The most recent transaction at the 1,129-unit Reflections at Keppel Bay was for a 1,216 sq ft, three-bedroom apartment on the first floor, for $1.98 million ($1,628 psf)
THE EDGE SINGAPORE| APRIL 15, 2013
BY JO-ANN UANG
Investor interest is resurfacing in the Keppel Bay neighbourhood, based on the latest caveats lodged with the URA. Perhaps buyers are starting to see value, as transactions last month ranged from $1,169 to $1,628 psf.
Both the 969-unit Caribbean and the 1,129-unit Reflections at Keppel Bay are redevelopments on the site of the former Keppel Harbour by its listed property arm, Keppel Land. The 99-year leasehold condominiums at Keppel Bay are exempt from the Qualifying Certificate conditions under the Residential Property Act, and the developer is therefore not required to sell all the units within two years of completion. Hence, Keppel Land is able to hold unsold units as corporate residences for lease, and sell them when the time is right.
This was the strategy it had adopted at Caribbean, which was completed in 2004. Keppel Land had held back units in some of the blocks and furnished them for leasing out. The units were only sold progressively when the market was on an upswing. It also employed a similar strategy at Reflections, which was completed in 2011. A total of 154 units in two blocks were set aside for lease as corporate residences.
When Caribbean was completed nine years ago, the average price was $760 psf. Most of the premium units in the project, which comprises 22 ten-storey blocks, enjoy views of the sea, while other units have views of either the waterways or the swimming pool. Unit sizes range from 845 sq ft for the two-bedroom apartments to 3,541 sq ft for the four-bedroom apartments. Penthouses are duplexes, with sizes from 4,650 to 6,135 sq ft.
Resale prices at Caribbean hit a high of $1,946 psf in January, when a 2,390 sq ft unit sold for $4.65 million. A 1,335 sq ft, three-bedroom unit on the second floor changed hands for $2.15 million ($1,611 psf) on March 26. The unit was previously transacted in September 2009 at $1.78 million ($1,330 psf), which translates into a price increase of 21%.
Meanwhile, a 3,208 sq ft, four-bedroom unit on the sixth level of a neighbouring block at Caribbean was sold for $3.75 million ($1,169 psf). The unit last changed hands in 2009, for $3.3 million ($1,029 psf), hence the seller saw a price gain of 13.6%. Prior to that, the unit had been transacted at $3.4 million ($1,060 psf) in August 2007. The first owner bought the unit for $2.4 million ($748 psf) in November 2006, thus recognising a capital gain of 41.7% in less than a year. Asking rents in Caribbean today range from $4.76 to $6.05 psf, according to listings by property agents on the PropertyGuru website.
Reflections at Keppel Bay, which was designed by celebrated architect Daniel Libeskind, was launched in 2007. The project’s average price was $1,900 psf at the time. One of the funds under Kuwait Finance House purchased two blocks of 56 units for a total of $286 million, with prices ranging from $2,000 to $2,500 psf. According to Keppel Land, about 94% of 950 units launched had been sold as at end-February. The development comprises two- to four-bedroom apartments, with sizes from 786 to 2,657 sq ft.
Most recently, a 1,216 sq ft, three-bedroom unit on the first floor of one of the 11 six-to-eight-storey blocks in the sprawling project was sold for $1.98 million ($1,628 psf) on March 25. No other transaction was recorded for the unit. Another unit, a 2,626 sq ft, four-bedroom apartment on the 13th floor, changed hands for $6.3 million ($2,399 psf) on March 20.
A 1,335 sq ft, three-bedroom unit on the second floor of the 969-unit Caribbean at Keppel Bay changed hands for $2.15 million ($1,611 psf)
Some property agents reckon the price of $1,628 psf for a unit at Reflections to be a “one-off deal”. Daphne Lean, a property agent at ERA Realty, who is selling and leasing several units at Reflections, says prices at $1,600 psf are “unusual” today, given that Reflections is a premium project in a prime location in the vicinity of VivoCity, Harbour Front MRT interchange station and with Sentosa right across the water. She reckons the owner could be offloading the unit at such a price because of the imposition of the latest round of property cooling measures and the threat of more to come. “He could have bought the unit during its launch and was concerned that its price might fall because of further cooling measures,” she says.
Property experts say the current price levels achieved at Caribbean and Reflections offer value to investors, especially when compared with those at recent launches of 99-year leasehold suburban condo projects, especially those within walking distance from an MRT station. For comparison, take the 775-unit Trilinq on Jalan Lempeng, which was launched last month. The condo is located opposite Clementi Mall, which is linked to the Clementi MRT station and bus interchange. The average launch price was said be $1,500 psf.
A caveat was lodged with URA Realis for a 1,044 sq ft unit that was sold for $1.686 million, or $1,615 psf.
On the other hand, the prices achieved recently at Keppel Bay, especially at Reflections, could be owing to the orientation of the unit, notes Lean. Sometimes, buyers are less concerned about the view if they think the price is inexpensive, given the prestige of the project, the location and waterfront lifestyle, she says.“Units at Reflections offer many different views— the most premium of which is the sea, and some offer city views, while others face the golf course.”
The highest psf price attained at Reflections was shortly after the project obtained Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) in 2011.
A 3,380 sq ft unit on the fifth floor of one of the low-rise villa blocks with direct sea views changed hands in the secondary market for more than $11 million,or $3,256 psf.
upcoming project by Keppel Land in the Keppel Bay area is Corals, which is also
designed by Libeskind. The development is said to have 366 units, with a mix of
one- to four-bedroom apartments ranging from 570 to 3,500 sq ft. Some property
agents are forecasting that the new launch is likely to have a positive
spillover effect on the existing projects at Keppel Bay, hence driving up both
transaction activity and resale prices at Reflections and Caribbean. “Buying in
at a low price now could be a timely decision,” says a property agent.