Gem Residences Review



  • Christopher Chitty
  • 15 June 2016

Project Name: Gem Residences

Address: 2 Lor 4 Toa Payoh 319513

Type: Condominium

Site area:

Tenure: 99-year leasehold from 21 September 2015

District: 12

Configuration: 578 over two 38-storey blocks

Unit types: 109, 1-bedroom units (452 & 484 sqft)

185, 2-bedroom units (570, 592 & 678 sqft)

36, 2BR Dual-Key (775 sqft)

104, 3-bedroom units (936, 947 & 1,012 sqft)

37, 3BR Triple Key (980 sqft)

31, 3BR Premier (1,055 sqft)

37, 4-bedroom units (1,249 sqft)

37, 5-bedroom units (1,313 sqft)

2, penthouse unit (1,636 & 2,045 sqft)

Parking lots: 578 with 6 handicap lots

Expected TOP: 2020

Project Details

When Managing Partner Vincent Ong said that the ‘best way to predict the future (of property) is to change it’, no one could have imagined that Evia Real Estate would push forward unrelentingly toward imbuing their first private property with a smorgasbord of features and services that balances Gem Residences on an extremely fine line between being a residential property and a hotel.

Gem Residences 3D model

Gem Residences 3D model

This is ironic because he also said that ‘Gem is not selling on its features’ despite being extremely feature heavy. Take those interesting aspects like housekeeping, pet pools, fitness classes and medical staff on the grounds away and you’re left with functional albeit normal-looking units.

This is not to suggest that the units are somehow not liveable because that is mostly untrue. The three showunits on display have their positives and negatives but where design and layout is concerned, they’re either basic or in the case of the 3BR Premier units, questionable.

3BR Premier (Type C5), 1,055 sqft

The 3BR unit is unfortunately a victim of its bigger size. It has an unnecessarily long corridor between a solid wall and a large kitchen leading to the living room. It’s got a large ‘waiting area’ from where you open the door but it’s useful only for shoe cabinets, logically.

3BR floorplan

3BR floorplan

The living room is not as large as it ought to be but this is due to the solid wall of the kitchen bordering it. To make the space look bigger, the unit was painted white with a large number of reflective surfaces installed.

This usually is your first warning sign that the unit advertised is not as spacious as it should or is using mirrors to hide some obvious flaws.

Living room with dining table in balcony

Living room with dining table in balcony

The lack of space here means that your balcony will have to be used as a dining area as there is simply not enough room to accommodate both within the living area. This is probably why the balcony is also quite large. This will be a problem when faced with erratic weather. Unless the owner installs a screen to keep the elements out, dining by the balcony won’t be nearly as romantic a moment as the movies like to portray.

The biggest positive here is also the one thing that has the most and best space; the kitchen.

Kitchen exterior

Kitchen exterior

The high glass panel which is included in the design and delivery of the kitchen is a cool feature that most closed kitchens in other upcoming developments should at least offer. It lets you observe what’s going on in the living room for parents with small children while admitting abundant light from external sources at all times during the day without you having to switch on all the lights. It helps with keeping the electricity bill down and it does look nice.

The kitchen here also comes with everything you can see, from the fridge to the washer/dryer, oven, cupboards and the stove with hood.

Kitchen interior

Kitchen interior

Though being quite big, the kitchen is actually suited for a single person to effectively work inside. The appliances and cupboards are all within reach of one another as they are arranged in a U-shape. When necessary, two people can be in the kitchen together.

But the accessibility and functionality of the kitchen does not justify the small living spaces and long hallways. There is yet another long and narrow hallway, this time leading to the bedrooms. While such hallways are most of the time expected, that there are two long hallways in this 3BR unit is questionable design. It makes the entire setup look extremely claustrophobic.

Corridor to bedrooms

Corridor to bedrooms

The bedrooms are also rather standard. The common bedrooms have little room for much else once a bed is placed in there so the type and size of bed the buyer chooses will be important if they have intent of installing some other furniture in them. These are fairly standard in almost every new development these days but for a project that is expecting to usher in change to the industry, it’s disappointing that those changes only come in the form of features and services rather than in the units.

And as further expected, the master bedroom is slightly better. The layout here works best since the master bedroom has its own bathroom. The wardrobe faces the entrance to the bathroom while the bed is on its left in the main area. This makes the master bedroom look more spacious.

Master bedroom

Master bedroom

The 3BR Premier unit is certainly not as prestigious as it sounds though not altogether bad. It’s simply unfortunate that its layout makes it difficult to allocate proper space for all the important aspects of what the bare minimum of a home should have. Right now, it might seem cool to have the dining table in the balcony but in the long run, it may create some problems.

