Thursday, December 13, 2012

Buying a Queenstown flat? Prepare to fork out more


The Straits Times
Monday, Dec 10, 2012

SINGAPORE - FROM his 40th-floor flat in Tanglin Halt, retiree Fong Weng Jui can see Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay and Orchard Road.

On several occasions, small groups of "aunties" have knocked on his door and asked to look at the view, he says. Their next question, playfully posed: Would he like to sell?

Agents have called him with the same query, adds the 68-year-old.

He does not want to sell, but if he did, he could have cash in hand of more than $76,250 - the me-dian cash over valuation (COV) that four-room flats in Queenstown currently command.

A five-room flat is now going for a median COV of $118,000, said the Singapore Real Estate Exchange in its latest report on Friday.

HDB flats in the historic neighbourhood consistently break price records: In September, a flat in Mei Ling Street went for $1 million, with a COV of $195,000.

Queenstown's proximity to town plays a key role, say agents, as do its amenities such as markets, hawker centres and the nearby Ikea store.

But what differentiates it from other super-expensive mature towns like Bishan is the relative scarcity of resale units that come onto the market, says ECG Property agent Nazira Jaffar, who has been selling flats in Queenstown for 21 years. "People are very comfortable here, and there are many older residents who have been here all their lives and will never sell," she explains.

Of the buyers willing to put up huge amounts of cash, permanent residents are the biggest group, she notes.

Madam Manjeet Shergill, 48, who lives in a five-room flat in Tanglin Halt, says that quite a number of Indonesians have moved into her block. Record flat prices in the neighbourhood, she adds, are a big topic of "coffee-shop chatter".

But not many profess a desire to sell. Retiree N.S. Chng, 58, who lives in Mei Ling Street, says that with the rising property market, "if you sell, you can't get a place like this. It'll be even more expensive".

But everybody has a price. Mr Fong entertained the aunties and the agents, but rejected an offer of $850,000 recently. The price at which he will consider giving up his view? $1.3 million, he says.


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