13 condos with the most unprofitable transactions (By region)

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

You’ve read dozens of stories about property tycoons and how housing is the best asset – but at the same time, you’ve heard whispered stories about properties sold at a loss. In Singapore, the former is louder than the latter; probably because most people aren’t keen to highlight their losses.

Just as a precaution though, you should pay attention to both the top and bottom performers in the Singapore private property market. Since few people talk about the bottom half, here are the ones to watch for:

Most unprofitable condos in the Central Region

  • Stellar RV
  • Loft
  • Orange Grove Residences

1. Stellar RV

Location: River Valley Road (District 10)

Developer: Alliance Land Pte. Ltd.

Lease: Freehold

Completion: 2015

Number of units: 120 units

Profitable transactions: 0

Unprofitable transactions: 13

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

According to Square Foot Research, median prices currently stand at $1,724 psf.

Notable issues:

Stellar RV saw some grumbling over pricing when it first launched. Consider the average price for new launches in District 10, back in May 2012:

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

The average for the district was $1,636 psf. Now look at Stellar RV’s pricing at the same time:

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

The median developer price was $2,039 psf. Granted, the small unit sizes meant a lower quantum (around $1.2 million) – but the diminishing shoebox trend, along with the notable price gap, already left some market watchers wondering if it had much room to appreciate. This led to a weak initial showing, with only 20 transactions on its launch weekend.

In addition, Stellar RV has only small units. The absolute largest units at Stellar RV are 936 sq.ft., with most units being between 506 to 517 sq. ft. It’s clear that this development is aimed at landlords, who are disinclined to buy in such a weak rental market.

2. Loft

Location: Lorong 24 Geylang (District 14)

Developer: The One Development 2 Pte. Ltd.

Lease: Freehold

Completion: 2016

Number of units: 80 units

Profitable transactions: 0

Unprofitable transactions: 13

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

According to Square Foot Research, median prices currently stand at $1,136 psf. The lowest recorded transaction was at $1,079 psf, and the highest was at $1,192 psf.

Notable issues:

Loft is located at Lorong 24, which is too close to the red-light area of Geylang. Many banks may be reluctant to provide loans for properties here; they’re considered high-risk, and valuation is difficult.

Prospective buyers may even have to pay in cash, buy on private contract, or use non-banking financial institutions (this often incurs a much higher interest rate than a typical home loan, especially in the Geylang area).

Besides this, Loft is mainly for tenants and not owner-occupancy. The rental market is expected to be weaker in coming years due to Covid-19, which affects the rentability of these units. As such, landlords foreseeing vacancies may be having trouble selling off the units.

Unfortunate, since the location is solid: #1 Loft is on the city fringe and has good accessibility. It’s within 410 metres, or a six-minute walk, of Aljunied MRT station; and most of us know that Geylang is a food paradise.

3. Orange Grove Residences

Location: Orange Grove Road (District 10)

Developer: Pacific Rover Pte. Ltd.

Lease: Freehold

Completion: 2009

Number of units: 60 units

Profitable transactions: 1

Unprofitable transactions: 22

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

According to Square Foot Research, median prices currently stand at $1,752 psf. The lowest recorded transaction was at $1,621 psf, and the highest was at $1,889 psf.

Notable issues:

Orange Grove already made the news in 2016 for multiple million-dollar losses. Even back then, it was already noted that luxury units were suffering from weaker rental demand. This isn’t likely to improve given the Covid-19 situation.

The other factor is the quantum involved. The smallest one-bedder in Orange Grove Residences is a whopping 1,023 sq.ft., while the two-bedders start from 2,002 sq. ft. Given the difficult economy, fewer buyers are ready to accept a price range of $3.65 – $6.3 million for a three-bedder right now.

Most unprofitable condos in the East

  • Urban Vista
  • Parc Bleu
  • The Sound

1. Urban Vista

Location: Tanah Merah Kechil Link (District 16)

Developer: Bayfront Realty Pte. Ltd.

Lease: 99-years from 2012

Completion: 2016

Number of units: 582 units

Profitable transactions: 8

Unprofitable transactions: 33

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

According to Square Foot Research, median prices currently stand at $1,394 psf.

Notable issues:

Landlords at Urban Vista have faced stiff competition for years – The Tanamera, East Meadows, Casa Merah, Optima @ Tanah Merah, The Glades, and now Grandeur Park Residences. And prior to Grandeur Park Residences, Urban Vista at least had the advantage of being the newest development there; this is no longer the case.

Rental is a major factor for Urban Vista, because it’s a development built with tenants in mind. The most common unit configuration are two-bedders (549 to 678 sq. ft.), which account for 235 units.

The next most common units are one-bedders (431 to 581 sq. ft.), which account for 174 units. There are 2, 3, 4, and even 5-room dual-key units ; configurations often preferred by landlords.

