Published August 13, 2009

An elite investment gets its day in the sun

Sales of Good Class Bungalows gather steam, with some predicting healthy price rise


(SINGAPORE) The Good Class Bungalow (GCB) market has sprung to life with high-net-worth individuals stepping up their purchases.

July was an especially action-filled month which saw about 20 GCB transactions worth a total of more than $300 million. To put this in perspective, the entire first quarter of this year saw GCB deals worth only $27.5 million.

The action picked up in April, when $56 million worth of GCBs were transacted. It gathered pace in May and June, each month seeing deals amounting to around $188 million. In July, the market went ballistic.

So far this year, around 50 GCB deals have been transacted, according to caveats data compiled by property consultants and information on the latest transactions obtained by BT.

The year-to-date tally of over $800 million is healthy, considering that the whole of last year saw just 51 deals worth $830 million.

GCB agents expect the sales flow to continue in coming months. CB Richard Ellis's director, luxury homes, Douglas Wong said: 'It's likely that a total of 60-65 GCBs will be sold in the whole of 2009 - more than the 51 GCBs sold in 2008. The total quantum is likely to be around $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion, about 35-45 per cent higher than the quantum of $830 million in 2008.'

Savills Singapore director of investment sales & prestige homes Steven Ming says that 'although we do not expect the spike in GCB sales that was seen in May to July to be sustained, we do expect to still see healthy buying activity continue for the rest of the year'. He expects 60-70 transactions for the whole of 2009.

Apart from the general feeling that the worst of the financial crisis is over, he cites the low mortgage and deposit rates as reasons for the GCB market revival.

Agreeing, Newsman Realty managing director KH Tan notes that high-net- worth individuals prefer GCB investments to letting their cash idle in banks. They are also wary of investing in financial products following the Lehman debacle, he said.

'Another group of GCB buyers are foreigners who have become Singapore PRs and PRs who have become citizens,' adds Mr Tan, who recently brokered the $38 million sale of a Cluny Park bungalow.

BT understands the property was sold by former Kim E