Old estate still sought after

Queenstown's location on city fringe makes it popular with expats, locals

Published on Dec 22, 2012

By Melissa Tan

IT'S one of the country's oldest towns but Queenstown remains a keenly sought place to live thanks to its dress circle spot on the city fringe.

Analysts said buyers can expect steady capital appreciation, while landlords will have their pick of locals and expatriates keen to move in.

Queenstown made headlines in September when a buyer paid a stunning $1 million for a resale executive maisonette, making it the most expensive Housing Board flat on record.

It also drew attention that month when British royals Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, dropped in.

Queenstown homes are predominantly public housing, with a handful of condominiums.

Landmark private projects include the 775-unit The Anchorage, a freehold estate opposite furniture retailer Ikea, and 99-year leasehold Queens, which has 772 units and is on the doorstep of Queenstown MRT station.

There have been few new projects completed over the past five years.

One is the freehold 293-unit Alexis @ Alexandra, which was launched in February 2009 and obtained its temporary occupation permit (TOP) this year.

Most of the flats in this condo are shoebox apartments: There are 114 one-bedroom units of just 366 to 527 sq ft. This condo appeals to investors who want to capitalise on rental demand from singles or young couples, said Savills research head Alan Cheong.

A couple more launches could be on the way as two sites in Queenstown were recently released under the Government Land Sales programme.

One is a choice plot next to Queenstown MRT station, released on the confirmed list earlier this month and tipped to fetch more than $500 million.

Another is on Stirling Road, next to the Queens condo, and could yield 1,100 units. It is on the reserve list, so will be put up for tender only if a developer makes an acceptable initial offer.

Mr Cheong said that if this site is triggered for tender, it will likely ramp up interest in Queenstown as well as upcoming launches in the Bukit Merah-Alexandra Hill sub-zone.

Developer sales of leasehold condominiums are likely to cost between $1,300 and $1,500 per sq ft (psf), said R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng.

Resale activity dipped in the first quarter this year due to market cooling measures such as additional buyers' stamp duty, but sales rallied in the second quarter.

The Queens condo, which was launched in 2000 at between $700 and $900 psf, now records sale prices of $1,200 to $1,400 psf. They have gone up around 5 per cent this year.

Resale prices at The Anchorage have climbed about 7 per cent this year and average $1,230 psf.

Alexis prices range from $1,550 to $1,700 psf. Apart from its smaller unit size, the fact that it is one of the major shoebox developments in the area boosts the price, analysts said.

Rents in Queenstown range from $3 to $4.50 psf per month.

This fits the budget of mid-level expatriates who are on limited housing allowances or local employment terms, said Mr Ong.

He added that another source could be tenants from Asian countries who want a heartlander lifestyle and to be near the city centre.

However, Mr Ong noted that the Queenstown area will increasingly face competition from its neighbours in the south and south-west, such as Buona Vista, one-north and Jurong East.

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