Pasir Ris 8 is an upcoming 487-unit mixed-used development located right next to Pasir Ris MRT on the East-West Line (EWL) and above the Pasir Ris Bus Interchange. Read our review here.
City Developments Limited (CDL) is a Singapore-listed international property and hotel conglomerate managing properties in 91 locations across 25 countries in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, North America, Asia and the Middle East. CDL boasts a global land bank of almost 7.2 million square feet comprising residential, retail, hotel, office and industrial space.
Project Name: The Brownstone
Address: Canberra Drive
Type: Executive Condominium
Site area: Approx. 307,447 sqft
Tenure: 99 years from 28 April 2014
Configuration: 638 units
42 2-bedroom units (730 – 850 sqft)
282 3-bedroom units (900 – 1090 sqft)
146 3-bedroom premium units (980 – 1090 sqft)
162 4-bedroom units (1090 – 1400 sqft)
6 5-bedroom units (1670 – 1710 sqft)
Maintenance fees: Estimated $270 – $360
638 normal lots
5 handicapped lots
2 flexible lots (power-point provided)
Expected TOP: January 2019
Expected legal completion: 2022
The Brownstone is advertised as a luxury executive condominium. Together with the North poised to become the next big lifestyle and economic hub, sales potential is looking very good. In fact, the development was launched late last month and already over 30% of its units have been sold, with penthouse units all being snapped up over the launch weekend itself.
Construction for the development is underway (above) and CDL has been making headlines for being the first developer in Asia to adopt PPVC (pre-finished volumetric construction) for a large-scale project like The Brownstone EC. PPVC refers to complete flats or modules made of multiple units complete with internal finishes, fixtures and fittings that are manufactured in factories, before being transported to site for installation in a lego-like manner. This means a safer worksite for workers, lesser man hours needed to complete the project and importantly, superior quality control.
Interested buyers should be aware that the showflat location (above left) is not on site, but further down right next to Sun Plaza and Sembawang MRT. This is primarily for convenience.
Jointly developed by CDL and TID Pte Ltd, a Japanese firm with over 40 years of experience in Singapore’s property market, The Brownstone is actually inspired by the rustic charm of New York Brownstone houses.
The brown sandstone inspired façade and jetty balconies increase the overall appeal of the development. To take better opportunity of the views, the balconies can also double up as alfresco dining areas as shown above. The photo is of the living area in a 4-bedroom unit.
Facilities at the residences include a 50-metre lap pool, 30-metre lap pool, 2 kids’ pools, a social pool and aqua deck, a basketball court, a tennis court, gymnasium, clubhouse, function rooms and a spa. Kids can have fun at the junior skating rink as well. To top it off, there are 3 sky barbeque areas.
For nature lovers, there are the wellness, spice, fruit and cooling herbs social gardens. There is also the hanging bosque and botanicube. To take all of the vibrant surroundings in while perhaps doing some yoga, there is the lawn vista.
Unit sizes range from 2-bedroom to 5-bedroom and there are branded fittings to give a more luxurious feel. Since The Brownstone is an Executive Condominium (EC), the units in the development are competitively priced.
The lowest-priced unit on PropertyGuru is a 730 sqft 2-bedroom unit going for $559,986, which translates to around $767 psf. Conversely, a 1670 sqft 5-bedroom unit is going for $1,411,000 which means an estimated $845 psf. Prices are lower than Canberra Residences’ and The Nautical’s, Brownstone’s closest competitors.
Showflat units were only available for the 3-bedroom premium and 4-bedroom units. The kitchens feature floor tiles, a PVC framed with glass and/or glass sliding and/or swing door, and kitchen cabinets with a solid surface worktop. They also come with a cooker hob and hood from Whirlpool, built-in oven, and a stainless steel sink mixer from Rigel. Both kitchens are relatively spacious, allowing at least 2 people to move around freely.
From the kitchen, there is direct access to the yard in both units. This allows residents to do their laundry away from the living and dining areas, so any noise generated will probably be contained. The yard comes with floor tiles, a PVC framed with glass sliding and/or swing door, and a bib tap for the washing.
In the yard, there is a utility room and a water closet. The utility room can be converted into a tiny bedroom as shown above, if really needed. Most residents are likely to use it for storage, however. Right next to it is the water closet, which comes with a hand shower set and wash basin and tap.
