Dual Key Unit – Hot Sellers in ECs
When Dual Key was first introduced into executive condominium (EC) scene, it was greeted with a fair dose of skepticism.
It took a while for buyers to warm up to dual key concept. Some even brushed it off as nothing more than a novelty tactic by the developer.
But how fast things have changed!
If you noticed in recent EC launches, dual key units are almost always the fastest unit type to be snapped up during the balloting & selection phase.
Judging from the overwhelming response, it’s fair to say that dual key had won over the hearts of many buyers.
But what exactly is so appealing about dual key?
Is this adoration and popularity justified? Or is dual key overhyped?
Did you know?
Esparina Residences EC was the first executive condominium to introduce dual key design. Since then, dual key units have featured in almost every executive condominiums launched since 2011.
What is Dual Key unit?
Here’s a quick overview of what dual key units are. For those already more than familiar with dual key, bear with me
Essentially, dual key unit can be seen as combo 2-in-1 apartment in which there’s a studio unit attached to a standard condominium unit.
The studio apartment is a self-sufficient living space by itself. It has its own bathroom, kitchenette, wardrobe unit, resting area and even a balcony (in certain EC projects)
The standard feature of a dual key unit is a shared foyer that leads to the studio unit and the standard unit.
There are two doors – one leading to the studio unit and the other to the adjoining unit – with two sets of keys, hence the term ‘dual key’.
Although they are two individual units, a dual key apartment is marketed as a single apartment under one strata title – meaning the studio unit is considered a separate room and not a standalone unit.
How to Identify a Dual Key unit?
To visualize a dual-key layout, here is a typical 3 bedroom (3BR) dual key unit floor plan.
You can find the shared entrance foyer (highlighted in blue), the studio unit (in orange) and the 2 bedroom unit (in yellow).
The common foyer is a telling sign that this is a dual key unit.
In general, a 3 bedroom dual key unit is essentially a 1+2BR apartment, a 4 bedroom dual key is a 1+3BR and so on.
LATEST: Heron Bay EC innovated on the Dual Key concept and offered 5 Room Dual Key units with room configuration that deviates from the norm. It is not a 1+4B, instead it is 2+3BR. In other words, the studio component is a 2bedroom studio apartment.
Expect strong interest from buyers especially HDB upgraders.
Click here to find out more about Heron Bay.
What’s so Special about Dual Key?
In the very beginning, the dual key concept was targeted squarely at buyers with big family or multi-generation family profile.
Dual key is a purpose built layout that allows family to live together live in close proximity to their parents (or relatives) while maintaining privacy.
The general idea is that the parents could live in the studio unit. However, the configuration can be flexible according to each family’s unique needs.
I once had a buyer – a single lady in her early 30s – who was keen in getting One Canberra’s 4 bedroom dual key unit.
She wanted the studio unit to herself so that she can enjoy her own private space while keeping the promise of living with her parents.
Did you know?
Some other names used by developers for their dual key units (such as private condominiums) are Mutli-generation (MG) and Inter-gereration (IG). Other times, they are just called Suites or Penthouses.
However in EC, it seems the term Dual Key (DK) is now widely used and accepted.
Investment Potential of Dual Key Unit
It soon occurs to quick thinking buyers that dual key unit’s flexibility extends beyond the sole purpose of own stay.
Hey, why not rent out the studio unit for passive income?
Through leasing, one can earn passive income to offset portion of your monthly mortgage and cover the maintenance fee.
Indeed, with the added selling points of more privacy and access to condo facilities, a studio unit could a appealing option for tenants.
By this logic, a studio unit could command higher rent than common room.
There’s also other side benefits for owner-landlord:
- Easier to monitor and communicate with tenants
- Not having to share common living spaces such as living room and kitchen with the tenant.
Young couple owners, for instance, would appreciate that they do not need to sacrifice privacy for the additional rental income.
So here’s some potential configuration with a 4 bedroom dual key unit:
- Family of 3 + parents
- couple + parents
- couple + grown child
- family of 3 + tenant
- couple + tenant
A Win-Win for Dual Key EC Owners
Under HDB policy, EC owners are not allowed to rent out their whole unit during the 5 year Minimum Occupation period (MOP).
