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Featured In: ICON Magazine

Banker turned property developer Wendy Yap:
Why co-living space is so popular with millennials

Text by: Wen HU JINWEI / 19 SEP 2019

September 2019

SINGAPORE (19 Sep 2021) – With the rise of the sharing economy, new industries such as shared office space and shared car services have become more and more popular. In recent years, the world’s major cities have also ignited the trend of “co-living” and “communual living”. The so-called co-living means that there is no need to buy or rent the entire private house, but several people share an apartment unit under the arrangement of the real estate manager to share various facilities at a more affordable price.

Different tenants communicate with each other under the same roof, making the home a shared living space with community benefits.

As early as 2014, several co-living operators had settled in Singapore, but the timing was still immature and they left the market in less than a year. In the past three years, as more and more millennials have entered the society, and the government has reduced the lease period of private homes from at least half a year to three months, the concept of shared apartment has shown signs of recovery in the local area, and many operators have entered the market. Achievements were also made, including CP Residences, which was established two years ago.

Attracting the travelling tenants

Wendy Yap, the founder of the sole proprietorship, was originally a banker. She has been stationed in Japan for many years and is deeply interested in the business model of short-term rental apartments (with a minimum period of one month). In 2004, she left the banking industry to return to Singapore and turned to real estate. She once wanted to introduce this short-term rental model. However, local regulations did not permit, and she started to buy and sell real estate and long-term rental apartments.

In the past, she has provided overseas employees with local housing rental services for many multinational companies. Seeing that the Z generation has gradually become the backbone of the workplace, the expatriates are younger and the lifestyle is very different from the “predecessors”. Therefore, the idea of operating a shared apartment was born again.

“These young people are running around in Asia with laptops. They only live for a few months in each place. Then they move to Malaysia, India, Indonesia and other places to live and work. The cost of staying at the hotel is relatively high. Not cost-effective, coliving is a great arrangement for them.”

Two years ago, she felt that this trend had become a climate, and decided to start CP Residences, buy multiple apartment units, or assist customers to rent apartments, specializing in the shared living market.

Speaking of career transformation, she said: 

“I am not a trend-oriented person, but in sync with the trend, the real estate business must have innovative spirit and ideas.”

Wendy Yap

Excellent location is a selling point

For many years in the real estate industry, Wendy Yap shares that the most important keyword for investment property is location. CP Resideces has about 90 rooms for rent in Singapore, distributed in several apartments in Orchard Road, Rib Barry Road and Beach Road.

Many of the tenants will live for more than three months. Because young people love freedom, they prefer to update their contracts every three months instead of being tied up.

In addition, people who choose to share an apartment are usually not so isolated. Wendy Yap and her team regularly hold events to let tenants communicate with each other. “The prevalence of social media reflects that modern people can accept open communication, so we will arrange various activities for tenants to participate in.

On the challenges she faces, Wendy shares that it is in human resources. “It’s hard to fully understand the goal of living together. I must teach employees very patiently, to appreciate the nuances of co-living. In addition, I have to listen to the customers’ needs and requirements and ensure it is integrated into the company’s service offerings.”

Heart-to-heart service

CP Residences also tries to provide better services to tenants, such as launching a preferential policy for collecting less deposits in response to the global economic downturn, so that foreign students or interns can enjoy a little more flexibility.

Wendy Yap also did not neglect some seemingly insignificant details of the home. For example, in the kitchen, soy sauce, salt, sugar and other daily seasonings, are provided. “Many disputes are caused by small things, communal items. To mitigate that, the company provides housekeeping, and free replenishes to shared items.”

Wendy Yap

Plans to enter the European and American markets

According to the survey, due to the restrictions of the Ordinance, the rental period of apartments cannot be less than three months. Coupled with the high rate of housing ownership in Singapore, the Singapore market share is limited to about 1.6 million “non-resident” population, and there are not many local tenants. Wendy Yap said that looking overseas is the future. “We are very keen to develop the local market, and we also want to encourage local young people to try to ‘go home’ for three months and experience independent life. But after all, the Singapore market is really small, so we look abroad and now we have entered Vietnam and will continue to expand.

She targeted four European and American cities, including New York and London. She has found a partner in London and CP Residences is expected to open locally at the end of the year. She also used the United States as a reference. She felt that the local industry’s practice of sharing life was very successful. Some developers even bought a piece of land to build an apartment, then rented the whole project in a shared way, and then sold the industry at double the price. This brought her great inspiration.

Wendy Yap shared that CP Residences’ biggest advantage is that it can make decisions quickly, as it is privately owned. At present, the company has 18 employees in Singapore and Vietnam, each with its own positions, but each person’s common task is to find tenants for the company and help tenants solve problems.

I asked the business woman who started a new career in her career. Which aspect is her strength? She said modestly: “I am a good coordinator, bringing each member together and letting them play their respective strengths. I like that they share things with me and let me know how to improve the company’s shortcomings.”

If she can return to her youth, she hopes to experience the living style of the shared apartment as a millennial generation, and to be a modern woman who dares to try and dare to experience life.

“I am a good coordinator, bringing each member together and letting them play their respective strengths. I like that they share things with me and let me know how to improve the company’s shortcomings.”

Photography Veronica Tay
Art Director Chen Jinghua Model
Dolphin Yeo
Makeup Rina Sim using Hera
Hairstyle Jimmy Yap @ Kenaris Salon using Kms

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