How the inevitable decline of petrol stations may affect your property in Singapore

How the inevitable decline of petrol stations may affect your property in Singapore
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

We tend to overlook petrol stations, when it comes to analysing real estate.

The humble petrol kiosk is not something we look for, when scouting out the surroundings of a condo; and most brochures would never bother to mention these. However, petrol stations have been a bigger amenity than we give them credit for. 

Case-in-point: a certain condo along Upper Changi Road, which back in the early ‘00s, was super under-developed. At the time there wasn’t even an MRT station nearby; so whenever it was late at night, or travelling was too much, the only recourse was the petrol station’s convenience store. I ate so many Polar cakes and curry puffs from there, the station attendant is the face I’ll associate with my inevitable diabetes. 

And over the past few years, some petrol stations have become even more useful. Some have a 24 hour fast food drive through, while others have bubble tea or even a bigger mart with fresh produce. 

Then there’s the ATM issue as well. I bet more than a few Singaporeans have been caught in a cab with no cash, and needed to swing by an ATM in a petrol station. For some landed enclaves, where you typically need a pack mule and a week of supplies to walk to civilisation, the nearest petrol station may also be the best way to withdraw cash. 

But consider this: Over the next few decades, these overlooked little islands of convenience are going to start vanishing.

Singapore is going car-lite. There will be fewer parking spaces, more pedestrian-friendly towns, and COE rates that are less affordable than colonising Mars. Already, URA is allowing residential developments near town, or MRT stations, to cut down on the number of car lots.

Besides this, there’s the rise of Electric Vehicles (EVs) to contend with. There were 3,000 stations last year, a 50 per cent increase from 2021; and the number is set to grow. In condos today, it’s becoming a norm to have EV charging stations, and these are being installed in older condos too. MND has already foreseen this development, and expects the eventual repurposing of petrol kiosks. 

There’s also ongoing efforts by URA to decentralise Singapore. Our neighbourhood malls, along with fringe-region offices, will mitigate the need to travel to Orchard or Raffles Place. All of this will likely reduce demand for even Private Hire Vehicles. 

Let’s also not forget hybrid work models, which reduce the need for work commutes; and the increasing number of jobs that are on a Work From Home basis. Without the need to rush to the office, why buy a pricey car? 

So it’s unsurprising that, in the first two months of 2023, car sales are already down 7.7 per cent, while new car registration is down by almost a quarter. So to wit: fewer cars, plus more EVs = fewer petrol stations needed. 

Repurposing petrol stations to benefit nearby properties

Today in Singapore, there are currently over 180 petrol stations in Singapore. According to a Knight Frank study, 56 per cent are on private land while the rest are tendered out by various Government agencies (which would typically have 30-year tenures). Here’s the estimated breakdown of tenures:

So altogether, it is estimated there may be about four million sq ft of land that’s now in use over the 180 plus petrol stations — that’s quite a lot of space that can be used more efficiently in the future. 

The wonder of petrol stations is that, quite often, they’re already in strategically vital spots. Many are near key points of landed enclaves, which are typically areas starved of amenities; but at the same time, the residents in these places don’t want a giant mall disturbing the peace. 

So get rid of the fuel pumps, expand the already existing convenience store (perhaps into a cluster of multiple small shops), and that would add more amenity to residents living nearby. Petrol stations can also serve as parcel pick-up points, clusters of ATMs, places for students (living nearby) to study, etc. 

It’s quite likely, however, that many of these small land parcels will just be considered remnant land, and sold off as extensions of existing land parcels to interested parties. The same Knight Frank publication noted a petrol station at Ang Mo Kio Ave 3, which had its lease expire in May 2023; it was suggested this land parcel could be blended with low-rise factories in the area, and the entire amalgamation sold as one plot (once the factories are also defunct). Another petrol station at 355 Commonwealth Ave will expire in 2025, and this can be merged with the parcel of older HDB blocks nearby.

My take? Let’s add some greenery to it, put up a few park benches, and have more family picnic spots scattered throughout the city. This is especially needed in the CBD area, where there’s more glass and concrete than there is grass. 

And if you are interested in a Chatgpt/Dalle version, here’s what they’ve envisioned the future of petrol stations in Singapore to look like:

This may even get future property buyers to notice the (former) petrol kiosks, and factor them in as small bonuses. Sometimes, when two properties are tied on your shortlist, it’s the accumulation of little things like these that make a difference. 

Weekly sales roundup (Nov 13 — Nov 19)

Top 5 most expensive new sales (by project)

PROJECT NAME PRICE $ AREA (SQFT) $PSF TENURE
WATTEN HOUSE $14,245,000 4080 $3,484 FH
KLIMT CAIRNHILL $4,940,000 1432 $3,451 FH
THE RESERVE RESIDENCES $3,829,627 1625 $2,356 99 years
PINETREE HILL $3,524,000 1464 $2,407 99 years
PARQ BELLA $3,467,000 1787 $1,940 FH

Top 5 cheapest new sales (by project)

PROJECT NAME PRICE $ AREA (SQFT) $PSF TENURE
THE LAKEGARDEN RESIDENCES $1,328,000 592 $2,243 99 years
GRAND DUNMAN $1,376,000 581 $2,367 99 years
HILLOCK GREEN $1,428,000 657 $2,175 99 years
THE MYST $1,500,000 678 $2,212 99 years
PULLMAN RESIDENCES NEWTON $1,582,700 463 $3,419 FH

Top 5 most expensive resale

PROJECT NAME PRICE $ AREA (SQFT) $PSF TENURE
CLIVEDEN AT GRANGE $9,800,000 2842 $3,449 FH
BOTANIKA $7,600,000 2906 $2,615 FH
GRANGE INFINITE $7,350,000 2680 $2,742 FH
THE MORNINGSIDE $5,200,000 2411 $2,157 FH
CLEMENTI PARK $4,780,000 3068 $1,558 FH

Top 5 cheapest resale

PROJECT NAME PRICE $ AREA (SQFT) $PSF TENURE
PARC ROSEWOOD $638,000 431 $1,482 99 yrs (2011)
VIBES @ EAST COAST $645,000 344 $1,873 FH
QUBE SUITES $660,000 431 $1,533 FH
RESIDENCES @ SOMME $737,000 463 $1,592 FH
TERRASSE $738,000 506 $1,459 99 yrs (2010)

Top 5 biggest winners

PROJECT NAME PRICE $ AREA (SQFT) $PSF RETURNS HOLDING PERIOD
THE MORNINGSIDE $5,200,000 2411 $2,157 $3,635,000 21 Years
CLEMENTI PARK $4,780,000 3068 $1,558 $1,980,000 6 Years
WILKIE 87 $2,400,000 1432 $1,676 $1,490,000 20 Years
KERRISDALE $1,938,000 1259 $1,539 $1,291,000 21 Years
PARC PALAIS $2,142,000 1335 $1,605 $1,150,200 27 Years

Top 5 biggest losers

PROJECT NAME PRICE $ AREA (SQFT) $PSF RETURNS HOLDING PERIOD
CLIVEDEN AT GRANGE $9,800,000 2842 $3,449 -$1,753,710 16 Years
REFLECTIONS AT KEPPEL BAY $1,932,300 1130 $1,710 -$390,400 13 Years
STELLAR RV $1,075,000 538 $1,997 -$59,600 11 Years
ICON $1,130,000 581 $1,944 -$50,000 10 Years
E MAISON $931,000 667 $1,395 $38,554 6 Years

Transaction breakdown

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This article was first published in Stackedhomes.

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