The pros and cons of a dual-key condo and The Reserve Residences
The first dual-key condo units were launched in the market by Frasers Centrepoint Homes in 2009. Developers have launched numerous dual-key projects in Singapore since then. Some new condo launches that feature dual-key units include Enchante and The Reserve Residences.
For those looking for a unique home that offers a nature-centric lifestyle, the Reserve Residences is the place to be. Reserve Residences layout come with spacious floor plans and carpeted floors, featuring a wood-burning fireplace, a balcony or patio, and an all-electric kitchen.
Dual-key units allow owners to have two separate living spaces. The main unit is the unit and the sub-unit, which is often a studio. A dual-key unit usually has a 3 to 5% larger floor area than a regular condo unit.
Dual-key condo units can be marketed to certain buyers. Dual-key units are attractive to multi-generational families that want to share a roof but still have their privacy. The sub-unit is occupied by elderly parents.
These homes are also popular among potential property investors and couples who want to rent out a portion of their property but don’t have the funds to purchase a second.
Let’s take a look at the pros and disadvantages of dual-key condo units.
The advantages of double-key condo units
Dual-key condo units can be considered two apartments, but they are legal one property. Buyers don’t have to pay Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD) for the “additional sub-unit.”
A significant increase in ABSD was implemented by the Singapore government in December 2021. Dual-key units make more sense for first-time homebuyers and those who are looking to purchase second or subsequent properties. A dual-key unit allows the buyer to “sidestep” the ABSD that is levied on additional property. This can be as high as 17% for Singapore Citizens purchasing a second home (25% permanent residents) and 30% for foreigners purchasing any residential property.
Imagine you have a budget of S$2,000,000 and are deciding between two condo units. One is a two-bedroom, S$1.2million unit that you can live in and one to rent out. The other is a two-bedroom, S$800k unit you can rent out.
If you do not own any other properties, 17% ABSD will be charged on the second property you purchase. This amounts to S$136,000. If you are purchasing a double-key apartment, there is no ABSD.
Renting without compromising privacy
Dual-key units allow you to live in and rent out one property, without having to compromise on privacy. Instead of renting a room in a condo unit, tenants will have their own keys, living spaces and kitchen facilities.
You and your family rarely have to interact with tenants as a landlord. You don’t need to be concerned about them, and you can walk around in your nightgown.
Higher rental yield than standalone studio units
You will have more privacy renting a sub-unit rather than a room in your apartment. A sub-unit may be more expensive than renting a studio unit. Not part of a double-key unit.
Riverbank @ Fernvale is an example of a condo that offers dual-key units.
There is currently a rental listing available for a studio unit in a condo development.
Rent a studio in a two-key unit at Riverbank @ Fernvale.
- Rent: S$2,000/month
- Floor Area: 250 sq. ft
- Price per square foot: S$8
For a comparison, units measuring between 450 and 550 sq.ft are being rented at the development for a price of S$4.
Another example is the rental studio with a double-key unit at Daleedon.
Rent a studio in D’leedon, a unit with two keys.
- Rent: S$2,000/month
- Floor Area: 300 sq. ft
- Price per square foot: S$6.67
As we’ve seen with Riverbank @ Fernvale units, the asking price for this listing is lower than the price for one-bedder units at D’leedon. One-bedder units measuring between 650 to 750 square feet in floor area are currently being rented at a psf price of S$4.83.
A dual-key condo unit is more likely to yield higher rental returns and a lower outlay, especially when it’s also a property that can be used as a vacation home.
The disadvantages of double-key condo units
Two-key units can be more costly per square foot
Developers might charge dual-key units at a higher price than regular units with the exact same number of bedrooms.
Kingsford Waterbay charged a 20 to 25% premium for dual-key units. Aurum Land didn’t price its six two-bedroom, dual-key units at a premium in The Orient.
Due to the wide range of pricing approaches for dual-key units you will need to do your research to determine if the premium (if any) you are paying is justified, especially if it’s a resale.
Dual-key units are difficult to sell
Dual-key units are only attractive to a small number of buyers. It might be more difficult to sell your dual key unit, if you wish to do so.
Dual-key units are often seen as inefficient by buyers outside of these niche segments. This is because they don’t intend to rent out the property or their parents live in another home. You will need to make a minimum of 90% discount when selling your dual-key unit.
Tip – To make it easier to sell a dual-key unit, avoid purchasing one with a kitchenette. This will allow the sub-unit to resemble a second bedroom or junior suite. This could make the unit less appealing to potential tenants and reduce the rent you can get.
Not suitable for a home office
Although entrepreneurs and business owners may be interested in using the second unit of their dual-key property for office space, it might not be the best option. If you don’t plan on growing your business, or if you fly alone, it is not feasible to rent a unit in a dual key property.
URA states that you will first need to apply to the Home Office Scheme license. It only allows up to two non-residents in the business. A business owner is not allowed to place signage on their property. Dual-key units are not suitable for use as a home office.
Should you purchase a condo with two-key keys?
Dual-key units are an uncommon type of condo. A dual-key unit is a great option if you are a landlord with a tight budget or if your parents will be living with you in the future.
The first situation is not the only one that matters. Consider whether the property is located in an area that has high rental demand, close to essential amenities, and the rental yield of similar properties within the same area.
Additional projects with dual-key units
Launch condos with dual key units in
- Infini at East Coast (TOP: 2022)
- Jervois treasures (TOP 2022)
- Neu at Novena (TOP: 2023)
- Parksuites (TOP: 2023)
- Verticus (TOP: 2024)
- Forett @ Bukit Timah (TOP: 2024)
Resale condominiums with dual-key units.
- Highline Residences
- Seaside Residences
- City Gate
- Park Place Residences
- Kallang Riverside
- 120 Grange
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a dual-key condo?
A dual-key condo is a condominium unit that has one main unit and another smaller unit, similar to a studio. It is legal to be considered one property.
What are the benefits of a condo with two keys?
A dual-key condo has the advantage that you don’t need to pay an ABSD to own the sub-unit. You can also rent this sub-unit out without having to compromise on privacy.
Do you need a condo with two keys?
It all depends on what your priorities are. It all depends on your priorities. A dual-key unit can be used for multi-generational living or rental. If you plan to sell it in the future, consider the smaller buyer pool due to this niche.
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