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All You Need to Know About This “Buy 1, Get 1 Free” Condo Type In Singapore

Maelyn Lagman

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A dual key condo, as its name suggests, comprises two separate units (a main unit and a smaller, studio-like sub-unit) under a single address that are linked by a shared main door and lobby or foyer. It’s the only way to own two units for the price of one, without having to pay ABSD. With this “buy one, get one free” pitch, it’s no wonder the concept of dual key condos took off like a bullet when it came into play over a decade ago.

All you need to know about dual key condo in Singapore

What is a dual key condo layout?

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. 

A sample unit layout for one of the condo units at Arena Residences

Source: Arena Residences

With a sub-unit that comes complete with its own kitchenette and ensuite bathroom, a dual key condo unit at The Tapestry is completely independent of the main unit and shares nothing more than a common private lift lobby.

A sample unit layout for one of the condo units at The Tapestry Condo

Source: The Tapestry Condo

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. 

The upsides to getting a dual key condo

Asian couple sitting on the couch, looking at a laptop

The most obvious advantage is that homeowners and investors may legally avoid the ABSD; investors who 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.

The downsides to getting a dual key condo

There’s nothing amazing in Singapore that doesn’t come with a hefty price tag, and dual key units are no exception. With dual key units boasting larger floor areas than regular condo units, they come with a higher price per square foot; a premium for the perks.

HDb flat with high ceiling height

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. 

However, every market has its hierarchy of needs. 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. But for multi-generational families who can’t find or are not too keen on a 3Gen flat, a dual key condo may be the best option.

While the novelty of dual key condos have faded over the years, they remain in strong demand for homeowners and investors alike. We don’t foresee this nifty concept phasing out anytime soon.

In summary: Pros and cons of getting a dual key condo

ProsCons
Versatility: Dual key condos are versatile in their use. They can accommodate extended families who wish to live together yet maintain some level of privacy. For instance, elderly parents can live in one section while their adult children and grandchildren occupy the other.Higher Purchase Price: Dual key units often come with a higher price tag compared to standard units due to their added functionality and space.
Rental Income: Owners can live in one part of the unit and rent out the other, providing a source of passive income. This setup is especially attractive in Singapore, where rental demand is strong due to the influx of expatriates and professionals.Rental Management: If renting out one of the spaces, owners take on the role of landlords, which includes responsibilities like managing tenants, maintenance issues, and ensuring rental income covers the mortgage and other costs.
Cost Efficiency: Compared to buying two separate units, a dual key condo can be more cost-effective, saving on the purchase price and associated costs like stamp duties and maintenance fees.Potential for Higher Maintenance Fees: Depending on the development, there might be higher maintenance fees due to the larger size or additional facilities associated with dual key units.
Privacy: Despite sharing a main entrance, the separate living spaces ensure privacy is maintained between the occupants.Limited Availability: Dual key condos are not common, which can make finding one in a desired location more challenging.

Frequently asked questions about dual key condo units in Singapore

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. 

Need help renting out your sub-unit for your dual key condo? Let us find the right tenants for you

Drop us a message on WhatsApp to book a non-obligatory chat with one of our property agents, or send us any questions on our Live Chat at the bottom, right-hand corner of the screen.

What’s the value of your dual key condo unit? Find out on Homer AI

Homer AI is your next generation Home Ownership Management e-Valuation Report AI tool that keeps you updated on all the latest transactions in your development and area, and even calculate your potential cash proceeds if you’re thinking of selling.

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