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From shoebox apartments to GCBs

Melvin Poh of Fission Group may be better known as a developer of compact apartments popular in the post-global financial crisis era. These days, he is building luxury houses in the prime districts. He and joint-venture partner Pinnacle Assets have a Good Class Bungalow for sale.

Almost a decade ago, Melvin Poh — founder and managing director of Fission Group — and joint-venture partner Yi Kai Group made a name for themselves as developers of shoebox apartments. The project they were most famous for was the 293-unit Alexis at Alexandra. All the units were sold out within three days of their launch in early 2009. This project was followed by the 167-unit, freehold Robinson Suites in late 2010, where all but five penthouses were sold out in a matter of hours. The JV partners have also collaborated on a strata-titled light industrial development on Henderson Road called Apex@Henderson.

Since then, Poh has refashioned Fission Group into a boutique developer of houses, specifically in the prime districts of 9, 10, 11 and 15. In a 50:50 JV with privately held developer Pinnacle Assets led by Victor Soh, Fission Group has developed more than 40 houses over the last two years, with a gross development value of more than $250 million. “We focused on houses in the prime districts over the last two years because we felt that there was a growing demand for such property,” says Poh. “Unlike apartments, which you can launch and sell off-plan, these high-value houses have to be completed first before they can be launched for sale so that buyers can appreciate the finished product.”

The JV partners recently sold a semi-detached house on Sian Tuan Avenue, off Hua Guan Avenue, in the Bukit Timah area, for $7.55 million. Late last year, they sold a semi-detached house at One Tree Hill in prime District 9 for an alltime- high price of $13.88 million ($3,086 psf).

The formal living and dining rooms overlook the swimming pool and the lawn (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Highest-value asset on the market

Now, the JV partners have their highest-value asset on the market — a Good Class Bungalow (GCB) at 43 Belmont Road with a price tag of $38 million. The property occupies a freehold site of 15,070 sq ft, which translates into a unit price of $2,522 psf.

ission Group and Pinnacle Assts purchased 45 Belmont Road, a 31,129 sq ft GCB plot, for $44.188 million ($1,420 psf) in 2015. They subsequently subdivided the site into two smaller plots: 43 Belmont Road, which was recently put on the market for sale; and 45 Belmont Road, which is currently under development and will be Soh’s new home.

The basement carpark can accommodate up to 20 cars (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

While the land area at 43 Belmont Road may be just 15,070 sq ft, the developer has created more space for the owner — the built-up area is 21,829 sq ft. This includes the basement garage that Poh reckons can comfortably accommodate up to 10 supercars, including four Rolls-Royce. “Tandem parking will allow the space to fit up to 20 cars,” he says. The basement level also has a chauffeur’s room, helpers’ room for up to four helpers, and a staircase leading directly to the wet kitchen.

Residents can enter the home from the basement, where a lift foyer and staircase lead to the upper levels of the house. The first level contains a formal living room and dining room, both overlooking the lawn and a 24m infinity swimming pool. There is also a steam/spa room that can be accessed from the swimming pool. Typical of most houses of this scale, there is a dry and wet kitchen as well as a space that can be turned into a wine cellar.

Uninterrupted view from the second level of 43 Belmont Road (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Room for flexibility

On the first level is an en suite guest room with a view of a Japanese garden. There are six en suite bedrooms in total. The other five are situated on the second level of the house. The master suite at one wing of the house comes with en suite master bathroom and walk-in wardrobe. The adjacent bedroom can be converted into additional wardrobe space, a study or even a child’s room.

Likewise, for a multi-generational family, the junior master suite and adjacent bedroom at the other wing on the second level can be converted into a self-contained apartment with its own sitting room and pantry. Both the master and junior master suites boast views of the swimming pool.

The walk-in wardrobe of the master suite (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

The fifth en suite bedroom on the second level can be used as a family room or gym. From the second level, one can enjoy a view of the Leedon GCB estate and d’Leedon. “The view from the second level is unobstructed, as the GCBs across the road are in a valley,” notes Poh. To capitalise on the view, a roof garden has been created on the second level. Landscaping around the boundary of the house provides privacy for the owners. A lot of attention has been paid to the materials used for the house: The outdoor timber decking is made from Chengal wood; the exterior wall cladding uses travertine; and the bathrooms are full marble. The ceiling height is 3.2m.

The architect for the GCB at 43 Belmont Road is Tellus Architects and Design, which has made a name for itself in the design of conservation shophouses and luxury bungalows. K H Tan, managing director of Newsman Realty, is the appointed marketing agent for the property.

The master bathroom in the master suite (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

Who’s buying?

To maintain their exclusivity, URA has gazetted GCBs to be in just 39 areas. The minimum land size is 1,400 sq m (15,070 sq ft). Any increase in GCBs can only be done through the subdivision of bigger plots.

The number of GCBs in Singapore is between 2,400 and 2,500 units today, estimates Poh. He reckons that if one were to just look at the most coveted addresses of Nassim Road, the Cluny area, Swettenham Road, and the Leedon and Belmont neighbourhood, the number is even more limited — “probably in the ballpark of 500 units”, he estimates.

