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Dual Key Condo: Is it worth purchasing?

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The dual key condo is picking up momentum among property investors in Malaysia, especially in the Klang Valley. Take a look at what the dual key concept is all about, its pros and cons and our list of top dual key units available in Malaysia.

dual-key-unit
Wesley Tan | iProperty.com.my

The dual key concept is getting more popular by the day in Malaysia, as it allows property investors to receive double the rent from just one property. It is also a good option for multi-generational families living together and allows for flexible living arrangements with more privacy.

In other countries, a similar housing concept has been adopted for some time now where a full-fledged and separate accommodation is built inside the upper area of a residential building. Alternatively, another unit is added to an existing residential structure. The concept goes by a few monikers such as the mother-in-law apartment, granny flat and in-law suite.

To date, the dual key condo has become the modern version of the mother-in-law apartment. This article explains the meaning of a dual key condo, its benefits and potential downsides, and who should consider owning one.

What is a dual key condo?

A dual key condo is a condominium that has been divided into two units, but with a common main entrance or foyer. Each of these areas contains everything that makes up a single house unit such as a bedroom bathroom, bathroom and even a kitchenette. As its name implies, each unit within the condo has its own keyed entrance.

Typically, there are two types of dual key condos being built in Malaysia:

  • A studio “unit” is built into the main apartment, which may have one bedroom or more. The main apartment will have your usual living area, kitchen and yard area/balcony. The studio unit will have its own entrance and will be self-contained – most developers will include a kitchenette to enhance its livability. This is the more common dual key condo being offered, an example layout is shown below:
dual key concept malaysia
© iProperty.com.my
  • The condo is divided into two units, which may not necessarily be the same size. These 2 units will resemble studio apartments, where the living, bedroom and kitchen areas are laid out next to each other in an open plan concept. The 2 “studios” may have a shared foyer through which there are two lockable entrances or they may be a separate access point to each unit. Nonetheless, both tenants would be given the keys to their respective units.

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The benefits of a dual key condo

1. Privacy

Residing in a dual key condo is a good arrangement for multi-generational living. Both parties will get privacy because the living areas are separated. If you are living with your parents or in-laws, you no longer have to worry about not having your private sanctuary. Similarly, young working adults who still live with their parents can have their own living space and be comforted by the fact that they can just pop over to mom and dad’s unit next door to have a homecooked meal or get laundry done. Having a separate unit within your own home is also great if you have a live-in housemaid or if you frequently have guests over.

2. Double income investment

A dual key condo is a profitable concept that appeals to investors who wish to invest in residential real estate due to the ability to generate rental income from two tenants from just one unit. Some landlords could already be doing this by renovating their homes into separate units, as common with student accommodations. Purchasing a dual key condo means that you will have a unit that is pre-divided and you will not have to deal with the renovations.

3. Additional income from rental

Owners of a dual key condo can benefit financially by living in one unit and renting the other to help pay the monthly housing loan repayments on the property. Property owners who have considered being landlords but have been put off by the idea of problematic tenants could benefit from the dual key concept. Rent collection and tenant monitoring will be a breeze as the tenant lives just next door! Property maintenance will be easier to manage too as the landlord/owner can quickly address the tenant’s requests such as minor repairs, air conditioning servicing and so on.

It is also ideal for those who want to rent out a room in a home that they are living in but are concerned about their privacy.

4. Paying tax on only one property

A dual key condo is a two-resident unit that can be rented separately although the property falls under one title. Therefore, the owner is only required to pay quit rent, parcel rent, and assessment rates for one real estate.

5. Short-term rentals

It is quite common for homeowners to rent out a room within their unit for short-term rental such as AirBnB. You can conveniently do this with a dual key condo without having to worry about sharing your living space with random strangers.

