Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Artist Impression
District: 5
Location: West Coast Road
Address: 79 & 81 West Coast Crescent
Tenure: 99-years wef 25 June 2006
Developer: Grand Waterfront Development Pte Ltd (Subsidiary of Cheung Kong Holdings)

You have heard it all before about THE VISION: “The Icon of the West”, “Most Luxurious Condo in West Coast area” and not forgetting, “Bathrooms that cost 3 times more to built compared to a typical condo”.

Here are what you SHOULD know after our visit to the sales gallery last weekend.

The Good bits:
• Over 70% sold during VIP preview.

• 70% units will enjoy panoramic sea view that blends seamlessly with verdant greens.

• 5 –mins drive to Biopolis and One-North, 10-mins drive to Sentosa IR & Theme Park and Vivocity shopping and entertainment mall, 20-mins drive to Orchard, CBD & Marina IR and across the road from West Coast Park.

• Dedicated lift access to the Sky Paragon clubhouse on the 33rd floor of Tower 1 – you go “non stop” from ground level to the 33rd floor, which is a rather unique feature.

The “Not so good” bits:
• All 14 units of the 3-storey Strata Houses are fully sold.

• All but one unit of the 4-bedders are already sold – the remaining unit is on the ground floor facing a carpark.

• Both the penthouses are already sold (as far as we know).

• The supposed “Reserved seaview units” left in the 2 Towers (i.e. around 50 units comprising 2- and 3-bedders) are all facing the west sun directly or partially.

• Many of the units have odd-shaped balconies, living rooms and master bedrooms

• The bomb shelter for most units are located in the kitchen (instead of the yard), with some of the doors blocking the hob area when opened.

• The two showflats are “ID-ed” to their death in gaudy-looking designs – this is the first time we felt really uncomfortable making our rounds in a showflat.

• The marble used for the living/dining room flooring are non-standard in size – you get a mix of square and rectangular pieces interlaced with each other, which looked rather ugly in our opinion.

• The microwave oven is “built in” at the same height as the conventional oven, i.e. below the hob, which seems rather strange.

• The doors of the top-tier kitchen cabinet in the 3-Bedroom showflat are loose at their hinges – quite unbecoming of a project that supposedly prides itself for quality furnishings.

• The laminate finish on the wardrobe doors produce sharp edges while the colour combination left little to be desired.

• You get a “chandelier-like” set of lights in both the common and master bathroom, which most of the marketing agents sing about. However, the wife and I felt that it made the bathrooms looked tacky rather than elegant.

• And speaking of bathrooms, we really failed to see why they should cost 3 times more to build compared with other projects, as they certain did not look the part.

So, have we told you that we really dislike what we saw at the showflats of THE VISION?

The Vision - facts sheet

There are two showflats on display at the sales gallery - a 1604sqft, 4-Bedroom unit (Type C) and a 1313sqft, 3-Bedroom unit (Type B3). The common features include:
• Ceiling height of 2.8m

• Marble flooring for the living/dining room

• Balcony/planter area of about 100sqft

• Kitchen that comes with homogenous tiles flooring, and equipped with “Smeg” induction hob/hood/oven/microwave/fridge and solid-surfaced kitchen worktop.

• Small strip of a yard

• “Toto” (USA) toilet and “Hansa” (Germany) bathroom fittings in all the bathrooms

• Common bathroom and attached bathroom in Junior Suite (for 4-bedders) do not come with rain-shower

• All bedrooms, especially the common rooms, are a tad small.

• The master bathroom has both a long tub and standing shower stall. The shower stall is installed with “Hansa” shower system with massaging and rain shower functions. It also comes with the “chandelier” that we have spoken about earlier.

• Ample wardrobe space in the master bedroom, although the quality of finish and colour scheme can certainly be better.


Pricing wise, a 1313sqft unit on the 16th floor of Tower 1 (#16-07) is priced at $1,313,053, which equates to about $1000psf. However, the marketing agent will try to get us the 3% discount that was previously given to “Early-Bird buyers” if we decided to purchase the unit. Monthly maintenance fee for the 3-bedder is around $390.

The marketing tagline for THE VISION is “See beyond what others see at The Vision”. Maybe the wife and I are just too myopic, as we really failed to “see beyond” the mediocre quality and apparent lack of consideration to the interior design of this project. So we find it rather puzzling that there was so much buzz generated for THE VISION, and stranger still that so many people were willing to fork out so much money to buy into THE VISION. Maybe $1000psf has really become the new “affordable” norm these days...

Click to view slideshow of THE VISION here:

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Artist Impression
District: 9
Location: River Valley
Address: 100 Kim Seng Road
Developer: Lippo Group
Tenure: Freehold

Fuelled by the newspaper report that Jackie Chan had bought a whole floor (3 units) of CENTENNIA SUITES last week, the wife and I decided to brave lunch (and jet lag) to check out the sales gallery yesterday.

CENTENNIA SUITES is located on the site of the former Kim Seng Plaza, diagonally across the road from Great World City. This is supposedly the last freehold site along Kim Seng Road, and consists of one tower of 36-Storey with 97 apartment units residing on a 60,000sqft plot. The expected TOP “on paper” is 31st December 2015, but we understand that the condominium may be ready by 2014.

CENTENNIA SUITES is developed by The Lippo Group, who is also responsible for building The Trillium (another freehold condo) next door, as well as recent projects like Newton One Newton), The Marina Collection (Sentosa Cove) and the newly launched Holland Collection (Holland Road).

The sales gallery was rather quiet during lunch time yesterday, which suites us fine as we hate having to squeeze through tons of people just to catch a glimpse of the showflats. This is the reason why the wife and I prefer to visit showflats on a weekday… unless our day jobs get in the way of things of course.

The first thing we like about CENTENNIA SUITES is that the unit layouts are pretty standard – you get 3 different types of unit (excluding the 2 penthouses) and each unit type has the same layout. The difference in size of each unit type is only a reflection of how big/small the private lift lobby (all units are served by private lifts) and balcony/planter areas are. This makes it less complicated for buyers to select their preferred unit - you just need to decide on how many bedrooms you want, and on which floor. But more importantly, it also makes it easier for us to review.

