Jewel @ Buangkok Review



  • Christopher Chitty
  • 9 November 2015

Updated 21/10/2016: All units at Jewel@Buangkok have been sold by City Developments Limited. Buyers looking for units can seek Jewel@Buangkok resale units or look at reviews of condos in District 19.

City Developments Limited (CDL) has long held a foothold in the property industry since 1963. CDL has developed more than 36,000 luxurious homes and owns close to 7.2 million square feet of commercial, retail, residential and hotel space locally and globally.

Project Name: Jewel @ Buangkok

Address: BLK 81, 83, 85, 87, 89 & 91 Compassvale Bow

Type: Condominium

Site area: Approx. 197,419 sqft

Tenure: 99 years from 12 September 2012

District: 19

Configuration: 616 units

Unit types: 82 1-bedroom units (463 – 581 sqft)

219 2-bedroom units (689 – 904 sqft)

96 3-bedroom units (872 – 1130)

139 3-bedroom premium units (1109 – 1389 sqft)

44 4-bedroom units (1324 – 1625 sqft)

15 4-bedroom DK (Dual Key) units (1356 – 1647 sqft)

16 5-bedroom units (1636 – 1701 sqft)

5 5-bedroom penthouses (2067 – 2540 sqft)

Maintenance fees: $59 per share

Parking lots: 610 normal lots

1 family lot

3 electrical car lots

2 washing bays

Expected TOP: End 2016/Mid 2017

Expected legal completion: June 2020

Project Details

Rising out of the plot of land between Compassvale Bow, Buangkok Drive and Sengkang East Road, Jewel @ Buangkok stands out.

Jewel already flanks the traffic junction and future residents are closer to the roads and the traffic lights than their neighbors in sandwiched executive condominium (EC), Esparina Residences and upcoming Compassvale Helm further down Compassvale Bow. Hougang Avenue 6 is directly behind Jewel and from there, getting onto the KPE is about a five minute drive away.

Construction of the 197,419 sqft development began sometime in March 2015 but progress has gone smoothly and rather quickly.

Jewel @ Buangkok nearing completion

Construction nearing completion

Much of Jewel has already been built. Its blocks are tall and provide a tantalizing glimpse of how it will all look once its façade and 616 units are completed.

For now, this multi-tiered structure is moving along at a steady pace. Its TOP was scheduled for 2017 although development looks to be coming along very smoothly.

In the meantime, CDL with the intention of making Jewel @ Buangkok the most unique structure in the Sengkang area, have taken visible steps in ensuring that buyers will own a significant piece of real estate in a potentially high-growth area.

One major way CDL expects to achieve this is through its design aesthetics for its landscaping.

When completed, Jewel @ Buangkok will be noticeable by a massive cloud like structure located in a part of the developed christened ‘Jewel Court’, that is designed to be both extremely prominent and a unique feature of the vicinity.

Jewel @ Buangkok along Compassvale Bow

Jewel @ Buangkok along Compassvale Bow

While having a tell-tale sign that makes your home a beacon to the surrounding area might seem like a good idea, it’s hardly enough to justify the price. Already, the ‘cheapest’ unit on PropertyGuru is a 775 sqft 2-bedroom unit going for $921,750.

For a relatively new area, the cost has to be validated. Design is just one way. Functionality, facilities, unit layout and accessibility are arguably more important things to be checked against.

Thus, CDL has seen fit to imbue Jewel @ Buangkok with a cavalcade of facilities, both common and uncommon that rather nicely justifies its costs.

Facilities: The swimming pool for example, is a staple in all condominiums but in Jewel, the ‘dual-level waterscape’ is two levels of pools; the 50m lap pool on one level and the family pool complete with aqua gym on the other.

Outdoor BBQ grills are also common but at Jewel, the ‘Gourmet Cabin’ is more for grilling in an alfresco setting. The outdoor grill is set on the lowest level of the project and has two tables in a pavilion that can hold about ten people.

Next to the ‘Gourmet Cabin’ is the ‘Gardener’s Cabin’. While it’s meant to be a place for citizen farming, like Treasure Trove @ Punggol for example, the lack of hydroponics mean that this is for hobbyists who want to dabble in growing basic vegetation instead of having a full-blown self-reliant farm.

Jewel @ Buangkok artists impression

Source: Artist Impression from Jewel Sales Brochure

Aspiring horticulturists might be disappointed but this is a condominium; its priorities and contribution to society is slightly different from a HDB development or an actual farm.

