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How To Define Singapore Mass Market Properties
Under normal circumstances, mass market properties will cost less per square feet when compared to luxury properties. It must also be noted that pint-sized apartments in the heartlands are costing more per square foot than properties in highly desirable “luxury locations”.
Mass market properties can be loosely defined as properties that the masses can realistically afford. However, if this definition is applied, it would include HDBs as the per capita GDP in Singapore is about $63,000 in 2011. And since HDB flats are more of a vehicle for wealth accumulation rather than investment, only private properties are referred to in this article.
It is important to recognize a mass market property as it is. This is so that new investors and property buyers will not be haggled into paying a luxurious price for an apartment thinking that it is actually a luxury property. However, how much an individual feels a property is worth and what is a fair price depends on a lot of factors that can only be determined by the individual alone. Here are the factors that mass market properties should definitely meet.
It will be ridiculous to term a project in the CBD area as mass market. So a mass market apartment has to be outside the prime districts of 1, 4, 9, 10, 11.
Since prices per square foot are outperforming luxury properties, the price per square foot cannot be a determinant of mass market properties. No longer are the average households afraid to purchase properties at obscene prices per square foot. The decision criteria is at what the final price is. Affordability has become the key feature for mass market properties. Just recently the maximum price people will generally agree on that caps a mass market property is around $1.5m to $2m. But now we know that households are willing to pay over $2m for Executive Condominiums. There are actually some units in private developments in mass market locations going at above $2m.
Since prices of private properties are usually above $500k, we can say that mass market properties are priced between $500k to $2m. This certainly looks like the affordable range judging by how much people are eating up mass market developments like caramel ice-cream. It has to be noted that the DBSS potential price of $880,000 caused a public uproar which led to the scheme being scraped.
Number of apartments
Mass market developments target the masses. So a project has to have a certain number of units to actually cater to a huge amount of households. You can hardly call a project with less than 10 units a mass market development. These projects does not serve the masses. I’m no researcher. But among the recent launches, the smallest project I can think about that cater to the masses is Kovan Bliss. That has 140 units. There are also projects like Rezi 26 with 106 units. But you just get the feeling that Rezi 26 in Geylang does not exactly cater to the mass market. Let’s just set the number of apartments for mass market projects at minimum 100 units.
Make up of Singaporeans and PRs
Even with a huge influx of foreign talent into Singapore with more expected to arrive, it is still without doubt that the mass majority of the population is made up of Singaporeans and Permanent Residents. A property project that targets the mass market must then be targeted at Singaporeans and PRs. On the extreme luxury end, you would find that Sentosa Cove property owners are mostly foreigners. So it makes sense that mass market properties will make up of mostly Citizens and PRs. You would have to take a look at the marketing material of developers to get a feel of what is the target profile of buyers that are being marketed to.
What was considered
So there you have it. The criteria that should help you identify whether a property is mass market or luxury. This is just a guideline and you may have your own criteria to identifying a mass market property.
For good reason, I had wanted to set the floor area to be at most 2,500 square feet. But now with an EC unit at 4,349 square feet. Setting this parameter has become irrelevant.
There is also an implicit understanding that a limit on price per square foot should be set. But looking at how some mass market units are costing more per square foot compared to luxury properties, this criteria has become irrelevant as well.
The issue of freehold or leasehold also came up. But as you can find some projects that are clearly mass market built on freehold land and luxury properties built on leasehold land, it is not a good factor to take into account.
The URA defined composition of the Rest of Central Region (RCR) was also considered as a luxury area for this article. But once you recognize that there are HDB apartments in Bugis, you will realise that it will be too broad and overdoing it to exclude RCR from mass market.