Conservation houses in local context are historic structures that reflect the heritage of Singapore and at the same time, are of architectural significance. The residential conservation areas in Singapore fall into three main categories: Residential Historic Districts (e.g. Cairnhill, Emerald Hill), Secondary Settlements (e.g. River Valley, Tanjong Katong) and Bungalows (e.g Good Class Bungalows at Ladyhill Road, Mountbatten Road).
According to the URA, the “3R” principle – maximum Retention, sensitive Restoration and careful Repair – is fundamental to all conservation buildings in Singapore. On top of this, there are certain guidelines, depending on the conservation area, that one has to abide by with regards to conservation buildings. Unless prior work has already been done, a significant budget has to be set aside towards these ends.
In terms of financing, some mortgage lenders, for example Citibank, do not grant housing loans for conservation buildings. Others give a lower loan to value (LTV) of 70% or less contrary to a maximum LTV of 80% for normal residential properties, so before you commit to buying a conservation house, do check that your finances are in place. Update 23 July 2018: Due to the cooling measures for the residential property market, maximum LTV of a residential property is now 75%.
If in doubt on the financing packages available, an in-principle approval is advisable.