North Gaia to set trend for EC projects at average price of $1,250 to $1,280 psf

/ EdgeProp Singapore |
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions from March 29, developers are preparing to launch their larger-scale projects. First out of the gate is Sing Holdings’ 616-unit executive condo (EC) North Gaia at Yishun Close, which opened its sales gallery and showflats for public preview on April 7. E-application will be held from April 7 to 19, with prices of the units to be released on April 20 and 21, followed by manual balloting on April 22 and booking of units on April 23.
The project will have 11 blocks of 14 storeys, with three- to five-bedroom apartments, sitting on a 99-year leasehold, 231,575 sq ft, regular-shaped plot. Across the road is the 40ha Khatib Bongsu Nature Park, with mangroves, mudflats and a river where people can go kayaking.
“When I first viewed the site two years ago, it was the prospect of the nature reserve that drew me,” says Lee Sze Hao, CEO and managing director of Sing Holdings. “It is very rare for a suburban residential project to be located so close to the nature reserve.”
North Gaia will have 11 blocks of 14 storeys sitting on a 99-year leasehold, 231,575 sq ft plot located cross the road from the 40ha Khatib Bongsu Nature Park (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Sing Holdings won the site with a bid of $373.5 million or a land rate of $576 psf per plot ratio (ppr) in November 2020. The land rate of $576 psf ppr was second only to the $583 psf ppr paid by a joint venture between City Developments Ltd (CDL) and TID (a joint venture between Hong Leong Holdings and Japanese developer Mitsui Fudosan) for the Sumang Walk EC site in February 2018. That was a record price for an EC site then.
When the EC at Sumang Walk, the 820-unit Piermont Grand, was launched in July 2019 at an average price of $1,109 psf, it was the first EC to cross the psychological threshold of $1,000 psf. Piermont Grand was fully sold as of end-December 2021, just 2½ years after its launch. The last few units that were sold fetched a median price of $1,159 psf, according to caveats lodged with URA Realis from September to December 2021.

‘Quench the thirst’

Since Piermont Grand, four other ECs have been launched. March 2020 saw the debut of the 548-unit Ola at Anchorvale Crescent in Sengkang, which was fully sold as of end-March this year. Three EC projects were launched in 2021: The 700-unit Parc Central in January, which was fully sold within 12 months; the 413-unit Provence Residence, which was launched in May last year and has only three available units as at April 5; and the 496-unit Parc Greenwich, which was rolled out last September and has just 13 unsold units as at April 5 (see table, “Latest sales of executive condo projects launched from 2019 to 2021”).
“As North Gaia is the first major launch of 2022, and also the first EC, units there are likely to be oversubscribed,” says Ismail Gafoor, CEO of PropNex. North Gaia is jointly marketed by PropNex, ERA, Huttons and SRI.
Interest in ECs has been on the rise after the “circuit breaker” of April to June 2020, according to Mark Yip, CEO of Huttons Asia. There are 16 unsold new EC units from the three projects launched last year, he notes. “The launch of a new EC project, North Gaia, is likely to quench the thirst [for ECs],” adds Yip. He is projecting that sales could be “as high as 50%” on launch day.

Limited new stock

There has not been a new EC project in Yishun in seven years, not since Signature at Yishun and The Criterion, two EC projects situated adjacent to each other and launched in September and October 2015 respectively. Both projects were fully sold and completed in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Signature at Yishun will hit its five-year minimum occupation period (MOP) this year, and The Criterion will achieve MOP next year.
Units in EC projects can only be resold to Singaporeans and permanent residents five years after MOP. It is only in the 10th year that the units in the development can be traded like other 99-year leasehold condos, and open to foreign buyers. (Discover insightful data of any Singapore condominium with our condo directory)
Almost 7,000 HDB flats (three-room and larger) in Yishun have obtained MOP between 2019 and 2021, Huttons’ Yip adds. “This forms a potential pool of HDB upgraders for North Gaia.”
Living room of a 1,076 sq ft three-bedroom showflat that comes with yard and study (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The EC market is relatively unaffected by the cooling measures: HDB upgraders are not subjected to the additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD) when buying an EC unit. They need not sell their existing HDB flat until they receive the keys to their new EC unit. And they are given six months to dispose of their HDB flat. The HDB resale levy will only be paid upon the sale of the flat.
Besides HDB upgraders, first-time home buyers are another source of demand for ECs. They are unaffected by the higher ABSD as they are buying their first home, says Nicholas Mak, head of research & consultancy at ERA Realty Network.
However, they could be affected by the tightening of the total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) from 60% to 55% in the latest round of cooling measures on Dec 16, 2021, he notes. Nevertheless, this could be mitigated by the higher household income ceiling of $16,000 for EC buyers, up from $14,000 in 2019, he adds.
Walls between rooms can be partially demolished to create doorways or recesses for storage or displays (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

