Singapore

Geylang: The rental area of choice

Geylang: The rental area of choice
Ignore the red-light district, and Geylang has all the key qualities of a prime location. TODAY file photo
Published: 4:15 AM, February 5, 2016
Updated: 6:36 AM, February 5, 2016
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Geylang produces conflicting reactions in Singaporeans. On the one hand, it is a hotbed of vice: A haven for gambling, sex-for-sale and contraband cigarettes. On the other hand, it is a food paradise and a vibrant untamed neighbourhood in contrast to the clockwork efficiency in much of the rest of Singapore.

Look deeper into Geylang, however, and many will be surprised to find that it is one of Singapore’s most sought-after rental post codes — and for the last 15 years, as 99.co’s research and intelligence have revealed.

Many Singaporeans will agree that Geylang needs social gentrification. Since the 1980s, Geylang has been the epicentre of Singapore’s legalised prostitution scene. While the brothels are licensed, many activities in Geylang are not. Contraband cigarettes, backstreet gambling, illegal streetwalkers and dodgy aphrodisiacs packaged as “sex pills” — Geylang has it all.

Nonetheless, Geylang is a vibrant district, one of the few places in Singapore where old-school, first- and second-generation hawkers ply their trade. It is where Singlish and dialects are mixed into a constant hum, with members of clan associations practising traditional wushu and lion dances.

Few people want to be recognised as a Geylang landlord. In fact, many homeowners who lease out their residential units have a reputation for being slumlords. It comes as no surprise then, that more often than not, banks are unwilling to grant home loans to consumers wanting to buy a residential property in Geylang.

If there is a foreclosure, homeowners may have trouble finding buyers.

Yet, 99.co’s research and intelligence have shown that contrary to popular perception, Geylang is a prime location that has never seen a shortfall of renters in the last 15 years, enjoying a rental occupancy of 100 per cent!

It is very accessible to the CBD, financial and shopping districts. By car, Geylang is a little over 10 minutes from the CBD, financial and Marina Bay districts. By train, it is serviced by Aljunied and Kallang MRT stations. Geylang is also home to some of Singapore’s best eateries and has a reputation for cheap electronics. It also has a sports and recreation centre. Ignore the red-light district, and you have all the key qualities of a prime location.

So while Geylang is not family-friendly, it is ideal for singles or foreigners who view accessibility to their workplaces as a priority. Recent re-zoning laws also mean Geylang could become a goldmine, even as a family home. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is barring further residential development between Lorongs 4 and 22 in Geylang, with the land to be used for commercial development. The now limited supply of residential options in Geylang means existing freehold properties have the potential to appreciate further.

Geylang has witnessed property value spikes in recent years. According to a property agent in a Geylang showroom, and two investors whom 99.co spoke to, property values have increased from S$1,100 per sqf in 2012 to S$1,400 per sqf in the present.

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