The different unit types available at CENTENNIA SUITES are very generous in size. And as a departure from most newly launched projects these days, there are NO 1-bedroom units here:
• 2-Bedrooms (32 units): 1238sqft
• 3-Bedrooms (32 units): 1755 – 1819sqft
• 4-Bedrooms (31 units): 2217 – 2303sqft
• Penthouses (2 units): 3315 & 4004sqft

The apartment units start from the 4th floor onwards, and each floor (other than the penthouse level) will have 3 units. In terms of unit orientation:
• Stack #01 (2-bedders) – These faces Kim Seng Road
• Stack #02 (3-bedders) – These faces Trillium and Yong Ann Park
• Stack #03 (4-bedders) – These faces the Singapore River

Access into the condo is via an access road located between The Trillium and CENTENNIA SUITES.

In terms of facilities, these are found on the ground level as well as the “sky terrace” located on the 2nd floor. At the ground level, you get:
• 50m lap pool and several “themed” pools
• Sunbathing deck
• Spa Oasis with Spa Beds, spa seats and “Aquagym”
• BBQ and Gourmet pavilions
• Children’s play agora
• Fitness court

At the “sky terrace” you find:
• Multi-purpose room with pantry
• Entertainment deck
• Viewing and lounging deck
• Toddler’s fun court
• A “suspended” gym that overlooks the Singapore River.

However, there is no tennis court in CENTENNIA SUITES, which is rather disappointing for a supposed “high end” project. A total of 107 (inclusive of 2 handicap) carpark lots are available in the basement.

There is only one showflat on display in the sales gallery – a 2303sqft, 4-Bedroom unit (Type C4).
4-Brm Layout

As you exit from the lift into your private lift lobby, you find an en-suite bedroom just before you enter the living/dining area – The wife and I loved this concept, as this bedroom is especially handy as a guest room. Since it is separated from the main “bedroom” area, it allows for privacy for both the hosts and their "stay over" guests.

The living/dining area is rectangular in shape, and comes with 3m high ceiling as well as a powder room for guests use. The floor is made up of beautiful 90cm x 30cm marble slabs in matt color – this is probably the most eye pleasing marble flooring we have seen till date. And best of all, you do not just get marble floor in the living/dining area. The kitchen, all the bathrooms and even the balcony area are “marbled” up, which definitely provide an added dimension of class to the whole apartment.

And if you think the living/dining area is huge, the L-shaped balcony/planter box area is gigantic – we are talking about at least 300sqft of space here, and you can probably host 2 tables of mahjong and still have plenty of space to go around. This is definitely one of the most functional balconies we have come across so far. We were also told that the doors separating the balcony and living room are designed to "fold" to one side and this can done via remote control - cool!

The apartment comes with both wet (Asian) and dry (Gourmet) kitchens – the dry kitchen table was converted to a 6-seater dining table in the showflat, which frees up even more space in the living room – not that you really need the additional living room space but a nice idea anyhow. The kitchen area is good sized, and fully equipped with “Smeg” (German brand) appliances – you get induction as well as convention hobs, hood, both steam and conventional ovens, dishwasher and a 2-door fridge built into the cabinet behind the dry kitchen. The kitchen worktop is of very good quality with nice "stone like" color, while the top and bottom kitchen cabinets all have “anti-slam” doors/drawers.

There yard space behind the kitchen is generous, even after you put in the “Smeg” washing machine and a separate dryer that the developer has thrown in for good measure. Your domestic helper will love her bathroom, as it is one of the largest we have encountered in our showflat visits thus far. However, you may have to custom fit the single bed into the utility room, which seemed a tad small. There is a back door access in the yard.

The “main” bedroom area is tucked at one end of the unit. The two common bedrooms are regular shaped and good sized, and come with nice-looking “white oak” strip floors. The wardrobe provided looked to be very good quality too. We especially like the design of the wardrobe doors – these comes in 3 panels that can be folded neatly to the sides, which saves space compared to the conventional doors that open outwards. The two bedrooms share a bathroom located in between the rooms – you find a standing shower stall with rain shower fitted, and “Hansgrohe/Duravit” bathroom and toilet fittings.

The master bedroom is huge – you can fit a King bed plus a small coffee table with 2 chairs and still have ample room to walk around. The wardrobe space provided is generous compared to many other projects, but for some reason the master bedroom wardrobe did not have the same “foldable” doors found in the common bedrooms, which would otherwise have made it perfect. The master bathroom is again very good size, and comes with a standing shower stall (rain shower) as well as an adjacent long tub. The usual “Hansgrohe/Duravit” fittings apply.

What we like:
What is there not to like about CENTENNIA SUITES, other than possibly… the price?
• The location is superb - within 5 minutes’ drive from CBD & Orchard.

• The project resides along the riverfront, with all the 4-bedders facing the Singapore River.

• Your amenity needs can almost be completely satisfied at Great World City just across the road.

• The unit layout is well designed and the quality of furnishings/fittings provided is probably the best that we have seen so far.

• The much sought after River Valley Primary School (co-ed) is well within 1-km of the project.

• And what’s more: Zouk is just a stone throw away for all you party animals!

What we dislike:
• There is a slight design flaw with the built-in fridge, which was spotted by the wife – the cabinet that houses the fridge is full-height, but the fridge itself is not. As such, the designer has incorporated some shelving spaces on top of the fridge. However, you can only access to the shelves by opening the cabinet doors, which will also open the fridge doors at the same time. So if you have to, for example, clean the shelves on top of the fridge, you will have to leave the fridge open for the whole duration of the cleaning.

• And speaking of built-in fridge, the wife and I are no big fan of "built-in" kitchen appliances. Sure, it does look elegant when everything is flushed into the wall cabinets. But what do you do if your fridge dies after a couple of years and you cannot find an exact replacement or a substitute in the exact same size and dimension?

• There is probably one too many condo along the stretch of Kim Seng Road – starting with Cosmopolitan at the Kim Seng/River Valley Road junction, then The Trillium, CENTENNIA SUITES, Mirage Tower and Trebeca all lined up next to each other. In addition, you also have Tiara across the road. And residents with cars at all these developments will have to use Kim Seng Road to get in/out of their condos. So you can expect the traffic on this already busy stretch of road to increase significantly once all the projects are ready for occupation - this is certainly bad news for yours truly, as the wife and I use Kim Seng Road quite frequently in our daily commute.

