Fewer resale HDB flats sold in June

Sales volume of HDB flats fell by 11.6% last month, possibly due to the rise in demand for private properties as new launches brought about a buzz of market activity once more. 1,753 resale HDB flats were sold in June, down from 1,984 in May.

WOodlandsHDBPart of the reason for the fall could also be due to the June school holidays but also, property analysts are positive about the figures as it shows a stabilising of the resale flat market. The government’s ramped-up supply of build-to-order (BTO) flats in recent years has also meant demand from young families and flat seekers have been met in a more timely manner and fewer are now looking within the resale market.

The sector has come a long way from the days where cash-over-valuation (COV) prices were the talking point of the real estate market. In the current market, the valuation process has adjusted well and COVs are rarely mentioned or demanded these days.

Although it is yet purely a buyers’ market, competition has heightened. Supply has however also been suppressed as more owners are sitting on their units since the declination of resale flat prices. In mature estates however, HDB resale prices rose 0.8% in June while that in non-mature estates fell o.9%.

Changes in the public housing landscape?

The ratio of home owners living in private homes versus HDB flats have been rising. The proportion of HDB flats in Singapore’s total housing stock is also smaller now compared to 10 years ago despite more public housing being made available with the government’s moves in the last few years to ramp up supply of new flats.

HDB flats STB photoPhoto credit: Singapore Tourism Board

Last year, with just slightly more than 1 million HDB units, the percentage of public housing stock stood at 73 per cent. In 2006, with 880,000 units, the proportion was 78 per cent. Respectively, the number of private condominium units and landed homes was 372,0000 and 243,000 with the percentage growing from 22 to 27 per cent within a decade.

Does this signify Singapore’s rising living standards and that more are now able to afford private housing? How has the functionality and affordability of public housing changed over the years? Recent government reports indicates that the percentage of BTO flat buyers who defer on their purchase after they have been invited to collect their keys is now less than 2 per cent. This could mean that more are now taking better stock of their finances and are able to make sustained payments for their new flats despite rising prices. The resale market could also be stabilising as more are finding it easier to sell off their existing flats within a reasonable grace period.

Bidadari HDB flats 2Photo credit: Housing Board (HDB)

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has however reminded buyers to take into account market fluctuations when computing the financing of their new home with proceeds from sales of their existing flat. In provisional cases where buyers are unable to find buyers for or let go of their existing HDB Flat, the government does offer time extensions and exercise some flexibility for example waiving the required forfeiture payment.

Flats in Geylang and Bidadari available in HDB’s latest BTO Launch

HDB’s latest sales launch of Build-to-order (BTO) and Sale of Balance (SBF) flats will include 1,273 units in Geylang and 1,355 Bidadari (Toa Payoh HDB estate).

BidadariHDBflatMAy17May’s launch may not be huge considering it will span 14 mature estates and 11 non-mature estates, but the inclusion of many flats in popular estates such as Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Clementi and Kallang/Whampoa will draw the crowds for sure. 5 applicants per unit is expected for Geylang as the area has not had a launch for the past 3 years.

The government is however attempting to shift applicants’ focus to non-mature estates up North, namely in Woodlands and Yishun. Up to 2,000 new BTO flats will be launched in these 2 HDB towns with prices considerably lower than those in mature estates. For example, a 2-room flexi HDB flat in Geylang will cost $179,000 while the same in Woodlands will cost more than $100,000 lesser at $73,000. In Bidadari, a 2-room flexi unit will cost $169,000. A 3-Gen flat in Bidadari will be priced at $622,000 while the same in Woodlands costs slightly over half of that at $320,000.

DakotaHDBflatMAy17Bigger 4- and 5-room flats will also be made available in the current launch. But be prepared to pay $489,000 for a 4-bedroom unit in Geylang while a 5-bedroom flat in Yishun will set you back only $331,000. Plans to establish Woodlands as an area for regional businesses is on the way, though it will take some time before it becomes a full-fledged hub. Infrastructure that is being developed includes new MRT stations, a terminus connecting Woodlands to Johor Bahru and the North-South corridor. More HDB launches can be expected in the Woodlands estate in future.

In the meantime, the mature estates are expected to dominate the latest launch. Applications close on Wednesday, May 24. HDB’s next launch will be in August and it will include 3,850 new BTO flats in Bukit Batok and Sengkang.

*Photo credit: HDB

1 in 5 first-time HDB Flat buyers opt for resale

CLementiHDBIt has become easier for first-time HDB flat buyers to secure a new flat directly from the Housing Board (HDB) but some are still opting for one in the resale market. 95 per cent of new Build-to-order (BTO) units are now reserved for first-time buyers. But yet figures have shown that 1 in 5 first-time HDB flat buyers are still choosing to buy a unit from the resale flat market instead of applying for a new one.

The decline in resale flat prices, the growing pool of available resale flats on sale in mature estates and the fact that more young buyers are willing to pay dearly for older flats to get the space and location they desire could all be reasons for the high numbers of first-time buyers choosing to buy resale.  Younger families prefer homes in better locations, perhaps also to be closer to their extended families, and they now have more available stock to choose from. For buyers buying a flat near their parents, they can also receive a $20,000 housing grant.

ClementiHDBflat3,441 Singaporean families purchased a resale flat with the aid of housing grants last year – that is almost 20 per cent of the flat purchases made by first-time buyers. The remaining 80 per cent applied for 14,273 subsidised units directly from HDB. Young couples who are eager to start a family may also choose to purchase from the resale market in order to skip the waiting period of 3 to 4 years which comes with the acquisition of a new BTO flat. The now-enhanced CPF Housing Grants also mean first-time buyers can get up to to $50,000 in subsidies.

