Evaluation of the HDB Resale Valuation

Recent changes in the valuation process for resale HDB flats have drawn some feedback from the public. Many are wary of how this mix-up will cause some hiccups in the buy-sell procedure and how it may also affect the selling prices.

Photo by HDB.

Photo by HDB. How does the recent change in the HDB resale process affect the seller and buyer?

Sellers will no longer be the ones to apply for valuation of their flats. They now need to come to an agreement on a selling price with the buyer before the buyer applies for the valuation. This may favour the buyer more than the seller as COV prices have been the main bugbear in the search and purchase of a suitable resale HDB unit, but without prior knowledge of the price of a unit based on the age, location and size of the unit, buyers may also be very much left to glean information from rumours in the wind or self-research.

HDB has however tried to bring some equilibrium to this confusion by publishing resale transaction figures daily instead of fortnightly.

What HDB hopes to achieve with this procedure renewal is:

  • Long-term stability of public housing prices
  • Less dependency of sales on COV (cash-over-valuation) prices
  • Making the HDB resale market more transparent

Will this move help them achieve all that? Or will market forces turn this around on its head and steer it in the other direction?

How much is that DBSS resale flat in the window?

$700,000. This is how much one of the first DBSS units to enter the resale market recently cost.

And this could very well set the trend for all the following DBSS resale units which enter the market. The Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) has been discontinued since 2011 when the public questioned the prices at which developers were selling the public housing units at. Centrale 8 at Tampines went for $880,000 in 2011, though developers lowered it to t$778, 000 thereafter.

The Premiere at Tampines

The Premiere at Tampines

But since units at the 2006-launched The Premiere at Tampines have gone on the resale market since most of its occupants have passed the 5-year minimum occupation period (MOP), all eyes are on how much these originally premium units will go for considering the current market situation.

Although lower than the highest asking price of $800,000 for units in Tampines, the average selling price is still about double of its original. A 5-room flat at The Preimiere @ Tampines originally cost $308,000 to $450,000. Recent sales figures showed a 2 units going for $699, 888 and $671,000. Comparing its age and size with other HDB flats nearby, they are considerably pricier. Most of the other HDB flats in this mature estate may however be larger, almost 109 sq m larger, but with less than 70 years left on the lease.

Centrale 8 in Tampines under the DBSS scheme. Image by Sim Lian Group Limited.

Centrale 8 in Tampines under the DBSS scheme. Image by Sim Lian Group Limited.

Should these young HDB flats cost more than its counterparts and will buyers buy into its premium private developer fittings qualifying for its higher prices even as resale units?

Change is in the wind for resale HDB market

And buyers too. More for buyers perhaps, as new rules regarding the cash-over-valuation (COV) for HDB resale flats kicked in at 5pm yesterday:

  • Sellers will no longer be the ones getting a valuation of their flats from HDB. Buyers instead are responsible for that part of the procedure.
  • HDB flat valuations can only be secured after the seller and buyer have agreed on a price. Previously, the seller could obtain a flat valuation prior to seller and then offer the valued price to the buyer, and on top of that demand a COV price.
  • The Option-to-purchase (OTP) period will now be 21 days instead of the previous 14.
Photo by ThinkStock.

Photo by ThinkStock.

Most of these new rulings were to help buyers obtain a home loan, especially since the loan limits have decreased. According to the National Development Minister, Mr Khaw Boon Wan, this move will also help “restore the original intention of valuation, which is to help buyers get a housing loan”.

The government is keen to make the HDB resale market less dependent on COV prices. Recent HDB sales have seen the COV prices drop to almost zero in many cases and some even selling below valuation. Just last year, median COV prices have sky-rocketed to $38,000 with some even garnering six-figures.

HDB will also now be publishing HDB transaction figures on a daily basis instead of fortnightly. These recent moves may be the push towards transparency the public housing market needs.

New HDB Rental quotas

The noose around the HDB market tightens a little more this year as further restrictions are put on it, this time around the rental sector. It will not be as easy to rent out your HDB flat anymore this year, especially if your potential tenant is a non-Singaporean citizen.

Every block of HDB flat can only have 11 per cent of its unit rented out, and only 8 per cent per HDB neighbourhood. The government says that the quotas are put in place to prevent the build-up of “foreigner enclaves” in HDB estates. Malaysians are the only exception to the rule as their close links to Singapore makes for easier and better integration into the Singaporean culture.

Woodlands HDBBefore panic sets in, this quota only applies to those renting out the entire flat. Those who are subletting only rooms are still subjected to existing rules. Thus far, only 1 per cent of HDB estates have reached the quotas, and the new regulation will not affect existing tenants until their rent period expires. Towns where quotas have been reached are Clementi, Jurong West, Queenstown and Sengkang.

Sales and rental prices may be affected in high-commercial-density areas such as Changi, Buona Vista and Woodlands. How will this affect the buyers and sellers in the resale HDB market? Will this mean an even deeper diminishing pocket of sellers and will it affect those who are depending on a rental income to keep a roof over their heads? Will this sieve out those who have been counting on making some profit through rental?

