Property Talk: What Millennials Look For in Their First Home

We quizzed several millennials, as well as a realtor and an interior designer, to find out exactly what this generation’s priorities are when it comes to their first property purchase. Here are their top five considerations.

Updated on December 17, 2017 14:12 pm

Aaron De Silva

Cairnhill Nine Singapore

Depending on your perspective, the millennial generation—those born after 1980—either has it very good or not at all. On one hand, they’ve grown up during a relatively affluent period in Singapore’s history. On the other hand, the boom years of 2006, 2007, and 2010 meant soaring property prices across the board, reaching a peak in 2013. This left millennials—many of whom were in the early stages of their careers—without a strong foothold on the property ladder. That said, having a roof over one’s head is a basic necessity.

So we quizzed several millennials, as well as a realtor and an interior designer, to find out exactly what this generation’s priorities are when it comes to their first property purchase. Here are their top five considerations.

1. Location

oxley tower singapore

Oxley Tower

Not surprisingly, location is key for many of the respondents. “Given that we both work in the city, we want a location that’s convenient enough to get to the CBD, making proximity to the MRT important since driving to work every day would be costly (because of ERP and parking fees),” says Ian Kwek, 28, a corporate communications consultant who recently got married and applied for a four-room HDB flat.

For marketing director Natasha Damodoran, 28, who’s currently renting an apartment in One Shenton with her boyfriend, “Location is very important." In future, she intends to purchase a centrally-located apartment as opposed to an HDB, as “Most of the new (BTO flats) are not in the city area.”

Proximity to the MRT is what convinced a 30-year-old couple to put down roots in Lake Grande, a condo located five minutes’ walk from Lakeside Station. This is according to Hiroshi Oh, senior marketing director of Huttons Asia Pte Ltd, who brokered the deal in the first week of June 2017. The development is also close to markets and schools, important criteria for newlyweds looking to start a family.

Location is also paramount for young families looking to enrol their children in desirable schools, says Mark Chen, co-founder of interior design firm Artistroom. These buyers, he notes, are more willing to invest in pricier resale HDB flats rather than BTOs. They also tend to view their purchases as long-term investments, compared to BTO buyers, who tend to upgrade their homes after the MOP (Minimum Occupation Period).

2. Size/Quality of Living Space

the santorini singapore

The Santorini

Much has been said about the dwindling size of new homes. Chen’s millennial clients feel that current BTO bedroom sizes—regardless whether it’s a three-, four- or five-bedroom flat—are too small. “If you try to fit in a queen bed, there will hardly be any space left for a TV console or a wardrobe. So my clients often compromise by putting a single bed instead,” he says.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Charmaine Tai, 25, a web consultant who currently lives with her family in a four-bedroom terrace house. “Bedrooms these days can’t fit a king-sized bed. And there’s barely any walking space in the master bedroom. This applies to both condominiums and HDBs.” To counter this, Chen says that many of his clients have combined the master room with another bedroom to form a spacious master suite, or converted one of the bedrooms into a walk-in wardrobe.

It was this desire for spaciousness that led senior sales manager Lynn Cheng, 27, to purchase a 1,400-sq.-ft., five-room resale HDB flat in Pasir Ris with her fiancé. “I’ve always loved open spaces and nature. The flat I own has a lot of space and the main windows are facing trees."

Other than spaciousness, millennial buyers are also influenced by efficient layouts. The couple who bought the Lake Grande unit—an 818-sq.-ft., two-bedroom-plus-study apartment—were attracted to its squarish/regular layout, says Oh. Most two-bedders on the market are open-plan, but this unit had an enclosed kitchen that could contain cooking fumes. This was important as the couple enjoys cooking.

3. Price

sentral suites in kuala lumpur, malaysia

Sentral Suites, Kuala Lumpur

Millennial buyers are price sensitive. Cheng was attracted to her current flat because the seller had asked for $460,000, well below the area’s market price of $500,000. She and her fiancé eventually paid $465,000 after outbidding another interested party.

However, it’s a slightly different story for singles like Jolene Khor, 26, an associate fashion editor who feels that properties in Singapore are too expensive. “As I’m single and can’t purchase an HDB (for another nine years), I will continue to rent in Singapore and purchase an investment property somewhere else. This will probably be a three-bedroom apartment in an up-and-coming location, not somewhere trendy as the price will be too high. High floor preferred short distance to basic amenities for sure. The apartment would likely to be unfurnished. My buying decision will be based on what I think the people living in the city/area would want.”

When it comes to condos, Chen says that his customers typically opt for newer developments or two- or three-bedroom resale units as these tend to have lower price points. He adds that those who can afford to do so will rent out these apartments for a year or two. They will then return to the unit, renovate it, and use it for their own stay.

4. Proximity to Family

lake grande singapore

Lake Grande

Whether it’s for practical or emotional reasons, millennial buyers look for homes that are close to their families. “We’ve lived in the East our whole lives,” explains Kwek. “Our families live in the East too, so it’s more convenient especially in the future when we start a family.” For sales assistant Allisa Noraini, 23, her future home must “Not (be) too far from my parents or other family members. Ideally, it would be a condo or four-room HDB.” Noraini, who’s single, currently lives with her five-member family in a condo.

5. Lifestyle

cairnhill nine singapore

Cairnhill Nine

Whether you’re a shopaholic, cafe connoisseur, fitness enthusiast or nature lover, there’s bound to be an estate or development that speaks to you. Damodoran’s urban lifestyle—she enjoys eating out at restaurants and cafe-hopping—is why she gravitates towards apartments in the city. “(My) lifestyle would probably influence (my decision to purchase based on a location) a 7/10,” she says.

For sales manager Michelle Ong, 25, who lives with her family in a condo off Orchard Road, convenience is key. She says: “My weekdays are dedicated to work, so the commute, whether by taxi or MRT (I don’t drive) has to be easy and not too expensive. (A central location would be) great… as I like to walk to town and catch up/go drinking with friends in Orchard, Dempsey or Robertson Quay.”

Article originally published in EdgeProp. Edited and reposted with permission.

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