Sino Group scion buys District 10 GCB for S$37m

Apart from purchase by Robert Ng's son in East Sussex Lane, another GCB along Cluny Hill sold for S$30.8m

Thu, Jan 23, 2020


TWO transactions each of over S$30 million last month, including one by the scion of one of Singapore's richest families, have provided a fillip to the tally of deals in the Good Class Bungalow (GCB) market for 2019.

Both properties are freehold and in District 10. The first, along Cluny Hill, is changing hands at S$30.8 million or about S$2,025 per square foot (psf) on land area of 15,208 sq ft. The other, along East Sussex Lane, is transacting at slightly over S$36.88 million.

The price paid for the East Sussex Lane property, which is part of the Holland Rise GCB Area, works out to S$1,000 psf on 36,883 sq ft of land. On site is an old house that is ripe for redevelopment. The buyer is Alexander Ng, a son of Hong Kong-based Sino Group chairman Robert Ng.

Two next-door vacant land plots of about 17,315 sq ft each were sold separately in 2017 and 2018, for about S$970 psf and S$1,056 psf respectively, BT understands. The plots are currently under development by their respective owners.

The bungalow in Cluny Hill that was transacted last month, was completed in 2003 and renovated over the years. Located near the Singapore Botanic Gardens, the well-maintained property has two storeys with a basement.

The seller, Singaporean Mike Scott, paid S$28 million for the bungalow in 2010. He was formerly a director of oil/commodity trader Trafigura Pte Ltd, a Singapore unit of The Netherlands' Trafigura Beheer BV. Mr Scott now owns his own Singapore-based outfit, Clearsource.

He is selling the Cluny Hill bungalow to a Singaporean businessman who was formerly from North Asia although he has been based here for some time, according to market watchers.

Including the above two properties, there were 40 transactions in GCB Areas last year adding up to S$782 million for the year, based on an analysis of URA Realis data by List Sotheby's International Realty (List SIR).

This is lower than the 42 deals totalling S$1.03 billion done in 2018. However, adding other deals that BT has learnt about which are not reflected in the URA Realis data, the total value of deals in GCB Areas for last year would amount to about S$1.25 billion, just slightly shy of S$1.37 billion in 2018.

The transactions which are not captured in the URA Realis system include those which have not been caveated as well as sales of vacant land in GCB Areas.

(Typically, a buyer would lodge a caveat, which is a claim of interest in a property, after exercising the option to purchase; however, lodging of caveats is not compulsory.)

An example of a known transaction in 2019 that was not caveated would be Wing Tai chairman Cheng Wai Keung's S$230 million sale of a Nassim Road bungalow to an entity connected to Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.

Bungalows in the 39 gazetted GCB Areas are the most prestigious form of landed housing in Singapore, with strict planning conditions stipulated by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to preserve their exclusivity and low-rise character.

Property agency Realstar Premier seems to be experiencing some buoyancy in brokering deals in GCB Areas lately. Word on the street is that the firm brokered the sale of the bungalow in East Sussex Lane and also represented the buyer in the Cluny Hill deal.

Its founder, William Wong, declined to comment on this or on the respective buyers and sellers, when contacted by BT. However, he expects the volume of transactions in GCB Areas to increase by at least 10-15 per cent this year, judging from the improvement in activity and offers in January 2020.

Already, the firm has brokered two new deals in GCB Areas this month, with a few more under negotiation, he added.

List SIR executive director Lewis Cha said that a growing number of new citizens have bought properties in GCB Areas in 2018 and 2019. "Mostly from Asia, these newly-minted citizens are seasoned property investors with strong financial backing who are on the lookout for a newly-built GCB or an older bungalow on a large plot which they can redevelop into a new home."

While prices of GCBs on the whole are expected to remain at 2019 levels, the prices for large, well-located and well-built bungalows could rise by around 5 per cent this year due to their limited supply and rarity.

"That said, buyers who are open to consider GCBs in other locations may find some attractive value options," Mr Cha added.