6. Flexible arrangement for living, working and playing

work from home-dual-key
© deagreez | Getty Images

The pandemic has brought changes to many life arrangements, including work. Work from home is the new normal, and with a dual key condo, you get to transform one unit into a working or office space while retaining the other as living quarters. If you need to have colleagues over to work on a project, or if you own a small business and need to have discussions with your team, you can keep your living space private with a separate work area. Married couples can also turn the extra unit within a dual key condo into a hobby or gaming room to have that much needed alone time.

Downsides of a dual key condo

1. Difficult to resell

Dual key condos would usually only interest a targeted segment of buyers, mostly real estate investors. This means it could be much more difficult to sell a dual key condo in the future. These units are typically bigger than normal condo units and those who are buying for their own use might shy away from dual key units.

2. Higher purchasing price

Buyers might have to pay a higher price since the dual key concept is relatively new and is centred around the two-in-one concept. Buyers who are planning to rent out and not stay in their units should thoroughly analyse the property’s long term viability before purchasing. Those who are planning to stay in their units should also consider if they really need the separate unit.

3. Challenging to rent out

Though dual key condos is a fascinating concept, there is little data to prove they are in high demand. In general, single working professionals who prioritise privacy tend to rent studio units. Purchasing in the right location will be key – a dual key unit could prove attractive to university students or young professionals who will like to stay within a more luxurious condominium complex without blowing their budget. Access to public transportation could also be a priority for such renters.

4. Limited car park space

Dual key condos are sold as one unit, so the number of car park space allocated to each unit might be limited. This would become a problem when you decide to rent out your condo and your renters in each unit want a parking space.

5. Have to be sold as one real estate

You may enjoy the benefit of having two tenants. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said when it comes to disposing of the property. With only one owner, the unit cannot be sold separately.

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Who should own a dual key condo?

Anyone may own a dual key condo, but the following group would stand to benefit the most from it.

1. Real estate investors

Beginner property investors can opt for a dual key condo to leverage the potential of securing double the rental income. Investors can target students and young professionals as tenants or turn to short term accommodation. The extra unit could be easily rented out on Airbnb and Booking.com, especially if the property is located nearby tourist attractions or public transport nodes such as the MRT and LRT.

One thing that investors will have to consider is the utility bill payments –  how should the water, electricity and wifi usage be split between the property residents?

CHECK OUT: Are short term rentals like Airbnb legal in Malaysia?

2. Multi-generational families

Do you want to care for your ageing parents or have your grown children living with you, but are unwilling to compromise on your privacy? Then a dual key condo could be your answer. Dual key condos provide private spaces for its occupants without them having to live apart from beloved family members.

3. Young, first-time house buyers

should-you-buy-dual-key-condo
© Natdanai Pankong | 123rf

Young buyers, especially couples who have had an eye on property investment would benefit from the dual key concept – they could occupy the main unit and rent out the smaller unit to generate additional income. The beauty of this investment is that buyers will not have to fork out additional property purchasing costs such as stamp duty and legal fees, for their “second” property.

Moreover, should the owner decide to settle down and start a family, they can stop renting and expand the living area to accommodate a growing family.

4. Entrepreneurs and freelancers

Half of the condo can be used as an office and the other half for living. This can be a major cost-saving move for small business owners especially those who are just starting out, as it means they do not have to rent an office space or waste precious time on a daily commute. However, do check if the property allows for commercial usage, especially if you are expecting customers or clients to visit your home office.

List of dual key condos in Malaysia

dual-key-concept-condo
© gabros20/ 123RF

Interested in owning a dual key condo in key strategic areas? You are in luck as we have compiled a list for you to browse through:

1. Taragon Puteri Bintang,Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

Taragon Puteri Bintang is a freehold serviced residence located in the city centre. Established in 2009, the building houses 27 floors and 153 strata units. Taragon Puteri Bintang currently has about 14 dual key units listed to be sold and 24 for rent.

The facilities at Taragon Puteri Bintang include a swimming pool, playground, gymnasium, sauna and wading pool for children. The median transacted price is RM452 per sq ft, and capital growth is about -22.24%. Meanwhile, the estimated rental yield is at 3.6%.

