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While searching for properties, particularly high-rise developments, you may have encountered the term "dual key" but may not fully comprehend its meaning. To put it in simpler terms, a dual key condo merges two units under a single title. The concept is to have two distinct units, each having their own bedroom/s and bathroom. Some units may also have their own living and kitchen, with the common foyer as the only shared space.
Dual-key condo units differ from regular condo units in that they consist of two distinct living spaces that are linked by a common foyer. Essentially, it's like owning two neighboring homes under one address. Typically, dual-key condo units are 3% to 5% larger in floor area compared to regular condo units with the same number of bedrooms.
What is it about dual-key condos that make them an attractive property option? Are they right for you? We delve into the benefits and the drawbacks of a dual-key unit.
1. ABSD Not Incurred
An advantage of owning a dual-key condo is that it provides two adjacent apartments for the price of one. However, the true appeal lies in the fact that since they are regarded as a single property, there is no need to pay Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD).
The Singapore government first introduced the ABSD back in December 2011, making it more practical for first-time homebuyers (who are also looking for property investments) and buyers of second or subsequent properties to purchase a dual-key unit.
This is because owning a dual-key unit allows buyers to "bypass" the ABSD imposed on additional properties, which can go up to 17% for Singaporean citizens purchasing a second home (25% for permanent residents) and 30% for foreigners purchasing any residential property.
For example, if you have a budget of S$2 million and are trying to choose between buying two condo units (a S$1.2 million two-bedroom unit for your own stay and an S$800k unit to rent out) and a dual-key unit, selecting the former option will require you to pay 17% in ABSD on the second property purchased, resulting in a substantial S$136,000. On the other hand, purchasing a dual-key apartment as your first property does not require any payment of ABSD.
2. Renting Out a Part of Your Property Is More Convenient
Dual-key condo units are not only ideal for multi-generational living but also an excellent choice for rental investment opportunities. Typically, to become a landlord, you would need to rent out one of your rooms while living in the same space.
You won't have to compromise your privacy or living space since the sub-unit you are renting out is designed as a distinct unit. These units come with separate living spaces, allowing you to rent out the sub-unit as a room in your home. There is no need to worry about living with strangers or accommodating each other's lifestyles. If you're looking to invest in rental properties but don't have the resources to purchase a second property, dual-key condos can be a practical and viable option.
3. Higher Rental Yield Compared to a Standalone Unit
By renting out a sub-unit in a dual-key condo, you can enjoy greater privacy and potentially earn a higher rental price compared to renting out a standalone studio unit. To exemplify, a 4-bedroom unit may be able to net a rent of S$11,000, but a separate 3-bedroom and 1-bedroom in a dual-key unit may rent for S$9,000 and S4,000 respectively instead, totalling up to S$13,000. This makes a difference of S$2,000! Therefore, with dual-key condo units, a potential landlord can expect to receive higher rental yields with a lower cash outlay, while also having the option to use it as a personal residence.
1. Priced at a Higher PSF
Dual-key condos typically have a higher price per square foot (psf) compared to regular condo units. This is because some developers may apply a pricing premium to dual-key condos, resulting in a potential cost increase of up to 25%. However, it's worth noting that not all developers follow this pricing strategy, and some, such as Aurum Land, do not apply any pricing premium to their dual-key condo units in projects like The Orient.
2. Challenging to Sell
Dual-key condos may have a limited pool of potential buyers when it comes to resale. These units are primarily designed for multi-generational living, which means that finding a suitable buyer for your dual-key condo unit may be more challenging.
While some argue that dual-key condos can also appeal to buyers who are seeking a larger living space, regular condo units may be more suitable for those purposes. This is because, at the same price per square foot, a dual-key condo unit may feel smaller due to its divided layout.
3. Inappropriate for Use as a Home Office
Entrepreneurs and business owners may consider using the second unit in their dual-key property as an office space, but it may not be advisable. This is because utilizing a unit in a dual-key property is only practical for those who work alone or have a small team, and have no plans of expanding in the near future.
In addition, URA requires a license under the Home Office Scheme, which permits a maximum of two non-residents to be engaged in the business, and does not allow business owners to display any signage outside their property. Hence, dual-key units may not be suitable as a home office.
To conclude, dual-key units are a specialized type of condo unit. They may be suitable for those who prioritize being a landlord on a budget or plan to accommodate their parents in the future. However, it is important to note that other factors such as the location of the project, proximity to necessary amenities, and the rental yield of similar properties should also be taken into account.
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