Sentosa Cove was just starting to see transaction volume and prices recover last year. How will the latest property cooling measures affect Singapore’s playground for the rich and famous, and how will it fare vis-à-vis the rest of the prime districts?
A five-bedroom, duplex penthouse at The Oceanfront in Sentosa Cove is on the market for $13 million ($1,606 psf). The 8,095 sq ft unit is said to be the largest penthouse in Sentosa Cove as well as the largest of 29 “sky villas” at the 264-unit waterfront condo The Oceanfront.
The 8,095 sq ft penthouse at The Oceanfront is the largest in Sentosa Cove (Pictures: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
From its vantage point on the 15th floor — the highest level at a Sentosa Cove condo — the super penthouse commands a sweeping 270-degree view of the sea, including the Southern Islands and the marina. The penthouse comes with private lift access from the basement carpark. The first level contains the living room with wraparound balcony, kitchen, home entertainment room, and five en-suite bedrooms including the master suite. It also houses a standalone guest suite with its own bedroom, and living and dining areas. The second level contains the dining room with en suite kitchen, an outdoor entertainment deck and swimming pool.
The Oceanfront was developed by a joint venture between Singapore-listed City Developments Ltd (CDL) and TID (an entity owned jointly by Hong Leong Holdings and Mitsui Fudosan). Launched in August 2006 at an initial average price of $1,600 psf, the project was fully sold before completion in 2010. It was designed by acclaimed architect firm Wimberly, Allison, Tong & Goo (WATG), which was behind The St Regis Singapore.
The view of the Southern Islands and Cape Royale from the penthouse at The Oceanfront
This is the third time that the super penthouse has been put on the market by the owner, believed to be a prominent Singaporean, who purchased the unit off-plan for $8.66 million ($1,070 psf) when the project was launched.
The owner first placed the penthouse up for sale at $30 million ($3,706 psf) in 2010, at the height of Sentosa Cove’s property market. As there were no takers then, the unit was withdrawn. In 2014, it was placed on the market again, at a lower price of $22 million ($2,718 psf), to factor in weaker market conditions after eight rounds of property cooling measures, which included hikes in the additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD), seller’s stamp duty (SSD) as well as total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) loan framework introduced at end-June 2013.
Still unsold four years later, the penthouse is now on the market for $13 million — a markdown of 41% from its price tag in 2014. “The current price for the penthouse represents an attractive buying opportunity,” says Bruce Lye, managing partner of property brokerage firm SRI, the marketing agent for the unit. “Even from a seafront bungalow, you will not be able to command such views — of the sea, the marina and the golf course — and potential buyers recognise that.”
The exterior of the landmark 264-unit The Oceanfront at the mouth of the marina
In Sentosa Cove, waterfront bungalows have changed hands for $12 million to $14 million in recent months. For instance, a bungalow sitting on a land area of 8,170 sq ft in Paradise Island was sold for $12 million ($1,469 psf) in May. Another bungalow sold in May was located at Cove Drive and fetched $14 million ($2,043 psf).
Many of those who have come to view the penthouse at The Oceanfront are Chinese nationals, and some of them already own a bungalow in Sentosa Cove, notes Lye. “Buyers with a $12 million to $14 million budget will find the penthouse an attractive alternative to a similar-sized seafront bungalow in Sentosa Cove.”
One of the five en-suite bedrooms on the penthouse first floor
There are very few seafront bungalows available on the market now, notes SRI’s Lye. Those available are going at premium prices. For instance, SRI is marketing a bungalow at 227 Ocean Drive for $25 million. The house sits on a land area of 7,815 sq ft, which translates into $3,199 psf. That is almost on a par with the psf price at which another house on Ocean Drive was sold in 2012, when it changed hands for $32.5 million. The house had a land area of 10,107 sq ft, and the price of $3,214 psf is still the highest achieved for a bungalow in Sentosa Cove.
The price of $1,606 psf for the penthouse at The Oceanfront is equivalent to the prices of new launches in suburban and city-fringe projects, notes SRI’s Lye.
Steve Tay, CBRE senior vice-president of resale and a specialist in marketing luxury homes in Sentosa Cove, agrees. “In Sentosa Cove, however, one can purchase a waterfront or sea-facing condo for the same psf price or lower.”
View of Cape Royale and the Tanjong Golf Course from the 15th floor penthouse
All residential properties in Sentosa Cove are 99-year leasehold. While the Sentosa Cove luxury condo market has languished, 99-year leasehold projects in other parts of the Core Central Region (CCR) — such as Marina One Residences and Wallich Residence at Tanjong Pagar Centre — have hit new highs in recent months.
At Wallich Residence at Tanjong Pagar Centre, a 3,509 sq ft, four-bedroom penthouse on the 58th floor was sold for $16 million ($4,560 psf) last month — an all-time high for the luxury condo in terms of absolute and psf prices. Meanwhile, a 6,469 sq ft penthouse at Marina One Residences was sold for $18 million ($2,782 psf) last month. It was the first penthouse sold at the project and the deal was brokered by SRI.
