GCBs remain a draw for Singaporeans

A few notable personalities from the corporate world have been involved in transactions in Good Class Bungalow (GCB) Areas since the start of the year.

The Business Times understands that Simon Israel, chairman of both Singtel and Singapore Post, is buying an old single-storey bungalow that is ripe for redevelopment along Binjai Park in District 21 for S$18.26 million. This works out to S$1,300 per square foot based on the freehold site’s land area of 14,047 sq ft.

The rectangular plot is at a cul de sac. Last year, Mr Israel sold a bungalow in Andrew Road, which is part of the Caldecott Hill Estate GCB Area, for S$25.6 million or S$1,152 psf on a land area of about 22,220 sq ft. The freehold house was designed by Chan Soo Khian of SCDA Architects.

In another transaction this year, Edlan Chua, the chief operating officer of homegrown restaurant chain Paradise Group, is picking up a two-storey bungalow along Jalan Senandong in the Swiss Club Road GCB Area.

He is paying S$14.5 million or S$1,511 psf based on the land area of 9,599 sq ft for the elevated freehold site in District 11.

The house, which has a built-up area of about 5,500 sq ft, comes with a pool, five bedrooms, a guest room and a maid’s room.

The sellers purchased the property in 1992 for S$2.35 million and are said to have refurbished it in 2010 for about a million dollars.

A bungalow along Eng Neo Avenue is in the initial stages of being transacted. The price of S$23.3 million works out to S$1,365 psf on the freehold land area of 17,067 sq ft. The bungalow – which has two storeys and a basement – is currently owned by Wong Kar King and Emily Choo, the managing director and non-executive chairman, respectively, of Advanced Holdings, which is listed on the mainboard of the Singapore Exchange. Dr Wong is also the founder of the group, which supplies proprietary process equipment, clean energy solutions and related technologies.

The couple are understood to have paid S$14.3 million for the property in 2009 and later refurbished it, adding a new swimming pool.

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 to preserve their exclusivity and low-rise character. As these areas are dominated by large plots, a planning norm of 1,400 square metres – or about 15,070 sq ft – was adopted as the minimum plot size for any newly created bungalows within GCB Areas.

However, when these areas were gazetted in 1980, they included some smaller existing sites; these are still bound by the other planning rules for GCB Areas if they were to be redeveloped. For instance, such plots cannot be further subdivided and are allowed to be built up to only two storeys high, although an attic and basements are allowed.

Only Singapore citizens are allowed to buy landed residential properties within GCB Areas, under a policy change that took effect in the second half of 2012.

Last year, both the volume and value of transactions in GCB Areas reached a five-year high.

Forty-one deals totalling S$867 million were sealed in GCB Areas in 2017, higher than the 37 deals amounting to S$789 million in 2016.

Analysts said the 2017 uptick came amid an overall improvement in sentiment in the Singapore residential property market as well as a more upbeat mood about Singapore’s economic performance.

The volume of GCB transactions are expected to grow by about 20 per cent this year from the 2017 level.

Strong demand is expected from the second quarter onwards – provided there is sufficient new supply in the market.

Prices of GCBs are estimated to have declined about 17 per cent from the peak in late 2013 to mid-2017 before starting to increase by up to 5 per cent in the second half of last year. A further 6 to 8 per cent price appreciation is forecasted this year.

Adapted from: The Business Times, 19 February 2018