HDB’s new sustainable homes

Mention public housing to non-Singaporeans and they may baulk at the idea of living in one as it usually means rundown, cramped living spaces in sometimes unsavoury neighbourhoods. But Singapore can be said to have made its global with the standards of public housing, in which most of Singaporeans now live.

The Housing Development Board (HDB) has begun humbly but continued to strive in improving the standards not only of homes but of living in Singapore’s many HDB flats and neighbourhoods. They launched a Roadmap to Better Living in 2011 and in it, are plans to include building eco-friendly and sustainable homes and communities; to bring a complete live-work-play-learn environment to residents.

In their HDB Awards this year, a few winners stood out :

SkyTerrace@DawsonAs part of HDB’s Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) plans, SkyTerrace@Dawson stands in one of the first mature estates to benefit from the board’s rejuvenation efforts. It in infused with roof gardens, sky terraces and incorporates a “loft concept” in units under the multi-generation living scheme. These unique units with their high ceilings and full-length windows will take you to cosmopolitan cities of Manhattan and the likes. Its prime central location near town and good schools are definitely a plus as well.

Or perhaps it’s waterfront living you prefer? Waterway Woodcress in Punggol is built right next to the Punggol Waterway and features unblocked views, a garden plaza and communal spaces, amidst hidden carpark facilities and recycling amenities such as a rainwater harvesting system which is used to wash corridors and for irrigation. Further down south into the centre of the island, is Hougang Capeview which also boasts waterfront views. It stands between Sungei Serangoon and Sungei Pinang, and is accessible to MRT stations such as Sengkang, Hougang and Kovan.

As HDB continues to roll out its roadmap, Singaporeans can look forward to better homes and public housing lifestyles in upcoming launches in Punggol Northshore, Bidadari and Tampines North.

Will new housing policy changes raise HDB flat prices?

With the upcoming General Elections in play, the government as announced a number of changes in HDB housing grants and income ceilings. How will this change the resale HDB flat landscape? Will more be going for new HDB flats or be seeking out resale flats in mature estates to take advantage of the proximity grants?

A summary of the changes include:

The BrownstoneThough it may seem like buyers may be more keen to purchase resale flats especially in mature estates, property analysts are more prudent with their predictions, stating that as long as the cooling measures are in place, demand may maintain its current level. Sellers may be able to command slightly higher prices in more popular estates, but the rise in prices will be slow. Buyers are negotiating for prices closer to median prices or recent sale prices.

The number of flats sold last month had dropped by 6.8 per cent, partly due to the Hungry Ghost month when buyers hold off purchasing properties. Prices of four- and five-room HDB flats have however risen by 0.3 per cent while three-room HDB flat and EC prices dipped by 0.7 per cent.

Sell now or later?

In real estate, it is often a timing game. How do you exactly know when to sell and when to buy? If you’re currently looking to sell your property, what should you be looking at for when making your decision of whether to sell now or later?

Just like buying a home, you first have to figure out why exactly you are selling. Is it to finance a new home upgrade, to invest in another property, or because you need the money urgently? The push factors are often stronger than you think when it comes to how much and how quickly you are willing to sell for.

KingsfordWaterbayAnother important question to ask yourself is “How much is my property worth?” Aside from getting a trustworthy real estate agent and valuator, spending a bit of time doing your own market research will help you determine where your property stands. A quick look at property websites, some of which provide tools to help you keep track of property trends and transacted property prices, or checking out resale HDB flat prices from the HDB website as well as attending property talks and seminars are just a few of the many ways to hone your pricing skills.

Market competition is also an important factor which affects pricing. Have a look at how other properties similar to yours are currently prices for a guide to pricing your property. But that said, if you know what qualities your property has above others in the market, list them. These may help you price above the market median. You do however have to be prepared to justify these premium prices and once you are confident the edge your property has, you will have a relatively easy time asking for higher prices. Location and proximity to transport nodes or schools are often a big plus; and sometimes the configuration of rooms, quality of renovation and age of the property could also be added to your property’s calling cards.


Rising resale HDB flat sales

There’s possible cheer on the resale HDB flat front with a 28% increase in the number of resale flats sold in the last 3 months up to June 30; and a slowdown in the dip of the resale price index at 0.4 per cent. Previous quarters saw a 1.4 per cent decline.

Are resale HDB flat prices going to drop as more new HDB flats are made available to the buying public?

Are resale HDB flat prices going to fall further as more BTO flats become available for occupation next year?

Obviously the lowered prices and announcements of reduced new BTO (build-to-order) HDB flat launches have drawn buyers back into the fold. The HDB estate of Jurong West saw the most number of resale flat transactions with 423 units being sold. This is closely followed by Tampines with 364 units at Sengkang with 341 units.

Property analysts are however wary about a quick and complete recovery. For the rest of the year and perhaps the next year as well, HDB flat prices are expected to stabilise at best. As home buyers are still restricted by the property cooling measures, and as more BTO flats become ready for occupation, more resale units may be expected to enter the market, and heat up the competition. Buyers have more options and can afford to be picky about their selection. Some sellers are already finding it difficult to find a buyer for their current flat which they are required to sell within a stipulated time upon receiving the key for their new BTO flat.

