The Asia-Pacific region has more high-net-worth individuals than North America and numbers are rising. In recent years, Singapore has enjoyed a high (and sometimes even the highest) ranking in various global indices of cities with the best quality of life and the most opportunities and, notwithstanding property market fluctuations, this has ensured a steady stream of buyers at the penthouse end of the market who are seeking properties to live or invest in.
So, what does the high-end property market need to do to compete? Luxury homes must of course be sited in prime residential areas. Traditionally, these have been Districts 9, 10 and 11 – the Orchard Road, Bukit Timah and Newton areas. Now, the top spots are moving towards the edge of the island – in the Marina Bay and Keppel Bay areas that are still just a stone’s throw from the CBD.
Albert Foo, general manager of marketing at Keppel Land, says: “These offer something unique – a waterfront location and lifestyle possibilities; such luxury apartments also typically offer premium city skyline views and/or unobstructed sea views." The clientele for these are mostly well-heeled Singaporeans as well as foreigners who buy these properties to live in or as investments.
Keppel Land prides itself on its commitment to sustainability and this year it was ranked fourth in the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World in an independent study carried out by Toronto-based Corporate Knights. Its ranking makes it the most sustainable real estate company in the world and the top Asian company in the list.
Foo attributes the achievement to “doing business in a sustainable manner, either positively impacting on the communities that we operate in or reducing the impact of the environment". He points out that thanks to the Building and Construction Authority, Singapore’s regulatory body for construction, most new properties already have to adhere to its Green Mark environmental standards. To Keppel Land, sustainability takes on a much broader scope and to achieve the accolade the company had to score highly in numerous criteria for corporate responsibility.
So how does this translate into developing homes for the exacting requirements of the top clientele? “Consumers today are increasingly well-travelled and more discerning in taste. Homebuyers, both local and from the region, are also becoming increasingly sophisticated, so much so that owning a home is beyond the brick and mortar but involves the considerations of prestige, lifestyle and other values," says Foo. “Iconic developments such as Reflections at Keppel Bay, with its bold and daring concept, inject vibrancy and dynamism to a country’s architectural landscape. A star architect producing beautiful landmarks is critical to attract the attention of wealthy, discerning buyers."
Singapore is a global city with a stable economic and political climate and continues to be an attractive location for investments. Singapore is also land-scarce. Good sites, especially waterfront ones, are very hard to come by. Investors understand there is a limited supply of prime housing.
“Moreover, Singapore’s integrated resorts have successfully taken off and there is a myriad of new and exciting recreational and entertainment options, making our city a top choice for luxury living. This means interest from foreign buyers to acquire prime properties with strong value offerings will remain steady."
Developers therefore need to look beyond the luxury ‘hardware’ they provide in the interiors and grounds. “Over the years, Keppel Land has successfully transformed physical spaces and introduced new lifestyle possibilities – think Marina Bay and Keppel Bay. To keep ourselves updated on the latest trends and technological advances, our marketing team regularly meets established and upcoming interior designers. We don’t restrict ourselves to just real estate design trends and are always willing to think out of the box and apply suitable fashion and lifestyle trends to our properties," says Foo.
For Reflections and Corals at Keppel Bay, for example, homeowners enjoy free 10-year membership at Marina at Keppel Bay. And at Corals at Keppel Bay, instead of simply adopting modular systems for its fittings, it offers customised design solutions by collaborating with its interior design consultant and Italian furniture manufacturer Poliform.
Reflections is completed and has fully fitted units for sale. Corals is under construction and will be ready in about a year’s time.