Garden homes – New Bidadari HDB estate

Bishan was once set on cemetery grounds, but now it is a booming township with HDB flats, private condominiums, landed homes, schools, malls, libraries, sports complexes and MRT stations. Properties here are in high demand and HDB flat prices alone have blossomed more than thrice what their original owners purchased them for back in the 80s.

Bidadar HDB flat_EditPhoto credit: HDB

Thus the same fact that an all-new HDB estate, Bidadari, is built on a former cemetery site would probably not deter buyers, with this estate holding similar potential for growth. Besides a 10ha Bidadari Park featuring a new Alkaff Lake, named after the Alkaff family which built the Alkaff Gardens in 1929 which was closed after World War II, the area is also centrally located in Toa Payoh town which gives it the clout of good location and living environment.

Schools nearby include the Cedar Primary School and Cedar Girls’ Secondary School, and St. Andrew’s Primary, Secondary schools and Junior College.

Bidadari HDB flats 2

Photo credit: HDB

These new Bidadari HDB flats however may not come cheap, with prices about 20 per cent higher than other launches. For a gauge, a Build-to-order (BTO) launch at Punggol Northshore in May this year had four-room flats going from $284,00 to $350,000. There are 3 projects in the launch – Alkaff CourtView, Alkaff LakeView and Alkaff Vista.

Other BTO projects included in the launch are Waterfront I and Waterfront II @ Northshore and Northshore StraistView in Punggol, Hougang Rivercourt in Hougang, Fernvale woods in Sengkang, Teck Whye Vista in Choa Chu Kang and West Quarry in Bukit Batok.

Applications are open now till 26 November.

More BTO flats expected in 2016

2015 might have been the year the government slowed down the release of new BTO (Build-to-order) HDB flats to 15,000 as demand was deemed to have been fulfilled by the massive roll-out in the previous years; but 2016 might see a reversal as new National Development Minister Lawrence Wong announced last week that HDB will be building more new flats next year.

Clementi Crest HDB flat
Photo credit: HDB

Though the number of new flats will not be as massive in comparison to the 2011 to 2013 period when more than 22,000 flats were rolled out per year, the figure of just under 20,000 will still be considerable. This is largely to fulfil the increase demand that is expected to come with the recent policy changes. The income ceiling for BTO flat applicants have been increased from $10,000 to $12,000, which may mean that more families now qualify for a BTO flat. Add the new $20,000 Proximity Housing Grant which encourages families with parents or married children to live near to one another, and the numbers might increase significantly as well.

As the resale HDB flat market has only just stabilised after a year or so of declining prices, will this increase in HDB flat supply dampen the mood in the resale market? Probably not in the near future as demand for resale flats are still mostly in the mature estates, and most new flat owners are still serving out their 5-year MOP (minimum occupation period).

There will be a major sales launch of new BTO flats in November and the response to this will be used to temper the projection for next year.

HDB resale flat market stabilising

While last month’s price decline in the HDB resale flat market may be slight at 0.3 per cent, a quick rebound may yet to be. Minor fluctuations may still occur, but prices seem to be stabilising. The number of flats changing hands also seem to be on the increase, up 3.9 per cent from August.

Punggol HDB EstateThe property cooling measures however continue to impact the property market with falling prices and sales volume in the private property market. While the effect is less apparent in the HDB resale market, prices have gone down by 8 to 9 per cent since its peak in 2013. Property analysts are expecting more gradual fall for the rest of the year, at a less-than-1 per cent monthly decline.

November’s mega-launch of 12,000 BTO (Build-to-order) flats may however take a toll on the resale market as buyers may hold back on buying from the resale market. On the other hand, most recent policy changes in public housing may also help buyers qualify for and attain a resale flat more easily. Income ceiling for resale flats have been raised from $10,000 to $12,000 and families who wish to purchase a resale flat near their parents or married child can apply for a $20,000 proximity grant.

The resale market has take some time to cool, but considering it has fallen from its 3,649 units sold in May 2010 to 1,504 in September 2015, all eyes and ears may be on when the authorities are likely to relax the property cooling measures.

12,000 new HDB flats to launch in November

Come November, HDB applicants will have 12,000 new units to choose from. As an effort to allow more applicants to benefit from the new housing policies which were announced in August, the Housing Board has decided to merge the last 2 major launches of HDB flats, one of which was originally planned for September, to allow for this massive combined offering in November.

Out of the 12,000 units to be launched, 7,000 will be BTO (build-to-order) flats in Bidadari, Punggol Northshore, Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Hougang and Sengkang. Another 5,000 units will be made available under the Sale-of-balance-flats (SBF) scheme.

BIdadari HDBMain changes in housing policies which may apply to the upcoming launch include:

Market analysts are however expecting the 2,130-unit Bidadari launch to be oversubscribed by up to 5 times and with units costing 20 per cent more than other BTO flats, perhaps even up to $400,000 for a four-room unit. Likening it to Bishan, which was also built on cemetery ground, Bidadari is situated near the Potong Pasir MRT station and will have a park and lake in its midst.

