A MEMBER of the Kuik family that founded the Sim Lian Group snagged a Good Class Bungalow (GCB) last month in Chestnut Drive for S$16 million while Nasrat Muzayyin, a director and shareholder of several oil trading companies here, picked up a bungalow in District 11 for S$22.24 million.
These were among some 60 caveated landed residential transactions worth S$336.76 million last month.
This followed a lively third quarter that saw 375 landed homes changing hands for S$1.6 billion in total, after some 321 deals were transacted for S$1.34 billion in the second quarter.
The aggregate value in Q3 represented an 18.8 per cent increase over the preceding quarter and a 36.6 per cent jump from a year ago, Knight Frank's compiled data shows.
Bungalow specialists note that the continued decline in landed home prices have made it more attractive for buyers to commit. Landed home prices have been hit harder than non-landed prices, with a steeper 14.8 per cent fall from the peak in Q3 2013, based on official statistics.
"Now, prices are reasonably priced and enticing to those looking for landed homes for the past one to two years to come in," said Realstar Premier Group managing director William Wong.
With this latest purchase by Kuik Sin Pheng, a son of Sim Lian Group founder and executive chairman Kuik Ah Han, the Kuik family now owns a total of three GCBs in the Chestnut area, one of the rare GCB zones in District 23. The purchase price over gross floor area works out to over S$1,700 per square foot (psf) for the property, which has a built-up area of about 9,000 square feet.
Mr Kuik does not hold executive roles in the recently delisted group. But he has been a director of several private operating entities of Sim Lian Holdings, a private vehicle of the Kuik family.
Given that the two-storey house sitting on the 1,449 sq m plot is relatively new, it could be renovated instead of being redeveloped. The Business Times understands that the property is most likely for family use.
The seller of this GCB, a US citizen, had bought the property in 2008 for S$8.58 million and redeveloped the house.
Since a rule change in the second half of 2012, only Singaporeans can buy landed homes in GCB areas. Previously, foreigners who are Singapore permanent residents could buy such homes if the land area did not exceed 15,000 sq ft - subject to the nod of the Land Dealings (Approval) Unit.
As for the bungalow snagged by Mr Muzayyin at Narooma Road in District 11 through an estate sale, the old house is likely to be demolished and redeveloped.
When contacted, Mr Muzayyin declined to comment but BT understands he is buying for investment purposes.
Mr Wong from Realstar Premier noted that this 1,435 sq m plot, which now has a built-up area of about 5,000 sq ft, could be redeveloped into three new bungalows.
The house is within a two-minute drive to Raffles Town Club, and a 10-minute drive to Hwa Chong Institution and Nanyang Girls' High School.
Mr Muzayyin, an American-turned-Singaporean, is a director of several private companies including PV Oil Singapore (the Singapore trading arm of PetroVietnam), Concord Energy Oil terminal, Amity Green Energy and Provenance Capital, based on searches on corporate-information platform Handshakes.
His family office, Sebrina Holdings Pte Ltd, which he helms as CEO, owns stakes in private companies Concord Energy, Atlas Energy, and Sebrina Holdings Venture Capital, Handshakes' data as of Nov 2 shows. According to Sebrina Holdings' website, the firm has investments across oil and gas, trade finance, real estate and venture capital. Its worldwide real estate portfolio is worth over US$60 million as of 2015.
Knight Frank's head of investment and capital markets Ian Loh noted that there seems to be a pick-up in activity from individuals looking for landed homes and developers seeking potential plots for landed developments.
While landed transactions in the fourth quarter should still hold up, 2017 will be more uncertain depending on how the interest rates situation pans out, he said.
Mr Wong said he still expects the momentum in landed home transactions to continue in the fourth quarter. "Some of the GCBs are going below S$20 million so it makes it quite enticing for those who are considering," he said.
GCBs are the most prestigious type of landed housing in Singapore because of the planning constraints imposed. They have a minimum land area of 1,400 square metres (15,069 sq ft) and cannot be built more than two storeys high (plus an attic and a basement).
This article was first published on Nov 3, 2016.
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