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The market for luxury residences is set to strengthen, says City Developments Limited’s Chia Ngiang Hong, who gives Yanni Tan an overview of Singapore property’s current trends and future opportunities. 

While property cooling measures introduced a decade ago have stemmed speculation and helped to stabilise property prices, the market has remained resilient and will continue to demonstrate its true value in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, says Chia Ngiang Hong, group general manager of City Developments Limited (CDL).

The real estate veteran with over 40 years of experience and various high-level industry appointments is among the developer’s top leadership who have been instrumental in shaping the face of luxury residential property in Singapore, and more recently, leading the industry in pivoting towards digitisation.

Here, the president of the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore and honorary advisor of the Singapore Green Building Council gives an assessment of the latest developments in the local luxury residential market, updates on what’s new and exciting at CDL, and offers his take on the future.

South Beach Residences

What are some of the key trends that will hold steady in the near future?
The government’s effective management of the pandemic has attracted many wealthy foreigners and their families to relocate to Singapore. Hence, the strong demand for luxury residential property will likely continue to remain steady. Besides home- stay, these buyers may also purchase luxury homes in Singapore as part of their portfolio diversification or even as trophy assets to live, work and entertain.

Luxury properties have seen a surge in interest from Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and foreigners in the past few quarters. The demand for high-end penthouses or large luxury apartments spanning more than 3,000 sq ft has also increased. This trend may continue, especially in light of the pandemic. Today, people spend a significant amount of time at home – they require more leisure and work spaces and added amenities, and seek to upgrade their living spaces.

In fact, The Wealth Report 2021 by Knight Frank indicated that the number of ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) in Singapore rose 10.2 per cent in 2020. Once the border restrictions gradually ease, foreign demand from UHNWIs for luxury homes is expected to continue given Singapore’s low interest and tax-friendly environment. To hedge against further price increases, local property buyers could take the opportunity to purchase luxury properties that are within their budget.

Has the pandemic changed what buyers are looking for?
With extended time spent at home for work-from-home (WFH) or home-based learning, buyers now place more emphasis on flexibility of space, wellness and nature. Themes of sustainability and smart homes are also becoming increasingly important.

The pandemic also re-emphasised the attractiveness of integrated developments with various components such as retail, offices and residences, which continue to offer convenience and lifestyle benefits within reach. Additionally, the WFH trend has also now created homes that need to be conducive to Live, Work and Play within the boundaries of your residential development. Properties located near key transport modes and amenities such as shopping malls, medical facilities and supermarkets are highly sought after.

For CDL, thoughtful provisions and smart features have evolved from being luxury attributes to a new norm in our developments. Our recent Irwell Hill Residences launch in District 9 exemplifies what we envision homebuyers will appreciate, with a renewed emphasis on comfort and wellness, as well as purpose-designed workspaces and functions specially curated for the WFH purposes.

One Shenton

How is the local luxury property landscape evolving?
In addition to the unique and luxury features, facilities that are conducive for co-working will become more common and highly sought after in residential homes in the post-pandemic world. At Irwell Hill Residences, co-working lounges and spaces are introduced at common areas, in addition to smart features such as automatic doors and infrared lift buttons. Locations with attributes such as close proximity to MRT stations, major transport hubs, shopping malls and medical facilities will continue to be favoured by homebuyers as the work-from-home culture may continue. In the next five to 10 years, we will also see more designs with sustainability in mind. Developers will incorporate more green features and energy-saving appliances and designs.

The new prime Districts 2, 4 and 7 have also seen an increase in new sales transactions, of which the majority are purchased by Singaporeans. Given the sweet-spot pricing quantum of between $1.2 million and $2 million, it is within the range of Singaporeans seeking private properties. From studios to one- and two-bedroom apartments, smaller units have been the fastest-moving at projects within the three districts. There will be increasing demand for smaller homes in prime locations due to price sensitivity and affordability.

Did the past year defy expectations?
For FY2020, CDL and our joint venture associates sold 1,318 residential units, including Executive Condominiums (ECs), with a total sales value of $1.8 billion (FY2019: 1,554 units with total sales value of $3.3 billion). Overall, the sales volumes are comparable with 2019, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic in the first half of 2020.

The steady sales performance reflects the Singapore residential property market’s resilience, which is underpinned by demand drivers, including the low-interest- rate environment, debt relief scheme and government support measures to preserve jobs. Prices also held firm and stable.

What is your forecast for the residential property market for the year ahead?
This year, we recorded strong and encouraging sales for our Irwell Hill Residences, with over 50 per cent of the project sold over its launch weekend. Demand for this project continues to remain steady. For the year ahead, we are holding a positive view of the residential property market. We will continue to actively replenish our land bank through the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme or selective private acquisitions to ensure a stable launch pipeline. In April and May this year, we successfully bidded for two GLS sites – a residential site at Northumberland Road (Little India/Rochor) and an EC site at Tengah Garden Walk (Bukit Batok).

Gramercy Park

For the second half of this year, we are preparing to launch Canninghill Piers, a 696-unit residential component of the Liang Court joint venture redevelopment project. Located in the heart of Clarke Quay, the site has a coveted dual frontage facing the Singapore River and Fort Canning Hill. When completed, the development will directly connect to the Fort Canning MRT station of the Downtown Line.

Developers moved 9,982 new homes in 2020, a year plagued with Covid-19 restrictions, exceeding the 9,912 homes sold in 2019. This year, 4,755 homes (excluding ECs) have already been sold as of end- April. While demand for properties and pricing is expected to remain stable, a recent competitive land bidding exercise at Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 by land-starved developers and easing of travel restrictions in time to come may also contribute to the trend of rising home prices.

The Quayside Collection

Of all the residential properties you’ve been involved in throughout your career, which was a career milestone for you and why?
Having to choose the memorable ones from my 40-year career at CDL is a challenge. The two projects closest to my heart are the integrated developments – South Beach and The Quayside Collection at Sentosa Cove. Another project is One Shenton, which was redeveloped at the site of the former Robina House. Overseeing the rejuvenation and transformation of an old office building into an iconic luxury residence was a very satisfying and enriching experience. The redevelopment of en bloc sites such as New Futura in Leonie Hill and Gramercy Park in Grange Road was also memorable – I very much relish seeing the renewal of these sites, reshaping them into icons for the future.

Of all the CDL projects that are currently selling, which is your favourite and why?
Every CDL project has its uniqueness and appeal. But perhaps one of the most sentimental projects for me must be Amber Park – yet another redevelopment project tied to CDL’s history. CDL was the original developer for Amber Park in the 1980s, and we are honoured to be able to redevelop the site into yet another iconic landmark – for the next generation.

This story first appeared in the July 2021 issue of Luxe Living/Prestige Singapore.

The post CDL’s Chia Ngiang Hong on Singapore’s property trends and future opportunities appeared first on Prestige Online – Singapore.