Conservation terraced house at Cairnhill Road for sale at $10.8 mil

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/ EdgeProp Singapore
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January 29, 2021 6:04 AM SGT
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - In prime District 9, Cairnhill Road stands out as a residential enclave with some of the most eclectic options. There’s the new: luxury condos such as the 56-unit The Ritz-Carlton Residences by KOP Properties and the upcoming 138-unit, Klimt Cairnhill (a redevelopment of the former Cairnhill Mansion) by Low Keng Huat; and the older condos, such as the 204-unit Cairnhill Plaza, built in 1978.
BLD-116-CAIRNHILL-RD - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The intermediate conservation terraced house at 116 Cairnhill Road is on the market for $10.8 million (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
And there’s the historical: a stretch of about 40 conserved terraced houses across the road. A row of 28, from No. 68 to 124 Cairnhill Road, were built between the turn of the century and around 1940, and in the Late Shophouse and Art Deco styles, according to URA. Another row of nine terraced houses from 128 to 128H Cairnhill Road also date back to that era. These freehold terraced houses were awarded conservation status in 1989.
On the market is one of these rare properties at 116 Cairnhill Road: an intermediate double-storey terraced house with an attic. It sits on a freehold land area of 2,562 sq ft, with a built-up area of about 4,000 sq ft. The existing property has five bedrooms, of which three are en suite. The bedrooms span the second floor and attic level. There is also a helper’s room next to the generous-sized kitchen. The house has a spacious living and dining area, with high ceilings and an airwell with a retractable roof and a skylight to allow natural light in.
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It was last tenanted to an art collector who used to display his million-dollar artwork on the walls, says Melvin Lim, co-founder and CEO of PropertyLimBrothers (PLB), the exclusive marketing agent for the property. Lim is also senior associate district group director of Propnex Realty. The monthly asking rent was $12,500. “At the peak of the market, rents even crossed $16,000 a month,” he relates.
MELVIN-LIM - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Lim: As a heritage property and with just 40 units along that stretch, it’s an ideal addition to one’s collection (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Hidden potential

The property has a price tag of $10.8 million, which translates to $4,215 psf based on land area. However, this particular intermediate terraced house has hidden potential as the new owner will be able to build a new extension at the rear of the house, which will increase the built-up area by another 2,000 sq ft.
Most of the owners have already built an extension; hence, they have a built-up area of 6,500 to 6,700 sq ft. What’s more, the property at 116 Cairnhill Road is one of just a handful along that row which has the privilege of two additional parking spaces at the rear end of the house, on top of a front driveway with space for one car.
“In the prime districts, parking is always a challenge, and this is even more so in conservation areas,” says Kenneth Tan, listing manager at PLB, as well as senior marketing manager of PropNex Realty. “Having one’s designated parking space is therefore a privilege.”
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Access to the rear parking space is from the road sitting between the two corner units of No. 124 and 128 Cairnhill Road. This is also the road leading to a staircase up the slope to One-Two-Six Cairnhill Art Centre.
BLD-116-CAIRNHILL-RD - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The living area on the first level of the conservation terraced house (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Scarcity factor

Such conserved terraced houses are considered landed property, and therefore, only Singapore citizens are eligible to purchase them. Like for Good Class Bungalows, foreigners are not allowed to buy these houses. Permanent residents (PRs) have to apply to the Singapore Land Authority’s Land Dealings Approval Unit (LDAU), says PLB’s Lim. “Even for a couple, if one of them is a PR and the other a Singapore citizen, they need to get LDAU approval in order to purchase,” he adds.
The latest transaction of a conserved terraced house is one of the intermediate terraced houses at the adjacent row of 128 to 128H Cairnhill Road. The intermediate unit sits on a land area of 2,042 sq ft and has a built-up area of 4,500 sq ft. The property changed hands for $8.88 million ($4,349 psf based on land area) last August, according to a caveat lodged with URA Realis.
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Most people compare these houses with penthouses or condominium units of more than 2,000 sq ft in the same area, notes Lim. However, the built-up area of the house is bigger than most condominium units, and it is scarce, he adds.
For instance, at The Ritz-Carlton Residences located just across the road, three-bedroom units are 2,831 sq ft in size, and four-bedroom units are 3,057 sq ft in size. Last year, the three-bedroom units were sold at prices ranging from $10.14 million ($3,582 psf) to $10.388 million ($3,669 psf) while a four-bedroom unit fetched $10.5 million ($3,435 psf), according to caveats lodged.
BLD-116-CAIRNHILL-RD - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The airwell with a skylight and retractable roof allows natural light in (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Long-term investment

According to Tan, interested parties are a mix of owner-occupiers and investors who intend to hold it for the long term. The existing owner purchased the property in 2011 and has held it for investment for the past 10 years. A decade ago, the price was $7.78 million, based on a caveat lodged with URA Realis.
The other conservation area in District 9 is on Emerald Hill Road. The latest transaction there was for an intermediate terraced house that fetched $10.3 million in January this year. The terraced house sits on a freehold land area of 1,747 sq ft; hence, the price translates to $5,896 psf. According to PLB’s Tan, the property is one of those without a driveway.
At Emerald Hill Road, most of the conserved terraced houses do not have a driveway for parking cars. Most of them have to park at the public carpark or along the side of the road, Tan points out.
PLB recently brokered the sale of a penthouse at 111 Emerald Hill, a freehold condominium situated along Emerald Hill Road, amid the rows of conserved terraced houses. There are only 40 units within this development. The 4,650 sq ft penthouse was sold for $8.5 million ($1,828 psf) in January (see tables below).
TABLES - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE

Collector’s item

The conserved terraced houses represent an investment opportunity for Singaporeans, says Lim. This is especially so for the row of conserved terraced houses along Cairnhill Road. “A lot of people who drive past these rows of conservation terraced houses may have this preconception that the houses are small and narrow,” says Lim. “But when they go in, they realise it’s so spacious inside.”
In prime District 9, there is already very limited supply of landed property, Lim points out. “And this is a heritage property, which makes it even rarer.” Hence, he believes buying one of these properties on Cairnhill Road “is an ideal addition to one’s collection”, he adds.