Jack Ma’s wife is said to have purchased three adjacent shophouses in Duxton Road

The wife of Alibaba Group cofounder Jack Ma bought three adjacent shophouses in Tanjong Pagar on Duxton Road.

The Business Times understands that Zhang Ying is a Singaporean citizen who paid between S$45 and S$50million for 70, 71, and 72 Duxton Road. The properties are located on commercially zoned sites, with 99-year tenures beginning in September 1988.

The shophouses each have three levels and an attic. They are situated on a land area totaling 3,239 square feet. The properties are nearing completion of a major renovation.

Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has approved the additions and alterations for an integrated development consisting of the three shophouses. The first floor will be converted from a shop to a restaurant. The upper floors are used for offices, and the refurbishment also includes the addition a lift.

Kerry Hill Architects were hired by the seller, an entity that is linked to a Singapore property investment group, for the renovation. The shophouses are said to have a total built-up space of 10,700 sq ft. These properties are located in the Tanjong Pagar Conservation Area.

Zhang reportedly paid between S$4,200 and S$4,600 a square foot (psf), based on the estimated built up area.

Market analysts consider this price range to be on the higher side. They say that conservation shophouses in Duxton have not typically exceeded S$4,000 per square foot of built-up space. It is important to note that the three shophouses Zhang purchased will be newly renovated.

This is a very special buyer who is prepared to pay high prices for a property in a quiet and discreet part of District 2.

An investor in shophouses said that the Ma family might have intended to use the asset for their own occupation. It could be used as a clubhouse for entertaining friends and colleagues. They could also end up renting the property.

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In 2018, the seller purchased three adjacent shophouses in separate transactions for a combined total of S$22,2 million. The company bought 70 Duxton Road from Alan Choe’s company for S$7.55million. Choe is a former URA head and former chairman of Sentosa Development Corporation.

The seller bought 71 Duxton Road from a doctor for S$7.35m and No 72 from Kwek Lee Hoon for S$7.3m, who is the sister of Hong Leong Group executive chairperson Kwek Leng Beng.

The fourth quarter of 2023 saw a sharp slowdown in transactions in the shophouse sector. PropNex Realty released a report last month based on caveats analyses that showed only 15 shophouse deals in the fourth quarter 2023. This is a 60% drop from 37 transactions in Q3 2023.

This is the lowest quarter-to-quarter figure since 2010. The agency blamed the slow sales on the weak economic outlook and the increased due diligence following the August 2016 anti-money laundering campaign.

In 2023, there were 131 transactions totaling S$1.14 Billion, a decrease from 191 transactions totaling S$1.63 Billion in 2022.

According to data from Caveats, this was the lowest annual sales volume in 2019 when 123 shophouses sold for a total S$916 millions.

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