Irwell Hill Residences’s location in the exclusive District 9 makes it one of the most coveted addresses in Singapore, and the development is one of the rare new launches in the area. Here’s our review of the project.
JBE Holdings Pte Ltd (JBE Holdings) is a private property developer with a strong commitment to environmental sustainability. With a diverse track record that spans residential and mixed-use projects, it boasts more than a decade of development experience in Singapore.
Project Name: Signature at Yishun
Address: Yishun Street 51
Site area: Approx. 196,555 sqft
Tenure: 99 years
Configuration: 525 units
70 2-bedroom units (764 – 775 sqft)
60 3-bedroom units (947 sqft)
239 3-bedroom premium units (1,076 – 1,098 sqft)
132 4-bedroom units (1,184 sqft)
24 4-bedroom premium units (1,302 sqft)
Maintenance fees: Around $240 – $280
530 normal lots
5 handicapped lots
Expected TOP: May 2018
Expected legal completion: May 2021
Signature at Yishun is a 525-unit Executive Condominium (EC) located along Yishun Street 51. It launched in late Sep 2015, following the recent announcement to increase the income ceiling for ECs from $12,000 to $14,000. An estimated 20% of buyers fall into the above $12,000 range, so the revision has made an impact on sales for the project. At time of writing (Oct 2015), around 20% of units have been sold.
Unit sizes range from 2-bedroom units to 4-bedroom units. The lowest-priced unit on PropertyGuru is a 764 sqft 2-bedroom unit going for $499,000, which translates to around $653 psf. A 1,302 sqft 4-bedroom unit is going for $990,000 and this is an estimated $760 psf.
At time of writing, all unit types are still available.
The show flat is on site, along Yishun Street 51. Construction is still in the early stages.
Signature at Yishun consists of 11 towers each standing at 12 storeys tall. Facilities are organized in a ‘U-shape’ of sorts, allowing for easy access.
Facilities are categorized into four zones – Wellness, Aqua, Recreation and Relaxation.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie:
- tennis court
- 3G fitness cove
- yoga deck
- jogging trail and
- 50m lap pool
If you’re a nature lover:
- urban farming lawn
- fragrance garden
- hydrotherapy alcove
- spice garden and
- foot reflexology walk
If you’re a kid:
- children’s play pool
- water jets playground
- children’s slide pool
- swing beds (pool)
- wading pool
- games pavilion
- children’s playground, play deck & activity pavilion
- adventure fort and
- pets patio
For family activities, there is a BBQ pavilion, party deck, clubhouse with function room and a festive terrace. After a long day at work, you can head to the jacuzzi, poolside cabanas or even the alfresco dining area for some relaxation time.
An interesting concept behind Signature at Yishun is that it pays homage to Singapore’s heritage, in celebration of Singapore’s 50th year since independence. Some of the facilities and structures within the project are very clearly reminiscent of the past.
These include the ‘five stones’ water pods, ‘chapteh’ terrace, and ‘five stones’ lounge pods. The developer is also building a nostalgia trail which features structures shaped after spinning tops and a pavilion in the shape of a ‘sepak tekraw’ ball. Children will love the ‘dragon playground’ which is set amidst water, blending innovation with a nod to the playgrounds of the past.
Since Yishun used to be home to pineapple farms in the early 20th century, the pineapple-inspired monogram on the clubhouse’s façade is a way in which the developers try to bring a sense of heart into the project.
Showflat units are available for the 3- and 4-bedroom units. Photos in this review are from both units. The contemporary interiors are the brainchild of acclaimed designer Mr Peter Tay, recipient of the President’s Design Award in 2014.
- homogenous and/or porcelain tiles for living, dining, hallway to bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, yard, utility, water closet, balcony or private enclosed space (PES)
- parquet and/or timber strips for bedrooms
- fire-rated timber door for entrance
- timber doors for bedrooms and bathrooms
- aluminium-framed glass sliding doors for living/dining/bedrooms to balcony/PES
- timber-framed glass door for dining to kitchen
- shower compartment with mixer and shower head, wall hung water closet, basin with mixer, mirror, paper holder and towel rail for all bathrooms
- pedestal water closet, basin with tap and shower set for water closet
- built-in wardrobes for all bedrooms
- built-in shoe cabinet at entrance
- wall-mounted air-con from Mitsubishi for living, dining and all bedrooms
Residents get a built-in shoe cabinet right next to the entrance of their unit.
Cabinets with solid surface countertops and a stainless steel sink come with the kitchen. Appliances provided include a built-in oven and a gas cooker hob and hood. A gallery-style kitchen in the 3-bedroom units allows two people to move around comfortably at any one time.
Kitchens in the 4-bedroom units have a slightly different, L-shaped arrangement. Because of this, two people may not be able to move around freely at the same time.
