Special Feature

GCB Collective’s game changer: proprietary database of listings

By GCB Collective
/ Huttons Asia |
The trio making up GCB Collective: Lawrence See, Ernest Tay and Mey Lim (Albert Chua/ EdgeProp Singapore)
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Lawrence See, a Senior District Director with Huttons Asia, has been in the real estate industry for nine years. He owes his success in the field to his mentor and District Director, Rex Tan. It was only at the start of the pandemic in 2020 that See ventured into the highest echelon of the property market, Good Class Bungalows (GCBs).
With just 2,860 GCBs in 39 gazetted areas across Singapore, selling prices of these coveted homes can range from $25 million to $300 million each. Naturally, GCB owners are the Who’s Who in Singapore. The exclusivity of the clients at this top tier of the residential market means that very few of the properties for sale appear on the open market. “Most transactions are shrouded in secrecy,” says See.
Lawrence See, aged 39, from Huttons Asia (Albert Chua/ EdgeProp Singapore)
Going solo was relatively taxing, hence See was looking for a like-minded partner to work with when he met Ernest Tay, a Senior District Director of Huttons Asia, within the same team, Rex Tan District (RTD). They hit it off immediately and felt they had good synergy.
Early this year, Tay was invited by a referral for the appointment of exclusive marketing agent for a GCB seller. The GCB seller had considered several agents before selecting the duo as the sole marketing agents for his property as he found the duo to be trustworthy and efficient.
Ernest Tay, aged 37, from Huttons Asia (Albert Chua/ EdgeProp Singapore)
The success of this collaboration made them realise that working together was better than going solo. To further strengthen their team, they decided to join forces with someone who had more experience than them — Mey Lim, Associate Senior Marketing Director at Huttons Asia, who specialises in selling and renting residential property in the traditional prime districts of 9, 10 and 11 as well as GCBs.
The three of them formed GCB Collective last year. The idea behind GCB Collective was to work with other agents, share listings with each other and welcome co-broking, says Tay. Their aim was to increase transparency in the GCB market and to level the playing field, he adds.
Mey Lim, the ‘mother’ of GCB Collective (Albert Chua/ EdgeProp Singapore)
According to Tay, trust plays an integral role in the way they conduct business with their clients and fellow realtors. For instance, the trio were offered $300,000 to provide information regarding the bidding parties for a GCB they were marketing. They turned down the offer immediately. Instead, they informed the seller of the GCB about the offer to avoid any conflict of interest.
“Some agents may choose to accept the additional fees, and try to sweep it under the rug,” says Tay. However, he believes that it’s more important to build a stellar reputation in the industry. Any unethical actions will eventually come to light, he adds.

‘Most comprehensive GCB database’

The game changer is the database of the latest GCB listings on the market, which the trio painstakingly created by reaching out to fellow agents marketing GCBs as well as GCB owners who are looking to sell their property. The result? “The most comprehensive GCB database available today,” says Tay.
GCB Collective will be a “one-stop shop” for buyers and co-broking agents where they can match the requirements of buyers and sellers, saving time for all parties involved. “Time is the only resource we can’t get back and we should respect the time of all parties,” says Tay.
The database is updated weekly to ensure that the information is accurate and to date. The total quantum of the 70 GCBs for sale in its database exceeds $2.85 billion. Over the past year, the trio had brokered GCBs worth over $165 million in sales.
A GCB that they brokered recently was 9 Dunearn Close at Capitol Park in prime District 11. The GCB sits on a freehold site of 17,871 sq ft. The original house was built in 1994, but the previous owner was a contractor who had completely renovated the property five years ago. A car porch was added in front, with a swimming pool and barbeque pit in the backyard. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors were added to facilitate indoor-outdoor living and to accommodate a spill-over of guests when entertaining. Indeed, the house was designed for those who like to entertain, says See.
The GCB at 9 Dunearn Close was sold for $25 million in April this year (Albert Chua/ EdgeProp Singapore)
The team at GCB Collective represented the buyer of the GCB at 9 Dunearn Close, and the deal was closed within 48 hours. The buyer had been in the market for a GCB for some time, according to See. The GCB at 9 Dunearn Close was not yet on the market, but the trio at GCB Collective felt that it fit the buyer’s criteria and budget. They requested a viewing, and the family fell in love with the GCB and decided to purchase it on the spot.
The property changed hands for $25 million ($1,399 psf), according to a caveat lodged in April this year. The speed at which the deal was closed was attributed to the GCB Collective’s in-house GCB database, which also allows them to pre-qualify and shortlist prospective buyers.

‘GCB market still resilient’

Last month, the trio brokered the sale of two bungalows, one located at Sixth Avenue and the other along Belmont Road. Both are in the Bukit Timah area which is sought after due to its proximity to top schools and amenities.
View from the Sixth Avenue property recently brokered by GCB Collective (Huttons Asia)
The Sixth Avenue property features 1990s architecture and has five bedrooms, all with en suite bathrooms. It sits on a freehold site of 15,085 sq ft and is also located in the prime District 10 enclave. When the property was put on the market, there were more than 30 interested parties. Due to the strong interest, GCB Collective had to conduct the sale via a closed bidding process. Three bids were received, and the property has been sold, although the deal is yet to be completed.
GCB transaction volume has halved this year, compared to a year ago. According to Huttons’ Prestige Report, in 1H2022, there were 28 bungalow deals in GCB areas. The figure is 52.5% lower y-o-y. The total value of bungalow deals in GCB areas was $714.9 million in 1H2022, down 59.3% y-o-y. Huttons Research attributes the drop in transaction volume to price mismatch and a lack of listings.
Hence, the success of the trio behind GCB Collective in closing deals is even more commendable, given the market backdrop. According to Tay, the profile of buyers looking for a GCB today tend to be those in their late 30s to early 40s. Some are successful entrepreneurs while others are beneficiaries of intergenerational wealth transfer, says Tay. The majority are Chinese and Indonesians who have recently become Singapore citizens, he adds.
Despite the global economic uncertainty, Tay remains bullish about the GCB market.
“It’s a resilient ecosystem due to the tight supply as very few GCBs enter the market for sale each time,” he says.
To find out more, please reach out to the GCB Collective:
For more information:
Contact Lawrence See l 93500007
Agency Name: Huttons Asia Pte ltd
CEA Number: R049755C
Contact Mey Lim l 97933429
Agency Name: Huttons Asia Pte ltd
CEA Number: R031182D
Contact Ernest Tay l 91135055
Agency Name: Huttons Asia Pte ltd
CEA Number: R053562E

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