Apartment builders limit size options, expand floor plans
There were three floor plans to choose from and a 39-year-old homemaker, who wanted to be identified only as Ms. Kim, was having a hard time deciding between designs A and C.
The uniqueness of plan A that appealed to Kim was that it was a “room within a room,” where a temporary wall is used to create a separate study space in the second bedroom. On the other hand, Kim was also attracted to plan C, where a spacious kitchen looked into the living room.
“I didn’t have a problem deciding the size of the apartment for our family of three,” said Kim. “But I have trouble trying to decide what type of floor plan I want as the details are so different.
“I’m attracted to type C with the spacious kitchen when I think of me, but I probably would have to choose plan A considering my child, who is in middle school.”
Floor plans of today’s apartments are becoming more diverse and detail oriented in response to evolving tastes of consumers. At the same time, there are fewer - and smaller - size options.
In the past, to appeal to the largest group of potential buyers, developers typically offered several sizes. Today, some apartment developments have more than 1,000 units that are all the same size.
Market experts say there are fewer sizes in apartment complexes because demand for apartments 85 square meters or less has increased.
“From a supplier point of view, a way to reduce risk is selecting a certain apartment size that a majority of consumers prefer and focusing on it rather than presenting different choices,” says Chung Yeon-shik, an executive at iNEX Housing, a company specializing in apartment presales.
There are advantages for residents as the community becomes more interactive because the financial situations of people living in apartments of the same size tend to be similar.
“Because people of the same economic level are living together, there will likely be less confrontation in managing the apartments,” says Hong Seok-min, head of Woori Bank’s real estate research center.
Companies selling one-size-only apartments try to differentiate themselves in other ways, such as offering different room arrangements.
At Daelim’s E-Pyeonhan Sesang Gangan Beach in Suyeong District, Busan, 396 84-square-meter apartments are available. However, the development has four floor plans. Among the designs, there are 41 bids for each type C unit and 45 for each type D.
Type C is popular as it has no balconies connected to the living room or adjacent room, providing a better outside view. Type D is popular because it is C-shaped and has a wide kitchen. Types A and B flats have drawn 15 bids per unit.
Honorsville in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi, started its presale in March with 84?square-meter apartments in three floor plans. Type A is the most popular with six bidders per unit, with the other two plans seeing two bidders per unit.
“Consumers can choose more products that meet their tastes than in the past, as we are able to tailor details to the quality of the region and preferences of the majority of consumers,” says Hong Dong-gun, head of the presales department at Posco E&C.
“We are able to pay more attention to the tiniest of details, such as storage spaces, as the overall blueprint has become simplified by unifying the apartment size rather than having different sizes of apartments,” says Kim Han-soo, head of the design team at SK E&C.
Apartments of less than 60 square meters that have seen soaring demand in recent years no longer look like matchboxes.
Small apartments have become more elaborate with the adoption of specialized designs that previously were available only in midsize to large properties, such as penthouses or terrace apartments.
Such design changes are the result of growing demand for small apartments that started with the global financial crisis in late 2008. Homebuyers started to look for smaller apartments because they were more affordable, and the size of households has been shrinking.
According to real estate information provider Budongsan 114, in the first five months of this year, 42.6 percent, or two out of five households, have listed a small apartment as their first choice in presale orders.
Easyum has 371 apartments that are 59 square meters in Jeonju, North Jeolla, and two penthouse units on the 23rd and 24th floors. The penthouse apartments each has a 67-square-meter terrace with an expansive view.
“We made this for customers who want their own outdoor space even though the apartment is small,” says Park Jong-wan, Kyesung E&C CEO.
Among the 1,074 59-square-meter units in the Raemian Hillstate redevelopment in Godeok, southeastern Seoul, that have gone into presale since April, 24 have terraces.
Although terrace apartments are more expensive, they are popular. The penthouses of Easyum are 50 million won ($49,500) more than the other apartments and have five bidders for each unit, the most popular among the five types offered. The terrace apartments in Godeok have all been taken by members of the redevelopment committee.
Usually, small apartments were designed to have three rooms, but today some come as a single room. Among the 688 units of a maximum 47-story complex with retail space on the lower floors to be constructed along the north bank of the Han River in Seongsu-dong, Seoul, 150 will have areas of less than 60 square meters. The apartment Trimaje that is being presold by Doosan Heavy Industries didn’t separate the rooms with a family living room. The company said it is targeting single professionals such as doctors, lawyers and businessmen who enjoy a spacious apartment.
Some small apartments, including Trimaje and Gangdong Palace in Cheonho, southeastern Seoul, also offer amenities on par with high-end hotels such as breakfast, laundry service and hotel booking.
“As the number of small apartments increases, demand for the types of designs that consumers want is becoming more diverse,” says Park Won-gap, senior researcher on real estate at KB Kookmin Bank. “The distinctively unique diversity of small apartments will likely increase.”
BY AHN JANG-WON, CHOI HYUN-JOO [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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