Will this then mean that resale flat sellers can price up as demand does not seem to have waned? Not necessarily so, as the option of new flats are very much available to first-time buyers. There have however been recent transactions in popular areas where records were set for resale units – such as $1.04 million for a 118 sq m resale flat on the 39th floor of Clementi Towers.

Resale HDB sales volume down last quarter

After a period of relative stability in the resale HDB flat market, numbers have dipped once more last month with 1,834 transactions recorded in April compared to 1,910 in March.

TheTerraceECPunggolSales volume for resale HDB flats fell 4 per cent in April, and was also 0.9 per cent lower than April 2016. Prices also fell 0.3 per cent from March with only that of 5-room flats increasing by 0.2 per cent. Resale prices for 3-, 4-room and executive flats fell 0.2, 0.7 and 0.9 per cent respectively.

While resale units in mature estates continue to be in demand, prices of those in mature estates have fallen 0.9 per cent, as compared to the 0.2 per cent of units in non-mature estates. Though this may not necessarily signify a bottoming-out of the property cycle, property analysts are hopeful that sales will pick up in the 3rd and 4th quarter to hit the 20,000 target by year-end.

Since the property peak of 2013, resale flat prices have fallen 11.4 per cent. Q1’s fall of 0.5 per cent was a little steeper than the relatively minute fluctuations of 0 to 0.1 per cent for the last year, but art of the fall in sales volume in Q1 could be due to the Chinese New Year festivities and the market continues to be plug on in a state of stability.

 

What do you do with an ageing HDB Flat?

If you live in a HDB flat with less than 60 years left on its lease, or are looking at one which you really fancy, what can you make of its limited lifespan?

HDB flat Jurong WestHDB flats have life spans of 99 years and in mature estates, many of these flats were built in the 1970s and 1980s, which means they are now about 30 to 40 years old at the minimum. Recently, the National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has raised concerns about the high prices paid for HDB flats with very few years left in the leases. The value of HDB flats decreases towards a zero mark on its expiry and will then eventually have to be returned to the Housing Board (HDB).

The issue of ageing HDB flats has also raised concerns for the elderly as they are unable to then monetise their HDB flats. The government has however offered up solutions to aid senior citizens in preparing for retirement. Three schemes are in place to do just that:

1) Silver Housing Bonus Scheme

2) Lease Buyback Scheme

3) Subletting the HDB flat

HDBFlatRentalThe first – the Silver Housing Bonus Scheme – allows the elderly to sell their flat, downsize and receive cash bonuses of up to $20,00. Should they chose to sell their flat, they can also receive up to $100,000 upfront in cash and $500 monthly retirement income.

The Lease Buyback Scheme allows owners of 4-room or smaller flats to sell the remaining years of lease back to the HDB for a cash bonus and regular retirement income. Though the cash amount is lesser than that of the Silver Housing Bonus Scheme, the scheme is more popular with 952 households taking up the scheme in within 10 months in 2016 and the flat owners can remain living in a familiar living environment.

The last option, while not offered directly by the government, is legal and permissible, giving the elderly an option of receiving passive income while still living in their own flat. As more flats age, it will become harder to sell older units, though some buyers are still willing to invest in an unit in a good location despite its shorter life span. It does ultimately boil down to the age-old rule of supply and demand.

Potential for new mixed-use development in Bidadari

Akin to Punggol’s development as a Eco-town, Bidadari, which is lauded as the next “Bishan”, could be shaping up to be a garden township especially as the first private home and retail site comes up for sale in the essentially HDB public housing township.

Bidadari HDB estatePhoto credit: HDB

A 2.54 hectare site next to Woodleigh MRT Station will potentially yield 825 homes and shops and is aimed to be the landmark of the new housing estate. Developers who successfully tender the bid for the land plot will be required to build not only the homes and retail spaces but also a community centre, neighbourhood police branch and carpark, much similar to the requirements of a commercial site listed the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme.

Paya Lebar Quarter_Lendlease PLQPhoto credit: Lendlease

Though the public and community-based requirements may cut into the developers’ margins, property analysts say that these could also be a value-add in terms of being a catchment area to for commercial tenancy and to goose productivity. The private real estate nature of the project is relatable to Lendlease’s Paya Lebar Quarter (PLQ), Central Boulevard‘s white site which was acquired by IOI properties for $2.57 million last year and older sites such as Raffles Hotel and the site which now holds Chijmes. The developer’s proposal will be reviewed by a panel chaired by the Housing Board (HDB). The tender closes on June 13 and industry players are expecting some bids as developmental sites are hard to come by in today’s market.

First-time HDB flat applicants to get BTO flats sooner

For first-time home buyers who need a permanent roof over their heads may now get to live their dreams sooner.

PunggolBTOflatThe Housing Development Board (HDB) has committed to setting aside 1,000 Build-to-order (BTO) flats in non-mature estates for first-time applicants. These flats will be constructed regardless of whether HDB receives the optimum number of applicants, which means they will be ready in 2 and a half years, much sooner than the 3 to 4 years it usually takes.

BukitBatokHDBFlatThis new scheme was implemented together with a few other changes announced in the latest Singapore Budget 2017 which will elevate the home-seeking process for young families or couples looking to start a family. Prior to the change, the only other option they had was to look for one in the resale HDB flat market. The CPF Housing Grant has also been raised from $30,000 to $50,000 for 4-room and smaller resale flats, and to $40,000 for 5-room and larger flats.

The authorities have mentioned that these flats, though are to be ready sooner, will not be costlier than other BTO flats. In addition, a new common pool of flats that remain unsold after a Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise will be put aside and sold at regular intervals with priority given to first-time households.