Opportunistic buying at the high end

Property consultants have noted that there has been some opportunistic buying at the top end of the market. Many of those on the hunt are looking for condominium units for their own stay, and therefore prefer completed projects with spacious units. “With the ongoing European debt crisis, and global market uncertainty, people prefer not to flash their wealth and adopt a more conservative outlook,” says Jacqueline Wong, head of residential at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).

One such condo that has seen a pick-up in interest is the 164-unit freehold Grange Residences, which was completed in 2004. Wong brokered the sale of a 2,583 sq ft four-bedroom apartment unit on the 15th floor of the development to a UK buyer for $7 million ($2,710 psf) last month. The buyer already occupies the neighbouring unit and plans to amalgamate the two units to create a larger residence, says Wong. “Most of the buyers are buying for personal use, so it is often an emotional purchase and very subjective.”

Subsequent to that sale, a slightly larger four bedroom apartment of 2,852 sq ft on the 18th level changed hands for $8.1 million ($2,840 psf). The average price of $2,840 psf was the second-highest price achieved at Grange Residences since units were sold nine years ago. It is just a shade lower than the all-time high price of $2,875 psf that was achieved in June this year when a 2,852 sq ft, 12th level unit was sold for $8.2 million.

Older condos that have seen transactions of late are the 39-unit Nassim Jade in Nassim Road, which was completed in 1999 and the 72-unit Nassim Mansion on Nassim Hill that was completed 34 years ago. Early last month, a fifth level, fourbedroom, 3,142 sq ft unit at Nassom Mansion was sold for $10 million ($2,931 psf). At Nassim Jade, a 2,153 sq ft, four-bedroom apartment on the second level of the low-rise condo fetched $5.1 million ($2,369 psf) recently. This is the second highest transaction achieved at Nassim Jade. The highest average price was for a 1,841 sq ft unit on the first level that was sold for $4.5 million ($2,445 psf) in June this year.

Even though these transactions are at their near record-highs, they are still lower than the prices achieved at new luxury condos in the same neighbourhood as these tend to command a premium.

Further up along Nassim Road is the newly completed, fully-sold, 100-unit Nassim Park Residences. The most recent transaction at the project was the sub-sale of a 3,175 sq ft unit for $12.38 million ($3,900 psf) last month.

Buyers don’t mind the older condos in prime locations as these tend to have spacious units,” says Samuel Eyo, associate director of Savills Prestige Homes. “Those who value space but who may not wish to stretch their budgets beyond $10 million for the new offerings in the market tend to look at the three- and four-bedroom units in the older estates, which are generally priced in the $5 million to $10 million range. And they are not necessarily going for the high-profile condos either.”

These older condos also represent value as developers of new luxury projects that are completing or recently completed are holding on to their asking prices. “Some of these were launched at the peak of the market before the global financial crisis,” explains Eyo. “And generally, prices at the top-end of the market are still slightly below the peak in late 2007. Hence, older condos in the same neighbourhood that are priced below these new condos are attracting value-for-money buyers.”

Another condo that is seeing interest because of the spacious apartments is the 21-year-old Regency Park located in Nathan Road. The 292-unit development was completed in 1990, and features only three- and four-bedroom apartments, with sizes ranging from 2,228 to 3,649 sq ft. Penthouses there are from 6,049 to 6,415 sq ft. Recently, a 3+1 bedroom unit of 3,175 sq ft on the 16th level of one of the towers at Regency Park was sold for $5.5 million ($1,732 psf). The price is still below the all-time high achieved in August 2007, when a 3,649 sq ft unit was sold for $7.55 million ($2,069 psf).

JLL’s Wong certainly sees more “opportunistic buying interest” in the top-end of the market. “Some buyers are hunting for ‘fire sales’, but most owners are holding on to their asking prices, and that’s why there are few transactions.”

New condos that are realistically priced are also attracting buyers, adds Wong. One of the newly completed luxury projects that is seeing some buying interest is The Orange Grove with just 72 exclusive units located in Orange Grove Road, just off Stevens Road. A 2,777 sq ft unit on the first level changed hands recently for $5.67 million ($2,042 psf). Another unit of 2,691 sq ft, also on the first level, was sold for $5.8 million ($2,115 psf) earlier last month.

The 120-unit, 999-year leasehold Duchess Residences located in Duchess Avenue was completed recently. It is located within a quiet and established housing estate with mainly semi-detached and detached houses, off Bukit Timah Road. The condo saw two units change hands in sub-sales recently. One unit sold recently was a 3+1 bedroom, 1,485 sq ft unit on the third level that changed hands for $2.85 million ($1,919 psf). The previous owner had paid over $2.36 million ($1,591 psf) for the unit, which was purchased when the project was first launched in the middle of 2007. A 1,905 sq ft, four-bedroom, second-level unit was sold for $3.52 million ($1,848 psf). The previous owner paid just over $3 million ($1,580 psf) for it in July 2007.

According to Eyo, units at Duchess Residences are sought after because of their proximity to good schools such as Chinese High School, Hwa Chong Institution, Nanyang Primary School and National Junior College. “It is in a quiet location surrounded by landed homes,” says Eyo. “Most of the condos in the area tend to be in the main road and are older. So, as the newest development there, Duchess Residences stands out.”

Source : The Edge – 21 Nov 2011

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