Published December 2, 2010

Honey, they shrunk the average size of the homes


(SINGAPORE) Against a backdrop towards developing shoebox apartments and a bigger proportion of smaller units in condo projects, the average size of non-landed homes used to estimate housing supply in the Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme has shrunk.

BT selected sites by location and then divided each of their gross floor area by the number of potential homes estimated by the government for each site, to arrive at the average size per home assumed.

BT has observed that a change in the average home size was first introduced for sites in the Rest of Central Region (RCR) in the second half 2010 Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme and broadened to include the Outside Central Region (OCR) in the latest H1 2011 Programme announced last week. The GLS Programmes for both H2 2010 and H1 2011 do not contain residential sites in the Core Central Region.

BT's comparison showed that the average size per home for non-landed residential sites shrank from about 110 square metres in the H1 2010 GLS Programme to around 100 sq m in the H2 2010 Programme and 90 sq m in the H1 2011 slate for residential sites in the Rest of Central Region, which includes locations such as Bishan, Alexandra Road and Stirling Road.

For sites in the Outside Central Region, where suburban condo projects are located, there was no change in the average housing unit size until the H1 2011 programme, when the figure contracted to about 100 sq m from 110 sq m previously, for example in the H1 and H2 2010 GLS programmes.

When contacted, a spokesman for Urban Redevelopment Authority said: 'URA regularly reviews the space standards, that is, gross floor area per housing unit, used to estimate the number of housing units that can be generated from GLS sites for residential developments . . . The review takes into account the size of residential units in housing projects which have obtained planning approval.

'The space standards, which vary for different locations, are used as a guide only. The actual number of residential units on the GLS sites will depend on the actual development plans of the developers.'

Prior to the latest review which was done for the recently released H1 2011 GLS Programme, the previous review was done in December last year.

Market watchers are not too surprised by this finding, noting that the wave of projects with a substantial number of shoebox units began in RCR locations in places such as Rangoon Road, Alexandra Road and the Guillemard area. Since then, shoebox units have appeared in locations such as Kembangan and Eunos which are classified OCR. The trend has also spread to the Core Central Region, in places such as River Valley and Killiney.

CB Richard Ellis executive director Joseph Tan also highlights that even in more mainstream condo developments, generally the proportion of units below 1,000 sq ft has increased of late. 'In city-fringe locations, particularly near MRT stations, up to 50-60 per cent of units could be below 1,000 sq ft and the proportion could be even higher in some projects in the CBD,' he said.

He cited Waterbank at Dakota, which was released earlier this year. About 40 per cent of the project's 616 units are below 1,000 sq ft. At the next-door Dakota Residences launched in 2008, none of the 348 units were under 1,000 sq ft.

Credo Real Estate executive director (research and consultancy) Ong Teck Hui welcomed URA's move to assume a smaller average home size in estimating the number of homes that can potentially be generated from non-landed housing sites in the GLS Programme, saying that the planning authority is keeping up to date with market trends. 'In doing so, they reduce the risk of underestimating the supply of homes from the land they are selling.'