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Singapore Property Kaki

A place for sharing property, investments and financial management ideas among kakis

New Launch Review: The Garden Residences vs Affinity at Serangoon – Battle of the Northeast Titans

The property fever in the North-eastern part of Singapore is rising. Two big residential developments in District 19 – The Garden Residences and Affinity at Serangoon are launching at the same time. If you are still undecided on which new project, fret not, as SPK is here to help the readers with my new launch review.

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Location, Location, Location

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The Garden Residences and Affinity at Serangoon are located within close proximity to each other. The Location of The Garden Residences is closer to the Serangoon Garden area and the development is designed in such a way that a majority of the units get to enjoy the unblock landed view looking towards the Serangoon Garden area.

Affinity at Serangoon is located to the East of The Garden Residences, on the site of the former HUDC – Serangoon Ville site. The development is on an elevated piece of land and residents get to enjoy unblock landed view towards the East and South of the development.

In terms of accessibility, Garden Residences is located further away from the main road – Yio Chu Kang Road. The nearest bus-stop that residents at Garden Residences can go to is the one along Serangoon North Ave 1, which only has a feeder bus – 315 that goes to Serangoon Interchange. At Affinity, residents have access to more bus services via the bus stop along Yio Chu Kang Road on the Eastern boundary of the development.

Project Summary

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If you would like to get a unit in the area, but not sure which development and unit type to choose, the comparisons that I have done below should help you make a better-informed decision, hopefully!

The 1-Bedroom Comparison

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  • Layout of the 1-Bedrooms at Garden Residences and Affinity are similar, just like any other typical 1-BR units in the market today
  • The size of a typical 1-Bedroom at Affinity is 463 sf, slightly bigger in size than that at Garden Residences, which is 452 sf
  • At Affinity, the 1-Bedroom units are distributed across all 7 high-rise blocks in the development, whereas at Garden Residences, the 1-Bedroom units are all contained within a single block – Blk 1 within the development
  • DESIGN CONSIDERATION: Buyers should look out for the following key differences in the design:
    • A/C Ledge: 1-BR units at Garden Residences have bigger A/C ledge than those at Affinity.
    • Balcony: On the other hand, 1-BR units at Affinity have bigger balconies. On a lesser-of-two-evils comparison, having a bigger balcony would probably be a better deal than having a bigger A/C ledge.
    • Main Entrance: Garden Residences has a better main entrance design. The developer has allocated space on the right side of the entrance to allow buyers to fit in a full-height storage cabinet and the open kitchen is recessed and partially kept out of sight from the main door.
    • Master Bedroom: Garden Residences appears to have a wider Master Bedroom space than Affinity.
    • Living/Dining: On the other hand, Affinity seems to have a bigger living and dining area than Garden Residences. Trade-off between having a bigger living area or MBR, something for buyers to decide.
  • PRICING:
    • Garden Residences: Indicative pricing for 1-Bedroom units starts from S$788,000 or approximately S$1,750 psf
    • Affinity: Indicative pricing for 1-Bedroom units starts from S$738,000 or approximately S$1,600 psf

SPK’s Verdict – Most of the time, during my review of 1-Bedroom units, layout efficiency is an important criteria because, given the very small area, a poorly design unit may result in wastage of precious space and amplify the small, crampy space. On the hand, a well-design unit will create a visual effect that makes the unit looks bigger in comparison to a poor design unit of the same size.

From a design perspective, the 1-Bedroom units at Garden Residences seems to be better designed. Considerations were given to space planning that caters to the needs of occupants living in the unit, such as the design of the entrance & kitchen area and MBR space.

But from a pricing and investment strategy perspective, the 1-Bedroom units at Affinity seems to be better choice for investors. Pure simple math – Getting a bigger area for cheaper price. Buyers at Affinity are effectively paying close to a 9% discount in comparison to the 1-Bedroom units at Garden Residences. For a projected yield of 3%, a unit at Garden Residences will need to be rented out at close to S$2,000 a month, but buyers of 1-BR at Affinity will only need to rent at S$1,850 per month to achieve the same yield. Hence, buyers at Affinity can always offer tenants at lower rental rates than those units at Garden Residences, without compromising their yields and this should make it easier for a buyer at Affinity to secure a tenant.

