Friday, March 23, 2012

635 sq ft 3-bedroom condo unit

It looks like Singapore is catching up with the Hong Kong standards of being squeezed. And it also looks like persistently ultra-high private property prices are damaging Singapore's private property stock irreversible as sizes of flats are shrinking in response to high land and property prices. Developers are squeezing more units onto the expensive land they buy and flat buyers are trying to minimize the overall cost by squeezing themselves or their tenants into shoe-boxes. The Staits Times recently reported that a 3 bedroom condominium unit in Bukit Batok project Natura at Hillview Terrace is only 635 sq ft, setting a new low in Singapore property market.

Size does not matter for many as long as the unit is affordable; 32 units of 603 sq ft and above 3 bedroom flats of the Roxy-Pacific developed Treescape in Telok Kurau are all sold out. But Natura is still something of a new kind since Treescape was a butique development while Natura is a full facility condominium.

1 bedroom or studio units called shoe-box apartments are recently popular mostly because majority of the Singapore population cannot afford larger private units. They are also currently fetching high rental prices mostly above 2,500-3,000 SGD per month and above. But it was unheard up to now that a mass market private property project in Singapore have shoe-box 3-bedder. A typical 3-bedroom unit occupies 1,000 to 1,500 sq ft space in Singapore.

Mr.Ken Yeo from Macly Group predicts that most of the owner occupiers who go for such smaller units are either singles or childless couples whose proportion in Singapore is steadily increasing. These units are also popular as rentals since many expats without housing package demand them and rental HDB units are still in tight supply.

Floor Plan of 3-bedroom 635 sq ft shoe-box flats in Natura@Hillview
Source : The Straits Times
Although these small units are common and almost the norm in many large cities like Hong Kong, there are still many large units going much cheaper in terms of rental prices compared to private shoe-box units. You can easily rent a large 4 room public flat in a central location with a valid work visa and for around 2,500-2,800 SGD per month and below while a shoe-box private unit which you will uncomfortably squeeze in will cost more than 2,800 SGD per month to rent. So, although these shoe-box units are needed and will be popular in the future, they will probably fetch much less rental prices when the supply crunch of rental public housing units are solved in the near future. 

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