5 city fringe (RCR) condos for under $1.2m near an MRT

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

Singapore may be decentralising, but your office is in the CBD or in town right now. And after years of getting up at 6am just to make it to morning meetings, you’re probably hoping your first condo can bring you a little more sleep, and a little less time on the road.

Unfortunately, most prime region condos are well past the $2 million mark; and rising prices are spreading even into the Rest of Central Region (RCR). The good news is, there are still viable city fringe condo options at the $1.2 million range; a price that you could more reasonably expect to cover, with the sale of your flat.

Here are some city fringe condo favourites that combine a low quantum, with good proximity to the MRT and other amenities:

Note: Most of the units at a quantum of $1.2 million or under are the smaller units, typically up to a two-bedroom size. Larger units may bust the $1.2 million mark, but the following condos still represent good value given their RCR location.

1. Bartley Ridge

Address: Mount Vernon Road (District 13)

Developer: Mount V Development Pte. Ltd. (UOL)

Lease: 99-years from 2012

Completion: 2016

Number of units: 868

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

The indicative price range from Square Foot Research is between $1,138 to $1,545 psf, with an average of $1,431 psf. We found an average quantum of $1,086,710.

These are the most recent transactions below $1.2 million:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
Nov 9, 2020 495 sq. ft. $1,414 $700,000
Oct 26, 2020 463 sq. ft. $1,545 $715,000
Oct 16, 2020 463 sq. ft. $1,512 $700,000
Sep 23, 2020 721 sq. ft. $1,456 $1,050,000
Aug 26, 2020 495 sq. ft. $1,505 $745,000

We feel it’s worth mentioning the 850 sq.ft. units, which have transacted at only a bit higher than $1.2 million:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
Sept 11, 2020 850 sq. ft. $1,458 $1,240,000
Aug 31, 2020 850 sq. ft. $1,446 $1,230,000
Aug 7, 2020 850 sq. ft. $1,435 $1,220,000

These are some of the last seen asking prices below $1.2 million:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
Nov 8, 2020 463 sq. ft. $1,533 $710,000
Nov 8, 2020 732 sq. ft $1,571 $1,150,000
Nov 8, 2020 463 sq. ft. $1,572 $728,000
Nov 7, 2020 463 sq. ft. $1,533 $710,000

Profile

Bartley Ridge is a rarity: a condo located just 210 metres from an MRT station (Bartley MRT on the Circle Line), on the city fringe, with units at a comparatively low quantum.

This condo is also within walking distance of two schools: Bartley Secondary School (around 210 metres), and Maris Stella Primary (about 360 metres) – although it’s the smaller unit sizes that fall under the $1.2 million mark, so families may not be drawn despite it being near schools.

There are two main drawbacks to note:

The first is that Bartley Ridge is close to Mount Vernon camp, and there’s no sign that this will change anytime soon. Even so, Mount Vernon camp is far from noisy (as most NS men know, noisier activities take place in training grounds further away).

The second issue is the lack of amenities in the immediate vicinity; there are no notable malls, coffee shops, etc. within strolling distance. However, this is offset by the MRT station being so close, and the proximity to NEX megamall the next neighbourhood over.

Overall, we feel the city fringe location and low quantum can make Bartley Ridge an attractive prospect for landlords. However, singles who need to work in the CBD, or areas like Tai Seng Industrial Park, can also find good value here.

2. Oleander Towers

Address: Lorong 1 Toa Payoh (District 12)

Developer: Wing Tai Holdings

Lease: 99-years from 1995

Completion: 1997

Number of units: 318

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

The indicative price range from Square Foot Research is between $1,103 to $1,183 psf, with an average of $1,137 psf. We found an average quantum of around $735,088.