 

The 1-Bedroom+Study Comparison

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  • Layout of the 1-Bedroom+Study at Garden Residences and Affinity are similar.
  • The size of a typical 1-Bedroom+Study at Affinity is 538 sf, slightly bigger in size than that at Garden Residences, which is 517 sf.
  • Affinity also offers a “premium” 1-Bedroom+Study layout with size of 603 sf. This layout comes with a bigger study room that could accommodate a queen size bed. This layout is comparable to a 2-Bedroom compact unit.
  • At Affinity, the 1-Bedroom+Study units are distributed across all 5 high-rise blocks in the development, whereas at Garden Residences, the 1-Bedroom+Study units are all contained within a single block – Blk 1 within the development.
  • DESIGN CONSIDERATION: Buyers should look out for the following key differences in the design:
    • A/C Ledge: 1-BR+S units at Garden Residences have bigger A/C ledge than those at Affinity.
    • Balcony: 1-BR+S units at Garden Residences also have bigger balcony than those at Affinity.
    • Master Bedroom: Garden Residences appears to have a wider Master Bedroom space than Affinity.
    • Living/Dining: On the other hand, Affinity seems to have a bigger living and dining area than Garden Residences. Trade-off between having a bigger living area or MBR, something for buyers to decide.
    • Toilet Access: 1-BR+S units at both Garden Residences and Affinity come with dual access doors and one of the access is from master bedroom. An important difference between the 2 layouts is the 2nd toilet access. At Garden Residences, the 2nd toilet access is from the study area. As visitors are more likely to access the toilet via the door in the study area, this makes it inconvenient for the owner to enclose the study area and make it into a second room. But at Affinity, the 2nd toilet access is from the living/dining area. Hence, a buyer can enclose the study area to make it into a small room, without affecting access to toilet.
  • PRICING:
    • Garden Residences: Indicative pricing for 1-Bedroom+Study units starts from S$898,000 or approximately S$1,740 psf.
    • Affinity: Indicative pricing for 1-Bedroom+Study units starts from S$848,000 or approximately S$1,580 psf.

SPK’s Verdict – For the 1-Bedroom+Study units, the verdict is obvious. In terms of design, 1-BR+S units at Affinity are more efficiently designed with more usable space. Moreover, buyers can have the flexibility of enclosing the study area to make it into a second room. In terms of pricing and size, 1-BR+S units at Affinity offers bigger unit size at cheaper price. Hence, for 1-BR+S units, I would choose to put my money on a unit at Affinity.

 

The 2-Bedroom Comparison

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  • The comparison between 2-bedroom units at Affinity and Garden Residences is an interesting and not-so-straightforward one! It probably reflects the shrewdness of one of the developers! Please read on…
  • At Garden Residences, the developer offers a compact 2-Bedroom layout with typical area of 614 sf. Layout is considered efficient. Buyer can consider enclosing the open kitchen and there are open space beside the main entrance that can be utilized to build storage area. Price for a 2-BR unit at Garden Residences starts from S$1.08 mil or S$1,760 psf.
  • At Affinity, a buyer looking for 2-bedroom unit would have more options to choose from:
    • For a budget-constraint buyer: There is a “premium” 1-Bedroom+Study unit at Affinity that the buyer can consider. The study area can be enclosed and fit a queen size bed, hence it can be considered as a proper room (without windows though). Typical size of this layout is 603 sf and if assume a psf rate of S$1,580 psf (the starting price for 1-BR+S), price of the “premium” 1-BR+Study will probably starts from S$950,000, which is significantly cheaper than the starting price of S$1.08 mil for a 2-BR at Garden Residences!
    • For a valuedriven buyer: Why pay S$1.08 mil for a 2-BR at Garden Residences when I can get a 2-BR+S for only S$988,000 at Affinity? Yes, you can get a bigger 2-BR+S unit with area of 624 sf at Affinity, and at a cheaper price too. This option will appeal to a value-driven buyer.
    • For someone looking for a more luxurious 2-BR: There is a premium 753 sf 2-Bedroom unit at Affinity that comes with a kitchen layout that allows buyer to enclose the space and 2 toilets within the unit. Price of a premium unit starts from S$1.12 mil, slightly higher than the S$1.08 mil starting price at Garden Residences. But on a psf basis, the premium 2-BR unit at Affinity is priced at S$1,490 psf, whilst Garden Residences’s 2-BR units are priced at S$1,760 psf

SPK’s VerdictOxley, the developer of Affinity, has thoughtfully considered the needs of different groups of buyers and has provided multiple options for buyers who are looking for 2-BR or similar units. The availability of choices at cheaper prices should appeal better to buyers. Hence, for 2-BR units, I would choose to put my money on a unit at Affinity.

