Property 2006
Published March 30, 2006

Landing a landed
Buyers now demand a lot more features in their ultimate status symbol, notes MARGARET THEAN

THE Singapore dream of owning a landed property looks likely to remain one for many, though those who manage to acquire one - whether through windfalls or sheer hard work - now want a whole lot more than a simple garden and car porch that older landed homes provided.

According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority's 2001 Concept Plan, just 8 per cent of residential land is allocated for low-density housing which includes landed homes. The latter is dominated by the traditional terrace houses, semi-detached and bungalows.

But the early 1990s saw the introduction of cluster houses which are landed homes within a gated community. These homes share common facilities such as a swimming pool and security services. While most landed properties are freehold, cluster homes are largely leasehold.

Tastes in landed homes have evolved dramatically. Today, landed homes offer swimming pools and water features like koi ponds and courtyards. Some owners engage architects in the pursuit of a statement home. Interior designers add the final touch with avante-garde furnishings and fittings.

To preserve privacy and exclusivity, most landed properties are located outside the city area. Having said that, the most expensive landed homes are found in the central districts of 9, 10 and 11. These homes offer exclusivity while being close to the main shopping and entertainment belt as well as private clubs like Tanglin Club and American Club.

Rising aspirations

Away from the traditional prime residential districts, smaller bungalows and semi-detached and terraces dot the eastern part of Singapore in places such as Mountbatten Road, Goodman and Siglap.

The west, encompassing the stretch from Bukit Timah to Swiss Club Road and Clementi, is also popular with those who look for quality landed homes nestled in a tranquil environment.

To meet the rising aspirations of home buyers, developers have recently introduced homes which offer lifestyle concepts such as waterfront living. Sentosa Cove's $8 million to $12 million properties are a stunning example, with their unrivalled sea views and marine lifestyle amenities. The government has also facilitated foreign purchase of plots on Sentosa Cove by fast-tracking the transaction process. This development has attracted much interest from foreigners who regard cosmopolitan Singapore as a top choice for business and residency.

Reflecting this demand, the number of landed homes purchased by foreigners rose 46 per cent year-on-year to 148 transactions in 2005. The majority of the purchases were made by Malaysians (41 units in 2004 to 58 transactions in 2005).

Notably, while the absolute number of purchases by Australians and Americans have not been substantial, it has been increasing. They now place among the top five nationalities that bought landed homes in the past decade.

Landed properties hold a special place in the hearts of Singaporeans. To some it is a status symbol, a legacy, an inheritance or an investment that affords them an exclusive lifestyle. Only landed homes allow owners the freedom to build a home that reflects their taste. Thus, while land prices may be high, the landed home owner will reap rich returns from his investment.

The writer is executive director, DTZ Debenham Tie Leung (SEA) Pte Ltd