Yeap Lam Hai, director of Fairview Developments (left) and Teo Tong Lim, group managing director of Tong Eng Group, joint venture partners of Belgravia Ace (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Fairview Developments will be rolling out Belgravia Ace, its last strata landed housing project at Belgravia Drive, off Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5. The 107 strata houses, comprising 104 semi-detached and three terraced houses, will preview on Jan 8, with its launch slated for Jan 22. It could well be the first new launch of 2022.
“It’s the last of the Belgravia trilogy,” remarks Yeap Lam Hai, director of Fairview Developments. It is a 50:50 joint venture between the Teo family-controlled property developer Tong Eng Brothers, and Yeap Holdings, the investment company of the Yeap family. The joint-venture partners had purchased the 40-acre (over 1.74 million sq ft) freehold land parcel in the early 1970s. It stretches from Seletar Terrace to Nim Road. This land bank was the second largest in the Seletar area after Singapore-listed Bukit Sembawang Estates’.
The earlier phases of Fairview Developments’ projects were conventional landed housing, with predominantly terraced houses and some semi-detached houses such as Stratton Park, completed in 1992; Belgravia Park, which obtained Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) in 1995; and Stratton Green, which saw residents moving in by 2003.
The latter phases are the strata landed housing projects at Belgravia Drive. The first two, namely Belgravia Villas and Belgravia Green, are already fully sold. “That’s why we are naming this last phase, Belgravia Ace,” says Yeap. “It’s our ace card.”
Belgravia Villas, with 118 strata terraced houses, was launched in October 2013 and completed in 2018. Belgravia Green was launched in November 2018. The 18 semi-detached and 71 terraced houses are expected to obtain TOP in June 2023.
The latest phase, Belgravia Ace, will occupy a freehold plot of some 300,000 sq ft. Leading up to the main entrance of the development is a 120m boulevard with pedestrian walkways on either side. The houses at Belgravia Ace have strata area of 4,000 sq ft each, span three levels and an attic, and contain five bedrooms. Most of the houses come with a private car porch in the basement.
The showflat of the first level of a typical semi-detached house at Belgravia Ace with 4.9m ceiling height and 6m frontage (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
“By virtue of the size of the development and the size of the houses, Belgravia Ace is going to be at a premium to the earlier phases that we have sold,” says Teo Tong Lim, group managing director of Tong Eng Group.
When completed in 2028, Belgravia Ace will bring the total number of strata houses in the Belgravia enclave to 306. Unlike the first two phases, Belgravia Ace has a lower density, Yeap notes. “This is because the government changed the rules,” he says. “It would have been 170 houses instead of 107.”
It was in 2014 when the government revised the guidelines for strata housing development. For instance, the minimum land area for communal facilities and greenery within strata landed housing developments was increased from 30% to 45%. And of the 45%, a minimum of 25% has to be set aside for greenery.
Prior to 2014, the whole site area (100%) could be utilised for computing the number of dwelling units that could be built. After 2014, only 40% of the site area can be used for computation of the number of dwelling units. “That explains why many developers have chosen to develop conventional landed houses since then,” says Jip Ng, senior group district director at PropNex, who has specialised in strata landed housing for the past two decades.
However, Fairview Developments went ahead with Belgravia Ace. “It’s the biggest freehold strata landed development launched since Belgravia Green,” points out Ng. “It’s built under the new guidelines, so there is a lot more greenery and communal facilities.”
Master bedroom on the second level of the showflat (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Pick-up in transaction activity
Prior to Belgravia Green in 2018, the last significant freehold strata landed housing project launched was The Whitley Residences in early 2013. Developed by Hoi Hup Realty, the strata development has 58 semi-detached and three terraced houses on Whitley Road in prime District 11. The project was completed in 2016.
“The other freehold strata landed developments that were launched were mainly boutique projects in the Telok Kurau area, with fewer than 10 units and no facilities,” notes Ng.
In terms of strata landed housing projects built on 99-year leasehold government land sale (GLS) sites, the latest is the 53-unit Parkwood Collection by Fantasia Group. It has 50 semi-detached and three terraced houses. Located at Lorong 1 Realty Park, off Upper Serangoon Road and Hougang Avenue 2, the strata landed development is a five-minute walk to Hougang MRT Station.
Since its launch in November 2019, all three terraced houses and half the semi-detached houses at Parkwood Collection have been taken up. The last terraced house with a strata area of 4,585 sq ft was sold for $3.02 million ($659 psf) this May. The three latest transactions of semi-detached houses had sizes from 4,865 sq ft to 6,211 sq ft, and fetched $3.75 million ($770 psf) to $4.86 million ($782 psf) in October to December to date.
At Belgravia Villas, the latest transaction of a 3,584 sq ft intermediate terraced house was a resale unit that sold for $3.198 million ($892 psf) in September this year. Two semi-detached houses with strata areas of 3,961 sq ft each at Belgravia Villas changed hands for $3.75 million ($947 psf) and $3.68 million ($929 psf) in October and November respectively.
The latest transactions at Belgravia Green were for three 4,004 sq ft, semi-detached houses that fetched $3.8 million to $3.86 million each, or $949 to $963 psf, according to caveats lodged in July 2020. Meanwhile, terraced houses at Belgravia Green, with built-up areas of 3,433 and 3,595 sq ft, were sold for $3.01 million ($880 psf) and $3.17 million ($883 psf) respectively, based on caveats lodged in August and November 2020.
