Fact and Myth about Apartment Square Footage

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Creative Commons License photo credit: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³

In most case, rent of shopping centers and office buildings is established on a dollar per square foot per month basis. A 500-square-foot office renting for $7.00 per square foot per month will bring $7.00 x 500 or $3,500 monthly income.

How important is the square footage of a rental apartment? Most rents are based on ‘x’ number of bedrooms per unit. An apartment that has two bedrooms will rent for more than a one-bedroom unit.

But can you expect a 1,000 square-foot, one-bedroom apartment to rent for more than a comparable one-bedroom apartment with only 900 square feet of living space? Probably not.

Rent for more or sell for more?
When a tenant has a choice of the two, at the same rent, all else being equal, he will obviously take the larger unit. Conversely, he will pay as much or more for the smaller one if it is in a better neighborhood, better maintained, or offers additional amenities. Market conditions are the primary determining factor.

Builders and developers, on the other hand, know how much an apartment complex cost them to build based on a dollar amount per square foot of apartment. In the initial establishing of sales, a developer may determine that he must sell his apartments at $100 per square foot in order to cover his cost in the project, spread out over the number of units he considers reasonable to break even his investment, plus make a profit. A 1000-sqaure-foot apartment will then sell for $100,000.

We have heard investors say, “those apartments are too small.” They chose to ignore the fact that the units were comparable in sixe to others in the area. More importantly, the building stayed rented at good, competitive rent, and that is the prime requisite in purchasing in the first place.

Sri Wangi apartment in Tampoi discussed in our previous post How to increase the return of an investment property to more than 20%?is a typical example. The 3-bedroom unit is less than 1200 square feet. There is another corner-type of 3-bedroom apartment there which is around 1300 square feet. One can’t expect to rent the corner-type for more than the 1200-square-foot type except expecting to buy it with a higher price.

When the building is suffering because of the size of the apartments or lack of closet space, the square footage consideration then becomes important.

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About The Author


Coming from a humble little town named Tangkak in north Johor state of Malaysia, I am so lucky to have chances to learn and work both in Johor Bahru and Singapore - a conurbation with 6.49 million still fast growing population - since year 1996. Hope now I can have a chance to contribute back to the community by sharing what I see, what I know and what I learn in this wonderful place.


  • min

    Reply Reply September 24, 2009

    Good post regarding dollar-per-square foot apartment informations. Developer nowadays tend to squeeze end user for giving less square foot, making the apartment small, and try to make out the most profit possible without even consideration of comfortable space of living.

  • Ken

    Reply Reply October 3, 2009

    Is it better to furnish the apartment if we want to rent out ? Is it better to find the agent to rent out the apartment so to fetch higher price?

    • ongkl

      Reply Reply October 8, 2009

      Hi Ken,

      Yes, furnishing your apartment is adding value to your property.
      If you can find a resourceful and professinal agent to help you, definitely you can rent it out for a higher price within a shorter period of time.


  • Steven Ho

    Reply Reply November 6, 2009

    Hi, you are not going to update this blog anymore???

    • ongkl

      Reply Reply November 12, 2009

      Hi Steven,

      I am so sorry to all readers as I have been very busy since month Sep.
      I will try to update new post when I get more settled down.


  • Residential property

    Reply Reply August 24, 2011

    Thanks for sharing this indeed useful Information. I like this blog’s Post which is helpful to them who want to buy new Apartment or Residential Property. Please continue to share..

  • William ECT

    Reply Reply February 21, 2012

    Hi, This has been very informative and works another plus point for both apt owner and tenant. Every foot counts!

  • michael

    Reply Reply October 14, 2012

    hi , what do u think about impiam emas residential property ?

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