Hin Leong founder O.K. Lim’s second Bukit Timah bungalow put up for sale at $30m

The bungalow at 20 Third Avenue is the second property put up for sale under a High Court freeze of the Lim family's assets. PHOTO: KNIGHT FRANK

SINGAPORE – A two-storey good class bungalow (GCB) at 20 Third Avenue in Bukit Timah belonging to beleaguered Hin Leong Trading founder Lim Oon Kuin, better known as O.K. Lim, is up for sale by public tender at $30 million.

This is the second property put up for sale among several Singapore properties under a High Court-ordered freeze of the Lim family’s assets to recoup US$3.5 billion (S$4.8 billion) in debt from the collapsed oil trading firm.

The Straits Times understands that the 50 per cent share that Lim has in the Third Avenue GCB, which he jointly owns with his son Evan Lim Chee Meng, will be subject to this court order.

Located in the prime First/Third Avenue GCB area, the $30 million guide price works out to about $2,058 per sq ft, according to marketing agent Knight Frank. The tender will close on Oct 16.

The freehold property sits on a 14,576 sq ft plot with a total gross floor area of about 10,000 sq ft.

Separately, two single-storey GCBs at 52 and 54 Belmont Road were put up for sale for a total of $87.68 million by expression of interest, according to marketing agent JLL.

No. 52 Belmont, which has a land area of 24,178 sq ft, is being marketed at $50.78 million, while No. 54 Belmont, which has a land area of 17,563 sq ft, has an asking price of $36.9 million, Mr Tan Hong Boon, JLL’s executive director of capital markets, told The Straits Times.

The land rate for both properties works out to about $2,100 psf, he added.

Mr Steve Tay, executive director of Steve Tay Real Estate, said: “For old houses that are likely to be rebuilt by their buyers, $2,100 psf is a fair and reasonable rate, and likely to find buyers because many sellers in the GCB areas off Bukit Timah Road and Holland Road are asking for $2,500 psf or higher.”

Knight Frank Singapore executive director of capital markets Mary Sai said of the 20 Third Avenue listing: “We expect this listing to draw strong interest, given the scarcity of prime landed homes and strong demand from foreign ultra-high-net-worth families.”

Lim’s other GCB, at 5 Second Avenue, was sold in October 2021 to the family of Mr Tan Yeow Khoon, former executive chairman of delisted logistics company Cogent Holdings, for $33.39 million. This translates to $1,671 psf for the freehold plot of 19,984 sq ft.

The last transaction in the area was a Third Avenue GCB bought by gaming company Razer‘s co-founder and chief executive, Mr Tan Min-Liang, for $52.8 million. The price works out to $1,706 psf on the freehold land area of 30,954 sq ft.

Transaction values for GCBs jumped to $369.5 million in the second quarter of 2023 from $54.8 million in the first quarter, following a 51.8 per cent drop between the first quarter of 2023 and fourth quarter of 2022, Knight Frank said, citing Urban Redevelopment Authority data.

This is as GCB transaction volumes grew to six units in the second quarter of 2023, from two units in the first quarter.

Three bungalows in the Nassim Road GCB area made the headlines in June when the Fangiono family of Singapore-listed palm oil company First Resources paid a total of $206.7 million for them. This translated to $4,500 psf on land, with a total land area of 45,937 sq ft.

“Unit land prices grew from $1,225 psf in the first quarter this year to $3,732 psf in the second quarter, setting a new price benchmark for this class of landed properties since 2009,” Knight Frank added.

Located in the Belmont Park GCB area near Holland Village, the two Belmont Road freehold GCBs sit on two separate land lots with a total land area of about 41,741 sq ft. The plots allow for a single mansion or can potentially be separately redeveloped into two new GCBs, JLL said.

“The vendors of the properties are expecting offers of $2,100 psf on the land areas. Large adjoining GCB plots in this neighbourhood are a rare find.

“Given very limited supply, large GCB plots have been subdivided into small plots over the years, and it has become increasingly difficult to find large plots or adjoining plots in the market,” JLL’s Mr Tan said. The existing houses were built in the 1970s and potential buyers are likely to redevelop the sites, he added.

Despite the significant hike in additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD) in recent rounds of cooling measures, many GCB buyers tend to be first-time residential property buyers here, and are therefore not subject to ABSD, Mr Tan said.

The expression of interest exercise for both Belmont Road GCBs will close on Oct 27.

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