Triple-key units: Win some, lose some

They are the new kids on the block when it comes to floor plans.

Called triple-key apartments, their main attraction is that they have three bedrooms, each with an attached bathroom. This allows the owner to rent one apartment conveniently to three different tenants.

Freehold condominium Liv on Wilkie is offering these apartments, which should attract buyers who want to maximise rental returns from a single apartment.

But there is a catch.

In principle, triple-key units should have three separate entrances with their own keys.

But the ones at Liv on Wilkie have only two entrances.

Located at the upmarket District 9, just a short walk from Dhoby Ghaut MRT, the 81-unit development also consists of one- and two- bedroom units.

Property experts approached by The New Paper think that the "triple-key" concept is a new marketing tactic.

Mr Colin Tan, director of research and consultancy at Suntec Real Estate, said: "Dual-key means separate access and complete privacy as the different tenants would not meet each other. In reality, it's not always like that for some dual-key developments.

"But this (triple-key concept) would definitely arouse interest because people are interested in making money."

According to online promotional material, the dual- and triple-key units at Liv on Wilkie are targeted at "astute investors" and a "key to optimising investment returns".

The developers of Liv on Wilkie, Roxy-Pacific Holdings, declined to comment.

They were the same developers for Liv on Sophia, where all 64 units were two-bedroom, dual-key flats. It was launched last May.

SAVINGS

Owners of a dual-key unit can live in one unit and rent out the other without comprising on privacy. They could also "double (the) profits" by renting both units out as individual units.

Buyers would also save on additional buyers' stamp duty and legal fees.

For Liv on Wilkie, which was launched in November, 36 caveats have been lodged with the Urban Redevelopment Authority so far.

Most of the units sold were two-bedroom units and seven of the 13 three-bedroom units have been sold.

The last transaction was in April, when a 732 sq ft three-bedder was sold for more than $1.7 million.

A three-bedroom unit at Liv on Wilkie is about 740 sq ft, while most three-bedders are around 1,000 to 1,200 sq ft.

Dual-key apartments were first introduced in the private market in 2009 by Frasers Centrepoint. It allows for options such as multi- generation living, leasing out the extra space or using it as a home office.

But they are not for everyone.

SLP International research director Nicholas Mak said: "Dual-key units are not always popular because of the duplication involved (such as two kitchens), which means that the living room space is smaller.

"Given its location, the target tenants here are students and singles."

He said that small units like those at Liv on Wilkie are usually found in the city and city fringe areas close to an MRT station.

Chief executive of property firm ECG Holdings Eric Cheng cautioned buyers to be careful of these "triple-key" units.

He said: "It may look okay from the floor plan, but there might be less actual usable space. Also, buyers must be mindful that more toilets means their bills will be higher."

This article was published on May 3 in The New Paper.

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