 

The 2-Bedroom+Study Comparison

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  • At Garden Residences, the 2-Bedroom+Study unit has a typical size of 689 sf. It comes with a kitchen layout that allows the buyer to enclose the open kitchen. One design aspect of the layout which I couldn’t appreciate is the positioning of the common toilet door that faces the study area. Anyone who wants to use the common toilet would have to walk past the study area. Hence, the enclosing of the study area is not feasible in this design. I would have preferred to have the toilet door opening facing the open kitchen. Starting price of a 2-Bedroom+Study unit at Garden Residences is S$1.18 mil or S$1,710 psf.
  • Once again, Affinity offers more options to buyers who are looking for 2-BR+S units:
    • For a budget-constraint buyer: As mentioned in my 2-Bedroom comparison, there is a 2-BR+S compact that has a smaller typical size of 624 sf as compare to the 2-BR+S unit at Garden Residences. But this unit type at Affinity comes at a much lower starting price of S$988,000 as compared to the S$1.18 mil starting price at Garden Residences.
    • For someone looking for a more luxurious 2-BR+S: Affinity can offer buyers something different. There is a “premium” 2-Bedroom+Study unit with a typical size of 732 sf. This unit comes with a study area which buyer can enclose, a luxurious master bedroom size with a walk-in wardrobe. Assuming a psf rate of S$1,580 psf (same as compact 2-BR+S), the price of this premium 2-BR+S unit will start from S$1.16 mil, and this is comparable to the starting price of the 2-BR+S unit at Garden Residences.

SPK’s VerdictIn terms of design, the 2-BR+S units at Garden Residences are less appealing to me, simply because of the toilet door positioning. On the other hand, the 2-BR+S units at Affinity offer efficient layouts and there are different layout and size options to cater to different buyers’ appetite. Moreover, pricing of the 2-BR+S units at Affinity are cheaper in comparison to the units at Garden Residences. Hence, for 2-BR+S units, I would choose to put my money on a unit at Affinity.

 

The 3-Bedroom Comparison

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  • At Garden Residences, the 3-Bedroom unit has a typical size of 797 sf. It comes with a kitchen with a window that allows for open flame cooking and the layout allows the buyer to fully enclose the kitchen. Two of the bedrooms can fit in queen size beds whilst one of the bedrooms can only fit a single bed. There is no yard of utility room provided. Starting price of a 3-Bedroom unit at Garden Residences is S$1.38 mil or S$1,730 psf.
  • At Affinity, there are three types of 3-Bedroom units that are available for buyers to choose from:
    • For a budget-constraint buyer: Affinity offers a compact 3-BR layout with a size of 850 sf. This layout comes with an open kitchen and all 3 bedrooms can fit in queen size beds. Even though the size of the 3-BR compact layout at Affinity is bigger than the 3-BR unit at Garden Residences, the starting price of the 3-BR compact at Affinity is still cheaper than that at Garden Residences. Prices start from S$1.3 mil or S$1,530 psf.
    • For someone looking for a more luxurious 3-BR: Affinity also offers premium and deluxe 3-bedroom layouts for buyers to choose from. The premium 3-bedroom unit is designed with a kitchen with a window that allows for open flame cooking and the layout allows the buyer to fully enclose the kitchen. All 3 bedrooms can fit in queen size beds. In addition, the premium units come with a yard and utility room and the master bedroom has a luxurious size. The deluxe 3-bedroom unit offers a larger living and dining area that is suitable for buyers who like to host guests at their places, in addition to the design features that the premium layout offers.

SPK’s VerdictIt is a close call between the 3-BR at Garden Residences and compact 3-BR at Affinity. The 3-BR at Garden Residences will appeal to families who cook whereas for those don’t and like bigger rooms, Affinity will be a better option. From an investor’s point of view, having bigger bedroom sizes might be more appealing to them, since the bigger bedrooms can cater for more occupants in the unit. Moreover, pricing of the compact 3-BR units at Affinity are cheaper in comparison to the units at Garden Residences.

Affinity also offers premium and deluxe 3-BR units that are more luxurious than the ones offered at Garden Residences but these units are likely to be more expensive than the 3-BR at Garden Residences due to the big unit sizes. Nonetheless, Affinity offers a good variety of choices for 3-BR units for buyers to choose from. Hence, for 3-BR units, I would choose to put my money on a unit at Affinity.

 

The 3-Bedroom+Study Comparison

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  • 3-Bedroom+Study units are only available at Garden Residences. The unit type is efficiently designed, being able to accommodate 3 bedrooms and a study area within a floor area of 904 sf. All 3 bedrooms can fit in queen size beds. The study area can be enclosed to become a guest room/maid’s room/ utility room.

SPK’s VerdictAmong the different unit types at Garden Residences, the 3-BR+Study layout is one of the best within the development. At starting price of S$1.58 mil, I believe that it costs less than the deluxe and premium 3-Bedroom unit at Affinity, hence providing good value to buyers and investors.