These are the most recent transactions below $1.2 million:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
Sept 11, 2020 893 sq. ft. $1,125 $1,005,000
March 26, 2020 893 sq. ft. $1,097 $980,000
Dec 16, 2019 861 sq. ft. $1,161 $1,000,000
Nov 12, 2019 861 sq. ft. $1,185 $1,020,000

We feel it’s worth considering the slightly larger.units, which have transacted at a bit higher than $1.2 million:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
Sept 20, 2020 1,152 sq. ft. $1,103 $1,270,000
March 16, 2020 1,152 sq. ft. $1,094 $1,260,000
March 11, 2020 1,141 sq. ft. $1,109 $1,265,000

These are some of the last seen asking prices below $1.2 million:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
Oct 11, 2020 861 sq. ft. $1,138 $980,000
Oct 11, 2020 861 sq. ft $1,138 $980,000
Oct 11, 2020 861 sq. ft. $1,161 $1,000,000
Oct 11, 2020 861 sq. ft. $1,161 $1,000,000

Profile

Oleander Towers is quite under the radar despite its location; and this could be due to increased sensitivity toward lease decay in recent years. 1997 is not very old however; it’s still quite viable if your holding period is 10 years or so.

Oleander Towers is directly across the road from CHIJ Secondary, and only about four minutes’ walk to CHIJ Primary. This remains one of the main draws of the condo. There are also four additional schools within a one-kilometre radius, including:

  • Kheng Cheng School (515 metres)
  • Marymount Convent (790 metres)
  • Balestier Hill Primary (845 metres)
  • Balestier Hill Secondary (992 metres)

In addition to this, Toa Payoh MRT station is only 390 metres away, or about a six-minute walk.

Another advantage is the limited number of private homes nearby. Apart from Trellis Towers, Trevista, and Sky @ Eleven, there are few contenders for being near the Toa Payoh MRT station. Tenants know this, and could be “stickier” as a result.

ALSO READ: 16 condos within 1km of popular primary schools in the East ($1.5m budget)

One drawback is the density of the area (a fact that’s hard to avoid in the RCR), and the age of the condo. While its well maintained, Oleander Towers is visibly dated from the façade, and some buyers have even commented that it looks like an HDB block from the outside.

Another issue is recent rumblings of an en-bloc, which wouldn’t surprise us given the prime location and age. However, it does mean buyers need to be careful, as an en-bloc within three years’ of purchase will still incur Sellers Stamp Duty (SSD).

If you can look past these elements, and you’ll see a good location at a good price.

3. Southbank

Address: North Bridge Road (District 7)

Developer: Kings & Queens Development Pte Ltd (UOL)

Lease: 99-years from 2006

Completion: 2010

Number of units: 197

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

The indicative price range from Square Foot Research is between $1,103 to $1,183 psf, with an average of $1,137 psf. We found an average quantum of around $967.050.

These are the most recent transactions below $1.2 million. However, note that transactions volumes are low as there are just 197 units:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
Feb 13, 2018 1,313 sq. ft. $1,643 $1,008,000
Feb 9, 2018 614 sq. ft. $1,627 $998,000
Oct 26, 2017 614 sq. ft. $1,581 $970,000

Here are some last seen asking prices below $1.2 million

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
Nov 5, 2020 614 sq. ft. $1,759 $1,080,000
Oct 17, 2020 614 sq. ft. $1,759 $1,079,999

Profile

Southbank is something of a landmark; it’s the 40-storey building located at 881 North Bridge Road, just across from the Lavender MRT station. Many home seekers have been surprised to find that, despite Southbank’s imposing presence, it’s small with just 197 units.

This development was always meant to entice investors more than pure home buyers. The location is extremely convenient and close to town, and the units – with a high price psf but a low quantum – is the sort that rent-seekers gravitate toward.

At 614 sq. ft. for a one-bedder, this would be considered big for a compact unit (generally 510 sq. ft. or under). You could consider it a luxury of space for single residents, compared to smaller units found today. As such, home owners who are singles may also find Southbank to their liking.

Convenience and amenities are unparalleled for the price – you’re minutes away from town, and just across from the MRT station. All the food and shopping you want is just one or two stops away.

This condo feels squeezed into a concrete jungle; despite the height – you’ll be living close to the heart of the city, with all the noise, traffic, glass, and concrete that entails. True urbanites can appreciate it; otherwise look elsewhere.

