Growing demand for Sentosa Cove bungalows

Singapore continues to draw foreign buyers despite travel restrictions, partly due to its success in handling the pandemic. Sentosa Cove is the only place where a foreigner may seek approval to acquire a landed residential property for their own use.

Real estate agents expect the healthy sales momentum for bungalows within Sentosa Cove’s waterfront housing district to continue this year with the easing of travel restrictions, reported The Business Times (BT).

A strong pick-up in transaction volume for this segment was registered in the second half of 2020, following the end of the circuit breaker partial lockdown and the resumption of property viewings from 19 June.

An analysis of URA Realis caveats database by List Sotheby’s International Realty (List SIR) showed that 13 Sentosa bungalows were transacted in 2020 for a total of $195.66 million, up from 2019’s four transactions which amounted to $83.39 million.

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Aside from the caveats data, industry estimates compiled by BT also showed that there are at least seven transactions in 2020 for which buyers did not lodge caveats.

Steve Tay, Senior Associate Vice-president at List SIR, noted that while last year’s foreign buyers of Sentosa Cove villas were mainly from China, buyers from India and Southeast Asia are also expected to come once borders are safely opened.

In fact, SRI’s agents have a few groups of potential buyers, who were not only from China but also from Indonesia and Malaysia, that are waiting to enter the city-state once travel curbs are relaxed, said SRI Co-founder Bruce Lye.

“Some are seeking permission to enter Singapore for medical treatment; while here, the plan is for them to schedule some viewings in Sentosa as well,” he told BT.

“These people know how Singapore has been handling the pandemic; this will be a pull factor for many of them to pick up a property here,”

Meanwhile, no transaction for Sentosa bungalow has been capture in URA Realis so far this year. However, at least six transactions are expected to materialise this year via the exercise of options to purchase that were granted earlier, said BT.

Some of these deals are subject to the approval of the Land Dealings (Approval) Unit or LDAU of the Singapore Land Authority.

Sentosa Cove is the only place within the city-state where a foreigner or a non-Singapore permanent resident (PR) may seek approval to acquire a landed residential property for their own use.

The six transactions are in locales like Cove Drive, Ocean Drive and Pearl Island. Of these, two comprises a pair of adjacent bungalows with sea views.

BT understands that the price for one pair, along Ocean Drive, stands in the mid-$40 million range. It is being sold by OUE Executive Chairman Stephen Riady’s wife, Shincee Leonardi.

The other pair, along Cove Drive, carries a price of $39 million and is understood to be owned by the family of Tony Phua, Chairman of high-end furniture retailer Da Vinci Collection.

Suggested read: Should You Buy A Property in Sentosa Cove?

Aside from the unique, tranquil ambiance offered by Sentosa Cove’s waterfront housing precincts, Tay pointed to Sentosa Cove bungalows’ relatively lower prices nowadays as another pull factor for buyers.

He said bungalow prices in Sentosa Cove are generally 30% to 40% lower versus their heyday between 2010 and 2012.

Moreover, foreign investors have traditionally favoured Singapore due to its safe haven status, well-developed infrastructure, open economy and established education system.

More recently, foreign investors found assurance on how the government responded to the pandemic in terms of support and fiscal policies to job security, businesses and the health and safety of its residents, said List SIR Research Director Han Huan Mei.

She expects the opening by tech group Dyson of a global headquarters at St James Power Station – expected after 2021 – to become a new source of demand for Sentosa Cove homes.

“For the expat professionals at the Dyson HQ, Sentosa Cove would be an ideal place to rent, or even buy, a home,” she added as quoted by BT.

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