2. The Pearl KLCC, Kuala Lumpur

The Pearl KLCC is a freehold residential condominium in the prime Kuala Lumpur area comprising 41 floors and 177 units. Built-up sizes for its dual key units range between 3,005 to 20,400 sq ft.

The Pearl KLCC comes with facilities such as a parking lot, swimming pool, tennis court, cafeteria, clubhouse, jogging track, salon, barbecue area, 24 hours security, sauna, wading pool for children, business centre, gymnasium and a mini-market.

The median transacted price is RM657 per sq ft. The capital growth of the Pearl KLCC hovers around -10.9% and it has an estimated rental yield of 3.8%.

3. Setia SKY Residences, KLCC, Kuala Lumpur

Setia SKY Residences is a freehold serviced residence built in 2011. It has 40 floors with 811 units, where the built-up sizes are between 635 to 1,755 sq ft. Among the facilities at Setia SKY Residences are a jacuzzi, playground, barbecue area, swimming pool, 24 hours security, mini market and wading pool for children.

The median transacted price of this property tops RM1,068 per sq ft. The capital growth and rental yield figures are aThe median transacted price of this property tops RM834 per sq ft. The capital growth and rental yield figures are at -9.45% and 3.3%, respectively.

4. Greenfield Residence, Bandar Sunway, Selangor

Greenfield Residence is a leasehold serviced residence in Bandar Sunway, Selangor. It is surrounded by various public transportation such as Sunway-Setia Jaya (BRT), Mentari (BRT), Setia Jaya (KTM), Lagoon (BRT) and Seri Setia (KTM).

5. 6 Capsquare, City Centre, Kuala Lumpur

6 Capsquare is a freehold condominium in City Centre, Kuala Lumpur. It was built in 2013 and consists of 27 floors and 176 units. The built-up size is in the range of 1,119 to 4,338 sq ft. The facilities at 6 Capsquare include a gymnasium, sauna, swimming pool, jacuzzi and squash court.

The median transacted price is The median transacted price is at RM553 per sq ft, while capital growth is at -23.16%.

6. Expressionz Professional Suites, KL City, Kuala Lumpur

Expressionz Professional Suites is a leasehold serviced residence in KL City, Kuala Lumpur. It was recently built in 2018. It is close to public transportation stations, namely the Kampung Baru North MRT, Hospital Kuala Lumpur MRT, Kampung Baru LRT, Ampang Park MRT and KLCC LRT.

7. Sunway Serene, Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Sunway Serene is a freehold serviced residence located in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. The building is strategically located with various public transportation nodes nearby, namely Setia Jaya KTM, Sunway-Setia Jaya BRT, Mentari BRT, Seri Setia KTM and Glenmarie LRT.

8. Altris Residences @ The Quartz WM, Wangsa Maju, Kuala Lumpur (under construction)

Altris Residences @ The Quartz WM is a freehold serviced residence in Wangsa Maju, Kuala Lumpur. It is located near the Sri Rampai LRT, Setiawangsa LRT, Wangsa Maju LRT, Jelatek LRT and Dato’ Keramat LRT stations.

9. Trion 2, KL City

Trion 2 is a freehold serviced residence in the heart of KL City, Kuala Lumpur. Scheduled for completion later this year, the residence offers 600 units ranging in size between 660 to 922 sq ft. It is located close to the Chan Sow Lin LRT, Chan Sow Lin MRT, Miharja LRT, Pudu LRT and Bandar Malaysia North MRT stations.

10. Agile Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur

Agile is a high-end condominium that was completed in 2019. It carries a few layouts including dual key units – called Elite units. These units which are sized at 2,131 sq ft are housed within 2 blocks where there are only 2 units per floor. The facilities at Agile Mont Kiara are located at the Sky Club on the 29th floor, with over 35 facilities.