But a weaker rental market – along with the main buyer demographic now being families (HDB upgraders) – has lowered prices here. Coupled with landlords deciding they’ve had enough of the competition, a price dip was perhaps inevitable.

2. Parc Bleu

Location: Joo Chiat Place (District 15)

Developer: Precise Developments Pte. Ltd.

Lease: Freehold

Completion: 2013

Number of units: 55 units

Profitable transactions: 5

Unprofitable transactions: 8

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

According to Square Foot Research, median prices currently stand at $1,372 psf.

Notable issues:

This development suffers mainly due to better located new launches, within the same general neighbourhood. For example, the recently launched Tedge, also a boutique development, is just 700 metres away from Parc Bleu – but Tedge is a nine-minute walk to Kembangan, whereas Parc Bleu would take you 16 minutes on foot.

That said, the chief inconvenience here is accessibility. Parc Bleu is really close to any MRT station, and there are no immediate malls, eateries, etc. in the surroundings. This reduces the rentability of its shoebox units. The condo’s amenities are also sparse, as is the case with most boutique developments.

Timing is also a factor – Parc Bleu was launched and completed between 2012 to 2013, which was the last peak of the property market (cooling measures drove down prices sharply in 2013).

3. The Sound

Location: East Coast Road (District 15)

Developer: Bayshore Green Pte. Ltd.

Lease: Freehold

Completion: 2013

Number of units: 104 units

Profitable transactions: 6

Unprofitable transactions: 9

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

According to Square Foot Research, median prices currently stand at $1,614 psf.

Notable issues:

Unless you’re familiar with this area, you’ll probably be put off by the location. Except for St. Patrick’s school and the NAFA Arts Kindergarten, there appears to be nothing interesting here (and no MRT nearby) – the Upper Thomson East Coast line will be upcoming though at the very least.

But actually, bus services like 14 – which stops right outside this condo – takes you directly to the lifestyle stretch along East Coast Road, down to where Parkway Parade and i12 are located. Nonetheless, this location is easily underrated.

The Sound has the same timing issue as Parc Bleu above – it was launched and completed between 2012 to 2013, when property prices were at their peak, and then sharply driven down by cooling measures.

Most unprofitable condos in the North-East

  • Midtown Residences
  • Hougang Green
  • Pierce View

1. Midtown Residences

Location: Upper Serangoon Road (District 19)

Developer: Oxley-Lian Beng Pte. Ltd.

Lease: 99-years from 2013

Completion: 2016

Number of units: 160 units

Profitable transactions: 7

Unprofitable transactions: 8

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

According to Square Foot Research, median prices currently stand at $1,231 psf. The lowest transaction stands at $1,122 psf, and the highest at $1,339 psf.

Notable issues:

The bulk of units in Midtown Residences are one or two-bedders, which also account for the majority of recent transactions. As discussed in some of the properties above, this isn’t a particularly good time for the sale of shoebox units: the rental market is looking glum, and majority of buyers are HDB upgraders (i.e. mostly families who can’t fit into one or two-bedders).

Other than that, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with this development. In fact, it’s one of the better located condos in Hougang right now, being just 300 metres or five-minutes’ walk to Hougang MRT station.

2. Hougang Green

Location: Buangkok Green (District 19)

Developer: Hiap Hoe Group

Lease: 99-years from 1994

Completion: 1998

Number of units: 90 units

Profitable transactions: 63

Unprofitable transactions: 61

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

According to Square Foot Research, median prices currently stand at $822 psf.

Notable issues:

Hougang Green is getting on in years, and the facilities are notably limited compared to newer condos. The pool and tennis court are main attractions, with little else of note (to be fair, this is a small development with only 90 units).

The closest MRT station, Buangkok, is not exactly close – it’s 1.1 kilometres, which many buyers won’t consider walking distance. The main amenities for the neighbourhood – Hougang Mall and Compass One – are 1.5 kilometres and 1.9 kilometres respectively.

Within this district, newer condos like Sengkang Grand Residences or Florence Residences have been stealing the limelight from their resale counterparts; and older condos like Hougang Green may have just fallen off the radar for now.

(Ps. One source alleged that a fire here was the cause of falling property value; we believe this to be the incident in question. That could have affected the value of the involved units if they were sold, but it’s unlikely to have affected the development as a whole).

3. Peirce View

Location: Upper Thomson Road (District 20)

Developer: Caudeville Pte. Ltd.

Lease: Freehold

Completion: 1996

Number of units: 66 units

Profitable transactions: 23

Unprofitable transactions: 22

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

According to Square Foot Research, median prices currently stand at $985 psf.

Notable issues:

There are two main challenges facing sellers at Peirce View. The first is lack of accessibility – unless you own a car, this is not a convenient place to stay. There’s no MRT station nearby, and there are no plans to have any in the future. Even if you were to take the nearby bus to Mayflower MRT station, that journey would take 18 minutes.

