Sunday, August 20, 2006

Straits Times : Bargain landed homes for under $1m

ST : Bargain landed homes for under $1m
Aug 20, 2006
It's possible to get new leasehold houses in non-prime areas for less money than luxury condos
By Fiona Chan

MANY Singaporeans aspire to live in spacious landed property, but such homes are often seen as pricey and unattainable.

However, property agents say that if you know where to look, it is not hard to find a terrace, semi-detached or even detached house going for the price of a new condominium unit.

If you have $1 million to spend, you may want to forgo that tiny Orchard Road studio for a new 99-year leasehold terrace in popular residential areas such as Serangoon Gardens or Yishun.

A 1,743 sq ft inter terrace at Chuan Green in Lorong Chuan was sold for $1 million in June, while further north a 3,433 sq ft terrace at Allgreen Properties' The Shaughnessy in Miltonia Close off Yishun Avenue 1 went for a mere $830,000.

Freehold and 999-year leasehold houses are also available for under $1 million, but these tend to be older properties, said Mr Steven Tan, executive director of the residential division at property agency OrangeTee.

He noted that there are landed freehold homes in Districts 15 and 16 in the East Coast area going for as little as $650,000 - less than the price of a new 1,000 sq ft condo in the same area, in recently launched freehold projects such as One Amber and MCL Land's The Esta.

And if you do not mind a 99-year leasehold property that is more than 50 years old, you can even land a detached house in Upper Bukit Timah - a 5,371 sq ft home with 40 years left on its lease went for only $500,000 in June, said Mr Tan.

However, he added that a more extensive search can also throw up some new freehold bargains, such as Le Royce @ Leith Park in Yio Chu Kang, where a 3,509 sq ft terrace fetched $1 million in June.

On a per sq ft (psf) basis, landed homes are definitely a better bargain than condo units, said Mr Eric Cheng, senior division director of PropNex.

In Districts 19 and 20, which include Serangoon Gardens, Thomson and Ang Mo Kio, older single-storey terrace or semi-detached homes are about $350 psf on average, which means you can get a 2,800 sq ft house for under $1 million in these areas, he said.

This compares with more than $600 psf for the nearby freehold Le Crescendo in Paya Lebar Road, which was launched in June 2002.

But landed property bargains come with their own set of caveats, said property agents.

'When you buy a landed property, you shouldn't just look at land size and the cost per sq ft, because the condition of the house is also very important,' said Mr Tan of OrangeTee.

Buyers may have to incur refurbishment costs of up to a few hundred thousand dollars, bringing the total price to above $1 million.

PropNex's Mr Cheng added that some older homes have outdated designs that leave out modern conveniences such as attached bathrooms.