Cheryl Ong | The Straits Times | Monday, Apr 29, 2013

SINGAPORE

It’s no surprise that professionals of all stripes have been making a beeline for property in Marina Bay, site of the country’s new financial district.

New residential and office developments like V on Shenton that have been springing up in the vicinity are magnets for the well-heeled buyer.

Tenants with cash to spend like the area as well, not just for the proximity to work but also to attractions such as the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort, Gardens by the Bay and the city centre.

Interest in the area looks like being ramped up even further, with the Marina One development expected to be completed in 2017.

The project, developed by M+S, a joint venture between Temasek Holdings and Khazanah Nasional, has been described as “an iconic project in our new business district for many more years to come” by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The development will have 341,000 sq m of gross floor area and a gross development value of $7 billion. It will feature a mix of office, residential and retail space.

Although most of the properties in the area are on 99-year leases, homes in Marina Bay go for more than $2,000 per sq ft (psf), making them among the priciest in Singapore, noted SLP International research head Nicholas Mak.

The Sail @ Marina Bay, one of the first and largest developments in the area, was launched at $980 per sq ft in 2004 but the pricing has more than doubled to $2,180 psf over the past 15 months, said Mr Mak. Eight sales were recorded in January at the 1,111-unit development.

The median price in Marina Bay was $1,926 psf at the start of last year but it hit a peak of $2,229 psf in the third quarter. Price levels have stabilised since.

The area’s most expensive unit was sold at the Marina Bay Suites in March at $3,313 psf, said OrangeTee research head Christine Li.

Despite the high prices, 140 units in the Marina Bay neighbourhood were sold in the last quarter of last year, added Ms Li.

The biggest buying interest was in the 510-unit mixed-development V on Shenton built by UIC Investments, where 309 units have been sold since its launch last July.

But even well-heeled professionals have to take note of big new taxes, so it was no surprise that buying interest was dampened after January’s cooling measures, which included higher stamp duties. The number of transactions dipped to 28 units in the first quarter of this year.

While buyers may be more cautious, owners can still look to eager tenants keen to rent homes near the financial district, said Mr Mak. Median rentals for the area range from $5.25 to $6 psf per month, depending on the project, he said. This trumps the prime districts of nine, 10 and 11, where rentals range from $3 to $5 psf per month.

Rental yields are between 2 and 3 per cent, which are comparable with the other parts in the core central region.

Because the area is near the financial district, investors can still command a high price when they sell or demand a fairly good rent because of demand from expatriates who want to live near the Central Business District, said Mr Mak.

But Ms Li warned that high-end buyers looking for capital appreciation and growth in rental yield in the area should have a longer investment horizon, given the impact of the euro crisis on hiring in the financial sector.

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