Friday, July 29, 2011

It's all about the shoeboxes...

Over the past 2 years, shoebox units have been increasing in popularity. They usually achieved the highest psf prices compared to bigger units within any project and are also becoming more expensive.

Here are solid numbers to substantiate those claims:

Despite the continual popularity of such smallish units, here's a caveat by Credo Real Estate executive director Ong Teck Hui: "A lot of people are buying shoebox units because they are a more bite-sized investment. However, whether these apartments can fetch the yields some of these buyers expect remains to be seen, especially in suburban locations."
Source: The Business Times

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Project designed by world-class architect = brisker sale?

It was reported in The Straits Times yesterday that CapitaLand has hired a world renowned architect with a reputation of head-truning designs to shape their major condominium project in Bishan.

The site, near Bishan MRT station, was acquired by CapitaLand for $550 million in February this year. The winning bid, which translated to $869psf ppr, had set a new record for 99-year leasehold suburban condo site. This led some experts to predict selling prices of between $1,400psf  and $1,700psf - a new record for suburban homes.

Experts also say that enlisting a world-class architect may be a way for developer to overcome price resistance by differentiating their product.

But judging by the sales progress of several "designer projects" in the market, it is quite evident that pricing remains the primary concern with buyers. This is despite the brand name and added touch of glamour that desginer architects bring to these projects.

Reflections By The Bay (No. of units: 1,129) 
The Interlace (No. of units: 1,040)
d'Leedon (No. of units: 1,715)

In our opinion, the less than stellar sales seen at such "designer projects" can be attributed to another important factor - exclusivity. It may be appealing to live in a project designed by a world-renowned architect, even if you have to pay a premium for the apartment. However, it loses much of the shine when you have to share the "glamour" with a thousand other unit owners.

Something for developers to ponder about...?


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

GLS: Lower tender bids expected?

Market watchers are observing lower tender bids for government land sales (GLS).

According to OCBC Investment research, recent GLS tenders imply breakeven prices that are as much as 26% below market prices. It said this is likely due to the policy changes in the housing market after May 2011.

Average winning tenders for recent 99-year GLS condominium sites translate to a breakeven average selling price that is on average 7% below market levels. This is based on data compiled by OCBC Investment Research, covering 24 tenders from June 2010 to June 2011.

Analysts said the lower bids are a result of developers factoring in lower expected selling prices for their units. But they said this may not necessarily translate into significantly cheaper home prices for end buyers.

Liang Thow Ming, Head of Residential Services with Credo Real Estate: "Over the last couple of GLS tenders, we've noticed a drop both in the number of bidders and also in the successful bidding price. What will happen over here of course, is that the developers are now buying land at a lower cost. However, I don't think that is a major factor in deciding what the launch price is going to be."

Launch prices of end units are dependent on demand from home buyers as well as market sentiment. As such, developers with more freehold land sites in their land bank can choose to delay their launches, in order to wait for the market to pick up. This will allow them to set higher average selling prices.

Analysts do say the lower tenders protect the developers from a crash in home prices, as it gives them more flexibility to price their units accordingly.

Chia Siew Chuin, Director of Research & Advisory at Colliers International, said: "Should the market turn, should the market soften for whatever reasons, this low bidding price would actually create a buffer for the developers, thereby giving the comfort zone to then therefore reduce the selling price of end units."

Going forward, analysts expect the private home prices to remain flat, increasing at most 3% by the end of the year. The prices of mass market condominiums are likely to be between $900 and $1,200psf.

Source: Channel News Asia


Project spotlight: City Square Residences & Citylights

New condominiums in the city fringe, particularly those next to MRT stations and near the heritage area of Little India, have seen prices setting new highs recently. According to caveats lodged with URA, over the week of June 28 to July 5, a seventh-floor 570sqft studio apartment at City Square Residences located at Kitchener Link was sold for $975,000, or a record at $1,709psf. Another unit in the development, this time a 840sqft two-bedroom apartment, changed hands at $1.39 million, or $1,656psf.

