If solitude and silence are part of high living, then some Sentosa Cove residents are getting more than they bargained for.
When The Sunday Times visited the Cove on Thursday night, many units of the private estates there were dark.
At The Residences at W, a 228-unit development completed about five years ago, an online search shows 209 units are up for rent.
At The Coast - a 249-unit development - 45 units are listed for rent. At 200-unit The Berth by the Cove, online listings show 25 units are up for rent.
A resident of The Residences at W, who wanted to be known only as Robert, says: "There are usually more people around in the day. At night, the place does feel quite empty when the non-residents return home.
"If I just look at my block alone, I'd say it is probably around 70 per cent occupied."
The 41-year-old American expatriate moved into his rental four-bedroom unit early last year and pays around $8,000 a month.
Read also: High vacancy rates in parts of Singapore
In the Core Central Region (CCR), which includes Sentosa, the private home vacancy rate at the fourth quarter last year was 9.6 per cent, according to data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
This number is derived from the utility consumption levels of all completed private residential units in the CCR.
Mr Wong Xian Yang, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee, says this is the closest indication of the vacancy rate in Sentosa.
But he offers another reason why so many units are unoccupied.
"Many Sentosa Cove residences would be left empty for most of the year as they are holiday homes for the owners, so Sentosa would likely have a higher vacancy rate than the rest of the CCR," he says.
Based on his observations, International Property Advisor chief executive Ku Swee Yong estimates about 30 per cent of units in the Cove are vacant.
Says Mr Ku: "Assuming a 70 per cent occupancy, that would mean around 650 units of the 2,200 homes and apartments there are empty."
Sentosa Cove had a poor 2016 - 15 out of the 21 resale transactions last year ended up in the red, with the 15 transactions making an average loss of $1.35 million, according to data from property portal SRX.
A unit at Sentosa Cove condo Turquoise went for $3.8 million last year. The seller had bought it at $7.16 million in 2007.
Another apartment at Seascape was resold at $6.35 million last October. That owner had paid $11 million in 2011.
But the area remains popular with visitors. Restaurant staff at Quayside Isle, a marina-front dining enclave in the middle of the luxury homes, say business is brisk despite the small residential population.
Says Ms Rachel Guerra, manager of Miska Cafe: "There are still residents and non-residents, as well as guests at the nearby hotel coming to eat here. Right now, we're still doing well."
This article was first published on Feb 5, 2017.
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