Singapore may be an island, but with much of our coastline reclaimed and used for major industries like shipping and building a financial hub, actual seafront homes are rare these days. In online forums, some purists insist that only projects genuinely situated by the sea, like Sentosa’s The Oceanfront and its landed properties, and Keppel Bay’s Reflections, Caribbean and Corals trio of condominiums should be considered properly seafront, eschewing those with a huge highway between the projects and waterways.
With property being a bit of a national obsession, it’s no wonder that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had us all abuzz during the National Day Rally last August. By 2027, PSA International’s Tanjong Pagar, Keppel and Pulau Brani terminals, along with the Pasir Panjang terminal in 2040, will be moved to Tuas, freeing up prime land for redevelopment. “It will be an opportunity to reshape the Greater Southern Waterfront (GSW) into a new place to live, work and play,” said PM Lee.
Covering 30km of the coastline, from the Gardens by the Bay East area to Pasir Panjang, the GSW occupies 2,000ha of land – six times the size of Marina Bay and double that of Punggol. There will be a new business cluster in this coveted city-fringe location, currently home to multinational firms such as Google, Unilever and Cisco. It will include a new attraction similar to Universal Studios and a Downtown South resort on the revamped Pulau Brani. Most excitingly, this “Punggol by the Bay”, as christened by PM Lee. will see 9,000 new private and public housing units, with waterfront promenades, greenery and open spaces developed on the current Keppel Club when its lease expires at the end of 2021.
Serbina Goh, associate division director at PropNex Realty, has produced an e-book to keep buyers abreast of the goings-on in the GSW. In Singapore’s well-regulated REALTYproperty market, with our government constantly keeping tabs on the market and planning ahead for the future, Serbina says investors can enjoy huge potential upsides simply by “following the government’s direction and entering into developments with the right entry price.”
“One of the important aspects that has helped to add value to the district is the transformation of the Marina Bay district over the years,” adds Ceekay Soh, PropNex Realty’s associate group director. Once home to bowling centres and steamboat restaurants, it has since become a massive reclaimed land with Marina Bay Sands and the Marina Bay Financial Centre. “The improved connectivity with added MRT lines such as the Downtown and Circle Lines have proven to be a big plus, too. We can also expect more benefits with the Thomson East Coast Line coming up, as well as the Circle Line that will finally become a full circle in 2025 with the addition of the Prince Edward, Cantonment and Keppel stations.”
Since the announcement about the GSW, Serbina has seen an increase in interest from buyers who are planning ahead. Here are three ways that can also help you to strategise your way into owning a little piece of the GSW heaven.
INVEST IN A NEW HOME NEAR THE GSW
Right after PM Lee’s communique, developers and agents selling condo projects in the region immediately added it to their marketing spiel. Avenue South Residence at Silat Avenue, for example, has positioned itself as “the gateway to Greater Southern Waterfront”. Technically, many other projects close to the 30km coastline can probably claim the same.
Besides Avenue South Residence, which gets its temporary occupation permit (TOP) in 2023 and is marketing its units at $775,000 to $3.519m, other upcoming projects that will benefit from name-dropping GSW include Sky Everton (TOP in 2023; $996,000 to $7.106m) and Kent Ridge Hill Residences (TOP in 2024; $754,000 to $3.172m).
Describing the GSW announcement as “truly a game changer for Districts 1, 2, 4, 5 and 7”, Serbina advises that it is important to enter as a first-mover buyer before future land prices escalate further, which would mean paying more for your investment. Buying early in the game, and at the right time, often gives investors the greatest capital appreciation. She cites The Sail as an example of the greatest upside she has seen so far. “First-hand owners bought their units at around $800 psf on average during its launch phase, but I’ve seen it go to as high as over $3,000 psf.”
BUY A UNIT AT A COMPLETED GSW AREA PROJECT
The first mover’s advantage can also extend to buying a resale unit, where prices may be more reasonable. Serbina notes that there is a good mix of completed properties such as Marina One Residences, V On Shenton and Reflections at Keppel Bay.