The dining and living room comes with floor tiles and a wall-mounted air-conditioning system from Mitsubishi. The area leads to a private enclosed space or balcony area depending on the unit type and an aluminium-framed sliding and/or swing door with glass and/or fixed glass panel with tinted glazing connects both spaces. The area is rather spacious.
Bedrooms 2 (top) and 3 (below) from the 3-bedroom unit can comfortably accommodate a single bed and queen-sized bed respectively. Fitting 2 single beds might be possible as well but you may end up with little to no leg room in Bedroom 2. Both come with vinyl flooring, a PVC laminated swing door, a built-in wardrobe, an aircon and a television point.
Bedroom 4 from the 4-bedroom unit can accommodate a queen-sized bed. If you choose to have a single bed instead, the room becomes much more spacious as shown above. Bedrooms 2 and 3 are similar in size as well for the unit. However, bedroom 4 in the smaller 4-bedroom units can only fit a single bed comfortably. Fittings are exactly the same as bedrooms 2 and 3.
The master bedroom in the 4-bedroom unit can fit a king-sized bed with quite a bit of room for movement. The same in the 3-bedroom unit is spacious, but fitting a king-sized bed may be pushing it. Both come furnished with vinyl flooring, a PVC laminated swing door, a built-in wardrobe, an aircon and a television point.
Bathrooms in the 3-bedroom (top) and 4-bedroom (below) units are very spacious. They come with floor tiles, a PVC sliding and/or swing door, a basin and mixer, a water closet, shower cubicle with shower mixer, mirror and a towel rail and/or hook.
The project was launched only last month (Jul 2015) and given that it is by a brand name developer (CDL), it is no surprise that around 32% of the units have already been sold.
The location of The Brownstone and the fact that it is an EC, means that interested buyers are more likely to be home buyers comprising newly married couples or households with bigger families. There is likely to be Investment potential as well for the project, though not very high, given the limitations imposed on the sale and purchase of an EC.
Etymology: An estate in the northernmost region of Singapore, Sembawang is said to have gotten its name from the Sembawang tree (Kayae ferruginea) which has been renamed Mesua ferruginea from 1980. This tree can be seen at Carpark C1 of Sembawang Park.
From being part of the Nee Soon rubber estate in the early 20th century, to becoming a major British naval base during colonial times, to eventually being converted to a commercial dockyard that is present-day industrial conglomerate Sembawang Corporation, the area has seen many changes over the years.
Many of the kampongs in the area were cleared during the 1970s – 1990s to make way for Yishun and Sembawang New Towns. However, a part of its history remains in the roads that were named during the British administration – Wellington, Canberra, Falkland, etc.
Today, Sembawang is a largely suburban residential estate, with military, industrial and recreational facilities at its periphery. It has also been home to port facilities since the 1900s and continues to handle regular shipping traffic.
Getting there: The Brownstone fronts not one but two of Sembawang’s main thoroughfares, Sembawang Road and Canberra Link which extends to Yishun Avenue 2. While Sembawang may seem very far off to people living in more central parts of Singapore, the city is a mere 20-minute drive away via the Central Expressway (CTE), given normal traffic conditions.
For early-morning commuters, Raffles Place will be a 30-minute MRT ride away and City Hall, a 35-minute ride, once the upcoming Canberra MRT station of the North South Line is completed in 2019.
Woodlands Checkpoint is an 8-minute drive away and the proposed Rapid Transit System (RTS) will make it even more convenient if you prefer to take public transport. Driving down Canberra Link on the other hand, will get you onto the Seletar Expressway (SLE) in under 10 minutes.
After taking the SLE exit on the left, you could stay left and continue on to the Tampines Expressway (TPE) which would then take you to Sengkang or Punggol and from there, the greater North East area. Further down the TPE would be Tampines, Pasir Ris and lastly Changi.
Or, you could stay right on SLE and enter the Central Expressway (CTE) if you’re headed to areas in town like Novena, Orchard or Dhoby Ghaut.
In future, motorists will also be able to add the North-South expressway (NSE) to their travel routes. Connecting Sembawang and other towns along the north-south region to the city centre, the NSE will also intersect and provide links to current expressways. Driving down Sembawang Road from The Brownstone will get you onto the NSE in 5 minutes tops.
Travelling during the off peak period will get you on the expressway in a jiffy. However, traffic during peak hours may not be ideal and you may end up wasting time driving. Public transport to certain locations during these hours may be a better option for some.
