Ultimate Guide to Good Class Bungalows (GCB)
Good Class Bungalows (GCBs) are landed properties in Singapore that are known for their spaciousness, privacy and exclusivity. They are located in prime residential areas and are highly sought after by those who value luxurious living.
In this guide, we’ll explore some key aspects of GCBs, their investment potential and the process of purchasing such exclusive properties.
Definition Of GCBs
First of all, what exactly are GCBs?
GCBs are the most expensive and exclusive landed properties in Singapore, with large land plots and luxurious features that make them stand out from other types of landed properties. They are considered to be the pinnacle of real estate and are highly sought after by the ultra-wealthy.
To be classified as a GCB, the property must have a minimum plot size of 1,400 square metres and a maximum height of 12 meters. Furthermore, the footprint of the house itself cannot occupy more than 40% of the entire land plot.
GCBs can only be located in any one of 39 residential areas in Singapore, gazetted by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) as Good Class Bungalow areas. These gazetted areas are within the prime residential Districts of 10, 11, 20, 21 and 23, and are mainly freehold land .
Some examples of such areas include Cluny Hill, Holland Road, King Albert Park and Leedon Park.
Only Singapore citizens are allowed to purchase and own GCBs.
In the case of foreigners (including Permanent Residents), they’ll first need to seek approval from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) before being allowed to purchase a GCB.
Each applicant will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, and during this process, the following 2 factors (among others) will be taken into consideration:
- Whether the applicant has been a Singapore permanent resident for at least five years
- Whether the applicant has made significant economic contributions to Singapore during that period
In terms of demographics, GCB buyers have traditionally been entrepreneurs or professionals like doctors and lawyers. However, in recent years, the profile of such buyers has shifted to the following 5 categories:
- Young business owners (e.g. tech entrepreneurs)
- Other accomplished professionals (e.g. accountants, fund managers)
- Second or third-generation heirs from wealthy families
- Freshly minted cash-rich Singaporeans
- Parents who acquired GCBs for their minor children under trusts
Due to their scarcity and prestigious status symbol, GCBs are the most expensive residential properties in Singapore.
Their prices vary widely depending on factors such as the specific location, land area, age of the property, condition etc. However, they usually start from around S$25 million and can go up to S$100 million or more for the largest and most luxurious ones.
Architecture And Design
The specific architectural style of a GCB can vary depending on the preferences and requirements of the owner, but they often feature a mix of traditional and modern elements. Styles that are commonly seen include Colonial, Mediterranean and Contemporary.
GCBs typically have extensive landscaping, including well-manicured gardens, trees, and water features. Such landscaping is often designed to complement the architecture as a whole and create a more natural environment.
As for space, GCBs are well known for their spaciousness, typically having multiple levels, large living areas, and ample outdoor spaces. The interior layout is often designed to maximise natural light and ventilation, in order to create a brighter and more “airy” feel for the owners.
Lifestyle And Community
One of the advantages of GCB living is the sense of privacy and exclusivity that comes with owning such a property.
Being located on massive land plots with extensive gardens and lush greenery, GCBs allow owners to experience a sense of tranquility and seclusion from the hustle and bustle of city life. They also provide ample living spaces with multiple indoor and outdoor areas, making them ideal homes for those who value spaciousness and comfort.
When it comes to property investments, GCBs are in a distinct class of their own, and buyers are willing to pay premium prices to acquire them.
One essential intrinsic attribute of GCBs is their scarcity in Singapore. There are only about 2,800 GCBs in the whole of Singapore, located in 39 prime residential areas. Such scarcity makes them extremely exclusive and prestigious, allowing their overall value to appreciate over time.
Another intrinsic attribute is the fact that they are located in prime residential areas. These areas are near essential amenities such as shopping malls, restaurants and schools, and are surrounded by lush greenery that provides a tranquil living environment.
Finally, GCBs also come with massive land plots, that provide ample space for gardens, landscaping and other outdoor activities. Which makes them an attractive option for buyers who value privacy and outdoor living.
One extrinsic attribute is that GCBs have become the crème de la crème of real estate. Owning a GCB is seen as a symbol of wealth, status and prestige. Because of this, such properties are highly sought after by ultra-wealthy buyers, who are more than willing to pay premium prices for them.
Another extrinsic attribute is the fact that GCB yield and rental demand have generally remained strong these last few years. The rise in GCB prices could be attributed to locals and newly naturalised citizens who genuinely want to own an asset like a GCB, while the increase in GCB rentals was due to the fact that such GCBs were relatively new, well-designed and had designer fittings.
Purchasing a GCB in Singapore is a significant undertaking and can be a complex and time-consuming process.
To help you out, below is an overview of the main steps involved, and what you should take note of as you go through this entire process.
Step 1 – Engage A Real Estate Professional
The very first step is to engage the services of an experienced real estate professional, who has extensive knowledge dealing with GCBs. This person, be it a real estate developer or agent, can help you search for GCBs that meet your requirements, negotiate the best prices, and guide you through the buying process. He/she can also provide you with valuable insights and advice at various stages of this journey.
Step 2 – Engage A Lawyer
After you’ve engaged a real estate professional, it’s recommended that you also engage the services of an experienced lawyer, especially one who’s familiar with property law. This person will ensure that the legal aspects of the transaction are handled correctly and that your interest as a buyer is protected.
This person can help you conduct the necessary due diligence on the property, to ensure that you’re getting what you’re paying for. At the same time, he/she can help you with the transfer of GCB ownership and legacy planning for your loved ones and next of kin.
Step 3 – Determine Your Budget And Requirements
The next important step is to determine your budget and requirements. GCBs are some of the most expensive properties in Singapore, and prices can vary greatly depending on factors like location, size, age and condition. Therefore, it’s essential to determine what your budget is and the features you want in your dream home.
Given the high value of GCBs, you might also need to explore different financing options as part of your budget, in order to make the purchase more affordable. This might include taking out appropriate loans such as a mortgage loan or a private bank loan.
Step 4 – View The Property
After determining your budget, you can subsequently schedule property viewings to view various GCBs that meet your requirements. During the viewing, take note of the various features, conditions and nearby surroundings. If possible, try to visit the property at different times of the day to get a better idea of the surrounding neighbourhood.
Step 5 – Conduct Due Diligence
Before making any offer, it’s essential to conduct due diligence to ensure that you’re getting what you paid for, something which your lawyer can help you with. You should also consider hiring a professional surveyor as well, who will carry out a structural survey of the property and identify any possible defects or maintenance issues.
Step 6 – Negotiate The Price And Terms
Once you’re satisfied with the property and have conducted due diligence, the next step is to negotiate the price and terms of the sale. Your real estate professional can help you with such negotiations and ensure that the terms of the sale are favourable to you. Once you have agreed on the price and terms, you can subsequently proceed to secure the Option to Purchase (OTP) and pay the option fee.
Step 7 – Exercise The OTP And Pay The Deposit
Once you’ve decided to exercise the option, you would subsequently sign the Option To Purchase (OTP) and pay the exercise fee. Your lawyer can help you with the legal formalities and ensure that the transaction proceeds smoothly.
Step 8 – Complete The Sale
The final step would be to complete the sale itself. This involves paying the balance of the purchase price, transferring ownership, and registering the property with the relevant authorities. Both your lawyer and real estate professional can help you with the above and ensure that everything is done properly before you finally get the keys to your new home.
In conclusion, GCBs are known as the pinnacle of real estate in Singapore.
With their spacious living areas, elegant designs, prime locations and prestigious status, they not only provide the ultimate in modern luxurious living but are also great investment assets that offer long-term appreciating value in the years to come.