Super-rich people have a rare chance to join Singapore’s row of billionaires

11 min read
Super-rich people have a rare chance to join Singapore's row of billionaires

It is an exceptional time for Singapore’s premium real estate market.

Three of the most prestigious residences in the country, known as good class bungalows, are for sale in a quiet central area where just five of these mansions have changed hands in the preceding five years.

The desirable houses are anticipated to fetch a record price of almost S$240 million (US$168 million) when bids are submitted by Nov. 3.

This is Nassim Road, a verdant, embassy-lined road that spans from the renowned Botanic Gardens to the outskirts of the famous Orchard Road shopping district.

In a country with no dearth of opulent residential districts, the ancient avenue is the plushest of the plush. It is home to Asian royalty and global internet entrepreneurs.

“If you can buy a good-class bungalow in Nassim, you’re somebody,” said Douglas Wong, senior director of capital markets and investment sales at ERA Realty Network, who manages luxury homes.

He has sold 73 magnificent residences on Nassim Road and elsewhere during the previous 26 years. People recognize your identity.

It is the most dramatic illustration of how Singapore’s red-hot real estate market defies a worldwide slowdown caused by increased interest rates as central banks struggle to combat inflation.

The super-wealthy are increasingly lured to global financial hubs viewed as epidemic winners, and wealth is not a consideration when purchasing showpiece mansions.

Nassim Road was named after Nassim Lodge, a family home constructed in the 1850s by a wealthy Jewish landowner who resided in the area.

It was one of the lush, forested places where the British colonial administration constructed opulent houses for its high-ranking officers, including not just high-class bungalows but also black-and-white mansions with whitewashed walls and black-stained wood embellishments. In subsequent years, they were inhabited by wealthy local merchants.

Residents include members of the royal family of Brunei, the oil- and gas-rich sultanate on the island of Borneo. Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin was reportedly rumored to possess a home on Nassim Road (he did not respond to a LinkedIn message requesting comment). There are embassies for Japan, Russia, and the Philippines there.

According to Wong, only 62 of the island’s 2,800 good-class bungalows are located on Nassim Road, and they are rarely put up for sale. The mansions or villas have site sizes of at least 1,400 square meters, with the home occupying no more than 35% of the land area. Although they are known as bungalows, they can have up to two stories above ground.

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In a country where 80% of the population resides in public housing, these mansions are regarded as the height of luxury. The residences on Nassim Road are regarded ultra-prime.

Cuscaden Peak Investments, a subsidiary of a group headed by Malaysian hotel magnate Ong Beng Seng, listed three of them for sale at the end of September. The asking price of S$5,200 per square foot would surpass the record of S$4,291 per square foot set by local startup founder Tommy Ong for a property in neighboring Cluny Hill last year. The three Nassim bungalows are adjacent to one another, and it would cost S$239 million to acquire them all.

According to Realstar Premier Group, the appointed real estate agent for the plots, Cuscaden Peak is selling the residences for no particular reason.

“Anything that comes onto the market in Nassim is really unusual,” said Nicholas Keong, head of the private office at the Singapore branch of the real estate firm Knight Frank, adding that the asking prices reflect this. Buying a high-quality house in Nassim is comparable to purchasing a work of art.

Several parties have already inspected the three houses prior to the November 3 deadline for submitting offers, according to William Wong, founder of Realstar Premier. Some individuals are interested in purchasing all three houses and transforming them into a multigenerational family home, he says.

The majority of purchasers of high-quality bungalows must be from the country, with the following exceptions: James Dyson, a British businessman and manufacturer of vacuum cleaners, owns a home near the intersection of Nassim Road and the Botanical Gardens.

However, becoming a citizen or purchasing a property through a Singaporean spouse is the most usual method. Wong of Realstar Premier stated that Indonesian and Chinese tycoons with Singapore citizenship are interested in the Nassim properties for sale.

The Straits Times has claimed that restaurant magnate Sean Shi, born in China and now a Singapore citizen, paid S$50 million in September for a home near the Botanic Gardens, though it was located on Cluny Hill rather than Nassim Road.

When Bloomberg inquired about the purchase in October, a representative for his Haidilao International Holding Ltd. hotpot chain declined to comment, citing a personal problem.

Wong of Realstar Premier stated that newly minted citizens prefer to purchase high-quality bungalows in prime areas rather than those in the suburbs. He noted that they tend to be more tolerant of the current high pricing than wealthier Singaporeans.

Singapore’s private property values continue to increase, but they are declining in many global markets. In the third quarter, they increased by 13% from 2021, and Moody’s Investors Service predicts that the affordability of housing in the country would worsen.

Since 2005, the average price per square foot for bungalows of acceptable quality has increased by 46 percent, reaching S$1,945. Knight Frank, citing data from the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, reports that the number of homes on Nassim Road has more than doubled.

Despite the demand, there are a few unoccupied homes of high quality on Nassim Road. According to Realstar Premier’s Wong, most owners desire to keep them even if they don’t live there because they are unique and distinguished.

Wong of ERA recalled that he sold a good-quality bungalow on Nassim Road in 2005 for S$405 per square foot, or less than $10 million. Those days have passed, he asserts.

He stated, “No one truly wants to sell. They will transmit it from one generation to the next. Singapore is so little that every square inch contains wealth.”

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