How to find family-sized condos for $1.5 million or less

9 Oct 2021

The new trend? Family-sized Condo?

Of late, I’ve had many questions about where to find “family-sized” condos. By this, I refer to condos that are at least 1,000 sq. ft., or the definition of a three to four-bedder by today’s standards. The sad truth is, there are many new launches with prices below $1.5 million; but some of these units are only 600 to 700 sq. ft., and are often too small if you’re upgrading from an HDB flat. As such, I’ve put together this article on where you can find some options, and how to go about doing it:

Is it possible to find 1,000+ sq. ft. condos for under $1.5 million today?

Here’s a list of notable condos, where units of 1,000+ sq. ft. have transacted at under $1.5 million. All of the following are based on real transactions, as recorded by URA.

In addition, I have kept the list to condos with a TOP date of no earlier than 2011, so all of these are reasonably new. Even if they are 99-year leasehold properties, the lease decay will not be too advanced.

Do note that the following list is not exhaustive, but are just some of the condos that stand out to me:

Outside of Central Region (OCR) condos

The Watergardens at Canberra (new launch)

Transaction date: 28/08/2021

TOP: Under development

Unit size: 1,012 sq. ft.

Price: $1.46 million

A Treasure Trove

Transaction date: 08/09/2021

TOP: 2015

Unit size: 1,044 sq. ft.

Price: $1.279 million

Foresque Residences

Transaction date: 02/09/2021

TOP: 2015

Unit size: 1,138 sq. ft.

Price: $1.388 million

The Alps Residences

Transaction date: 24/08/2021

TOP: 2020

Unit size: 1,087 sq. ft.

Price: $1.29 million

Skies Miltonia

Transaction date: 16/08/2021

TOP: 2016

Unit size: 1,173 sq. ft.

Price: $1.178 million

Rest of Central Region (RCR) condos

Reflections at Keppel Bay

Transaction date: 04/06/2021

TOP: 2011

Unit size: 1,012 sq. ft.

Price: $1.48 million

The Interlace

Transaction date: 14/05/2021

TOP: 2015

Unit size: 1,044 sq. ft.

Price: $1.41 million

The Rochester Residences

Transaction date: 14/05/2021

TOP: 2011

Unit size: 1,281 sq. ft.

Price: $1.455 million

Park 1 Suites

Transaction date: 16/07/2021

TOP: 2020

Unit size: 1,098 sq. ft.

Price: $1.47 million

The Trilinq

Transaction date: 06/07/2021

TOP: 2017

Unit size: 1,109 sq. ft.

Price: $1.38 million

Unfortunately, I am unable to find any Core Central Region (CCR) condos that could match this price point recently.

This is unsurprising, as most CCR condos are freehold and priced at a premium. To be realistic, most buyers will have to confine their search to the OCR and RCR.

How would you go about finding such condos to shortlist?

  • OCR condos tend to have the best value for size
  • Search by size, not by number of ¬†rooms
  • The older the condo, the better your chances
  • Consider leasehold options instead
  • Focus on real transactions, within the past 12 months

1. OCR condos tend to have the best value for size

As a loose rule of thumb, condos in the OCR will have a lower price per square foot. You will be able to afford more space by buying in this region.

The following are all OCR districts:

  • District 16 (Bedok)
  • District 17 (Pasir Ris, Changi)
  • District 18 (Tampines, Simei)
  • District 19 (Hougang, Punggol)
  • District 21 (Clementi)
  • District 22 (Jurong, Boon Lay)
  • District 23 (Upper Bukit Timah, Choa Chu Kang)
  • District 24 (Tengah, Lim Chu Kang)
  • District 25 (Woodlands)
  • District 26 (Yio Chu Kang)
  • District 27 (Yishun, Sembawang)
  • District 28 Seletar

At the time of writing, the average condo price – across all OCR districts – is roughly $1,303 psf. As such, a unit that is around 1,000+ sq. ft. should fall well below the $1.5 million mark.

This is not to say options are only in the OCR. As I’ve shown above, you can find some in the RCR as well. But condos of this size and price point are harder to find in the RCR.

2. Search by size, not by number of rooms

A common mistake is to search for units by the number of rooms, such as three-bedders, four-bedders, etc. You will often be told that a family-sized condo is a three-bedder. This is all very misleading.

A condo built in the 1980s can be over 1,000 sq. ft. in size, and still be called a two-bedder. Likewise, there are condos launched in 2021 that are 700 sq. ft. in size, which are called three-bedders.

So just ignore the number of rooms when you’re searching. Focus on units of 1,000 sq. ft. or above, as these are family-sized by most definitions (for reference, a 4-room flat is around 970 sq. ft., whereas a 5-room flat is about 1,184 sq. ft.)

3. The older the condo, the better your chances

Condos built in the 1990s or before are gigantic, by today’s standards. One famous example would be Loyang Valley, from 1982. The smallest units are 1,033 sq. ft., while the three-bedders are 1,938 sq. ft.

But because this is an old leasehold condo, you can get these huge units at very low prices. In March of this year, for instance, a 1,055 sq. ft. unit from Loyang Valley sold at just $855,000. In most parts of Singapore, it’s almost impossible to find a unit that large, yet selling for under $900,000.

Mind you, older condos come with their own share of problems. Lease decay, higher maintenance needs, and dated facilities are also factors you will need to consider. But if your main need is sheer size, then it’s worth considering these older giants.

4. Consider leasehold options instead

A freehold condo is often 15 to 20 per cent more expensive than its leasehold counterpart.

For example, a 1,000 sq. ft. leasehold unit might cost $1.4 million, but a freehold counterpart – in the same area – might cost $1.68 million.

Now this does open up a whole conversation regarding the merits of freehold versus leasehold; and in general, a leasehold condo may not perform as well with a shorter holding period. But again, if you’re mainly a home owner and want space for comfort, going leasehold might be a worthwhile tradeoff.

5. Focus on real transactions, within the past 12 months

When searching for your property, exclude transactions from longer than 12 months ago. This is because property prices are always rising, if for no reason other than inflation.

If you see a unit transacted at $1.5 million in 2016, for instance, it’s quite likely that a similar unit would be transacting for above $1.65 million by today.

Besides keeping to 12 months, you should also focus on real transactions lodged with URA.

Don’t base your search on listing prices, or asking prices, on portals, advertisements, etc. Asking prices are not always an accurate reflection of what you’ll pay; they tend to be inflated, as buyers expect you to haggle the price down. If you need help finding prices, contact me on Facebook and I can help you look.

Property prices are on the rise in 2021, but there are plenty of options in the market

A family-sized condo unit may not be as expensive as you think. There are always options, for those willing to make certain compromises, or make slight tweaks in their search parameters, to look in places where they have not thought of looking before. Follow me on RonChongProperty.sg, so I can keep you up to date on where to find the best deals.

Or if you’re interested in any of the condos above, or need my help searching, do contact me on Facebook.

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