Beleaguered Hin Leong Trading founder’s bungalow in Singapore put up for sale at S$30 million (US$21.94m)

Picture credit: The Straits Times

21st September 2023 – (Singapore) A two-storey good class bungalow (GCB) located at 20 Third Avenue in Bukit Timah, owned by the troubled founder of Hin Leong Trading, Lim Oon Kuin (also known as O.K. Lim), is now available for purchase through public tender at a price of S$30 million (US$21.94 million). This marks the second property being sold as part of a High Court-ordered freeze on the Lim family’s assets, aimed at recovering the US$3.5 billion debt owed by the collapsed oil trading firm.

The GCB, situated in the highly sought-after First/Third Avenue GCB area, is jointly owned by Lim and his son Evan Lim Chee Meng, with the court order applying to Lim’s 50% share. Marketing agent Knight Frank has listed the property with a guide price of S$30 million, which translates to approximately S$2,058 per square foot. Interested parties can submit their tenders until 16th October.

Spanning across a freehold plot of 14,576 square feet, the property offers a generous total gross floor area of around 10,000 square feet. In a separate offering, two single-storey GCBs at 52 and 54 Belmont Road have been put up for sale, with a combined price of S$87.68 million through an expression of interest. The land area of 52 Belmont spans 24,178 square feet and is listed for S$50.78 million, while 54 Belmont, covering 17,563 square feet, has an asking price of S$36.9 million, according to marketing agent JLL’s executive director of capital markets, Tan Hong Boon.

Boon added that the land rate for both Belmont Road properties is approximately S$2,100 per square foot. Steve Tay, executive director of Steve Tay Real Estate, commented that this rate is fair and reasonable for potential buyers looking to rebuild older houses. He noted that sellers in the GCB areas near Bukit Timah Road and Holland Road tend to ask for S$2,500 per square foot or higher.

Mary Sai, executive director of capital markets at Knight Frank Singapore, expressed expectations of strong interest in the listing at 20 Third Avenue due to the scarcity of prime landed homes and the robust demand from foreign ultra-high-net-worth families.

It is worth noting that Lim’s other GCB at 5 Second Avenue was sold in October 2021 to the family of Tan Yeow Khoon, the former executive chairman of delisted logistics company Cogent Holdings, for S$33.39 million. The transaction equated to S$1,671 per square foot for the freehold plot, spanning 19,984 square feet.

The most recent transaction in the area involved a Third Avenue GCB acquired by Tan Min-Liang, co-founder and CEO of gaming company Razer, for S$52.8 million. This amounted to S$1,706 per square foot for the freehold land area of 30,954 square feet.

According to Knight Frank, GCB transaction values saw a significant increase from S$54.8 million in the first quarter of 2023 to S$369.5 million in the second quarter. The number of GCB transactions also rose from two units in the first quarter to six units in the second quarter.

In June, three bungalows in the Nassim Road GCB area made headlines when the Fangiono family of Singapore-listed palm oil company First Resources acquired them for a total of S$206.7 million. This resulted in a land price of S$4,500 per square foot, covering a combined land area of 45,937 square feet.

The two Belmont Road GCBs, situated in the Belmont Park GCB area near Holland Village, are located on separate land lots with a collective land area of approximately 41,741 square feet. JLL has stated that the plots can either accommodate a single mansion or potentially be redeveloped into two new GCBs. Tan from JLL emphasized that large adjoining GCB plots in this neighbourhood are rare and mentioned that the existing houses, built in the 1970s, are likely to be redeveloped by potential buyers.

Despite recent increases in additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD) as part of cooling measures, many GCB buyers tend to be first-time residential property buyers not subject to ABSD, according to Tan.

The expression of interest exercise for both Belmont Road GCBs will conclude on 27th October.