The Oceanfront @ Sentosa Cove where the penthouse is located. PHOTOS: T. MARGARET, DESMOND FOO

The Sentosa Cove penthouse unit belonging to former City Harvest Church pastor Kong Hee was relisted for $11.5 million last week – 15 per cent higher than its 2015 listing price of $10 million.

The 5,242 sq ft penthouse unit was bought and co-owned by Kong and Indonesian tycoon Wahju Hanafi in 2007 for $9.33 million, with each paying monthly instalments of $17,000. In 2015, The Straits Times reported that the property had been listed at an asking price of $10 million. Kong said then it was a "temporary home" for the family as they awaited the sale.

He is now serving a 3 1/2-year jail sentence for misappropriating around $50 million of church funds.

The apartment remained unsold and was reportedly taken off the market before reappearing recently at a higher price.

When contacted, the owners' agent Sally Soh, from KF Property Network, said the higher asking price was a decision made by her clients, but it is still up for negotiation.

She said three interested parties had enquired about the penthouse unit and paid it a visit since the listing was put up with the higher price tag.

The living room in former pastor Kong Hee's penthouse has a view of the One Degree 15 Marina Club (above), and an infinity pool. PHOTOS: T. MARGARET, DESMOND FOO

Most of the furnishings, including those in the spacious master bedroom, were left as her clients had intended, she said.

"While the price is higher than in the past, the owners are open to negotiation if there is a firm offer from an interested buyer," she added.

If sold at the asking price, the value of the unit works out to $2,194 per sq foot (psf).

The living room in former pastor Kong Hee's penthouse has a view of the One Degree 15 Marina Club, and an infinity pool (above). PHOTOS: T. MARGARET, DESMOND FOO

This is higher than that fetched by another unit in the same The Oceanfront condominium last month which, at $2,022 psf, is already above this year's median psf for Sentosa Cove properties – $1,579 psf – according to data from SRX Property.

For Sentosa Cove penthouses, the median psf in 2016 and 2017 was $1,628 and $1,802 respectively.

The latest listing follows a surge of interest in Sentosa Cove homes as prices gradually moved nearer the levels of mass-market condos, The Straits Times reported last month.

Sentosa Cove had of late come to be the most visible marker of the slump in the property market, after a series of homes were sold at massive losses. In July, a unit at Seascape was sold for $9 million – a $3.8 million loss from its original price of $12.8 million.

Between 2007 and 2009, Cove properties went for between $2,600 and $2,800 psf, compared to $1,500 to $1,700 now, said PropNex group division director Alex Low, who has been actively marketing properties in Sentosa Cove.

But the luxury condo market is starting to pick up again as buyers respond to the low prices, said Mr Low.

"In the past, I used to get three or four calls (from buyers) every week. Now, my phone rings every day."

While the market seems buoyant for now, the chief executive officer of International Property Advisor, Mr Ku Swee Yong, said it remains to be seen whether Sentosa Cove, in particular, will gain traction.

Said Mr Ku: "It is still very tough to get people to view properties on Sentosa, since most of the transactions there were loss-making.

"It is a good time for a buyer whose purpose is to live in the property, but investors should look at other asset classes as prices may not rise any time soon."

Written by Ng Jun Sen for The Straits Times