So what is a Good Class Bungalow in Singapore?
A Good Class Bungalow or GCB describes a bungalow significantly bigger than normal-sized bungalow plots in Singapore.
If you’re like the majority of young Singaporeans, you’re probably not reading this article because you’re considering buying a GCB in Singapore. After all, Good Class Bungalows are very rare and expensive. Only the wealthiest of the wealthy can afford such properties. Nonetheless, there have been a surge in Singapore GCB transactions recently.
To give some context, an individual purchased the GCB located at 81 Dalvey Road for a total of S$93.9 million in 2018. This property was owned by Lim Kim San, the first chairman of HDB who helped implement Singapore’s public housing.
Without further ado, here are the 11 key facts about Good Class Bungalows in Singapore you should know about.
1. Good Class Bungalow Areas in Singapore
The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore (“URA”) considers a bungalow ‘good-class’ if it falls within a Good Class Bungalow area. There are a total of 39 GCB areas, which are as follows:
The above list indicates that many GCBs are located in prime locations. Some of such locations include Cluny Park, King Albert Park and Nassim Road. This points to the exclusive nature of Good Class Bungalows in Singapore.
2. Sheer Size of a Good Class Bungalow in Singapore
The sizes of Good Class Bungalows in Singapore are impressive. In fact, URA requires that all Good Class Bungalows have a minimum size of 1,400 square metres. That translates to about a whopping 15,069 square feet per plot.
Given the huge land area of each of these GCBs, it’s not surprising that there are only about 2,800 such plots in Singapore.
3. Only Singapore Citizens can own Good Class Bungalows in Singapore
Since 2012, the government has decided that only Singapore Citizens are allowed to buy and own GCBs. This is likely to prevent undue speculation by foreign investors and driving up of prices of the GCBs.
Therefore, a foreigner seeking to buy Good Class Bungalows in Singapore has to become a Singapore citizen first.
One such example is Zhang Yong, the founder of Sichuan HaiDiLao steamboat chain. Mr Yong, who has an estimated net worth of at least US$7 billion as of 2018, bought a bungalow in Gallop Road in 2016 after obtaining citizenship.
In any case, there is a limited exception to this.
In particular, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has previously granted permission to a handful of Singapore PRs to buy GCBs. This is when SLA determines the Singapore PRs as having shown exceptional economic contributions to Singapore.
Kuok Hui Kwong, the daughter of Malaysian business tycoon and investor Robert Kuok, seems to have relied on this exception. Recently, in 2018, she bought a Good Class Bungalow in Belmont Road for S$43.5 million. This is despite Ms Kuok being a Malaysian citizen and a Singapore Permanent Resident.
4. Who are Some Owners of Good Class Bungalows in Singapore?
Most of the owners of Good Class Bungalows are well-known figures of society. This is not unexpected, especially given the sky-high price tags of these properties. The plots of land usually belong to ultra-high net worth families in Singapore and are business magnates.
Other than prominent individuals such as Lim Kim San and Zhang Yong mentioned above, GCB owners include several other notable figures.
One example would be Andy Chua, the boss of Yun Nam Hair Care. In 2016, he purchased a GCB at Brizay Park off Old Holland Road for S$33 million. Further, a family member of Charles & Keith bought a bungalow at Chatsworth Road for S$20 million in 2017.
5. Good Glass Bungalows have a Good Surrounding Ambience
If you own a Good Class Bungalow in Singapore, you will be able to enjoy great privacy.
This is because URA demand that flats, condominiums and other buildings be a certain distance away from the GCB area.
In addition, Good Class Bungalow owners can expect to be surrounded by some greenery and can enjoy scenic views.
In this regard, there are some requirements for green buffers in between Good Class Bungalows. For example, the physical building can only comprise 35% of the plot of land. Thus, most Good Class Bungalow estates will largely be made up of gardens or greenery.
Most GCBs are also located in the Tree Conservation Areas of the Singapore National Parks Board. Thus, prior approval must be obtained from the regulators before trees of certain sizes may be felled.
With the above requirements, the URA seeks to maintain the environmental quality and privacy of GCBs in Singapore.
6. Planning Restrictions of Good Class Bungalows in Singapore
There are several planning restrictions of Good Class Bungalows in Singapore.
This is not just limited to the minimum plot size of 1,400 square metres and the maximum covered area of 35%.
Moreover, Good Class Bungalows must not exceed two-stories in height.
