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Yarwood Avenue prices drift up

THE quiet Good Class Bungalow (GCB) neighbourhood of Yarwood Avenue in Kilburn Estate has seen several transactions over the last six months. The most recent deal involved the former home of the late Professor Seah Cheng Siang, a well-regarded physician in his time. The house is more than half a century old and sits on a sprawling 26,541 sq ft, 999-year leasehold plot. After more than three months on the market, the house was recently sold for S$26.54 million, or S$1,000 psf, in a deal brokered by landed home specialist, RealStar Premier.

William Wong, managing director of RealStar Premier, considers S$1,000 psf "a fair price" for the property. The house sits on a large land parcel on elevated grounds. In fact, it's considered the highest point in Kilburn Estate. Given the age of the house, the buyer is likely to redevelop it into a brand new house, he reckons. "The challenge was the house number for some Chinese buyers," he adds.

Prior to that, another GCB further down Yarwood Avenue and sitting on a 16,275 sq ft, 999-year leasehold plot was sold for S$19.5 million (S$1,198 psf). RealStar Premier represented the buyer and seller in this deal. This is the highest average price psf achieved in the Yarwood area over the last 17 years.

It is probably the most actively traded property in the neighbourhood as it has changed hands six times since 2001. In 2001, it was first sold for S$6.6 million (S$405 psf) and in mid-2006, it went for S$7 million (S$430 psf). It was flipped again just six months later for S$8.25 million (S$507 psf). Then in May 2008, it changed hands for S$12.52 million (S$769 psf), and in 2010, it traded for S$15.8 million (S$970 psf) before the recent sale this year. "The recent price achieved is attractive because the absolute price is below S$20 million," points out Wong. The previous owner had also done extensive renovations to the house before selling it, he adds.

A palatial 11,000 sq ft, double-storey GCB sitting on a 19,000 sq ft plot in Yarwood Avenue was also recently put on the market. The house was built three years ago, and its architecture is inspired by the New England shingle-style homes. The Singaporean family staying in the home is looking to relocate, and Alexs Chua, managing director of Coldwell Banker, has been engaged to put the property on the market. The price tag of the home is S$26.5 million. Interest has been strong, notes Chua, and the most recent offer from a buyer was S$25 million. However, it was deemed too low by the owner and rejected.

In the Yarwood area, the older properties that are likely to be torn down and redeveloped are usually priced in the S$900 to S$1,100 psf range, estimates RealStar Premier's Wong. For double-storey GCBs or nicely renovated bungalows in move-in condition, price tags hover in the S$1,200 to S$1,500 psf range.

Like the rest of the GCB market, prices in the Yarwood Avenue neighbourhood have soared over the years. Seven years ago, these bungalows were changing hands at prices ranging from S$5 million to S$6.8 million, notes a property consultant. "Today, these properties are worth four to five times more," he remarks.

This story first appeared in The Edge Singapore weekly edition of Dec 10-16, 2012.

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