Odd-shaped house for sale below valuation

No takers in 11 years for 6,813 sq ft property in Hougang neighbourhood due to its wedge-shaped land

A quiet corner in a Hougang neighbourhood came to life last weekend after an unusual three-storey corner terrace house was put up for sale.

There was a giant balloon in the garden. Then a swarm of property agents - 30 at one point - suddenly descended on the place. There were people pacing up and down with placards announcing a going rate of $470 per sq ft (psf).

The house in Henley Gardens, a 36-unit terrace development in Jalan Arif, is owned by YHS Hougang, a unit of property developer Far East Organization.

What is unusual about the sudden flurry of activity at No. 36 is that the house has remained unsold and unoccupied since the 99-year leasehold project was completed in 2002.

It also stands out from others in the neighbourhood because of its triangular compound with a pie-wedge garden.

Responding to questions, Far East told The Sunday Times that the house was always part of its inventory meant for sale.

And it added the sales pitch: "We believe there is demand for quality landed homes with good value in District 19 conveniently located near a network of public roads and transportation options, popular schools and amenities."

The house is near the Hougang Stadium, Serangoon Junior College and Hougang Sports and Recreation Centre.

Prospective buyers who visited the Open House last week were told the 6,813 sq ft property was a bargain because despite a valuation of $4 million, its price tag was $3.2 million.

There was no sale, but the price was raised mid-week to $3.5 million, which means the property is now being sold for $515 psf.

This is lower than the latest transaction at Henley Gardens, at $812 psf for a smaller inter-terrace unit of 2,153 sq ft, or $1.75 million.

PropNex head of prime landed Nizam Gafoor said $3.5 million for the house on sale "sounds attractive if not for the shape of the land".

The wedge-shaped plot has a built-up area of 3,089 sq ft. The rooms are also oddly shaped. Along one length of the house runs Hougang Avenue 2, while a catchment drain flanks the other side of the house. A nearby overhead bridge looks directly into the second floor.

Mr Gafoor noted that the triangular shape of the land clearly restricted built-up space.

Five Arts Consultancy geomancer Yvonne Teh said the shape of the compound would put off those who cared about fengshui.

Mr William Wong, founder of Real Star Premier Group which specialises in landed properties, said it has always been a challenge finding buyers for 99-year leasehold landed properties, and triangular plots are the toughest to sell.

Ms Evelyn Cheong, who was among the visitors to the house yesterday, said she was undecided about it but her husband had been attracted by the land size.

Mr Chen Bing Xin, 50, who has lived in Henley Gardens for two years, said that the corner house had previously been the show unit for the development. He also said that Far East had invited him and other residents to view the property about five months ago.

YHS Hougang acquired the 99-year leasehold plot in 1996, and it currently has 82 years left on its lease.

When asked about the valuation, Far East said that "the asking price is in line with the latest indicative valuation estimates that we have obtained".

While some observers have questioned the timing of the sale, Real Star's Mr Wong said: "Far East does have cases where some of the brand new developments are held for a number of years - and they might even rent them out - before they put them on the market again. But 11 years is quite long, so it's a bit unusual."

ocheryl@sph.com.sg