These facilities stand out the most but are hardly the only ones. Naturally, Jewel @ Buangkok has a gymnasium, reading room, running tracks, tennis courts, a host of other thematic cabins and much more.

It comes packed to the brim with so many facilities that exploring the confines of the development fully might indeed take several days. Or rather, it should take several days. Why spoil the novelty of a new home if you’re going to see all there is to see in a single day?

As far as its façade goes, it bears a resemblance to the Esparina and The Quartz, across the road from it. Units face outward and are framed in glass, which is quite common in modern architecture these days.

The Quartz

The Quartz

How it eventually looks may differ from the artist renditions however. If it does mirror the facades of the other developments in the area though, it’s of little consequence. Jewel @ Buangkok excels in every other significant way.

Unlike The Quartz’s units, Jewel’s units lack bay windows. CDL also had the foresight to adopt practical designs for more usable spaces, and offer a wider range of unit sizes to cater to different types of buyers.

From 2-bedroom units for singles or new-weds, to more family sized units, Jewel has something for everyone. Adding more extravagance to the development, units are also outfitted with branded fittings.

Kohler supplies the sinks and toilets, Crestial is on taps, Fisher & Paykel provides the refrigerators and Electrolux offers appliances like microwaves and steam ovens. Every kitchen in Jewel @ Buangkok also has a water filtration system from Hyflux installed.

About 86% of Jewel’s units have been sold. Three out of the five penthouses available already have proud owners. This 86% sold are mostly north facing units.

In fact, if there were a shopping mall in the immediate area, the condominium may already be 100% occupied but such speculation while fun, is moot.

Even without a shopping mall, units are moving fast and although about 78% of occupants appear to be HDB upgraders from the area, there’s still a considerable chunk from the west and even the east. Majority buyers, as a result are locals and by extension, PRs. 6% are foreigners.

These upgraders and early adopters are likely a mixture of home buyers preferring the tranquility of the area and investors who are banking on the potential of Sengkang to grow into a high-valued estate.

Buangkok MRT station closest exit to Aspella

Buangkok MRT station

And all it takes is a well-placed and stocked commercial hub to drive up value of the land.

Already, with extremely convenient access to Buangkok MRT station, travelling around the island is less tedious. The true impact of this connectivity will be felt in a few years when the area is further developed.

A commercial hub with retail elements in the area will allow residents to indulge in a little more luxurious shopping or even find work closer to home.

However, until the authorities determine the need for a modern commercial and retain hub in the area, speculating on the area’s growth potential will still be a risk.

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Location

Etymology: Located in the north-east of Singapore, Buangkok may lack the prominence of areas like Holland Village, Ang Mo Kio, Orchard Road and Tampines but it’s got the advantage of youth to catch up and grow in ways its older counterparts may now find difficult.

Recently it has built up more of a presence. In fact, up till 2009, Buangkok was a marshland overcrowded with kampongs (villages/hamlets).

The name comes from buang kok which means ‘united’ and it certainly took its namesake seriously.

View of Kampong Buangkok

Buangkok

Nowadays, Buangkok resembles a very young estate. It is pleasant to look at, with mid-rise condominiums and HDB estates in an area that is mercifully free of oppressive buildings that obscure the horizon.

Getting there: Buangkok sounds like it might be very far away but like most places in Singapore, it’s not terribly inconvenient to get it.

On a good day when traffic is smooth, getting to the city may take as little as 15 to 20 minutes – if you drive that is. Public transport will take longer, but that depends on the time of day.

Route to Jewel @ Buangkok

Source: Onemap

Its centralized location also works for it because getting onto the highways is rather convenient. The KPE (Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway) is about four traffic lights or so away.

Driving out onto Sengkang Central and heading onto Buangkok Drive will take you straight to the KPE to hit Ubi, Paya Lebar, Suntec City and Marina Bay Financial District or go in the opposite direction to get onto the TPE (Tampines Expressway) toward Tampines and Pasir Ris.

Additionally, driving out along Compassvale Bow (small road in front of Jewel, Esparina and Compassvale Helm) and making a right onto Sengkang East Road will take you straight to the TPE while a left turn is a shorter route toward Seletar and Yio Chu Kang.

Main road directions at Kampong Buangkok

Directions from main road

If you’re travelling to and fro town, Jewel is accessible by Hougang Ave 8 and Ang Mo Kio Ave 6 via CTE (Central Expressway). CTE goes pass Serangoon, Toa Payoh, Novena and right to Orchard, Somerset and Outram Park.

In most matured estates, getting onto the highway can be a tedious affair with heavy traffic barring the way, especially during peak travel hours.

