Property Stories A First-Time Homebuyer’s Journey: My Review Of 1 Canberra EC + The Wider Canberra/Yishun area
- September 12, 2021
- 8 min read
Have you heard of the Yishun curse? I hadn’t till this year, when I forwarded a Yishun property listing to a good friend who immediately texted back “NEVER, NEVER move to Yishun”. This friend is usually rather a calm person, so the capital letters got my immediate attention and I started Googling for news on Yishun.
Let’s just say, it wasn’t good: Yishun’s reputation for the Criminal, the Bizarre and the Supernatural has spread so far and wide that it’s been dubbed the Devil’s Ring and has even been featured in the Hindustani Times as well as Netflix (on the horror series Stranger Things)! The odd happenings of Yishun have been extensively covered in the media so I won’t recap them in detail here, suffice to say they range from: triple murders (in fact, the first search term that pops up on YouTube for Yishun is “Yishun fire” and the second is “Yishun triple murders”), multiple cat killings, spontaneous bus combustion, ghost sightings, random sinkholes in the road and shopping mall stabbings to falling concrete blocks…
Perhaps you’re a die-hard agnostic and wonder why this information is relevant, especially since there’s been a great push to improve the reputation of Yishun in recent years. We’ve been told, for example, that crime in Yishun has plunged by almost 60% between 2010 and 2016 and that this places it in the middle to lower half when neighbourhoods are ranked by their crime rate.
If you’d like to know more about Yishun, read on, if not feel free to skip to the next paragraph! (For non-supernatural information on Yishun property and the neighbourhood, check out this article. On the other hand, if you’re very superstitious, you can refer to the following map, first shared by a now-defunct blog dedicated to the strange events of Yishun, which shows how the strange events of Yishun are concentrated around a ring (hence its nickname “Devil’s Ring.”))
And well, to cite a quote by our late PM/SM Lee Kuan Yew:
“I’m a pragmatic, practical fellow… I’m not superstitious about numbers. But if you have a house that other people think has disadvantaged Fengshui and numbers, when you buy it, you must consider that when you resell. So again it’s a practical consideration. Not that I’m interested in it. But if I buy that, I must get a low price because when I sell it I will get a low price.”
Likewise, the reputation of Yishun won’t deter me from considering a property there if it meets my needs but, given that said reputation may have an impact on my selling the unit in future, I’m paying more attention to the pricing of 1 Canberra than I’ve done with other ECs such as the Esparis and Citylife@Tampines.
Before looking at the numbers, let’s discuss the property that started the whole Yishun conversation: 1 Canberra, an EC in Yishun that has dual-key duplex penthouse units as well as a single-storey dumbbell penthouse units, both over 2,000 sq ft in size and perfect for multi-generational living. (You may argue that Canberra, being a new town between Yishun and Sembawang, isn’t exactly Yishun but many still lump the 2 together so I’m considering it as part of Yishun in this article.)
Unlike my previous articles on ECs, I’m only going to do a quick overview of 1 Canberra instead of an in-depth review before going on to look at the numbers.
- Developed by a well-known developer, MCC Land: TOP-ed in 2015, MOP-ed in 2020
- The 99-year lease starts from 2012, so it’s a fairly “young” leasehold development with about 90 years remaining (i.e. you don’t have to worry about lease decay for now)
- It’s a 665 unit development with 4 units per floor: there are no 1 or 2 bedders, it’s mainly 3 or 4-bedders and the penthouses are all above 2200sf
- Located next to a Park Connector which takes you all the way to Sembawang Park and Beach (After viewing so many ECs, I’ve realised they’re almost all next to a park connector or park, as well as an educational institution so this isn’t exactly a unique feature.)
- 14 stacks have unblocked views thanks to the river (Sungei Simpang Kiri) and neighbouring landed enclave (The view is pretty much protected as there is a height restriction for landed housing. However, when I saw it, it looked more like a longkang (drain) then a scenic river! It could have just been a bad day to view, but I think that the width of the river makes it appear not to advantage from the top floor of 1 Canberra (I’m only looking at penthouse EC units as ECs have lots of kids living in them, which can make for… lively upstairs neighbours.) Depending on the height of the greenery and the distance to as well as the width of the waterfront, the floor from which you will get the best view of the water will vary from development to development, so a high floor doesn’t necessarily equate to a better view.