The 910-unit freehold City Square Residences was completed in early 2009, and sits right beside the City Square Mall. Both projects are developed by listed giant developer, City Developments Ltd. City Square Residences also contains an underground link from the mall to the Farrer Park MRT station, and is also near a bus stop.

Property agents who have sold units at City Square Residences say demand for the condo is strong because of its freehold status and convenient location. “It is one of the very few city-fringe condos close to an MRT station and more than one shopping centre, namely City Square Mall and the 24-hour Mustafa Centre,” says Brandan Lim, a team director at HSR. “The pool is large; there are ample facilities such as a snooker room and three function rooms. Some units on the high floors have unblocked views of the city, which will remain unblocked as City Square Residences is surrounded by conservation shophouses,” he adds.

First launched in April 2005, units were sold at prices ranging from $500 to $600psf. Unit types are a mix of 570sqft studio apartments, two-, three- and four-bedroom units of 1,518sqft.

Many of the owners who had bought their units at the launch have seen prices escalate in recent years. The 570sqft unit that was recently sold at record-high of $1,709psf, for instance, changed hands in a sub-sale in August 2007 at $570,000 ($999psf). The first owner had purchased it at launch in 2005 for a mere $383,680 or $673psf. Most of the owners at City Square Residences are now asking for at least $1 million for their studio apartments, says Lim.

Anecdotal evidence is that owners are holding on to their asking prices. Recently, a seller had turned down an offer of $1.42 million for his two-bedroom, 872sqft unit, as it fell short of his asking price of $1.46 million. The owner was confident of finding a buyer at his desired price. HSR’s Lim observes that most of the recent buyers are foreigners, mainly from China, Indonesia, India, Australia and Dubai.

Asking rent for units in City Square Residences range from $3,000 ($5.26psf) a month for a fully-furnished 570sqft unit to $6,800 ($6.80psf) a month for a fully-furnished 1,000sqft two-bedroom unit.

Just a short drive from City Square Residences is the 600-unit, 99-year leasehold Citylights, located next to Lavender MRT station. The most recent transaction there was for a 678sqft unit on the 33rd level that changed hands in mid-June at $1.15 million, or a record of $1,696psf for the development. This is the third time that the one-bedroom unit has changed hands. It was transacted in August 2007 when it went for $881,400, or $1,300psf, and prior to that, the previous owner had purchased it from the developer, CapitaLand, in October 2006 for just $493,000 ($728psf).

Standing 42 storeys tall, the high-floor units at Citylights offer unblocked views of the Kallang Basin, the future Sports Hub, as well as the city. When the project was first launched in late 2004, prices initially averaged $600psf.

Patrick Lai, director of residential leasing at Savills Singapore is not surprised at the recent high transaction prices and rental rates achieved at City Square Residences and Citylights. He expects prices to go up even further. “City Square Residences is newer compared with Citylights, but both are equally sought-after by expatriates, given their location right next to a MRT station,” he says. “Units there are ideal for those who want value for money, and find places in other city fringe areas such as the Novena/Newton area too expensive.”

Owners of high-floor units with views at City Square Residences and Citylights are also asking for premium on rents. “These are the two new hot city-fringe locations,” says Lai.

For those who are interested, below are the transacted prices for both projects during the past 2 or so months. As can be expected, there is a rather big disparity in the psf prices between big and small units.

City Square Residences/Citylights (Transacted Prices)


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Woodhaven (Review)

Project Name:   Woodhaven
Tenure:   99-year leasehold wef from 7th Feb 2011
Location:   Woodgrove Avenue
District:   25
Site Area:   225,573sqft
TOP (estimated):   2015
Total Units:   337
No. of Blocks:   14
Developer:   Far East Organization

The wife and I decided to venture further up North over the weekend and found ourselves at the sales gallery of Woodhaven – a 99-year leasehold project by Far East Organization.