As for pricing, the current selling price for units at CENTENNIA SUITES range from slightly over $2000psf to around $2300psf. As an illustration, a 1755sqft 3-Bedroom unit (#11-02) is priced at $3.563 million, which equates to about $2030psf. The monthly maintence for the 3-bedder is about $460. A 4-bedder unit will cost you in excess of $4.8 million.

In summary, you probably may not like the price of CENTENNIA SUITES much. But at least you are paying good money for good quality, which is more than we can say for some of the other newly launched projects we have seen so far. This is definitely one development the wife and I will put money on, as soon as we get our hands on a few million dollars. Contributors are most welcomed… anyone?

Click to view pictures and floor plans of CENTENNIA SUITES:

Friday, March 26, 2010

76 SHENTON sold out within the first day!


According to The Straits Times today, the 76 SHENTON condominium in the CBD was sold out in one day during the preview as hundreds of buyers made a beeline for the prime project yesterday.

There were so many people vying for one of the 202 units that balloting was needed to sort out who got first crack. About 300 names were in the ballot, with the buyers being mostly Singaporean investors and permanent residents.

The Hong Leong Holdings project has nothing over 1,000sqft, i.e.
• 134 units are 1-bedders from 592 – 624sqft
• 68 units are 2-bedders from 968 – 975sqft


One-bedroom units were priced between $1600 and $2600psf, or about $1.2 million. Two-bedroom units went for between $1600 - $2300psf, or about $2 million.

Hong Leong credited the strong sales to the development’s “prime location, its attractive pricing, a solid design and healthy pre-launch interest”.

Another selling point of 76 SHENTON, besides its supposed reasonable pricing and the small unit sizes (i.e. lower capital outlay), was that even units on the lower floors would get a sea view.

The 99-year leasehold condominium has 39 floors of residences and commercial space that will feature seven restaurants and retail units. The project is expected to be completed by late 2014.

So THIS is one that the wife and I can strike off from our “To View List”…

Strong take up seen at REFLECTIONS AT KEPPEL BAY

reflections @the bay

Waterfront apartments at REFLECTIONS AT KEPPEL BAY are riding high on the property wave, with 710 of the 740 units launched at the 99-year leasehold project already sold - according to a report in the BT yesterday.

At the latest launch at the weekend, 29 of 30 units released in tower block 2B - touted as the block with the best view - were bought. The average selling price of these units - two to four-bedroom apartments, one penthouse and a 13,300sqft super penthouse - was $2200psf, with the highest price hitting $2600psf. Market sources say the lowest price was about $1700-$1750psf.

Keppel Corp owns 70% of the development, while its property arm Keppel Land owns the other 30%. Keppel is looking to release another 20 more units in tower 2B, and may launch between 100-200 apartments for the entire year, depending on demand.

REFLECTIONS AT KEPPEL BAY will be completed by the first half of 2012. It comprises six towers and 11 villa apartment blocks, featuring a total of 1,129 waterfront apartments along a 750-metre shore line.

The wife and I have actually visited the sales gallery/showflats sometime during the later half of last year (i.e. before we started our blog). And frankly, we were not at all impressed with the design and layout of the showflat units. So mybe it's appropriate time for us to make another visit to see if our opinions do change.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Live in the same building as Jackie Chan (maybe)... at CENNTENNIA SUITES

The BT today reported that Hong Kong movie superstar Jackie Chan and his good friend - singer/songwriter Emil Chau (Chau Wakin) - bought four apartments at Lippo Group's freehold CENTENNIA SUITES last week. The four units, worth over $10 million, are on the mid to high floors of the 36-storey condominium project, which is being built on the former Kim Seng Plaza site.

Mr Chan is said to have picked up three units - two, three and four-bedroom apartments - making up an entire floor. Mr Chau purchased a three-bedder.

The 97-unit District 9 development, which is expected to be completed in 2013, is now almost half sold.

The average price is about $2000 - $2100psf. The range of prices achieved is $1900psf to nearly $2200psf. Lippo began selling the project last month.

So...Rush (to buy) Hour, maybe? Okay, THAT is corny we know. :)


THE VISION - Sales Update

The wife and I understand that THE VISION, termed "The Jewel of the West" by some marketing agents, is more than 70% sold after the first week of its launch.

However, there are still some 2- and 3-bedroom units on the high floors available. Prices range from $928 - $1250psf.

Do look out for our review this weekend!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Private Residential Units Sold (Feb 2010)

The following data is courtesy of Urban Redevelopment Authorities (URA).

The list consists of projects that the wife and I have reviewed so far.

Look in particular at WATERSCAPE @CAVENAGH - all 82 units launched in February were fully sold!
Private Residential Properties Sold (Feb 2010)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Want a piece of real estate within a ski resort?

Then you may want to check out Spruce Park @Stowe in Vermont, USA. This is a new alpine community at the base of Spruce Peak. Surrounded by 2,000 acres (1 acre = 43,560sqft) of protected open space, Spruce Peak is a year round community with unlimited adventure – you can ski in the winter, golf in the summer, and enjoy spa treatments and “Farm to Table” cuisine whole year round.

Spruce Peak @Stowe

There are two types of apartment available for sale:

Stowe Mountain Lodge
This features a limited selection of whole-ownership condominiums, ranging from 1 to 3-bedrooms. Each apartment comes with
    Spacious private terraces
    Fully equipped gourmet kitchen
    Custom furnishings
    Washer & Dryer
    Gas Fireplace
    Rainforest polished marble flooring
    Marble bathrooms with shower and tub
    “Simon Pearce” china and flatwear
    Goose down beds, pillows and duvets
    Flat screen televisions
    Ski valet and storage
Prices for the apartments start from High US$300,000’s.

Mountain Cabins
This features 3,000sqft of 4- and 5-bedroom ski-in/ski-out residences. Prices are from US$2,000,000.

