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Published December 15, 2006

Marina Bay penthouse sold for $28m
Some apartment buyers already seeking to cash in


(SINGAPORE) The 11,000 sq ft 'uber' penthouse at Marina Bay Residences last night sold for what is said to have been slightly over $28 million - even as some people who had bought apartments in the project earlier this week were already seeking to cash in.

Quick turnover: A sample of classified ads in The Straits Times yesterday

Sources said that five smaller, single-level penthouses sold via tender yesterday fetched prices ranging from about $3,238 psf to $3,450 psf - setting new records for residential property prices in Singapore. Some sources also said last night that the top price for a penthouse was $3,500 per sq ft.

The developer of the 99-year leasehold project, BFC Development, would not talk about specific prices per unit but in a general statement released shortly before 10 pm, said that the entire 428-unit development had been fully sold for an average price in the region of $1,850 psf.

However, sources told BT that prior to yesterday's tender for the final six penthouse units, the average price achieved in the project was $1,889 psf, which has now been raised to $1,950 psf by last night's sale.

Buyers of the six penthouses included Hongkongers and other foreigners as well as Singapore citizens. Sudhir Gupta, chairman of Russian tyremaker Amtel, bought a duplex penthouse at Wednesday night's tender for $2,450 psf - working out to nearly $10 million. Amtel Singapore COO Sumeer Mahajan was seen bidding at yesterday's tender.

The 'uber' penthouse, spread over the top three levels of the 55-storey development, is believed to have been bought by a Hong Kong investor.

With BFC Development having sold all 418 apartments on Wednesday, anecdotes abounded yesterday of speculators putting up their units for sale in the subsale market.

Buyers of one and two-bedroom units are said to be demanding prices reflecting net profits of about $150,000 to $300,000 per unit, while three and four-bedroom owners want prices that reflect gains of $700,000 to over $1 million.

BT heard of some actual subsales as well. A high-profile professional who had bought a mid-floor, four-bedroom unit for $2,100 psf earlier this week sold it to a local businessman for about $2,600 psf yesterday, translating to an estimated net profit of about $950,000. Both seller and buyer are Singaporeans, apparently know each other and transacted directly without agents.

There was also talk of a four-bedder unit sold in the subsale market for a gain of over $1 million.

A senior agent of a major property agency told BT he had around 50 apartments at Marina Bay Residences from buyers who want to flip their units for a quick buck. He said that while it will be easier for owners of three and four-bedroom apartments to flip their units because these will boast views of Marina Bay and the future integrated resort, it may be more difficult for those who have bought one and two bedders as the views from units are not as good. They will face office towers.

'The Sail @ Marina Bay is a nicer looking project with more choice units overlooking Marina Bay and the IR. So many buyers who've missed out on a chance to buy Marina Bay Residences may find it more attractive to pick up a subsale unit at The Sail, rather than Marina Bay Residences,' the agent said.

He said a buyer did just that yesterday, picking up a 37th floor, four-bedder at The Sail for about $4.2 million from someone who had originally bought the unit from developers City Developments and AIG in early 2005 for $2.3 million. The resale brought a net profit of about $1.8 million.

According to this agent, about 50 to 60 per cent of buyers in projects in the Marina Bay and Sentosa Cove locations launched over the past 18 to 24 months have been speculators.

Some market watchers cautioned those buying subsale units at Marina Bay Residences to be careful as the developer has yet to issue Sale & Purchase (S&P) agreements and is expected to do so only about four to eight weeks later.

'The second buyer will be asked to pay the original buyer a cheque as deposit to secure a unit on mutual trust, but technically the first buyer has not signed the S&P with the developer,' an observer cautioned.