5 fringe region (OCR) condos you can own for under $1m

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

It wasn’t all too long ago that some of these OCR condos would have been described as “far-flung”. But for some, with the ever-reaching networks of the MRT or the “positive” effects from Covid-19 (the ability to work from home, if you’re wondering), means that for those who always wanted to live centrally can actually now consider some OCR condos as viable options.

You don’t absolutely have to live near Orchard and the CBD (and Singapore is decentralising anyway), so here on the fringes, there are good condo options; and with their lower quantum, it could be a more prudent choice at this point.

*The OCR includes districts 16, 17, 18, 19, and also districts 21 to 28. The following list is based on units that are up to two-bedders in size.

1. La Fiesta

Address: Sengkang Square (District 19)

Developer: El Development (Sengkang) Pte. Ltd.

Lease: 99-years from 2012

Completion: 2016

Number of units: 810

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

The indicative price range from Square Foot Research is between $1,114 to $1,556 psf, with an average of $1,336 psf. We found an average quantum of $886,282.

These are the most recent transactions below $1 million:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
6 Nov 2020 893 sq. ft. $1,114 $995,000
3 Nov 2020 753 sq. ft. $1,287 $970,000
23 Oct 2020 753 sq. ft. $1,287 $970,000
21 Oct 2020 753 sq. ft. $1,259 $948,888
8 Oct 2020 452 sq. ft. $1,438 $650,000

There have been 77 profitable transactions, and five unprofitable transactions.

These were the last seen asking prices below $1 million:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
8 Nov 2020 753 sq. ft. $1,275 $960,000
5 Nov 2020 753 sq. ft. $1,246 $938,000
2 Nov 2020 732 sq. ft. $1,284 $940,000
1 Nov 2020 754 sq. ft. $1,280 $965,000
30 Oct 2020 732sq. ft. $1,284 $940,000

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We’ll dive straight into the key issue here:

La Fiesta got off to a bad start. Residents initially panned the project for issues regarding water seepage and poor finishing. In addition, La Fiesta was under more intense scrutiny than usual, as the developer had received complaints about their last DBSS project (Trivelis).

Nonetheless, you can see from the above that the majority of transactions have been profitable. We understand that most of the major defects were eventually fixed, so hear us out before you discount this condo.

La Fiesta is just up the road from Sengkang MRT station (196 metres, or about a three-minute walk). It’s also within a one-kilometre radius of no less than 10 schools. These are:

  • Sengkang Primary and Secondary School – the closest at around six to seven minutes’ walk
  • Nan Chiau Primary and Nan Chiau High School
  • Compassvale Primary and Secondary School
  • North Vista Primary School
  • Palm View Primary School
  • CHIJ St. Joseph’s Convent
  • Springvale Secondary School

As for retail, there’s a sheltered route from La Fiesta all the way to Compass One mall (which has a Cold Storage). Overall, La Fiesta is one of the better located developments – for its price – in the Sengkang area.

La Fiesta is underrated because of its rocky start, and home seekers should do a double-take.

2. Optima @ Tanah Merah

Address: Tanah Merah Kechil Avenue (District 16)

Developer: El Development (Sengkang) Pte. Ltd.

Lease: 99-years from 2008

Completion: 2012

Number of units: 297

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

The indicative price range from Square Foot Research is between $1,075 to $1,270 psf, with an average of $1,168 psf. We found an average quantum of $901,431.

There was only one transaction this year that was below $1 million:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
14 Sep 2020 700 sq. ft. $1,215 $850,000

There have been 154 profitable transactions, and 10 unprofitable transactions.

These were the last seen asking prices below $1 million:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
3 Nov 2020 484 sq. ft. $1,483 $718,000
2 Nov 2020 484 sq. ft. $1,483 $718,000
27 Oct 2020 484 sq. ft. $1,483 $718,000
24 Oct 2020 506 sq. ft. $1,423 $720,000
17 Oct 2020 484 sq. ft. $1,483 $718,000

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Optima @ Tanah Merah has been in the news a lot lately, but that’s because of a nearby land plot that we covered in an earlier article.

