PROPERTY tycoon James Koh is buying an old bungalow along Lornie Road for S$24.8 million or S$981 per square foot on the freehold land area of 25,271 sq ft.
The psf price being paid by the Fragrance Group boss for the property in the Caldecott Hill Good Class Bungalow (GCB) Area seems like a steal.
However, SRI co-founder Bruce Lye, who brokered the deal, while declining to comment on the identities of the buyer or sellers, said it is a "fair price" given the condition of the house and its location next to the highway and main road. "The house on site is from the 1950s and for redevelopment."
Veteran GCB agent KH Tan of Newsman Realty too said that S$981 psf would be a fair price as the site is in a noisy area and the deal was entered into 4 months ago. "At that time, a good redevelopment plot - flat land with regular shape - but not facing the highway in the area would have fetched about S$1,200 psf."
Also in September last year, an old house further away but still facing Lornie Road sold for S$7.63 million or S$1,009 psf on 7,560 sq ft land area.
The property that Koh is buying is being sold by 4 members of a Lim family. The Business Times understands that Koh may just leave the property as it is, perhaps treating it as land bank for future development. The plot is at the junction of Lornie Road and a side road and it would make sense to have the new bungalow's facing and entrance at the side road, since it is quieter, say watchers.
Koh was granted the option to purchase in September and exercised it on Jan 4. Thus he would be paying additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) at the lower rate prior to the latest cooling measures that took effect on Dec 16, 2021.
Last year, Mr Koh sold a sea-facing bungalow along Cove Grove in Sentosa. The property, with views of the Southern Islands, fetched S$21.89 million or S$2,247 psf on land area of 9,740 sq ft. The site has 81.5 years' balance leasehold tenure. The buyer is a member of a family in F&B and other businesses. The 3-storey villa has 6 ensuite bedrooms, a pool and garden.
In late September 2021, the family of Lim Bee Huat of Kopitiam King fame picked up a bungalow in Lornie Road slightly further away from the highway compared with the one Koh is buying - for S$26.8 million or S$2,545 psf.
The price was seen to be on the high side and observers note that besides the fairly new property on the site, this could have been due to the relatively small land area of 10,529 sq ft.
Nevertheless, observers still consider the S$2,545 psf to be about 15-20 per cent above market price at the time.
Bungalows in the 39 gazetted GCB Areas are the most prestigious form of landed housing in Singapore, with strict planning conditions to preserve their exclusivity and low-rise character.
One generally has to be a Singapore citizen to be allowed to buy a landed property in a GCB Area.
List Sotheby's International Reality's analysis of URA Realis caveats data shows 89 deals totalling S$2.56 billion in GCB Areas in 2021, up from 2020's 46 deals totalling S$1.09 billion.
Following the latest cooling measures, Realstar Premier founder William Wong said it would not be surprising to see a drop in GCB viewing and buying activities until after Chinese New Year. "I expect prices to remain stable this year - due to shortage of stock available for sale and continued strong demand."