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Singapore Property News

Good Class Bungalow market starting to recover

At least 6 transactions in GCB Areas since start of year, totalling about $170m

Posted on 20-Feb-2014

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Good Class Bungalow market starting to recover

ACTIVITY in the Good Class Bungalow market is starting to pick up with a few deals done recently.

Along Margoliouth Road off Stevens Road, a two-storey, old bungalow has changed hands for $30.8 million. This works out to $1,696 per square foot on its land area of 18,161 sq ft.

Located at a cul de sac, the freehold property has a swimming pool, five bedrooms and a maid's room. It is likely to be redeveloped.

The property is being sold by a retiree couple. The buyer is understood to be Imelda Tanoto. The Singapore citizen owns an adjoining bungalow while her parents are said to own another bungalow nearby.

Ms Tanoto is the eldest daughter of Singapore-based Indonesian tycoon Sukanto Tanoto of the Royal Golden Eagle International group, a holding company with businesses in a range of industries including paper, palm oil, construction and energy. It owns Singapore-headquartered Asia Pacific Resources International Limited, one of the world's biggest producers of fibre, pulp and fine paper.

Over at Bin Tong Park, philanthropist Saw Swee Hock is said to have sold a two-storey bungalow for $31.5 million or $1,551 psf on land area of 20,315 sq ft. The buyer is believed to be Singaporean tycoon Goh Cheng Liang of Nippon Paint fame.

The property is said to be one of three adjacent bungalows held by Professor Saw as investment properties.

The demographer and statistician's philanthropic acts include a $30-million donation in 2011 to the National University of Singapore for establishing the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.

The market is also abuzz with talk of a deal in the early stages for a two-storey bungalow in the Cluny area. Its pricing of about $30 million reflects slightly under $2,000 psf on land area. Standing on the site is a five to six-year old bungalow. Like the Margoliouth and Bin Tong Park properties, the Cluny bungalow is freehold.

Including this property, there would be at least six transactions in GCB Areas since the start of the year, totalling about $170 million. That is a quarter of the $687.8 million of deals in GCB Areas sealed last year, according to data from CBRE, which also showed 29 transactions for 2013.

Last year's showing was a sharp slowdown from the 54 transactions totalling $1.17 billion in 2012 - blamed on the January 2013 property cooling measures which raised additional buyer's stamp duty on purchases of residential properties, including those by Singaporean investors. Loan-to value limits were also lowered and minimum cash downpayments increased for those applying for their second or subsequent home mortgages.

A bigger blow came in late June, when the total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) framework was announced, along with the shutting of a loophole that some property investors had been using to avoid paying higher ABSD rates and to circumvent the tighter LTV limits.

Based on CBRE's GCB transaction data for 2013, only seven properties changed hands after the TDSR rollout, compared with 22 before that.

"The GCB market has been quite active lately, probably because of pent-up demand from a lack of activity in the last few months of 2013," said William Wong, managing director of RealStar Premier. His company brokered the Margoliouth transaction but declined to comment on the buyer's identity.

"I think the situation in the GCB market has stabilised. Any price decline since last June has been pretty marginal; buyers are not expecting a big price drop and they're more prepared to come into the market right now."

This is unlike the situation for smaller bungalows in non-GCB Areas and semi-detached houses, where the price drop has been bigger, around 5-8 per cent between June and December last year. So potential buyers would be more inclined to wait for a further price decline with most prepared to go into the market only in the later part of this year. "GCBs have more scarcity and rarity value," said Mr Wong.

Newsman Realty managing director K H Tan too said that the level of activity in the GCB market lately has surpassed his earlier expectation. "We're getting more viewings compared with last month. Some buyers have been waiting to enter the market for several months and lately some listings have surfaced at fair-market price (resulting in more transactions)."

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