Eye on Bishan: Size doesn’t always matter

Once a Cantonese burial ground, Bishan is now a thriving residential estate whose popularity continues to grow. We find out just what keeps its star shining.

The small estate of Bishan, while well-known amongst those residing in Singapore, is not usually touted as the ideal place to live. After all, areas such as East Coast, Bukit Timah and Holland Village often overshadow most other neighbourhoods in Singapore.

However, with its consistently high HDB prices, as well as upcoming residential developments, it is evident that Bishan has its fair share of supporters. So what does this small town have going for it?

 

Not near, yet not far

Bishan’s location, while not exactly central, is not far from the city. Connected to town via the Central Expressway (CTE), it is also accessible through Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, Braddell Road and Thomson Road. At the same time, Bishan MRT station is just a few short stops away from Novena, Newton, Orchard and City Hall on the North-South Line, making travel to places such as the Orchard Road shopping belt quick and convenient. Being an interchange, one can also travel via the Circle Line from Bishan to places such as Botanic Gardens, Holland Village, The Esplanade and Bras Basah. There is also the Bishan bus interchange, from which one can take a good number of buses, including direct buses to Changi Airport, Pasir Ris and Shenton Way.

 

Needs and wants: A perfect marriage

Despite its size, Bishan is highly self-sufficient. Among its many nearby amenities are Bishan Stadium, Bishan Library and Junction 8, as well as reputable schools such as Ai Tong School, Catholic High School, ITE College Central (Bishan), Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Primary School, and Raffles Institution.

Nature is also a prominent feature of Bishan. Bishan Park alone (divided into Bishan Park 1 and Bishan Park 2) stretches 2.8km and spans Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 and the town’s canal. Ponds, bridges, footpaths and even a spa can be found here, making it ideal for fishing, biking and running. Further west, there is another park, a nature reserve and two golf courses.

As Wong Xian Yang, research & consultancy manager at OrangeTee says, “Bishan is already largely built up, and prospective residents can move in and immediately enjoy the numerous amenities nearby.”

 

The great price climb

Another thing Bishan is known for is its high property prices. Just last month, an executive maisonette in Block 192 on Bishan Street 13 was sold for $1.05 million, even amid falling resale flat prices. This was not an anomaly; in the same month, another maisonette, on Bishan Street 22, fetched $812,000. Older flats here have consistently been commanding sky-high prices. In fact, the estate holds the record for the most expensive flat sold in Singapore — a maisonette in Block 194, which went for approximately $1.08 million in October last year. Barely two months later, a unit in Block 190 was sold for $1 million.

Bishan’s many amenities and convenient location explain the high property prices people are willing to pay for its homes. “Furthermore”, Wong adds, “there have been no BTO launches in Bishan for the past few years, with the exception of Golden Jasmine, which consists of only studio apartments. As such, families who wish to buy a HDB flat in Bishan can only turn to the resale market, and this has supported resale prices.”

Louis Tay, chief marketing officer of Anthill Realtors, says, “Bigger families require bigger homes, but are unable to purchase a large enough private condo or completed EC (executive condominium) for the price of $1.05 million in such a convenient location. In fact, many of the newer HDB flats are smaller now, so buyers may need to consider executive maisonettes.”

 

Constant development

Apart from its many HDB flats, Bishan’s upcoming developments include two 99-year leasehold condo projects by CapitaLand: Sky Habitat and Sky Vue. The former is a 38-storey, 509-unit development at 7 Bishan Street 15, featuring lily ponds and water walls; it is expected to be completed later this year. The latter is a 37-storey, 694-unit development on Bishan Street 14 with a sky gym and lounge on its top floor, and is expected to be completed in 2017.

Wong says, “Home buyers with deeper pockets can consider Sky Habitat. Its units are larger than typical developments nowadays, so it’s suitable for families. The price reduction is also a very compelling factor. Based on recent caveat data, units for Sky Habitat have been transacted for $1,366 psf, compared to $1,583 psf when it first launched in 2012.

“We may see more high-rise residential projects being developed on the empty plots of land beside Sky Vue and Sky Habitat. The land has not yet been released for sale, but has been earmarked for residential development under the URA Master Plan.”

 

What’s next?

For Bishan’s future, Tay predicts: “I do not foresee new BTO flats in Bishan, and its transaction volume will remain healthy. I believe prices will continue to remain strong, even in the current slower market.”

Wong concurs: “HDB resale prices in Bishan should show relative resilience, even as the resale HDB market softens. There are not many estates better than Bishan, given its proximity to town and numerous nearby amenities. The completion of the North-South Expressway will also boost its accessibility.”

In the long run, the only competition HDB resale prices in Bishan could face would be from Woodleigh’s upcoming Bidadari estate. But factoring in construction and the minimum occupation period (MOP), Bishan will remain at the top of its game for another decade.

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