Those interested can check out the website at www.livestowe.com or better yet, make a visit to Spruce Peak @Stowe yourself. The address is
   7320 Mountain Road, Stowe, VT05672
   Tel: 1-888-401-3695

And no, the wife and I are not marketing agents for Spruce Park @Stowe. But it is really a nice scenic place to own a holiday home especially if you enjoy skiing and have the cash to spare.

Check out our photos of Spruce Peak @Stowe here:

Sunday, March 21, 2010


The wife and I have received an email today informing us of the impending launch of NATHAN SUITES on 2nd April 2010 (TBC).

NATHAN SUITES is located within walking distance to the Good Class Bungalow Zone of Bishopgate. All units are supposedly orientated to overlook the verdant greenery of Bishopgate. Each apartment will be furnished with luxury brand names such as Poggenpohl, Gaggenau and Laufen etc. The living/dining room floors will be fitted with imported marble pieces that measure 60cm by 90cm in size – a rarity compared to the usual 60cm x 60cm marble slabs found in most other new projects.
Site Plan

Here are the preliminary project details:

Description: Condominium housing development comprising 1 block of 24-storey

Developer: TID Pte Ltd - A joint venture between Hong Leong Group and Mitsui Fudosan

Location: 21 Nathan Road (District 10)

Site Area: 47,098sqft

Tenure: Freehold

Total Carpark Lots: 72 (Basement carpark)

Expected Date of Vacant Possession: 31st August 2014

Total No of Units: 65
Type                    Size            No of Units
2-bedroom     915 - 926sqft          19
3-bedroom   1442 - 1808sqft        28
4-bedroom   2024 - 2067sqft        16
Penthouse    4747 - 4812sqft         2

Facilities: Function Room with kitchen, Changing Rooms with steam rooms, Gymnasium, Lap Pool, Hydrotherapy Pool, BBQ, Fitness Corner, Suntan Deck, Yoga Deck, Splash Pool, Water Hammock, Children's Playground, Water Features and Feature Gardens.


Elevation Chart
Elevation Chart

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Okay, this is NOT exactly property related...

The wife and I, with our little son in tow, are in Vermont this week. We visited the Ben & Jerry's main factory in Waterbury today.

Ben & Jerry's, as most of you may know well, is an American ice cream company famous for its funky flavors such as "Chunky Monkey", "Phish Food" (named after a Vermont band) etc. It was founded by lifelong friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfieldan in 1978 in Burlington, Vermont. And in 2000, Ben & Jerry's became a division of the British-Dutch Unilever conglomerate.

We just thought you might enjoy these pictures as much as we enjoyed taking them.

Funky looking factory
B&J (Factory)
Employee Benefit?
B&J (Loafing Zone)
Move aside, Batmobile...
B&J (The Cowmobile)
Flavor Graveyard
Here lies all the ice cream flavors that are discontinued
Flavor Graveyard
Grave #1
Grave #2
Grave #3
Grave #4

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Private Residential Units Sold (Jan 2010)

The following data is courtesy of Urban Redevelopment Authorities (URA).

The list includes projects that the wife and I have reviewed to date - all 4 pages of them.

URA Data (Jan 2010)

Monday, March 15, 2010


District: 19
Location: Yio Chu Kang/Serangoon
Address: 30 & 32 Yio Chu Kang Road
Developer: Frasers Centrepoint Homes
Tenure: Freehold

The wife and I were attracted by the full page advertisement for RESIDENCE BOTANIQUE that was running in the papers for the past 2 weeks. So we decided to go check the project out.

Marketin Tag

RESIDENCE BOTANIQUE is an 81-unit low-rise condo project consisting of 2 Blocks of 5-storey each. This freehold projects sits on an odd-shaped plot of land of about 57,400sqft, and current expected TOP is Dec 2012 or latest by 1Q 2013.

The actual site/sales gallery is located along Yio Chu Kang Road, right across from Serangoon Stadium. However, you really need to make an effort to find the small sales gallery, as it has a small frontage and also overshadowed by all the construction work that is being carried out at Wembley Residences next door.

Despite this being a small project, there are quite a number of different unit types and sizes available at RESIDENCE BOTANIQUE:

• Studio + Study (8 units): 495-517sqft
• 2-Bedroom (8 units): 850 – 893sqft
• 2-Bedroom + Study (16 units): 861 – 969sqft
• 3-Bedroom (30 units): 1152 – 1184sqft
• 3-Bedroom + Study or Utility (6 units): 1233sqft
• 2-Bedroom Duplex (10 units): 969 – 1055sqft
• 3-Bedroom Duplex (1 unit): 1647sqft
• 4-Bedroom Duplex (2 units): 1981 – 1991sqft

The facilities in RESIDENCE BOTANIQUE are rather basic – you get a main pool that separates the two blocks, children’s pool, spa pool with cabana, a clubhouse with gym and function rooms, BBQ terrace and a “spice garden”. No tennis court or lap-pool here, but we like the fact that the BBQ terrace is tucked at one end and away from the 2 apartment blocks, so there is less likelihood of complaint from residents about smoke or noise coming from the “BBQ-ers”.

Site Plan

A grand total of 81 basement carpark lots are available, so there is unlikely to be visitor parking. However, there is ample parking at the public carpark just across the road, which is definitely a relief for those with friends/families that want to visit.

The main entrance to RESIDENCE BOTANIQUE is on Yio Chu Kang Road, but there is also a pedestrian gate access at the back of the condo that opens out to Sirat Road. We were told that it is about a 10-minutes walk to Serangoon MRT Station and the upcoming NEX Mall, which according to the marketing agent, will be larger than Centrepoint.

The wife and I were rather disappointed as there is no showflat on display at the sales gallery. What you get is a “display gallery” showing how the living room, kitchen and common bathroom are furnished and fitted. However, it is not an actual unit layout so you cannot gauge the actual amount of living space. We reckon that the developer is probably trying to minimize cost by not having a full showflat unit – this is just a small “middle end” project after all.

What you get in terms of furnishings/fittings are:
• 60cm x 60cm homogenous tiles for the living/dining area and kitchen.

• 2.9m ceiling height (not bad!)

