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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dishonest Show Flats

Many showflats have mushroomed in our neighbourhood. When we take our long walks on weekends, The Husband and I drop in on the new ones (as part of our walk). It has been more than 10 years since the last housing boom, and it struck me that showflats these days border on dishonest advertising, and when developers build such show flats, they are implying promises that they cannot keep.

It doesn't matter whether the property is a 3500 sq ft townhouse, 1500 sq ft penthouse or 650 sq ft shoebox, the showflats don't have walls where walls should be. Gauze curtains are used to represent walls. Wooden decking is used where empty air would be in the real flat, and the boundary between air space and flat space is denoted by gauze curtains. Worse still, they actually put FURNITURE on the wooden decks where air should be. The whole set-up is attractive because light and air flow freely from one space to another. If you settle in a bit and visualize what the apartment would really look like if air is air and wall is wall, you're in for a nasty shock. This kind of dishonesty really irritates me as much as it intrigues Open Kitchen Concept here. It doesn't help that the agents walking us around smiled widely and assured us that others have bought these flats because they were more SPACIOUS than the ones down the road.

When I compared the floor area, both developments had flats of the same size. I don't get it... how can you sell a flat for its spaciousness when it clearly is not spacious? It's like trying to sell lemons by saying they're sweet.

There is also the trick of reducing practical space (kitchen and utility) so that show spaces (living and dining) look bigger and better. Let me tell you what the reality of life in such apartments will be. You will have to dry your clothes in the living room, and prepare food in your dining room. Clutter will accumulate on the floor and in the corners. Your real flat will look NOTHING like the showflat because one doesn't have space for the ugly details of real living - like underwear and garlic presses.

I was mildly interested in a townhouse with rooftop terrace and basement. It was supposed to have 3300 sq ft of built-in area. I asked for the floor area minus rooftop terrace and basement. The sales man told me that such numbers weren't available. When I snorted contemptuously and pressed for the numbers, it turned out that the true liveable space in that townhouse was all of 1500sq ft ONLY. The liveable space in my old HDB flat was 2000 sq ft.

Lies. All lies. They give out thick brochures featuring idyllic families doing lifestyle things with not a piece of panty in sight. I looked puzzled at one such brochure and asked, "Are you selling a house? Or a lifestyle?" The fellow said "Both". The problem though is that when you actually get the house, you won't get the same lifestyle as what the glossy pictures promise. Why? Because to get such a lifestyle, you need enough space to store your unmentionables.

Some people buy the property for rental. I have my doubts even there. Shoebox flats will be a dime a dozen soon enough. The discerning tenant would rather go for an older and larger flat instead.


Anonymous said...

Great post Petunia...of course the bottom line is sell the product no matter what has to be said or done to do so. When people don't question like you do then they're taken in and disappointed down the road when they realize they've spent their money on a lie!

Open Kitchen Concept said...

Ah.. The part that they assure you the flat will be more spacious than the bigger one down the road is true! They always do that! :)

petunialee said...

Theanne - You're so right!!

petunialee said...

OKC - Aaaaah! So that happened to you too!!

Malar said...

You and OKC having the same post! I agree with both of you!
We need to buy a house which is practical to our real life!

petunialee said...

Malar - Yeah... after reading OKC's post, I was inspired to write this one.

Wen-ai said...

Agree but people are buying these mickey mouse apartments with their eyes open (but sadly, brains closed). Too bad for these people then.

petunialee said...

Wen-Ai: An HDB flat is a WHOLE lot more comfy and costs less per sq ft. Those who want these to stay in, may not be able to get HDB nor afford anything bigger. BUT, those who buy for investment are in for a but of a shock I think. I'm not sure but I dun have a good feeling about these shoebox flats. Maybe it is just me.