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Foreigners find gems in high end condos

LUXURY condos in Singapore priced at S$10 million and above have drawn a host of interesting buyers, mostly foreigners, this year.

Besides Alibaba co-founder Sun Tongyu, who paid S$51 million for the sole penthouse at Wing Tai’s Le Nouvel Ardmore freehold project in April, other corporate bigwigs have also surfaced in the list of high-end condo buyers here this year. Mr Sun, who invests in startups these days, is a Chinese citizen and a Singapore permanent resident (PR).

In another posh residential area of Singapore, Hong Kong businessman Mahesh Buxani shelled out S$22.5 million for a penthouse at Nassim Park Residences, also in April. He picked up the unit in the resale market. The price works out to S$3,271 per square foot based on the strata area, which is nearly 6,900 sq ft. The luxurious duplex unit comes with its own pool, four bedrooms, and living, dining and family areas.

Mr Buxani and his brother Haresh run M Bux International in Hong Kong, set up by their father Udhav Buxani. The group’s core business is in garment trading and import/export, but the brothers are said to have made some smart property acquisitions during the 2003 property downturn triggered by the Sars outbreak. The family lives in a grand mansion in Hong Kong’s posh residential district The Peak.

Nassim Park Residences, where Mr Mahesh Buxani has bought a penthouse, is an exclusive low-rise freehold condo in Singapore with just 100 units developed by UOL Group, Kheng Leong and Orix Corporation. The developers roped in big-name designers – Singapore-based Chan Soo Khian of SCDA Architects, French interior designer Christian Liaigre and Japanese landscape architect Shunmyo Masuno – for the project, which received Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) in 2011.

At Marina Bay Suites, a regional executive at Facebook is said to be the buyer of a nearly 4,700 sq ft penthouse that went for close to S$11.3 million or slightly more than S$2,400 psf earlier this year. A larger penthouse in the development, spanning 8,500 sq ft, on the top two levels of the 66-storey project was recently sold to a Chinese citizen at slightly above S$19.5 million – or about S$2,290 psf. Buyers of both units are Singapore PRs.

Another China buyer last month also picked up a 3,520 sq ft unit on the fourth floor of Corals at Keppel Bay for S$10.42 million – or S$2,960 psf. The unit was sold by the project’s developer.

Both Corals at Keppel Bay and Marina Bay Suites are on sites that have balance lease terms of close to 91 years.

Over at Cuscaden Walk near the prime Orchard Road shopping belt, two Iranians are understood to have acquired an apartment at Boulevard Vue from the project’s developer, Far East Organisation. They paid S$15 million or S$3,350 psf for the nearly 4,500 sq ft unit a few months ago.

In January this year, Bukit Sembawang is understood to have sold the last remaining unit at Paterson Suites to a Taiwanese, who is a Singapore PR, for S$13.9 million. The penthouse has a strata area of 6,663 sq ft inclusive of double-volume void space in the living and dining areas as well as 1,787 sq ft of open area such as the roof terrace, swimming pool and planter boxes. The 102-unit freehold project, comprising two towers of 22 storeys, received TOP in 2010.

The subdued luxury condo market here has also seen a few Singaporeans scooping up high-end condos this year.

Besides the S$12.2 million or S$2,028 psf purchase of a penthouse in St Regis Residences by Yun Nam Hair Care owner Andy Chua from Japanese tycoon Katsumi Tada in February, at least one other Singapore citizen has paid more than S$10 million for a unit in the posh 999-year leasehold development this year.

Harish Manwani – the former chief operating officer of Unilever who in March was appointed global executive adviser at Blackstone – is said to have bought a 5,543 sq ft apartment at St Regis Residences in April. He paid S$11.8 million or S$2,129 psf for the unit. The India-born Mr Manwani is a Singapore citizen.

Savills Singapore research head Alan Cheong said well-heeled buyers are finding valuations in Singapore’s high-end condo market “very compelling”. “This is obvious when these widely travelled international investors compare our luxury prices with those in Hong Kong and London. For example, in Hong Kong, a 4,664 sq ft penthouse unit at 39 Conduit Road was sold in April for HK$92,857 psf or S$15,800 psf. In Singapore, the highest price done in 2015, based on URA Realis records, was S$3,676 psf for the 13,875 sq ft penthouse in Le Nouvel Ardmore.”

A point to note is that according to some property consultants, the pricing for that deal would translate into a higher S$4,838 psf assuming the penthouse’s substantial roof terrace component, around 5,000 sq ft, is assigned a psf value equivalent to one-third that of the indoor area. Even then, the price would be just 30 per cent that of the Conduit Road transaction in Hong Kong.