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Thread: You've got a home... but does your car?

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    Default You've got a home... but does your car?

    Sep 8, 2008 Monday

    You've got a home... but does your car?

    Carparks at newer condos smaller; some even have fewer lots than units

    By Serene Luo

    This retail space on basement one of Hougang Mall was carved out of about one-quarter of the mall's carpark lots. -- ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

    HOME owners looking to buy a condominium within the next few years may soon find themselves in a squeeze when it comes to parking their cars at home.

    A Straits Times survey of 26 condominiums launched or built after 2005 showed carparks are getting smaller, with some even falling below a government standard of at least one lot per unit.

    About 50 per cent of the condominiums surveyed will have just one lot for each unit - plus not more than 5 per cent of extra lots - when completed.

    The situation is more pronounced in the city. At least three new developments - The Sail @ Marina Bay, Marina Bay Residences and Icon in Tanjong Pagar - have between 20 per cent and 40 per cent fewer lots than units.

    In comparison, a survey of about 10 condos built between 1980 and 2000 showed they were more generous, with over 50 per cent of them giving at least 15 per cent more leeway for lots.

    For instance, Kembangan's Windy Heights, which was completed around 1978, has 274 lots to its 202 units - about 36 per cent more lots than units.

    In comparison, The Sail @ Marina Bay will have 700 lots for its 1,111 units - but only because it has 'direct access to MRT stations, Raffles Place and is within walking distance to many workplaces and amenities', said a spokesman for the developer CDL.

    The upcoming Dakota Residences in Mountbatten, when completed in 2010, will have one lot for each of the 348 units while The Reflections at Keppel Bay, when ready in 2013, will have about 1,200 lots for its 1,129 apartments - just 6 per cent more lots than units.

    While many of these condos have not yet been completed, and the problem has not quite set in, there have been a few rumblings.

    For instance, a handful of retailers at the mostly sold Icon - a retail-cum-residential development - said a few customers have complained how hard it can be to find a lot during the peak hours of lunchtime and 5pm to 8pm.

    Investor Hengky Oeni, 54, who has bought a unit at The Sail @ Marina Bay, believes visitors may face problems finding a spot at certain times if forced to park outside at nearby office buildings. 'On weekdays when employees are around, parking spaces in these buildings will be difficult to find and expensive.'

    Real-estate firm Knight Frank's director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak pointed out that home owners-to-be would not feel the effects now.

    'But once they move in, for instance when they throw a house-warming party, they will realise there may not be enough parking lots,' he said.

    During festive seasons such as Chinese New Year, visitors who take up spaces meant for residents may cause spats in the estate too, he said.

    Management consultant Ong Tee Jin, 46, complained he often had to park in HDB estates and walk over when visiting friends in some of the new developments, 'because their carparks are so crowded'.

    'Some of my friends regretted buying these condos after they found out about the parking problems,' he said.

    He also said condo owners who can afford these homes are likely to have more than one car.

    Reasons for the downward trend vary: Some say it is the sheer cost of land and construction, and the smaller plots of land for sale these days.

    Also, basement carparks, while ideal solutions for narrow land plots, cost three times as much as above-ground carparks to construct, said Mr Mak.

    Assistant Professor Erwin Viray from the National University of Singapore's architecture faculty told The Straits Times that the authorities or developers may want to 'encourage a green urban lifestyle, where healthy lives by walking and using public transport'.

    He described how the well-off in cities such as Manhattan and Tokyo often ditch their cars to walk, and have 'created a sort of healthy trend'. 'It could be a sign of things to come in Singapore,' he said.

    A rule change in 2005 meant that developers no longer have to provide as many parking spots, if the condo falls in the Central Business District or is near an MRT station. But it is largely still up to developers to decide what works for them.

    Mr Mak said: 'People usually take parking for granted. When choosing a condo to buy...parking is one essential that often gets neglected.'

    The exception is usually super deluxe condos, which sell for about $3,000 or more per sq ft. For example, the upcoming Boulevard Vue will provide up to four lots for each penthouse unit.

    [email protected]

    Additional reporting by Tan Wei Zhao and Stephanie Song
    Attached Files Attached Files

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