4. Studio 8

Address: Jalan Ayer (District 14)

Developer: Aston Capital Pte. Ltd.

Lease: Freehold

Completion: 2014

Number of units: 28

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

As this is a boutique development with only 28 units, transaction volumes are low.

No indicative price range is available; however, the average from four transactions in 2018 showed an average of $1,243 psf. Based on overall transaction history, we determined an average quantum of $1,131,827.

These are the most recent transactions below $1.2 million. However, note that transactions volumes are low as there are just 28 units:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
Sept 5, 2018 560 sq. ft. $1,295 $725,000
April 19, 2018 861 sq. ft. $1,277 $1,100,000
April 17, 2018 893 sq. ft. $1,142 $1,020,000
March 1, 2018 732 sq. ft. $1,257 $920,000

There were only three seen asking prices this year:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
Nov 5, 2020 538 sq. ft. $1,561 $840,000
Oct 12, 2020 506 sq. ft. $1,482 $750,000
March 6, 2020 420 sq. ft. $1,664 $699,000

Profile

Small, boutique developments often slip under the radar. Studio8 is one of these, despite the good amount of foresight that went into the location.

This tiny condo has benefited tremendously from the opening of the Singapore Sports Hub, with the attendant Kallang Wave Mall. It’s about 750 metres (11 minutes on foot) to the Singapore Sports Hub.

ALSO READ: 7 condos in District 9 you could possibly own for $1.6m or less

Studio8 is also just 184 metres from the Kallang MRT station – in fact it’s the closest private residence to Kallang MRT, with the next closest being Centra or The Riverine by the Park.

For pure home-buyers, this is a no-frill boutique development for singles; it’s a rare, affordable way to be on the city fringe and near the Singapore Sports Hub. It’s also a freehold property, for those with a longer term view.

5. Tresalveo

Address: Marymount Terrace (District 20)

Developer: Soon Lian Realty Pte. Ltd.

Lease: Freehold

Completion: 2012

Number of units: 176

PHOTO: Square Foot Research

Transaction volumes are low due to the small size of the development, but the last transaction was at $1,515 psf. Based on the overall transaction history, we determined an average quantum of $1,062,482.

These are the most recent transactions below $1.2 million:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
Jan 22, 2020 603 sq. ft. $1,410 $850,000
March 14, 2019 592 sq. ft. $1,486 $880,000
Oct 2, 2017 603 sq. ft. $1,452 $875,000

There were the last seen asking prices below $1.2 million:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
Nov 4, 2020 603 sq. ft. $1,573 $948,800
Oct 10, 2020 603 sq. ft. $1,573 $948,800
Oct 10, 2020 592 sq. ft. $1,618 $958,000

Profile

We’ll be direct: The reason for Tresalveo’s lower prices is the new North-South Corridor (NSC), which runs close to the development. The new corridor could result in some degree of noise pollution – there’s no way to say for sure how bad it will be, but buyers should brace for the possibility.

We’ve also heard criticisms about the finishing for the smaller units (those are the ones reflected above); these generally involve the quality of flooring.

However, it’s hard to quantify or generalise; we’d encourage close inspection of the unit in question. Poor finishing could entail additional renovation costs.

Now that’s out of the way, Tresalveo is a condo that has an otherwise good location. It’s only 244 metres (about four minutes’ walk) to Marymount MRT station.

Alternatively, it’s about 1.4 kilometres to Bishan MRT station, where you’ll also find malls like Junction 8. It’s also a freehold condo, which might appeal to long-term city fringe investors.Those who are confident the NSC won’t impact Tresalveo as badly as thought will see this as a possible discount buy.

The quantum probably matters more than the price psf

Remember it’s the quantum that determines:

  • The maximum amount of financing (75 per cent of price or valuation, whichever is lower)
  • The rental yield
  • Eventual gains upon resale
  • The ultimate level of affordability

As such, home buyers – especially singles who don’t need large units – should be focused more on the quantum than the price per square foot. Within this perspective, some RCR city fringe condos can be more affordable than most would assume.

This article was first published in Stackedhomes.