“The reason Sentosa Cove hasn’t recovered the way the traditional prime districts or condos in the Downtown Core have over the past 12 months is that [the enclave] is fully developed,” notes Leong Boon Hoe, chief operating officer of List Sotheby’s International Realty. “There are no new sites to push up prices like we’ve seen on the mainland [of Singapore]. The only way for prices [in Sentosa Cove] to go up or down will be when demand returns or leaves.”
A 6,469 sq ft penthouse at Marina One Residences was sold for $18 million ($2,782 psf) last month
With the market recovering over the past 12 months, Ho Bee Land and IOI Properties saw the opportunity to release for sale some of the remaining units at the 151-unit Seascape. The latest transaction at Seascape was that of a 2,164 sq ft, three-bedroom unit sold in March for $4.5 million ($2,080 psf). In light of the property cooling measures, things are likely to be on hold for now.
Whiplash from higher ABSD
Prior to the latest cooling measures, foreign buyers have already had to factor in the ABSD of 15% and SSD for the first three years after purchase (reduced from four years in March 2017).
Since July 6, foreigners in Singapore have been subject to a 20% ABSD on their residential property purchases. In comparison, foreign buyers in Hong Kong have to pay a 15% ad valorem stamp duty plus 15% buyer’s stamp duty. In the UK, the stamp duty is 12% for properties above £1.5 million ($2.7 million) that are owner- occupied and 15% if it is a buy-to- let, and an annual tax of £3,500 is imposed. In Canada, Vancouver has imposed a 20% stamp duty on foreign buyers, with an additional 5% property transfer tax for properties priced from C$3 million ($3.1 million).
The dining area on the second floor of the The Oceanfront penthouse
“Foreign investors will make comparisons with other overseas markets before making their decision,” says Leong. “Singapore’s stamp duty regime is pretty much in line with these other liquidity-driven markets.”
Sentosa Cove is the only place where foreigners can buy landed property in Singapore. “Now that buyers have a higher hurdle to clear, transaction volume will be curtailed,” says Desmond Sim, CBRE head of research for Singapore and Southeast Asia. “Deals will have to go back to the drawing board, as the price gap between buyers and sellers will widen once again, unless sellers are willing to take a haircut on their asking prices and buyers come to terms with the higher ABSD.”
Even high-end properties in the prime districts on the mainland of Singapore — the traditional prime Districts 9, 10 and 11 as well as Marina Bay and the CBD Core — have not been spared the whiplash from the latest round of property cooling measures.
The outdoor entertainment deck on the roof terrace of the penthouse
This explains why it was not just the showflats of suburban and cityfringe projects that saw a flurry of activity on July 5 — the day before the cooling measures took effect — but also those at luxury projects. According to Dominic Lee, PropNex Realty head of luxury team, seven units were sold at Martin Modern that day, as well as three units at Wallich Residence and two units at New Futura.
‘It’s not over yet’
PropNex’s Lee believes, however, that the recovery in the high-end market has not been derailed by the property cooling measures. “The average market upturn lasts 17 quarters,” he estimates. “We’ve seen only four quarters. Despite the property cooling measures, it’s not over yet.”
There were some “knee-jerk reactions” as investors took stock of the market in light of this latest round of cooling measures. Anecdotal evidence was that an offer for a penthouse at Nassim Mansion was pulled owing to the property cooling measures. The penthouse at the 72-unit Nassim Mansion was on the market for $25 million.
The living room of the 7,115 sq ft, four-bedroom penthouse at Nassim Mansion. It was completely renovated and is on the market for $25 million. (Picture: List Sotheby's)
The 7,115 sq ft, double- storey unit has four bedrooms and five bathrooms, and views of the surrounding greenery. The freehold Nassim Mansion was completed in 1977, but the penthouse was recently fully renovated. The property is located at Nassim Hill, one of the most coveted addresses in Singapore.
Simon Wong of List Sotheby’s, who is marketing the penthouse at Nassim Mansion, has relisted it for sale at $25 million, although the price is now negotiable.
The newly fitted kitchen at the penthouse of Nassim Mansion (Picture: List Sotheby's)
“Besides price, buyers of luxury homes look at factors such as quality, uniqueness, lifestyle and investment considerations such as suitability/ wealth preservation/legacy planning/portfolio balancing needs,” says List Sotheby’s Leong.
For those looking for good deals in Sentosa Cove, the penthouse at The Oceanfront may prove to be the best yet.
Related Articles From EdgeProp.sg
Older condos’ size and lower psf price a draw in prime districts
Redas: Imperative to monitor latest cooling measures for unintended consequences
En bloc sales bear the brunt of cooling measures
The high life at a low price