The house at 14 and 14A Nassim Road was sold for $218 million or $2,774 psf ppr (Credit: CBRE)

On Nassim Road, GCBs on the market are old properties due for redevelopment. These have fetched record land prices.For instance, on June 13, Hong Kong-listed Shun Tak Holdings acquired a house at 14 and 14A Nassim Road for $218 million. The existing house at Nassim Road sits on a 66,452 sq ft freehold site with a plot ratio of 1.4. The site has been earmarked for redevelopment into a new “low-rise, ultra-luxurious residential project”, with a maximum gross floor area of 93,033 sq ft, according to Shun Tak in its announcement. Including development charge, the purchase price translates into $2,744 psf per plot ratio (ppr).

The psf price achieved for the Nassim Road site is the second highest in terms of land rate. The all-time high was the en bloc purchase of Park House on Orchard Boulevard for $375.5 million, or $2,910 psf. The buyer was also Shun Tak. Both deals were brokered by CBRE.

Newsman’s Tan: There are many serious buyers in the market today. Besides local high net worth individuals, other interested buyers include those from China, Indonesia and Hong Kong

Besides Hong Kong buyers shopping for luxury property in Singapore’s prime districts, those from China and Indonesia are also on the hunt. “There are many serious buyers in the market today,” says Newsman’s Tan. GCBs are restricted property, however, and only Singapore citizens are eligible to purchase them.

Few new-build GCBs for sale

In the Belmont area, there has been no GCB transaction since 2015, based on caveats lodged with URA Realis. The last purchase was that of the 45 Belmont Road site by Pinnacle Assets and Fission Group.

Fission Group’s Poh reckons that there are fewer than a handful of new GCBs on the market today. Early this month, the newly completed GCB at 3 Jervois Hill, developed by George Lim, was sold at $41.2 million. The newly built house sits on a freehold site of 15,091 sq ft, translating into a record unit price of $2,729 psf for a GCB. The deal was brokered by Newsman’s Tan.

The GCB at 3 Jervois Hill was sold at $41.2 million or a record $2,729 psf (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)

The buyer of the GCB at 3 Jervois Hill is reportedly Alan Chong, founder and managing director of mechanical and engineering solutions provider Wah Loon Engineering. In April, Wah Loon sold an 80% stake — estimated to be worth $250 million — to a unit of French construction giant Vinci.

With the sale of 3 Jervois Hill, Poh reckons that there are now just two newly completed GCBs on the market, including 43 Belmont Road. Newsman’s Tan says he has received three offers for the property in just the past week. “I believe this house is likely to sell within the next two months,” he adds. “It’s well designed and well built and has a hilltop location. It also has a basement carparkfor 20 cars, which is quite rare.”

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Buying your 2nd condo? Here are 3 things you need to ask yourself

Nearly more than 30% of Singaporeans own more than one residential property, according to the Singapore Business Review. Yes, you heard us right. There are indeed many rich Singaporeans living amongst us! While owning a second condominium is not uncommon, the questions “is it really necessary?” or “what are the procedures?” still looms overhead.

As much as I want to say, ‘just do it’ (and do get it done with me), there are 3 questions you should ask yourself before sinking your teeth into looking for the next show flat to visit. For most people, navigating the Singapore property legislation is not an easy feat; you don’t want to realize at the end that you’re unable to even purchase your property.

1 )What type of property am I looking for?

It is not as straightforward as just ‘public’ or ‘private’ housing. In each category, there are sub-categories, with each sub-category resulting in a different course of action.

Public housing includes Housing Development Board (HDB) flats – ranging from 2-room flexi flats to executive flats, Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flats, Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDC) flats and Executive Condominiums (EC).

On the other hand, private housing consists of condominiums, apartments, walk-ups, conservation houses, terraces, shop houses, townhouses, cluster houses, semi-detached houses, bungalows and good class bungalows.

The table below is a concise checklist on what you need to do before you can buy your second property, since you already have a residential property under your name.

The location of the new launch that you want to buy also has an impact on the price. For example, take a look at our District 9-11 properties and see if it is something that you can afford.

2) Why am I purchasing a second property?

The purpose of your purchase would define the factors you need to consider before buying your second residential property. Hence you need to ask yourself: are you looking to invest? Or are you planning to stay there? The table below sums up the few most relevant factors you should consider.

3) Can I afford it?

Being able to cover the purchase price of the property is not the only cost you will incur when purchasing that property. Here is a list of other costs that are associated with the purchase of a second property:

Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD)

ABSD was first introduced on 7th December 2011 as one of the measures the Singapore government adopted to cool the property market. In 2013, the ABSD was further revised to curb demand in the property market. Current ABSD rates are shown in the table below.

This translates to paying an additional 7% of the purchase price or current market value of the property, whichever is higher, on top of the purchase price itself, assuming you are a citizen of Singapore.

If you are unsure and just want a reliable and experienced person to guide you along, why not call Maureen at 9060 5104 or Kar Wei at 8128 9565? We’ll be glad to share our experience with you and guide you along the way. Alternative, drop us an email using the form on this page.