With dual key unit, subletting the entire studio unit becomes feasible as it’s considered a room.
Let’s consider the scenario of 3-bedroom dual key owner who rents out the studio unit:
Purchase price of dual key unit: $880,000
Loan amount: $616k [assuming 70% loan]
Monthly installment: $2125.94 [asumming 1.5% & 30 year laon period]
Monthly rental from studio unit: $1,000
In this example, the rental income can offset almost 50% of your monthly commitment. Not bad!
Dual Key EC Trend Set to Continue
It’s no surprise developers are aware of growing popularity of dual key with buyers.
The recent slew of dual key executive condominiums is a clear sign of developers banking in the dual key’s popularity.
|Executive Condominium||Launch Date||Dual Key||Total Units||Percentage|
|The Rainforest||Jan 2012||20||466||4.2%|
|Twin Waterfalls||Feb 2012||68||728||9.3%|
|Tampines Trilliant||Feb 2012||0||670||0%|
|One Canberra||Apr 2012||95||655||14.5%|
|Heron Bay||Sep 2012||126||394||31.9%|
>> For more details about each EC, click on the link.
Typically, dual key units makes up a small percentage of the unit mix in most executive condominiums.
This scarcity factor may explain the phenomeom that dual key units are the hot sellers in the project. As a result, the seemingly exclusivity could in part have also spurred demand.
It’s interesting to note that not every developer subscribes to the same notion that dual key is a quintessential offering though.
Some developers it seems, are not bowing to apparent dual key popularity.
For instance, Tampines Trilliant, a recent EC launched in early 2012 did not offer dual key units, to the disappointment of some.
* It’s therefore, interesting to see whether the next upcoming executive condominium beside Tampines Trilliant will cover this gap and meet the demand of potential dual key buyers *
Click here to read about this upcoming Tampines EC.
The other example is The Rainforest, a very popular sell-out project by Camborne Developments offered a very limited 20 dual key units. No harm done it seems as the EC was fully sold out in July.
Rejoice for Dual key EC Hunters?
On the opposite end of the spectrum though, we have executive condominiums that are hitting the hot iron real hard.
Heron Bay EC seems to be a dream come true for buyers hunting for dual key units.
To say that dual key is a prominent feature of Heron Bay EC is not far from the truth.
Considering Heron Bay is a relatively small EC of 394 units, it potentially offers up to 126 dk units (3/4/5 bedroom variations).
That’s almost whopping one third of the entire project!
Click here to learn more about Heron Bay.
Things to Consider when Buying Dual Key Units
Are you planning to own a dual key unit? Here are some tips to use:
Pay Your Own Mortgage
It’s easy to get carried away with the promise of passive income by subletting your dual key unit. Be prudent in your cash flow planning.
While the rental income can cover part of your monthly installment, do not take for granted that it will always be a certainty.
There may be vacancy periods when you can’t find a tenant or worse, your tenant may default on rental payment.
In other words, don’t count on always having a tenant to pay for your mortgage.
Buy ECs with Tenancy Potential
Know the executive condominium well – not just the project itself – but the macro aspect of the EC is important.
Look for EC locations that are growth areas with ongoing or upcoming developments that would value add to the locality and create potential tenant catchment.
Consult the sales rep or do your own homework.
Study URA Masterplan. URA website is a rich resource to get glimpse of future plans you could benefit from.
Or google for information.
Tip: Google keywords “[estate] development plans” e.g. “Hougang development plans”.
Keep a lookout for road improvements or MRT/LRT lines at LTA website.
Keep Updated of new Dual Key ECs
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So that’s it for this feature post on Dual Key ECs. I hope you had gained some new insight into dual key.
What’s your take on the popularity of dual key?
Do you think it’s a worthy investment if bought for the right reasons?
Or do you feel dual key is an overhyped concept and just a passing fad?
Let us know what your opinion on dual key unit by sharing in the comments below!