Published October 30, 2012

Heron Bay penthouse sold for record $1.774m

It surpasses last week's transaction for most expensive EC to date

By zeinab yusuf saiwalla

A NEW record price of $1.774 million has been set for a five-bedroom penthouse unit in the recently launched Heron Bay executive condominium (EC), surpassing last week's transaction for the most expensive EC to date.

Last week, a double-storey penthouse at 1 Canberra in Yishun was sold for $1.61 million, setting a record for EC transactions.

To be sure, the higher prices are largely due to the size of some of these new ECs, analysts said.

The price for the Heron Bay penthouse unit, which stands at 2,845 sq ft, was $624 per square foot (psf). The unit price for the 2,716-sq-ft 1 Canberra unit was $595 psf.

Before the 1 Canberra unit made headlines, a 2,476-sq-ft unit at The Rainforest in Choa Chu Kang was the most expensive EC with a price tag of $1.58 million, which translated to $637 psf.

Alan Cheong, Savills' director for research, said that though the record prices continue to be surprising, this suggests that Singaporeans are not facing much difficulty in meeting the prices for such properties.

"In an environment with low interest rates and a system flush with liquidity, magic does occur," he added.

Savills said in a report published last week that over 300 new ECs had been transacted above $1 million thus far, half of which were sold in the first eight months of this year.

The report attributed the increase in demand for ECs to a growing number of young, affluent buyers who seem to be snagging bigger and more luxurious penthouses or sky suites.

The rising trend for such luxurious buys, it said, could have been triggered by rock-bottom interest rates, rising incomes and many EC buyers escaping unscathed from the latest rounds of property curbs.

Furthermore, the growing number of resale Housing & Development Board (HDB) flats being sold at ever higher prices has deepened the pockets of many HDB upgraders who now have more to spend on their next property, which invariably would be an EC.

But ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim said these skyrocketing prices do not reflect overall pricing for ECs on the whole.

"These type of transactions are not common. It is a one-off for big units, which is why there is a premium pricing to it," he said.

The smallest unit at Heron Bay, a 775-sq-ft two-bedroom unit, sold for about $553,000 or $713 psf.

In its opening weekend of sales which started on Oct 26, more than 90 per cent of units were snapped up, reflecting the healthy demand for ECs. The average selling price was $725 psf.

Earlier this year, Heron Bay also set a record for the number of applications it received relative to subscription rates for an EC over the past few years. There were 1,664 applications for its 394 units, which translated to approximately 4.2 applicants for each unit.

"EC home-buyers today are more sophisticated as they expect better quality and service and at affordable prices, and this is where Heron Bay addressed their needs. Otherwise, it would have been another cookie-cutter, utilitarian EC project," said Leslie Lim, managing partner of EVIA Real Estate Management Pte Ltd, one of the developers of Heron Bay.

Other developers in the consortium are Ho Lee Group, See Hup Seng and CNH Investment.

Construction for Heron Bay is due to be completed in 2016.