URA has implemented this height restriction possibly to distinguish GCB areas from high-rise and more crowded parts of Singapore. This is also to preserve the ambience and exclusive atmosphere of Good Class Bungalows in Singapore.
Nonetheless, this height limitation does not apply to an attic and basements. Thus, there is still some room for expanding one’s space for living and activities.
7. Price Trends of Good Class Bungalows in Singapore
Historically, the prices of Good Class Bungalows in Singapore can range anywhere from slightly over S$15 million to S$100 million. However, on average, it seems that the prices of GCBs can fetch about S$30 million or more.
Of course, much depends on the exact size of the plot in question. In addition, it also hinges on what price the land can fetch on a per square foot basis.
Nonetheless, the price per square foot is unlikely to fluctuate much between different years and various properties. In 2016, the average price per square foot was in the ballpark figure of S$1,321.
From 2012 to 2015, the average price per square foot was quite stable at about S$1,300 to S$1,400.
8. Potential for Taxes on Capital Gains
Usually, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (“IRAS”) does not impose taxes on capital gains on properties in Singapore.
However, as you can imagine, some of the capital gains on selling Good Class Bungalows in Singapore can be enormous. In 2018, Madam Chong, also known as the “Queen of Leedon Park” realised a capital gain of S$39.8 million upon selling her Leedon Road Bungalow.
Therefore, the IRAS is stricter on individuals who are clearly flipping Good Class Bungalows for profit.
For instance, a wealthy couple tried appealing IRAS’ decision to the couples’ profits made from the sale of their properties. Within just a span of three years, the couple had made S$16 million from the sale of GCBs in Wilby Road, Brizay Park and Garlick Avenue.
The IRAS determined that the couple was in fact trading properties for profit due to the short holding periods of their properties and the frequency of their transactions.
Arguments that the properties were originally bought for family use but were later found unsuitable may not fly with the authorities. The wealthy couple’s claims on this basis were outrightly rejected.
Therefore, IRAS treated the couple’s profits as income earned which are taxable, rather than non-taxable capitals gains.
9. Wide Range of Facilities in Good Class Bungalows
Good Class Bungalows in Singapore are usually equipped with multiple rooms and numerous facilities. It is common to find swimming pools and gardens in these plots of land. There are even properties which contain home theatres, bowling alleys and arcade machines.
Take for instance, the facilities of the GCB at 98 Binjai Park (with an estimated value of S$40 million as at January 2019). It has an entertainment room, a gym and a car garage that can comfortably accommodate 20 cars. This is on top of having a luxurious dining room, living hall, seven bedrooms and study rooms.
Another GCB at Jervois Hill even had a wall aquarium in the basement that could fit 800 fish.
10. Owners of Good Class Bungalows in Singapore Usually Don’t Sell their Homes
The value of Good Class Bungalows usually appreciate over time. After all, Good Class Bungalows in Singapore are highly sought after plots of land. Affluent families also typically keep these properties for multi-generational family use.
As such, most owners of Good Class Bungalows in Singapore don’t sell their homes without good reason.
So what are some reasons that owners would be willing to part with their Good Class Bungalows in Singapore?
Some of these reasons include significant financial profit from the sale of the property. Other than that, some sellers of GCBs don’t see the need for that much space for their family home anymore. This may be because their children have grown up and moved out. The seller of the Good Class Bungalow at Jervois Hill in January 2019 sold their property precisely for this reason.
Other personal reasons to sell include the owners wanting to relocate to another country or a change in lifestyle.
11. The Number of Good Class Bungalows in Singapore Unlikely to Rise
URA has publicly stated that it doesn’t intend to release new sites or designate new areas as GCBs. Therefore, it is unlikely that we would be seeing a lot more new GCBs popping up in Singapore. However, there is still the possibility that the amount of GCBs may increase a little.
This is because some owners or developers may sub-divide the existing Good Class Bungalows in Singapore into several smaller plots.
However, the number of remaining GCB plots that are big enough to be sub-divided are very few in number. This is because the sub-divided plots remain subject to the minimum size requirements of a Good Class Bungalow.
Good Class Bungalows form an interesting part of Singapore life and history.
Admittedly, most of us can only admire these huge houses from a distance. However, it still remains interesting to know more about Good Class Bungalows in Singapore. Some may even find it captivating to learn how the wealthiest in Singapore live.
Having gone through the above key facts of Good Class Bungalows in Singapore, hopefully you have a clearer picture of what these properties entail.
And who knows? One day you may just become the proud owner of a Good Class Bungalow in Singapore.
Also, here are some additional property tips in Singapore for your next property transaction.