June 24, 2007

Poser for Kim Tian residents: To sell or not?

Record $720k flat sale last weekend shows potential market value of units there

By Melissa Sim & Jennani Durai

OCCUPATIONAL nurse Jessie Yeo opened her four-room flat to outsiders yesterday, asking for at least $600,000 for her Kim Tian Place property.

She lives in the same block as Mr Ronald Lee, who sold his five-room flat on the 29th floor for a record $720,000 last weekend.

The 29-storey block has 111 units, a mix of four- and five-room flats, and is about seven years old. Four-room units are 1,087 sq ft and five- room flats are 1,238 sq ft.

Madam Yeo lives there with her husband and son - and a good view of the city, facing the Singapore Flyer, Swissotel The Stamford and the UOB Building.

During the two-hour open house, 21 people turned up, among them families, young buyers with their parents, and foreigners.

Madam Yeo has already received two offers for her 27th- floor flat, but is holding out for more.

Kim Tian Place, with four point blocks bounded by Tiong Bahru Road and Lower Delta Road, and just a 10-minute walk from Tiong Bahru Plaza and the Tiong Bahru MRT station, is the hottest HDB estate at the moment, beating favourites Queensway and Bishan.

But according to a poll of 30 people, not all residents are willing to sell their homes.

More than 20 cited its central location and panoramic views for staying put.

Senior technical officer Muthusamy Ramaswarmy, 42, who lives on the 22nd floor, said: 'I have a million-dollar view. I can see the buildings in town, I can see the sea, and I get to see fireworks from my bedroom window!'

Dessert stall hawker Toh Hoi Yip, 50, who lives in the block where the record-breaking deal was made, values his four-room home.

He lives there with his wife and two sons, aged 26 and 29, and said: 'The first week I moved in, my son bought a ping pong table. Which flat has a lift lobby big enough for a ping pong table?'

He added: 'Plus, my unit has an auspicious number, 18-80. That's why I won't sell.'

Mr Toh bought his unit for $248,000 seven years ago, when his apartment near Redhill MRT station was sold en bloc for $239,000.

His former home, like those of many others in his block, was part of the Selective Enbloc Redevelopment Scheme at Redhill, in which the board acquires old blocks to build new flats in their place.

Now, others want to acquire their new units.

Mr Toh and other residents are being deluged with fliers and leaflets stuffed into their mailboxes or slipped under their doors.

Real estate agent Jack Tang, 55, who left fliers there, said: 'With the high price, some will want to sell. I'm just trying my luck.'

Assistant manager Jason Teo, 33, said he even got a call on Wednesday from an agent promising to sell his 14th floor five-room flat for $700,000.

But for him, it is $900,000 or bust. 'Only that price will trigger us to move because then we can consider moving to a condominium.'

Though such sky-high prices might be isolated occurrences, operations manager Kit Ho, 39, who lives in a five-room flat on the 17th floor, is keeping his options open.

'If a crazy man wants to offer $720,000 for my place, why not?' he asked.

Additional reporting by Zheng Aiping

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'We thought of selling earlier but our son is studying at SMU, so it's convenient for him. He graduates this year, so it's good timing and we are riding on the good market sentiment.'
MADAM JESSIE YEO, occupational nurse in her late 40s, who already has two offers for her flat

Not selling

'I can see planes landing at Changi, I can see Sentosa, and these flats have a condo layout. This year, prices are high all round, so if you sell expensive, you have to buy expensive.'
MR TOH HOI YIP, a 50-year-old hawker, who is unwilling to sell at any price but has been receiving numerous fliers from housing agents, each asking him to sell his place

Will sell, if...

'Condominiums in the area cost over a million, so only offers in the range of $900,000 to $1 million can trigger us to move.'
MR JASON TEO, 33-year-old assistant manager