The upcoming land plot will house a mixed-use development, which includes some much-needed commercial space for the area (right now the area around Tanah Merah MRT station is quite bare of other amenities).

Speaking of which, Optima @ Tanah Merah’s main appeal is quick access to the Tanah Merah MRT station via a side gate.

Note that this MRT station is a key node: it’s where the passengers switch to go to Changi Airport or the Singapore Expo. As such, there’s good access to places like the Changi Jewel, to residents of this condo.

It also means Optima is in a good place to attract tenants from the aviation / freight industry, working in areas like Changi Airport or Changi Business Park.

The main drawback, however, is that there are already a number of condos in the area; and now the new, upcoming development is even closer to the MRT station (see the link above).

3. The Nautical

Address: Jalan Sendudok (District 27)

Developer: MCC Land

Lease: 99-years from 2011

Completion: 2015

Number of units: 435 units

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

The indicative price range from Square Foot Research is between $857 to $1,026 psf, with an average of $936 psf. We found an average quantum of $712,427.

These were the transactions this year that were below $1 million:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
22 Oct 2020 570 sq. ft. $1,008 $575,000
5 Oct 2020 1,012 sq. ft. $969 $980,000
28 Aug 2020 883 sq. ft. $997 $880,000
5 Jun 2020 883 sq. ft. $963 $850,000
31 Mar 2020 570 sq. ft. $1,017 $580,000

There have been 83 profitable transactions, and two unprofitable transactions.

These were the last seen asking prices below $1 million:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
8 Nov 2020 441 sq. ft. $1,293 $570,000
6 Nov 2020 764 sq. ft. $1,071 $918,000
1 Nov 2020 441 sq. ft. $1,304 $575,000
29 Oct 2020 764 sq. ft. $1,086 $830,000
25 Oct 2020 441 sq. ft. $1,361 $600,000

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MCC Land has a knack for marketing otherwise out-of-the-way properties. When The Nautical appeared in Sembawang in 2012, it managed to sell out 68 per cent of its units at launch – impressive for a Sembawang property at the time.

Part of the reason was that The Nautical is just across from a mall, Sembawang Shopping Centre. The Nautical is also a manageable distance from two MRT stations – Canberra (about 800 metres or a 10 minute-walk), or Sembawang (900 metres, or a 12-minute walk). Not exactly close by our subjective standards, but walkable.

The Nautical is set to benefit from the development of Bukit Canberra , an integrated 12-hectare hub that combines sporting facilities with a polyclinic, healthcare, shops, restaurants, etc. There have also been general improvements to the neighbourhood, such as the re-opening of Sembawang hot springs.

One unusual quality of The Nautical is its low-rise nature. Rather than consisting of a few tall blocks, it instead consists of 17 blocks, of just five-storeys each.

Some might decry the lost opportunity for better views, others will like how it doesn’t make the area feel “closed in”. Regardless, you won’t be forking out much for the top-most floor.

Most of the units are small, with three-rooms constituting the bulk; there are also dual-key units. As such, there seems to have been an intent to draw the investor crowd.

If you’re thinking along these lines though, do be aware that Parc Canberra (an Executive Condominium) will be closer to the MRT station when complete, and can offer competition.

4. Waterfront Gold

Address: Bedok Reservoir Road (District 16)

Developer: Centurion Kovan Pte. Ltd. (Frasers Centrepoint and Far East Organization)

Lease: 99-years from 2009

Completion: 2014

Number of units: 361 units

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

The indicative price range from Square Foot Research is between $1,129 to $1,213 psf, with an average of $1,174 psf.

