Dual-key units, like the name suggests, are two separate condo units (one main unit and a smaller, studio-like sub-unit) under a single address, linked by a shared main door and lobby or foyer. The concept is alleged to have come about to “beat the ABSD game”, allowing homeowners to own two units, for the price of one. With this “buy one get one free” pitch, it is little wonder the concept took off like a bullet when it came into play over a decade ago. Today, these units, touted to be a godsend for multigenerational families, have become a common product among new condominium offerings. Here, we map out a beginner’s guide to dual-key units.
Dual-key unit layouts
Dual-key units, understandably, are larger in floor area compared to typical condo units. It consists of the larger main unit and the smaller sub-unit. Different designs and layouts are aplenty, and dual-key units may share as little as only a common foyer or main door or as much as a common kitchen and dining area.
For instance, a dual-key unit at Arena Residences shares the kitchen and dining room area, which is great for multigenerational families who want a common area where they can spend quality time together but would be a drawback for families who want more privacy, or homeowners in main units who want to rent out their sub-unit and have their tenants be completely independent of having to use any shared spaces. Those looking for such privacy would prefer layouts akin to the one The Tapestry Condo offers.
With a sub-unit that comes complete with its own kitchenette and ensuite bathroom, it is completely independent of the main unit and shares nothing more than a common private lift lobby. The Tapestry Condo also bears the tagline: “1 Main Door. 1 Common Area. 2 Separate Lives”, which is telling of the lifestyle it is trying to sell here.
What are your options with a dual-key unit and what makes it such a hit?
The most obvious advantage is that homeowners and investors may legally avoid the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD); investors to rent out one or both units would have instantly reaped huge savings just from dodging the hefty ABSD.
Property developers are cashing in on dual-key units from the understanding that it allows buyers the option for double tenancy. Different arrangements can come out of owning a dual-key unit. Besides multigenerational families, families with a work-from-home member or someone who requires a “SOHO” (small office/home office) can convert the sub-unit into a fully functional office space. Alternatively, family units can make some passive income by renting out the sub-unit to tenants, or savvy investors can rent out both units to different tenants.
Given the current COVID new norm situation, dual-key units can only be a boon for homeowners in a space-scarce Singapore, to either make alternative work-from-home arrangements, or generate rental income from their sub-unit.
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There’s nothing amazing in Singapore that doesn’t come with a price tag, and dual-key units are no exception. With dual-key units boasting larger floor areas than regular condo units, they too, come with a premium for the perks, with a higher price per square foot. For instance, a side-by-side comparison of a 5th-storey, normal 3-bedder at Forett At Bukit Timah costs approximately $2.1 million while its dual-key counterpart on the second storey commands at least $2.2 million. Likewise, a normal 3-bedder on the 10th storey at Haus on Handy has an identical price tag of $2.7 million to its dual-key 3-bedroom neighbour on the 4th storey.
Similarly, every market has its hierarchy of needs. Dual-key units may not fit the requirements of those with tighter budgets, while young couples or singles looking for a starter home or bachelor pad to rent may find the cosiness of a dual-key sub-unit too claustrophobic.
While the novelty of dual-key units has begun to fade over the years, they remain in strong demand for homeowners and investors alike. We don’t foresee this nifty concept phasing out anytime soon.
Looking to generate rental income from your dual-key apartment?
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Frequently asked questions about dual-key units
What is a dual-key condo?
A dual-key condo is made up of one main unit and a smaller sub-unit, under a single address, connected by a shared main door and lobby or foyer.
Is buying a dual-key condo good?
Buying a dual-key condo is akin to owning two condos for the price of one, without incurring the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD). The smaller subunit can be rented out or converted into an office or gym. It does come with a higher price per square foot.
Should you get a dual-key condo?
Dual-key condo units may not fit the requirements of those with tighter budgets, while young couples or singles looking for a starter home or bachelor pad to rent may find the cosiness of a dual-key sub-unit too claustrophobic.