There’s also a notable lack of amenities. Apart from the nearby Taiwan Porridge and the Giant at Jalan Kuras (a four-minute walk), you’re going to have to travel out for anything else.

The second issue is that Peirce View feels densely packed. A common complaint is that, even from the exterior, the different stacks make a solid “wall” of concrete. This runs counter to the point of living in the Thomson area, which is appreciated for being a lower-density neighbourhood.

That said, this is one of the more affordable freehold options, for those who want to live in Thomson without busting their budget.

Most unprofitable condos in the west:

  • The Lanai
  • Natura @ Hillview
  • Hillview Apartments
  • The Tennery

1. The Lanai

Location: Hillview Avenue (District 23)

Developer: Hong Moh Properties Pte. Ltd.

Lease: 999-years from 1885

Completion: 2014

Number of units: 214 units

Profitable transactions: 1

Unprofitable transactions: 14

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

According to Square Foot Research, median prices currently stand at $1,365 psf. The lowest recorded transaction stands at $1,351 psf, and the highest is at $1,378 psf.

Notable issues:

The Lanai is in a cluster with Natura @ Hillview and Hillview Apartments (see below).

They share a common issue regarding their location: there are too many amenities which, despite technically being “close” and within one-kilometre, are on the very edge of said one-kilometre radius.

For example, Hillview Market Place is almost exactly one-kilometre away; walkable in theory, but impractically far for most residents. Hillview MRT station is 950 metres away; not the furthest, but still inconvenient to walk. The Rail Mall is about 860 metres way – close in theory, but not somewhere you can just “pop down” when you’re hungry; likewise with HillV2, which is 810 metres away.

Some buyers also don’t appreciate the lack of nearby schools – apart from Lianhua Primary and Hillgrove Secondary (810 metres and 990 metres respectively), there are no others.

2. Natura @ Hillview

Location: Hillview Terrace (District 23)

Developer: Mequity (Hillview) Pte. Ltd.

Lease: 999-years from 1885

Completion: 2016

Number of units: 193 units

Profitable transactions: 11

Unprofitable transactions: 15

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

3. Hillview Apartments

Location: Hillview Avenue (District 23)

Developer: Hillview Mansion Pte. Ltd.

Lease: Freehold

Completion: 1997

Number of units: 36 units

Profitable transactions: 9

Unprofitable transactions: 11

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

According to Square Foot Research, median prices currently stand at $883 psf.

Notable issues:

Hillview Apartments is 250 metres from The Lanai, and 750 metres from Natura @ Hillview. They share many similar issues with regard to location; however it’s the closest to Hillview MRT station at 850 metres.

It is also closer to The Rail Mall (690 metres) and HillV2 (760 metres). Note that for some residents, this makes The Rail Mall an acceptable walk; it’s about 11 minutes.

This is offset by the age of Hillview Apartments. This property dates back to 1997, and it’s the oldest of the three in the cluster. Its name is also literal – these are purely apartments and not a condo. There are no shared facilities such as a pool, gym, etc.

Given the age of Hillview Apartments, and the lack of facilities, prospective buyers are likely to consider its two neighbours ahead of it.

4. The Tennery

Location: Woodlands Road (District 23)

Developer: Dollar Land Singapore Pte. Ltd.

Lease: 99-years from 2010

Completion: 2014

Number of units: 388 units

Profitable transactions: 31

Unprofitable transactions: 33

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

According to Square Foot Research, median prices currently stand at $1,098 psf. The lowest recorded transaction stands at $1,076 psf, and the highest is at $1,138 psf.

Notable issues:

The Tennery is an integrated development, and Ten Mile Junction station (LRT) is across the road from it. It’s also got a mall component with Giant supermarket. There’s also a rock-climbing wall for a Dad’s Adventure Hub here.

Agents we spoke to said issues may stem from substantial drops in developer pricing, following the initial launch. This is what the developer pricing looked like:

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

Median prices were at $1,410 psf during launch (notably higher than the current median of $10,98 psf). However, later units sold by the developer ranged from $1,272 to $1,258 psf. We don’t currently know the reason behind this pricing move.

It’s also worth noting that there are concerns over the mall’s food court; we understand the lease may be expiring without renewal (we cannot confirm this yet but will post an update once we know).

A caveat:

There is rarely a clear, singular cause behind a development having a high number of unprofitable transactions. The cause usually involves a combination of factors, which further vary for each unit.

E.g., A combination of soft rental market, sellers’ financial difficulties, new developments appearing nearby, and so forth. As such, do not take the following to suggest there is something inherently wrong with the listed properties.

We would also caution that property assets are highly individual. It is possible, for instance, for one unit to be profitable despite being in the same stack as three or four other unprofitable units.

In the coming weeks, we will be delving deeper into these unprofitable condos and the reasons why – so you can follow us on Stacked for further updates, and insights into Singapore’s private property market.

This article was first published in Stackedhomes.