Woodhaven is located on a plot of about 225,600sqft at the intersection of Woodlands Ave 1 and Rosewood Drive. The sales gallery is located on the actual site itself.

Woodhaven is a low-rise development consisting of 14 blocks in total – 8 blocks of 5-Storey apartments/SOHO units and 6 blocks of 4-storey (basement + 1st + 2nd + roof terrace) townhouses. The main entrance to Woodhaven is via Woodgrove Avenue, a new access road that will be built specially for the development. There will also be a pedestrian access gate leading out to Woodlands Ave 1.

Woodhaven offers a mix of condo apartments, SOHO units and townhouses:
• 1-Bedroom Condo/SOHO (134 units):   614 – 663sqft
• 2-Bedroom Compact SOHO (45 units):   717 – 760sqft
• 2-Bedroom Condo (59 units):   878 – 1000sqft
• 3-Bedroom compact Condo (20 units):   1131 – 1191sqft
• 3-Bedroom “typical” Condo (40 units):   1179 – 1239sqft
• 4-Bedroom Townhouses (39 units):   3268 – 3314sqft
Facilities wise, you get the usual assortments of swimming pools, gym and even a tennis court located on the rooftop of one of the blocks (Block C). However, what is conspicuously missing is the clubhouse (together with the indoor function room).

Parking lots are all located in the basement - we were told that there will be at least one lot per Condo/SOHO unit, while each townhouse will get 2 private parking lots.

There are 3 showflat types being featured in the sales gallery:
• 1-Bedroom SOHO
• 2-Bedroom SOHO
• 2-Bedroom Condo

For the purpose of this review, we shall look at the 878qft, 2-bedder condo (Type B1)

Once you step through the main door, the home shelter is right in front of you. This is a narrow rectangular strip of an area and is totally enclosed – so if you choose to house your domestic helper here, she will definitely have to leave the (home shelter) door open when she is inside her “room” to avoid suffocation.

The kitchen is the next area you see. It not only houses the hob/hood, sink, fridge and oven, but also the washing machine as there is no yard space within the apartment. A small dining table that sits four is also incoporated into the kitchen area.

The living area is rectangular and quite spacious for an apartment of this size. The ceiling height is 3.6m (3.85m for ground floor units), which is quite generous. However, you only get 60cm x 60cm homogenous-tile floors (for both living & kitchen area), which is rather disappointing.

The balcony is a small rectangular space that will probably fit a small table plus 2 chairs so as to allow you to sit, relax and enjoy the view outside. However, we suspect many residents will utilize the balcony to dry clothes.

The common bathroom is decent sized and comes with homogenous-tile floors and ceramic walls. The wife and I are not particularly impressed with the bathroom (Hansa) and toilet (Ideal Standard) fittings that are provided.  

The common bedroom is quite small and definitely requires some creative use of space. Consolation is that there are no bay windows to deal with in all the bedrooms.

The master bedroom has decent space if you can make do with a Queen bed. It comes with small timber-strip floors (similar for all bedrooms) and a glass partition wall that separates the bedroom area from the attached bathroom.

The master bathroom is fairly good-sized and comes with marble floors/walls. And instead of the normal standing shower, you get a sunken bath with “rain shower”. However, we are again unimpressed with the quality of bathroom/toilet fitting provided.

Pricing wise, the average price of the condo units are $1,000psf, whereas you can expect to pay an average of $1,030psf for the SOHO units. The townhouses are going at around $800psf.

The sales gallery of Woodhaven was only opened about one and half month ago and almost 83% of the units have already found buyers:
• All the 2-Bedroom SOHO units have been sold
• Majority of the 2-Bedroom apartments have been snapped up

What we like:
• The wife and I like the layouts of the SOHO units as well as 2-bedroom condo, which make the respective units feel more spacious than what we originally expect.

Woodhaven is located fairly close to amenities – there is an ESSO petrol station right next to development and it is also a 5-minute walk to The Woodgrove Shopping Centre, where you can find numerous F&B outlets and NTUC supermarket.

