[UPDATE] Sales of detached houses over last four months double in volume compared to a year ago

/ EdgeProp Singapore |
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Since last December, 10 Good Class Bungalows (GCBs) have changed hands at prices above $30 million, based on caveats lodged as at Feb 6. Of these, four were transacted above $40 million — the highest being $48 million ($2,893 psf) for a GCB at Swettenham Close - purchased by Ben Chng, former owner of Singapore-based instant beverage and ceral maker, Viz Branz (see Table 2). He had sold a majority stake in VizBranz to Bahrain-based alternative investment firm InvestCorp last November. The deal was brokered by luxury bungalow specialist, KH Tan of Newsman Realty.
Former home of Roy Teo at Chatsworth Avenue, sold in January for $27.38 million ($2,938 psf) (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The latest transaction was for a GCB at Leedon Park sitting on a freehold land area of 21,584 sq ft: It changed hands for $37.3 million ($1,727 psf). The buyer is believed to be a Chinese national turned Singapore citizen.
Sources of demand for GCBs are quite varied, says William Wong, managing director of RealStar Premier Group. “They include those upgrading from the smaller bungalows, and newly minted Singapore citizens not just from China, but Hong Kong, Taiwan and elsewhere.” RealStar is said to have captured 40% market share of GCB transactions last year, based on caveats lodged as at Jan 7, 2021.

Large detached houses

Demand for GCBs has been particularly strong in the prime districts of 9, 10 and 11, adds Wong. He sees more buyers seeking bigger plots of at least 20,000 sq ft compared to a decade ago, when there was more demand for “boutique-sized GCBs” of about 15,070 sq ft.
Good Class Bungalow at Swettenham Close sold for $48 million ($2,893 psf)
Nevertheless, demand has also spilled over to detached houses of 7,000 sq ft to 10,000 sq ft, he says.
In early January, a bungalow at Chatsworth Avenue GCB Area fetched $27.38 million ($2,938 psf). The deal was brokered by RealStar Premier. The bungalow, which has five en suite bedrooms, sits on a land area of 9,319 sq ft and has a built-up area of over 7,000 sq ft. The house was designed by Roy Teo, founder and group managing director of The Mill Group of design firms, and it was also his former home.
Based on caveats and Inlis search, the buyer is Koo Chiang, the executive chairman of Credit Bureau Asia, a leading player in the credit and risk information solutions business. business. The firm was listed on the Singapore Exchange in early December.
The living room of the bungalow at Chatsworth Avenue that was sold in January (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The detached housing segment has seen a doubling in transaction volume from 4Q2020 to January 2021, compared to the previous period (4Q2019 to January 2020). Transactions of semi-detached houses have likewise doubled, while that of terraced houses has increased 1.8 times over the corresponding period. Transaction volume across all landed housing segments was also more than double that in October 2018-January 2019 (see Table 1). Overall landed housing transactions have increased about 20% y-o-y in 2020, notes RealStar’s Wong. He expects prices of landed property to appreciate about 5% to 7% this year.
While transaction volume has increased, average prices have not recovered as quickly. “The transactions of the large plots with old bungalows have pulled down the average price to some extent,” says Bruce Lye, managing partner of SRI.
However, as transaction volume increases steadily, prices are likely to “firm up”, he adds.
The houses at 33 and 33A Shelford are on the market for $13.56 million and $12.8 million respectively, or $2,450 psf (Photo: Jean Yip Holdon

