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What to consider when buying or selling landed properties in Singapore

Landed homes in Singapore are the elusive gems of the real estate world. Scarce, pricey, and the epitome of luxury, they have captured the imagination of the new rich. But what do the masses make of this segment?

To shed light on this question, I join forces with fellow realtors Jackie and Rama, as we pool our collective wisdom amassed over a combined total of 50 years in the industry.

Types of landed homes in Singapore

Landed homes in Singapore are a unique breed, encompassing various categories that cater to different preferences and lifestyles. For the purpose of this article, we will temporarily set aside the ultra-exclusive Good Class Bungalows (GCBs) and bungalows. (If you're curious, GCBs must have a minimum land area of 1,400 sqm and be located within one of Singapore's 39 GCB areas. You can find detailed information on URA's master plan and zoning publicly available.)

Let's start by exploring the first group of landed homes in Singapore: terraces. Even within this category, there are further distinctions such as type 1, type 2, and corner terraces.


If you take a stroll down any residential street, you'll notice that approximately 9 out of 10 terraces fall under the type 1 classification. These terraces have a minimum size of 150 sqm and a plot width of 6 metres. Alongside type 1 terraces, we have type 2 terraces, which have a minimum size of 80 sqm and a plot width of 6 metres.

The latter is quite common throughout Singapore and can be found in neighbourhoods like Thomson Garden Estate, Jalan Hari Raya, Jalan Pintau, and Macpherson. These type 1 terraces can be built up to 3.5 stories, offering ample living space in what we affectionately refer to as "pocket-sized" landed homes. However, it's important to note that despite their compact size, their price tags are far from cheap.

Next, we have our corner terraces. Corner terraces boast a minimum plot size of 200 sqm, with a plot width of 8 metres. Sounds similar to semi-detached homes, right? Well, not quite. Although they are alike in physical characteristics, corner terraces hold a different status compared to their semi-detached counterparts. This often leads our clients to ponder: If the land size, condition, and location were to remain constant, which would be the preferred choice - a corner terrace or a semi-detached home?

Corner terrace or semi-detached?

In the world of landed properties, keeping up with the Joneses can become a driving force for buyers. Even seasoned realtors like Jackie and Rama can’t resist a semi-detached home. For the latter, it’s the prospect of convincing his next-door neighbour to pack their bags once he wins the lottery. Taking over the unit right by a semi-detached home would transform it into a fully-detached one, but taking over the unit right by a corner terrace would give you…a larger corner terrace.

On the flip side, I find myself placing corner terraces on a pedestal, particularly those situated at the end of a street. Their unique positioning offers an inherent sense of privacy, making them stand out from the continuous row of houses. This factor adds an additional layer of desirability to these properties.

End terraces

Now, this is where things get interesting. Enter “end terraces” – a subset of landed homes in Singapore that often fly under the radar for sellers, buyers, and even some agents. You see, end terraces are often mistaken for corner terraces, but they have a distinctive feature that sets them apart - they don't have setbacks. Instead, the boundary wall sits right on the boundary line, allowing homeowners to maximise every inch of their precious land. What is with these “end terraces”? To find out, we personally reached out to URA for answers. Surprisingly, they don't have a specific name for this category of landed homes.

It seems these end terraces have been around for quite some time, predating formal terminology. In the early days, landed homes in Singapore were simply known as row houses, with the end terrace being the last one in the row. As time went on and roads were built, requiring turning angles, these properties evolved and adapted. Today, they offer an exciting opportunity for buyers who are interested in taking the rebuilding route instead of embarking on extensive additions and alterations (A&A).

Considerations of buying a landed home

If you're considering entering the enticing world of landed homes in Singapore, there are a few key factors to keep in mind during your search.


First and foremost, it's crucial to understand how different zones may affect the utilisation of the land. To gain a comprehensive understanding, head over to the URA website and click on the landed housing area plan. You can even input your address to get a bird's eye view of the surrounding bungalows, semi-detached houses, mixed landed zones, and more. This valuable resource will help you navigate any restrictions or limitations that may be imposed. For example, while a particular landed home type may qualify for subdivision into two terraces, its location within a semi-detached zone could prohibit such division.


Another important consideration is the number of stories permitted for a landed home. When we mention 3-storey houses (including the attic, making it 3.5-storeys), we're referring to a maximum height of 15.5 metres above ground. During property viewings, you may come across houses located in different zones but priced similarly. However, the actual value can vary significantly depending on the zoning regulations. If a property is designated as 3-storey, it means you have the opportunity to build upward and maximise the land's potential, ultimately increasing its value.


Let's explore an intriguing aspect that often goes unnoticed when it comes to landed homes in Singapore - the depth of construction. In the Thomson area, a remarkable terrace house caught our attention for it included not just one, but two levels of basement. Surprisingly, the land in this area is levelled, not particularly high. With a well-placed lift, the homeowner enjoys a seamless connection across 3.5 levels aboveground and 2 levels underground. Now, you may be wondering, how deep can you actually build? Well, the answer lies in the depths of your pockets. But let's not forget the regulatory aspect. Constructing basements requires clearance from both URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority) and BCA (Building and Construction Authority). Certain areas, particularly those near underground train lines, may prohibit the construction of basements. We recently had a client who purchased a semi-detached house near Junction 8. Although URA and BCA granted clearance for the basement plan, SMRT stepped in and put a halt to the construction due to its proximity to the underground tracks.

So, what's the moral of the story here? Rebuilding can be a highly technical endeavour. While an agent may entice you with the prospect of building your dream house, the reality may not always align. If you're not represented by an agent, it's essential to conduct thorough research and due diligence to ensure compliance with regulations. Not keen on rebuilding? Buyers must carefully consider the existing build-up and how they can creatively navigate the floor plan, then. It's wise to embrace the existing structure of the building, focusing on its potential rather than fixating on its current state. After all, the floor plan is a canvas for the buyer to personalise.

Considerations of selling a landed home

Does having a basement automatically increase the resale value? Across the board, the answer is a resounding yes. We recently handled the sale of a home with a basement that attracted a remarkable number of potential buyers. The reason? It opened up a world of possibilities when it came to reconfiguring the living space.

Many houses built in the 1950s and 1960s feature compact floor plans. As prices soar in the market, having a basement becomes a game-changer, making a home more appealing. In fact, some buyers specifically inquire about the foundation's construction date. When they come across a property with a basement, they can be assured that it's a recent addition.

If you’re sitting on a landed home in Singapore that has the potential for 3.5 stories above ground a couple underground, a realtor could help market it on your behalf even if this potential is not being maximised now. You should be selling it at a price point that does it justice. You don't drive a Ferrari the same way you drive a picanto, and we know how to sell a Ferrari like a Ferrari.

Regardless of the type of landed home, the number of stories above ground, or the presence of a basement, the most crucial factor is that you have a position. You still own a valuable piece of Singapore. As a buyer, it’s all about envisioning rebuilding and transforming it. As a seller, your goal is to tap into the immense potential that lies within the land and captivate buyers with the possibilities it holds. As a realtor, your goal is to help you let go of it at your desired price. Reach out to me (Harvey Chia) at 9199 9141 for a non-obligatory consultation session.


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