• The American School and Singapore Sports School are within 5 – 10 minutes’ drive away, which may increase the rental prospects of Woodhaven especially with American expat families.

• Several choices of primary school within 1-km of Woodhaven – Si Ling, Fu Chun, Woodgrove and Innova Primary.

What we dislike:
• The wife and I are not particularly impressed with the quality of furnishing and fittings as seen in the showflats - this is probably the worse Far East project (in terms of quality) that we have seen since we started our blog.

• Because there are so many blocks (14 in total) within Woodhaven, the development seems rather “built up” and somewhat claustrophobic.

• The facility offering is rather “run of the mill”, unless you are a big fan of swimming pools. And the absence of a clubhouse/function room, especially in a project consisting of mainly small apartments, is particularly disappointing.

• We also find it a bit strange to have the tennis court on the rooftop of an apartment block. Hopefully, the people living on the 5th floor of Block C will find the sound of bouncing tennis balls… therapeutic.

• Although we were told that Woodhaven is within walking distance to the MRT station, we reckon it is at least a 15-minute walk to the nearest station (Woodlands MRT). This can be quite laborious on a hot (or worse, stormy) day.

Our Verdict: Other than the spacious layouts, Woodhaven does little else for the two of us. So it is absolutely mind blogging to think that there are so many buyers who are willing to fork out an average of $1,000psf for units in a 99-year leasehold project located in Woodlands, which is not particularly close to an MRT station and (in our opinion at least)  far below the quality that one comes to expect with Far East projects.

As a comparison, below are the recent average transacted prices for the other condo projects next-door to Woodhaven:
• Woodgrove Condominium (TOP: 1999; 248 units):   $700+psf
• Casablanca (TOP: 2006; 478 units):   $800+psf
• Rosewood Suites (TOP: 2012; 200 units):   $700+psf

However, if SOHO unit is what you are looking for, the unit type is unavailable in the three neighboring developments.

And we leave you to decide on whether it is really value for money to pay some $200+psf more for Woodhaven over the existing (older) projects, SOHO notwithstanding...


Monday, July 25, 2011

Woodhaven: Photos of the 2-Bedroom SOHO unit

The wife and I were at the sales gallery of Woodhaven over the weekend. This is a new project by Far East Organization located in Woodland.

Here are photos of the 2-Bedroom SOHO unit that we quite liked. It is only about 750sqft but felt much larger than its actual size.

There is a small problem though - all the 2-Bedroom SOHO are fully sold, so you will have to look at the resale market... or hope for buyer who decides to back out.

We will post our review of Woodhaven in the next day (or two).


Saturday, July 23, 2011

New Project Info: Boathouse Residences

Boathouse Residences is a new condo project in Hougang. It is located along the riverfront of Sungei Serangoon - the latest reservoir in Singapore.

The project is developed by EastHouse Properties, which is a JV between Frasers Centrepoint Homes, Far East Organization & Sekisui House.

Here are the project details:

Project Name:   Boathouse Residences
District:   19
Location:   Upper Serangoon View (see map)
Site Area:   140,000sqft
Land Tenure:   99-year wef 9th Feb 2011
No. of Units:   493
No. of Blocks/Storey:   6 Blocks of 15/18-Storey
No. of Parking Lots:   493
Estimated TOP:   4Q 2015

Unit Mix:   Boathouse Residences offer a mix of SOHO and apartment units

• SOHO – 1-Bedroom/1+Study (90 units):   635 & 715sqft
• SOHO – 2-Bedroom/2+Study (112 units):   750 & 940sqft
• 2-Bedroom/2+Study (52 units):   835 & 890sqft
• 3-Bedroom Compact (55 units):   990sqft
• 3-Bedroom Typical (122 units):   1,109sqft
• 3-Bedroom Dual-key (18 units):   1,249sqft
• 4-Bedroom (36 units):   1,432sqft
• Penthouses (8 units):   1,518 – 1,722sqft

The wife and I understand that preview will start end-July or Early-August (yes, during the Hungry Ghost Month!) and the preview price will average slightly below $1,000psf.
We will keep you posted once we have more information.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Private home Prices grew 2% in Q2 2011

Private home prices in Singapore rose at a slower pace of 2% in the second quarter, according to statistics from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

This was in line with the flash estimates which showed a 1.9% increase as announced earlier.

