Prized bungalows in Singapore

May 3, 2013 / By  

The landed market in general includes terrace houses, semi-detached and detached houses. In Singapore, there is another class of landed house which is in a league of its own – Good Class Bungalows (GCB). These are freehold detached houses located within GCB demarcated areas. There are only 39 such areas in Singapore, concentrated mostly in prime neighbourhoods, with a few in the north of the city-state. Along with the rarity of these bungalows; the government has restricted the purchase of GCBs to only Singaporeans.

Being in a class of its own, sales of these luxury bungalows show more resilience to short term market shocks than that of typical homes. The large price tags for these bungalows would usually discourage general buyers and investors, leaving them to largely the high-net-worth Singaporeans. Buyers of this unique asset appreciate the prestige of the address and the generous space that comes with them.

Where GCBs are concerned, the planning authority – the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) – stipulates that such bungalow developments must have a minimum plot area of 1,400 sqm (or 15,069 sq ft). This is certainly much larger than the typical landed house where a minimum size of 80-400 sqm applies. However, in recent times we have seen many GCBs sold with smaller land areas, often lower than the minimum specified size. These smaller “boutique” plots were existing bungalows located within GCB areas during its demarcation process. Although falling short of the minimum sizing, they were still awarded the status of Good Class Bungalows.

In the early 2000s, the average GCB land plot was 20,500-23,000 sq ft, priced at about SGD400 per sq ft on land. During that time, there were barely any small “boutique” plots being sold. In recent years, GCB land plots averaged 15,500-17,000 sq ft, with almost half of the bungalows being “boutique” GCBs. Unit prices moved in the opposite direction, rising steadily from an average of SGD400 per sq ft to a record of SGD1,470 per sq ft in 2012. Along with rising unit prices, there has been strong capital appreciation in this asset due to the strong underlying market fundamental of limited supply. Prices of GCBs have appreciated from an average of SGD10 million in the early 2000s to SGD23 million today. It seems the Good Class Bungalow segment has moved in tandem with the general residential market, achieving record absolute prices as well as on a per square foot basis.

Some in the market have taken a liking to “boutique” plots due to their relative affordability. Typical GCBs will usually cost more than SGD25 million but, for smaller plots, buyers are able to secure them for under SGD20 million. Looking ahead, high-net worth individuals will continue to buy into the GCB market as the rarity of this asset class has supported the remarkable capital appreciation of GCBs seen in recent years. Apart from the typical GCBs available, we also see a new “boutique” GCB segment gaining popularity in its own right.


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