Why Did James Dyson Decide to Sell His Wallich Residence Penthouse?

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After splashing $73.8 million on Singapore’s most expensive penthouse last year, James Dyson is reportedly selling his “super penthouse” at Wallich Residence for $63 million. Yup, that’s a loss of $11.8 million.

So why is he selling his penthouse just after a year of buying it? Unless privy to his private meetings, no one can really say for sure, but industry members and analysts have some ideas. Here’s what we think.  

 

Background of James Dyson’s penthouse

The ultra-luxe Wallich Residence is Singapore’s tallest residential development and is located along Wallich Street in Tanjong Pagar. Developed by GuocoLand, the 99-year leasehold project consists of 181 luxury homes (including one super penthouse) and is part of Guoco Tower, a mixed development consisting of Grade A offices, a shopping centre, F&B outlets and luxurious homes, spread across 89,000 sq ft of space. 

The entire development is designed by world-renowned architectural firm, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), whose portfolio includes the One World Trade Centre in New York and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

In July 2019, billionaire James Dyson, owner of Dyson Ltd, made headlines when he bought the super penthouse at Wallich Residence – Singapore’s priciest, highest and biggest ever – for $73.8 million, or $3,496 psf.

Dubbed as the ‘bungalow in the sky’, the three-storey, 21,108 sq ft super penthouse boasts five bedrooms that each have their en-suite bathrooms and walk-in closets, a dining room, a living room, an entertainment room, and a utility room.

In addition to a private pool, cabana, jacuzzi room, a 600-bottle wine cellar, and an unobstructed view Marina Bay and Sentosa Island, the penthouse also comes with a private lift lobby with lift access to the car basement and the Tanjong Pagar MRT station. Both he and his wife, Deirdre, are listed as joint tenants.

As Dyson and Deirdre are both British citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs), they would have only paid 5%  Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD), instead of the 20% imposed on foreigners, assuming that this is their first property in Singapore.

Experts say that the total ABSD and Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) paid would have been around $6.63 million, or $14 million in total if it was their second property purchase. 

According to reports, Dyson had bought the home because he was moving Dyson’s headquarters from the UK to Singapore, to focus on the business growth in the region.

“Given the decision to locate the headquarters in Singapore and the growing focus of the company’s business in the region, of course James Dyson has bought a property there,” a Dyson spokesman said, as per Reuters

 

The Dysons also bought a $50 mil GCB at Nassim Road

Barely six months after buying Singapore’s most expensive penthouse, Mr Dyson made the news again, this time, after purchasing his second luxurious property in Singapore – a good class bungalow (GCB) in Nassim Road, which he paid a good $50 million for. 

The freehold GCB property, which comes complete with an infinity pool and indoor waterfall, faces Singapore’s UNESCO-listed Botanic Gardens.

Even though foreigners and Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs) aren’t quite allowed to buy landed homes in Singapore (apart from Sentosa Cove properties), special approval can be granted by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), if one has made ‘exceptional economic contributions to Singapore’.

 

Though he sold his home at a loss, experts say it’s not a bad decision

However, fast forward to a year later, Dyson and his wife have agreed to sell their Wallich home for $62 million, or at nearly $3,000 psf. This is $11.8 million lower than the price he had paid just over a year ago.

The Business Times (BT) reported that the buyer of his super penthouse is Indonesian-born tycoon Leo Koyuan. The U.S citizen is the co-founder and chairman of SHI International, an infotech provider for companies such as Boeing and AT&T. 

Assuming that this is his first property purchase in Singapore, Mr Leo would not need to pay ABSD as part of the United States – Singapore Free Trade Agreement (USSFTA).

Meanwhile, apart from incurring a loss of $11.8 million, the Dysons would need to pay a Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) of 8%, or nearly $5 million for selling the property in the second year. 

Despite that, experts say that it’s not a bad decision, given the more cautious business sentiment during this COVID-19 period. In July this year, Dyson Ltd said that it was letting go 600 of its employees across the world, including 16 positions in Singapore.  

Other factors might have also come into play; for instance, Wallich Residence is a leasehold development with a remaining lease of 89 years. As the mixed-development sits in the heart of the CBD and comes integrated with offices, retails shops, a hotel, as well as the Tanjong Pagar MRT station, it might not offer the privacy that some ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) cherish. 

Also, Mr Dyson still owns the GCB home, which is not only freehold, but is also located in a super-exclusive area that is away from all the hustle and bustle of city life. 

"The Dysons have probably found the villa, just a stone's throw from the Singapore Botanic Gardens, to be more suited to their taste. Assuming they are not based in Singapore all the time, they might not have seen much point in maintaining the Wallich Residence penthouse in the CBD," said a market watcher as quoted by BT. 

Tan Tee Khoon, Country Manager for PropertyGuru Singapore, says that Dyson may see this as an opportune time to sell, given that he could find a buyer that’s within the same class as himself. 

He explains, “I think he was decisive once he knew which of the two eminent properties he would make his abode at. 

"Of course, he could have sold the penthouse after three years and not paid SSD. However, he may not find another esteemed buyer who appreciates the mega penthouse and has the financial prowess to purchase it. Such buyers of the same league are hard to come by.”

 

Looking for landed properties in Singapore?

You don’t have to be a billionaire like James Dyson to buy a landed property. Checkout these landed homes that are priced below $2mil and $4mil in Singapore. 

 

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