Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bukit Timah homes on track for price gains

PROPERTY owners in Bukit Timah and Upper Bukit Timah will be cheering - and possibly reaping some capital gains - when the Malayan Railway (KTM) station moves from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands next year.

The railway cuts through the middle of the heavily residential area and locals have long been fed up of the trains clattering past their windows as they go through Bukit Timah Railway Station.

'I think it will be a boon for many of the owners who in the past have been dismayed by the noise pollution and tracks running close to them,' said Mr Donald Han, managing director of property consultancy Cushman & Wakefield.

He believes the values of homes in the area could rise by about 5 per cent to 8 per cent if the tracks are removed, although he added that this would simply allow them to catch up to the prices of neighbouring estates that are farther from the tracks.

'It's not so much that the price will go up significantly, but now the properties will be easier to sell,' he said.

'Previously, if you owned a home in an estate that is located right next to the track, you probably had to sell at a discount to your neighbours whose properties were not affected by the noise. But now you will be on a par with them.'

Residential developments beside or near the tracks in Bukit Timah and Upper Bukit Timah include The Sterling, 1 King Albert Park, Jardin, Mayfair Gardens, The Blossomvale, Summerhill and Glendale Park.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic real estate lecturer Nicholas Mak agreed that property values in Bukit Timah and Upper Bukit Timah could strengthen slightly if the tracks, which are an 'eyesore', are taken away.

But he added that the noise may not improve much as traffic in the area is still heavy.

There is also potential for some redevelopment of existing estates near the tracks, which could raise interest in the area, he said.

'Around the Hindhede Walk area especially, the track runs alongside a lot of private condominiums,' said Mr Mak.

'If the track is removed, there's a narrow strip of land sandwiched between the track and the road that can be freed up and possibly amalgamated with the existing condos if they are redeveloped.'

More generally, residential enclaves in the Bukit Timah district such as Holland Road, Ewart Park, King Albert Park and Rifle Range Road may become more attractive after the tracks go, said Ms Chua Chor Hoon, head of South-east Asia research for DTZ Debenham Tie Leung.

The commercial land site at North Buona Vista Drive that was recently triggered for public tender could also be seen more favourably, she added, as could land around the Bukit Panjang MRT station, which is under construction. The railway tracks also run through these areas.

Source: Straits Times, 26 May 2010

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