Astrid Hill bungalow in early stage of being sold for over S$55m

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AN OPTION to purchase an old freehold bungalow in Astrid Hill for nearly S$55.09 million has been granted to Ng Keng Sing, a director and co-owner of oil and petroleum company Midas NSSG International.

The price works out to S$1,989 per square foot (psf) on a land area of 27,699 square feet (sq ft). The property is next to another old bungalow that Ng bought last year for S$44.3 million or S$1,413 psf on land area of 31,359 sq ft (inclusive of a long driveway). Both properties are in the Queen Astrid Park Good Class Bungalow (GCB) area.

Market watchers suggest that in the latest deal, which is an estate sale, Ng may have arranged for the option to be issued in favour of himself “and/or nominee”; this would allow him to nominate someone else, probably a family member, to exercise the option. “This is not an uncommon tax planning strategy,” said an observer.

A Singapore citizen who already owns a residential property here has to pay 17 per cent additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD) for his or her second residential property purchase. There is no ABSD for the first property purchase.

Observers expect the Ng family to amalgamate the two plots with a total land area of nearly 59,060 sq ft, for redevelopment into one or more bungalows. Amalgamation would make sense, given that one of the properties has a long driveway. Greater efficiency can be achieved by combining the two sites, which will yield a more regular-shaped plot. It would also be possible to subdivide the amalgamated site into two regular-shaped plots.

A seasoned GCB agent not involved with brokering either of the two Astrid Hill deals, described the S$1,989 psf price for the more recent deal as a “good buy”, considering the very limited number of bungalows on Astrid Hill. Agreeing, an observer said: “In the current market, this property bought on the basis of redevelopment land would have been expected to fetch around S$2,200 psf.”

One generally has to be a Singapore citizen to be allowed to buy a landed property in a GCB area.

Bungalows in the 39 gazetted GCB areas are the most prestigious form of landed housing in Singapore, with strict planning conditions stipulated by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to preserve their exclusivity and low-rise character.

Among other things, a minimum plot size of 1,400 square metres (about 15,070 sq ft) is stipulated as the planning norm for newly-created bungalows in GCB areas.

Another restriction is that of a two-storey height limit (though an attic and basements are allowed).

GCB areas stand out with their large plot sizes and location in lush, green surroundings. There is rarity value in owning one of these homes, as there are only over 2,700 of them in Singapore.

Source: The Business Times

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