Healthy interest in 'retirement resort' likely

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Dec 28, 2013 

BUYING sentiment in the housing market will be tested next month when Singapore's first retirement housing project is expected to go on sale.

The Hillford in Jalan Jurong Kechil is expected to attract healthy interest despite the sombre mood evident among buyers in recent months.

Consultants say home seekers have long been drawn to the residential enclave, which is characterised by low-density landed housing.

The Hillford, a 60-year leasehold development, will have 281 units, a 24-hour concierge service and 18 commercial units such as food outlets, a convenience store, clinics and medical facilities.

The Bukit Batok and Bukit Timah nature reserves are nearby, as are malls like Beauty World and Bukit Timah Plaza.

"The marrying of modern amenities characteristic of an urban residential area with open spaces of nature uncharacteristic of Singapore is what makes the Jalan Jurong Kechil area unique," said Ms Chia Siew Chuin, research head of Colliers International. "Potential buyers are likely to be drawn as much to the features of this project as they would be to the... location."

While The Hillford is marketed as a "retirement resort", there is no age limit placed on potential buyers, and it would not be surprising for younger buyers to be attracted to it, consultants said.

The development by World Class Land is expected to open its doors to buyers on Jan 4, while units should go on the market on Jan 17, property agents said.

Preliminary prices indicate that a one-bedder of 398 to 431 sq ft could start at $400,000, or about $1,005 psf. A two-bedder of 506 to 560 sq ft could be at least $500,000, or about $988 psf. Prices of a 657 sq ft two-bedroom dual-key unit will start at $700,000, or $1,065 psf.

Industry experts have noted that the prices are relatively steep for its short lease but Ms Chia said the total price quantum is still affordable for retirees looking to downgrade.

Consultants added that prices in the area have been stable compared with the sharp increases in suburban property value.

In fact, prices of property in Jalan Jurong Kechil are relatively comparable to newer suburban properties, noted Knight Frank research head Alice Tan.

Ms Chia said median prices of new homes in the area ranged from $752 to $1,623 psf this year and have risen about 1 per cent over the past two years. The Creek @ Bukit Timah was the latest project to be launched, at a median price of $1,620 psf.

Median resale prices are up about 12 per cent over the past two years. Knight Frank noted that average prices of resale properties between 1,615 and 2,153 sq ft saw the highest increase of 25.6 per cent in that period.

Signature Park has had the most transactions in the past two years, with 124 caveats lodged with the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Although a handful of housing units are scheduled for completion in the next few years, there will not be a major oversupply there, said R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng.

A total of 736 new private homes will be completed from 2015 to 2017, according to Knight Frank estimates.

Mr Ong also noted that the Government has yet to set aside more land in the area for sale in the first half of next year, so any new supply should come from land acquired through collective sales.

But the arduous process of collective sales and high prices demanded by owners should quieten the collective-sale market in the near future, he said.

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Dec 28, 2013

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