Living the high life

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 April, 2007, 12:00am

Prices for luxury properties in Singapore powered ahead last year, rising 35 per cent year on year, driven in part by strong demand from foreign investors. Hong Kong buyers are the most active, according to Ku Swee Yong, Savills Singapore's director of marketing and business development.

Simon Cheong, chairman and chief executive of property developer SC Global Developments, says: 'There are already a lot of Hong Kong buyers in Singapore, mainly professionals and some well-off individuals who like to come for the weekend or holiday.'

Mr Cheong says Hong Kong clients are impressed by the quality of Singapore's lifestyle and the space they can get for a fraction of Hong Kong prices.

'I'm also hearing a lot of comments on the pleasant environment, the quality of the airport, which is important for people travelling regularly, the fast transport system, which means that a golf course is never more than 10 minutes away, and the health care,' he says, 'Prices here are still very attractive and have a lot of upside.'

The average capital values of luxury apartments reached a high last year of S$1,970 per sqft (HK$10,134), squashing the mid-1990s record of S$1,778 per sqft.

Tay Huey Ying, director for research and consultancy at Colliers International, says average monthly gross rents of luxury apartments are S$5.36 per sqft as of December, so investors can look at net rental returns in the region of 3per cent for completed properties.

Eddie Chow, a senior executive with Hong Kong's Chyau Fwu Development, says: 'The Singapore property market's values are still relatively low compared with Hong Kong prices. Do not forget that premium locations in Hong Kong will cost an arm and a leg. In Singapore, you can still get a nice apartment in a prime location for a fraction of what you would pay in Hong Kong.'

While foreign buyers have traditionally favoured properties in the prime districts around Orchard Road, there are now two more popular areas for them - Marina Bay and Sentosa Cove/Harbourfront. Both areas have been under the spotlight since the government announced that integrated casino developments would be licensed in each area.

Developments in the Marina Bay area, now part of Singapore's central business district, are expected to benefit from good rental demand, while projects on Sentosa are pitched to capitalise on their life-work balance, such as Ho Bee Investments' Paradise island, a collection of 29 bungalows on Sentosa, and Reflections @ Keppel Land, a plush 99-year-lease waterfront condo designed by architect Daniel Libeskind.

The six glass towers with 1,160 apartments will offer panoramic views of Sentosa and Mount Faber, and the project is expected to be launched this month.

Another interesting trend underlying the strength of the high-end market is the launch of 'super-luxury' condominiums, where unit prices are expected to easily break the S$3,000 per sqft level. Only a handful of units at two upscale projects - Marina Bay Residences and St Regis Residences - have reached that level. Realising Hong Kong investor interest, this month Chyau Fwu Group launched the sale of the 21-storey Parkview Eclat in Singapore's Orchard Road area in Hong Kong. On sale was a 'limited edition' of art deco-inspired apartments.

With only 35 units, each of which have a minimum size of 3,000 sqft, and a double-storey super penthouse of about 10,000 sqft, the project is being pegged as exclusive with no expense spared on the quality of the building, from the stone-clad exterior walls to the Italian marble bathrooms and flat-screen televisions in the vanity mirrors.

Mr Chow says: 'We are creating a building for people who demand the best. We recognise that with the local economy steadily growing there will be a continuous influx of foreign companies coming, together with expats who will be looking for larger than the norm properties.'

Another super-luxury property coming on stream later this year will be SC Global's The Marq on Paterson Hill, with its 'mansions-in-the-sky' concept.

The two-tower project is freehold and one of the 24-storey towers features a 15-metre lap pool in every 4,800 sqft unit per floor.

Mr Cheong says: We're giving you the kind of space you would get in a high-end bungalow in Singapore.'