by Mark Knowles : July 9, 2008
Singapore’s most expensive luxury home is currently the subject of a legal wrangle between The Sultan of Brunei’s brother and Brunei’s national investment agency. In land-poor Singapore, a parcel of land of this size is extremely rare and the investment agency is attempting to wrest control of the property via the Singaporean court system, presumably to re-develop the property.
Owned by Prince Jefri Bolkiah, the younger brother of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Arwaa Mansion at 46B and 48 Nassim Road is estimated to be worth around $120 million. There are only between 2,500 and 3,000 good-class bungalows with at least 15,070 sq ft of land area in Singapore, and the Urban Redevelopment Authority states that the average cost of a good-class bungalow was $13.8 million last year. Industry observers believe that the palatial property, which stands on top of a hill, has such a staggering value because of its sheer size. The mansion sits on a land area of about 110,000 sq ft.
“It is part of Singapore’s most desirable and prestigious residential area,” said Savills Singapore’s director of prestige homes Steven Ming.
‘But each property value is unique,’ he said.
And this none-too-humble villa is special because, well, it belongs to a prince.
‘You would assume that only good-quality stuff went in there, so there is a premium attached to it,” said one industry wag.
The mansion made news last Friday after it was reported that the Brunei Investment Agency, which manages the Brunei government’s General Reserve Fund and external assets, wants Singapore’s courts to get the 53-year-old prince to hand over the property
Credo Real Estate managing director Karamjit Singh said, “Over the years, governments and corporations that have owned large properties have been selling them and they get re-developed and sub-divided. So such big properties are very rare.”
Apparently such large parcels do still exist but are owned mostly by the old rich or foreign governments.
“Some are sitting on land that has been passed down for generations and it goes into the $100 million category because you can build 20 storeys on it,’ said Mr Ku Swee Yong, the director of business development and marketing for Savills.
He suggested the Mitre Hotel in Killiney Road as being worth around $200 million for its nearly 40,000 sq ft of land. Its prime location and plot ratio mean it has good redevelopment potential. Size isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to how many zeroes go into a property’s value. In areas like Katong, property can fetch a premium since plot ratios there are higher than those in town, like in Nassim. That means more units can be built.
Dr Della Suantio Lee, the wife of Mr Lee Seng Gee, the eldest son of late philanthropist Lee Kong Chian, was said to have sold a 115,300 sq ft piece of property in Meyer Road to the Hong Leong Group for about $200 million last year.
Even fengshui plays a part, albeit a much smaller one.
“Some wealthy Chinese businessmen will consider how wide the gate at a bungalow is, whether it’s sloping up or down or whether it faces a good house,” said Mr Ku.