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Not spared by cooling measures
Exclusive and rare as they are, bungalows in GCBAs have not remained untouched by the dampening effects of Singapore's property cooling measures and slowing economy.
Experts estimate that 2016 prices in this segment were about 10-15 per cent below their last peak in 2013. Prices are expected to continue to ease a little in the first six months of this year.
The silver lining behind the price drop, though, is that it has drawn more buyers from the sidelines. The number of deals in GCBAs improved to 37 last year from 33 in 2015. That said, things are still a far cry from their heyday in 2010, which saw 132 transactions.
Since being gazetted 37 years ago, the 39 GCBAs have remained largely the same and there are currently no plans to release new sites or designate new areas as GCBAs, according to URA.
Nevertheless, some analysts said that some of the larger plots in GCBAs may potentially be subdivided, which means that the number of bungalows in these exclusive areas could potentially increase in the future - though not by a whole lot because of the minimum plot size rule.
All things considered, this housing form will remain relatively scarce, while its inherent characteristics will continue to generate demand. Some well-heeled Singaporeans may prefer to live in penthouses which are sometimes dubbed "bungalows in the sky" because of the views, and the easier maintenance. But industry players reckon that most will want to live in a bungalow in one of Singapore's GCBAs.
The ambience, feel - big land area in quiet locales surrounded by vegetation - and privacy of bungalows in GCBAs are protected, because these areas have been gazetted.
It is the pinnacle property that a Singaporean can own.
Some may question the need to maintain GCBAs given the competing needs for land on a small island like Singapore. But RSP Architects Planners & Engineers' Mr Liu argues: "Despite our land shortage, as a city, we must have as wide a variety of environment as we can.
"So we have beaches and we also have green areas. We are short of land and yet we have MacRitchie Reservoir and also conservation areas. When it comes to housing, we have from relatively high density to the fairly low density - so that we can cater for the needs of all income groups.
"In other words, whatever other bigger cities have, we also have. So that the environment will have variety, (and) it is not so monotonous. That's very much part of the planning concept."
He adds: "There is a Chinese saying that The sparrow may be small but all the five vital organs (that the bigger animals have) are there. So it is small but complete in every detail."*
Adapted from: The Business Times, 25 February 2017
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