Good Class Bungalows: The Creme De La Creme of Singapore Homes
Most people probably cannot afford to buy a good class bungalow (GCB) in their lifetime, but that doesn’t mean you cannot be “kaypoh” about it, especially when you read tons of news on GCBs that are snapped up by some wealthy tycoon.
But if you don’t have a clue about good class bungalows, you might be wondering: “just what the heck is a good class bungalow?”
Here’s a quick article on everything you need to know about good class bungalows.
What are good class bungalows?
Good class bungalows, or commonly known as GCBs, are the most prestigious and exclusive type of landed housing in Singapore.
Whilst most know that GCBs are super large and luxe homes for the wealthy, there are actually two things that distinguish GCBs from the ‘normal’ bungalows in Singapore: size and location.
In order to preserve their exclusivity, prestige and character, GCBs can only be built in 39 gazetted areas in Singapore (see below). These are usually located in prime and popular areas such as Chatsworth, Cluny Road near the Orchard Road shopping belt, Ridley Park off Tanglin Road, Leedon Park near Holland Road, and King Albert Park off Bukit Timah Road.
Good class bungalow locations:
Belmont Park, Bin Tong Park, Brizay Park, Bukit Sedap, Chatsworth Park, Cluny Hill, Cluny Hill, Cluny Park, Cornwall Gardens, Dalvey Estate, Ewart Park, First/Third Avenue, Ford Avenue, Fourth/Sixth Avenue, Gallop Road/Woollerton Park, Garlick Avenue, Holland Park, Holland Rise, Leedon Park, Maryland Estate, Nassim Road, Oei Tiong Ham Park, Queen Astrid Park, Rebecca Park, Ridley Park, Ridout Park, Victoria Park, White House Park
Bukit Tunggal, Caldecott Hill Estate, Camden Park, Chee Hoon Avenue, Eng Neo Avenue, Raffles Park, Swiss Club Road
Binjai Park, Kilburn Estate, King Albert Park,
Though there isn’t an estimated number, there are about 2,700 GCBs in the 39 zoned areas. Also, unlike most neighbourhoods in Singapore, these areas are surrounded by big plots of land and greenery.
In terms of their size, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) stipulates that:
- GCBs cannot be built more than two-storeys high (not inclusive of an attic and a basement)
- All GCBs must have a land area of at least 1,400 sq m (approx. 15,069 sq ft)
- Up to 40% of land is allowed for the home, while the remaining 60% is dedicated to greenery and landscaping (pools, gardens, basketball courts, etc)
Is it true that only Singaporeans can buy good class bungalows (GCBs)?
So you may have heard that foreigners and Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs) are restricted from buying landed homes in Singapore (not including Sentosa Cove properties), but this is not entirely true.
But first, who is considered a foreigner?
According to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), which regulates land use and property ownership, someone is considered a foreigner if he/she/it is not:
- Singapore citizen;
- Singapore company;
- Singapore limited liability partnership; or
- Singapore society
As such, PRs are also considered as foreigners in Singapore.
Now, let’s take a look at the rules stated by SLA. Based on the rules, foreigners must seek approval from SLA if they want to buy the following types of properties:
- Vacant residential land;
- Terrace house;
- Semi-detached house;
- Bungalow/detached house;
- Strata landed house which is not within an approved condominium development under the Planning Act (eg. townhouse or cluster house);
- Shophouse (for non-commercial use);
- Association premises;
- Place of worship; and
- Worker’s dormitory/serviced apartments/boarding house (not registered under the provisions of the Hotels Act)
As you can see, landed homes are not entirely off limits for foreigners. Special approval can be provided by the SLA and the success rate is largely determined by these two factors:
- The foreigner must be a Singapore PR for at least five years; and
- Has made an exceptional economic contribution to Singapore. This is assessed taking into consideration factors such as employment income assessable for tax in Singapore
Long story short, foreigners can buy a GCB home but it comes with the conditions mentioned above. A recent high-profile example of a successful applicant is James Dyson, who famously bought a $45 million bungalow in Bukit Timah in July 2019.
How much do good class bungalows (GCBs) cost?
Due to their scarcity and strong status symbol, GCBs cost much more than the average bungalow in Singapore. It’s not uncommon to find GCBs transacting for at least $8 million.
In 2019, there were 34 GCB deals totalling $645.7 million. Among these was a 84,453 sq ft GCB at 33 Nassim Road, which was sold for a whopping $231 million — the most expensive GCB to date.
Most GCBs’ psf prices are comparable to the more affordable bungalows in Sentosa Cove’s Paradise Island. According to Stuart Chng, Senior Associate Executive Director of OrangeTee & Tie, the average prices of GCB in District 10 from Dec 2019 to May 2020 is $1,597psf.
“However, do take note that averages do not accurately paint a picture on factors such as the age of the property, land characteristics or recent renovations done. Properties that require reconstruction or are sited on less desirable land shapes or gradients may also command less than $1000psf,” he says.
High profile GCB transactions in 2020
Although we’re only halfway through 2020, there were a number of GCB transactions this year too. Currently, the most expensive sale in 2020 is a 20,369 sq ft GCB in Cluny Park, which was sold for $40 million.
In May, a GCB at Windsor Park was purchased for $21.68 million. As it was during the circuit breaker, the buyer couldn’t visit the property but still decided to buy it after scouting the area.
How will COVID-19 impact the GCB market?
Stuart believes that wealthy buyers will be on the lookout for good GCB deals and will seize the opportunity to buy discounted GCBs.
After the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, the GCB market witnessed an uptrend in prices, and based on this, he expects the same thing to happen, which could explain the recent GCB deals of late.
“The GCB market emerged from the Global Financial Crisis with prices nary correcting and moving upward instead
“Despite COVID, the increasing influx of top-tier talents from around the world will be migrating to and making Singapore their homes. As such, I see prices staying resilient and not facing any tremendous downside pressures. This category of home owners is unlikely to face financial stress due to their wide-ranging portfolios and access to liquidity.
“In Q2 2020, I expect GCB sales to improve as we witness improving global stock markets and market sentiments.”
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