Newly completed offerings

Demand for newly completed homes is at an all-time high, notes RealStar’s Wong. He attributes it partly to buyers being cognisant of the fact that the pandemic has also resulted in higher construction cost and a longer construction period. However, there are some who still prefer to buy an old house in a good location, and redevelop according to their own needs. This is exactly what the owner of a bungalow at Linden Drive did.
Niche developers specialising in the landed housing segment have also been active this past year. And they have been zooming-in on old detached houses sitting on relatively large land parcels of 10,000 to 20,000 sq ft, which can be sub-divided into smaller detached or other mixed landed developments.
“These developers are optimistic that demand for brand- new developments will be high for the next two years,” says Wong.
A pair of three-storey, five-bedroom detached houses at 3 Merryn Road by developer ABN Holdings is on the market today, with the houses scheduled for completion at the end of the year (Photo: ABN Holdings)
Many of the buyers of these new detached houses are those who have cashed out of their old GCBs, notes SRI’s Lye. “They don’t mind a smaller bungalow that is new, has an internal lift and the latest gadgets,” he says.
An example of a niche developer is ABN Holdings, which has developed close to 10 houses over the past four years since it was founded.
The latest houses rolled out by ABN are a pair of three-storey, five-bedroom detached houses at 3 Merryn Road, located off Trevose Crescent in Dunearn Estate, prime District 11. The properties are slated for completion at the end of 2021. One of the detached houses sits on a freehold site of 4,425 sq ft, with a built-up area of 7,782 sq ft. The indicative price is $11.8 million ($2,667 psf). The other detached house sits on a slightly larger site of 5,075 sq ft with a built-up area of 8,708 sq ft and has a price tag of $12.8 million ($2,522 psf).
ABN launched and sold a pair of semi-detached houses at 1 Thomson Walk just a month ago. The houses have built-up areas of 5,102 and 5,221 sq ft respectively, and sit on a freehold land area of about 2,640 sq ft each. The pair of semi-detached houses are adjacent to the Thomson Walk playground and are scheduled for completion in 4Q2021. Both houses at 1 Thomson Walk were sold within three days of each other, says Austin Tan, COO of ABN. “A lot of people are interested in landed property,” he says. “Ours are reasonably priced.”
A pair of semi-detached houses at 1 Thomson Walk hat were launched a few weeks ago and both were sold recently (Photo: ABN Holdings)
Last November, ABN purchased a 13,743 sq ft, freehold site at Pasir Panjang Hill for $12.3 million ($895 psf). The developer intends to develop the site into a new project with three terraced houses and a pair of semi-detached houses. The new project in the Pasir Panjang estate is expected to be launched sometime in 3Q2021. “We are a boutique developer and we want to continue to focus on the landed property segment,” says Tan.

Riding positive sentiment

Jean Yip Holdings, famous for the eponymous hair and beauty empire, has been equally aggressive on the property front. Initially, Yip dabbled in GCBs, but has switched to buying land sites of 10,000 to 20,000 sq ft with potential for sub-division into smaller detached houses or mixed-landed developments for sale.
Developments completed in the past two years include a series of three detached houses at 8 Dyson Road; two detached houses at 33 Shelford Road; and five houses (three terraced houses and a pair of semi-detached houses) at 51 Chancery Lane.
The pool of one of the two detached houses at 33 and 33A Shelford Road (Photo: Jean Yip Holdings)
One of the three detached houses at 8 Dyson Road was sold in 2019 for a price above $13 million, although a caveat was not lodged as the buyer is said to have paid in cash. The other two bungalows have been leased at a rental rate of $20,000 a month. “We have decided to keep them and to rent them out instead,” says Roy Fong, general manager of Jean Yip Holdings.
The asking price of the two bungalows at 8 Dyson has been adjusted upwards to $2,800 psf. Each bungalow has six bedrooms and sits on a land area of close to 6,000 sq ft.
Meanwhile, the detached houses at 33 and 33A Shelford Road are on the market for $13.56 million and $12.8 million respectively, or $2,450 psf.
“Many of the GCBs are being sold at record prices,” notes Fong. “The demand is coming mainly from the ultra-high net worth who are moving to Singapore, partly because the government has handled the Covid situation well.”
One detached house at 8 Dyson has been sold for $13 million, while the two remaining houses were recently leased at $20,000 a month (Photo: Jean Yip Holdings)

‘Holding on’