• “Electrolux” hob/hood/oven and “Grohe” faucets in the kitchen.

• Top and Bottom set of kitchen cabinets and a set of “Blum” drawers. A “pull out” spice rack (bottom) and a drying rack (top) are also installed within the cabinet – we find the later rather strange as you will typically install the drying rack in the open to facilitate… drying. You may end up with a musky smelling cabinet if you keep the drying rack inside. Also note that the cabinet doors are not the “anti-slam” type.

• The common bathroom looked to be of decent size (if the display is an actual representation). It has 60cm x 30cm marble flooring, but the walls are part marble and part ceramic tiles (which is rather strange). You only get standing shower stalls with wall-mounted “hand-held shower” – this is supposedly standard for both the common and master bathroom, so those looking to laze in your own bath tub will be disappointed. The bathroom/toilet fittings are from “Grohe” and “Duravit” respectively.

Overall, the quality of furnishings/fittings is nothing much to shout about. From what we can see in the floor plans, the bigger units do come with a proper yard and Utility/bathroom for housing your domestic helper. But we have absolutely no idea what the common room/master bedroom look like – a bedroom wardrobe is on display (average quality) but when we tried to open it, a big mean-looking cockroach came scuttering out. That ensured a premature end to our wardrobe inspection.

What we like:
Can we get back to you on this one? BUT SERIOUSLY, the wife and I are really struggling to find anything good to say about RESIDENCES BOTANIQUE. The living/dining area & bedrooms for the different unit layouts seem to be regular shape with no odd-corner/space – according to the floor plans in the marketing brochure at least. But it is about the only thing we “like” about this project.

What we dislike:
• The quality of furnishings/fittings is very “average” especially in relation to the selling price.

• RESIDENCE BOTANIQUE is sandwiched between Wembley Residences on one side, some pre-war shop houses on the other, and a row of landed houses along Sirat Road at the back. And given that the blocks only go up to 5-Storey, the only view you get (if you are lucky) is that of the main pool area in the middle of the estate. Our marketing agent did mention that some units may also get the “pool view” from Wembley Residences next door – we are still wondering if she was just joking or is THAT really a marketing tact?!

• Although primary schools like Cedar Girls, Paya Lebar Methodist Girls and Kuo Chuan Presbyterian are listed as within close proximity to RESIDENCE BOTANIQUE, none of these is actually within 1-km of the project. In fact, we cannot identify any primary school that is.

Price wise, the selling price of units at RESIDENCE BOTANIQUE average around $1050psf. The 1152sqft 3-Bedder unit (#04-01) is priced at $1,265,400 after discount, which translates to about $1098psf. Frasers Centrepoint has also introduced two other types of discount for this project:

• Loyalty Discount: additional 0.5% off if you have previously owned a unit in a Frasers Centrepoint project.

• Multiple Unit Purchase: additional 0.5% off if you buy 2 or more units in this project.

We understand that about 55 of the 81 units have been sold. These include all the 1-Bedroom as well as the two 4-Bedder Duplexes.

In summary, the wife and I feel that RESIDENCE BOTANIQUE is “mediocre” at best in terms of both location and quality. Given such, the selling price seems to be on the high side despite its freehold status.
View Slideshow of RESIDENCE BOTANIQUE here:

Saturday, March 13, 2010


More property launches are on their way. Agents are gathering interest for Ho Bee’s Seascape and City Developments’ The Residences at W, both at Sentosa Cove.

Sources say Seascape could be launched towards the end of the month, at asking prices of $2700 - $3000psf.

Agents are also advertising for Hong Leong Group’s 76 Shenton Way, said to comprise mostly one and two-bedders. BT understands it could be previewed at month-end, and agents are quoting prices above $2000psf.

And the private property wheel keeps on turning…


Friday, March 12, 2010

THE VISION - tallest and priciest condo in West Coast?

The Vision - Art1

The Business Times has reported that Cheung Kong will launch THE VISION at West Coast Crescent this week. The Hong Kong developer plans to release no more than 100 units at the 99-year leasehold project, and the average asking price will range from $1000 - $1200psf.

THE VISION comprises 281 apartments and 14 strata terrace units. The apartments will be housed in two towers – one with 33 levels and the other with 32. The project will be the tallest residential development in the area. It will have two-, three- and four-bedroom units ranging from 818 – 1604sqft. There will also be two penthouses. Going by the average asking price cited, a four-bedder could cost about $1.9 million.

The target psf price tag for units at THE VISION looks high compared with those at developments nearby. Just next door is the 99-year leasehold Blue Horizon, which was launched around 2001. Units there went for $764 - $808psf last month, as caveats lodged show.

Homes at Clementi-Woods Condominium in the vicinity changed hands at $836 - $957psf last month. It has a 99-year lease and entered the market in 2007.

But Cheung Kong is marketing THE VISION as a high-end project in the West Coast area – and that probably shows in the asking prices.

According to the developer, the construction cost is “high due to the quality finishes and high-end fittings used”. For instant, Cheung Kong says it will cost about three times more to build a bathroom in THE VISION than in a typical condominium.

The developer says it is confident there will be demand because of several factors. For one thing, the site is across the road from West Coast Park, and about 70% of units will enjoy unblocked sea views.

The area is also popular with expatriates. And this is a group which THE VISION is targeting, besides Singaporeans. BT understands that agents have collected cheques from potential buyers.

According to a property consultant, THE VISION’s target pricing could be “a bit strong” for owner-occupiers. Investors would not mind paying, if they believe property prices will continue rising, but they tend to be more interested in one-bedroom units. If the launch is successful, it will set the benchmark for developments in the West Coast area.

Do keep a lookout for our review of THE VISION in the coming weeks - the wife and I are certainly looking forward to those "costing three times more" bathrooms.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How much does the average new private home cost in Jan/Feb 2010?

The Business Times today reported that as developers released more upmarket projects, the average transaction value of private homes sold in the primary market in the first two months of this year rose to $1.78 million per unit, a study by CB Richard Ellis shows.

This is 37% higher than the $1.3 million average price of homes sold by developers for the whole of last year. But the figure for January and February 2010 is still shy of the $1.97 million average price in the bull year of 2007, according to CBRE’s analysis of URA Realis caveats data on March 5.

