James Koh, executive chairman and founder of Fragrance Group, had been quietly buying bungalow sites late last year. In September, he purchased an old bungalow sitting on 21,046 sq ft land area at Hillside Drive, a private housing estate off Yio Chu Kang Road. The purchase price for the 999-year leasehold site was $19.25 million ($915 psf), according to a caveat lodged with URA Realis. However, based on a property title search, the deal was completed on Dec 15, 2021.
As the deal was completed on the eve of the latest property cooling measures that came into effect on Dec 16, Koh would only be subject to additional buyers’ stamp duty (ABSD) of 12% if this was his second property, and 15% if it was his third or subsequent property. From Dec 16, the ABSD would have been 17% and 25% respectively.
The site that Koh purchased is one of the last big land plots in the private housing estate of Hillside Drive. In its vicinity are semi-detached houses, terraced houses and low-rise apartment blocks. As the site is not a landed housing zone, Koh could build a low-rise condominium if he does not wish to redevelop the site into houses.
Shortly after he purchased the site at Hillside Drive, Koh had also swooped in on the Good Class Bungalow (GCB) at Lornie Road. This GCB sits on a 25,272 sq ft, freehold site with its main entrance currently fronting Lornie Road. However, approval could be obtained to change the access of the site to Joan Road, which is quieter. Koh had purchased the freehold site for $24.8 million ($981 psf), according to a caveat lodged with URA Realis on Jan 4. However, the deal is believed to have been sealed last October.
The two sites share similarities: an old bungalow built decades ago, and will most likely be torn down to make way for a new development.