Million-dollar HDB flats bank on size, views, location and bullish resale market

Administrator Catherine Ng sold her five-room flat in Clementi Avenue 3 for $1.08 million last December.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Updated from : The Straits Times, 29 Mar 2021

Large units on high floors with unblocked views in a convenient location – these are the common attributes of Housing Board flats that changed hands for at least $1 million.

Much also depends on the state of the resale market and the supply of such “desirable” flats, say property analysts.

Last year, 82 HDB resale flats were sold for at least $1 million, compared with 64 in 2019.

In spite of the Covid-19-induced recession, the HDB resale market has continued to perform strongly this year, with 36 such transactions recorded in January and February. This is compared with just eight for the same period last year.

Overall HDB resale prices have risen for eight months in a row, figures provided by real estate portal SRX to The Straits Times showed.

Across Singapore, a total of 338 HDB flats have fetched more than a million dollars each since the first unit crossed that mark in July 2012.

Dr Sing Tien Foo, director of the Institute of Real Estate and Urban Studies at the National University of Singapore, said: “The current strong prices (in the HDB resale market) could be driven partly by the easy liquidity in the market with low interest rates, where people are more willing to pay higher prices.”

However, he cautioned that the price risk is “not sustainable at the current rate” and buyers should be more prudent.

ERA Realty head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak noted that of the 82 HDB flats sold for a million dollars or more last year, 67 were less than 10 years old.

“This shows that the growth in the population of younger flats contributed to the rising number of such transactions,” he said.

By the end of this year, the majority of home owners in SkyVille @ Dawson and Sky Terrace @ Dawson in Queenstown would have completed the mandatory five-year minimum occupation period (MOP), and be able to sell their flats on the resale market.

Administrator Catherine Ng, 37, was among those who put up her five-room flat in Block 440C Clementi Avenue 3 for sale soon after it reached the MOP. Her 31st-floor unit in Clementi Cascadia was a Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme replacement flat, which she bought for around $600,000 in 2013 with the intention of selling it for a profit as soon as possible.

Last December, she sold her unit for $1.08 million and, using the profit from the sale, bought a four-room HDB resale flat in Tampines to live near her parents.

“It’s a pity to move away from old neighbours in Clementi but it made sense for my family to do so. Now I’m moving back to my childhood area in Tampines and we plan to live there for a long time,” she said.

ERA property agent Ng Teck Chuan, 32, who brokered the deal for Ms Ng, said he is in talks with other owners in Clementi Cascadia.

ERA’s Mr Mak said while the topic of million-dollar HDB flats often stirs up heated emotions and controversy in public discourse, it can also be perceived as a sign of success for Singapore’s public housing.

“Where else in the world do you have home owners who can sell their public housing for $1 million? This means that our public flats are well designed and maintained, and buyers are confident that, while they’re still young, they can sustain their value,” he said.