SINGAPORE: Analysts say Geylang’s changing image has revived interest in the property market over the last few years.
This is bolstered by the fact that private properties there, which are just a stone’s throw from the downtown area, are affordable to those looking to upgrade from a HDB flat, as well as for investors.
Central Imperial in Lorong 14 is one of the newest private residential properties in Geylang. It is among the pockets of small developments sprouting up, signalling a rejuvenated interest in the area.
Long associated with drugs, illegal gambling and girls, Geylang’s complexion has changed, with its reputation for safer streets and vibrant food culture gaining ground.
Shay Chan, a Geylang resident, said: “When I first lived here 10 years ago, there were many more Chinese national heavy labour workers who were renting (living spaces) here. Right now, there are many more professionals from different countries living and renting here.”
PropNex CEO Mohd Ismail said that the mindset towards Geylang has shifted.
“Today, I wouldn’t really consider Geylang as being unsafe. From a security perspective, most areas are well-lit and have security cameras mounted on the lamp posts,” he added, noting that these measures have given people peace of mind.
The area also houses a number of freehold properties.
“Geylang properties are a value proposition simply because freehold properties are marketed or launched at about S$1,200 or S$1,300 (psf) and resale properties at Geylang (sold) between anything from S$800 to S$900 per square foot,” said Mr Mohd Ismail.
“A similar, nearby, District 15 property will command anything between S$1,600 and S$1,700 (psf). And outlying 99-year leaseholds, say in Sengkang or Punggol, easily command S$1,100 to S$1,200 (psf). Geylang stands out in terms of its quantum and square foot.”
Between June 2013 and March 2014, there were some 140 transactions involving 11 new launches in the area, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
Buyers now include young couples and families, as well as investors who want to rent properties to foreigners.
There is increasing interest in Geylang properties due to their good rental yields and proximity to the city area.
Mr Mohd Ismail said that because Geylang properties are priced lower than in other areas, rental yield stands at four to five per cent, compared to the usual three to 3.5 per cent.
“Rental prices here are quite expensive compared to other estates. It’s at the centre of the city and quite near to our offices,” said Chris Topacio, who has been renting a room in Geylang with friends for the past one year.
Geylang may be the most intensely-policed area in Singapore but that has not fazed its residents.
Jeffrey Tingchuy, a resident, said: “Almost two years living here in Lorong 14, and we didn’t experience any problems or issues, and always it’s quite safe.”
“The police come pretty frequently. I would say here is very well-patrolled,” added Shay Chan.
At any one time, there are at least 10 uniformed police officers patrolling the area — a number that is bolstered by plainclothes officers.
Credits: Channel NewsAsia