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GCB A Good Investment in Singapore? (GCB Buyers List Included)

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Talking about the peak of luxury housing in Singapore, one thing that has continued to attract the wealthy is a Good Class Bungalow, or GCB in short. It is not just a fancy name to describe a spectacular, uniquely distinguished bungalow home but highly sought after for its perceived value that runs with the location and land size beyond luxury and grandeur.

In the land-scarce island nation, the ultra-exclusive GCBs represent less than 1% of the Singapore housing stock. Unfortunately, the scarcity and high value of these prestigious residential properties make them out of reach for most of us. But if you are one of those affluent folks or have the means to buy this exclusive asset class, then this article is for you.

Let’s dig into the lesser-known world of Singapore’s most exquisite type of residences we call Good Class Bungalows.

What is a GCB bungalow?

A Good Class Bungalow is an ultra-exclusive, sprawling detached landed housing in Singapore. With vast price tags, GCBs are home to some of Singapore’s richest people. A GCB in Singapore marks the difference between a “crazy rich Asian” and a rich or upper-class!

Often referred to as the crowning jewel of the luxury property market, the GCB segment has been a point of attraction amongst ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) for investment and wealth preservation.

Did You Know? The pool of black-and-white houses of Singapore, often referred to as the grand old dames of colonial Singapore comprises 65 specially conserved GCBs typically managed by the state. You can’t buy these bungalows but can apply to rent one!

How do you check if a property is a GCB?

Strict and specific planning conditions are stipulated by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to preserve the exclusivity and status of Good Class Bungalows. To be classified as a GCB, the bungalow must meet the following criteria:

  1. Each GCB’s plot of land must occupy at least 1,400 sq. m (~15,070 sq. ft.)
  2. The living area cannot take up more than 40% of the total plot area
  3. The other 60% of the plot area is usually dedicated to greenery and landscaping
  4. The property’s depth and width must be at least 30 m and 18.5 m, respectively
  5. GCBs can be built up to two storeys (excluding the attic and basement).

Note – There are some smaller GCB properties with land plots that occupy less than 1,400 sq. m, but those were built before the onset of authorities gazetting GCB areas about 40 years ago.

In land-scarce Singapore, these criteria make GCBs even more rare and prestigious.

Where are the GCB areas in Singapore?

Good Class Bungalows are located in 39 gazetted areas in Singapore, mostly clustered in the Holland, Orchard and Bukit Timah areas, including Leedon Park, Chatsworth and King Albert Park. There are approx. 2,800 GCB land plots in total, at some of the most exclusive addresses.

Note: A single plot of land may be subdivided and have more than one bungalow as long as the resulting land area of the separate plots is still 1,400 sq. m or above. This means there may be a slightly higher number of actual GCB homes in Singapore than the total number of GCB land plots.

Good class bungalows in Singapore are exclusively located in prime residential areas such as districts 10 and 11 and the bungalow estates in districts 20, 21, and 23.

10Belmont Park, Bin Tong Park, Brizay Park, Bukit Sedap, Chatsworth Park, Cluny Hill, Cluny Park, Cornwall Gardens, Dalvey Estate, Ewart Park, First/Third Avenue, Ford Avenue, Fourth/Sixth Avenue, Gallop Road/Woollerton Park, Garlick Avenue, Holland Park, Holland Rise, Leedon Park, Maryland Estate, Nassim Road, Oei Tiong Ham Park, Queen Astrid Park, Rebecca Park, Ridley Park, Ridout Park, Victoria Park, White House Park.
11Camden Park, Bukit Tunggal, Swiss Club Road, Chee Hoon Avenue, Raffles Park, Caldecott Hill Estate, Eng Neo Avenue
20Windsor Park
21King Albert Park, Kilbum Estate, Binjai Park
23Chestnut Avenue

Fig. 39 GCB Areas

What is the difference between a bungalow and a GCB home?

GCBs can be differentiated from any similarly-sized bungalow in a non-GCB area by two distinct sets of criteria: Locational Criteria and Parameter Criteria.

Locational Criteria

As per the URA’s designated landed housing area plan, one key factor that separates a GCB is the locational criteria. As discussed above, only detached homes located within the 39 GCB areas in Singapore can be considered Good Class Bungalows.

Parameter Criteria

GCBs can also be differentiated from bungalows outside GCB areas based on the parameter criteria. Check out the table below to understand the unique differences depending on different parameters.