Reflecting the pattern of developers migrating to releasing higher-end projects towards the end of last year, after kicking off the year with mass-market launches, the priciest home in absolute dollar terms sold in the primary market since January 2007 was transacted in November last year – a $33.41 million junior penthouse at Far East Organization’s Boulevard Vue project. The price of the 8,051sqft unit works out to $4,150psf. The unit, which occupies the 30th and 31st levels of the 33-storey block, is believed to have been bought by Nippecraft non-executive chairwoman Linda Wijaya Limantara and her family. Nippercraft is part of the Asia Pulp & Paper group.

The unit’s absolute price surpassed that of the most expensive unit transacted in the primary market in 2007, when a 19th floor unit at The Marq on Paterson Hill sold for $31.4 million in July that year. That price equated to $5,100psf.

As for last year, another high-priced primary market deal was a bungalow at Kasara The Lake, located at Ocean Drive in Sentosa Cove, which fetched almost 14.43 million.

In January this year, the most expensive unit transacted in the primary market was a fourth-floor condo unit at Marina Collection on Sentosa Cove, at $10.3 million (or about $2,200psf). February’s priciest sale was a 16th floor unit at Urban Suites in the Cairnhill area - $10.43 million or $2,213psf.

A CBRE executive director reckons that the average dollar value of primary market transactions for the whole of this year is likely to be generally above last year’s figure as more high-end projects are slated for launch this year.

High-end projects primed for release this year include Seascape and The Residences at W, both at Sentosa Cove, phase 2 of Marina Bay Suites and a project at 76 Shenton Way in the downtown area, says CBRE. In the Orchard Road area, Ardmore III and projects on the sites of the former Anderson 18, Parisian, Grangeford and Beverly Mai are among expected launches.

Another reason why the average value of homes sold by developers this year is likely to surpass last years figures – more 99-year leasehold projects on recently sold Government Land Sale sites will be launched at higher prices because of their higher land costs and location attributes such as proximity to MRT stations.

And at the other end of the spectrum, the lowest absolute price for a unit sold by a developer in the first two months of this year was $437,880 for a fourth-floor apartment at Suites @Kovan in Upper Serangoon Road. The price for the 366sqft unit works out to $1,196psf.

For the whole of last year, the smallest primary market deal was $305,860, involving a 441sqft unit on the second storey of Ventura View at Rambutan Road, off Still Road. It was sold in August last year.

Looking at the reported figures, and putting things in perspective, $1.78 million is almost equivalent to winning the standard $600K first prize in Toto THRICE over – somber thought indeed!


Sunday, March 7, 2010

We have a Brand New Look!

After numerous "trial and error" and several (actually, quite a few) unsuccessful attempts later, we have finally found a blog template that we like and works!

And no, the wife and I DO NOT do this for a day job... as some of you may have been led to believe.

Then again, we are looking forward to that day... since THIS is definitely way more fun!


Do continue to support our blog!



District: 27
Location: Yishun
Address: 87 – 99 Yishun Ave 1
Developer: MCL Land
Tenure: 99 years wef 25th June 2008

After hearing about the supposed strong sales of THE ESTUARY over the private preview last week, the wife and I decided to drop by the sales gallery last evening to check the project out.

As construction of THE ESTUARY is already in progress, the sales gallery/showflats is located at a vacant plot adjacent to the actual site. We were met by a sea of people on arrival – a mix bag of potential buyers, curious onlookers (like yours truly) and marketing agents – despite the fact that it was already way after 5pm. We were later told that yesteray was the first day of the official launch of this project.

THE ESTUARY is a 608-unit mass market project developed by MCL Land, who is also the developer responsible for projects like The Esta, Hillcrest Villas, Waterfall Gardens and not forgetting our favorite (still) – Parvis. This 99-years Leasehold condo is made up of 7 blocks of between 15 to 17-storeys, and is sited on about 209,000sqft of land – supposedly the largest private residential plot in the Yishun area – at the junction of Yishun Ave 1 and 2. The expected TOP of THE ESTUARY is by mid-2013.

THE ESTUARY is marketed as a “waterfront living” project, as it is fronted by the Lower Seletar Reservoir. And since the condo is built on elevated ground, it provides residents with unobstructed reservoir view. THE ESTUARY is supposedly about 8-mins walk away from Khatib MRT Station, and also within a few minutes drive from North Point (amenities, shopping & dining) and the Orchid Golf and Country Club.
The units in THE ESTUARY come in several different layouts and sizes:
• 1-Bedroom: 592 – 603sqft
• 2-Bedrooms: 904 – 926sqft
• 2+Study: 1119sqft
• 3-Bedrooms: 1184 – 1302sqft
• 4-Bedrooms: 1453 – 1528sqft

There are “bigger unit” of the various apartment types available, but the additional area is only a reflection of the size of the PES/open terraces.

The facilities at THE ESTUARY are very extensive, as you can see from the site-plan below. But what is most noteworthy is that the roof top of the multi-storey carpark (3-levels, located at the back of the development) actually houses the gym, club house, BBQ area and the 50m lap-pool/spa pool/aqua-gym. And bucking the trend of "no tennis court" in many new projects these days, THE ESTUARY actually has TWO tennis courts. But the wife and I reckon that it is far easier to be generous on facilities when you are sitting on such a big piece of real estate.
For parking, a total of 632 carpark lots will be provided for the 608 units – again rather generous compared with many other new projects.
Site Plan

There are 3 types of showflat on display at the sales gallery. The first is a 1528sqft, 4-Bedroom unit (Type D). As you walk through the main door, a short walkway leads you into the rectangular-shaped living/dining area. The area comes with 60cm x 60cm homogenous tiles flooring and 2.75m height ceiling, and looked rather cramp even with just a small sofa & 6-seater dining table. The balcony/planter area is huge, lining all the way from the living room to the adjacent common room and then the master bedroom beyond that. We were told that the large balcony is a feature of all the bigger (i.e. 3 and 4-bedders) units in THE ESTUARY, as this allows residents to maximize their view of the reservoir from their balconies.
Type D

The kitchen is quite good size and comes with “Ariston” hob/hood/oven, “Hansgrohe” faucets and top & bottom set of kitchen cabinets with anti-slam drawers. We were not particularly impressed with the look of the appliances/furnishing provided. A small yard is found at the end of the kitchen, with probably enough space for the washing machine and no much else – so you can probably forget about hanging and ironing of laundry here. The home shelter may not allow you to fit a standard single-bed if you intend to use it as the maid’s room, but she will at least have her own bathroom to wash up.

