Chasing Premium Properties in Singapore
An analytical view of the current Singapore market for luxury properties and how it’s defying the pandemic.
By Joe Lim
More wealthy people are pursuing the apex of residential luxury — the resale market for penthouses in Singapore.
To think that a pandemic could be a serious threat to Singapore’s residential market — think shuttered show flats, loss of jobs, and the curtailment of discretionary consumption, it bucked the logic. In fact, prices of non-landed private residential properties (excluding Executive Condominiums) grew by 2.1per cent q-o-q (quarter-on-quarter) Q1 2021, the fourth quarter of increase from Q2 2020.
Based on Knight Frank’s Wealth Report 2021, the pandemic-led recession did not put a damper on super-rich spending. In fact, the number of Ultra-High-Net-Worth-Individuals (UHNWIs — individuals with a US$30 million net worth inclusive of their primary residence) grew in 2020, increasing by 10.2 per cent from 2019.
Buoyed by Singapore’s attractiveness among family offices, it was observed that both foreign and local homebuyers were looking to penthouses or units with more than 3,000 square feet. Fuelling this spending spree was the limited availability of newly launched penthouses, therefore, these plush resale abodes were largely sought after by UHNWIs who had a penchant for high-quality living spaces.
A total of 6,470 non-landed private units (excluding Executive Condominiums) changed hands in Q1 2021, 7.3 per cent higher than the already robust figures held in Q4 2020. Due to an invigorated HDB resale market spurred by the recycling of substantial property gains from an older generation enabling the younger to transit into the private market, not forgetting retiree downgraders, this has fuelled HDB upgraders to consider going into the private home market to enjoy a better life.
Overall sales volume was also 73.5 per cent higher than in Q1 2020. The performance of the primary market continued to be confident with strong supply-led demand. New projects that were launched in the quarter tallied up brisk sales with 3,357 non-landed new sales in Q1 2021, 31.6 per cent higher than the 2,550 sales in the previous quarter.
Stunning Performance — Core Central Region (CCR)
The late March 2021 sale of Eden at 2 Draycott — all 20 units were sold collectively at a staggering S$239 million (approx. US$180.5 million) by a single buyer purported to be a Chinese family, would affect the accounting figures for new launches based on this bulk sale. Nonetheless, there was a dip in q-o-q in CCR prices, some 0.3 per cent.
March witnessed brisk sales especially with the launch of Midtown Modern and The Atelier. Around 1,294 units were transacted in Q1 2021, higher than every quarter in 2020 when it experienced a dearth in new launches. Midtown Modern rang the till with 362 units sold at an average of S$2,774 per square foot (approx. US$2,094), bringing new sales in the quarter to 669 units or 51.7 per cent of total sales.
Wealth buyers made a beeline for penthouses with larger floor areas situated in older developments. It was recorded that 15 such transactions were made, particularly in penthouses above 3,000 square feet completed between 1998 and 2013. These were sold between S$5.4 million to S$18 million (approx. US$4.07 to 13.59 million). Most notable was a 7,266-square-foot penthouse in St. Regis that topped the list.
Rest of Central Region (RCR) and Outside Central Region (OCR)
This segment remains sanguine as figures will attest: Based on Property Price Index of non-landed prices in the RCR, the figure reached an unsurpassed high of 170.4 after a 6.1 per cent q-o-q increase in Q1 2021. The Reef at King’s Dock and Normanton Park in January 2021 where a combined total of 1,070 units were transacted helped with the spike in new sale negotiations. On the other hand, the OCR sector snagged a record high of 185.3 after a 0.9 per cent q-o-q increase.
The OCR was the only segment that saw a q-o-q decline in total transaction volume to 2,440 units (-24.3 per cent q-o-q) in Q1 2021 due to the small volume of newly launched projects. Buyer interest remained positive in existing launches, with Ki Residences At Brookvale selling another 147 units at an average of S$1,768 per square foot (approx. US$1,335), on top of the 160 units sold in December 2020.
Prices are looking at an uptick because new projects are bathing in the limelight of healthy sales in Q1 2021 as demand fuels it. Also, UHNWIs looked for resale penthouses in older projects signalled a positive market outlook. New buyers are looking forward to upcoming launches such as Irwell Hill Residences, Klimt Cairnhill, and One Bernam, all set to push prices north.
