Despite their hefty price tags, Good Class Bungalows around Sixth Avenue Station still appeal to expats who rent them for the sizeable land that offers both privacy and space to entertain guests.
With its landscape of Good Class Bungalows (GCBs) — classified as bungalows that occupy at least 15,069sqf in land area — luxury apartments and landed properties, it’s easy to see why Bukit Timah is often associated with prestige. Also, it is not far from the city and notable schools, such as Raffles Girls Primary School, Nanyang Girls’ High School, National Junior College and Hwa Chong Institution.
Bukit Timah is also a hit with the expatriate community, especially with several international schools, such as the Singapore Korean International School, German European School and Swiss School, in the area. The completion of Phase 2 of the Downtown Line (DTL2) last December further adds to its convenience and allure.
King Albert Park
Real estate agents caution that while older freehold condominiums, such as Maplewoods near King Albert Park Station, often command a good price on the market, resale buyers should factor in renovation costs as well.
Near King Albert Park Station are a number of high-rise condominiums with mostly freehold or 999-year leases. Maplewoods is one such property favoured by both local and foreign investors. A check on the caveats lodged with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) shows a slight price hike after the completion of DTL2; a 1,507sqf apartment fetched $1,460psf in December 2015, up from $1,405psf in January 2014.
Propnex real estate agent David Yong notes that rental demand for apartments located close to the station has increased since it opened, adding that the accessibility to the international schools nearby is another big pull factor. But while rental at Maplewoods, for example, spiked briefly to $4,200 in September 2015 just before the station opened, it has since fallen to $4,000 in March 2016. David explains: “Newer developments in the area could have been a factor in the fall in rental rates.”
Renowned local schools, such as Hwa Chong Institution, as well as international schools, contribute to Bukit Timah’s popularity.
Those looking for new residences can consider the freehold mixed development KAP Residences, due to be completed by 2018. Located at the junction of Clementi Road and Bukit Timah Road, the seven-storey property houses three floors of dining and retail stores, and 142 apartments with the usual condominium facilities. A SOHO-style 473sqf unit is priced from $931,000. “Although it will take time to save up for a bachelor pad like this, it’s a good investment because the location already says something about the buyer,” says potential buyer Leon Goh, a banking executive. These apartments should also make for good rental yield, should the prevailing market conditions improve.
Sixth Avenue Station is surrounded by mostly landed properties, including a number of GCBs that are coveted due to their rarity in land-scarce Singapore. Sales of 33 GCBs in 2015 amounted to $715 million, an increase over the 28 transactions in 2014 which totalled $626 million — a bright spot amid the recent sluggish performance of the property market.
More GCBs were sold in the first quarter of 2016 compared with the previous quarter, and CBRE Research expects the trend to continue, according to a Business Times report. Situated near the Sixth Avenue Station is one such GCB bought by David Teo, chairman of Super Group, best known for its Super Coffee products.
The 15,069sqf property sold at $24.5 million, up from its previous transacted price of $23.5 million in 2011. However, with hefty price tags that not many can afford and the prevailing economic downturn, this could mean lower price expectations for GCB sellers and promising deals for buyers.
Tan Kah Kee
Given its proximity to a few schools, commuters can expect a throng of students at Tan Kah Kee Station during the morning rush hour.
If you want a condo with an MRT station almost at its door step, One Duchess is such. This 999-year leasehold project, due to be completed in 2021, is just 0.33km (a five-minute walk) from Tan Kah Kee Station. With only 13 units, the exclusive property ranges from one to four bedroom units from 431sqf to 1,420sqf. Also available are duplex and dual-key units. Located just 0.5km from Nanyang Primary School and St Margaret’s Secondary School, it’s a plus point for both buyers and tenants with school-going children. A 441sqf unit transacted at $950,000 in October 2015.
Capitaland Development’s Victoria Park Villas, along Coronation Road, may also interest young families. The 99-year leasehold project features 109 bungalows and semi-detached houses, due to be completed by mid-2018. Real estate agents we spoke to say they make ideal investments, being in close proximity to the National University of Singapore’s Bukit Timah Campus, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and the business district.
The Singapore Botanic Garden was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2015, and has been made even more accessible with the DTL2.
Located on Tan Kim Cheng Road, The Siena is a 99-year leasehold property by Far East Organisation’s Far East SOHO brand located within 1km of both Botanic Garden Station on DTL2 and Farrer Park Station on the circle line. Its 54 apartments feature sliding doors that separate the living and working areas and 3.35m-high ceilings, befitting of a modern urban bachelor pad. Thanks to its better location to town, a 538sqf apartment sold in April 2016 for $982,500; higher than a freehold 517sqf unit at nearby KAP Residences, which was sold for $920,200 in July 2013.
Near Botanic Gardens Station, some of Cluny Park Residence’s ground-floor units feature sliding doors that open up to a personal pool.
The freehold Cluny Park Residence is the only condominium on Cluny Road.
To be completed in 2017, its prices match its good looks and prime location minutes away from Orchard Road. In April 2016, an 840sqf apartment went for $2,561psf. Still, it has dipped considerably from a high of $3,180psf in November 2013 for a similarly sized unit.
Historically, properties in the vicinity of Botanic Gardens Station usually fetch higher rent rates compared to those near the other DTL2 stations. URA’s rental data shows a 900sqf-to-1,000sqf flat at The Legacy freehold condominium was leased for $2,900 per month in January 2016, with a historical high of $4,000 in March 2014.
A similarly sized apartment in Maplewoods went for $2,800 in March 2016, with a historical high of $3,400 in August 2014. Investors of Cluny Park Residence should be able to command higher rates for their apartments given the convenient access to the shops at Cluny Court and Serene Centre. Good hawker fare is also just a stroll away at nearby Adam Road Food Centre.
Train of Thought
The new DTL2 line has made the exclusive Bukit Timah area more accessible. Although a new train station usually boosts property prices, other factors such as the economic downturn and current cooling measures all play a part in the current suppressed prices. Thus, those eyeing a home at the coveted District 10 and 11 may find this an ideal time to buy.
On the flip side, sellers may have to settle for lower prices. It may be worth cashing out at the right price if you have already made a profit, advises ERA marketing director Tina Lee. For Bukit Timah homeowners who want to wait out the property slump, you can always rent out your property first.
New investors, do note that along with the deflated price you are paying for your Bukit Timah property, expect lower rentals, too. Make sure you crunch the numbers to ensure maximum returns before making a move
on any investment decision.