May 2, 2011

Condo owners seek exit over NSE worries

By Royston Sim

MORE people living in the Nuovo condominium sited beside the planned North-South Expressway (NSE) want to take the exit route and sell their homes - but not at fire-sale prices.

They could be concerned about the noise and dust from the construction and eventual traffic, said real-estate agents.

They noted that the number of Nuovo units put up for sale has gone up since the Land Transport Authority announced the northern alignment of the NSE in January. About 60 per cent of the 297 units in the 99-year leasehold development will face the expressway, which will run as a semi-tunnel beneath Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6.

Mr Bob Sim, a real estate agent with Orange Tee, estimated a 5 per cent increase in units listed for sale at Nuovo after the NSE announcement.

But he said: 'There isn't a fire sale.'

Mr Sim said there are about 25 units for sale now, compared with a monthly average of 15 before the announcement.

Property prices for Nuovo have dipped slightly after the NSE news, from an average of $718 per sq ft (psf) in February to $688 psf last month.

Construction of the NSE is expected to start in 2013. The project, costing $7 billion to $8 billion, will link northern Singapore to the city and is expected to be ready by 2020. Its 15.9km northern section from Admiralty Road West to Toa Payoh Rise was announced on Jan 19.

The project could have prompted some Nuovo residents - who had intended to sell their homes - to bring their plans forward, said Mr Sim.

Mr Darren Lim, 38, an accountant, is among those residents who want out. He moved into Nuovo about 16 months ago and had planned to buy another home only several years later.

'There wasn't any urgency to sell. I like the estate, I have good neighbours. And I'm an HDB upgrader so I don't have that much money,' he said.

While the NSE was not the sole factor prompting him to move out, the prospect of living close to the expressway did not appeal to him, he admitted.

The Seletaris condominium in Sembawang Road has also seen a rise in the number of units put up for sale. The NSE will swing past Seletaris in the form of a viaduct.

A real-estate agent who markets units at Seletaris noted that 'the situation here is worse than in other condos because of the elevated expressway, which will bring more noise and dust'.

Property prices at Seletaris have dipped from a high of $698 psf in January to $624 psf in March.

But property agents have not noticed a similar trend in Castle Green and Bullion Park, two condos in Lentor Avenue and Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6 that are also situated by the NSE.

They attributed this to fewer units being directly affected by the NSE in these two condos.