Based on flash estimates, overall private residential prices are leaning to an increase by more than 5 per cent in 2021. The primary market is geared to receive about 10,000 sales this year unless government curtailments are imposed; more buyers will also be attracted to the secondary market.
Guocoland seems to be future-proofing the way we live, perhaps, as the firm seems to be a steward of the Singapore government’s town planning needs. Truth be told, the Beach Road-Bugis Precinct is set to be more vibrant once Midtown Modern readies for its completion in 2025. Midtown Modern is part of Guoco Midtown, which will transform this precinct into Singapore’s new Midtown.
With another of its property Midtown Bay situated across the road, the combined projects will allow us to witness the transformation plan and entire ecosystem that Guocoland has in store for District 7. Up to four MRT lines based on the Bugis MRT interchange station is just a stone’s throw away, Midtown Modern is a strong proposition for individuals, young couples, and small families who love the idea of city living and the ease and accessibility to get around the island. There’s no denying that Bugis’s allure is its close access to major highways like CTE and ECP and with a multitude of malls, shopping centres, coffee shops, cafes, and other specialty stores, the lifestyle experience is further enhanced. There is also the National Library, Raffles Hospital, schools, and other major learning institutions nearby, too.
However, if going out is not your cuppa tea for a particular weekend, then fret not. The greening of Midtown Modern offers a calming oasis to soothe the senses and allow you to indulge in some “me time”, catch up on sports, enjoy a jog, work out or read a book by the swimming pool.
The verdant landscape theme will be devised by SILA-registered (Singapore Institute of Landscape Architects) firm Ortus Design where some 250 types of tropical plants will be curated to form specific zones to create spring-and-summer-like vibes across 11,500-sqm of undulating land. A lot of effort will be placed on the biophilia features of Midtown Modern – that term refers to “seeking connections in nature”.
In terms of architecture, award-winning architect Yip Yuen Hong will be creating spaces that are mindful of its surroundings. It was paramount that future homeowners would be able to enjoy striking views of our Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands, and The Esplanade, so Yip devised the blocks to be tilted away from the Western sun, thereby, optimising the angle to afford stunning sea vistas from every room, not just the living room and master bedroom.
This placemaking project will be something to look out for when it is ready. It will be a brilliant showcase of how we can live, work, play and socialise collectively in one modern precinct. It will definitely be one of the more interesting architectural typologies in our social fabric of mixed-use developments.
For more information about Midtown Modern, click here.
Tucked in the sylvan estate of Dover, Normanton Park will offer nine 24-storey towers positioned to surround a handful of watery facilities. Most interesting are the ground-level terrace houses with adjoining pools. These are the units that will afford the watery vistas. The project’s towers are elevated 19 metres above ground level which means units on the higher floors will stun future homeowners as they will marvel at the panoramic city-centre views, not forgetting, the leafy Kent Ridge Park and the lush southern coastlines. Normanton Park’s appeal is the natured-skewed facilities, verdant gardens replete with landscaping at all ground-level common areas.
Other facilities include chill-out lawn, gymnasium, outdoor table tennis, tennis court, 50m lap pool, yoga lawn, aqua gym, and a whole host of themed garden pavilions for families and their friends to enjoy a barbeque. Residents can also enjoy walks or jogs in an array of “sensory gardens” such as Vertical Forest, Forest Corridor, Amazon Island, Palm Grove, to name a few. The bedroom configurations include 1-, 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-bedroom units, plus the luxurious 2,110-square-foot Terrace Houses. Future homeowners are also close by to parks and gardens (i.e Kent Ridge Park Direct access, HortPark, West Coast Park), medical/wellness (i.e. National University Hospital, Alexandra Hospital), shopping/retail options (i.e. Star Vista, Ikea Alexandra, Holland Village, VivoCity, Anchor Point, Alexandra Village Food Centre), access to major highways (i.e. AYE, KPE, and MCE), access to MRT stations (i.e. Kent Ridge MRT, Buona Vista MRT, HarbourFront MRT, downtown lines, etc)
For more information about Kingsford, click here.