Sunday, August 5, 2012

Serangoon Garden continues to charm buyers

Straits Times: Sat, Aug 04

SERANGOON Garden is one of Singapore's oldest housing estates, yet it has held its own despite the many new towns that have surfaced over the years.

The upper middle-class enclave, built to house British soldiers, keeps pulling in buyers with its wide choice of landed homes and lifestyle amenities.

Residents are mostly Singaporeans, but more expatriate families are moving in, due to several international schools in the area.

Gains in home prices are also typically higher than the national average, say experts.

Credo Real Estate executive director Ong Teck Hui noted that the estate is one of the "most sought-after suburban housing estates" in Singapore - its English street names adding a touch of history and nostalgia.

Terrace home prices in Serangoon Garden have risen by 44 per cent in the past two years while semi-detached values have climbed 50 per cent, he added.

Islandwide, terrace prices have gone up 36 per cent in that period and semi-detached home prices have risen 30 per cent, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority's data on prices.

Rental yields of landed homes range from 2 to 3.5 per cent in Serangoon Garden, with Farleigh Avenue, Conway Circle and Tavistock Avenue popular with tenants, noted Mr Png Poh Soon, head of research at Knight Frank Singapore. But compared with landed homes in nearby Braddell, Serangoon Garden rents are lower.

Homes in Braddell estate, especially in areas such as Dunsfold Drive and Cotswold Close, are closer to the Australian International School and Stamford American International School and so more appealing to expat tenants. Rents here are about 5 to 10 per cent higher, Mr Png noted.

R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng added that the attractiveness and charm of Serangoon Garden stem from its predominantly low-rise environment.

The estate is also self-sufficient, with amenities like the myVillage mall and popular hawker centre Chomp Chomp.

Most buyers are also owner-occupiers keen on capital appreciation rather than rental yields in land-scarce Singapore, Mr Ong said.

However, the popularity of the area has led to plenty of parking problems.

Mr Png said increased traffic, especially at Serangoon Garden Way, has caused some concern among residents.

"The lack of spaces and vacant land also limits expansion of roads and future growth of residential supply in the area," he added.

But the outlook remains fairly positive, with a recent 99-year leasehold landed housing project, Haus@Serangoon Gardens, enjoying healthy take-up rates and fetching prices close to $1,500 per sq ft. Other recent launches include Cardiff Residence and Verdana Villas.

New projects are less common in the mature estate. But Credo's Mr Ong noted that although Serangoon Garden is popular with buyers, transaction volumes have been declining over the past two years, likely due to high asking prices.

He does not expect sharp price increases over the next year as values are already "toppish" and sentiment could be tempered by the slowing economy.

Knight Frank's Mr Png predicts moderate price increases of 2 to 3 per cent.

Dr Chua Yang Liang, Jones Lang LaSalle's South-east Asia research head, said rents are likely to keep stable in the long-term.

"Meanwhile, we expect rents in prime areas to continue to soften over the next six to nine months, especially on the back of a weaker global economy.

"This could exert some downside pressure on rents in outlying areas to keep the rental gap between prime and non- prime markets stable," he said.

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