The Sail penthouse sold for $12.68 million

IN the Marina Bay area, the residential project that has seen the most activity is naturally The Sail by City Developments Ltd (CDL), given that it was the first project to be completed and with 1,111 units, remains the largest residential project in the area to date. In early January, there were at least four transactions recorded based on caveats lodged with URA Realis. Prices achieved ranged from $2,014 to $2,489 psf.

The most recent transaction was for the largest penthouse in the project, the 6,297 sq ft duplex located on the 68th level of Tower 1. The penthouse, which comes with a spacious private terrace and lap pool, was sold for $12.68 million or $2,014 psf, according to a caveat lodged with URA Realis on Jan 18.

"Prices achieved reflect the facing of the unit, with those with direct bayfront views commanding a premium, as well as the quality of the finishes in the project, the layout and size of the unit," says Samuel Eyo, head of Savills Prestige Homes.

CDL is also the developer of the 341-unit One Shenton, located next to Asia Square and completed in 2011. Two doors away from One Shenton, UIC Building is being redeveloped into the mixed-use V on Shenton, which is an office block and a 510-unit residential tower.

Competition is heating up in Marina Bay and the inner city area as more high-rise condominium projects are completed. The second and last residential tower at the multi-billion-dollar Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC) is the 221-unit Marina Bay Suites, which will be completed in the coming months. The first residential tower at MBFC is the 428-unit Marina Bay Residences, completed in 2010.

V on Shenton was launched in August last year, and as at end-December, 301 of 363 units launched were sold at a median price of $2,182 psf, according to URA data. At Marina Bay Suites, 191 units had been sold as at end-December, with median price achieved of $3,026 psf.

Some agents reckon that increased competition from newer high-end condos in the vicinity such as Marina Bay Suites and Marina Bay Residences has also put pressure on asking prices at The Sail in the secondary market.

However, since the start of the year, Indonesians have accounted for the majority of foreign interest in the Marina Bay area, according to David Neubronner, head of residential project sales at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). Indonesian buyers generally prefer freehold units in the Orchard Road area, he notes, but lately, they recognise the potential of waterfront developments in the Marina Bay neighbourhood, even though they are 99-year leasehold projects.

In the Tanjong Pagar area, the 646-unit Icon by Far East Organization was perhaps positioned as the first inner city high-rise residential project. Launched in 2003, the development was completed in 2007.

In January, Icon has seen a handful of units change hands in the resale market. Prices achieved ranged from $1,714 to $1,994 psf. The latest transaction was for a 560 sq ft, one-bedroom unit on the ninth floor that was sold at $1.09 million ($1,944 psf).

In the vicinity of the Icon is another residential high-rise tower by Far East — the 280-unit Altez. As at end-December, 222 units had been sold with median price achieved at $2,409 psf, according to URA data. The most recent transaction at Altez, according to a caveat lodged on Jan 22, was for a 764 sq ft, one-bedroom unit on the 42nd floor that was sold for $1.88 million ($2,460 psf). Next door to Altez is Allgreen Properties' 360-unit [email protected], where as at end-last year, 201 units had been sold at a median price of $2,633 psf.

Further up along McCallum Street is another Far East Organization project, the 312-unit The Clift, where a 495 sq ft, one-bedroom unit was sold for $1.22 million ($2,464 psf), according to a caveat lodged on Jan 23. This is the third time the unit changed hands in the secondary market. Prior to the recent transaction, the unit was sold for $900,000 ($1,818 psf) in April 2010, and before that, for $742,000 ($1,499 psf) in October 2009. The very first owner paid $591,320 ($1,194 psf) for the 99-year leasehold unit in September 2006 when the project was launched.

As JLL's Neubronner sees it, the inner city area will continue to attract buyer interest despite the recent cooling measures, which included a hike in the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty for foreigners from 10% to 15%. "Singapore remains attractive to foreign investors, especially those from neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar," he says. Developers are also offering attractive incentives and discounts to offset the additional transaction costs. Meanwhile, individual sellers in the resale market may also lower their asking prices to attract buyers.

A good example is The Sail, according to Neubronner. The development was the first residential project launched in Marina Bay. The 63-storey Tower 2 was launched in September 2004, with an initial average price of around $900 psf. The 70-storey Tower 1 with bay view units was launched a year later at an average price of $1,080 psf. Tower 2 was completed in late-2008, while Tower 1 was completed in 1Q2009. "Owners who bought units when it was first launched in 2004 at around $900 psf will still profit from them if they sell at prices of around $2,000 psf today," he reckons.

This story first appeared in The Edge Singapore weekly edition of Feb 11-17, 2013.

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