However, with asset prices heading north, Fong reckons “there will be a trickle-down effect taking place from the GCBs to the smaller detached houses”.
The houses at 51 Chancery Lane are likely to be completed sometime next month. However, instead of being put on the market for sale, they will now be available for lease, says Fong. The intermediate terraced house has an asking rent of $10,000 a month, while the corner terraced houses will be available for lease at $13,000 a month. Meanwhile, the semi-detached houses have asking rents of $12,000 to $15,000 a month.
“We are holding on to these houses as a hedge against inflation, and we are confident that property prices will rise, especially landed property in prime Districts 9, 10 and 11,” says Fong. “We will continue to focus on acquiring sites in these prime areas.”
Last October, Jean Yip Holdings purchased an 18,000 sq ft, freehold plot at University Road in District 11. “It is at the top of the road, and can potentially be redeveloped into three detached houses,” says Fong. “We will continue to build homes that we would want to live in ourselves. Hence we focus on using quality materials, finishing and fittings.”
The three terraced houses and pair of semi-deatched houses at 51 Chancery Lane are scheduled for completion next month, but developer Jean Yip Holdings has decided to lease them out instead (Photo: Jean Yip Holdings)

ACT Holdings — feet planted in the US, Singapore

James Toh, group chairman of ACT Holdings, has been active in the US for the past five years, focusing his attention on acquiring apartment blocks for rent in cities such as Atlanta, Jacksonville and Nashville. His portfolio in the US is “doing very well”, says Toh. “The yields in the US market are a lot more attractive; and we are still actively looking for potential investments in the US.”
An astute developer, Toh recently set his sights back on Singapore, where he had been active in the strata landed segment nearly a decade ago, with projects such as Charlton 27, Charlton Residences and One Surin.
ACT Holdings recently picked up two residential redevelopment sites in prime District 11: An old detached house sitting on a 13,113 sq ft, freehold site on Camborne Road for $19 million ($1,449 psf) in October 2019, followed by a slightly smaller site of 9,374 sq ft at University Road for $12 million ($1,280 psf) in December 2019. Toh intends to redevelop the site on Camborne Road into detached houses, and the one at University Road into four semi-detached houses.
Toh: Since the reopening after the circuit-breaker in the second quarter of last year, a lot more people are looking for landed property (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Space premium

“Since the reopening after the circuit-breaker in the second quarter of last year, a lot more people are looking for landed property,” observes Toh. “People want more space because of work-from-home, with enough rooms that they can convert into their private study or office.” Besides more space, the shift in preference for landed housing could be attributed to having one’s own private pool, instead of having to share it with others in most private condominiums, he adds.
“This is why during the circuit breaker, someone was willing to pay $10,000 a month to rent a swimming pool of a private bungalow at Sentosa Cove,” says Toh. “During the circuit-breaker, the shared facilities within private condominiums, such as the swimming pool, were closed.”
However, it has become more difficult to buy land, notes Toh. In July 2018, the additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD) for property developers was raised from 15% to 25% for those with unsold units at the end of the sales period. An additional 5% ABSD is payable upfront upon acquiring the land, and this is not remissible.


Another group that has been active in the landed housing market is Centra Group of Companies, headed by brothers Melvin and Jason Poh. Since 2017, they have developed more than 25 houses in prime Districts 9, 10 and 11, with total gross development value of $250 million. These range from terraced houses to semi-detached, detached houses and GCBs. Read more on Centra Group and their new detached house offering at Vanda Crescent, and how their new series of houses cater to the post-Covid desire for more flexibility and segregation of space within the home.
Jason Poh (pictured) and brother, Melvin, have developed more than 25 houses in prime Districts 9, 10 and 11, with total gross development value of $250 million since 2017 (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Sevens Group founder Eric Cheng professes that properties “communicate” with him. And the outcome of his conversations with them — at different times of the day and night — determines his purchase decision and what he plans to build there. Over the past three years, he has developed over 70 houses, and last year, Cheng went on a 56-day shopping spree and snapped up 11 sites worth over $70 million. Find out more about Cheng and Sevens Group.

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