But considering Bidadari is a new estate, and future launches may be slated for this area, buyers may hold back in wait rather than rush to be first, unlike launches in mature estates.

Higher future demand for ECs?

Recent news of the income ceiling for new HDB and ECs (executive condominiums) flats possibly being raised have brought about a wave of questions from the market. Will this increase competition for new BTO flats? How will the resale HDB flat market be affected? Will the private property sector see lower or higher demand?

Since ECs and mass market private homes often go after the same pool of buyers, raising the income ceiling for ECs may mean increasing competition for the latter. With the higher income ceiling of $14,000, buyers who were previously ineligible for executive condominiums may now find themselves able to purchase these unique public-private hybrid properties, drawing them away from the private property market.

Sol AcresECs are considered public housing and buyers are able to take advantage of available housing grants for this property type. After 10 years, they become private property, which considerably ramps up their sale value. Buyers who have previously had to turn to private properties at much higher prices, and who are now eligible to apply for ECs will no doubt be in glee. The difference between an EC and a private property is about $300 psf and buyers comparing private homes and ECs in the same vicinity may come up with savings of up to $250,000. Not an amount to be scoffed at.

One recent EC offering, Sol Acres, have since sold 294 units. Upcoming EC launches are expected to give pricier private mass market homes without the calling cards of a good location, a run for their money. Prices of ECs usually stand at around $800 psf whereas private homes go from $1,000 psf and up.


Raised Income ceilings for HDB and EC flats

In the months ahead, the HDB market may see some significant changes.

In his National Day Rally speech on Sunday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a raise in income ceilings for new HDB flats as well as ECs (executive condominiums). The income ceiling for HDB flats could be raised from $10,000 to $12,000 and for executive condominiums, from $12,000 to $14,000. Just four years a, the income ceiling for ECs was raised to $12,000 but apparently income levels have risen since then. The government are also making it easier for lower-income households to purchase 2-room flats. The Special Housing Grant (SHG) will be raised from $20,000 to $40,000, giving them the financial support they truly need.

Forestville Executive Condominium.

Forestville Executive Condominium.

And to promote stronger familial ties plus cater to the growing group of young families who prefer to live near their parents, a new Proximity Housing Grant will help buyers who wish to live near their parents or married children secure their new flat.

This could be good news for buyers and home-seekers, as more applicants may then find themselves eligible for a new BTO flat or EC. But will there be more applicants now vying for available units. And how will this move  possibly affect the resale HDB flat market?


BTO Flats in less mature estates sold for more

Punggol Northshore, one of the latest BTO (Build-to-order) HDB flat offerings in Punggol, proved popular with young families and couples. The response may have been surprising 10 years ago, when the area was still underdeveloped and considered far-flung. But now, as the amenities have built up over the years, those who have bought units in Punggol and Sengkang in the earlier years are reaping the ripe profits.

Punggol HDB EstateMost of the resale HDB flats which sold in these 2 HDB estates have tripled their original purchase prices. Four-room flats in Sengkang once cost $205,000 but now they can sell for as much as $566,880 in average on the resale HDB flat market. The lowest recorded sale was $410,000, double its original price tag. Property analysts have placed the HDB price index at a 90-per-cent increase since the launch of the system in 2002.

Once costing buyers $178,000 at its highest in 2003, prices of these BTO flats have since appreciated over the past 10 years. Most BTO flats take 4 years to be completed, and buyers have to fulfil a 5-year MOP (minimum occupation period) before being allowed to list their flat in the resale market.

It was once thought that older flats in mature estates were able to fetch higher prices, but these newer BTO flats are beating them at their odds; mostly due to the young age of the flats which means they will also be in relatively better condition, have more years left in their lease, and possess a higher potential for growth in terms of property prices once the less mature township is developed.

Reduced BTO flats = Increased resale flat demand?

The number was 16,900 and now it is 15,000. The Housing Board has revised the number of new BTO (build-to-order) flats to be offered this year as the resale HDB flat market has shown signs of stabilising.

In the previous year or two, the increased supply of BTO flats has meant that more who qualify to apply for a flat directly from HDB have been able to secure one fairly successfully, which has reduced the demand for resale flats. Recent launches have even been undersubscribed for some segments – three-room flats in Sembawang and four-room flats in Bukit Batok. Second-timers have also been more successful in securing units in this year’s BTO launches and the pool of available units in the Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) has been growing.

BIdadari HDB

Photo credit: HDB

Prices of resale HDB flats have fallen 7.4 to 12.4 per cent since its peak in 2013. But the last quarter has indicated once more, a rising demand  for resale HDB flats, partly due to the lowered prices and the sense of the market bottoming out.

The next HDB BTO sales launch will be later this year in September, with 4,860 flats up for offer in Bidadari and Punggol Northshore, both of which are increasingly popular spots for young couples and families.