Koh: Sustainability has become more mainstream; previously it was a nice-to-have (Photo: Albert Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Koh Choon Fah — a member of the board of directors at Edmund Tie — mentioned that she was “taking a little break” and studying art. “In real estate consulting, I’ve realised I’m very left-brained, and I can live my life in an excel sheet,” says Koh, a trained property valuer and former CEO of Edmund Tie from 2015 until her retirement last July.
Any image of Koh in an art studio, armed with paint brushes in front of an easel, is quickly dispelled when she mentions the recent online art courses she took. Conducted by Sotheby’s Institute of Art, they revolved around art and finance. “It’s about how art can be included in one’s investment portfolio for diversification,” she says. “And if a building itself is an art piece, how would you value it?”
The other course was about the valuation of art, specifically NFT (non-fungible token) or digital artwork. Koh is convinced that if she could establish the principles of valuing NFT, it could be extended to the valuation of land and developments in the metaverse. “That should not be too far away,” she says.
In May, a 2,885 sq ft, four-bedroom unit on the 26th floor of one of the 30-storey towers at Ardmore Park hit a high of $4,240 psf, only to be surpassed by another unit on the 17th floor of a neighbouring tower that changed hands for $4,881 psf in July, based on caveats lodged. Back in mid-1995, when the project was launched, average transacted price was $1,600 psf (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Soaring real estate values
In the real estate realm, property prices have reached stratospheric heights. Koh observes that even an intermediate terraced house at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5, built more than 20 years ago, is now worth $3.8 million.
Even luxury condominium prices have now crossed new highs. For example, Koh remembers being involved in the project launch of the 330-unit Ardmore Park in June 1995. It was at the height of the property boom, and queues had stretched for days outside the sales gallery before the launch. The average transacted price then was $1,600 psf, she adds.
In May, a 2,885 sq ft, four-bedroom unit on the 26th floor of one of the 30-storey towers at Ardmore Park hit a high of $4,240 psf, only to be surpassed by another unit on the 17th floor of a neighbouring tower that changed hands for $4,881 psf in July, based on caveats lodged.
Showflat of two-bedroom unit at Lentor Modern, where the flex space next to the kitchen has been turned into a baking studio with a backdrop for TikTok videos (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Multi-family housing in Singapore?
The prices of HDB flats have likewise increased in tandem with the private market. Resale flat prices have hit new record prices in many neighbourhoods, with a 27-year-old, 1,657 sq ft executive maisonette HDB flat in Tampines sold earlier this month for $1.013 million ($611 psf).
Koh says a number of these million-dollar flats were purchased by senior citizens who have recently sold their landed property and are downsizing to an HDB flat. “Hence, you have your million-dollar HDB flats,” she adds. “After selling their house, they can give some money to their children and still have some for themselves to live comfortably.” (Find HDB flats for rent or sale with our Singapore HDB directory)
Her concern is for the next generation of homebuyers: “It’s going to be tough for the younger people to buy their first home.” However, she sees this opening up a new opportunity for multi-family housing, homes for rent that are already popular in cities like New York, Tokyo and even Hong Kong.
“It will appeal to young people who want to be independent and move out of their family home,” says Koh. “And if they can’t afford to buy a home yet, they can rent first. Previously, one would not think such a multi-family housing concept could work in Singapore.”
The trend of young people moving out from their parental home has accelerated over the past two years due to the pandemic, especially with multiple family members working from home, she adds.
Another trend of the pandemic is the desire for flexibility in space use. Developers are catering to this demand. “Even apartments can have flexible space for a work area or as a backdrop for TikTok videos,” says Koh. “You can see that at Lentor Modern.”
Koh, who has been on the judging panel of the annual EdgeProp Singapore Excellence Awards for the fifth year, sees the trend of developers driving both efficiency and productivity of space use in new projects.
She sees developers paying more attention to details and increasingly looking at a project from the homebuyers’ perspective and how to accommodate their lifestyle needs.
Developers are also providing more amenities for residents, including indoor and outdoor social spaces for meeting friends or pockets of quiet spaces for work. Increasingly, developers are including co-working spaces and meeting rooms as an amenity. “You can even work outside your apartment when you’re working from home,” Koh observes.
Increasingly, developers are embracing biophilic design as people appreciate being close to nature (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Sustainability, health and wellness
Another trend is sustainability, which has become mainstream. “Previously, it was a nice-to-have, but now it’s almost a given at most projects,” says Koh. “Increasingly, we see more sustainable features incorporated into the design.”
Both developers and residents have also realised the importance of embracing the community and the neighbourhood. More developers are also capitalising on proximity to a park or playground. “It’s an added amenity for residents and borrowed greenery,” she adds.
Another trend is the focus on health and wellness. “It could be providing more green spaces where people can relax or adopting a biophilic design in their projects,” she adds. “Developers are also ensuring that apartments enjoy cross ventilation and natural daylight. That’s how they can add value to homebuyers and elevate their product.”
For Koh, that is also an art and one that should be valued.