SINGAPORE - With numerous project launches in the pipeline, developers go out of the way to differentiate their properties from competitors by offering unique features to meet the lifestyle of potential buyers.
These include themed projects that blend with the surroundings such as waterfront living or an eco-friendly ambience.
Practical issues are taken into consideration, such as dual-key units or larger penthouses to cater to those with big or extended families.
A dual-key unit at WaterColours EC is one that enables those with parents to stay together or let the owner rent out space without compromising their own privacy.
Under the property cooling measures unveiled on Jan 4, the sales of new dual-key units will be restricted to multi-generational families.
The need for differentiation is also motivated by a number of foreign developers, such as Malaysian-listed SP Setia, China's Qingjian Realty (South Pacific) Group and Sekisui House of Japan, making their debut or expanding their presence in the local property landscape.
SP Setia has a track record of building eco sanctuaries and luxury enclaves across the border. Not surprisingly, its Eco Sanctuary project (above right) at Chestnut Drive offers bio ponds and natural foot paths surrounded by flora to attract dragonflies, butterflies and birds to bring the residents closer to nature.
The nearby Tree House by City Developments launched in 2010 opts for expansive vertical green walls which serve not only as a green lung but also incorporate sloped designs to collect rainwater for landscape irrigation.
Other eco features include heat-reducing laminated tinted windows, green sky terraces and a treetop walk within the development.
Parc Olympia in Pasir Ris has a sports focus, offering more than 60,000 sq ft of floor area and facilities that include a jogging track, rock-climbing wall, air-conditioned badminton court and a skate park.
It has also introduced the Speedracer brand of outdoor gym equipment for children.
Better interior finishing is also de rigueur these days for new projects.
Besides high quality marble flooring, brands like Hansgrohe Axor, Duravit Starck and Kaldewei are increasingly used for bathroom fittings and accessories, while Electrolux, Bosch and Miele equipment is fitted in the kitchens.
"Buyers are now more well-travelled and discerning in taste. Homes are more than just brick and mortar. They reflect one's lifestyle and status. Singapore has also been attracting more well-heeled foreign investors from around the world," says Mr Albert Foo, general manager for marketing at Keppel Land.
Mr Alan Cheong, research head at Savills Singapore, says: "Better finishing is now a must after some developers started on the bandwagon. It had caught on and can't be reversed. It's what I call the 'new normal' as the old 'normal' just won't do."
Mr Nicholas Mak, research head at SLP International, says: "It's much like cars. While they all serve the same function, the manufacturers would often come up with a new design or modify what's existing and successful to appeal to buyers."
The RiverSails project offers more spacious bedrooms that are big enough to accommodate queen-sized beds.
Its three- or larger bedroom units also come with attached bathrooms, which is unusual for a mass market project.
Its living and dining areas are designed with more width - ranging from 4.5m to 5.5m (the typical mass market width is less than 3.5m) - to maximise the panoramic views of Punggol Waterway and Sungei Serangoon, which is another selling point for the location.
"Residents will be spoilt for choice in the number of gardens and lawns - this is the only project that has a Sky Lounge with 10 different venue options to savour views of the skyline towards the Johor Straits," says Mr Joseph Tan, executive director at CBRE.
Meanwhile, The Luxurie at Sengkang is the first to introduce a private lap pool for ground floor units.
Buyers are also given the option to personalise their floor and choose their colour schemes, with the developer also offering German Teka kitchen appliances and Hansgrohe bathroom accessories.
There are developers whose selling points are based on designs by renowned architects or artists.
The Moshe Safdie-designed Sky Habitat in Bishan features a matrix of homes, private terraces and public gardens and three sky bridges on the 14th, 26th and 38th floors.
Reflections at Keppel Bay is designed by Daniel Libeskind, whose work has been exhibited in many museums, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Its lobbies at the tower blocks and the clubhouse are furnished by luxury Italian design firm, Saporiti Italia, with the clubhouse's interactive kitchen by the Spanish artist Marti Guixe.