How to gain from the future upswing in prices?

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) earlier this month unveiled more plans for the Jurong Lake District, including a third precinct, Lakeside Gateway, where the terminus of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail will be located. Together with the announcement of the Jurong Innovation District in Budget 2016, it seems that Jurong is at the forefront of the Government’s development plans. With all the hype over Jurong, it is easy to overlook other growth areas.

Concurrent with the development of Jurong Lake District, several other parts of Singapore have also been earmarked for further development. One of them is the Woodlands Regional Centre. Woodlands New Town was identified as a regional centre when the idea of decentralisation was first mooted as early as 1991. Slated to be developed over the next 10 to 15 years, Woodlands is envisioned to fulfil its potential as “Singapore’s Northern Gateway”.

Buyers entering the market now could therefore stand to gain from the future upswing in prices. Given the flurry of new launches recently, buyers have no lack of choices. These include executive condo (ECs) such as Northwave EC, Bellewoods, Forestville and Twin Fountains, which are strategically located in Woodlands, The Brownstone EC and The Visionaire EC, which are adjacent to Canberra MRT station, or Signature at Yishun, one of the most affordable ECs in the market, as well as Skypark Residences in the heart of Sembawang Central. Buyers can also consider private developments such as The Wisteria and Symphony Suites in Yishun.

Naturally, property prices are expected to be affected by these developments. Looking back at Jurong, while there was no immediate spike in non-landed private residential property prices following the announcement of the plans for Jurong Lake District, median transacted prices of non-landed private residential property have doubled since 2008 (Figure 1). To a lesser extent, median prices in neighbouring towns Bukit Batok and Clementi have also seen a significant increase (Figure 2). The development of Woodlands Regional Centre will likely have a similar effect. Property prices in Woodlands and its neighbouring towns Yishun and Sembawang are expected to rise as development plans materialise.

The Government aims to achieve this vision by creating transit-oriented developments, drawing up distinctive districts, capitalising on the waterfront, as well as enhancing connectivity and green networks. Incidentally, Woodlands is the third regional centre to be developed, after Tampines in 1992, Jurong East in 2008, and preceding the fourth, Seletar. In line with previous regional centres, Woodlands will undergo a transformation into a major employment hub outside the city centre. About 100,000 new jobs are expected to be created and 100ha of land has been set aside for future development.

Already, plans are in place to beef up infrastructure to support the needs of the future regional centre. Transport connectivity is being improved as Woodlands is located some distance from the city centre. Come 2021, this problem is likely to be mitigated by the newly constructed Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) and North South Corridor (NSC), which will make Woodlands more accessible.

Two more Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations, Woodlands South and Woodlands North, both located on the TEL, are planned to be built in Woodlands town, bringing convenience to commuters. In addition, the current Woodlands station will become an interchange linking the North South Line and TEL. Travelling times are expected to be reduced. For instance, commuting between Marine Parade and Woodlands by public transport will take 60 minutes instead of 80 minutes once the TEL is operational, a 25 per cent drop in travel time.

For those who drive, the NSC will be an important development. The 21.5km-long highway is Singapore’s first integrated transport corridor and will link Woodlands to the city centre, while passing through other towns such as Sembawang, Yishun, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Toa Payoh. Once completed, the NSC is expected to result in time savings of up to 15 minutes when travelling to the city. With dedicated cycling paths, express bus lanes and pedestrian walkways, the NSC is expected to complement the existing Seletar Expressway and Bukit Timah Expressway. These transport developments will make Woodlands an attractive location to employers and employees.

Living up to its name as Singapore’s Northern Gateway, Woodlands will have another cross-border link in the form of the Singapore-Johor Rapid Transit System. This brings the total number of cross-border links located in Woodlands to three, the other two being the Causeway and the KTMB Shuttle Train. In addition, the Woodlands North station has been designated as the Singapore station for the new link, which further enhances connectivity between Woodlands and Johor. This will make Woodlands an attractive destination for companies with business dealings in Malaysia and Malaysian companies setting up operations in Singapore.

Following the successful sale of a commercial site in 2014, Woodlands has already begun its transformation in earnest. Far East Organisation and Sekisui House are currently developing Woods Square, an office and retail project, on the site. The URA has made available for sale a second commercial site in Woodlands under the Reserve List of the Government Land Sales Programme for the second half of 2016, which means it will be triggered for tender if an interested party submits a bid acceptable to the authority. Other sites will eventually be released. All in all, Woodlands Regional Centre has more than 7 million square feet of commercial space planned and, when completed, it is expected to be on the same scale as the other regional centres. In addition, Woodlands Regional Centre will serve as the anchor of a larger commercial belt, the North Coast Innovation Corridor, which stretches from Woodlands to Punggol.

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