The property price index stood at 203 points in the second quarter.

In the previous quarter, the price index grew 2.2% to 199.1 points.

URA said the rate of price increase has moderated for seven straight quarters, since the fourth quarter of 2009.

For the second quarter of this year, non-landed residential properties in the prime city area, or core central region, increased by 1.6%.

The city fringe areas, or rest of central region, posted a 1.1% increase.

Suburban areas, or outside central region, also showed an increase of 1.7%.

URA said that the supply of residential units in the pipeline continues to build up.

There was a total of 71,111 uncompleted private homes at the end of the second quarter.

This was higher compared to the 68,887 units in the first quarter.
Source: Channel News Asia


It's a slow slow YTD for en bloc sites above $100m...

Home owners keen to sell their property through an en bloc sale were less likely to be successful in the first half of this year as compared with the whole of 2010, with estimates going for $100 million and above the most difficult to sell.

Data published by property consultancy firm Credo Real Estate showed that plots put up for sale enjoyed a 51% successful selling rate from January to June this year, as compared to 65% for the whole of 2010.

Dragging down the overall selling rate were bigger sites, with more put up for sale this year to tepid interest.

According to Credo, 26 sites valued at $100 million and above were available for sale in the first half of this year, compared with 11 for the whole of last year.

Of the 26 sites, just six – valued from $100 million to less than $300 million – were sold, while none of those priced above $300 million were picked up. This translates to a success rate of 23.1%.

Last year, three of the 11 sites valued at $100 million and above were sold, putting the success rate at 27.3%.

In contrast, plots valued at below $50 million enjoyed 87% success rate for the first half this year, higher than the 76% garnered by sites put up for sale from January to December last year.

The different reception that big and small collective sale sites saw stem from the uncertain property market environment, and the higher supply of land available under the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme, said Credo’s deputy managing director Tan Hong Boon.

With the Singapore government intent on keeping property prices in check, developers are keen to see quicker turnaround times, especially for mega sites, he said. And collective sales – unlike plots sold under the GLS programme which are also large in size – generally take a longer time to change hands.

“For collective sales, you need to factor in the 3 -4 months that it takes for the strata title board to give the sale order”, for instance, said Mr Tan. Then there is the six-month period where the developer has to allow residents to stay rent-free before it can begin to redevelop the land.

In contrast, land available under the GLS programme has a more straightforward process, said Cushman & Wakefield Singapore vice-chairman Donald Han. “The land sale can be completed within three months, while collective sales may take a while. And there is the unknown factor: developers cannot be sure that there won’t be dissidents and appeals against the sale.”

What has added to the lack of interest in large en bloc sites is the huge land supply coming into the market under the GLS scheme, added Mr Han. In June, the Ministry of National Development (MND) released 17 residential sites on the confirmed list of the GLS programme for the second half of the year. Analysts have said that this is a bumper supply of land.

“The smaller collective sale sites are usually bought by boutique or mid-sized developers, who are not big enough to purchase land under the GLS,” said Mr Han. This explains why they are seeing a higher take-up rate.

Larges sites that have been launched for collective sale this year include Pearlbank Apartments in Outram, which carried a $750 million price tag; Pine Grove condominium in Ulu Pandan, which asked for $1.7 billion; and Tulip Garden in Farerr Road, going for $600 million.

None of the eight estates priced above $500 million that were put on the market up till June has been sold. Last year, four such plots were up for sale, and none were snapped up.
Source: The Business Times

It sure doesn’t look too ominous for the 8 estates going into the second half of 2011, especially when market sentiments are somewhat bleak and the developers a lil spooked. Try again next year, maybe..?