Off peak travel will get you to the expressways in under 10 minutes, five minutes even in some cases.

Road conditions after 5pm in Buangkok

Traffic conditions in Buangkok after 5pm

If you’re travelling by train, getting to Jewel @ Buangkok is easier if you work along the north-east line (purple line). The purple line takes you straight to Clarke Quay and Harbourfront. Two stops above Buangkok is Punggol MRT station.

Otherwise switch trains to the red line at Dhoby Gaut (north-south line) to go toward town, Outram Park (east-west line) to go to Tanjong Pagar/Jurong East interchange or Serangoon (Circle Line) toward Bishan/Paya Lebar interchange.

From Dhoby Gaut, you can head toward Orchard or City Hall and Raffles where switching to the east-west line (green line) gets you to Bedok or Tuas Link (depending on your direction) or north-south line (red line) to Marina Bay and Marina South Pier.

The estate: There are several buildings in construction, including Jewel @ Buangkok but the relative peace here seems unaffected by the drilling and sounds of heavy machinery. Even during off-peak hours when construction usually takes place, a walk around the neighborhood hardly registers that there are men at work.

Of course, residents at the Esparina may disagree but construction noise is a temporary nuisance. With Jewel incoming, the value of the land in the area is expected to increase. That is good news for long-term residents of The Quartz and Esparina.

Construction of Jewel @ Buangkok

Construction of Jewel @ Buangkok

In most cases though, noise population or claustrophobia rarely sets in. And despite the lack of trees, the air here in unhindered and the amount of sky visible just from standing still at the field is overwhelming. It’s actually very nice seeing more sky than buildings. For now, it is a notable ‘feature’ of living in this area.

Fewer trees in the area however means you’re at the mercy of the blazing sun but the open and wide spaces allows for more breeze to waft through. During the cooler months, Buangkok residents may enjoy the breeze far more than residents who live near east coast beach, where tall buildings act like windbreakers. For now, it’s hot but not as oppressive, thanks to the open spaces.

There is a partially sheltered walkway to the MRT station from the side of Jewel. However, since it’s a mere five minute walk or less to the station from Jewel, it’s hardly a big deal.

The underground MRT station rarely fills up the way Orchard, City Hall and even Paya Lebar does. There are two bus-stops, one on each side of the road. One heads in the direction of Punggol (the side with the state land) and the other goes toward Tai Seng and Marine Parade (Bus 43).

Buangkok MRT station is quiet

Off-peak conditions at Buangkok MRT

All these combined imbues Buangkok with an idyllic, sleepy village feel. And that’s not a bad thing at all.

The relaxed vibe emanates strongly even from the coffee shops (Kopitiam and Kopitiam City). It never feels overcrowded and when it does fill up – usually during dinner time – it holds onto that peaceful and relaxed attitude that is uncharacteristic of modern Singapore.

One reason is unlike other estates, there are no shopping malls within sight of Jewel. The nearest mall is Hougang Green Shopping Mall but it is about 15 minutes away along Sengkang East Road and after Buangkok Drive.

Residents of Jewel and the other developments have sufficient means to purchase groceries, dine or seek healthcare within the immediate vicinity but the surprising absence of any established modern entertainment facility is a double-edged sword.

Food court nearest to Jewel @ Buangkok

Who needs shopping malls when the basics are abundant?

On one hand, it keeps the noise and busyness that accompany having a mall down drastically. On the other, it adds little by way of escapism and entertainment. Residents will need to walk to Hougang Green or travel one train station down to Hougang or Sengkang if they wish to do some shopping. The closest cinema is three stops away, at NEX, which is directly above Serangoon MRT station.

It’s certainly not ideal for people who like to live near shopping malls. For those that enjoy some peace and quiet, then this jarring exclusion only enhances the vibe and atmosphere of the area.

The other reason is this is a developing estate and for now at least, peace will reign. Though things are expected to change as more development occurs.

The state land which is a large field separating the MRT station from Palm View Primary, Compassvale Helm, Esparina Residences and Jewel was once zoned for commercial development.

State land Buangkok Singapore commercial development

State land next to Buangkok MRT station zoned for commercial

It has since been rezoned as residential but seeing as how it remains un-used, it’s tempting to speculate what may come to sit upon it. As of the writing of this review, it looks like an excellent location for a new and massive shopping mall.

Unless it is rezoned again though, this is unlikely.

In the meantime, the field is used as a make-shift football field, a kite-flying arena or just a place for a picnic.

