From Pepper Kingdom to modern-day Choa Chu Kang

By Ruth Loh Xiu / EdgeProp Singapore | July 8, 2019 3:30 PM SGT
Choa Chu Kang has rather distinctive—and also patriotic—red-and-white-brick HDB flats. Photo credit: Loh Xiu Ruth
The name “Choa Chu Kang” is rooted in the Teochew term “Kang Chu”, meaning River Clan. Back in the day, Choa Chu Kang was a plantation ground and its riverbanks were seeded with pepper and gambier. Children darted among the kampung houses, street hawkers vocally advertised their wares, and families lived in attap homes.
All of that is long gone. Choa Chu Kang is no longer flush with crops and wild vegetation, but brick-and-mortar blocks staring straight into the sky. Its first HDB neighbourhood was completed in 1977 at Teck Whye, one of its seven neighbourhoods.

The geographical boundaries of Choa Chu Kang

Choa Chu Kang flanks fresh-aired, hilly Bukit Panjang and comprises seven subzones: Peng Siang, Keat Hong, Teck Whye (mother of Choa Chu Kang’s first HDB homes), Choa Chu Kang North, Yew Tee (which, ironically, is actually farther north on the map than Choa Chu Kang North), and Choa Chu Kang Central.
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The green outline skimming the edges of Choa Chu Kang demarcates the planning area from its neighbours. Photo credit: www.ura.gov.sg
On the map, Choa Chu Kang is adorably shaped like a leprechaun’s hat. Surrounded by the likes of nature-filled Bukit Panjang, Tengah, and Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang reflects the same green influence.
On the map, Choa Chu Kang is adorably shaped like a leprechaun’s hat. Surrounded by the likes of nature-filled Bukit Panjang, Tengah, and Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang reflects the same green influence.
Choa Chu Kang HDB residents enjoy sunshine, fresh air, and riotous greenery. Photo credit: Loh Xiu Ruth
There are more than 169,000 HDB residents living in nearly 50,000 flats across the area. Price-wise, HDB units are relatively uniform for certain HDB categories, from $420,000 for a high-floor 5I model at 205 Choa Chu Kang Central (about $320 psf) sold in July 2019 to $425,000 (about $300 psf) for a high-floor 5A model at 7 Teck Whye Avenue sold in May 2019. Four-room flats have slightly wider price ranges; a mid-floor 4A model at 1 Teck Whye Avenue sold for $265,000 (about $240 psf) in November 2018 while a mid-to-high-floor 4A model at 205 Choa Chu Kang Central sold for $370,000 (about $330 psf) in September 2018. Some blocks have not seen transactions in several years, such as Block 201 at Choa Chu Kang Avenue 1.
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Non-landed residential price movements over the years

There are also a number of condominium developments in the area, some with names that hearken to the township’s yesteryears as a plantation farmstead. Palm Gardens, Northvale Condominium, and The Rainforest are some of them.
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Darren Teo, head of research at Edmund Tie & Co (ET&Co) notes that between 2013 and now, private non-landed units in Choa Chu Kang have a median unit size of just over 1,200 sq ft and a median psf of about $785. The biggest number of resale units changed hands in 2018. So far, fewer than 50 private non-landed properties have been sold this year.
Transactions of private non-landed units in Choa Chu Kang
Year
Resales volume
Median unit size (sq ft)
Median price psf ($)
Median unit price ($)
2013
94
1,206
833
975,000
2014
94
1,206
831
943,500
2015
104
1,206
785
900,000
2016
105
1,206
751
888,000
2017
127
1,216
752
870,000
2018
138
1,206
738
894,000
Jan to Jun 2019
40
1,227
803
909,000
Source: ET&Co and URA, based on caveats as of July 1, 2019
Teo says, “With no sales and new project launches [in the area] over the past five years, the resales data suggests that median unit prices and median psf have been declining, with median unit size remaining largely unchanged.”
He also observes that median unit prices fell by an approximately 1.1% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2014 and 2018, while median psf prices dropped about by a 2.3% CAGR. He adds, “prices appear to have picked up in the first half of 2019, although sales volume has slowed”.
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Factors impacting Choa Chu Kang property prices

What shapes the price of a property? For Choa Chu Kang, Teo cites three factors:
1) Age: the average age of Choa Chu Kang's units is 15 years (and increasing).
2) Dearth of new development: the newest private development, The Tennery, was completed in 2014.
3) Active private property market in neighbouring areas: Bukit Panjang has seen a significantly higher number of new private developments launched and sold.
Teo also lists “the opening of Bukit Panjang MRT Station on the Downtown Line from end-2015 onwards” as a factor, and this has “apparently made Choa Chu Kang less attractive with the median prices for resale units (leasehold) averaging some 15-20% lower”, despite slightly smaller unit sizes.

Choa Chu Kang in the near future

Even as Choa Chu Kang evolves, the area’s amenity hubs and fantastic food will – hopefully – remain unchanged. Photo credit: Loh Xiu Ruth
With this, are there upcoming changes that will influence Choa Chu Kang price movements?
Teo points out four shifts in the area’s infrastructure and amenity additions that might potentially exert upward or downward price pressure:
1.) The new Choa Chu Kang bus interchange that opened on Dec 16, 2018 – likely to have a positive impact on prices and is a possible factor for this year’s stronger prices.
2.) Choa Chu Kang MRT Station joining the new Jurong Region Line (expected opening: 2026) that will increase the area’s connectivity to industrial and commercial precincts in the west, notably Jurong Innovation District and Jurong Lake District – likely to have a positive impact on prices.
3.) SAFRA’s new clubhouse opening at Choa Chu Kang Park in 2022 – possibly positive,but even so, price influence is limited.
4.) Tengah’s full-fledged launch across 700 ha, infusing the property market with 30,000 HDB units and 12,000 private units (the first tranche launched in late 2018) – likely to have a negative impact on Choa Chu Kang’s property prices.
While no longer a playground for pepper plants, Choa Chu Kang has evolved along with the rest of the country to create a safe haven and homestead for generations of Singaporeans, and generations to come.
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