SG PropTalk is now on Ovi!

We have added ourselves as an app on the Nokia Ovi store.

So for all the "Nokian" out there, you can now download the app by clicking on this banner or the one located at our sidebar. The app should allow you to access our latest blog feeds with just a click of the button.

Since neither the wife or I are Nokia phone users, please do let us know if the app works well for you. 


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Renovating your old apartment?

Since the wife and I have just commenced our fourth major home renovation in six years (and by "major", we meant gutting down the whole interior of the apartment and redo), we like to share with you on things that you probably should take note of when renovating your home.

Please bear with us if you find some of these pointers elementary:

If your apartment is more than 10 years old, it may be a good idea to replace all electrical wirings - these are likely to have deteriorated with age.

For older apartments, you should also think about replacing all iron pipes with PVC ones, as the former are likely to corrode with age - It is definitely less of a hassle (and probably less costly too) to do so when you are renovating your apartment than having to replace the pipes after, e.g. when leakages occur (imagine: sewage pipe).

Again for older apartments, you may want to redo the "water-proofing" of the floors in your toilets and even kitchen - this will reduce the chance of water seepage to the apartment downstairs and having to pay for the repairs.

Try to minimize the hacking of walls if you can - Should you need to rebuilt these in the future, you are likely to get ugly hair-line cracks on the newly erected walls after awhile. This is especially prevalent along the edges between the existing and new walls.

If you must hack off some walls/beams, please make doubly sure that these are not structural walls/beams - we know this may sound obvious to most, but some of you may recall the incident in Jurong East some years ago where residents of a block of HDB flat have to be temporarily evacuated. This was because some smart alack had decided to hack off part of a structural wall in his unit, causing structural instability to the whole block!

Before you start replacing your existing air-cons with higher BTU ones or increase the number of air-con units, do ensure that you have enough power in your apartment to support these – You certainly do not want to cause a power overload in your home.

When working with a contractor, do ensure that all renovation costs are already factored into the original quotation. And should there be any additional work that needs done, make sure that you mutually agree and are fully aware of the extra cost to be incurred – Imagine our shock when one of our previous contractor came to us with an additional bill for $20K after the renovation was completed, supposedly for items that he had omitted in his original costing.

We will add to the list if we think of anything else. Meantime, please feel free to share your renovation "experience" in the comment section.

Happy Renovating!

Per suggestion by our good friend EQ, we have replicated this post on our Discussion Forum. Please visit the page to add on to our list or share experiences!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Skyline Residences (Review)

Project Name:   Skyline Residences
Tenure:   Freehold
Location:   608 – 612 Telok Blangah Road
District:   04
Site Area:   154,810sqft
TOP (estimated):   1st October 2015
Total Units:   283
No. of Blocks/Storey:   3 blocks of 24-storey
Car Park Lots:   300
Developer:   Bukit Sembawang

The wife and I were at the sales gallery of Skyline Residences over the weekend. This is a freehold project by Bukit Sembawang located along Telok Blangah Road.

Skyline Residences sits on the plot of land that is currently occupied by Fairways. Bukit Sembawang bought the site in a collective sale back in 2007 for $244.3 million, which worked out to around $785psf ppr. It sure took them quite a while before they decided to launch the new project that is Skyline Residences. The sales gallery is located on the actual site itself.

The first thing that delighted us when we stepped into the sales gallery was the scale model of the project – in addition to highlighting the condo and its facilities, the model also has mock-up of some of the landmarks that surrounds Skyline Residences. These include the cable car towers at Harbourfront/Sentosa with tiny cable cars that actually move!

Skyline Residences consists of 3 blocks of 24-storey each. However, the apartments are located from the 3rd storey onwards and are elevated by pillars of some 21 metres from the ground level. So units on the 3rd storey of Skyline Residences is actually about 8-storey high. The three blocks form the corners of a triangle:

• Block 608 (which consists of only 3+Study and 4-bedders) is closest to the main road.

