By Romesh Navaratnarajah: While some property buyers might feel squeamish about living in a former cemetery, property experts noted that several popular estates used to be graveyard sites.
For instance, some developments in the mid- to high-end districts of Bishan (pictured), Tiong Bahru and Orchard were formerly occupied by cemeteries.
In 1981, HDB exhumed graves in Peck San Theng (now Bishan) to make way for flats and industrial space. At the same time, the bustling Ngee Ann City mall used to be the site of an old graveyard – the former Tai Shan Ting cemetery.
According to Sing Tien Foo, Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore's Department of Real Estate, Ion Orchard, The Orchard Residences and Orchard MRT station sit on the former Teochew cemetery as well.
Singapore happens to be dotted with former graveyards, with records from 1952 showing that there were 229 registered cemeteries, including numerous burial plots that have since been exhumed.
In the land scarce city-state, it is important to utilise such sites for housing development and it helps that buyers aren't aware of their history.
Meanwhile, a unit at The Orchard Residences was recently transacted for S$4,057 psf, but a record price of S$5,000 psf was achieved back in July 2007.
Ku Swee Yong, Chief Executive of International Property Advisor, said even though the first few developments built on former graveyards could spook some buyers, there is little stigma associated with subsequent developments once a population catchment is established.
"Of course, your market size is reduced by those who are 'pantang', but if the location is good, it is likely to outweigh the superstition factor," he added, explaining that the Malay word 'pantang' means taboo or superstitious. Related Stories: CapitaLand projects have shoebox units too
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