With the upcoming General Elections (GE), what can be expected of the property market?

EC’s potential attracts buyers

Most who qualify for an executive condominium (EC) are likely to apply for one when weighing the potential of an EC against a private condominium. And that perhaps fulfils the purpose of these public-private housing hybrids, which is to help citizens make a progressive step into the private property market. EC’s are public housing which become private housing after 10 years. This means buyers are able to enjoy the perks of a private residential apartment including the facilities and the eventual potential appreciation in value in the open market as a private property. There is an income cap however, at $12,000 in gross household income and the minimum occupation period (MOP) of 5 years still apply as they are essentially public housing provided by the Housing Board (HDB) on the onset.

The Vales

Their popularity has risen immensely, reflected in the often-sold-out launches. At the Forestville and Sea Horizon ECs by MCC Land and Hao Yuan Investments, up to 95 per cent of their units have been sold. Both properties are expected to receive their temporary occupation permits (TOP) by 2016.

The 653-unit Forestville executive condominium is situated in Woodlands, an upcoming regional business hub, and near the future Woodlands South MRT station. Schools in this area include the Singapore American School, Innova Junior College, Singapore Sports School and Republic Polytechnic. Across the island in Pasir Ris, just two bus stops away from Pasir Ris Central, the 495-unit Sea Horizon prides itself in being the only EC with a sea view.

It will be an exciting market to watch as there are quite a few new ECs being launched in this half of the year, including Westwood Residences, The Brownstone, Sol Acres and The Vales.

HDB resale flats – Market recovery soon?

The number of HDB resale flats which exchanged hands in the last 2 months have increased by more than 8 per cent. A sign property analysts are taking as a positive.

Photo credit: The Singapore Tourism Board.

Photo credit: The Singapore Tourism Board.

With a consecutive 2-month rise in prices, at 0.1 per cent in June and 0.2 per cent in May, the HDB resale market seems to be showing signs of bottoming out and a turn for the better may come quite soon. In the months prior, when the property cooling measures just began to take effect, it were the four- and five-room flats which suffered the biggest hit in price drops. But recent market figures seem to show that prices in these segments have risen by 0.3 and 0.5 per cent of late, followed by a 0.7 per cent in executive flats (EC) prices as well. The three-room HDB flats segment however have seen a 0.2 per cent fall in prices.

In the year ahead, as the government reduces the supply of new BTO flats, buyers may have to turn to the resale market instead, which may in turn positively affect the number of sales and prices. However, the rebound, though happening, may be slow as buyers may be more selective of their choice of units and there may be more put into the market as BTO flats reach completion and those who have secured a new flat may be pressured to sell within a stipulated 6-month period of getting the keys to their new units.

HDB resale prices – Upwards soon?

With property prices on the decline since almost a year ago, have HDB resale flat prices finally bottomed out?

Buyers seems to have caught on with the price drop and have been back on the hunt for units as the number of transactions in May this year indicated a 20 per cent rise compared to the same month last year. Prices have also shown a 0.2 per cent increase in March and have held steady in April.

Resale 5-room HDB flat on King George's Avenue with asking price of more than $700,000.

The property cooling measures rolled out by the government seem to have finally taken full effect since their implementation over the past couple of years. Since its peak in 2013, HDB flat prices have fallen 11 per cent.  Property analysts are expecting resale HDB flat prices to reach it’s bottom by the end of the year. Minister for National Development, Mr. Khaw Boon Wan, has previously mentioned a possible single digit fall in HDB flat prices this year.

How long the lower prices will be maintained is largely dependant on policy changes and buyers’ sentiments, but also on the private property market and the options made available to the buying public. It could be that the prices may remain stable for awhile with the number of sales transactions increasing as buyers take advantage of this window of opportunity.


More go for Clementi HDB flats

HDB launches in mature estates have always been popular with applicants. And in their May launch this year, applicants are heading straight for the new BTO flats in Clementi. The application rate for 5-room flats in this HDB estate was at 13.1 per unit. 2,047 buyers vied for just 156 units. All this despite the Clementi flats being the priciest ones of the entire launch. 5-room units had price tags starting from $566,000. Property analysts have however expected such fervent response as the new flats were situated close to the MRT station and other amenities.


Photo credit: HDB

But waterfront units at Punggol Northshore received quite a bit of attention as well, as the new town sees more development and potential growth. These flats featured the latest products by HDB – smart-technology HDB homes. Although not quite reaching the 13.1 rate for the Clementi flats, the 2.8 application rate for the Punggol flats (double the 1.3 rate for the last Punggol flat launch) already showed an marked increase in interest for flats in this area.

Overall, the recent launch had an application rate of 3.7 per cent, making it the most oversubscribed launch since July last year. Since HDB has reduced the number of launches this year, could future launches have similar reactions? How will that change the demand for resale HDB flats in the areas or estates surrounding the launch?