City&Country: Offshore-- New upmarket condo launches

In the high-end condominium market, Allgreen Properties started previews of the 118-unit Suites at Orchard on Handy Road on Oct 14 and, as at Oct 18, around 70% of the units were sold at prices ranging from S$2,000 to S$2,200 psf. The developer officially launched the project over the weekend of Oct 23 and 24. Suites at Orchard commands a 25% premium over the S$1,700 psf fetched at neighbouring Sophia Residences, where construction is underway, notes Brandon Lee, property analyst at DMG, in an Oct 18 report. Completed projects like Nomu last traded at S$1,752 to S$2,269 psf, while [email protected] Sophia last sold for S$1,466 to S$1,523. Most of the buyers were said to be Singapore investors zooming in on the rental and investment potential of the location and in proximity to The Cathay and Dhoby Ghaut MRT stations, Plaza Singapura as well as educational institutions like the Singapore Management University and School of the Arts Singapore.

This week, City Developments Ltd (CDL) is expected to start private previews of its 150-unit freehold condo, The Glyndebourne, to be developed on the former Copthorne Orchid Hotel site along Dunearn Road. The project is located near the upcoming Stevens MRT station as well as in the neighbourhood of popular schools like Singapore Chinese Girls’ School, Anglo-Chinese School and Nanyang Primary School. “Considering the small number of units and the good location, we expect strong take-up for this project,” says Sai Min Chow, analyst at Nomura, in an Oct 13 report. According to Sai, the indicative price is around S$2,000 psf.

In the Shelford Road area, just off Dunearn Road, Popular Land, the property subsidiary of listed publishing and retail group Popular Holdings, officially launched its newly completed freehold boutique condo 18 Shelford on Oct 18. The 19-unit development is the second project completed by the niche developer. Its maiden project was One Robin at the corner of Robin Road and Bukit Timah, which was completed last year and fully sold. The latest transaction price was at S$1,617 psf for a sub-sale in April.

18 Shelford features a mix of units ranging from two-bedroom apartments of 1,205.5 sq ft to four-bedroom units of 2,357 sq ft. There are also three four-bedroom penthouses of over 3,500 sq ft and a super penthouse of 5,188 sq ft. To date, four units have been sold, including one of the penthouses. The average sale price is around S$1,750 psf, which is likely to set a new benchmark in the Shelford area.

At the freehold 77-unit Shelford Suites by CDL (expected to be completed next year) for instance, the latest transactions recorded have been at S$1,316 to S$1,317 psf. Meanwhile, at CapitaLand’s freehold 215-unit The Shelford (completed in 2005), the most recent transaction was at S$1,400 psf. Latest transactions in older condos in the area like Nineteen Shelford and Shelford Regency were at S$1,222 and S$1,093 psf, respectively.

Finding a niche
The most recent purchase at 18 Shelford took place early last month, when Wayne Chou, group managing director of Popular, who is also the son of the company chairman, Chou Cheng Ngok, purchased a four-bedroom 2,088 sq ft unit. According to a Singapore Exchange filing, Wayne paid a net price of S$3.4 million, after a 9.7% rebate on the sale price of S$3.765 million.

Wayne is said to have purchased the unit for his own use, very much like the other three buyers — a Singaporean, a UK-born Chinese and a Taiwanese. While Popular’s projects may be boutique-sizes ones of less than 50 units, the individual units are, however larger than average. “We feel that it’s very important for us to find our niche rather than developing 600 to 1,000 sq ft units like everyone else,” says chairman Chou. “We want people who buy a unit here to enjoy a certain lifestyle. It’s not just another run-of-the-mill project.”

Popular also launched its third project, 8 Raja, on Oct 18. The 26-unit mid-tier project is located off Balestier and Thomson Roads and in the vicinity of CDL’s latest condo projects, such as the recently completed 336-unit The Arte, the fully sold 177-unit Cube 8 and the 157-unit 368 Thomson. That particular area of Thomson Road-Balestier Road is being transformed into a desirable residential enclave, notes Chou. “Our 8 Raja will stand out, naturally — for the people who believe in exclusive living.”

8 Raja will be fitted with top-of-the-line Gaggenau kitchen appliances and mu dian kitchen cabinets, similar to what is offered at 18 Shelford and One Robin. Units at 8 Raja are also substantially larger than typical units at new condos these days, where two-bedroom units measure 600 to 900 sq ft, while three-bedroom units are between 1,000 and 1,300 sq ft. At 8 Raja, half the units are two-bedroom + study types of 1,560 sq ft, and the other half are three-bedroom + study units of 2,023 sq ft.

Popular is launching 8 Raja at prices starting from S$1,350 psf, which is in line with the latest launches in the Balestier-Thomson Road enclave. The latest transactions at The Arte were sub-sales in September, with prices ranging from S$1,088 psf for lower-floor units to S$1,208 psf for a high-floor unit. Meanwhile, at Cube 8, the most recent sub-sale was at S$1,400 psf for a unit on the 33rd floor, and at 368 Thomson (launched in July), the latest units sold went at prices above S$1,400 psf in August.

Given the larger-than-average unit sizes and quality of finishing of both 18 Shelford and 8 Raja, Chou expects demand for his projects to come predominantly from owner-occupiers, rather than investors.

Luxury living at Keppel Bay
The landmark development at the HarbourFront-Keppel Bay area is Reflections at Keppel Bay, with its six sculptural glass towers and 11 villas designed by world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind. To date 97%, or 776, of the 800 units launched at Reflections have been sold. About 60% of the buyers are said to be Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, as well as local corporate buyers, with foreign buyers making up the remaining 40%. “We have a good international mix of Malaysians, Indonesians, Americans and British buyers, as well as a good following from South Koreans, Hong Kongers and some Chinese,” says Augustine Tan, Keppel Land’s president of Singapore residential and head of regional investments.

There are only 353 units available for sale in the project, which has a total of 1,129 units. And this includes the 13,000 sq ft triplex super penthouse, the largest offering at Reflections. The project is only going to obtain Temporary Occupation Permit by 1Q2012.

Keppel Land recently announced that it was investing close to S$3 million to partner with leading furniture design house Saporiti Italia to bring in the finest names and brands in the industry to furnish the tower lobbies and clubhouse of Reflections.

Keppel Land intends to sell the project in China, particularly Shanghai, on a road show, tapping its database of clients who have purchased units in its projects in China. Most recently, the developer showcased Reflections in Kuala Lumpur, and the response was said to be good. Prior to that, it had also brought the project on road shows to Hong Kong and Indonesia.

The average psf launch price for a unit at Reflections at Keppel Bay has reached S$2,000 psf, compared with an average of S$1,800 psf when the project was first launched three years ago. “We have been increasing prices progressively as the units released at a later stage are better units. We try to keep the prices stable,” says Tan.

Cecilia Chow is City and Country editor and Shannen Wong is a staff writer at The Edge Singapore

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 830, Nov 1-7, 2010

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