Next to the field is an open air carpark, which like the food court, has vacant spots aplenty on weekdays. Visitors to The Quartz, Jewel, Esparina and future HDB, Compassvale Helm can park there, instead of across the road at the underground carpark at the other HDB development, Aspella. Although that is also an option if the open-air carpark is completely full.

Open0air carpark between Jewel @ Buangkok and MRT station

Open-air car park between Jewel and MRT station

Buangkok MRT station also has a generous offering of bicycle lots on both sides. So far, they appear to be well-used, even during working hours. If you’re walking to the station along Sengkang Central toward Punggol, the lots are visible on the left after you hit the sheltered walkway.

It’s probable that residents from the immediate area would cycle to the MRT station, chain their bikes at the lots provided, then take the train to work.

The racks allow cyclists to keep their bikes secure and more importantly, out of the way when they’re perusing in a store. This initiative is being adopted in numerous other locations around Singapore.

Bicycle lots at Buangkok MRT station

Bicycle lots at Buangkok MRT station

With the bicycle parking lots, cycling to the 24 hour NTUC, Guardian Pharmacy or the clinic that is opened daily from 8am to 11pm is a convenient affair.

Even without a shopping mall, residents of Jewel @ Buangkok have their fair share of amenities. It’s nothing to be blown away by but the necessities are all there and less than 10 minutes away.

And with the Aspella (HDB) looming behind, the single path between the rows of shops and the train station is mostly shaded and blissfully out of the gaze of the sun.

Eateries, grocery and pharmacies along Buangkok MRT station

Eateries, grocery and pharmacies along Buangkok MRT station

Along Compassvale Bow and in front of the developing Compassvale Helm is Palm View Primary School. Further down the road from the upcoming HDB estate is a mosque (Masjid Al-Mawaddah).

It won’t be winning any prizes for being a thriving entertainment center anytime soon but as far as residential places go, Jewel is in a very good spot and poised by CDL to become a prominent feature of Sengkang.

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Analysis

Purchasing: To allay some of that risk, a brief price analysis on average transacted units will be done. To start with, below is the latest transactions for Jewel @ Buangkok for the month of June 2015.

Date Unit area (sqft) Price ($ PSF) Price ($)
19th June 2015 1,152 1,185 1,365,250
7th June 2015 1,130 1,139 1,290,750
7th June 2015 721 1,294 936,750
5th June 2015 732 1,243 909,750
5th June 2015 775 1,220 945,750

 

5th to 7th June sales were likely the last of the 2-bedroom units to be sold at a price just below a million dollars. The latest two for 7th and 19th June were of 3-bedroom premium units.

Jewel @ Buangkok No. of bedrooms Average Price (PSF) Average Price ($)
3 1,185 1,365,250
2 1,294 936,750

 

Based on latest transaction data available at the time of this writing, the lowest average cost for a 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom unit (not including premium, dual-key or penthouses) are within the expected price range when compared with other developments in the Buangkok, Sengkang and Hougang area.

However, when taking into consideration its proximity to the train station, highways and schools as well as the extensive list of luxurious fittings and facilities within the condo grounds, the pricing might come across as somewhat low.

Especially when compared with the average lowest price of its most direct competitor, The Quartz, as seen below:

The Quartz No. of bedrooms Average Price (PSF) Average Price ($)
3 1,006 1,050,000
2 910 970,000

 

The Quartz was completed in 2010, just after the last of the villages were demolished. Although logic dictates that prices should have been considerably lower then, it was released at a time when numerous developments were being mass-produced to cope with a sudden population growth. Whether the developer actually had a quota to meet or merely wanted to jump at the property boom is irrelevant.

What is relevant however, is that The Quartz units appear disproportionately priced at release – even over-priced – given the newness of its location during that period and lack of amenities and innovative condo facilities. Even now, a 2-bedroom unit with a lower psf is priced higher than its counterpart in Jewel. Although this was a resale unit sold in April 2015, the fact that the owners sold it at this price is rather telling of the actual price they might have paid.

Chances are, it was much higher. The size is affected by Quartz’s large bay windows that Jewel does not have. Bay windows take up space and unless expertly used, diminishes the scope of the unit. As a result, the amount of usable space sold, while costing more, is less.

3-bedroom units at Quartz fare slightly better, although again, when matched with Jewel and its higher psf, it’s hard to compete. This is not to say that Quartz has no investment potential; it does but when compared with Jewel, it’s better to go with the newer and more prominently designed development.