The common bath has homogenous tiles for floor and walls, and comes with a standing shower stall with wall mounted “hand-shower”. You also get “Hansgrohe” and “Duravit” bathroom/toilet fittings.

All three common bedrooms are regular shaped but rather small. This is especially with the one that is adjacent to the living room, which is probably more suited to be used as a study rather than a bedroom. And occupants of the three common bedrooms will have to share the same common bathroom.

The “small” theme extends to the master bedroom - you have hardly any space left for additional furniture after fitting in your “Queen” bed. But you can walk out to the balcony area to enjoy the view directly from here. The master bathroom is quite decent size, and comes with “His” and “Her” bathroom sinks (so no fighting over who gets to brush teeth first in the morning). It comes with homogenous tiles for walls/floor, “Hangrohe/Duravit” fittings and bay windows that line the walls behind the sink and long bath area. A separate standing shower stall is next to the long bath, and come fitted with wall mounted “rain-shower” – i.e. the shower head sticks out from the wall rather than from the ceiling.

And just like the kitchen, the wife and I are hardly impressed by the quality of furnishings and fittings provided in all the bedrooms and bathrooms. The bathroom sinks in particular are rather "Budget” looking (no offence).

For the sake of simplicity, we like to highlight that the furnishings and fittings for the other 2 showflats are identical to the 4-Bedroom showflat. So we are just going to commend on the layouts.

The next showflat is a 1216sqft, 3-Bedroom unit (Type C). The layout is quite similar to the 4-bedder – you get an even smaller rectangular shaped living/dining area and a square-shaped balcony. The master bedroom is adjacent to the living room, while the living room balcony actually extends to the rectangular balcony/planter area outside the master bedroom (see floor plan). The whole balcony/planter area is far too big if you ask us, especially in relation to the small living/dining area.

The rectangular-shaped kitchen is quite decent size, but there is little to no yard space to work with. It will be a challenge just to fit a washing machine in this yard. The home shelter/bathroom is about the same size as the 4-bedder showflat.

The common bath is fairly good size, while the two common rooms and master bedroom are again rather small. So while it will be relatively easy for you to outfit the bedrooms due to their regular shape, there will however not be much “room” to outfit. The master bathroom is rather compact, and comes with a single bathroom sink and standing shower stall only (no long bath).
Type C

The last showflat is a 926sqft, 2-Bedroom unit (Type B). The layout in this unit is quite different from the other two (understandably with the size) – a small rectangular living/dining area, a balcony/planter area that is probably too extravagant for a unit of this size, a small rectangular strip of a kitchen with just enough “yard” space to house a washing machine, a home shelter located in the living area opposite to the common bathroom and a small but regular-shaped common room. However, the wife and I were pleasantly surprised by the size of the master bedroom, which actually felt bigger than the one in the 3-bedder showflat. The master bathroom is also rather generous in size for a 926sqft unit.
Type B

What we like:
• The reservoir view is really quite pleasant – the developer has deliberately built the showflats on the second level of the sales gallery with full height glass windows looking out towards the reservoir. So you can imagine what the view is like if you have a reservoir facing unit on, say, the 10th floor.

• Kathib MRT Station is about 8-mins walk away, and it is about a 20-mins ride from here to Orchard and about half an hour to the CBD (we think, since we hardly use the MRT). This should be a good enough reason to ditch the car and save you from the hassle of traveling up/down the CTE especially during rush hours. The wife and I were told that traffic situation at the CTE is no longer that bad, but our experiences in using this expressway have been more bad than good thus far.

What we dislike:
• The internal living area of the 3 and 4-Bedroom units are too small for our comfort. Given the large balcony/planter area for these layouts, something has to give. But not many of us can sit in the balcony and stare at the reservoir throughout the day, especially when it rains.

• The quality of furnishings and fittings has left relatively little to be desired. Maybe this is the current standard for mass market projects (see our review for WATERFRONT KEY), but it is still quite difficult for the wife and I to come to terms with the fact that THIS is what you can only expect to get for an apartment costing slightly more than a million dollars these days.

• Having a large balcony for residents to enjoy the reservoir view is a good idea, BUT having a large balcony with little or no yard space is not. You will probably end up with owners hanging their laundries out to dry at the balcony, which calls for an ugly sight as you drive past the condo. For an idea of what we are talking about, just drive along Ulu Pandan Road and slow down as you hit Pandan Valley.

• We can only find just one primary school that is within 1-km of THE ESTUARY - Pei Yang Primary. The consolation is that it is co-ed, so equal opportunity for parents with son or daughter.

As of last evening, more than 480 units at THE ESTUARY have already been sold. The take-up rate is quite astonishing, as the project only started previewing last week and yesterday was the first day of official launch. And for those eyeing the 4-Bedroom units, you be disappointed to know that they are all sold out.

Price wise, a 1302sqft, 3-bedder (#13-16) will cost you $1,039,500. This equates to about $798psf. In comparison, recent transactions for similar size units at the 99-years leasehold Orchid Park Condo (just down the road from THE ESTUARY) were done at price range of $502 – $564psf. One can argue that Orchid Park is about 16 years old, while THE ESTUARY is brand new and much nearer to the MRT. But we will let you decide on which is a better deal.

In summary, the wife and I feel that THE ESTUARY will probably be popular with HDB upgraders living around the Yishun area. This looked to be the case judging from the crowd we saw at the sales gallery yesterday. There seems to be a genuine fear among HDB upgraders/first time buyers that they will miss the boat if they do not put money on a private property now, given the phenomenal increase in property prices during the past year. But to pay $800 - $900psf for an apartment in Yishun? The judgment is probably still out on whether this is a good call, but the wife and I will not wager on it.

