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▸ Typical apartments
Ranging from 1-bedroom to 4-bedrooms units, typical apartments are the mainstay and basic high-rise housing products in Ho Chi Minh City. They are found in all apartment buildings and across all housing segments. From the affordable segment, mid-end segment, premium segment, and all the way to the luxury and ultra-luxury segment.
For various reasons, apartment sizes across all segments are shrinking. Traditionally, it was only the affordable segment that had small apartment units ranging from 45 to 50 square meters of useable (nett floor) area for 1-bedroom, 55 to 65 square meters for 2-bedrooms, and 70 to 85 square meters for 3-bedrooms. Older mid-end, premium and luxury segments of apartments are designed in large unit layouts. Taking for example some older premium apartments:
- Saigon Pearl completed in 2009: 1brs are 50 m2, 2brs are 84 to 95 m2, 3brs are 99 to 152 m2 and 4brs are 143 to 206 m2.
- The Vista completed in 2011: 2brs are 101 m2, 3brs are 135 to 146 m2 and 4brs are 173 to 184 m2.
- The Estella completed in 2011: 2brs are 98 to 125 m2 and 3brs are 148 to 171m2.
- Xi Riverview Palace completed in 2012: 3brs are 139 to 198 m2.
- Imperia An Phu completed in 2012: 2brs are 95 m2, 3brs are 115 to 184 m2, 4brs are 232 m2.
- Thao Dien Pearl completed in 2013: 2brs are 95 to 122 m2, 3brs are 132 to 137 m2
Today, space is a luxury in Ho Chi Minh City as real estate prices have risen to be the highest in Vietnam and rapidly catching up with other regional real estate markets. Apartment sizes started shrinking sometime after 2014. Mainly as real estate prices rise, developers have to build smaller apartments to keep the overall quantum of each unit relevant to demand. Some examples of premium apartment projects completed recently:
- One Verandah completed in 2020: 1brs are 50 to 52 m2, 2brs are 69 to 77 m2 and 3brs are 94 to 101 m2.
- Empire City Linden Residences completed in 2021: 1brs 55 to 58 m2, 2brs 82 to 83m2 and 3brs are 116 to 135 m2.
- The Metropole Galleria Residence completed in 2021: 1brs are 44 to 46 m2, 2brs are 64 to 71 m2, 3brs are 98 to 104 m2 and 4brs are 159 m2.
You will notice that there is a general trend of decreasing apartment sizes. Nowadays large apartment floor sizes are often associated with luxury. After all it is only the affluent class that can afford the large price quantum of large unit layouts. As primary prices of apartment continue to rise, we expect the trend of shrinking apartments to continue. Which bring us to the next type of apartment products.
▸ Apartments with multi-purpose area (+1)
In order to keep apartment sizes smaller, yet offering enough flexibility to accommodate larger families living together, real estate developers have cleverly maximised the use of smaller spaces by designing additional open space in the apartment. These additional spaces are not enclosed by walls and are smaller than the size of a bedroom. Intended for multi-purpose usage, such spaces can be use as a study/work room, children play area or hobby room.
Such +1 units are designed with a smaller built-in area as compared to a typical apartment. Yet, the additional space tends to be conveniently designed to allow flexibility in converting into an additional bedroom. This provides the same numbers of useable rooms with a much smaller unit floor area. These days, as developers need to get creative in providing more apartment selection choices for homebuyers, most new launch apartment projects will include various +1 options. Let us take some recent projects as an example.
The Origami Vinhomes Grand Park in District 9 has +1 option for most of its typical apartment units. The useable floor area of its 2-bedroom is about 60 square meters, while its 1br+1 has a floor area of about 44 square meters. Similarly, its 3-bedroom is about 80 square meters while its 2br+1 is only about 65 square meters. You can see that the +1 unit options are easily 19 to 27% smaller, yet potentially providing the same amount of bedrooms with a little tweaking. At The 9 Stellars also in District 9, its 2-bedrooms have a useable floor area of 68 square meters versus 1br+1 with 54 square meters, a 21% difference.
▸ Dual key apartments
A dual key apartment is one apartment that is divided into two separate residences. Both residences are typically self-contained and will include a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living space. The apartment may have a separate access point to each residence but with a shared foyer through which there are two separate lockable doors to the individual residences.
Its purpose was originally to accommodate multi-generational households, allowing multiple generations of a family to live together under one roof while ensuring adequate privacy for all members of the family. These days, most dual key apartments are built with investors not homebuyers in mind.
For property investors, the main advantage of dual key apartments is that they are dual-income investments. Certain investors are looking for a cash flow position where the property pays for itself through the rental income it gets. Additionally, the flexibility to live in one part of the property and rent out the other part helps to subsidise loan repayments if the property was purchased using a mortgage loan.