• Blocks 610 and 612 are tucked behind Block 608 - we were told the distance between Block 610/612 and Block 608 is about 60 metres.

• The condo facilities are located in between the 3 Blocks.

The main entrance to Skyline Residences is along Telok Blangah Road, while a pedestrian gate located at the back of the development will provide access to Telok Blangah Drive (where the wet market and other amenities are found).

The project offers a mix of 1- to 4-bedroom units as well as penthouses (4+Study or 5-bedroom):
• 1-Bedroom (44 units):   484sqft
• 2-Bedroom (88 units):   829sqft
• 3-Bedroom (88 units):   1292 or 1346sqft
• 3+Study (20 units):        1475sqft
• 4-Bedroom (40 units):   1615 or 1722sqft
• Penthouses (3 units):    3165sqft (4+S), 3251 & 3681sqft (5-bedder)

Facilities wise, one is unlikely to be disappointed with the offering at Skyline Residences. It comes with all the “bells and whistles” that you come to expect in a full-facility condo these days (tennis court included). And for added convenience, an elevated walkway on the 3rd storey actually links Block 608 to the other two Blocks.

For parking, there are a total of 300 lots (inclusive of 4 handicapped lots) to be shared amongst the 283 units.

There are two showflat on display at the sales gallery:
– 1346sqft, 3-bedroom (Type C1)
– 1722sqft, 4-bedroom (Type D1)

All the 3- and 4-bedder units as well as penthouses come with their own private lift/lift lobby.

For the purpose of this review, we shall look at the 1346sqft, 3-bedder unit.

As you enter the unit, you see the living/dining room. This is rectangular-shaped area and quite decent in size for a 1300+sqft unit. It comes with ducted air-con and for flooring, you have a choice of either 60cm x 30cm marble-slab or “engineered timber” (see photo below).

The balcony/planter area extends along the whole length of the living/dining room. It probably takes up about 100sqft of space, which seems excessive given the size of the unit. The developer has provided the option to “enclose” the balcony with aluminium sliding panels (see photo) – this will cost you another $12 – 16K depending on the size of the balcony. However, the panels are more like partitions with holes (since developer is not allowed to erect permanent enclosure in the balcony as this will flout the GFA rules), so not especially effective if your intention is to keep the rain out.

The kitchen is long but somewhat narrow, with a sliding door that separates it from the dining area. You get homogenous floor-tile, sold-surfaced worktop and kitchen cabinets that are equipped with “Blum” mechanism. The developer has also thrown in “Bosch” hood/hob/oven/fridge – the oven looked quite stylish but the hood/hob/fridge looked distinctively ordinary.

The far end of the kitchen leads you to the backdoor and yard area. The yard is a long and narrow area, which is not very functional in our opinion. But you do get ample natural ventilation and lighting through a large window at the back. The utility room is tiny and probably more suited as a store rather than housing the domestic helper. 

The common bathroom is decent sized and comes with homogenous-tile floors and ceramic walls. You also get “Grohe” bathroom fittings and walled-mounted “Geberit” toilet.  The storage cabinet below the bathroom sink is flushed with the wall (see photo), which is quite nice. But the standard wall-mounted shower in the shower stall is not so nice. A window next to the shower stall provides natural lighting and also prevents any build-up of “strange smell” in the bathroom.

All the bedrooms are lined up against each other on one side of the apartment. The two common bedrooms are way too small. And to add salt to injury, you have bay windows to contend with. So you either have to make do with a Single bed or fit a Queen bed along the bay windows (ala Bedroom 2) – we don’t know about you but the wife and I do feel abit iffy sleeping against the bedroom window.

The master bedroom is quite good-sized for a change. It comes with engineered timber floors, which is standard for all the bedrooms. By now you are probably wondering… what is “engineered timber”? We have done some checking and discovered that engineered timber is a structural timber product composed of several layers of dimensioned lumber glued together.  It has the advantage of being free from excessive shrinking and setting and is generally stronger and longer lasting than whole timber.

