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.

Moderation of HDB flat prices modest

HDB flat prices rose 50 per cent between 2009 and 2013. With the property curbs in the last 3 years, prices have fallen 10 per cent. The government are considering the decline moderate and have mentioned that it is not yet time to completely reverse the process and policies despite recent figures showing a stabilisation of resale flat prices and a rise in sales volume.

Yishun HDB

Photo: HDB flat in Yishun

The most effective cooling measures thus far have been the 2013 implementation of the mortgage servicing ratio limit. The loan amount home buyers were able to take to service a HDB flat loan was capped at 30 per cent of their gross income. On top of that, there was a 60 per cent Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) which was also introduced in 2013 to prevent borrowers from over stretching themselves with the number and amount of loans payments.

Industry experts are mostly in agreement about a sudden and drastic switch in policies which back backfire on the industry and property market. But some have felt that certain measures such as the ABSD (additional buyers’ stamp duty) could be lifted in phases to encourage property investment. The current rule requires foreign property buyers to pay an additional 15 per cent of the price of a property here while Singaporeans have to do the same but at 7 and 10 per cent for second and third subsequent properties.

The new National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has however mentioned that adjustments may be possible, depending on global and local economic situations.


Resale HDB flat prices hold steady

At this point of the property market cycle, prices holding steady could be a positive sign, indicating effectiveness on part of the cooling measures which did not crash the market but rather, merely realigned the prices gently. The change evolved over a long period of time, which is more palatable for sellers and the lowering prices may have also increased sales volume by enticing buyers.

BidadariPhoto credit: HDB

A 0.3 per cent fall in HDB resale flat prices indicate a slowly stabilising market. Although prices have been falling for 9 quarters straight, the last quarter showed the lowest rate of decline. In 2014, overall resale HDB flat prices fell 6 per cent. Industry analysts are expecting a smaller dip this year of 2 to 2.5 per cent. Some buyers may have been holding back on buying in the open resale market, in wait of November’s major launch of new Build-to-order (BTO) flats which includes prime units in Bidadari and Punggol Northshore.

Suburban resale private property prices are falling at a steeper rate of 1.3 per cent and if the prices fall even further and at a quicker rate than HDB resale flat prices, the gap between the 2 market segments will narrow. This could then draw a substantial pool of buyers from the resale flat market into the private property market, which could then give sales volume a boost and slow down the price decline in the private property sector.

Sims Urban Oasis

Photo: Sims Urban Oasis

Property developers are keeping a close eye on whether cooling measures will be adjusted, and pricing their units accordingly. We could also expect a more staggered schedule of new launches as developers become more careful about not cannibalising on one another’s market share. More so than before, it may be a matter of timing and opportunity.

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 rolls out new smartphone app function

Taking a walk around a HDB estate and see a block you wouldn’t mind calling home? Now you can instantly call up relevant information and data such as resale prices by just using your smartphone.

Mobile@HDB Screen GrabThe Mobile@HDB app was launched in 2011, but has just recently had a revamp on 7 Oct. The mobile app is free and the latest augmented reality function uses GPS to identify blocks within a 200m radius to help users find out resale transaction details within a 2-year period. Although there is a 20m to 100m degree of error, property agents and home seekers will still no doubt benefit from this real-time app function.

HDB is hoping to make the home-seeking and purchasing process easier with their website and app revamps. Besides the augmented reality function, the Mobile@HDB app also has a concierge function which allows users to get a queue number remotely (as long as they are within the HDB vicinity, e.g. at the Toa Payoh MRT station which is near the HDB Hub) and even get a push notification when their number is called; and also check on their HDB appointments. Now more can be done without having to physically be at the HDB service centres.

Since its most recent update, the concierge function has been used 300 times and the augmented reality function 5,000 times. Users can look forward to an easier and breezier home search, and hopefully HDB will continue to improve on their customer service.

Photo credit: HDB


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.

Property prices soften last quarter

Property market prices seemed to have fallen once again as Q3’s numbers show. Weaker market sentiments as well as a weakening rental market seem to have taken a toll on property prices and sales volume. Resale HDB flat prices were down 0.3 per cent and private property prices down 0.9 percent in Q3. In a year-on-year comparison, HDB resale prices have fallen 9.8 per cent and private property prices 8 percent since 2013. Property analysts have expected a drop in prices this year of between 4 to 6 per cent.

Queens Condo Stirling RoadWhile many private property owners may not yet be feeling the impact of the price decline, those who truly want to sell their property may be faced with the dilemma of dropping their asking price in order to close the deal. With more readily available industry information, buyers are now more aware of market prices and making more informed offers, which places the ball in their court.

The HDB resale flat market seems to be stabilising. Last month’s price decline is the smallest thus far, with the previous month seeing a 0.4 per cent drop. As most HDB flat buyers are able to service their loans using their property using Central Provident Funds (CPF), they may be less affected by a weakening economy and rising interest rates.

How the market fares moving ahead, will be largely dependent on the economy. The 1998 Asian financial crisis is a good reminder of how policies, jobs and industries are closely tied.


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.