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Deals in the prime Cairnhill-Scotts Road area

BUYERS keen on newly-completed or soon-to-be-completed high-end properties in the Cairnhill-Scotts Road area could find bargains on the secondary market, where prices offered by individual sellers of some properties are lower than those quoted by developers.

Two sub-sale deals were captured by URA Realis recently at the 56-unit Hamilton Scotts, which obtained temporary occupation permit early this year. This is the first time the luxury condominium has seen a sub-sale since the project was launched in 2008. The freehold property, located along Scotts Road, is by niche developer KOP Properties and boasts of being the first condo tower in Singapore where every apartment has an en suite garage. The developer is also involved in the development of the ultra luxury, 58-unit Ritz-Carlton Residences along nearby Cairnhill Road.

The sub-sales at Hamilton Scotts were for two 2,756 sq ft, three-bedroom apartments on the fifth level that changed hands for S$8.13 million (S$2,950 psf) apiece. According to property agents, both units were said to have been snapped up by one buyer. One of the units was initially purchased by the previous owner in August 2009 for S$7 million (S$2,536 psf), which translates to a price gain of more than 16%. The other unit was first purchased from the developer in July 2009 for S$6.89 million (S$2,500 psf), which means the seller saw a price gain of 18%.

Both units were sold at a discount to the developer's current asking price of S$3,600 psf for Hamilton Scotts. The units on the lower floors are generally priced at S$3,400 psf, according to Roger Ang, a property agent at ERA Realty. However, prices are open to negotiations, he points out.

Word on the street is that KOP Properties scans the profile of potential buyers, similar to what other luxury property developers do at their exclusive developments. As such, some potential buyers prefer picking up units on the secondary market, points out Ang.

As at end-November, 20 of the 36 units released in Hamilton Scotts have been sold. All units except the penthouses at Hamilton Scotts are three-bedroom apartments sized at 2,756 sq ft.

On Dec 3, a 915 sq ft, two-bedroom unit at The Vermont on Cairnhill, a freehold high-end condo on Cairnhill Rise, changed hands in a sub-sale for S$2.42 million (S$2,645 psf). This is the first recorded sub-sale this year at The Vermont. The seller purchased the unit in April 2010 for S$2.3 million (S$2,550 psf). This translates to a modest price gain of 3.7%.

The 158-unit The Vermont is developed by listed Bukit Sembawang Estates and is scheduled for completion by end-2013. At S$2,645 psf, the sub-sale price for the seventh -floor unit is comparable to the developer's selling price. The most recent transaction recorded by URA Realis was the sale of an 893 sq ft unit on the 11th floor by the developer for S$2.35 million (S$2,630 psf).

According to Darren Ong, a property agent with Savills Singapore, the seller of the seventh-floor unit could be looking to exit as he may have been in need of additional liquidity, or was looking to reinvest elsewhere. "So far, such deals are isolated cases," he adds.

Generally, the 915 sq ft, two-bedroom units in The Vermont are popular with buyers because of the views and layout of the apartments, says Ong, one of the marketing agents for the development. Savills and CBRE are joint marketing agents for the project. There are also more buyers who are interested in two-bedroom apartments today, compared with the past when they went for larger units, he adds.

Bukit Sembawang launched The Vermont in early 2010 at prices ranging from S$2,400 psf for a 1,410 sq ft, three-bedroom unit, to S$2,700 psf for a 527 sq ft, one-bedroom unit. "Some buyers who came in at an early stage of the launch may now be comfortable selling them to realise a small gain," says Ong.

The Vermont is situated in Cairnhill Rise, a neighbourhood with a cluster of high-end developments such as Hilltops by SC Global Developments, Helios Residences by Wing Tai, Alba by Far East Organization, and The Peak I & II by a joint venture between TG Development and TEE Development.

Unit sizes in The Vermont range from 527 sq ft for a one-bedroom unit to 6,060 sq ft for a sky villa. Out of the 120 units launched at the condo, 118 have been sold as at end-November.

Older properties along Scotts Road, such as the 13-year-old Scotts 28, developed jointly by MCL Land and Hotel Properties Ltd, also offer value buys. In early December, a 1,636 sq ft, three-bedroom unit on the 22nd level of the high-rise condo tower was sold for S$3.6 million (S$2,200 psf). The previous owner had purchased it in December 1995 for S$2.7 million (S$1,650 psf).

Like most older condos developed in the prime districts in the early to mid-1990s, the 136-unit freehold Scotts 28 features large units such as two-bedroom apartments of 1,096 sq ft, three-bedroom units from 1,636 to 2,268 sq ft, four-bedroom units from 3,461 to 3,601 sq ft, and penthouses from 4,644 to 6,837 sq ft. Consequently, they are also popular with expatriate tenants as sizeable apartments are becoming rare in the prime districts.

This story first appeared in
The Edge Singapore weekly edition of Dec 24-31, 2012.

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