Does size matter? Property experts call for more ‘shoebox’ homes

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Does size matter? Property experts call for more ‘shoebox’ homes

Property experts are urging designers and architects to consider building more small homes in the world's most expensive and over subscribed cities, in an attempt to deal with the huge demand for affordable housing.

Savills is among the companies who are calling for a revaluation of much maligned 'shoebox' homes, arguing that properties as small as 250 square feet can meet the demands of young professionals needing affordable accommodation in city centres if they are designed and built appropriately.

“New world cities have experimented successfully with high specification shoebox units, finding strong demand amongst young workers wishing to live and work in central locations. The Old World now has to make up its mind about the pay off between size, affordability and centrality in its cities, given green-belt issues and limits to city growth,” said Yolande Barnes, director of Savills World Research.

Barnes argues that Asian cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan have not been squeamish about small unit living. In Hong Kong, quality and location usually take precedence over size, allowing the shoebox to be repackaged as 'boutique luxury residences', often located in prime hotspots on Hong Kong Island, achieving premium prices as high as HK$20,000 per square foot. These units have also been positive for investors, betting a 3 per cent rental return, above the market average.

“The shoebox is a solution that should not be ignored. This need not be a shameful initiative as a shoebox can accommodate bespoke designer shoes and we should stop being so prescriptive as different sizes fit different people,” adds Barnes.


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