Neo-classical GCB on Swettenham Close going for more than $50 mil

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For more than 30 years, a Good Class Bungalow (GCB) at Swettenham Close has been a family home for two generations. The children have since grown up and have moved out several years ago. This has prompted the owner to put up the 15,850 sq ft GCB for sale, says Peter Lin, associate vice president at Realstar Premier Group.
The property was recently valued at between $50 million and $55 million, which translates to a land rate in the range of $3,155 psf to $3,470 psf. According to Lin, the owner is open to offers based on this valuation amount.
The GCB is nestled deep within the Ridout Park GCB Area in prime District 10, one of 39 gazetted GCB neighbourhoods in Singapore. It is a stone’s throw away from other prime GCBs at Holland Park and colonial bungalows along Ridout Road.


The two-storey GCB on Swettenham Close was built in the 1990s, and features a distinctive neo-classical style featuring stately columns and numerous decorative mouldings on the interior and exterior. The architect was Singapore-based architectural firm Chao Tse Ann & Partners.
This striking neo-classical style adorns the front of the GCB, which largely occupies the 15.2m frontage along Swettenham Close. But the GCB also enjoys the privacy of being on a cul-de-sac that is shared with only six other houses.

A home for a family

The GCB is situated on a regular-shaped plot. The house has an L-shaped design with two interconnected residential wings that surround the 15m swimming pool. A palatial double-volume ceiling characterises the ground-floor living room. One side of the living room leads to a parlour, while the other side leads to the staircase and the dining room.


The dining room features floor-to-ceiling windows that provide an unblocked view of the swimming pool, and leads to an outdoor sheltered entertainment area and the kitchen. A 2012 renovation added a new lounge room that replaced part of the garden and backyard.
All the en suite bedrooms are located on the second floor, separating the private living area from the ground-floor communal spaces. Although the house does not have a lift, there is space to include one if the new owner prefers, says Lin.
The master bedroom and junior master bedroom are the only rooms in the house that utilise the limited attic space. “If the allowable floor space in this GCB plot were maximised, it would be able to accommodate a 2½-storey GCB, although the current house also features a small attic,” says Lin.
The master bedroom has space to fit a lounge area, a walk-through wardrobe and a private study. Additionally, a spiral staircase leads to a spare room in the attic.


Likewise, the junior master bedroom features a duplex layout with a study room on the lower floor and a large bedroom space on the top floor. It is also the only bedroom in the house that comes with a balcony which overlooks the swimming pool and view of the nearby forested area.
The GCB has been on the market since 2023 and Lin has arranged separate viewings for 10 different groups of buyers. “The sale of this GCB is an opportunity for different groups of buyers who have a variety of needs and preferences. Despite its age, the house has been exceptionally well-maintained with a functional layout. This makes it ideal for owners who are looking for a relatively short renovation period before moving in,” says Lin.
He adds that a growing number of GCB buyers prefer homes that require a short renovation period, given the increase in construction costs over the past few years. “It is possible that, depending on the scale of renovation work and the new owner’s choice of fittings and fixtures, this GCB could be renovated for about $1 million,” he says.
On the other hand, there is still a good number of buyers who prefer to redevelop a GCB plot into a more modern or contemporary style that suits their preferences, says Lin. “With its prime location, quiet neighbourhood, regular plot size and shape, this would be an ideal site for a new generation of buyers to create their dream home.”

GCB sellers unwilling to budge on price

The most recent transaction along Swettenham Close was the sale of 5 Swettenham Close which fetched $48 million in February 2021. The price for the 16,598 sq ft GCB translates to $2,893 psf on the land area.
“Within the Ridout Park GCB area, most GCB owners have been reluctant to put up their properties for sale, even when the market was hot back in 2021–2022. Many of these owners value the prime location, privacy of the neighbourhood, and convenient access to nearby amenities,” says Lin.
He says that buying activity in the landed homes segment in Singapore was very robust in 2021 and 2022, but the market started to moderate last year. According to statistics provided by Realstar Premier Group, landed home prices climbed 13.3% in 2021 and a further 9.6% in 2022. But the slowdown in transaction volume last year resulted in a modest 7% increase.
Over the past year, transaction volume in the GCB segment has fallen from its highs back in 2021 and 2022. Lin attributes this to a mismatch in price expectations between buyers and sellers. “Over the past few months, we have observed that this price gap between buyers and sellers has not yet converged,” he says.


Lin adds that most buyers are sticking to their asking prices, and he reckons that most sellers have the holding power to achieve or exceed their asking prices. “GCBs in Singapore are prized trophy assets, and the supply of these exclusive homes is scarce. We still see strong demand for these trophy homes from newly minted citizens and locals,” he says.
“About half of the prospective GCB buyers we see today are newly minted citizens who were from China, Indonesia and Malaysia. But locals still form just over half of the GCB buyers, and these include younger buyers in their 30s who made their fortunes in the technology sector,” says Lin.
Based on his dealings with newly minted ultra-wealthy Singaporeans, Lin has found that many of them prefer landed homes close to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. “However, the supply of available GCBs in this area is low and as a result, most of these buyers are waiting on the sidelines to pounce at the chance to acquire an available GCB,” he says.

No more GCBs under $30 million

Given that GCB prices have remained stubbornly high compared to buyers’ expectations, some buyers have turned to smaller-sized bungalow sites within GCB areas where the absolute prices are more palatable, says Lin. “Three years ago, the typical entry price for a good-sized GCB (of at least 15,000 sq ft) on the market would have been between $20 million and $30 million. But given the prevailing market conditions, buyers would be hard-pressed to find a 15,000 sq ft GCB in that price range today.”
This has caused a spillover in demand for bungalow plots in GCB areas that are less than 15,000 sq ft. These bungalow sites can be found in GCB areas such as Raffles Park, Victoria Park and Oei Tiong Ham Park, says Lin.
Looking ahead, he expects the GCB and landed homes market in Singapore to bounce back in the second half of this year when the expected fall in interest rates starts to kick in. “This will be a critical macroeconomic factor that would instil confidence in most buyers to lock in the deals they have been holding back on,” he says.
“We have already seen a couple of buyers back in December last year lock in their property purchases. At the time, the indication from the US Federal Reserve that interest rates would likely fall in 2H2024, gave them enough clarity in terms of the financial and economic direction in the year ahead,” says Lin.
However, this also means that more sellers will be unwilling to negotiate their asking prices. “Thus, this is the best time for prospective buyers to shortlist properties or enter negotiations with sellers, before prices start to climb again later this year,” he says.

Source : EdgeProp

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