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Housekeeping and laundry services. In-room massages. Event planning. Such concierge services were once exclusive to guests of hotels, serviced apartments and residents in a smattering of high-end condominiums located in prime districts such as Orchard and Sentosa Cove, but of late, they have been increasingly moving into mid-range condominiums in Singapore, with several developers beginning to offer such personalised services as part of their home sale.

Housekeeping and laundry services. In-room massages. Event planning. Such concierge services were once exclusive to guests of hotels, serviced apartments and residents in a smattering of high-end condominiums located in prime districts such as Orchard and Sentosa Cove, but of late, they have been increasingly moving into mid-range condominiums in Singapore, with several developers beginning to offer such personalised services as part of their home sale.

Gem Residences, which launched on May 28 and is located in Toa Payoh, is one of them. Developers of the property have partnered lifestyle concierge firm Ten Group and Djenee, a Swedish start-up that launched in Singapore last July, to offer an extensive range of services for its residents.

Concierge staff are available on-demand, whether residents need to satisfy a food craving at 2am or book tickets to a Liverpool versus Manchester United match.

Residents have three options to reach concierge staff: By making requests through an on-site concierge counter staffed and trained by Djenee, a dedicated application for residents, or the condominium’s 24-hour concierge hotline.

Par Helgosson, CEO and co-founder of Djenee said it will “do anything legal and physically possible”, and that charges for certain services rendered, such as laundry and housekeeping, were likely to be lower for Gem residents, as requests tend to be aggregated.

Some services offered to Gem residents are also customised specifically for them, as Djenee works with partner merchants within the Toa Payoh neighbourhood.

The condominium’s developers are also collaborating with Tetsuya Home Care to provide free weekly medical consultation on-site. Residents can also enjoy free use of the condominium’s bicycles and rent cars stationed within the property.

Vincent Ong, a managing partner of Evia Real Estate, a co-developer of Gem Residences, said concierge services are important for his time-pressed buyers, adding that a concierge can also help with many things that one normally has to do on a day-to-day basis.

The difference between the Gem concierge and those found in other condominiums, he said, is how cost and service are balanced. “I don’t think this will continue if residents have to pay a lot, but it can be sustained if it’s useful, affordable and serves a real need without embellishment,” he explained.

Currently, Gem’s concierge services are not built into the maintenance fees (which, based on market rates today, can range from S$300 to S$360 for a one- to three-bedroom condo). Gem residents will have to pay a service charge if they use Djenee’s services, but they will enjoy a “preferential rate”, shared Ong, who added that the rate is still currently being decided on.

Djenee’s service charge typically ranges from zero to five per cent for simple requests such as food delivery, or 10 to 15 per cent of the cost for complicated requests, such as if they are required to help them source for a rare bottle of wine. Residents need to pay the cost of the product or service, as well as delivery fees.

Like residents at Gem, residents at OUE Twin Peaks only pay charges incurred for purchasing a product or service when they use the concierge service, besides forking out maintenance fees which range from S$265 to S$424. An OUE spokesperson said transport bookings, temporary deposit of items and housekeeping services (provided by Mandarin Orchard Singapore) are the most common requests the condominium receives.

Other condominiums with concierges that are set to obtain the TOP in the next two years include Cairnhill Nine opposite Paragon and North Park Residences in Yishun.

Still, property insiders say that in the long term, most condominiums which offer such services would typically include expenses into their monthly conservancy fee, and this might deter some buyers.

Concierge services seem to appeal more to investors who are looking to rent out their units rather than those who are buying for their own use, said Jimmie Long, an assistant associate division director at PropNex.

Emily Eng, director, project marketing division at OrangeTee, shares his view. She said that concierge services may make a condominium more desirable to investors, but buyers who are purchasing it for their own use or who already have hired help “may balk at having to pay higher maintenance”.

Tay Kah Poh,executive director and head of residential services at Knight Frank Singapore said offering concierge services may sway buyers on the fence but is unlikely to drive sales in a big way as buyers place a higher emphasis on fundamentals such as quality, location, amenities and the underlying market conditions. Both Eng and Tay point to the inevitable costs homeowners will bear in the long term for the conveniences a concierge affords.

Both property insiders also say the provision of concierge services does not significantly increase the value of a condominium, although it is helpful in marketing it. Besides costs, Eng said developers also need to consider space, demand and other operational details. As to whether he sees the provision of concierge services becoming a regional or global trend, Tay said it is more common in the region where labour costs are lower. Although “it may not become a standard provision here in Singapore, given the tight labour market”, he added.

Potential condominium buyers are divided on the relevance of having concierge services. Many of them shared that it is not a factor that would affect their purchase decision, citing things such as location, price and facilities as more important considerations.

Tham HS, 48, who is considering an upgrade from his current condominium, also in Toa Payoh, was concerned that having such services would increase property prices. He said he does not feel concierge services are necessary if a condominium is located in an area where goods and services are readily accessible, but he may use them if they are free.

However, a condo-resident who wanted to be known only as Mdm Tan, 33, thinks it is good to provide concierge services if they are not too expensive. She and her 36-year-old husband currently pay a S$210-per-month maintenance fee for their two-bedroom condominium in Clementi, and she said they are willing to pay about S$100 more monthly for such services.

When asked if he foresees concierge services becoming the norm among local condominiums, Evia Real Estate’s Ong said: “The best way to predict the future is to create it. And I want to create something that, over time, everybody will follow.”

He believes Gem Residences has raised the bar for the provision of such services and added that the company has plans to replicate the “club condo” concept in its future developments.

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