11. Sfera Residency, Seri Kembangan, Selangor

Sfera Residency is a leasehold condominium located in Seri Kembangan, Selangor. Its median transacted price is RM515 per sq ft, while its capital growth and rental yield figures are at -15.45% and 3.3%.

12. Vista Alam, Shah Alam, Selangor

Built in 2010, this leasehold serviced residence comprises 512 units. The transacted median price is RM560 per sq ft. The capital growth of Vista Alam is 12.98%.

13. Windmill upon Hills, Bentong, Pahang

Windmill Upon Hills is a freehold serviced residence in Bentong – as it boasts scenic highland views, it is being marketed as a holiday home and Airbnb property. The median transacted price is RM877 per sq ft.

14. The Majestic, Ipoh, Perak

The Majestic is a freehold condominium in Ipoh, Perak. The facilities that can be found at The Majestic include a clubhouse, jogging track, mini market, salon, wading pool for children, 24 hours security, playground, barbecue, swimming pool and gymnasium.

The median transacted price is RM4432 per sq ft, capital growth is 10.87% and the rental yield is 5.6%.

15. Imperio Residence, Melaka City, Melaka

Imperio Residence is a leasehold condominium and is close to medical centres, clinics and hospitals such as Oriental Melaka Straits Medical Centre, Damai Medical And Heart Clinic Sdn Bhd, Klinik Desa Semabok, Klinik Desa Bukit Piatu and Hospital Melaka.

16. SummerSkye Residences, Bayan Lepas, Penang

SummerSkye Residences is a freehold condominium in Bayan Lepas, Penang. It is located near the Penang International Airport.

17. Olive Tree Residences, Bayan Baru, Penang

Olive Tree Residences is a freehold condominium that was built in 1993. It has 11 floors and 198 units with built-up sizes ranging from 950 to 1,060 sq ft.

The facilities that are available at Olive Tree Residences include a parking lot, and 24 hours security. The median transacted price is RM462 per sq ft. The Olive Tree Residences’ capital growth is -10.53%.

18. Orchard Ville, Bayan Lepas, Penang

Orchard Ville is a freehold condominium in Bayan Lepas, Penang. It was built in 2016 with built-up sizes ranging from 1,080 to 1,623 sq ft. The facilities available at Orchard Ville are squash court, swimming pool and gymnasium. The median transacted price is RM509 sq ft. Orchard Ville’s capital growth is 10.67%

19. Sky Trees, Iskandar Puteri, Johor (under construction)

Sky Trees is a freehold serviced residence in Iskandar Puteri (Nusajaya), Johor. It is located close to medical facilities such as Pusat Pakar Sakit Puan Dan Perbidanan Khor & Loh, Columbia Asia Hospital Iskandar Puteri and Klinik Kesihatan Taman Ungku Tun Aminah

20. R&F Princess Cove, Johor Bahru, Johor

R&F Princess Cove is a freehold serviced residence in Johor Bahru, Johor located near Landmark Medical Centre, Klinik Kesihatan Mahmoodiah, Century Specialist Maternity, Hospital Sultanah Aminah, Johor Bahru and Pelangi Medical Centre.

21. Green Haven, Masai, Johor

Green Haven is a freehold serviced residence in Masai, Johor. Completed in 2017, this development houses 1,134 units with built-up sizes ranging from 710 to 1,496 sq ft. The facilities provided at the Green Haven include a jacuzzi, mini market, playground, cafeteria, gymnasium, wading pool for children, jogging track, parking lot, 24 hours security, barbecue and swimming pool.

The median transacted price is RM423 per sq ft. The capital growth of Green Haven is -6.26% and the rental yield is 1.7%.

22. Rex, Kuching, Sarawak

Rex is a leasehold apartment in Kuching, Sarawak. The median transacted price is RM500 per sq ft while the capital growth figure is at -3.3% and rental yield top 4.7%.

If you have been considering buying or investing in a dual key condo, it is imperative to research the local property market and unearth any potential advantages and risks involved.

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