Cover A view of Marina Bay from the rooftop pool of the Marina Bay Sands hotel. Image: Will Truettner / Unsplash

From penthouses in Tanjong Pagar to Good Class Bungalows along Cluny Road, here’s a look at some of the most exclusive addresses in Singapore

When you look at the dynamics behind Singapore’s property market, the adage being “in the right place at the right time” seems very apt. The country’s strategic location makes it a Southeast Asian transport hub and one of the top financial cities in the world. Add to that, the fact that it is the most dynamic developing cities in the region, attracting investors from around the world.  
 
All these have fed its residential market over the years, which although has seen some ups and downs in the years has remained largely a profitable investment. And the post-pandemic figures only prove that in spades. “Singapore’s residential prices and the segment’s high performance since the onset of Covid-19 across all segments—mass market, city fringe and high-end—has outperformed economic fundamentals,” says Tricia Song, head of research, Southeast Asia at CBRE. 

See also: The Most Exclusive Residential Streets in Asia

As is true of any country’s property market, the districts that have historically performed well have continued to do so. But before we get into that it’s important to understand how the Singapore’s real estate market segments are divided. They are, as Implemented by the Urban Development Authority (URA), three main divisions: Core Central Region (CCR), Rest of Central Region (RCR) and the Outside Central Region (OCR). These regions contain all 28 of Singapore districts.  
 
Here’s our pick of streets and districts that have seen some unusually high-ticket purchases:  

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Nassim Road and Cluny Road in District 10

Long considered one of the most prime districts in Singapore is District 10, nestled in the Core Central Region (CCR) of Singapore. And among its most famous coveted addresses is Nassim Road, which extends all the way from Orchard Road to the verdant haven of Singapore Botanic Gardens. The Embassy of Japan, Embassy of The Republic of Philippines and the Embassy of the Russian Federation share the prestigious District 10 address along with some of the most exclusive Good Class Bungalows (GCBs) in Singapore. 
 
In a class of real estate where the starting price is $20 million, Nassim Road made history in May 2019 with a GCB sale of $230 million. According to the Straits Times, the sprawling 84,543 sqft estate went for $2,721 per square foot (psf) and was sold by a private company co-owned by Wing Tai Holdings chairman Cheng Wai Keung and his wife Helen Chow.

Earlier this year, Edgeprop reported that the founder of Nanofilm Technologies International and his wife Jin Xiao Qun bought one for $128.8 million. The 32,159sqft GCB estate went at a whopping $4,005psf. The fact that the seller, a businesswoman owns another GCB in the area proves beyond doubt the exclusivity of the neighbourhood. 

“Demand for bigger non-landed homes in the traditional prime Districts 9 and 10 have also increased,” says Victoria Garrett, head of residential, Asia-Pacific at Knight Frank. “Homes within developments such as Les Maisons Nassim and Park Nova were some of the few which made up the top prime high-rise deals in H1 2021.” 

See also: Grab CEO's Family Snaps Up GCB: Other Notable Property Purchases of 2021 in Singapore So Far

Another District 10 gem, Cluny Road beat its neighbour Nassim Road on the psf rate at $63.8 million at $4,291psf for a GCB that is still under construction. Another noteworthy purchase is by British billionaire James Dyson, owner of Dyson, at 45 million—less than a month after splurging on a penthouse in District 2. In nearby Dalvey Road, a scion of Taiwan’s Tsai family—of Cathay Life Insurance and Cathay Financial Holding fame—purchased a 52,059 sqft GCB estate for $93.9 million. 
 
It was also Cluny Road that started the trend of black and white houses (colonial bungalows) in Singapore—although it does not exist today. English Architect Regent Alfred John Bidwell is credited for introducing the style of houses in 1903 that fused Tudor Revivalist style with the Arts and Crafts movement.

Interior design firm, Designworx Interior Consultant, which has over the year designed the interiors of several GCBs in District 10—Leedon Park, Ridout Road, Cluny Road, Nathan Road, Cable Road, Maryland Drive, Fourth Avenue and King Albert Park—says that the allure of the area will continue.  
 
“Districts 9 (Orchard, Cairnhill, River Valley) and 10 (Ardmore, Bukit Timah, Holland Road, Tanglin) have historically been and continue to be the most expensive in Singapore,” says design director Terri Tan. “Location, proximity and connectivity to preferred education institutions, the shopping belt and the Central Business District (CBD), are a few major contributing factors.” 

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Ardmore Park in District 10

Tucked within one of Singapore’s prime and preferred locations in District 10, close to Tanglin Road and the Orchard Road shopping belt—which has for years held its own as far as its real estate and lifestyle offerings are concerned. The charm of Ardmore Park is its eclectic mix—it houses some of the most expansive and premium bungalows alongside high-end private and public housing estates, not to mention its proximity to city centre. 

Nouvel 18 by City Developments Limited (CDL) and Le Nouvel Ardmore by Wing Tai, both designed by Pritzker prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, are among the condominiums taking pride of place in this bungalow enclave.

Le Nouvel Ardmore only has 43 residences with a starting price tag of $18 million; in 2015, Alibaba co-founder Sun Tongyu made news with a $51 million penthouse purchase here. In the nearby Sculptura Ardmore condominium, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin bought a 10,300sqft super penthouse for $60 million. 