Currently, there are no bus stops or MRT stations directly next to The Brownstone. However, TOP for the development is scheduled for early 2019 and by then, the Yishun integrated transport hub should be ready. Canberra MRT is also under construction at the moment, and will be ready in 2019. New roads leading from Sembawang to the much anticipated Seletar Aerospace Park and its surrounding areas will also be constructed for increased accessibility.
The estate: Sembawang has been slated for many new developments in the near future as part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Master Plan for the North. Thus, be prepared for a fair bit of construction along the way, despite it being an established area.
However, new parks and nature spots are coming up as well to make up for the increasing level of development. This way, residents and future residents will have a refuge from the noise and construction. Places you could visit to take in nature include the nearby Sembawang Park, Canberra Park and Yishun Neighbourhood Park. Sembawang Park is home to one of Singapore’s last few remaining natural beaches, the Wak Hassan Beach which has become a popular spot for fishing and relaxed hangouts.
As for school options, Sembawang Secondary School, Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School, Sembawang Primary School and Wellington Primary School are within walking distance of The Brownstone. There is however, a noticeable lack of tertiary institutions nearby. Republic Polytechnic, Yishun Junior College and Innova Junior College are all at least a 10 – 15 minute drive away.
While entertainment options are plenty, there is yet to be an iconic ‘all-in-one” shopping mall with a cinema to boot, situated within walking distance of The Brownstone. Sembawang Shopping Centre and Sun Plaza are nearest and both are heartland malls featuring eateries and a supermarket each. Sun Plaza has a public library located within it as well. For malls with a wider variety of outlets and amenities, residents can travel slightly further to Causeway Point or the upcoming massive Northpoint City.
Jalan Legundi, which is a 2-minute drive away is an up-and-coming lifestyle enclave with many new cafes and this may appeal to café hoppers. If you happen to be a golf enthusiast, Orchid, Sembawang and Seletar Country Clubs are all within a 10-minute drive away.
For some family fun, 24-hour leisure park Orto is perhaps a 5-10 minute drive away. This is an exciting new development for the adventurous with activities ranging from prawning and fishing to paintball, futsal and trampoline jumping. SAFRA Yishun is a 3-minute drive away as well. Families with little kids will love the fact that the zoo is a 19-minute drive away.
As for the healthcare needs of residents, there are various clinics situated around Sembawang as well as Khoo Teck Puat Hospital further up in Yishun. From 2015 to 2022, you can also expect a slew of developments to open progressively, including Yishun Community Hospital, Admiralty Medical Centre and Woodlands Integrated Healthcare Campus. This not only means being able to address your medical concerns immediately, but also that there will be a growing bank of career opportunities in the North.
This is in addition to the upcoming Woodlands Regional Centre which is a 10-minute drive away. The $31m injection of funds by the government will translate to new commercial and business developments there and consequently even more job opportunities across a diverse range of sectors.
The area surrounding The Brownstone however, is made up of mostly residential projects and greenery at the moment, with Canberra MRT slated to begin operations in 2019. Future residents will be able to enjoy peace and quiet with the exception of maybe those in the block nearest to the MRT line.
Caveated transactions for The Brownstone at time of writing (Aug 2015) stands at 206. Recorded transaction prices range from $602K to $1.38M, with over 96 percent of the transactions coming in at $1M or below (see Chart 1). Given that the affordable price range for most property buyers lies between $1M to $1.5M and keeping in mind that we are talking about an EC, the project is most definitely priced to sell, and sales so far are reflective of this.
The Brownstone’s closest competitor would be Canberra Residences, located directly opposite the development. Launched in early 2011, it was priced to sell as well, with its current median price at $822.5 psf to Brownstone’s $821 psf. However, its current median price for transactions in the past 4 quarters is $1058 psf. Its higher price is most likely due to the fact that it is a private condominium not governed by the regulations imposed on an EC. Also, the upcoming Canberra MRT station will be a 500m walk away, increasing accessibility and connectivity greatly.
Occupants of Canberra Residences are likely to be a mix of home buyers and investors. The home buyers likely prefer to be away from the bustle of city life and enjoy being tucked away in the calming greenery of Sembawang, while investors hope to capitalize on the appreciating value of their property with the coming transformation of the vicinity.
Units at Canberra Residences range from 1-5 bedrooms implying that the project caters to not only families of various sizes, but more importantly, investors as well. Conversely, The Brownstone has 428 3-bedroom units and 162 4-bedroom units. These make up the bulk of the units available. 198 out of the 206 caveated transactions are for 3, 4 and 5-bedroom units, suggesting that buyers are likely to be families looking for a new home.
