Singles are not swinging any longer

The 12 per cent rise in bungalow prices over the last three years has been overtaken by the annihilating rate at which they are being sold — a rate that could put them in danger of extinction, experts say.

Anecdotal evidence shows that single-storey bungalows are fast vanishing from Singapore’s upwardly mobile landscape.

According to international property consultancy Knight Frank, the number of single-storey houses sold jumped from 97 in 2001 to 165 in 2006. This is based on caveats lodged. From 1996 to 2006 there were 1,237 caveats lodged for such homes.

“Transactions are really growing for single-storey homes,” said Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research & consultancy at Knight Frank.

The well-paced rows of patrician bungalows that lined the leafy environs of Belmont Park, Belmont Road and Maryland Estate have been falling to the developers’ hammer as evidenced by the fact that few single-storey charmers remain in the area.

One of the few left is 65 Belmont Road, which sits on a freehold land area of 15,700 sq ft. This, too, is on the block for an asking price of $13 million.

A solid piece of history is vanishing, said Ms Mary Sai, Knight Frank’s auction director.

“With most of them redeveloped to taller houses, people in the 50s and 60s now have fewer charming old bungalows to look back on the good old days,” she said.

Compounding the loss is the fact that most of these bungalows are located in Good Class Bungalow (GCB) zones, which allows them to be developed into taller buildings.

“Every time a GCB is put up for sale people look at it as a potential redevelopment site because the land area is under-utilised,” said Ms Sai.

But preserving the “old home” may not be an option for many owners, who usually sell for reasons like old age, money, empty nests and — in some cases — infirmity as in a recent sale near Holland Road.

The 14,000 sq ft bungalow and land area, a parent’s gift 30 years ago, is now being turned by another far-sighted parent into a trust fund for the younger generation.

For owners of the more humble single-storey houses in the North-East, it is often because of an inability to maintain the premises and the desire to “realise the full value of the house”, as Mr Mak puts it.

“In the last 30 years they have been turned into semi-Ds because families find them harder to maintain,” said Mr Mak.

“They are usually found in the landed estates in Upper Serangoon, Flower Road and Serangoon Gardens. The latter’s old name was Ang Sa Li, meaning Red Tin Roof — the red must have been referring to the rust!”

For such homes, the higher plot ratios allowed by the authorities has been a boon. “This helps renewal,” said Mr Mak.

Source: Weekend Today, 24 March 2007

Join The Discussion

Compare listings