GCB in Lady Hill Road sold at S$24m or S$1,423 psf

The Good Class Bungalow (GCB) market continues to buzz with activity. The latest transactions include an old freehold house along Lady Hill Road in a prime GCB location which changed hands for S$24 million. The price works out to S$1,423 psf based on the land area of 16,863 sq ft.

This seems a relatively low psf price for a prime GCB location but that may have to do with the property’s age – it is said to be about 20 years old and the fact that the plot slides downwards towards the rear.

“This is a very good deal for the buyer,” said Realstar Premier Group managing director William Wong.

Singapore Christie’s International Real Estate managing director Samuel Eyo points out that compared to the last transaction in the area, the British Government’s sale of two vacant plots in Nassim Road last month for S$1,600-plus psf, the price achieved for the Lady Hill bungalow reflects the condition of the house and the irregular, fan-shaped plot.

“The S$1,423 psf is probably just for the land cost. I would expect the buyer to rebuild the property if it is for own stay, or at least do major additions and alterations works if it is to be rented out.”

The buyer is understood to be legendary fund manager Teng Ngiek Lian, founder of Target Asset Management. He is believed to be buying the Lady Hill property as a personal investment and likely to continue leasing it out.

It is currently tenanted. Mr Teng also made the headlines in 2011 when he sold a bungalow at Dalvey Road at S$34 million, or S$1,688 psf; it sits on 20,139 sq ft of land.

The Lady Hill bungalow that Mr Teng is buying is said to have five bedrooms and a pool. It is an estate sale.

Along a far-flung section of Ewart Park in the Holland/Bukit Timah area, a contemporary tropical-themed bungalow is changing hands for S$19 million or S$1,161 psf on the land area of 16,363 sq ft.

Completed in late 2006, the two-storey property has four bedrooms and a guest room. There is also a swimming pool, an open courtyard and roof gardens designed for tropical living with cross ventilation.

Designed by Guz Architects, the bungalow is on an L-shaped plot (with a long driveway).

“It was based on the concept of permeability. This was achieved by designing a sequence of open air rooms and gardens that maximised the transparency and encouraged natural ventilation. This is also seen at the entrance where there is an open water courtyard which acts as a cooling element for the building,” said Guz Wilkinson, principal at the firm.

The property is dubbed the Rattan House because of the use of a split rattan wall along the corridor on the upper floor, which allows air to pass through as well as acting as a library and a gallery.

Mr Wong of RealStar described the S$1,161 psf pricing as being in line with pricing of around S$1,200 psf for GCBs in non-prime areas.

Mr Eyo commented: “I personally feel that the pricing reflects the location of the house and its long driveway”. Typically a long driveway eats into the psf pricing since that portion of the land can only be used as a road.

Mr Wong of Realstar noted that GCB prices have been slipping since last year and expects the downward trend to continue till the end of this year “before we see a possible recovery”.

Mr Eyo said that while overall weak property market sentiment pushed down GCB prices last year, part of the reason for some deals this year coming in at relatively low psf on land pricing is due to specific factors relating to the property such as the shape of the plot, its terrain (for example, if it is downwards sloping) or if the property is what some agents call a “shy bungalow”, one that is tucked away from the road and has a long driveway, or simply the condition of the house.

CBRE’s analysis of caveats data shows that 26 transactions in Good Class Bungalow Areas have been sealed so far this year at a total of S$587 million. The tally for last year was 33 deals which amounted to S$715 million.

Mr Yeo expects GCB prices to continue remaining weak until Chinese New Year.

“Some owners who are not in a hurry to sell will hold on to the price they want. The pricing achieved will depend on buyers, who will have to decide whether it is worth their while paying the asking price for well-located properties with good attributes.”

He lets on that he is currently serving a few Chinese nationals turned Singapore citizen buyers who are on the lookout for GCBs.