Keong Saik Conservation Market Buzzing With Deals

May 13, 2022

The 45-room Hotel Soloha was sold by Hilltop Capital, whose shareholders are Aw & Sons Capital and Aw Kim Cheng Realty. Credit: BT Reader

The Keong Saik Road locale has been buzzing with conservation shophouse deals this year.

The Business Times understands that 3 adjoining freehold shophouses at the prominent corner of Kreta Ayer and Keong Saik roads, have been transacted at slightly above S$44 million. The trio - at 47, 49 and 51 Kreta Ayer Road - are being sold by Straits Construction Co.

Standing on a total land area of about 5,610 sq ft, the 3-storey shophouses with a distinctive facade have a total built-up area of about 11,613 sq ft. The buyer is understood to be Lim Chin Huat, a seasoned property investor who is also involved in the fresh fruits and vegetables supply business, as well as restaurants and wine distribution.

Savills Singapore, which brokered the deal, declined to comment on the sale.

Lim is also the new owner of the 45-room Hotel Soloha at 12, 14 and 16 Teck Lim Road. He paid S$53.38 million for the 3 adjoining shophouses under a deal that was entered into earlier this year and completed last month. CBRE is understood to have brokered the deal but declined to comment.

The freehold shophouses have 3 levels and an attic. The property was sold by Hilltop Capital, whose shareholders are Aw & Sons Capital and Aw Kim Cheng Realty. It paid S$31 million for the property in 2017 and is said to have invested some S$5-6 million refurbishing the property. Among other things, a roof terrace was created at the back of the second level. The total floor area is about 13,350 sq ft. The renovations were completed and Hotel Soloha opened in Q3 2019. On the street level are a cafe, a bar and some hotel rooms.

BT understands the seller will continue to run the hotel, which has room sizes ranging from 11 square metres to 24 sq m.

Lim recently sold 2 adjoining freehold shophouses at 4 and 6 Jiak Chuan Road, crystallising handsome price gains of about 45 per cent over his purchase prices within a relatively short span of time. He paid S$17.5 million for 4 Jiak Chuan Road late last year and resold it last month for S$25.5 million. He bought 6 Jiak Chuan Road at S$16 million in early 2021 and sold it for S$23.2 million in March this year.

Lim sold both the Jiak Chuan Road properties to Meir Investment, controlled by property investor and developer David Soh of Soh International fame.

According to URA Realis caveats data downloaded by CBRE (with the latest transaction dated April 29, 2022), there have been 70 shophouse deals totalling S$632.8 million year to date, compared with 78 deals that totalled S$526.8 million in the same period last year.

However, not all property buyers lodge caveats. For instance, caveats have not surfaced for the Hotel Soloha and the 47, 49 and 51 Kreta Ayer Road deals.

For the whole of last year, the total of 253 caveats that were lodged for shophouse deals amounted to a record S$1.92 billion.

Yap Hui Yee, senior director of investment sales and capital markets at Savills Singapore, says that if the price gap widens, the shophouse transaction volume will drop for the whole of 2022 as buyers are adopting a wait-and-see approach now given that interest rates are increasing.

Credit: Business Times

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