SINGAPORE – Sales at Watten House in Bukit Timah exceeded expectations at its preview on Nov 18, with more than half of 180 units snapped up, putting paid to concerns that cooling measures have dampened demand for larger luxe homes in the prime district.
UOL Group and Singapore Land Group (SingLand) sold 57 per cent, or 102 units, of the luxury freehold project at an average price of about $3,230 per sq ft (psf) on the first day of Watten House’s preview, according to UOL. The public launch will take place in 2024.
Of the eight penthouses in Watten House, three were sold at between $11.7 million, or $3,440 psf, and $14.5 million, or $3,550 psf, UOL told The Straits Times.
The luxe condo project sits on the site of the former Watten Estate Condominium in Shelford Road that UOL and SingLand clinched via a collective sale in October 2021 at $550.8 million, or $1,723 per sq ft per plot ratio.
Of the 102 buyers, about 96 per cent are Singaporeans and Singapore permanent residents who are buying for their own occupancy, in view of the family-friendly unit size and proximity to numerous schools in the area.
The take-up rate was “beyond market expectations” in view of initial concerns over whether the April cooling measures and the higher overall price quantum for larger luxury homes would dampen demand, said PropNex Realty head of research and content Wong Siew Ying.
“Unlike other launches, there are no one- or two-bedders at Watten House. Prices for the three-bedders start from $3 million, while those for four-bedders are well over $5 million and five-bedders are priced from $7.4 million.
“Therefore, we think that the take-up rate is highly commendable, considering it is a luxe project with premium positioning, larger unit types, and a higher price quantum,” she added.
UOL Group chief executive Liam Wee Sin said: “Watten House has ended the year well for UOL and SingLand. This luxury development is a freehold project with a prestigious address, and we have developed this sprawling 5-acre site into a low density 180-unit development with high density greenery.”
Also fuelling demand is a limited supply of new private condos in the Shelford Road area, and only two of a total of four new freehold projects that debuted in 2023 are located in the prime district, analysts say.
Apart from Watten House, the other prime freehold project is the 78-unit Orchard Sophia in Sophia Road.
The remaining two new freehold projects launched in 2023 are on the city fringe, including Terra Hill in Pasir Panjang and The Continuum at Thiam Siew Avenue, said ERA key executive officer Eugene Lim.
ERA Singapore chief executive Marcus Chu noted that there are only four upcoming freehold projects in the pipeline.
These are located at the sites of the former Meyer Park in Marine Parade, Euro-Asia Apartments in Serangoon Road, Gloria Mansion in Pasir Panjang Road and La Ville in Tanjong Rhu Road. None of these are in the prime district.
He added that “140 out of 180 units in Watten House are large-format homes above 1,500 sq ft. These are rare. In the resale market, some of the highest gainers are large-format units in prime districts. And in the last five years, only 57 units of such sizes were launched in new projects in the vicinity”.
Mr Chu said: “Freehold properties are sought after for legacy reasons. Currently, just 34 per cent of existing new projects across Singapore are freehold. And in the past two years, prices of resale and new freehold properties in the prime district grew four times faster than those of leasehold properties.”
Based on URA Realis, the average transacted price for freehold non-landed new homes in the prime district was about $2.96 million and average unit price was around $3,011 psf in 2023.
Watten House is located near Tan Kah Kee MRT station, Nanyang Primary School and Raffles Girls’ Primary. Other schools in the vicinity include St Margaret’s Secondary, Hwa Chong Institution, Nanyang Girls’ High School and National Junior College.
The development is also near Coronation Shopping Plaza, Serene Centre and the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Ms Wong noted that the healthy take-up at J’den in Jurong East and Watten House shows there is “ample liquidity to be deployed when highly attractive developments become available. Their healthy sales add a little shine to what has been dull primary market sales in the last few months.”
This should give developers some confidence to launch their projects in 2024, she added.
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