Surely this wouldn’t be considered a river outside of Singapore?!
- There are 4 primary schools within 1 km, which always helps to support property prices.
- Thoughtfully designed units with both a dry and wet kitchen, as well as high ceiling in the yard that gives you sufficient space to install a ceiling laundry rack
- The pool landscaping is particularly lovely: the waters surround the seating areas, so it feels very much like a resort.
- Some stacks overlook Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School FYI.
- Canberra is far even if you drive. (In my other life as a food blogger meets vegan home baker, I sometimes deliver my vegan Belgian chocolate truffles to a customer who lives in the area and it always takes forever to get there from town, even when there’s no traffic.)
- The area is still pretty open, in comparison to other areas, but given the government’s plans to develop the area, it won’t be long before those green fields turn into noisy construction sites.
My thoughts on the pricing
Sembawang/Yishun is the 2nd most affordable neighbourhood in Singapore, after Admiralty/ Woodlands, with an average PSF of $951 vs $766 in 2021 (as of Feb 23 2021.) However, despite having no new launches, D25 (Admiralty/ Woodlands) was the area with the 2nd highest PSF appreciation in 2021. In comparison, despite being so affordable, Yishun/Canberra did not even make the top 10. (Note that whilst Canberra previously sold at a discount to Yishun, it caught up with the overall Yishun area in terms of average psf price in the first half of 2018.) Perhaps this lacklustre performance represents potential upside for Yishun/ Canberra buyers?
After all, the Yishun and Canberra regions will benefit from some exciting new developments in the new future. There’s a new integrated development in Chong Pang City slated to open in 2027, which should support the demand for housing in the area. Moreover, by 2026, Canberra will also benefit from an additional expressway to the CBD, the North-South Corridor (currently, there’s only the CTE).
In terms of competition, there are quite a few condos and ECs close to 1 Canberra so buyers and/ or tenants will be spoilt for choice. Pretty much next door is:
- 8 courtyards (asking $947-$1,456 psf)
- Yishun Emerald (asking prices on PropertyGuru currently range from $767-$955 psf, with the largest unit on offer being 1,432 sq ft in size.)
- Yishun Sapphire (asking from $769-$970 psf)
- Watergardens At Canberra
In terms of unit size, new ECs have a maximum unit size of 1,722 sq ft, so Watergardens at Canberra won’t be direct competition for the >2,000 sq ft penthouses at 1 Canberra. Moreover, it appears that the biggest units at 8 courtyards are about 1,800+ sq ft and Yishun Sapphire 1,900+ sq ft so anyone who is determined to buy/rent a large unit in this area would only have a choice of Yishun Emerald (penthouses are over 2,000 sq ft but none for sale at the time of writing) or 1 Canberra.
Looking specifically at the 1 Canberra development, prices there have increased quite sharply this year: in late 2020, a duplex penthouse was sold for $1.5 million (or $660 psf). This year, 2 penthouses were transacted at $711 psf (Feb 2021) then $785 psf (May 2021), representing a 19% increase from last year (over a period of about 6 months). The asking price for a penthouse at 1 Canberra today is $2.388m ($879.88 psf), which would equate to a 33.3% price increase in under a year’s time. Now, the Singaporean property market has been red-hot over the last year, but this is an abnormally large rise, in my opinion.
Given that Parc Canberra is currently selling at $998-1,253 psf, with a fresh new lease and a more convenient location just across from Canberra MRT, $879.88psf for a penthouse unit at 1 Canberra looks expensive to me so I decided to pass on this unit. (I didn’t mention Parc Canberra in the list of competitors above as it’s situated slightly further from 1 Canberra.) Sure, 1 Canberra is unique in being 1 of the few Canberra developments that have such large units – however, I’m not sure there is enough demand to support such a price if interest rates rise. (How many people desperately need such large units AND must live in Canberra? Personally, I don’t know any!)
Going forward, Heron Bay and 1 Canberra have piqued my interest in affordable waterfront living, so I’ll be looking at more such units in my next post. See you all again next week!