3 Reasonably Priced Waterfront Condos In North Singapore (D28 Seletar/Yio Chu Kang)
- October 31, 2021
- 7 min read
In my first article on affordable waterfront condos and cluster houses in Singapore (which looked at condos around Jurong Lake and West Coast), a kind reader left a comment asking me to do the same for North and East Singapore (always good to know you guys are reading these articles, so keep the comments coming!). So today, I’ll be going up North to look further at waterfront condos in District 28.
H2O Residences (521 units, 99-years leasehold starting from 2010, TOP 2015, asking PSF of $958 – $1,347 at the time of writing)
When I first started researching H2O Residences, it seemed to have a lot going for it. Firstly, is its proximity to nature and waterfront location. The side gate directly connects you to the lush greenery and peaceful waters of Punggol Reservoir, which are literally right at your doorstep. (To see exactly how close you are to nature, check out this video from 0:27 seconds onwards.) You will never have an excuse not to exercise in the future, being so close to fresh air and beautiful scenery!
Moreover, despite its lovely surroundings, H2O Residences doesn’t suffer from the typical complaint such developments usually have (i.e. being in the middle of nowhere, with few amenities nearby, and inaccessible by public transport.) Quite on the contrary, you have an LRT station right next door (linked by a fully covered walkway). Seletar Mall is also a mere 6 minutes walk away (with a strong retail offering comprising, amongst other shops and restaurants, Fair Price, RedMart, Starbucks, Din Tai Fung, Shaw Theatres, etc) and Jalan Kayu, often billed as the next Holland Village, a 15 minutes walk (or 2 LRT stops).
Some other + points for this development include:
- Developed by renown developers CDL (however do note that at least 2 reviews on PropertyGuru mentioned that the developers ran into some issues before they could finish construction – I have not verified these claims but they may be something you want to look into before committing to a purchase here)
- Squarish living and dining space
- Nice landscaping around the development, with lots of water and greenery, to make it blend in well with its environment
- 3 LRT stops from SengKang MRT
- More than half of this area comprises HDB apartments (about 70%), so you don’t have as much condo competition if you want to sell in future
- Upcoming wet market and hawker centre at the nearby Fernvale community hub
I was almost ready to put the development on my shortlist. However, when I started doing more in-depth research, (as I am known to do) a couple of unsettling points came up.
First were several negative reviews on Google Reviews – overall, H2O Residences has a 4.2 review on Google which seems pretty good. Unfortunately, at least 2 of the negative reviews took issue with the management of the condo, which is something I pay a lot of attention to. From my experience, a badly managed condo can make living somewhere a real pain.
For example, 1 of the negative reviews stated that only 15 visitor passes a day are issued for the entire development and even NTUC or RedMan delivery trucks would be rejected?! Again, note that I haven’t checked out this claim personally but it is something that would definitely put me off living here as I’ve pretty much been getting all my groceries delivered since we started living in a Covid-19 world. (Even if you don’t buy groceries online, you probably do some form of online shopping (Amazon, Ikea, Lazada, etc) and such a condo arrangement could make life very inconvenient!)
The negative reviews are reinforced by the property’s 1.6 star rating on Property Guru which might quite possibly be the lowest rating I’ve seen so far. As always though, you’d always have to take online unverified reviews with a pinch of salt. But to sum it up for you, more than 1 person complained about the following points:
- Noise and insects from Punggol reservoir (so much for tranquil blue waters!)
- Crime along the reservoir (the riverside park has a 4.4 rating on Google though, with over 1600 reviews, so not sure if those 2 comments were 1-offs)
- Lousy interior finishings
- Hot units due to the direct West Sun (note this doesn’t apply to all the units in the development though – as the site plan below shows, only a small proportion of the units will have the direct East (morning) or West (afternoon) sun)
- Neighbour issues (this could be related to the fact that, at the time of writing, 75% of the rental listings were for rooms, and not entire units)
Points to note (could be good/ bad depending on your perspective):
- H2O residences has a reserve site right next to it so if your unit overlooks it, you get lovely unblocked views for now but potentially lots of noise and dust once it gets developed.
