold site on Jalan Kandis off Sembawang Road.
Watercove is therefore the first freehold development to be launched in the Sembawang area in decades, notes Bukit Sembawang’s Ng. “This is definitely an attractive proposition for buyers, given the limited supply of freehold landed homes in Singapore and the fact that it is a cluster housing development fronting the sea.”
The development comprises a mix of intermediate terraced units, corner terraced units and semi-detached homes. Each unit, which has five levels from basement to roof terrace, has five en suite bedrooms, a home lift and basement parking for two cars, and is designed with smart home features.
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Bukit Sembawang is also offering luxury finishes and fittings for the units, such as De Dietrich and Miele kitchen appliances, Hansgrohe and Villeroy & Boch sanitaryware and Daikin air-conditioning units. The living and dining areas feature marble flooring, the bathrooms are full marble and the bedrooms have timber flooring.
Within the development are water features and amenities such as a swimming pool, reflexology pool and jacuzzi and onsen pools as well as a water play area for children.
Sembawang Park is popular with residents in the neighbourhood as well as leisure seekers
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Amenities in the neighbourhood
The developer will be providing free shuttle service to the Sembawang MRT station for the first year after the issuance of Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP). The project is scheduled for completion in 2H2019, in line with the completion of the new Canberra MRT station the same year and the opening of the new North-South Expressway the following year.
Watercove appeals to families that are predominantly upgraders from the northern region — whether those from public housing or older, 99-year leasehold condo developments who want to upgrade to a freehold, strata landed development with facilities, says Bukit Sembawang. There are also parents living in the landed housing estate of Sembawang who are buying a unit at Watercove for their children so they can live near them.
“This is an ideal home for those who rank privacy and tranquillity among some of the most important factors when looking for a property,” notes Bukit Sembawang’s Ng.
Amenities in the northern region include malls such as Sembawang Shopping Centre, Sun Plaza Shopping Mall, Causeway Point and Northpoint Shopping Mall. For water sports enthusiasts, the SAF Yacht Club is nearby, as is the Sembawang jetty, for those who want to fish, canoe or jet-ski. There is also the Water-Venture Centre for kayaking and wind surfing; as well as the Sembawang Hot Spring for a natural hot spring experience.
Sembawang is located within the Northern Coast Innovation Corridor, which stretches from the Woodlands Regional Centre to the future Seletar Regional Centre. These new commercial hubs are part of the government’s decentralisation strategy, and will have a wide range of live-work-play options for future residents.
Beaulieu House, a seafood restaurant located within Sembawang Park, is housed in a conservation bungalow built in the 1910s as the seaside residence of a Jewish family
‘Good potential’
Over time, Watercove should present good potential in terms of investment returns, says Ng. This is evident from Luxus Hills, Bukit Sembawang’s 999-year leasehold landed housing development located off Yio Chu Kang Road and Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5 and within the Seletar Hills Estate. The project comprises mainly terraced houses.
When the first phase of Luxus Hills was launched in July 2009, terraced houses were priced from $1.6 million, or $980 to over $1,000 psf. Similar-size terraced houses in Luxus Hills (Phase 7), the latest phase that was launched, were sold at prices ranging from $2.738 million ($1,696 psf) to $3.02 million ($1,870 psf). Luxus Hills Phase 7 is fully sold and fully completed, and Phases 8 and 9 are in the pipeline for launch.
Some of those who purchased terraced houses in the earlier phases have seen the value of their property appreciate over the years. For instance, a terraced house located on Seletar Green View within Luxus Hills changed hands for $2.88 million ($1,331 psf) in February. The buyer paid $2.115 million ($978 psf) for the house in 2010. Hence, he saw his property increase in value by 36% over the past six years.
The shophouses in the Sembawang area are occupied by seafood restaurants, pubs and other eateries
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Nim Road development up next
Bukit Sembawang also has a new landed housing project located on Nim Road, off Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5. The first phase of the Nim Road development will comprise 45 terraced houses and two semi-detached houses. The sprawling site of 1.26 million sq ft has been part of Bukit Sembawang’s landbank, a legacy of its early days in the rubber plantation business before it ventured into property development in the 1960s. When the site was approved for housing development, it was given a 99-year lease by the government.
Construction of the show suites on Nim Road is currently underway and projected to be completed by year-end. The timing of the launch, however, will depend on market forces, says Bukit Sembawang’s Ng.
A playground within the 15ha Sembawang Park
Limited supply
Transactions of landed homes — both new sales and resales — across the island have picked up, according to Desmond Sim, head of CBRE Research for Singapore and Southeast Asia. “Generally, prices of landed homes have achieved stability,” he notes. “Transactions are also a function of supply and what’s being launched.” (See Landed housing transactions: 2Q2017 versus 2Q2016 table.)
Landed homes — terraced houses, semi-detached and detached houses — account for about 21% of the housing stock in Singapore today. “Supply is still limited,” notes Sim. “These days, it’s rare to find a terraced house for under $2 million.”
Even in the 2H2017 Government Land Sales programme, there are only one or two sites that are offered for landed housing development, and these are mainly for cluster housing, adds Sim.
Given the rarity of Watercove — its freehold status and sea-fronting location — it is not surprising that Bukit Sembawang is expected to launch the subsequent phases at higher prices.
This article appeared in The Edge Property Pullout, Issue 788 (July 17, 2017) of The Edge Singapore