The master bedroom not only has bay windows, but also an additional planter area (accessible via a set of glass doors). The later is especially a waste of good space (do you really need a planter box in your bedroom?) that you have to pay for.

The master bathroom is quite spacious and comes with marble floors/walls. You get “Grohe/Duravit” fittings and both bath tub and standing shower (located across from each other). Although the shower stall is not fitted with rain-shower, we do find the “industrial-like” design quite appealing.

Price wise, below are what you can expect to pay for selected 3- and 3+Study units that are still available as of last weekend:

• 1475sqft, 3+Study (Block 608, #06-02):   $2,731,520 or $1,852psf
• 1475sqft, 3+Study (Block 608, #21-02):   $2,896,420 or $1,963psf
• 1346sqft, 3-Bedder (Block 610, #06-08): $2,471,560 or $1,836psf

The wife and I actually prefer the layout for the 3+Study over the 3-Bedder. Only issue we have with the former is that it is directly West-facing. So the living and master bedroom in this one and only stack of 3+Study can get quite warm in the afternoon.

Skyline Residences started previewing about 2 weeks ago and as of last weekend, about 90 of the 283 units have been sold.

What we like:
• The view, especially from units in Block 608, should be quite spectacular. Check out the photos we took (if you have not seen them yet):
Also, the design of the 3 blocks is such that most of the units will have at least some unblocked view.

• For those seeking larger units (3+Study or 4-bedder), you be pleased to know that Block 608 (only block where such units are found) offers you the best view – the balcony of these units will likely get some sea/golf course view while the bedrooms will face the condo facilities.

• The main orientation of the project is North-South, which means the units should be quite windy. This may help you save on electrical bill as less air-conditioning may be required.

• Telok Blangah MRT station (on Stage 5 of the Circle Line that is expected to be operational in the later part of this year) is just across from Skyline Residences and about 4-mins' walk away.

• Residents have the choice of wet market/supermarket/neighbourhood shops and other amenities at the HDB estate located across from Telok Blangah Drive. Alternatively, Vivocity and Harbourfront is just a 5-mins' drive away. Skyline Residences is also about 10 – 15 mins’ drive to CDB and Orchard Road. So one can hardly argue against the convenience of its location.

What we dislike:
• The space within the units can be better optimized. In the case of the 1346sqft 3-bedder, the yard space (long and narrow) is hardly functional. We can also make do with smaller balcony and fewer planter boxes.

• While the wife and I liked some of the interior furnishing, we were not exactly “wowed” over by what we saw. This is especially when the units come with asking prices in excess of $1800psf.

• The common bedrooms of the 3- and even 4-bedders are too small for our liking.

• Although units in Block 608 are likely to get the best view, they are also “nosier” given that the block is nearest to the main road. When we were at the viewing gallery on the 11th floor of an existing block, the traffic noise was quite deafening even with the glass enclosure.

• We can only identify one primary school that is within 1-km from Skyline Residences – Blangah Rise Primary. Consolation is that this is a co-ed school.

Our Verdict: Skyline Residences is probably a decent buy on account of its location, freehold status and great view. However, we are not exactly sold on the quality as seen in the showflat. This is especially in relation to its asking price. If we compare Skyline Residences with Foresta @Mount Faber just further down the road, we will definitely prefer the former, although some may argue that they are not exactly “apple to apple” (high-rise condo versus low-rise boutique).

But being the realists that the wife and I are, we will probably go with the cheaper alternative – Harbour View Towers. This is a 99-year leasehold condo located right next to Skyline Residences. It is already 17-years old and with far fewer facilities. However, the 3- and 4-bedders in Harbour View Towers are equivalent in sizes (some even bigger) than those of Skyline Residences and they do not have balcony/planter boxes. You also enjoy the same kind of view (and traffic noise) and distances from MRT station/amenities, but at a much lower $1,000 - $1,300psf!