ParametersGCB HomeAny Bungalow
Land plot sizeAt least 1,400 sq. m (approx. 15,070 sq. ft.)At least 400 sq. m (approx. 4,306 sq. ft.)
WidthMin. 18.5mMin. 10m
DepthMin. 30mNo Minimum
HeightCannot be more than two storeys high (excluding attic and basement)Maximum 2 or 3 storeys high (excluding attic and basement), depending on URA’s Designated Landed Housing Area Plan
Site CoverageMax. 40% of land plot size (at least 60% allocated to landscape and greenery)Max. 50% of land plot size (at least 50% allocated to landscape and greenery)

Is GCB a freehold property?

GCBs are mostly freehold in nature. These bungalows can retain value or appreciate over time and serve as wealth-preservation assets. They can be passed down to the next generation.

Also, some GCBs are leasehold (99-year or 999-year). The former Caldecott Broadcast Centre site will be redeveloped into at least 15 GCBs, making it the first major 99-year leasehold GCB site to be launched.

Do I qualify to buy a GCB?

Aside from the fact that you need to be super wealthy to afford a good class bungalow, you must be a Singaporean citizen to buy and own a GCB in Singapore. This has been laid out under Singapore’s legal regulations since 2012.

This rule was introduced by the government to prevent non-citizens from accumulating freehold land in Singapore without their approval. However, there are exceptions.

Can foreigners own GCB in Singapore?

In short, Yes! But foreigners and Singapore permanent residents need special approval from the Land Dealings Approval Unit (LDAU) under the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) to purchase a GCB.

One such example is British billionaire, James Dyson. He moved to Singapore in 2019 as a permanent resident (PR). In the same year, he purchased two luxury properties: first, a 21,000 sq. ft. penthouse unit at Guoco Tower and then a GCB at 50 Cluny Road in Bukit Timah for a whopping $87 million in Singapore.

Dyson could purchase these luxury properties only after approval from SLA, based on two known factors:

  • An “exceptional economic contribution” to the Republic
  • Permanent residency for at least five years.

He had set up a Dyson factory in Singapore, which allowed him to purchase a GCB near the Botanic Gardens by getting government approval. However, note that buyers can use the GCB for owner-occupation only.

From 2012 to 2019, only seven Singapore PRs were given the approval to own a GCB in Singapore.

Why are GCBs great investments?

In contrast to 43 transactions in GCB areas amounting to $1.16 billion this year, based on the URA Realis caveats data till Dec 13, there has been a sharp fall from the 90 deals totalling $2.57 billion in 2021.

While the sales volume in 2022 is unlikely to outdo 2021 numbers, the per-square-foot (psf) prices observed in 2021 may surpass by the end of 2022, and the GCB prices are expected to continue to appreciate in 2024. As per some GCB agents, some transactions might even close at record in 2024.

Clearly, GCBs have stood the test of time and commanded higher prices compared to other types of landed properties due to their minimal supply and high restrictions introduced by the URA. Compared to an average of $18 million per house in 2010, the average GCB price jumped 66% to approx. $30 million per unit by 2021.

The ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) citizens see investing in a GCB more as a means of wealth preservation, as well as a hedge against inflation. Investors tend to prioritise capital appreciation over rental yields (which have historically remained below 1%).

While we talk about GCBs in the context of property investments, remember that these properties do not fall into the same category as luxury condominiums or any other landed private property.

GCB market is resilient. Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been a sudden surge of interest in GCB properties, and the sales momentum has continued steadily into 2021. Even with inflation rates skyrocketing in 2022 and an impending recession, GCBs are seen as the best hedge against inflation because the GCB market’s pricing trend seems to be mostly unaffected by market uncertainties.

Limited supply and capital appreciation. Due to the limited number of GCB areas in Singapore and hardly any chance of the numbers increasing, prices of already-scarce GCBs are likely to appreciate steadily over the years, just like gold.

Regardless of price inflation, the limited lots for GCBs in Singapore will ensure continuous high demand for GCBs. Over the past years, GCBs have proven themselves exceptional as investment assets.

Status symbol. Good class bungalows are stellar status symbols and speak volumes about the owner’s material achievements.

As you find any limited edition item or luxury branded goods from top-tier brands (like Hermes and Louis Vuitton) priced much more than their ‘actual’ value, the perceived value of GCBs too far transcends the actual value. The real value lies in the status and prestige of owning an exclusive GCB alongside its other benefits, such as spaciousness and greenery.

