Singaporeans Are Loving the Luxury Homes Foreigners Can't Buy

By Pooja Thakur Mahrotri / Bloomberg | February 26, 2019 11:03 AM SGT
50 Cluny Road house Source: Patrick Bingham-Hall via Guz Architects
Some of Singapore’s most desirable houses come with a catch: only locals can own them.
That foreign buyers -- notably from China -- who for years helped drive demand for luxury homes, can’t buy these dwellings, hasn’t dented their appeal. Their scarcity and the exclusivity they confer have pushed prices of the homes -- known as Good Class Bungalows, or GCBs -- to record highs, even as the broader property market cools.
Just about 2,500 GCBs dot the city-state, ranging from colonial-era houses to architect-designed modern homes with cantilevered verandas, infinity pools and expansive landscaped gardens, a world away from the high-rise condos most Singaporeans call home.
In a recent blockbuster deal, Tony Tung, the chairman of Hong Kong-based oil trader Winson Group, bought a bungalow near the Botanic Gardens for S$105.3 million ($78 million), the Business Times reported earlier this month, saying it was a record for a GCB. Nearby, a Singaporean member of the Tsai family, who made their fortune in insurance in Taiwan, snapped up a bungalow for S$93.9 million.
More records may soon be broken. A new bungalow near the Botanic Gardens, featuring a central courtyard pool and water garden, will soon hit the market with an asking price of S$3,500 per square foot. That would surpass the previous record of S$2,700 per square foot set last year, according to KH Tan at Newsman Realty, who is handling the sale.

Top of the Class

Prices for Singapore's most-exclusive homes are at a record high
“Due to scarcity and exclusivity, the GCB market has always been regarded as the jewel of the residential market and a coveted trophy asset to the well-heeled community,” said Sammi Lim, director of capital markets at real estate agency CBRE Group Inc. “GCBs have proven to be a resilient asset class through market cycles.”