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Second Half 2013 Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme

25 June 2013

Second Half 2013 Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme

The Government today announced the second half 2013 (2H2013) GLS Programme. Comprising 11 Confirmed List sites and 20 Reserve List sites, the GLS programme can yield up to 14,200 private residential units, including 3,300 Executive Condominium (EC) units, 268,000 sqm gross floor area (GFA) of commercial space and 960 hotel rooms (see Appendices 1 & 2). Supply from the GLS programme, together with projects in the pipeline, is assessed to be more than adequate to meet the continuing demand for private housing and commercial space.

The Confirmed List contains 10 private residential sites (including 5 EC sites) and 1 commercial site. These sites can yield about 6,000 private residential units (including 2,800 EC units) and 69,000 sqm GFA of commercial space.

The Reserve List contains 14 private residential sites (including 1 EC site), 1 commercial & residential site, 1 commercial site, 1 White site and 3 hotel sites. These sites can yield about 8,200 private residential units (including 500 EC units), 199,000 sqm GFA of commercial space and 960 hotel rooms.

Supply of Private Housing

The Confirmed List contains 10 private residential sites, including 5 EC sites. All of these sites are located in the Outside Central Region and the Rest of Central Region, where more affordable private housing is expected to be built. The supply of about 6,000 private residential units (including 2,800 EC units) comes on top of the record high supply of 100,600 units (including ECs) in the pipeline, of which 39,000 units still remain unsold as of the first quarter of 2013.

The Government will continue two initiatives which were introduced in the 1H2013 GLS Programme to encourage more prudent bidding by developers. First, the batched tender closing date system will be applied on two pairs of sites on the Confirmed List. Sites in each pair are adjacent to each other, and of a similar size and unit yield. The first pair is located at Upper Serangoon View and meant for private residential developments; the other is at Choa Chu Kang Grove and meant for EC developments.

Second, the Government will continue to require developers of EC sites to only launch units for sale 15 months from the date of award of the sites or after the physical completion of foundation works, whichever is earlier. This requirement will be applied on all the EC sites offered in the 2H2013 GLS Programme.

Supply of Commercial Space

The Government is releasing a commercial site at Woodlands Avenue 5 for sale on the Confirmed List of the 2H2013 GLS Programme to kick-start the development of Woodlands Regional Centre. Woodlands Regional Centre will anchor the recently announced North Coast Innovation Corridor, which aims to introduce more jobs near homes in the north of Singapore. This site will provide 66,000 sqm GFA of office space to meet business needs, and 3,500 sqm GFA of ancillary retail space.

Supply of Hotel Rooms

The hotel site at Victoria Street, which was made available for sale through the Reserve List in November 2012, will be removed from the Reserve List to facilitate a review of the land use intention for the site. Three remaining hotel sites at Race Course Road, East Coast Road and Havelock Road, with a total estimated yield of 960 rooms, will be carried over from the 1H2013 Reserve List.

Other Government Supply to be Made Available in 2H2013

Apart from the GLS Programme, the Government also makes available other supply of land and properties through its various agencies to meet economic or development objectives. This includes localised retail facilities at parks, MRT stations and community centres, and leasing of vacant state properties for commercial uses.


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Government to release three residential sites and two commercial & residential sites estimated to yield 3,600 housing units in June 2013

17 June 2013
Government to release three residential sites and two commercial & residential sites estimated to yield 3,600 housing units in June 2013

To provide developers and home-buyers with more choices for private housing, the Housing & Development Board (HDB) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will be releasing three residential sites and two commercial & residential sites for sale in June 2013 under the Government Land Sales Programme (GLS) for 1st half 2013 (1H2013).

Together, these five sites can yield about 3,600 residential units.

Two Executive Condominium sites at Punggol Drive and Yuan Ching Road are launched for sale today under the Confirmed List. The residential site at Mount Sophia and a commercial & residential site at Yishun Central 1 will be launched for sale under the Confirmed List on 28 June 2013. The commercial and residential site at Meyappa Chettiar Road will be made available for application on the Reserve List on the same day.

More details on the land parcels can be found in Annex 1 and the location plans in Annex 2.

Other Details

The closing dates for the tender for the land parcels are as follows:

Punggol Drive/ Edgedale Plains : 30 July 2013
Yuan Ching Road/ Tao Ching Road : 30 July 2013
Mount Sophia : 27 August 2013
Yishun Avenue 2/ Yishun Central 1 : 5 September 2013

More details on the land parcels are available on the respective HDB and URA websites.

Developer’s packets containing details and conditions of tender for the land parcels are available at:

HDB Land Sales
HDB’s Procurement Office
Basement 1, HDB Hub
480 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh
Singapore 310480

URA Land Sales
Customer Service Centre
1st Storey, The URA Centre
45 Maxwell Road
Singapore 069118

Issued by Housing and Development Board

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Government to release five residential sites estimated to yield 2,725 housing units in May 2013

15 May 2013
Government to release five residential sites estimated to yield 2,725 housing units in May 2013

To provide developers and home-buyers with more choices for private housing, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Housing & Development Board (HDB) will be releasing five sites for sale in May 2013 under the Government Land Sales Programme (GLS) for 1st half 2013 (1H2013).

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