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Shophouse

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A rare piece of
Singapore’s colonial history

A diminishing asset from the early 1800s and to mid 1900s, many of these charming heritage buildings were flattened to make way for newer developments. However, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has gazetted many shophouses as conservation buildings. To date, only 6500 shophouses remain in Singapore.

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In high demand

Whether they are located on food streets, heritage districts or quiet neighbourhoods, every shophouse caters to many businesses and investors. With a limited supply of shophouses, there is constant demand for rental and sales.

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Tras Street and

its Michelin Star restaurants

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Everton Park and

its high networth tenants

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Boat Quay and

its colourful patrons

A strong investment

With the supply limited, as no new shophouses are being built, prices have only gone up.

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With reference to the diagrams above, we can see that the psf price for freehold shophouses has increased substantially from Q1 2020. In addition, the psf price for 99-year leasehold shopshouses from Q3 2020 to Q3 2021 has seen an almost 30% increase.

With the border restrictions eased, foreign investors and overseas funds, who are on the lookout for defensive and value-adding assets, could drive up demand and prices. This demand is in addition to the local interest in the shophouse asset class.

However, despite the rising prices, there are not many owners willing to sell. Those who do, often see their properties snapped up quickly, as there are ready buyers in the market. As these shophouses are sold before any wide scale marketing, it is crucial for buyers to have access to first-hand, private information on any sale as soon as possible.

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Despite the record increase in community cases and reintroduction of restrictions, shophouse leasing activity increased in Q3 2021, as we can denote from the above chart.

 

The 908 rental contracts in Q3 2021 represent a 0.8% increase from the previous quarter and on a year-on-year basis, the increase is considerable at 17.9%, from 770 contracts.

 

Besides the increase in rental contracts, the total leasing contract value, meaning to say the total rentals, has also increased quarter-on-quarter by 8.8% or $8.3 million.

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Unique Styles

Despite being one category, shophouses are a vibrant mix of heritage and style. During its heyday, the shophouse underwent a total of six unique style transitions, reflecting Singapore’s then economy, affluence, urbanisation and architectural style.

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Zoning Categories

As a unique class of real estate in Singapore, shophouses fall under a total of four different zoning categories. These zoning categories dictate the terms of allowed use for the building, an important factor for buyers looking to start a business or rent out their property.

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Full Commercial

Where use of the entire building is allocated to commercial activities.

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Commercial on

1st storey

Where use of the entire building is allocated to commercial activities.

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Commercial & Residential

Where an entire row of shophouses are owned by a single owner/entity and can be allocated to both commercial and residential use in a 40/60 ratio regardless of storey.

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Full Residential

Where use of the entire building is allocated to commercial activities.

Use and Licensing

Currently, there are a total of 18 use classes. Depending on the zoning category that the property falls under, there may be restrictions or applications required to obtain proper licensing or permits.

 

Additionally, certain streets no longer permit the addition of eating houses (Restaurant Use) due to overcrowded traffic.

18 Use Classes

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Conservation Districts

Shophouses are divided into three conservation districts, with different levels of conservation practice.

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Historic

Districts

The strictest form of conservation is practiced. The entire building is to be conserved but change of use from commercial to residential is permitted.

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Residential Historic Districts

To suit the needs of individual owners, an extension lower than the main roof is permitted at the rear of the terrace houses

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Secondary Settlements

Conservation is practised on a streetscape basis, owners may choose to conserve the entire building or build a new rear extension.

Contact us to find out what renovations are allowed before your purchase!

Things to look out for

With prices ranging from $5 million to over $20 million, purchasing a shophouse is no easy decision. Selecting the perfect shophouse for your plans will definitely play a part in your investment’s return. Having transacted over $1 billion in shophouses, our team has put together a checklist for prospective buyers to use before making their decision.

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