Value buys at Residences at 338A and The Metz

THE latest round of government measures implemented on Jan 12 may have dampened the mood at the top end of the market. Setting the pace has been transactions in the secondary market by motivated sellers.

"Whether it is an upmarket project or not, there will be golden nuggets of opportune investments for those with a keen eye and strong nose for value deals," says Alan Cheong, head of research at Savills Singapore. He notes that older condominiums in the prime districts of 9, 10 and 11 present opportunities for buyers looking for freehold property.

One example is the 46-unit freehold boutique condo Residences at 338A, located on River Valley Road and developed by Hind Developments. The project was completed in 2004, and most recently, a 1,313 sq ft, three-bedroom unit on the 10th floor was sold for $2.18 million, or $1,660 psf. This is the highest psf price recorded for a unit at the project. The unit on the 10th floor had changed hands in the secondary market for the second time. Prior to this transaction, it was sold for $1.38 million, or $1,051 psf, in June 2009.

While the number of enquiries for high-end condo units has dropped off since the new property cooling measures were introduced, Frankie Ooi, associate marketing director of GPS Alliance, says Residences at 338A is on the radar of local buyers. He explains that units there are seen as "value buys", given their low psf pricing compared with those at newer developments in the vicinity. "Most of the recent buyers of this project are buying for long-term investment."

In the prime districts of Orchard Road, units at these older projects are said to be tenanted at around $5 psf, which works out to a yield of about 3%, based on the latest transaction prices, according to Ooi.

Over at Dublin Road, located off Killiney Road, is the freehold Dublin Lodge, comprising a row of eight townhouses that were completed in 1987. The most recent transaction at the project was for a 2,583 sq ft unit, which changed hands at $5 million, or $1,935 psf.

At the 169-unit freehold The Metz, located on Devonshire Road, off Exeter Road, near the Somerset area in Orchard Road, a 581 sq ft studio unit on the 22nd floor was sold for $1.6 million, or $2,753 psf, according to a caveat lodged with the URA on Feb 15. This is the second time the unit changed hands in the secondary market. The last time it was sold was in 2007, for $1.3 million, or $2,237 psf. The first owner paid $799,000, or $1,375 psf, for the freehold unit in October 2005, when the project was launched. Developed by MCL Land, the development was completed six years ago.

Wheelock Properties' 330-unit Ardmore Park recently saw the sale of a 2,885 sq ft, four-bedroom unit on the 28th floor for $10.5 million, or $3,640 psf. This is the third time the unit changed hands. Prior to this, it was sold for $10.05 million, or $3,484 psf, in October 2007. The first owner had purchased the unit from the developer at $6.61 million, or $2,295 psf, in November 1996.

Meanwhile, at SC Global Developments' 241-unit Hilltops at Cairnhill Circle, the most recent transaction was for the sub-sale of a 1,335 sq ft, two-bedroom unit on the fourth floor, which went for $3.47 million ($2,601 psf). According to Savills' Cheong, the developer is selling units at the project at prices above $3,000 psf. The sub-sale is likely to be from a motivated individual seller.

And at Far East Organization's The Scotts Tower, located at the junction of Cairnhill Road and Scotts Road, an 807 sq ft, two-bedroom unit on the 20th floor was sold for $2.97 million ($3,680 psf) by the developer. The 103-year leasehold development, comprising 231 one- to three-bedroom units, is expected to be completed in 2016.

"For prime super-luxurious freehold properties, Indonesians make up the bulk of foreign buyers," says Cheong. "They are quite impervious to the measures and provide a constant source of demand at the top end of the market, be it in good times or not-so-good times."

This story first appeared in The Edge Singapore weekly edition of Mar11-17, 2013.

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