View Slideshow of THE ESTUARY here:

Friday, March 5, 2010

Record Bid for Buangkok EC site

We read in the Business Times today that a 99-year leasehold executive condominium (EC) housing site near Buangkok MRT Station has fetched the highest ever bid for an EC site.

The top bid from a partnership between Frasers Centrepoint and Lum Chang Building Contractors of $193.28 million or about $315 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) surpassed the previous record of $220psf ppr for the Summerdale EC site in Boon Lay in May 1997.

The tender drew a total of 11 bids, reflecting developers’ continuing hunger for land. The top bid came in slightly above market expectations in January, when the HDB launched the site. ECs are a hybrid of private and public housing – it is built by private developers but buyers are subjected to HDB rules and regulations on eligibility for purchase of such apartments.

With Lum Chang expected to provide construction services for the project, the tie-up should be able to minimize construction costs, as noted by industry observers. By some market estimates, their breakeven cost for a new EC project could be below $600psf. The duo is expected to build a higher proportion of small units to try and achieve higher per square foot selling prices. But there will be a limit as to how small the apartments can be, given the high standard of public housing set in the area, e.g. HDB Aspella, comprising premium HDB flats next to Buangkok MRT Station.

A possible option, and one which Frasers Centrepoint has done before, is to have some apartments with its “dual-key concept”, where a regular-sized apartment and a granny flat (with its own kitchenette and bathroom) are packaged as a single unit.

It is believed that Lum Chang could sell their units in the $650 - $680psf range on average. Based on that, a 1,200sqft unit in the new development would be priced at about $800,000. A Fraser Centrepoint spokesman has said that they plan to build about 500-plus units on the site.

In the secondary market, three EC projects in the north-east region – The Rivervale, Florida and Park Green – have sold at $520 - $600psf between Oct 2009 and Feb 2010.

EC are strata-titled apartments with facilities comparable to private condos. New ECs are sold with initial eligibility, ownership and resale restrictions similar to public housing; but these are completely removed after 10 years.

Amongst the buyer eligibility criteria is a maximum $10,000 monthly household income. Qualifying first-time buyers who purchase new ECs may also apply for a $30,000 CPF housing grant.

The wining tenderer will have to set aside 95% of units in the initial month of sale for first-time buyers – those who have yet to receive a housing subsidy from government. Second timers buying new ECs do not need to pay the resale levy.

What amazes the wife and I most about the BT report was… $800K for a 1,200sqft EC in Buangkok?! We are certainly living in crazy times indeed!


Thursday, March 4, 2010

More private addresses in Shenton Way soon!

The Business Times reported that some one million square feet of office space in the Central Business District (CBD) is likely to be converted into at least 1,000 private homes over the next 3 years.

Property analysts say that with the Marina Bay financial district now taking distinct shape, developers are looking to recycle older office buildings in the current CBD in anticipation of business activity moving to the hotspot.

Redevelopment plans are also motivated by climbing luxury home prices which contrast sharply with falling office rents.

Hong Leong Holdings is already redeveloping 76 Shenton Way, which has a net lettable area (NLA) of about 92,700sqft of office space. The 202-unit residential project due to come up on the site is likely to be launched within the next few weeks.

Elsewhere in Shenton Way, UIC has received permission to redevelop UIC Building into a mostly residential project. The property has close to 400,000sqft of office space and conversion could start as early as this year.

Office real estate investment trust (Reit) CapitaCommercial Trust also said in January that it is looking at redeveloping Starhub Centre on Cuppage Road into a residential and commercial project with up to 80% of the gross floor area devoted to residential use. The property currently has an NLA of about 280,000sqft and analysts estimate that 200-300 upmarket homes could be built on the site.

Other office properties that could be converted (either fully or partly) into private homes include KOP Capital’s The Spazio on Cecil Street, and three buildings owned by Fission Group and Yi Kai Group – VTB Building on Robinson Road, Aviva Building and Cecil House on Cecil Street.

In all, around one million square feet of office space could be removed from the market and transformed into upmarket homes.

Such trend is not new. Developers were looking to convert selected office space into residential use as far back as 2007. City Developments, for example, launched its One Shenton residential project in Jan 2007, converting an office block into residential space. Since then, 316 apartments in the 341-unit project have been sold, with many going for more than $2000psf.

But other such plans were put on hold when in May 2007, fearing a shortage of office space, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) called a halt to all conversion of offices in the central area to curb further depletion of existing stock. The ban was lifted in late 2008 as fears of an office space oversupply emerged. With the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort now ready to open its door and the entire Marina Bay area taking shape, developers are now taking another look at their buildings located in the current CBD.

City living has, in recent years, become more popular and luxury home prices are expected to climb this year. With the theme of working, living and playing in 21st century Singapore fast becoming a lifestyle reality, there is a great potential in quality residential developments in the core central region. UBS Investment Research, for example, expects luxury home prices to rise 40% in 2010 to reach $4000psf and maintains that prime home prices (in districts 9, 10, 11) could reach 2007 levels this year.

Falling office rents and an upcoming glut of office supply also means that office rents are widely expected to continue falling. Property firm Savills expects a 20-25% fall in Grade A office rents in Singapore this year. The conversion of some office space into residential units will lend support to rents, analysts said.

UBS Research said in January that it now expects over one million square sqft of office space to be removed in 2010 and 2011, instead of the 550,000sqft expected earlier.

So, developers are converting offices in the current CBD to residential now that luxury home prices are supposedly expected to shoot up the ceiling this year. But the wife and I wonder what will happen once the private property prices head south… another conversion from residential to luxury hotels/serviced apartments or even hostels maybe? :)


Monday, March 1, 2010

Did you see the new TRIZON Ad in the papers yesterday?

The wife and I were pleasantly surprised by the clever ad in The Sunday Times yesterday for the launch of TRIZON phase 2.

At least some Developer are starting to get creative with their advertising.

But what about...

4. Don't exaggerate! (at least not too much)


5. Don't chase the market! We really really believe that the market is heading towards a price correction (downward) in 3Q 2010 or early 4Q 2010. Call it a... hunch.