Sunday, June 27, 2010

Condos woo buyers with glitzy extras

While special features may not make or break a deal, they do enhance appeal

Developers of a condominium featuring a skypark hope the feature will prove to be a hit with increasingly demanding buyers.

The skypark is on the top 16th floor of the 361-unit Waterfront Gold in Bedok Reservoir, which is being released this weekend.

Frasers Centrepoint, which is developing the condo jointly with Far East Organization, says it is the first skypark in a private residential project.

The skypark is an 8,000 sq ft observation-cum-exercise deck offering unparalleled views of Bedok Reservoir, the developers said. Units at the condo are selling for $950 psf on average.

As consumers here mature and become more demanding, developers are coming up with more special features to entice them.

While these glitzy extras may not make or break a deal, they do help to enhance a project's appeal.

And in a quieter market, they are all the more important when it comes to attracting buyers, experts said.

'The mass market and mid-tier market have surpassed peak prices. We are going through a consolidation phase, which could last for three, four, five months,' said Cushman & Wakefield managing director Donald Han.

'Buyers shouldn't be expecting too much of a discount though as developers are still in a very strong position and can hold.'

But buyers can expect to see more of these special condo features, experts said.

A recent major suburban launch, The Minton in Lorong Ah Soo, also highlighted its many facilities, including an air-conditioned, indoor badminton hall and a 20m heated pool.

The developer of the 1,145-unit condo recently raised the price slightly to $865 psf from $850 psf last month.

And at Twin Peaks in Grange Road, which could be launched in the early part of next month, all the units will come fully furnished - a first in Singapore.

'We wanted to give something that nobody else has given in Singapore,' said Mr Thio Gim Hock, chief executive of Overseas Union Enterprise. This feature would appeal to investors, who can rent the unit out immediately, he said.

The condo should cost around $2,850 psf on average, sources said.

'Differentiating features are important factors in selling a condo,' said Knight Frank managing director for residential services Peter Ow.

'In today's context, every developer is trying out new ideas and features to distinguish themselves from the competition. Hopefully, such special features will also help them to achieve a premium.'

He added: 'Moving forward, we definitely expect developers to be more innovative in their designs and concepts.'

Colliers International's director for research and advisory, Ms Tay Huey Ying, said Singapore home-buyers have become more demanding in their expectations as standards of public and private housing here rise.

They are also now 'more well-travelled and/or are exposed to diverse living and home concepts through the Internet and media', she said.

This means developers would need to constantly look for ways to improve their offerings to stay ahead of competition, whether it is a bull or a bear market.

'In the former, the developers need differentiators to edge out competition while in the latter, the developers use differentiators, which could also include marketing gimmicks, to stimulate demand,' Ms Tay said.

House-hunter Patricia Han said: 'These extras would already have been factored into the selling price. But if I were to rent out my unit, any extras can be an incentive when I market the condo.'

Ms Tay said Waterfront Gold's skypark is 'but a minor differentiator in the eye of the buyer'.

Location remains key. However, in a competitive market where buyers are flooded with many choices, being the first private condo to boast a skypark may give that development a slight edge, she said.

Source: Sunday Times, 27 Jun 2010

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