Forget about luxury condos. In Singapore, Good Class Bungalows are the highest form of prestigious housing.
Just ask some of Singapore’s most successful tech CEOs, who have of late scrambled to purchase Good Class Bungalows. As tech CEOs are basically the royalty of our age, this has made people sit up, pay attention and take a new interest in these ultra-exclusive houses.
Before we jump into reviewing who are the individuals behind some of the most high-profile GCB purchases this year, let’s take a look at GCB pricing trends and transaction data to get a sensing of the GCB market.
Good Class Bungalow Price and Transaction Trends in Singapore
Transaction Trend for Good Class Bungalows
GCBs have always been an asset perceived as a status symbol. Of late, the demand for luxury property in Singapore has been booming and the same can be said for the GCB market.
In this chart tracking the overall transaction volumes in the four districts with GCBs (Districts 10, 11, 20 and 21), you’ll see that there has been an increase in the number of transactions over the past five years.
The number of annual GCB transactions have picked up over the past two years, with the bulk of transactions coming from District 10 (Tanglin/Holland). Interestingly, there were no transactions at all for District 21 (Upper Bukit Timah/Ulu Pandan/Clementi Park) in 2020, but there have already been six transactions in 2021 so far.
Median PSF Price Trend for Good Class Bungalows
Here’s a look at the median price (psf) trend for GCB over the years.
You’ll see that prices for GCBs spiked drastically from 2005 to 2011. It was then the Government introduced the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty as a cooling measure in December 2011. Since then, median psf prices for GCBs have held steady over the next 10 years. There has been a slight increase in price since a decade ago, but it’s nothing too extreme.
While the demand for GCBs has picked up in 2021, it’s too soon to say the same for median psf prices.
When we look at the fluctuations in median psf prices per district, this trend holds true too. If you’d like to pick apart the data for yourself, you can do so here by clicking on the circles representing each district. Give it a try!
So comes the question, just who are the ones buying GCBs in Singapore? Let’s find out!
Who Are Buying Good Class Bungalows in Singapore? (2021)
1. Chew Shou Zi, Tik Tok CEO
Tik Tok is THE social media app of the 2020s, and newly-appointed Singaporean CEO Chew Shou Zi has surely cashed in on the Chinese company’s success, having recently purchased an $86 million Good Class Bungalow at Queen Astrid Park in the Holland/Bukit Timah area.
The property sits on a sprawling land area of 31,800 square feet, with 38-year-old Chew’s expenditure working out to a hefty $2,700 psf.
2. Chloe Tong, Wife of Grab CEO Anthony Tan
Grab has supplanted taxis as an essential form of transport in Singapore, and 30-year-old Chloe Tong, wife of Grab CEO, Anthony Tan, recently celebrated the company’s success by purchasing a $40 million, $1,849 psf Good Class Bungalow in Bin Tong Park.
Bin Tong Park is sandwiched in between the affluent enclaves of Sixth Avenue and Holland Village. Built in the nineties, the property sits on 21,637 square feet of land and was previously owned by a doctor.
3. Tan Min-Liang, Razer CEO
Razer’s famous gaming mice have catapulted co-founder and CEO Tan Min-Liang to the A-list of tech entrepreneurs. Tan recently entered into an agreement to purchase a $52.8 million, $1,706 psf Good Class Bungalow on Third Avenue. The property’s land area measures 30,954 square feet and is situated in the Bukit Timah area, right next to the prestigious Sixth Avenue.
4. Ian Ang, Secretlab CEO
Ian Ang is sitting pretty thanks to the success of Secretlab, the gaming chair company that he co-founded. In fact, the company is doing so well that 28-year-old Ang recently purchased two luxury properties, a penthouse at Leedon Residence and a 23,424 square foot Good Class Bungalow on Caldecott Hill in the Thomson area.
The latter cost $36 million or $4,291 psf and offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. Ang intends to have the house rebuilt and redesigned.
5. Jin Xiao Qun, wife of Nanofilm Technologies CEO Shi Xu
Nanofilm Technologies, which was founded in 1999 by Dr Shi Xu, turned its founder and CEO into a billionaire when the company was listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange last year. Shi’s wife, Jin Xiao Qun, who immigrated to Singapore with him from China in the nineties, recently purchased a Good Class Bungalow for $128,800,800 or $4,005 psf.
The 1964 property, known as the LadyVale Bungalow, is located on Nassim Road in between the Botanic Gardens and the Orchard area.
6. Zhang Hanzhi, son of Haidilao CEO Zhang Yong
Founder and chairman of everyone’s favourite hotpot chain, Haidilao, Zhang Yong is also Singapore’s richest person at the moment and together with his wife has a net worth of $25.02 billion. In 2016, he bought a $27 million, $1,700 psf property nicknamed The Winged House.
This time, it’s Zhang Yong’s son, Zhang Hanzhi, making the news for a GCB purchase. Zhang Yong, who is, like his father, a naturalised Singapore citizen, recently purchased a $42 million, $1,940 psf Good Class Bungalow on Gallop Road near the Botanic Gardens, right next door to his father’s existing house.
7. Tommy Ong, CEO of Stamped.io
A thirty-something local entrepreneur is rumoured to have purchased a Good Class Bungalow on Cluny Hill for $63.7 million or a record-breaking $4,291 psf. The house is currently under construction and sits on 14,843 square feet of land.
According to sleuthing by The Business Times, the buyer is believed to be Tommy Ong, founder and CEO of Stamped.io, an e-commerce marketing platform that was recently acquired by WeCommerce Holdings.
What Is a GCB in Singapore?
For the uninitiated, Good Class Bungalows comprise a category of about 2,800 landed homes built in 39 gazetted areas at some of Singapore’s most exclusive addresses. They are mostly clustered in the Orchard, Holland and Bukit Timah areas, including Chatsworth, Leedon Park and King Albert Park.
How Do You Qualify for the GCB?
Typically, you have to be a Singapore citizen before you can buy a Good Class Bungalow or landed property in Singapore. However, from 2012 to 2019, seven Singapore permanent residents who “made exceptional economic contributions to the Republic” were given the approval to buy a Good Class Bungalow.
Otherwise, foreigners who want to buy landed properties in Singapore can only purchase Sentosa Cove properties.
What Classifies as a GCB?
According to the URA, Good Class Bungalows must occupy land measuring at least 1,400 square metres (although there are some Good Class Bungalows on smaller land areas), of which a maximum of only 40% can be allotted to the actual house. This leaves a huge amount of space for sprawling gardens, swimming pools and other luxurious features.
There are a number of other regulations property must abide by in order to qualify as a Good Class Bungalow, such as not being more than two storeys high and the need to maintain a minimum amount of greenery in between properties.
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This article was written by Joanne Poh. A former real estate lawyer, she writes about property and personal finance and spends her free time compulsively learning languages and roller skating in carparks.
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