Christine Li, head of research services at global property consultancy Cushman & Wakefield Singapore, told a local newspaper that when construction starts, and despite the minimal impact on existing housing projects in the area due to blocked views and construction noise as well as dust, “housing prices are expected to appreciate over the long term because of the injection of more commercial and entertainment activities.”
Indeed, several Reflections owners told us that they were buoyed by the news of a new mixed development next door. Leo JS, who lives in a two-bedroom with a study unit, was contemplating selling and moving to a bigger home, but reconsidered when PM Lee revealed the plans for GSW. “With more amenities in the future, it can only be a good thing and will boost my property’s value.”
Current units on sale at the eight-year-old Reflections range from a modest $1.38m for a two-bedroom of 775 sq ft to a whopping $68m for a three-storey, 13,304 sq ft, seven-bedroom super penthouse. If that is overstretching your budget (just a tad!), current prices at the 15-year-old Caribbean range from $1.4m RF123for an 894 sq ft two-bedroom to $5.5m for a 3,541 sq ft four-bedroom. At the four-year-old Corals, a 624 sq ft one-bedroom is being marketed at $1.35m and a 7,395 sq ft five-bedroom for $19m.
GET IN THE QUEUE FOR A BTO HDB FLAT IN THE GSW AREA
Although there has not been an announcement about when BTO flats at the Keppel Club site will be ready for application, development of the GSW will take place over the next five to 10 years. However, we’re sure it will draw massive interest, thanks to its attractive location, sea view, proximity to the nearby business parks and Vivo City, and walking distance to the Labrador Park and Telok Blangah MRT stations.
Expect to pay premium prices similar to what The Pinnacle@Duxton commands. It made the news when nine resale units sold for S$1m or more each in 2015, after the flats met their minimum occupation period (MOP). At two to three times their launch prices, this marked the first time ‘regular’ four- and five-room HDB flats had hit the six-figure mark.
While envious folks say that successfully balloting for a home at The Pinnacle@Duxton is akin to striking the lottery, the government is looking at ways to tighten sales conditions of future HDB flats at the GSW. These may include having a shorter lease than the standard 99 years, a higher resale levy or a MOP lengthier than the current five years, according to Minister for National Development Laurence Wong.
One way to up your chances is to take advantage of the Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS). If you live in the Telok Blangah or Keppel Bay area, you’re in luck if you are within 4km of the nearest block of the new BTO project. You or your child’s household can then ballot for a unit under the MCPS, which is allocated for up to 30 per cent of the available units for first-time applicants, and up to 15 per cent for second-timers.
A Reflections resident is planning to do just that. “I’m holding onto my unit to give my son an advantage when he applies for a BTO flat in the GSW in future. There’s no guarantee, of course, because he’s only in his teens. But, if the new flats are open for application when he’s ready to settle down, why not give it a shot? Now all he has to do is find the right wife!” laughs the eager mum.
1. Reflections at Keppel Bay, one of the few actual seafront condominiums in Singapore.
“ONE OF THE IMPORTANT ASPECTS THAT HAS HELPED TO ADD VALUE TO [GSW] IS THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE MARINA BAY DISTRICT OVER THE YEARS”
– CEEKAY SO, ASSOCIATE GROUP DIRECTOR AT PROPNEX REALTY
2. The Marina Bay District’s transformation could add value to the Greater Southern Waterfront.
3. A resale unit at The Sail @ Marina Bay can fetch up to $3,000 psf.
NO WONDER ENVIOUS FOLKS SAY SUCCESSFULLY BALLOTING A HOME AT PINNACLE@DUXTON IS AKIN TO STRIKING THE LOTTERY.
4. The Pinnacle@Duxton made news when nine of its resale units went for $1m or more each.
5. Marina One Residences is one of the completed GSW area projects.
text STELLA THNG images RF123for