BIDDING was fast and furious on Thursday as 14 land parcels along Sembawang Road earmarked for landed homes sold for $134.55 million with prices hovering at record highs. The hotly contested sites attracted an average of 50 bids each.

Analysts say a key factor for the fiercely keen interest among buyers was newly-introduced flexible building guidelines on building designs. For instance, basements may now protrude above the ground to let in more light. Nine of the 14 land parcels are being pilot tested for the modified set of landed housing guidelines.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) auction of phase three of Sembawang Greenvale - right on Johor Strait - attracted strong interest, mostly from smaller developers and individuals, who turned up in droves at URA Centre.

A total of 97 bidders registered, more than six times that for the auction held for phase two in April 2008 which drew only 16 bidders. Prices of the latest plots were $546 per sq ft (psf) of land area on average - more than double the previous phase's average $223 psf, testament to the strong landed housing recovery.

The URA sold another 12 plots in nearby phase one in October 2007 for about $285 psf on average. The 99-year leasehold plots - able to yield about 115 landed homes - include individual bungalow lots, small streetblock parcels each able to yield four to 17 terrace and semi-detached houses, and one parcel for strata landed housing development.

Boutique property developer JBE Holdings - whose projects include Luxe Ville at Pasir Panjang Road and The Luxe at Handy Road - emerged tops, sweeping five sites able to yield 39 terraces, for $43.35 million - or $514 psf. However, it also lodged the lowest bid of $443 psf for a 1,500 sq m site on Penaga Place, a winning $7.16 million bid, able to yield six terraces.

14 plots sold for $134.55m