The resale and rental yield potential of Jewel and Quartz several years later will be like comparing apples and oranges. Jewel has the higher potential and should further smart developments occur in the immediate area (such as a good shopping mall or tertiary schools) its value will grow leaps and bounds ahead of Quartz on account of its diverse unit offerings, location, initial pricing, facilities and much better design.

It certainly does not hurt Jewel that its arrival was perfectly timed. Now that Buangkok has shed its village trappings of the past and is a young estate on the cusp of blooming in the next few years, Jewel benefits greatly in a way The Quartz never really could.

Rental: Unlike purchasing, rental is a slightly different beast. While it is too soon to contemplate the rental costs for Jewel, a guide can be formulated by looking at The Quartz and even executive condominium, Esparina Residences.

The table below is an average depiction of the most recent rental contracts for The Quartz. The data encompasses rental contracts made from February to May 2015.

Project Unit size range (SQFT) Monthly rental range
The Quartz 1,000 – 1,100 $2,850 – $3,500
1,100 – 1,200 $2,950 – $3,500
1,300 – 1,400 $3,200 – $3,400

 

The Quartz had 15 rental contracts between the months of February and May 2015.

Esparina Residences had five rental contracts between the months of January and May 2015. Keep in mind that for Esparina, it is suspected that the lower rental cost may be a result of owners leasing out a spare bedroom in their unit.

While this may not be a good comparison, it should give future Jewel residents an idea of the base lowest price they can rent out a single room in their units or one of the smaller units at.

Project Unit size range (SQFT) Monthly rental range
Esparina Residences (EC) 1,000 – 1,100 $1,750 – $2,500
1,100 – 1,200 $3,300

 

All units listed in Esparina are 3-bedrooms, albeit with different sizes. For the bigger units, it is probable that the rental cost is for the entire unit whereas the smaller units with the lower price tags of $1,750 or $1,800 may be a single bed-room. The units that go for $2,500 may also be full units or a master bedroom for rent.

Additionally, the rental is lower because currently between Esparina are two developments undergoing construction; Jewel and Compassvale Helm (HDB). Once both are completed, rental prices may increase.

Provided Jewel stays on the path it is on and CDL delivers a truly breathtaking development upon completion, units at the upcoming new launch will command a much higher rental yield than both The Quartz and Esparina.

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Summary

It is true that Buangkok has the potential to be as prominent and popular as places like Tampines and Bishan.

Yet, it is also true that public perception of Buangkok has yet to collectively rise out of the history that it itself had until recently, crawled out of.

Not to mention of course, that as far as estates go, it’s not particularly well-known. Ask a random stranger on the street if they’ve heard of Buangkok and more often than not, they’ll mishear it as ‘Bangkok’ despite the different intonation at the beginning.

Public knowledge aside, Buangkok suffers from being a new estate in a time when Singapore’s population is bursting at the seams. The demands of the younger population differs greatly from say people of the 80s. Now, no convenient access to transport hubs, shopping, shops, schools and even a cinema is enough to condemn a place as being too rustic to be fully appreciated. Compassvale Bow is guilty of at least one of these.

Even schools are a little out of the way. The nearest – Palm View Primary and North Vista Primary School (behind Aspella along Compassvale Link) – are within walking distance but the other schools, like Sengkang Secondary School are slightly further and will most likely require the student to take a bus or be driven there. They could walk, but it is a little far. Tertiary institutes however are absent and adds a bit of that ‘in the middle of nowhere’ vibe for residents new to Buangkok.

The good thing here though is it has a peaceful environment. It’s a nice place to raise a family where you don’t have to worry about being inundated with modern amenities every time you turn a corner. The essentials are available and with a train station so close by, getting around Singapore is a breeze, albeit a little time-consuming. Still, Singapore is a small place so it’s not really as bad as it sounds – unless trains break down.

But Jewel @ Buangkok has to stand on its own. Its success will be measured by what it brings to district 19 and not the benefits it gains from the environment. When faced with the dubious honor of being in a young estate with no visible mass-market amenities (aside from NTUC and KFC) and views of the city or the sea to sell as perks, Jewel’s mark upon the Buangkok landscape has to be definitive.

And Jewel with its defining cloud structure, thematic cabins, unique tiered architecture and reasonably priced units in an up and coming neighborhood manages to incite just a little more excitement for the future of the young estate.

It’s difficult to speculate on what else may be developed in the area but one thing is for certain; district 19 will change and there will be more developments. This is a developing area with a lot of potential for growth and Jewel purchasers may indeed be sitting on a gold mine.

The only question is, how long are you willing to wait to reap the benefits?

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Eric Wong

Christopher Chitty

"I read, I write, I lift. I am content"