High rental yield. Investing in a GCB to earn from its fixed rental is also a good idea. Note that the projected rental yields are almost the same as many people’s annual salaries.

All these factors clearly explain why GCBs make an excellent property investment, and thus wealthy individuals do not shy away from paying unimaginable prices to acquire one.

How much do I need to earn to afford a GCB?

Before you consider buying a GCB in Singapore, it is good to have an idea of whether you can afford it or not. GCBs come with a hefty price tag, ranging generally from $27 million to $50 million. Some high-profile GCBs in prestigious locations can go as high as $230 million in the luxury property market.

Now let’s get to the calculation part and get an estimate of how much you need to earn to afford a GCB.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume you are a 30-yr old and no financial commitments. In the best-case scenario, you can get a 30-year loan tenure (at max.) and a full 75% LTV.

Let’s assume you aim to purchase the $27 million GCB property (the lowest price from the above table!).

DownpaymentUpfront amount$1,350,000 (5% of $27 million)
 Payable through cash or CPF$5,400,000 (20% of $27 million)
Bank loanTotal cost with 75% LTV$20,250,000 (75% of $27 million, over 30 years)
 Monthly repayment amount$105,633 (based on the TDSR stress rate in 2024)
Total money you needMonthly salary (before CPF)$193,000 (estimate)

Here are a few things to note:

Be prepared to dig into your savings as you will need to pay almost $1,350,000 upfront in cash downpayment.

You will then need to pay another $5,400,000 through cash or CPA OA funds. Since you are just 30 years old, you might not have the required amount in your CPF funds. So, you may also have to pay this from your cash savings.

The higher the price of the home, the higher the payable Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD). Expect to pay close to $1.5 million as BSD tax for a $27 million GCB home!

Apart from a monthly salary of $193,000, you must also factor in the high upfront costs plus plenty of heightened expenses such as property taxes, home insurance charges, renovation bills and other recurring bills.

Note that the above calculation is based on the assumption that you are getting the lowest-priced GCB home. Now imagine the kind of monthly salary you would need to buy a new GCB priced at $230 million!

Who is buying GCBs in Singapore?

Most GCB buyers are generally business tycoons and ultra-high-net-worth individuals sitting on generational wealth. The GCB market targets the most successful, ultra-rich entrepreneurs and CEOs, affluent local families buying for their next generation and people who have enjoyed an uplift in wealth due to the digital economy boom.

There is an interesting fact about GCB buyers and sellers these people tend to be less price-sensitive. Check out the names of some GCB owners with their locations and price tag.

GCB LocationPriceProperty Owner(s)
Gallop Road$27 millionMr Zhang Yong – Founder of the HaiDiLao steamboat chain
Brizay Park$33 millionAndy Chua – Yun Nam Hair Care
Olive Road   $36 millionIan Ang – Chief executive of Secretlab
Bin Tong Park          $40 millionChole Tong – Wife of Grab CEO
Queen Astrid Park$44.5 millionGranddaughter of billionaire paint tycoon Goh Cheng Liang
Third Avenue$52.8 millionTan Min-Liang – Razer CEO
Queen Astrid Park$86 millionChew Shou Zi – CEO of TikTok
Nassim Road$95 millionStephen Riady – Executive chairman of property developer OUE
Nassim Road$105.3 millionTony Tung – Singaporean chairman of Winson Group
Nassim Road$128.8 millionJin Xiao Qun – Wife of Nanofilm Technologies CEO
Nassim Road$230 millionCheng Wai Keung – Chairman of Wing Tai Holdings

The kind of names shown in the property owners’ list clearly shows only the super-rich and affluent individuals can afford to buy GCBs in Singapore.

Pssst: Take note that the common factor within the list is that it consists of business owners in high-profile companies – mortgage financing for such individuals are structured differently and may not be entirely reliant on monthly income levels

Final Thoughts

Rightly called the “crème de la crème” of Singapore’s property market, the highly coveted, rare and super expensive GCBs aren’t something everyone dares to take on. However, if you are fortunate enough to be one of those potential GCB buyers, you will need the proper guidance and access to the best home loans for private properties.

At Dollarback Mortgage, we walk with our customers on their home-buying journey and help them make smart financial decisions every step of the way.

Get the best home loan in Singapore across all major banks and compare mortgage rates with the highest rewards.

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