Space still key factor for home buyers

Space still key factor for home buyers

News that a developer is cramming three bedrooms into a tiny flat has put the spotlight on the regulations determining such matters, and it appears the builders have plenty of leeway.

In fact, developers can put as many rooms into a flat as they like, although the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) does review a project's overall design, site configuration and unit layout to ensure a good living environment.

So how Natura, a joint development between Macly Group and Roxy-Pacific Holdings in Hillview, will fare with plans to build 635 sq ft three-bedroom units remains to be seen.

Unsurprisingly, potential buyers told The Straits Times that their chief complaint is space constraints. Mr Heri Setiabudi, who is in his late 30s and works in the supply chain sector, said such an apartment is 'basically just too small'.

'If you're thinking of renting it out, I don't think people, especially the foreigners, will rent such a small unit... Even if you are single but intend to start a family, (it's too small),' he added.

A manager who wanted to be known only as Alex, 35, said the units may attract investors who 'are thinking of... subletting (them) as three separate rooms'. But he said he would not invest in them because of a 'lack of flexibility'.

'I don't think these will be very long-term tenants. I can't imagine someone who will live there for more than 12 to 24 months.'

A 22-year-old newlywed undergraduate, who wanted to be known only as Mr Ong, said such a flat is not large enough to 'raise a normal-sized family, which has about two kids on average'.

Real estate consultants were more neutral, with most preferring to adopt a wait-and-see attitude.

Buyers at Natura will likely be HDB dwellers eager to upgrade to private homes but may be a bit stretched at the moment.

Expatriates would likely rent them, but being an untested size, it's a bit challenging for people to hope to get very good rental.

It was 'creative' of the developers to give buyers the option of pulling down a wall between two adjoining rooms to enlarge the space.

It could be a marketing technique for one to try selling three bedrooms at a cost-competitive, affordable rate. In addition, such a concept allowed for flexibility on creating more rooms in the future and may appeal to newlyweds.

Natura's units are comparable to small flats in Hong Kong, but Singaporeans may not be accustomed to the constrained living space.

Hong Kong people are conditioned to live in small flats. Singapore’s basic housing is the HDB flat, which is relatively bigger in size. With 635 sq ft units, it is liveable, but it cannot contain too many things.

Consultants will not know how the flats will fare until they are launched, which Macly has said is likely to be next week. The market has shown itself to be very surprising for analysts.

Source: The Straits Times – 22 March 2012