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Sold in 12 minutes: House where skeletal remains were found sells for $2.23m

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[SINGAPORE ] The Sembawang Hills Estate terrace house where two sets of skeletal remains were found has a new owner.

It was sold on Tuesday (Feb 27) for $2.23 million to a local contractor in a frenzied auction that lasted 12 minutes.

The auction held by real estate agency Knight Frank was made on behalf of the Public Trustee's Office, which comes under the Ministry of Law. The government took over the ownership of the abandoned house in 2015 after it remained in a dilapidated state for about 10 years.

The auction on Tuesday was supposed to have started at 2.30pm but it was delayed by 10 minutes because there was not enough space in the function room at Amara Hotel to accommodate all of those who turned up. The auction organiser had prepared about 70 seats, but more than 160 people turned up."What an overwhelming response," said auctioneer Sharon Lee, an estate agent from Knight Frank, just before bidding started.

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Bidding for the 1,720 sqft house at Jalan Batai, off Upper Thomson Road, started at $1.7 million. It climbed within minutes, in increments of $20,000, to $2 million.

The house was almost sold to Mr Alvin Tan, a developer, at $2.05 million.

That was when Mr Goh Tee Kia joined the fray with a $2.1 million bid. Until then, he had sat quietly with arms crossed at the second row of the packed room.

Another developer tried to outbid Mr Goh and the price soared to $2.15 million, $2.18 million and $2.2 million in quick succession, but stopped when Mr Goh made his $2.23 million bid."Sold at $2.23 million," said auctioneer Ms Lee, drawing applause from the crowd.

Mr Tan, who stopped bidding at $2.05 million, told The Straits Times after the auction that he had set a price cap of about $2 million for his bid. "It was not meant to be (mine)," he said.

After Mr Goh won the bid, he signed and handed over a $223,000 cheque, or 10 per cent of winning price, to Knight Frank on the spot.

Records from the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority showed that Mr Goh owns construction company G & C General Contractors and lives in a landed house near Holland Road. The cheque that Mr Goh made was signed jointly with Mr Ken Tan, general manager of the company.

The 70-year-old told reporters after the auction that he will tear down the old house and build a new one. "I plan to rent it out first and sell it after five years," he said."The ($2.23 million) price is a good price for the vendor," Ms Sharon Lee told The Straits Times, referring to the Public Trustee's Office who had put up the house for sale by auction.

Last month, a smaller 1,501 sqft terraced house at Seraya Crescent nearby was sold for $1.828 million, or $1,218 per sqft, said Ms Lee. At $2.23 million, the Jalan Batai house was sold at a higher $1,297 per sqft.

On the price he paid, Mr Goh said he had "overpaid by about $500,000", referring to the starting bid of the house at $1.7 million.

He is expected to officially take over possession of the house in about three months.

THE STRAITS TIMES