Straits Times: Sat, May 26
IT HAS tended to be overshadowed by the more glamorous Bukit Timah, but the Farrer Road area still holds its own as a desirable residential enclave.
The interest shown in a site in Farrer Drive has underscored the neighbourhood's potential.
An unknown party has committed to bid a minimum of $88.9 million for the 0.63ha residential plot up for sale on the reserve list.
It works out to about $823 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr), said to be the highest application bid, in terms of psf ppr, lodged to trigger a reserve site in the Government Land Sales programme.
The tender closes on June 21.
A Farrer Road site is also on the reserve list and could be triggered for sale soon, experts said.
Unlike confirmed list sites, which go on sale regardless of interest, reserve list land goes out for tender only if a developer makes an acceptable initial offer.
The interest points to the Farrer Road area - billed as the 'cousin' of high-end Bukit Timah - heading for lift-off.
Several new condominiums are being built; the Farrer Road MRT station on the Circle Line opened last year; Empress Road Market has the food angle covered.
Property consultants said that properties there will continue to do well, maintaining a 'respectable price premium'.
'Homes in the prime District 10 generally command a price premium over most residential areas on the island,' said Colliers International director of research and advisory Chia Siew Chuin.
For instance, from the first quarter of 2007 to the corresponding period this year, the median price of condos in the Farrer area was generally higher than that of condos around the island. This includes high-end and mass market projects.
Mr Lee Sze Teck, Dennis Wee Group senior manager of research and consultancy, noted that there are about 1,500 completed private homes in the area available for sale, landed and non-landed.
The median price of a private home in the primary market is about $1,700 psf while resale homes cost around $1,600 psf, he said.
He noted that the area offers some good prices, even as it is sandwiched between the prime areas of Holland and Bukit Timah. And buyers hunting for bigger units could do well to look in the resale market in the area.
A 1,604 sq ft unit at Spanish Village, a 25-year-old condo in Farrer Road, sold for $1,571 psf last month, while a 1,701 sq ft apartment at the 27-year-old Tulip Garden condo nearby sold for $1,264 psf in March.
Both are freehold condos.
CapitaLand said that at D'Leedon, an upcoming 99-year leasehold condo at Leedon Heights, the average price per sq ft is $1,650.
To date, 498 of the 928 units released have been sold. There are 1,715 units at the project and it is expected to be completed in 2015.
The Farrer area, with many older freehold projects, is known for collective sales, but whether it continues to be a magnet for such deals remains to be seen, experts said.
For instance, the 162-unit Tulip Garden failed to find a buyer in a collective sale bid that priced the estate at over $500 million, Ms Chia noted.
Successful sales - Farrer Court, Leedon Heights and Waterfall Gardens - were made in 2006 and 2007.
'Niche, quality places like Farrer Road will surely be so prized by owners that the expected collective selling price may exceed developers' ability to offer to buy,' said R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng.
'(Some) owners can anticipate difficulty in finding replacement homes of similar quality and may have to trade off largely in terms of property size or location.'
Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research at SLP International Property Consultancy, warned: 'Buyers looking for en bloc must be patient. It's unrealistic to buy a unit and expect to reap the en bloc windfall within 12 months.'
Nevertheless, he said it could be worthwhile for buyers to purchase in the area, especially those who prefer big, old homes rather than the smaller ones at new projects.
'But there won't be many Housing Board upgraders here - the prices here are not in that range,' he said.