Some Gillman Heights owners fight on for their homes

Some Gillman Heights owners fight on for their homes


22 minority owners in bid to overturn sale; they simply don’t want to move


By Joyce Teo


A GROUP of owners at Gillman Heights Condominium is fighting hard to stop the $548 million sale of the property, despite reports that hint at a market slowdown.


The deal was struck when the market was in full flight in February last year – but now, such deals to sell en bloc have dried up.


The group’s stated reason for opposing the sale? They love their homes.


The owners opposing the sale of the Alexandra Road estate turned up on day one of a High Court appeal yesterday wearing specially-made T-shirts with the condo’s name emblazoned on them.


Said one: ‘We made it for the appeal to show our unity and our love for our home.’


The 22 minority owners are trying to overturn the collective sale of their estate to CapitaLand, Hotel Properties (HPL) and two private funds.


They are appealing on various grounds, including the way the sale process was conducted, how the former HUDC estate’s age was calculated and how the price was achieved.


Three other groups, representing 18 owners, are also in court. One is made up of eight owners from four units who want to know if a supplementary deal to extend the original collective sale agreement is valid. They face legal action from the buyers for alleged breach of contract.


The Strata Titles Board (STB) approved the sale of the 607-unit, 99-year leasehold estate late last year. The sale was inked in February last year at $363 per sq ft (psf) of potential gross floor area.


Owners stand to reap $870,000 to $950,000 per unit – then 40 to 55 per cent above the levels they would have got in an individual sale.


Still, some never wanted to sell. ‘We had no intention to sell,’ said one of the 22 minority owners. ‘The price was never our problem… You can’t find another place like this in Singapore.’


The 46-year-old, who declined to give his name, lives in a 1,880 sq ft unit with his family.


Mr Pang Tee Lian, one of eight owners to sign the first agreement, but not the supplementary one, said: ‘A collective sale means you can get decent proceeds. But it appears to us we would have no choice but to downgrade. And that means moving to a smaller place farther away.’


The 59-year-old did not agree to the supplementary deal as he felt the sale process had not been done properly.


‘The market has quietened down but we don’t just swing with the tide,’ said the general manager of a building facade firm, who also declined to be named. ‘It’s not so much about the money anymore. After this experience, I just want to stay away from collective sales.’


To minority owners, a collective sale is akin to a compulsory acquisition, said Senior Counsel Michael Hwang yesterday. He has been engaged by Tan Chin Hoe & Co to act for the 22 owners.


He argued that before amendments last year to laws governing collective sales, former HUDC estates had not been intended by Parliament to be covered by these laws.


Outside court, a property consultant said the owners may have trouble finding comparable replacement homes, even with the weaker market.


‘Demand for land has weakened, but if you look at individual deals, prices have yet to fall. Owners would be looking at the price they can get and not the price of the land their estate sits on.’


If they sold individually, they would still ‘be able to get the same price or more’.


The hearing continues today.


Source: Straits Times

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