Some residents may find themselves resorting to massive renovations or having to break down the walls to the first common bedroom in order to have the dining table and living room share one floor space. The large A/C ledge also does not help with the lack of space.

2BR Premier (Type B3), 678 sqft

The 2BR Premier unit is a marked improvement over the 3BR Premier. The smaller surface area somehow makes it look bigger and the layout is far more suitable as a living space. Its biggest detractor is the open kitchen right next to the main door. However, this particular layout is quite common.

Kitchenette

Kitchenette

It is also thankfully free of long corridors of solid walls. The living room and dining area shares a floor space while the balcony usage is less necessary. Balconies work best as extensions of the living room and with a few chairs there, it helps make the space look bigger. Furthermore, on wet days, you can remove those chairs more easily than an entire dining table.

Living and kitchen from balcony

Living and kitchen from balcony

The rest of the unit is quite standard with the common bathroom across the common bedroom and the master bedroom with its own en-suite bathroom. The master bedroom is rather good-looking and will fortunately, come without the solid wall at the foot of the bed. This means more space for the couple.

Master bedroom

Master bedroom

For the 2BR Premier, it’s a rather basic offering for a 2BR unit. In fact, other than the name which evokes luxury, there’s little to differentiate it from a 2BR unit in other developments. But on its own, it satisfies the minimum.

1BR Suites (Type A1), 452 sqft

The 1BR suites is a great indicator of how the right colour scheme can effectively transform the look and feel of a house. Firstly, to give credit where credit is due, the 1BR apartments are no smaller than 452 sqft, which when compared to other developments that offer little more than shoebox units is a good move.

Living and kitchenette

Living and kitchenette

Its interior design is also much better with a neater/smaller kitchen that provides all the basics of a studio apartment. One important caveat here is that the walls separating the main area from the bedroom were replaced with see-through glass panels for the purpose of the showflat. The actual unit would undoubtedly look smaller with solid walls. The only bathroom is attached with the master bedroom and in this unit the bedroom does appear slightly more spacious, partly due to the bathroom being on the far end of the bedroom.

The living room is for all intents and purposes, functional. It’s smaller than in the 2BR unit but decent sized for one or two persons.

1BR Suites

1BR Suites

Out of the three showunits, this is arguably the better of the lot though it is also the most generic-looking. However, it serves its purpose admirably and should be a good buy as a studio-like apartment for singles or young couples.

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Location

Previously known as Skies 39 and then Club Gemini, the latest luxury development by Evia Real Estate Pte Ltd has officially been renamed as Gem Residences. But settling for a more traditional sounding name for a property is not the only thing it’s done to generate an uncommonly large interest in the months leading up to its eventual launch.

Gem Residences logo

Gem Residences have long been touting fairly unconventional features and services to be incorporated into its 578 unit strong development and finally at the threshold of its launch, the doors protecting its mysteries have swung open, unleashing a cavalcade of services that’s never been done before to such a far extent.

Perhaps it is a good thing that Gem Residences is coming packaged with a wealth of services unique to itself because where it is located, across Block 237 and bordering Lor 4 and Lor 1 Toa Payoh, there’s little about to incite interest.

The first thing that will be noticed without a doubt is the temple just next to Gem Residences.

Gem Residences and temple on its right

Gem Residences and temple on its right

A subjective matter, it is still expected for units that face the temple to be the least popular. All in all, the sounds of worship may well be infrequent so if prices of units that face the temple are in fact lower than the others, it may be a good idea to buy it and then invest in some blinds if you’d rather not look into the temple. Other than this potential divisive matter, there’s little else in the area. This part of Toa Payoh is particularly old, with no heartland malls or cinemas nearby.

While there are conveniences abound around Gem, particularly the old blocks (Blks 92 to 94) just across the road, these are more traditional than modern. Hawker centres, shops and even markets are conveniently close by but with the delivery services Gem Residences is offering, there is little need for residents to ever visit those blocks, save perhaps to buy groceries or basic household items.

Toa Payoh Block 94

Toa Payoh Block 94

There are notable eateries around the area, like Tims Restaurant & Café and Lee Fun Nam Kee Chicken Rice. A fish market is also close by, at Blk 93 along Lor 4 Toa Payoh. You can also head out toward Lor 8 Toa Payoh where there’s a Sheng Siong Supermarket just behind Block 225.

