Cable Road bungalow lists for $60,000 in a more subdued GCB rental market

/ EdgeProp Singapore |
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In the prime districts of Singapore, rents of some Good Class Bungalows (GCBs) have descended from their stratospheric levels. A case in point is the GCB at Nassim Road, which was previously leased to Su Baolin, one of the 10 charged in the city state's largest money laundering case, which now stands at $3 billion. Su paid $120,000 a month for the GCB previously. According to sources, it was leased in April for $60,000 a month.
Meanwhile, another GCB at Bishopsgate, which was leased to Vang Shuiming, another one of the 10 charged for money laundering. It was leased for $150,000 a month, setting a new record for GCB rents. Since his arrest in August 2023, the GCB has been vacated. It is still on the market, with Aric Lim, Huttons Asia associate district director as the marketing agent. The asking rent is still $150,000 a month.
Correction: An earlier version of the story mentioned that the Bishopsgate GCB was leased. The error is regretted.
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The new wing of the bungalow and 25m lap pool of the property at 4 Cable Road (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
However, owners are more realistic about asking rents today, says PropNex associate group director Shawn Wong. He is the exclusive marketing agent for a conservation GCB at 4 Cable Road, on the market for rent at $60,000 a month.
The previous tenant, a Chinese technopreneur, had leased the property at Cable Road for $57,000 a month in November 2021.
He is said to have entertained frequently at home and had many house guests, which required him to have a live-in professional chef.
In June of last year, the tenant planned to renew the lease for another two years, agreeing to a higher rate of $80,000 per month. However, he departed Singapore with his family in August without completing the lease renewal.
The living and dining area at the new wing of the conservation bungalow at 4 Cable Road (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Adding a new wing

The owner of the conservation GCB on Cable Road is a shipping magnate who requested anonymity. He had purchased the two-storey conserved bungalow on a 17,329 sq ft freehold site from Straits Trading for $10.2 million ($589 psf) in 2006, according to a caveat lodged then.
In 2007, the owner added a new wing and a swimming pool to the conservation house. The result is an 11,000 sq ft, seven-bedroom (six en suite) house. The new wing contains an expansive new living and dining area on the first level and additional bedrooms on the second.
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Full-height glass sliding doors open to the patio and swimming pool area. Besides the 25m swimming pool, there is also a jacuzzi pool and a shower and changing room by the poolside. The driveway and car porch can accommodate 15 cars.
Since the new wing was added in 2007, the property has been leased at $40,000 to $50,000 monthly rental rates, says Wong.
The professional chef's kitchen, one of two kitchens in the conservation house at 4 Cable Road (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

$1.2 million upgrade

Three years ago, the owner decided to invest $1.2 million in renovating the property. The entire home automation system was overhauled, all the toilets were renovated, and even the kitchens were updated. A storage room next to the dining area was converted into a display and storage area for about 500 bottles of wine and liquor.
The house has two kitchens: One for everyday use and the second, a professional kitchen with top-end finishes and European brand kitchen appliances, such as Liebherr refrigerators and a whole suite of V-Zug appliances, including dishwashers. An exhaust duct and fan with a UV ozone chamber were added to remove the cooking smells. It’s ideal for those who hire professional chefs when they entertain at home, says Wong.
In addition to the living and dining space and the back-of-house areas, the house’s first level contains an entertainment room and a guest suite. The second level has a family room with a built-in pantry and five en suite bedrooms, including the master suite and junior master suite. A multi-purpose room is connected to the junior master suite and another en suite bedroom. Wong adds that the multi-purpose room can be used as a study, a children’s recreational area, a music room or a dance studio.
After the renovations, the conservation GCB was listed for rent at $60,000 a month sometime in late 2021. Several parties showed interest, but the highest offer came from a Chinese technopreneur, who signed on as a tenant in November 2021 with a bid of $57,000 per month. However, the house has remained vacant since his departure last August.
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The wine cellar and storage area (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

‘In line with the market today’

The conservation bungalow has since been spruced up and is once again available for lease at the same asking rent of $60,000 a month. “Interest has been strong as the asking rent is in line with the market today,” says PropNex’s Wong. “Since we opened for viewing a fortnight ago, we have had two- to three viewings each week.”
Potential tenants include expatriate senior management staff of multinational firms, senior executives of private equity firms, tech company co-founders or entrepreneurs. Given that the conservation GCB at 4 Cable Road is in a prime area and in “almost brand new” condition, offers have come in at $52,000 to $55,000 a month, says Wong.
“MNCs tend to be profit-driven and have a set budget for accommodation,” adds Wong. “It’s very different from the wealthy Chinese who can easily outbid everyone’s accommodation budget.”
The lounge of the master suite of the bungalow at 4 Cable Road (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
He concedes that since the government’s crackdown on the money laundering cases, activity at the top end of the residential market has been muted. “That’s why there is quite a lot of supply,” he adds.
Some GCBs listed at monthly rents of $100,000 before have now been marked down to about $65,000 a month, says Jacqueline Wong, executive director of Hardington Private, a niche consultancy for ultra-high-net-worth individuals and family offices. “The $50,000 to $60,000 a month range is for the C-suite executives of multinational firms,” she adds. “However, such budgets are uncommon.”
Given the more challenging business environment, the budget for expatriate C-suite executives has tightened to the $20,000 to $30,000 range, depending on the industry, says Hardington’s Wong. She adds that top executives of multinational firms and high-level embassy staff are likely to be in the $30,000 to $50,000 range.
Those willing to cough up rents in the $60,000 to $120,000 range are in a different league, according to Hardington’s Wong. “They are the ultra-high-net-worth individuals setting up a business or establishing a family office in Singapore,” she adds. “They are not your typical tenants.”

‘Kosher money’

Alan Cheong, executive director of research and consultancy at Savills Singapore, reckons that those willing to pay monthly rents in the $80,000 to $120,000 spectrum are also locking in on the property they intend to buy. “They are likely to have applied for their citizenship and are waiting for it to be approved before they purchase,” he says. “These are people whose money is kosher. They could be billionaires from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia or other parts of the world.”
Such ‘lock-ins’ by tenants are a reaction to the property cooling measures. “The 60% additional buyer’s stamp duty [ABSD] for foreigners is motivating them to do that,” Cheong says. If they purchase a $60 million property, a 60% ABSD means an additional $36 million, with an additional 6% or $3.6 million in buyer’s stamp duty, resulting in a total acquisition price of $99.6 million.
Property tax for residential investment properties at the top end was raised to the 12% to 36% bracket this year, making landlords more resistant to lower rents. “The result is that rents will be more sticky downwards,” says Savills’ Cheong.
The new wing on the left and the original conservation bungalow on the right (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
PropNex’s Wong agrees. He estimates that the owner of the conservation GCB at 4 Cable Road is paying over $200,000 a year in property tax, based on the latest property tax rates.
On top of that, the maintenance cost for a conservation bungalow is higher than that of a conventional bungalow, according to Wong, given that the windows, doors, beams and flooring in the upper-level area are all made of timber. The house must also be repainted every few years to maintain the black and white façade. “Singapore’s weather – the rain and sunshine – increases the cost of wear and tear,” he says.
Still, the owner of the GCB at 4 Cable Road regards the property as the crown jewel in his investment portfolio, which includes units and penthouses in condos such as Ardmore II, Beaufort Nassim, The Boulevard Residences and Nassim Park Residences.
After all, fewer than 100 such conservation bungalows are currently in private hands, says the owner.
PropNex’s Wong: Owners are more realistic about their asking rents today (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The location of the conservation bungalow at 4 Cable Road in prime District 10 (Source: EdgeProp Landlens)
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