Jurong club halts trading in memberships

Jurong Country Club (JCC) has stepped in to freeze trading in its memberships, a day after it was announced that its 67ha property would be acquired and would make way for the high-speed rail terminus linking Singapore to Kuala Lumpur.

The club's decision to halt trading was aimed at preventing membership sales to unsuspecting buyers, said JCC president Bobby Wee. "It's not fair that somebody coming to join, maybe, unknowingly buys this membership. He'll say, 'How come nobody told me?'" said Mr Wee.

"The club has got a responsibility to suspend (trading) until such time, when the whole market knows about it."

He added that club officials will meet government agencies on Friday to discuss the details of the acquisition.

The club has appointed a land valuer and is in the midst of getting a legal adviser on board.

"We will take advice from them on what the course of action is, and what we need to discuss with the authorities," he said.

"Let's see how we can negotiate and get the best compensation for the club."

Such a move to halt trade is above board as the club's general committee reserves the right to approve or reject the application for transfers, said Mr Wee. This was confirmed by membership brokers that The Straits Times interviewed.

Even as JCC blocked all trades, a handful of speculators were keen to snap up the club's memberships, in the hope that they would make a windfall from the potential payout.

While details are still unknown, the Government will compensate JCC at market value. The club's lease had been signed till 2035.

Golf club membership broker Fion Phua of Tee-Up Marketing Enterprises said speculators called her hoping to snap up 11 memberships among them - mostly the lower-value social memberships at less than $3,000 per piece.

"They wanted to hedge their bets and take advantage of the lower JCC membership prices now. They think the compensation will be more than what prices are now," said Ms Phua.

JCC has 2,700 members and 60 per cent of them hold golf memberships while the rest are social members who have access to all facilities except the golf course.

Meanwhile, membership prices of the two clubs in the same price category - Seletar Country Club (SCC) and Raffles Country Club (RCC) - have risen, said Ms Phua.

Tee-Up's figures show that RCC membership prices rose to $34,500 yesterday, up from $32,500 two days ago. SCC membership prices are now $41,000, up from $39,500.

Sentosa Golf Club continues to lead the market in club membership prices, at $222,000.

Ms Lee Lee Langdale of brokership Singolf said that membership prices of all the other clubs will go up gradually.

"Already, we see membership holders of other golf clubs here asking for higher prices," she said. However, she added that such sudden reacquisitions are only hurting the demand for memberships in the long run.

"This move has definitely shaken up the market. Many golf members are upset and worried that the land will just be taken away any time. That's not a positive thing for buyers," said Ms Langdale.



This article was first published on May 12, 2015.
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