'Mickey Mouse homes' snapped up near Little India
June 29, 2008
'Mickey Mouse homes' snapped up near Little India
Buyers like these small apartments as they are close to the city and they seem more affordable
By Joyce Teo, Property Correspondent
The area near Farrer Park MRT station in Little India - once largely shunned by developers - has become the playground of smaller property players.
These little-known companies have bought land there and launched projects that range in size from as few as 13 units to around 50.
Recently, Suites 123 in Rangoon Road - which has 37 apartments - was largely sold out, despite weak market sentiment.
Before that, other small projects such as Citigate Residence, Suites@Owen and Soho@Farrer were also sold out. Some of these projects were sold at around $1,000 to $1,100 per sq ft (psf), which is not cheap, market watchers noted.
However, as the apartments are usually quite small, these 'Mickey Mouse units' appear to be priced at relatively low levels. Most of these projects have shop units as well.
Mr David Neubronner, the executive director of Savills Residential, noted that many of the one-bedroom units are just 400 sq ft and the two-bedroom units 700 sq ft.
He added: 'A two-roomer may cost $700,000.'
That, he said, is a 'very attractive entry point' for buyers looking to stay near the city.
At Suites@Owen, the 20 apartments range in size from just 366 sq ft for a one-bedroom unit to 1,044 sq ft for a two-bedroom penthouse.
The sizes shrink even further at the 13-unit Kent Residences on Kent Road. The smallest apartment is just 312 sq ft - roughly half the size of an average three-room HDB flat, or about the size of two Old Chang Kee kiosks.
The developer of Kent Residences, which is also behind Tyrwhitt 139 on Tyrwhitt Road, said the area is attractive because it is near an MRT station.
These projects target singles and small families. The buyers are mainly Singaporeans in their 30s but there are also some foreigners.
Mr Neubronner said the projects attract many end-users as the area is at the city fringe, which is getting more exciting.
Market watchers said Farrer Park's proximity to Little India might deter single females or families with kids, but not necessarily single men.
Still, there are many projects located north of Farrer Park MRT station, across the road from the buzz and chaos of Little India - and less savoury activities at Desker Road.
While many people also do not want to live near the Little India conservation area, some love living there, including artists and film-makers.
The area is full of history and character. Race Course Road, for instance, took its name from Singapore's first race course, built in Farrer Park in 1842. One of the country's oldest Buddhist temples, Leong San Buddhist Temple, is also in the vicinity.
And when some of the newer developments are completed, the residents might include a famous face or two. At least one local celebrity is believed to have bought a unit in a small development north of Farrer Park MRT station.
For buyers, the good thing about these small projects is that they are mostly either freehold or 999-year leasehold. With the MRT station only a short walk away, residents are basically two MRT stops away from town.
However, market watchers warn that buyers - those who bought off developer's plans - might not realise how small the units are until they see the completed apartments.
Nowadays, the space allocated for bay windows, planter boxes, air-con ledges and balconies can eat significantly into your living area.
'In some instances, they can make up as much as 20 per cent or more of the total. If you want more 'liveable' space, you should do a like-for-like comparision before you make your decision,' said Chesterton International's head of research and consultancy, Mr Colin Tan.
For instance, at the 56-unit Citigate Residence on Rangoon Road, the 441 sq ft and 517 sq ft advertised for its smaller units include the bay window, air-con ledge, planter and balcony.
Nevertheless, many buyers could still bite simply because of the seemingly low absolute prices and projected high rental yields, market watchers say.
'Consumers must be more prudent. The absolute value of such developments might be low, but investors have to consider whether they can find a buyer or tenant later,' said HSR Property Group's executive director, Mr Eric Cheng. 'They are suitable only for those who are comfortable with small units.'
He said that many buyers might not realise the units are too small to live in until the projects are completed.
'One of my friends who bought a 580 sq ft unit on Mackenzie Road told me it's like a bird's nest,' he added.
Many are drawn in by the seemingly low absolute prices and projected high rental yields. However, the units aren't that cheap on a per sq ft basis. Also, some buyers might find the units too small to live in comfortably when they see the completed apartments. It might not be easy to find a buyer or tenant later.