- Several unit facings: unblocked river views (only for 4-bedders), internal pool facing, HDB facing, reserve site facing and road facing
Given all the less than positive reviews I’ve seen (H2O Residences has the most negative online reviews amongst these 3 developments), perhaps it would make more sense to look at H2O Residences’ neighbouring developments, such as Rivertree and Riverbank instead?
Rivertrees Residences (TOP 2017 with a lease running from 2013, 495 units, $1240 – $1,394 asking PSF at the time of writing)
I was debating whether to include Rivertrees Residences in this article as its entry asking PSF is significantly higher (around 20%) than the other 2 developments. However, since all 3 condos are side-by-side along the waterfront, the article seemed incomplete without mentioning Rivertrees, so I decided to take a quick look at it anyway.
Note that while it is important to look at the last transacted PSF instead of asking PSF, I focus on asking PSF in my articles as we’re currently in a seller’s market and there isn’t much bargaining room.
- Rivertrees Residences (and Riverbank at Fernvale) has several good points that overlap with H2O Residences, which I won’t be repeating here (or below)
- Jointly developed by Frasers Centrepoint, Sekisui and Far East
- 3 minutes walk to Layar LRT
- Has strata landed cove homes within its development – despite being landed, the 2-storey houses are not huge (around 1,500 sq ft) but have the advantage of having full views of the river and a parking lot right outside (click here to see an example of such a unit) In addition, they’re separated from the tall blocks by the facilities so you don’t get a towering behemoth right outside your window that blocks out all the light. Moreover, very interestingly, these strata landed houses seem to have upside-down living where the bedrooms are on the ground floor and the living/dining/kitchen above (presumably to maximise the water views?)
- 92% of the units have water views (note not all are 100% unblocked- refer to the site plan below for more details)
- Has dual key units which work for multi-generational homes or if you want to rent part of your home out
- For Queen’s Gambit fans, there is a life-sized chess set on the grounds
Riverbank at Fernvale ($1,087 – $1,668 asking PSF at the time of writing, TOP 2017 (with its 99-year lease starting from 2013), 555 units)
Next to Rivertrees Residences is Riverbank at Fernvale, my favourite of these 3 condos.
Riverbank’s plus points:
- Developed by a reputable developer, UOL Development
- Convenient neighbourhood (10 minutes walk to Seletar Mall and 14 to Jalan Kayu)
- Lovely landscaping and some less run-of-the-mill facilities such as a roof terrace
- There are 5 bedroom units, which are not that common these days (however, note that the 5 bedders aren’t huge- only about 1400 sq ft)
- No duplex penthouse units in this development but the top floor units get a bonus free loft space (4.5m high ceiling) which is not counted in the square footage! Big plus in my book
- Side gate to park connector which leads you to Punggol Waterway Point (it’s the only development in this location with 2 side gates actually)
- Within 1 km to at least 5 primary schools
- Very generous windows through the units, so you get ample light and ventilation, even in the kitchen and foyer
- North-South facing units (so no direct morning/ afternoon sun)
On the minus side:
- 7 minutes walk to Layar LRT: I wouldn’t say 7 minutes is very far, but bear in mind you still need to ride the LRT 3 stops to get to Sengkang MRT, which can be a bit of a hassle (Note that there is a bus stop by 1 of the side gates where you can catch a bus that takes you directly to Sengkang MRT.)
- According to Google reviews, Riverbank at Fernvale has the same insect problem that H2O Residences has (probably something that affects all the properties along the reservoir here)
- Other than the above, I couldn’t find any negative points on PropertyGuru and Google Reviews (by people who had actually lived in Riverbank that is. Some people had somehow managed to leave negative reviews before Riverbank had even TOP-ed!)
Fun fact: at the time of writing, there were 0 units for rent! (This could potentially suggest that buyers here purchase for their own stay rather than as investment units/ to-let, and owner-occupied developments tend to have more holding power when the economy goes south.)
I hope you’ve found the overview of these 3 affordable Fernvale condos useful in your hunt for a waterfront home. See you again next week when I’ll look at waterfront developments in another part of Singapore!