The Resale HDB flat rollercoaster ride

A year or two ago, the property market was at its peak and now, it seems to be have taken the quick dash down. With the fervent entry of new HDB flats and private properties over the last 3 years, the market is now facing a possible glut. The continuous implementation of property cooling measures also accounted for much of the decrease in activity over the last 2 quarters.

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.

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.

Data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority seems to signify a peak in home supply in 2016. That is when most of the properties purchased in the past 2 years will be completed and ready for occupation. That might mean many will be compelled to sell their existing homes and the resale HDB flat market may then face yet another challenge then. By 2016, 33,290 homes are expected to be completed.

In the resale HDB market, transactions have been at an all-time low since 2005. Prices fell by 0.6 per cent, and sellers may find themselves at the mercy of market demand. Median COV prices are now $10,000 and below. No longer are the days when sellers could command exorbitant cash premiums, which have to be paid upfront.

Most buyers in the resale HDB flat market now are upgraders or PRs. But the pool of buyers may have diminished as buyers may be restricted by loan limits and reduced number of foreigners granted permanent residency. PRs are now only allowed to purchase HDB flats after a 3-year period. Property analysts are expecting interest to rise again after the first half of the year, as low prices bring the buyers back.

BTO supply shrink

2013 was the year for new properties, private and public. Bumper crops of new BTO HDB flats were launched almost every two months and an average of 4,190 units were offered up at each launch. In the first launch this year, the number was a reduced 3,139 units.

Although smaller in number, HDB is happy to offer eco-friendly features in their latest launch such as motion-sensor lighting and recycling chutes. New BTO flats were offered across Bukit Batok, Jurong West, Punggol, Woodlands and Serangoon. Prices ranged between $73, 000 for 2-room flats to $433, 000 for 3-Gen units. 3-Generation flats are mainly four-room HDB flats reserved for married applicants submitting purchase requests with their parents.

Bukit Gombak Vista

Photo source: HDB

National Development Minister, Mr Khaw Boon Wan, has announced last year that BTO supply will be reduced this year as demand has been mostly satisfied. The authorities are however considering offering more 2-room flats as singles aged 35 and above are now eligible to apply for new HDB flats. Previously they were only allowed to purchase off the resale market.

As expected, Wednesday’s launch saw the most activity in the 2-room flats department. 5, 000 of these smaller units will be made available through out this year. 455 studio apartments in Jurong West were also included in the current launch. There will be a decrease in the number of three- to five-room flats however.  It seems the authorities are working hard to cover all ground and assuring citizens a fair chance at owning a home.

Resale flats still awaiting buyers

Despite the fact that resale HDB flat prices have been on the downward slide for 2 quarters now, the number of resale flat transactions have not yet picked up. One might think the lowered COV prices might bring in the buyers, but perhaps it might be time sellers reconsider their asking prices.

Resale flats in the newer towns such as Sengkang and Punggol have seen the lowest COV prices thus far, with some sellers even willing to sell under valuation, with the lowest being $5,000 below valued selling price in December last year. The highest COV was for a unit in Marine Parade, with a COV of $40,000. Popularity of the unit, plus many other environmental factors, condition of the flat, and competition from buyers all determine how much cash over valuation the seller could demand.

Queenstown-HDBThe first half of 2014 might see a delicate tango between resale HDB flat sellers and buyers as buyers hold off in wait of possibly further reduction in market prices, and sellers doing the same as they wait for lowered prices in the private property market and to see if demand picks up in the later half of the year. As 2013 was the year of announcements, with new MRT stations and bus routes being planned, new redevelopment areas and township rejuvenations, much of the hype might be past. Is 2014 the year where the dust settles and the property market solidifies pockets of positive and negative performers?

HDB Priority Schemes have helped thousands

A bumper crop of new BTO flats were launched this year. And correspondingly, a bumper crop of young couples, families and even singles received assistance from HDB’s various priority schemes and grants.

2 of the priority schemes aimed at helping young couples set up families are the:

Flat allocation under HDB's Parenthood Priority Scheme. Photo by HDB.

Flat allocation under HDB’s Parenthood Priority Scheme. Photo by HDB.

Under the Parenthood Priority Scheme, 30 per cent of BTO flats 50 per cent of HDB flats under the SBF (Sale of Balance Flats) are reserved for married couples with a child below the age of 16. And whilst waiting for their new flat to be built, these families are able to rent HDB flats directly from HDB under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme. The scheme was extended to also include divorced and widowed parents and one year since its implementation, would have helped almost 10, 000 families. Might these moves give young couples the final push into marriage or parenthood? What are the younger generation’s views on marriage and parenthood and are there more considerations besides housing?

Admiralty Grove HDB flatNow that majority of the first-time HDB buyers’ needs are satisfied, the authorities will turn their attention to building more 2-room flats for singles. Starting from July, they are now able to purchase new flats directly from HDB, with some criteria to be fulfilled. Is this good news for singles? How likely are they to go for new 2-room flats as opposed to resale 3-room or 4-room flats? What if they were to get married, what should they do to upgrade for a bigger flat?