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.

500 potential new homes near Serangoon MRT station

Say Lorong Lew Lian and the name brings to mind the spiky durian fruit – but you might not be far off with the fruit metaphor as the site might yield a bumper crop of new homes in a few years’ time.

Bartley Ridge

Photo: Bartley Ridge

Hoping to plant the investment seed early, several property developers have already placed juicy bids for a 1.4 ha condominium site on Lorong Lew Lian. The top bid came from a joint venture between City Developments Limited (CDL), Hong Leong Holdings and TID at $321 million. The site could yield up to 500 new units in a 12 or 13-storey condominium project. The developers are old hands at building in this area, having already developed residential projects in the vicinity including Bartley Residences and Bartley Ridge. Sales at both properties have been more than positive, with Bartley Residences 100% sold and 99% of the units at Bartley Ridge snapped up.

As the authorities may not be releasing many more land plots anytime soon, putting in bids for tenders with good locations might be a good way to go. Despite recent concerns that an oversupply of homes might descent on the market as soon as next year, buyers may hardly tire of homes with good locations, near transport nodes such as MRT stations or bus interchanges and schools. This Lorong Lew Lian site is located near Serangoon MRT station and bus interchange and the NEX shopping mall. With the new Bidadari Housing Estate coming up along the North East Line, properties along this and the Circle Line are likely to enjoy some attention from property seekers.

Maxing the potential of HDB Housing Grants

The General Elections of 2015 have brought about some changes in the local housing and property scene. With raised income ceilings for new flats and executive condominiums, plus a series of other adjusted or new housing grants, more HDB flat applicants are able to now secure a unit and at less by making use of these new grants.

HDB flats 10The new Proximity Housing Grant provides singles and families who are buying a resale flat with or near their married children or parents, with a respective $10,000 and $20,000 grant. Since its implementation on 24 August, 684 families and 53 singles have applied for the grant. Income ceilings have also been raised to $12,000 (from $10,000) for families and $6,000 (from $5,000) for singles. This means more would qualify for a HDB flat and the respective grants, possibly allowing some applicants who may have previously fallen just short of the income ceiling to now successfully apply for a unit.

Indirectly, this move may have also helped to boost resale transactions. As applicants who wish to live near their parents or married children may not be able to find a new flat within close proximity, especially in more mature estates where new flats are rare, resale flats may be their next best choice. With a combination of the Proximity Housing Grant and other CPF housing grants, what they may finally have to pay for a resale flat may be much more palatable.

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.

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?


Resale HDB flat prices remain level

As the year moves quickly towards the middle of the second half, property sellers may be getting a little on edge about whether the property prices will fall further.

For the resale HDB market at least, property analysts are expecting prices to stabilise, with any fluctuations occurring only slightly on a month-on-month basis. Prices of HDB flats dipped slightly in July by 0.5 per cent, which is 4.3 per cent lower than July 2014. The fall in prices is still within the single digit range, and at the lower end of it, thus sellers could rest assured the boat will not rock too drastically. Most of the price drops were in the four- and five-room flats segment while prices of three-room flats remained flat.

The resale market for HDB flats seem to have taken a dive due to the bumper crop of BTO flats. Photo courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board.

Photo courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board.

Buyers looking to purchase a property within the year will still do so, and resale HDB flat prices and transaction volume looks likely to maintain at the current level for the rest of the year. The property cooling measures have taken a couple of years to take effect, and a sharp turnaround in prospects seem unlikely.

With a few more months to go before figures can be more effectively measured, property experts are nevertheless positive about the market stabilising soon.Though with a possible raising of the income ceiling which may draw buyers’ attention away from resale flats, and with the upcoming General Election in play, it could be anyone’s guess how property prices will fare by year end.

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.