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Property News12 Mar 2018

Tanjong Katong bungalow market on a roll

A STRING of large freehold bungalow deals have been sealed in the past few months in the Tanjong Katong area.

Wilkinson Road bungalow

These include transactions in Boscombe, Branksome, Lyndhurst, Wilkinson and Arthur roads. Some of these are old bungalows that were bought by families already living in the area for redevelopment into their new homes.

Among the bigger deals is an old single-storey bungalow on a 12,767 sq ft site in Boscombe Road that is being transacted for S$17.5 million. This works out to nearly S$1,371 per square foot on the land area of 12,767 sq ft. The buyer is understood to be a family member of Hoi Hup Realty director Wong Sjew Hung. She and her family already live in the area.

In Wilkinson Road, the sale of an old single-storey bungalow was completed in January. The property has eight bedrooms and a pool.

The S$32.1 million price translates to S$1,250 psf on the land area of 25,680 sq ft. The property was bought by a low-profile member of a family that owns an unlisted construction, engineering and building materials business. Other members of the family live in the vicinity.

In Lyndhurst Road, a two-storey renovated bungalow with an attic is changing hands at nearly S$12.4 million or S$1,736 psf on the land area of 7,136 sq ft. The house has a total built-up area of about 6,000 sq ft, with five bedrooms and a guest room. The buyer is understood to be in the travel agency business.

In Branksome Road, a company linked to developer Chiu Teng Enterprises recently sold a bungalow off-plan for S$10.5 million to a local businessman.

The price works out to S$1,990 psf on the land area of 5,275 sq ft. The property, which will have two storeys, an attic and a basement, will have six bedrooms, a guest room, a lift and a pool. There is space to park up to four cars.

It is one of two bungalows the developer will build on an old bungalow site that it acquired in 2016 under a mortgagee sale. The development is expected to be completed next year.

In Broadrick Road, a two-storey modern bungalow with attic has gone for S$10.92 million or S$1,852 psf on land area of 5,894 sq ft. The house, which is about 10 years old, has a pool and a lift. This will be a replacement home for the buyer, who is upgrading after having sold his apartment through a collective sale.

In Arthur Road, developer Wah Khiaw has sold a two-storey bungalow with attic and basement for S$8.55 million or about S$1,912 psf on land area of 4,472 sq ft. Wah Khiaw developed the property a few years ago.

Realstar Premier Group brokered most of the deals above but declined to reveal the identities of buyers and sellers.

The Tanjong Katong area has one of the biggest clusters of bungalows in the eastern part of Singapore, said Realstar founder William Wong. "You can find many nice bungalows in this locale, some even with land areas of more than 20,000 sq ft - which is pretty rare in the east."

Anecdotes abound of the area being a magnet for a niche pool of buyers - local businessmen, professionals and other high-net-worth individuals who have been living in the east and who are interested in bungalows only in the Katong area, instead of in a more central area like District 10.

"Katong bungalow owners and buyers are predominantly owner occupiers; very rarely do we see people buying with the intention of leasing out the property," said Mr Wong.

Market watchers note the area's strong lifestyle attractions and its proximity to established schools including Tao Nan, CHIJ Katong and Chung Cheng High.

Ong Choon Fah, chief executive of Edmund Tie & Co, said: "Traditionally, the East Coast has been a towkay's area. In the old days before land reclamation, there were many bungalows in the Katong area by the sea. Even today, the area is close to the East Coast Park beach, presenting a strong lifestyle offering. Eateries are another Katong draw."

She quipped: "You can get someone living in West Coast to move to the East Coast, but it is very hard to get someone living in Katong to move to the West Coast."

Academic and property consultant Steven Choo said: "There's a lot of old money in the Katong area.

"By the 1950s, the location was already an established residential area; people used to refer to Tanglin as 'gold' and Katong as 'silver', in terms of the two most prestigious residential areas on the island.

"Tanglin, being close to the Botanic Gardens and with big bungalows - or what are today zoned as Good Class Bungalow Areas - traditionally appealed more to the British and other European expats.

"Katong used to draw Peranakans, some local towkays and English-educated professionals including doctors."

A spokesman for the Urban Redevelopment Authority said that in 1994, URA designated two stretches in the area - parts of the area to the north and south of Mountbatten Road - as Landed Housing Areas as they share a homogeneous character of primarily two-storey semi-detached and bungalow residences.

She said: "As part of our planning, we seek to provide a variety of low-, medium- and high-density housing types to meet different housing aspirations. We do this by safeguarding established landed housing estates such as this for landed housing in the long term to provide a good mix of housing options for home buyers."

Only Singaporeans are allowed to buy landed residential properties here without restrictions.

Permanent residents (PRs) may do so only if they are granted approval by the government. The applicant has to meet several criteria including making a significant economic contribution to Singapore.

Sentosa Cove is the only place where foreigners who are not PRs may buy a landed home, albeit subject to the government's nod.

Foreigners including PRs may be given permission to buy only one landed home in Singapore - whether on Sentosa Cove or the mainland.
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