New threshold prices for ECs

Sing Holdings is expected to set a new benchmark for the EC market with average price of units at North Gaia between $1,250 psf and $1,280 psf. Based on caveats lodged for the first three months of 2022, median price at Provence Residence is already at $1,242 psf; and at Parc Greenwich, median price of units sold is at $1,226 psf.
“North Gaia will set the trend for the remaining two ECs in the pipeline for launch this year,” says PropNex’s Gafoor.
The two ECs in the pipeline are slated for launch in the second half of this year. The 639-unit EC at Tengah Garden Walk by a joint venture between CDL and MCL Land is targeted for launch in 3Q2022; while the 600-unit EC at Tampines Street 62 by a joint venture between Qingjian Realty and Santarli Construction is scheduled for 4Q2022.
The study area along the corridor can be combined with the utility area to create a larger study or a guest room in the 1,076 sq ft, three-bedroom-plus-utility-and-study (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
CDL and MCL Land paid $603 psf ppr for their EC site at Tengah Garden Walk in June last year, while Qingjian and Santarli paid $659 psf ppr for the EC site at Tampines Street 62 in July 2021, breaking the record for land rates in the EC segment.
Qingjian and Santarli shattered their own record in March this year when they won the EC site at Bukit Batok West Avenue 8 with a land bid of $662 psf ppr. The new 375-unit EC project at Bukit Batok West is expected to be launched sometime in 2Q2023.

Benchmark land prices in the OCR

It is not just EC land prices that are setting new highs. “Even government land sales [GLS] of 99-year private residential sites in the Outside Central Region [OCR] are setting benchmark prices,” remarks ERA’s Mak.
The showflat of the 1,389 sq ft four-bedroom penthouse with 4m ceiling height (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Last July, GuocoLand set a new record for private residential development land in the OCR when it paid $1,204 psf ppr for a mixed-use development site at Lentor Central, which will be connected to Lentor MRT Station on the Thomson-East Coast Line. The new project, Lentor Modern at Lentor Central, is likely to be launched sometime at the end of 3Q2022 or early 4Q2022.
Meanwhile, a joint venture between UOL Group, Singapore Land Group and Kheng Leong Co paid $1,118 psf ppr for the residential GLS site at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 last May. The new 372-unit project on the site is expected to be launched in June this year. “Both these projects will be setting a new price benchmark for the OCR as they are likely to be launched at prices close to $2,000 psf,” notes ERA’s Mak.
With ECs priced at the $1,250 psf to above $1,300 psf range, and upcoming OCR launches projected to enter the market at $1,900 to above $2000 psf, there is still a 46% to 52% price gap between these two market segments, says Ken Low, managing partner of SRI. “ECs still present a very attractive opportunity for home seekers,” he adds.
Three-bedroom units of 958 to 1,076 sq ft make up 518 of the 616 units or 84% at North Gaia (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Three-bedders make up 84% of units

At North Gaia, 85% of the units have a north-south orientation. About 22% of the units have views of the Khatib Bongsu Nature Park or the canal and upcoming park next to the project. “The attraction of this project is its proximity to greenery,” notes ERA’s Mak.
Three-bedroom apartments are from 958 to 1,076 sq ft, and come in various permutations including those with a yard and study. Three-bedders make up 518 units (84%) of the total units in the project. Four-bedders are from 1,313 to 1,389 sq ft, and make up 84 units. These units come with 5.2m frontage for the living and dining area.
The remaining 14 units in the development are five-bedders sized at 1,593 sq ft. There are 45 penthouse units on the topmost floor (14th level), and these come with 4m ceiling height and are a mix of three- to five-bedroom units. The project is scheduled for completion sometime in June 2027.
Four- and five-bedroom units come with dry and wet kitchen (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Communal facilities include co-working space, a meeting room, two 50m swimming pools, tennis court and jogging track of over 450m. Residents have access to the park connector via a side-gate at North Gaia. The park connector links to the Khatib Bongsu Nature Park across the road and also the 16.7km Northern Explorer Loop, says SRI’s Low.
The Junction Nine mall is also within walking distance (450m away), and offers 100 retail and F&B shops including a 10,000 sq ft Sheng Siong supermarket. Across the road along Yishun Avenue 9 are coffee shops and eateries too, he adds. North Gaia is located within 1km of four primary schools including Chong Fu School, one of the top primary schools in the north, Low comments.

Growth potential

North Gaia is also situated within a growth area — the North Coast Innovation Corridor — which stretches from Woodlands to Yishun and Sembawang, and ends in Seletar and the Punggol Digital District. “The potential for growth is huge, given the fact that EC buyers will need to hold their units for at least six to seven years,” he adds.
North Gaia executive condo is located next to Symphony Suites and is scheduled to be completed in 2026 (Credit: EdgeProp Land Lens)
Sing Holdings’ Lee believes Singapore’s residential market will “remain healthy”, given the easing of restrictions, the reopening of the economy and better job prospects. Unemployment rate is also back at December 2019 pre-Covid levels, according to the Department of Statistics, with the overall unemployment rate in January 2022 at 2.3% (from 2.4% previously).
Unsold housing stock is also at an all-time low, with fewer than 4,000 units from existing private residential launches in the OCR to date, estimates PropNex’s Gafoor. “Choices are limited, and there aren’t many available for sale in the $1,300 to $1,400 psf price range,” he points out. (Discover all Singapore new launch condos in 2022)
A projected 31,325 HDB Build-To-Order (BTO) flats are expected to reach MOP this year — the highest figure in a decade. Last year, 25,530 HDB BTO flats obtained MOP. “Demand for ECs is expected to remain strong this year,” says Gafoor. (Find HDB flats for rent or sale with our Singapore HDB directory)

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