The kitchen is connected to the yard and water closet in the 3-bedroom premium, 4-bedroom and 4-bedroom premium units. The utility space is noticeably larger than most other projects.
The living room extends to the balcony or the PES, depending on the unit type. Once you enter the 3-bedroom unit, the kitchen is to the side, with the dining area just beside it.
In the 4-bedroom unit, the space is bigger and the balcony wider. The spaces are clearly segregated so the dining area is nicely situated behind the living area.
The common bedrooms can fit a queen-sized bed with ample room for movement.
You could also convert it into a kids room and maximize space by opting for a double bed or a study-and-bed option like in the photo.
Alternatively, it could be a study area or office space.
Master bedrooms can easily accommodate a king-sized bed and still have more than enough maneuvering space.
While the room sizes for the project are impressive, bathroom sizes are average. The common bathroom has just the right amount of space for one person’s use.
Master bathrooms are slightly wider and larger.
The project was launched in late September 2015 and buyers are likely to be owner-occupiers due to Signature’s location and the fact that it is an EC.
Etymology: Yishun, or Nee Soon, as it was originally named, is a suburban town in northern Singapore, which includes Yishun New Town and the Nee Soon private residential estate.
Yishun is the mandarin romanization of Nee Soon, which was named after the ‘pineapple king’ and rubber magnate Lim Nee Soon. Nee Soon was a Singaporean merchant, respected community leader and very importantly, one of the pioneers responsible for opening up the Sembawang and Yishun areas.
Development of HDB flats in Yishun first began in 1976, with the first batch of flats in Chong Pang. Since then, eight other neighbourhoods have been developed in the area.
Today, Yishun New Town has an estimated population of 162,900.
Getting there: Signature at Yishun is located along Yishun Street 51, which joins Yishun Avenue 4 and eventually the arterial Yishun Avenue 1. It is also situated right next to The Criterion, another upcoming Executive Condominium (EC). For early-morning commuters, Raffles Place will be a 34-minute MRT ride away and City Hall, a 33-minute ride.
The Seletar Expressway (SLE) on the right connects to both the Tampines Expressway (TPE) and the Central Expressway (CTE). The SLE (TPE) will take you to Sengkang, Tampines, Pasir Ris and eventually to Changi. The SLE (CTE) will take you to town areas like Orchard and the CBD in under 20 minutes. The upcoming North South Expressway (NSE) which will run parallel to the CTE will reduce travel time during peak hours by up to 30%.
Yishun MRT is a 4-minute drive away, and you have Northpoint Shopping Centre, Yishun 10 which houses Golden Village Cinemas Yishun and the upcoming integrated development Northpoint City, there. Khatib MRT is a 3-minute drive away and from there it is a 33-minute commute to Raffles Place MRT and a 32-minute one to City Hall MRT.
The estate: Signature at Yishun is currently surrounded by residential projects.
The Criterion is right in front of Signature at Yishun. This is the first time that two EC plots situated next to each other have been launched simultaneously. More HDB projects are situated all along Yishun Street 51.
There is a bus stop along Yishun Street 41, in front of The Criterion. 804 is a loop service that starts at Yishun Bus Interchange, which connects different parts of Yishun. 850E is an express service that operates only on weekday mornings between 7.20am and 7.50am and evenings between 6.15pm and 6.30pm.
As for school options, there are quite a number.
- Naval Base Primary School
- Northland Primary School
- Orchid Park Secondary School
- Northbrooks Secondary School
- Chung Cheng High School (Yishun)
- Rainbow Centre – Yishun Park School
Within 2 km:
- Peiying Primary School
- Huamin Primary School
- North View Primary School
- Naval Base Secondary School
- North View Secondary School
- Yishun Junior College
- GEMS World Academy (Singapore)
Northpoint Shopping Centre is a 5-minute drive away. It is Singapore’s first major suburban shopping mall, which opened in 1992. Located opposite Yishun MRT and next to Yishun Bus Interchange, it boasts 168 stores and services and recently, a rooftop water playground. It also houses Yishun Public Library.
Northpoint Shopping Centre will be expanded by almost three times with the completion of the upcoming integrated development Northpoint City right next to it. In addition to being the first mall to have a community club located in it, the new shopping haven will feature more than 500 retail and dining outlets and a rooftop community garden.
Because of construction works for Northpoint City, the temporary Yishun Bus Interchange is now located behind Northpoint Shopping Centre. Northpoint City will feature an integrated transport hub opposite Yishun MRT, when complete.
Yishun 10, which houses Golden Village Cinemas Yishun, Asia’s first ‘green’ cinema, is right next to Northpoint Shopping Centre.