Across the road from that block is First Toa Payoh Primary School which is next to the hawker centre and Mellben Seafood. There’s another school – Beatty Secondary School – along Lor 6, thus keeping both schools with the 2km radius from Gem Residences.

The nearest MRT station – Braddell- is about 600m away or a 15 to 20 minute walk out in the open. Toa Payoh MRT station is even further. Both are on the red north-south line so it’s fairly convenient to get to places like Orchard, Dhoby Gaut and City Hall. Braddell station is also one stop away from Bishan interchange, which is on the circle line.

Toa Payoh HDB Hub which is integrated with its eponymous MRT station is one stop down from Braddell MRT station. Around and inside the Hub are even more eateries, retail outlets, wet market and the bus interchange though the delivery services and various others offered by Gem Residences makes venturing out to get food quite unnecessary at most times.

Toa Payoh Hub

Toa Payoh Hub

After all, as each unit comes with a resident’s compendium with a whole list of services including food options with prices (like a hotel), it’s far more convenient to order your food through the concierge whom will then receive and send up the delivered food, without you ever having to leave your home. There’s also grocery delivery either managed by the concierge or externally through websites like Redmart.

With several arterial roads bordering the development, travelling to and fro by vehicle is convenient provided there’s not much traffic. Still, the location is pretty good if uninteresting but this is a boon to Gem Residences as its being poised to be the most interesting thing coming to this part of Toa Payoh.

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Analysis

Toa Payoh typically commands high quantums but Gem Residences buckles this by offering some of the lowest priced units for new launches this year. While it can be argued that prices technically should be higher due to all the fantastic features and hotel/club-like services Gem is providing to its residents, the lower quantum is likely due to the project being in-between Braddell and Toa Payoh MRT station and slightly out of the comfortable walking distance of both. Furthermore, it is next to a temple and located at a crossroads with no shopping malls around.

Amenities are there however, but the lack of any modern trappings would have made it a harder sell if it was not being advertised with its mentioned list of features and services. For that alone, prices in Gem Residences are a steal since those attributes would have justified a significant price hike. Thus, Evia can be credited for pricing justly and attractively, especially in a sluggish market.

Source: URA, PropertyGuru

Source: URA, PropertyGuru

As a result, slightly over 300 units were transacted during its launch in May 2016. 252 of those units were transacted below $1M while 47 units fell between the $1M and $1.5M range. Of the two penthouses available, one has already been purchased at a surprisingly competitive quantum of $2.2M.

The transacted PSFs are as follows:

Source: URA, PropertyGuru

Source: URA, PropertyGuru

PSF value are categorically lower than expected which is a boon for all those that have purchased units so far. Gem Residences impressive array of features and services coupled with the lower prices are extremely attractive and interested buyers should not wait long to purchase a unit.

Rental

URA sets rental yield for Lorong 3 Toa Payoh at a steady 3.57%. Potential landlords are expected to accrue good rental yield at Gem Residences, aided by the lower quantums and the many quality of life services it offers.

Rental amount for a 1BR unit can go at a base of $2,200 per month. It is tempting to charge a little higher with regards to the services but landlords need to also consider that outside of the development, the location is average with MRT stations being more than a 10 minute walk away. While the district is one of the more notable ones with several schools in the vicinity, it is also an outlier where both Braddell and Toa Payoh are concerned.

However, with 578 units, be warned that supply may exceed demand. Gem Residences is surrounded by several HDB estates as well and rental there will be cheaper.

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Summary

The success of Gem Residences falls squarely upon all of its unique services. Without them, the condominium would have little to differentiate itself from its counterparts. The units are basic and some like the 3BR Premier aren’t particularly well-designed. The most popular of the lot so far are the 2BR units since they have a decent layout and is of adequate size for a family of three. Even the 1BR units are a much better buy as they’re not hindered by long hallways, large balconies and A/C ledges.

Gem Residences

Gem Residences

Gem Residences is not a bad buy, especially with what it is offering. In fact, it may be one of the few truly unique properties in Singapore. The myriad services it offers sound too good to be true which is astounding that they actually are real. Things like a pet pool and pet grooming stations are completely unheard of in any other property, making Gem Residences the de facto pet-friendly development. Unfortunately the units fail to live up to the high standards set by those features and though Gem Residences will be successful, it will be due to the prices and the features rather than its living spaces.

Units are liveable, make no mistake, but they’re painfully average when compared to the impressive list of things Evia is attempting to do with the entire property.

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Eric Wong

Christopher Chitty

"I read, I write, I lift. I am content"