 

The 4-Bedroom Comparison

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  • At Garden Residences, the 4-Bedroom units are designed to be one of the most luxurious unit types within the development. It comes with a private lift and lobby, a junior master bedroom with attached toilet and dry and wet kitchens. There are a total of 3 bathrooms within the 4-bedroom unit. The typical size of the 4-Bedroom unit at Garden Residences is 1,195 sf and prices start from S$2.18 mil or S$1,824 psf.
  • What are the options available at Affinity? You might be surprised to find out that the condominium blocks at Affinity do not offer 4-Bedroom units (except for the 5 penthouse units with 4 bedrooms)! But for buyers looking for a bigger unit, Affinity offers something different and unique – a 3-level strata landed unit that comes with 4 bedrooms and 2 private car park lots. Total area of a typical 4-BR strata landed unit is 2,045 sf, almost double the size of the 4-BR unit at Garden Residences but price starts from S$2.38 mil or S$1,160 psf.

SPK’s VerdictThe 4-BR units at Garden Residences are designed to be luxurious units. Prices are not cheap and the target market is likely to be an affluent group of buyers. However, it seems like Affinity has something of better value to offer to this group of affluent buyers – a strata landed 4-bedroom unit with 2 private car park lots and bigger unit area. On a psf basis, the strata landed units look like a bargain. Hence, for 4-BR units, I would choose to put my money on a strata-landed unit at Affinity.

 

The 4-Bedroom+Study Comparison

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  • Whilst the 4-Bedroom units at Garden Residences are designed to be luxurious, the 4-Bedroom+Study units are more for value-conscious buyers. The typical 4-Bedroo+Study unit at Garden Residences has a size of 1,119 sf, smaller than the 4-Bedroom units. The units do not come with private lift and dry kitchen, but the developer managed to put in a study area despite the smaller size. The layout looks similar to the 3-Bedroom+Study unit type, but with an additional room that can accommodate a single bed. Prices of 4-Bedroom+Study units start from S$1.928 mil or S$1,720 psf.
  • At Affinity, their 4-Bedroom+Study units have a more luxurious design in comparison to the units at Garden Residences. All bedrooms can fit in a queen size bed and the living/dining area opens out to the large balcony and the entire space is good for hosting home functions. The window at the study area allows ventilation and natural lighting. The size of the master bedroom is luxurious. A typical 4-Bedroom+Study unit at Affinity has an area of 1,453 sq ft and the price starts from S$2.15 mil or S$1,480 psf.

SPK’s VerdictThe comparison between the 4-Bedroom+Study units in Garden Residences and Affinity is a tough one. The 4-BR+S unit at Garden Residences is efficiently designed and more affordable than the unit at Affinity. If budget is not a constraint, the 4-BR+S unit at Affinity would stand out due to its more luxurious design. It’s a draw between the 2 projects. The design of the 4-BR+S units at both developments are equally good and hence, the budget of the buyer should be the key deciding factor in the selection process.

 

The 5-Bedroom Comparison

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  • At Garden Residences, the 5-Bedroom units are also designed to be one of the most luxurious unit types within the development. The 5-Bedroom unit at Garden Residences comes with a private lift and lobby, walk-in wardrobe in the master bedroom, bathtub in the master bedroom toilet and all 5 bedrooms are able to fit in queen size beds. Size of a typical 5-Bedroom is 1,539 sf and price starts from S$2.58 mil or S$1,676 psf.
  • Not sure if this is a coincidence or a shrewd tactical move by Oxley. But as Keppel Land and Wing Tai chose to position their 5-Bedroom units as the most luxurious units in Garden Residences, Oxley choose to outdo its competitors by designing 5-Bedroom units in the form of strata landed housing. A similar strategy that Oxley had adopted in the 4-Bedroom space as discussed earlier. The design is similar to the 4-Bedroom strata landed units, but with an additional room in the basement and bigger area. Area of typical 5-BR strata landed unit is 2,325 sf. Assuming that it is priced at similar psf as the 4-BR strata landed units, then each 5-BR strata landed unit could cost S$2.7 mil or more.

SPK’s VerdictJust like the 4-BR units at Garden Residences, the 5-BR units are designed to be luxurious units. Prices are not cheap and these units are targeted towards the affluent group of buyers. But once again, it seems that Affinity has something of better value to offer – strata landed 5-bedroom units with 2 private car park lots and bigger unit area, at a marginally higher price. A strata-landed unit is more unique and offers better prestige than a typical condominium unit. Hence, for 5-BR units, I would choose to put my money on a strata-landed unit at Affinity.

 

I hope readers have found this review useful. For those who have submitted cheques for balloting, I shall wish you all the best to get your dream unit. For those who have been contemplating, I hope this review has helped you to come to a decision.

Cheers!

SPK

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