For your healthcare concerns, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) is a 3-minute drive away. The upcoming Yishun Community Hospital next to KTPH will begin operations at the end of 2015 and services include rehabilitative, dementia and palliative care for patients. Yishun Polyclinic is a 4-minute drive away and for everyday medicine, there are several clinics around the neighbourhood.
Caveated transactions for Signature at Yishun at time of writing (Oct 2015) stands at 89. Recorded transaction prices range from $566K to $1.09M, with an estimated 88 percent of the transactions coming in at $1M or below (see Chart 1).
Signature at Yishun’s closest competitor would be The Criterion, situated right next to it. Launched in early October 2015, its current median price is $806 psf to Signature’s $768 psf. City Developments Limited (CDL), The Criterion’s developer is not expected to engage in direct price competition with JBE and has priced its project at a slight premium to reflect premiem quality.
Occupants of The Criterion are likely to be home buyers as well, with it being an EC. With the upcoming transformation of the Yishun vicinity, the future Seletar Aerospace Park and Thomson-East Coast Line, property prices in the district are bound to see a rise. So, there could be potential for capital appreciation, if buyers are willing to wait out the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP).
Units at The Criterion range from 2-5 bedroom units while Signature at Yishun consists of 2-4 bedroom units. Signature at Yishun and The Criterion are the first and second ECs respectively to be launched after the recent announcement to raise the income ceiling for ECs.
To understand pricing better, we will be looking at 3-bedroom units in particular, across both developments. According to caveats, Signature at Yishun’s 3-bedroom units have a median price of $769 psf while The Criterion’s is $793 psf. Transactions for the units at Signature at Yishun range from $668K to $896K, and from $635K to $828K at The Criterion.
Before deciding based on these numbers alone, we should look at unit sizing as well. By comparison, 3-bedroom units at Signature at Yishun have larger proportions and are between 947 sqft and 1,098 sqft. At The Criterion, they range from 786 sqft to 1,076 sqft.
Signature at Yishun offers more value for money with the unit sizing and psf, but The Criterion is almost on par. One advantage Signature has over Criterion, is that it was launched earlier, hence reaping some of the ‘first-mover advantage’.
For one to be a clear winner, developers will have to price their projects more competitively.
Future Rental Potential
Since Signature at Yishun is an EC, initial buyer eligibility and sale restrictions are only lifted completely, 10 years after the project completion. However, past EC resale transactions have shown significant capital appreciation for buyers. At the same time, future rental potential after the MOP looks to be strong.
To have a general idea of what rental prices will be like for Signature at Yishun, we need to look at rental prices for projects in the vicinity. The current median rental price for District 27 (Yishun / Sembawang) is around $2.57 psf per month at time of writing, based on rental transactions for the past 4 quarters. At these rates, a 3-bedroom unit around 1,020 sqft at Signature at Yishun would go for around $2,700 to $2,800 a month. With the median price for the unit being around $836K, the annual gross rental yield at the current rate would be an estimated 3.9%. Assuming that rental prices increase in future with the revamp of the Yishun district, the same 3-bedroom unit could possibly fetch up to $3,100. Gross rental yield then moves up to 4.4%.
The median unit size of a 3-bedroom at The Criterion, on the other hand, would probably fetch around $2,600 a month at today’s rental rates. This translates to around 3.9% in annual gross rental yield. Rental could go up to $2,900 a month with future developments in the surrounding areas. Annual gross rental yield would then be in the 4.4% range.
Rental yield for Signature at Yishun and The Criterion are very similar. The projects are next to each other, so there is no real difference in terms of nearby amenities. Unit sizing differs slightly with Signature having more generous proportions. Overall, rental yields for both developments seem to be in the safe zone.
Signature at Yishun is a good option for young couples as well as bigger families who want to have a home that’s pretty near major amenities without being right next to all the activity. The developer JBE Holdings pitches on the affordability factor with prices being around $750 psf or lower.
Residences will enjoy convenience with the upcoming Northpoint City being a 5-minute drive away, as are Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and Yishun MRT. There is easy access to major expressways and other nearby malls like Junction 9. For families with kids, there is a range of school options to pick from in the neighbourhood.
The fact that there is no MRT station within walking distance, cannot be hidden however. The developers are addressing this concern by providing a complimentary shuttle bus service to Yishun MRT in the first year of residence.
Residents will also appreciate that JBE has developed an app that they can use to pay monthly maintenance fees from and book facilities on. This is the first instance of such technology being introduced for an EC.
As for investment potential, it could be high if buyers think in the long term and are willing to wait for the MOP to be over. Once completely privatized, the unit will go at the same rate as a private condo and this translates to significant profit for the seller.
Overall, units at Signature at Yishun are very attractively priced and residents will be getting value for their money with the project’s proximity to the future Northpoint City and Seletar Aerospace Park.