There were no transactions below $1 million for 2020 (as it was mainly the larger units that sold this year), but there were in 2019:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
28 Nov 2019 667 sq. ft. $1,169 $780,000
22 Nov 2019 893 sq. ft. $1,117 $998,000
17 May 2019 667 sq. ft. $1,289 $860,000

There have been 110 profitable transactions, and one unprofitable transaction.

These were the last seen asking prices below $1 million:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
5 Nov 2020 667 sq. ft. $1,331 $888,000
31 Oct 2020 667 sq. ft. $1,169 $780,000
31 Oct 2020 667 sq. ft. $1,331 $888,000
30 Oct 2020 667 sq. ft. $1,312 $875,000
30 Oct 2020 667 sq. ft. $1,379 $92,000

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Today the concept of a skypark (a garden / landscaped communal area on a higher floor instead of the ground level) is quite common; but not a lot people realise it started with Waterfront Gold.

This condo was the first in Singapore to incorporate a 16th floor skypark, which incorporated a mini putting-green and fitness area.

The development has done well, as the number of profitable transactions show. Waterfront Gold has benefited tremendously since Bedok Reservoir MRT station opened, just 700 metres away (eight minutes’ walk). This fixed one of the main gripes of residents, which was the lack of accessibility.

The main amenity here is Bedok Reservoir itself; this area is well known for its water sports like dragon boat races and kayaking.

However, this also means the appeal is more toward the outdoorsy types – those who like living near malls, nightlife, etc., will probably find the immediate area on the dull side.

5. Jewel @ Buangkok

Address: Compassvale Bow (District 19)

Developer: White Haven Properties Pte. Ltd. (City Development Limited)

Lease: 99-years from 2012

Completion: 2016

Number of units: 616 units

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

The indicative price range from Square Foot Research is between $1,192 to $1,404 psf, with an average of $1,296 psf.

These were the most recent transactions below $1 million:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
24 Sep 2020 721 sq. ft. $1,338 $965,000
9 Sep 2020 732 sq. ft. $1,257 $920,000
4 Aug 2020 484 sq. ft. $1,404 $680,000
9 Jul 2020 721 sq. ft. $1,303 $940,000
29 Jun 2020 732 sq. ft. $1,339 $980,000

There have been 48 profitable transactions, and three unprofitable transactions.

These were the last seen asking prices below $1 million:

Date Unit Size Price PSF Quantum
5 Nov 2020 732 sq. ft. $1,339 $980,000
3 Nov 2020 721 sq. ft. $1,315 $948,000
24 Oct 2020 484 sq. ft. $1,591 $770,000
20 Oct 2020 495 sq. ft. $1,455 $720,000
14 Oct 2020 484 sq. ft. $1,467 $710,000

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Jewel @ Buangkok was one of the top sellers in 2013, largely thanks to a huge early-bird discount. It sold out 203 of 280 released units during its initial launch weekend, at an average of just $1,150 psf.

Even though it’s in a fringe region, this was a competitive price given that Jewel is the closest residential development to Buangkok MRT station (about 220 metres, or three minutes down the road). Note that this is on the North East Line (NEL), which is a direct line to Dhoby Ghaut station.

There are also three primary schools within one-kilometre: Punggol, Palm View, and North Vista Primary.

In terms of overall amenities, there isn’t much as Sengkang is still a developing area. However, day-to-day needs are quite easily met, with plenty of convenience stores and grocers in the general area. You’ll still need to head out further for serious shopping, but having the MRT station so close should make up for it.

Fringe region condos become more viable as Singapore decentralises, and more MRT stations open up.

These formerly inaccessible areas are gradually being linked to the MRT network, even in once far-flung areas like Bedok Reservoir. This will fix one of the main concerns regarding OCR properties, which is a perceived lack of public transport (not true for every OCR condo, even a decade ago).

As such, home buyers or investors in it for the long haul can see some room for appreciation; and one that could come with much greater holding power, given the low quantum of OCR condos.

This article was first published in Stackedhomes.