These days, dual-key unit types are popular with buy-to-let investors, who have calculated that by being able to rent out 2 separate small units (for example a studio and a 2-bedrooom unit within the larger 3-bedroom configuration) will generate a higher income as compared to leasing out a traditional 3-bedroom apartment. Additionally, dual-key units can provide much need cashflow for families that would stay in the bigger sub-unit while renting out the smaller sub-unit for additional monthly income. Some examples of dual key units can be found in the following apartment projects in Ho Chi Minh City:
- Diamond Island Phase 2 completed in 2018: 3-bedrooms dual key separated into 2-bedrooms and 1-bedroom.
- De La Sol launched in 2018: 3-bedrooms dual key separated into 2-bedrooms and a studio.
- D’Lusso Emerald launched in 2019: 2-bedrooms dual key separated into 1-bedroom and a separate room. Also, 3-bedrooms dual key separated into 2-bedrooms and a separate room.
- King Crown Infinity launched in 2020: 2-bedrooms dual key separated into 1-bedroom and studio.
▸ Duplex apartments
A popular choice in HCMC are duplex apartments or simply duplexes. Duplexes are identified as an apartment spread over 2 floors or having rooms over two floors. New premium and luxury apartment projects in HCM these days like to offer duplexes as product choice for home buyers due to its popularity. The lower floor consists of functions used to host guests visiting the home, while the upper floor is where the private area of the home owner is located.
Usually, the kitchen, living room, dining room, and guest bedroom is located on the lower floor. While, on the upper floor, it will always be the master bedroom (sometimes a second bedroom is located on the upper floor as well). Such a way of segregating clearly emphasizes on privacy within a small enclosed space. It is no wonder, duplexes have a high demand by homebuyers and developers are quick to capitalise on such products.
Duplexes is HCMC are called many names, as developers strive to distinguish their products from the competition. Duplexes located on an apartment building’s podium, which is also its facilities level are usually called Garden Villas such as those in Gateway Thao Dien and Diamond Island Phase 2 in District 2. Duplexes allocated in the middle levels of an apartment towers are sometimes called Sky Villas like as Serenity Sky Villas in District 3 or just simply Duplexes as in Empire City Tilia Residence and Feliz En Vista in District 2.
▸ Loft apartments
Often mistaken as duplexes, lofts are apartments that include a raised platform within. This creates the function of a separate area/room. Such apartments are designed to have double-volume space (or double-height ceiling). In other words, the apartment has its ceiling at a considerable height, possibly even twice or more the normal ceiling height of apartments. Unlike duplexes counted as two floor levels, loft apartments count as a single floor level.
While for duplexes, the useable floor area taking the total area of both floors is payable by the homebuyer, loft apartments are made up of only a single floor. As such only the lower floor area (excluding the loft platform) is chargeable by the developer. Homebuyers can make full use of the double-height ceiling typically around 4 to 6 meters to construct a concrete platform that can be used to house additional bedroom/work space. Creating more living floor area in the apartment unit.
Loft apartments are attractive with homebuyers as they make very economic and practical use of space with a lower purchase price quantum compared to duplexes. A good example of an apartment project that has a significant offering of loft apartments is La Astoria in District 2. It offers 2brs+1 loft apartments and 3-bedrooms loft apartments. Elsewhere, certain apartment buildings such as Vista Verde in District 2 are designed to have certain apartment floor levels with double-height ceilings.
Commonly known as apartments on the top-most floor of a high-rise apartment building. Penthouses appeal to homebuyers whom money is not a concern, they have the luxury of affording the very best unit a high-rise apartment building has to offer. Penthouses are usually associated with premium and luxury housing products. You tend to find penthouses on the top-floors of premium and luxury segments of housing. Affordable and mid-end apartment buildings usually design loft apartments, or simply typical apartments with large unit floor areas for the top-most floor of the apartment building.
In times of rising real estate prices, penthouses these days offer different configurations of the following features. From designer interiors, stunning views of HCMC’s skyline, terraces, to private swimming pools. Luxury penthouses also offer built-in floor areas comparable to actual landed villas, yet with a panoramic view of the city that you will never get by staying on a landed property, it is no wonder there is a consistent demand for penthouses despite its hefty price quantum. Almost all premium and luxury apartment buildings have penthouses on their top-most floor. You just have to look at City Garden in Binh Thanh District, D’Edge and Estella Heights in District 2, Galleria and Opera Residences at The Metropole District 2, to understand the significant interest in penthouses.
▸ Final note
The availability of a wide range of apartment products that cater to the different needs of homebuyers have steadily encourage more people in Ho Chi Minh City to adopt apartments over landed housing as their preferred choice of homes. In an increasingly sophisticated housing market where homebuyers and property investors alike are becoming savvier due to the abundance of information on the internet. Developers are forced to get creative with their product-mix to differentiate from the competition and offer innovative housing products that can attract and appeal to the different needs of homebuyers. This bodes well for HCMC’s housing market in general, and provide an exciting experience for homebuyers when it is time to look for your dream home or making a property investment.