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Thread: Is this S'pore's most expensive house?

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    Default Is this S'pore's most expensive house?

    June 29, 2008

    Is this S'pore's most expensive house?

    # Worth at least $120 million
    # The size of 92 five-room HDB flats
    # Owned by a prince

    By Tan Dawn Wei

    The palatial residence of Arwaa Mansion is certainly fit for a prince and comes with a suitably intimidating value. It was built by merging two pieces of property with different addresses. This photo shows the part of the mansion at 46B Nassim Road. -- ST PHOTO: LIM WUI LIANG

    The mansion mired in a legal battle between the Brunei Sultan's brother and
    the country's national investment agency could well be Singapore's most expensive residence.

    Owned by Prince Jefri Bolkiah, the younger brother of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Arwaa Mansion at 46B and 48 Nassim Road is said to be worth at least a jaw-dropping $120 million.

    That figure for a home, even in land-scarce Singapore, is not something you hear about every day. Even property pundits that The Sunday Times spoke to were hard-pressed to think of a residential address that could fetch that kind of value.

    There are only between 2,500 and 3,000 good-class bungalows with at least 15,070 sq ft of land area here.

    Based on the Urban Redevelopment Authority's numbers, the average cost of a good-class bungalow was $13.8 million last year.

    What could possibly make the Brunei royal's Nassim address worth that princely sum? Size, location, possibly even its pedigree ownership.

    Industry observers believe that the palatial property, which stands on top of a hill, has such a staggering value because of its sheer size.

    The mansion sits on a land area of about 110,000 sq ft. The area was the result of merging two pieces of property with different addresses. Imagine 92 five-room HDB flats combined.

    'It is part of Singapore's most desirable and prestigious residential area,' said Savills Singapore's director of prestige homes Steven Ming.

    'But each property value is unique,' he said.

    And this none-too-humble villa is special because, well, it belongs to a prince.

    'You would assume that only good-quality stuff went in there, so there is a premium attached to it,' said one industry pundit.

    The mansion made news last Friday after it was reported that the Brunei Investment Agency, which manages the Brunei government's General Reserve Fund and external assets, wants Singapore's courts to get the 53-year-old prince to hand over the property.

    Homes in the $100 million club are few and far between.

    Said Credo Real Estate managing director Karamjit Singh: 'Over the years, governments and corporations that have owned large properties have been selling them and they get re-developed and sub-divided. So such big properties are very rare.'

    Property pundits say that large parcels still exist, owned mostly by the old rich or foreign governments to house their embassies.

    'Some are sitting on land that has been passed down for generations and it goes into the $100 million category because you can build 20 storeys on it,' said Mr Ku Swee Yong, the director of business development and marketing for Savills.

    He singled one out: Mitre Hotel in Killiney Road, which some have estimated could fetch $200 million for its nearly 40,000 sq ft of land. Its prime location and plot ratio mean it has good redevelopment potential.

    Size isn't the only thing that matters when it comes to how many zeroes go into a property's value. In areas like Katong, property can fetch a premium since plot ratios there are higher than those in town, like in Nassim. That means more units can be built.

    Dr Della Suantio Lee, the wife of Mr Lee Seng Gee, the eldest son of late philanthropist Lee Kong Chian, was said to have sold a 115,300 sq ft piece of property in Meyer Road to the Hong Leong Group for about $200 million last year.

    Even fengshui plays a part, albeit a much smaller one.

    'Some wealthy Chinese businessmen will consider how wide the gate at a bungalow is, whether it's sloping up or down or whether it faces a good house,' said Mr Ku.

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