See also: How Architects Have Made High-Rise Living More Comfortable in Singapore With Their Designs

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Orchard Road in District 9

District 9 comprising Orchard, Cairnhill, River Valley is another one that has maintained its status as a prime residential district. “The sector is seeing a combination of strong domestic demand and resurgence of foreign investment interest,” says Linda Chern, head of residential services, Singapore at CBRE. “Demand is continuing to outweigh supply and District 9 is one among those that are popular and command the highest prices psf.” As buyers get even more discerning, they are more concerned with factors such as proximity to schools, transport and malls—which, this district offers in spades, she adds.  

This in turn feeds the spike of interest in larger apartments, especially penthouses, as Garrett indicated. Apartments such as Skyline @ Orchard Boulevard, by Tanglin View, offer not just the prestigious address and views, but also high-end design aesthetics—the building is designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Fumihiko Maki of Tokyo’s Maki and Associates. The transaction price for a three-storey condo penthouse there is $52 million.  

With the new trend for biophilic design, new condominium launches in the area such as Irwell Hill Residences by CDL and Bukit Sembawang Estates' The Atelier ensure well-designated spots of greenery and amenities that encourage relaxation—albeit vertically to make up for land scarcity.

Another key upcoming launch is Klimt Cairnhill, a freehold, luxury project near the Orchard belt, marketed by OrangeTee & Tie. Christine Sun, senior vice president of research and analytics at the property agency says that the proximity to town and the historically high interest among high-end buyers and foreign investors for properties in CCR drive their high prices. She expects no different for Klimt Cairnhill, a project by local developer Low Keng Huat, considering its excellent location and exclusivity. 

Once travel resumes, Garrett expects property prices in this region—for landed and apartments—to go up further. “With the current limited inventory of large luxury homes in CCR coupled with the expected pent-up demand arising from prospective high-net-worth foreign buyers, once travel measures ease, prices of these houses within the prime vicinity are expected to rise in the later half of 2021,” she says. 

See also: Why Penthouses In Singapore Are Still Popular Among 'Crazy Rich Asians'

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Tanjong Pagar in District 2

Once a small fishing village called Tanjong Passar, Tanjong Pagar developed into one of Singapore’s preferred business and transport hub as the country’s international trade flourished.  
 
However, this District 2 neighbourhood’s association with the central business district and largely as a place of work changed in 2017 when GuocoLand chose to build the ultra-luxe Wallich Residence—as part of mixed development, Guoco Tower—on Wallich street. Singapore’s tallest residential development, it consists of 181 luxury homes and a three-storey 21,108sqft super penthouse that was listed at $108 million.

Although James Dyson bought a penthouse unit for $73.8 million in 2019
and subsequently sold it for a loss in 2020 to the co-founder and chairman of SHI International, Indonesian-American Leo Koguan, it remains the most expensive penthouse in Singapore. 

See also: Billionaire James Dyson Sells His 3-Storey Wallich Residence Penthouse

As Dora Chng, general manager (residential) at property developer GuocoLand says, the luxury factor of a penthouse is unmatched, which has contributed to the number of super penthouses in Singapore’s mature residential market. “From a developer’s perspective, we continue to see the value of offering penthouses in our projects to expand the selection of luxurious residential homes for those with means to acquire these envy-worthy assets.”  

See also: 6 Most Exclusive Apartment Buildings in Asia

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Bugis in District 7

Another district gaining popularity is District 7 comprising the area around Bugis, Middle Road and Golden Mile. According to Garrett, the district figured among the most expensive districts in Singapore’s residential market this year, alongside District 9 and 10. Key luxury residential developments in the area include Duo Residences, South Beach Residences, as well as the upcoming Midtown Modern.  
 
“The launch and brisk sales at Midtown Modern in Tan Quee Lan Street, where 340 out of 558 units were sold during the first weekend, led prices for the locality as average prices of close to S$2,800 psf were recorded,” she says. In March, a five-bedroom penthouse in this GuocoLand development sold for $14.8 million.  

Garrett attributes this towards the trend among property buyers to lean more towards larger units to accommodate both living and working in the comfort of their homes while being in the city centre. And with URA’s Greater Southern Waterfront (GSW) project for a live-work-and-play concept, the district’s real estate looks to become even more promising and exclusive.  

See also: 5 Property Trends Shaping Our Search For New Homes in 2021

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Marina Bay in District 1

Further to Chng’s point, Singapore’s biggest penthouse hit the market early this year. The $104 million super penthouse comprises 24 bedrooms and 28,000sqft of living space. The Marina Bay Penthouse Collection sits atop the 54-floor Marina Bay Residences, overlooking Marina Bay and its iconic buildings. 
 
Needless to say, the district is fast becoming one of the most desired locations to be in, with its proximity to the Marina Bay Financial Centre, the integrated resort, and all the lifestyle amenities that money can buy.  

See also: Apartment Tour: An Artistic Penthouse at Marina One Residences

Singapore’s dynamic urban redevelopment plans—Marina Bay is central to the GSW project—and its popularity as a safe-haven has a lot to do with the growth boost in its property market. Nicholas Keong, head of residential international project marketing, Knight Frank Singapore explains that the soaring penthouse prices corroborates this.  

See also: Property Trends: Why Singapore, Japan, Australia and New Zealand Rank High on Buyers’ Lists

“In tandem with Singapore’s attractiveness to family offices growing both regionally and internationally through the Variable Capital Company (VCC) structure as a place to do business, we have also seen an increase in appetite for penthouses and trophy asset residences in Singapore for both foreign as well as local home buyers,” he adds.