The attic level (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Resembling ‘detached houses’, sustainable features
At Belgravia Ace, JGP Architecture is the design architect and Coen Design International is the landscape architect. In this series of semi-detached houses, 18 pairs are joined at the rear end instead of at the side — most conventional semi-detached houses are joined at the side. “These back-to-back semi-detached houses are unusual,” says Teo. “From the front, they resemble detached houses.”
The 18 Type A semi-detached houses have the car porch in front of the house at street level, instead of the basement. “In that sense, they are similar to conventional detached houses,” adds Teo. The 18 Type B semi-detached houses are identical to the Type A units. The only difference is that access to the carpark is from the basement.
The 68 remaining semi-detached houses are joined at the side, like conventional semi-detached houses, with access from the basement carpark. The three terraced houses have a similar configuration to the semi-detached houses.
All the houses at Belgravia Ace come with five bedrooms: master bedroom and junior master bedroom on the second level, and three other bedrooms (one en suite) on the third level. Each semi-detached house has a 6m wide frontage and 4.9m ceiling height on the first level. The developer is providing a mezzanine loft with a 1.95m ceiling height. It is ideal as a study or workplace, notes Teo.
Each semi-detached house comes with natural marble flooring on the first level and Burmese teak flooring on the upper levels. Both the wet and dry kitchens are outfitted with V-Zug kitchen appliances. Also, the dry kitchen is fitted out with the Samsung Family Hub smart refrigerator, while the wet kitchen has another Samsung refrigerator. The taps and mixers are Grohe brand, while kitchen cabinetry features Blum system. Bathrooms come with Grohe fittings and Toto sanitaryware.
The houses at Belgravia Ace are also provided with private lift, and full-height windows for all the bedrooms. The windows use low-emission glazing that reduces UV and infra-red rays from the sun. Air-conditioning systems and home appliances are of the highest energy efficiency rating. The developer is also providing shoe wardrobe with air suction to remove odours. Each house is fitted with an electric vehicle charging station.
“A lot of the sustainability features offered are not just buzzwords,” says Terence Teo, executive director of Tong Eng Group, and Teo’s son. “When you have sustainable features within the house, for instance at Belgravia Ace, it helps improve the well-being of the home occupants as well as bring down the running cost.” He points to the smart air-conditioning system with plasma air purifiers as an example. “It helps filter away harmful pollutants,” he says.
One of the three bedrooms on the third level (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Demand for more space, more bedrooms
“Belgravia Ace will be the last major freehold strata landed development for launch in the foreseeable future,” says PropNex’s Ng. “Developers are not keen to develop strata landed projects these days as the number of houses they can build is the same as conventional landed housing, and the cost is higher as they have to provide communal facilities and greenery.”
Ng expects prices at Belgravia Ace to be above $1,000 psf. He reckons the intermediate terraced house could be priced from $3.6 million, while the semi-detached houses could begin from $4 million. After all, at Belgravia Green, a semi-detached house was sold last year for $3.83 million, or $1,020 psf, he adds.
Strata landed developments offer the privileges of landed living and the convenience of communal facilities without the need to deal with maintenance issues, comments Mark Yip, CEO of Huttons Asia. “Compared to conventional landed semi-detached houses that can cost around $5 million to $6 million in current market conditions, strata-landed homes offer a very attractive price-point for buyers,” he adds.
There is very strong interest in strata-landed homes, notes Yip. “The limited supply means that those who miss getting a unit will either have to wait for another strata-landed project [launch] or buy from the resale market.”
Doris Ong, deputy CEO of ERA, says Belgravia Ace’s booking slots for viewings have been fully taken up. “These days, people want more space; and they like the fact that the houses have five bedrooms,” she notes. “Besides multi-generational families, many of the interested buyers are upgraders.”
Indeed, with work from home (WFH) in the Covid era, typical three- and four-bedroom houses may be too small for larger families with working parents. “They want larger living spaces to be able to work effectively from home,” notes SRI’s Low.
The study loft on the mezzanine level (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The facilities provided in large strata landed developments are also plus-points for the current WFH situation, adds Low. “Families can spend quality time within the comfort of their own gated residential development.”
Belgravia Ace comes with a drop-off area and air-conditioned lobby at the main entrance. It has a double-storey clubhouse with a residents’ lounge, private dining room fully equipped with kitchen facilities, a games room and gym. There is an outdoor children’s play area, barbeque pavilions and a 50m swimming pool. “Not all strata landed developments can provide full facilities,” says ERA’s Ong. “You need a sizeable land area.”
SRI’s Low expects the majority of buyers to be upgraders from both HDB and private residential property. “With the steep increase in property values, many of them are sitting on larger potential cash proceeds that will significantly aid in their property upgrade,” he observes. “We have also seen the recent trend of parents supporting their children with upfront deposits for their big-ticket property purchases.” (Find HDB flats for rent or sale with our Singapore HDB directory)
Some of these buyers may be those who grew up in landed property in the neighbouring Seletar Hills Estate and who want to live near their parents, adds Low. “Belgravia Ace will be the last major strata landed development to be launched, and also the last of the Belgravia strata landed series by Tong Eng.”
The surge in prices of conventional landed property and lack of new supply have also driven them beyond the reach of many upgraders, says SRI’s Low. “In addition, the cost of rebuilding an old landed property has increased significantly by 50%-70%, and that has created new barriers to entry for this segment of the market.”
Converging demand for landed and strata landed housing, coupled with limited new supply, has put strata landed housing in “a sweet spot”, and Low expects that to continue “for some time”.
Tong Eng’s Teo believes the market outlook has improved compared to early 2020 when the pandemic first started. “Things are looking better,” he says. “More importantly, we hope the market will be sustainable.”