It may be more useful to look at 3-bedroom units in particular, across both developments. According to caveats, The Brownstone’s 3-bedroom units have a median price of $826 psf while incidentally, Canberra Residences’ was also $826 psf.
Caveated transactions for 3-bedroom and 3-bedroom premium units at The Brownstone range from $712K to $938K, while Canberra Residences’ 3-bedroom units range from $516K to $1.93M. Unit sizes are mostly the reason behind this difference in prices. 3-bedroom units at Canberra Residences have more generous proportions, starting from 1076 sqft and going up to 1496 sqft. The same unit type at The Brownstone range from 900 sqft to 1090 sqft.
We also have to remember that Canberra Residences was launched in 2011 and market conditions then were different. The government introduced a slew of property cooling measures over the period and this could have affected pricing for the project. On top of that, the location was rather isolated at that point and Sembawang MRT was an 800 metre walk away.
In terms of simple sale prices, The Brownstone is definitely the more affordable option.
Future Rental Potential
ECs are governed by a separate set of regulations and this includes the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) of 5 years. This means that rental of the whole unit is prohibited for the first 5 years following purchase. However, EC units have been known to see substantial appreciations in prices after the MOP.
To have a general idea of what the rental situation will be like for The Brownstone, we will need to look at rental prices for projects in the vicinity. The current median rental price for District 27 (Yishun / Sembawang) is around $2.48 psf per month at time of writing, based on rental transactions for the past 4 quarters.
At these rates, a 3-bedroom unit around 1000 sqft at The Brownstone would go for around $2,500 to $2,600 a month. With the median price for the unit around $797K, the annual gross rental yield at the current rate would be an estimated 3.7%. Assuming that the value of the unit rises after the MOP and that rental prices correspondingly see a surge, a 3-bedroom unit could potentially fetch up to $3,200. At that price, annual gross rental yield would move up to around 4.8%.
The median unit size of a 3-bedroom at Canberra Residences, on the other hand, would probably fetch around $3,200 a month at today’s rental rates. This translates to around 4.6% in annual gross rental yield. With the upcoming Canberra MRT and myriad of other developments in the area, rental could go up to $4,000. Annual gross rental yield would then be in the 5.8% range.
While Canberra Residences presents a potentially higher rental yield, both projects seem to be safe bets for buyers looking to rent their units out in future. The developments are less than 200m apart, so the choice of nearby amenities would not differ too greatly. Key differentiators would be the size of the units and the walking distance to the MRT line. Landlords will have to keep in mind however, that there will be competition when other private residential projects in the area are completed, and price their units accordingly.
The Brownstone boasts affordability and quality and this is a combination bound to attract any property buyer. It is also the “best-selling EC launched” so far this year, according to a press statement by CDL. Its proximity to the upcoming Canberra MRT is another reason for it being highly sought after.
Furthermore, easy access to major expressways means convenience and connectivity for residents. With shopping malls, hawker centres, cafes and restaurants all within a 1 kilometre radius of the development, they will not have to travel far for their needs. There are other projects in the works as well, such as the Neighbourhood Centre consisting of a food court, supermarket and other shops right next to Canberra MRT and a Sports and Recreation Centre.
As mentioned earlier however, there is yet to be an all-inclusive shopping mall within walking distance. There is still quite a bit of undeveloped land in the immediate surroundings of The Brownstone that could potentially be developed. However, until concrete plans have been announced by the URA, such speculation is moot.
The project is also about a 5-10 minute drive away from the upcoming massive Northpoint City, which is set to transform the entire area. Residents will enjoy increased convenience and be spoilt for choice with the multiple entertainment and relaxation options available.
Besides the lack of an established shopping mall within walking distance, the only other potential drawback is the lack of a range of educational institutions. Primary and secondary schools are plenty but there is a distinct lack of tertiary institutes nearby.
Investment potential is high if you are willing to wait since there’s a Minimum Occupation Period. The surrounding areas will be completely transformed in 5 years and this will definitely drive prices up. However, there are other regulations as well, such as eligible buyers being Singaporeans or PRs only. For all these limitations to be lifted, you will have to wait a decade. The highest recorded profit made from the resale of an EC is close to $1M, so being patient may pay off in the end.
The URA has several plans already set in motion for District 27. The coming transformation of the areas will prove to be very exciting for residents and securing a unit at The Brownstone will definitely mean many long-term benefits for occupants.