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Couple reject lucrative offers for flat

Couple reject lucrative offers for flat

Step into Mr Brian Chee and Ms Catherine Low’s four-room flat in Punggol, and one is greeted by a steady breeze and stunning views of Serangoon Reservoir, Pulau Ubin and even Malaysia.

Little wonder then that the couple have no intention of selling their 18th-floor flat, even though property agents have come to them with lucrative offers.

Last year, an agent promised them $600,000 for their unit – more than three times the $170,000 they paid for the flat.

But they were quick to refuse.

“We were not tempted at all,” said Mr Chee, a 41-year-old stay-at-home father. “We like the greenery and environment, and it’s very quiet and peaceful here.”

The couple moved into their top-floor unit in Block 167A, Punggol East in 2007. They applied for the Build-To-Order (BTO) flat in 2003.

Mr Chee, a former interior designer, left his job four years ago to take care of their son, eight, and daughter, five.

Being close to nature has another perk, added Mr Chee. The family of four are often able to go cycling together at the nearby Punggol Waterway.

While some of their neighbours made tidy profits from selling their homes, Ms Low is cautious about following their example.

The 38-year-old accountant said: “If we sell, it definitely won’t be cheap to get another flat in a good location. What if we need another loan?”

She added: “The children go to school in Punggol and so, would have to adapt to a new environment if we move.”

But Mr Chee said he has toyed with the idea of selling before.

He said: “If there’s a three-generation flat in a good location, I would consider buying and moving in with my parents.

“My parents are getting old and it’ll be good to take care of them. They can help look after the children too.”

(Source: The Straits Times)

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2015 in Residential

 

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Over 7,500 HDB flats launched in latest sale

THOSE eyeing new flats in mature estates will have a wealth of options after the Housing Board launched its latest round of flat sales yesterday.

Over 7,500 units under the Build-To-Order (BTO) and Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) schemes went on sale, with 3,028 located in the sought-after mature estates.

meadow spring @ yishun

Of the 4,277 BTO units put on sale across six projects in Tampines, Sengkang, Sembawang and Yishun, 1,947 are located in two projects in the upcoming Tampines North district.

Flat buyers are likely to make a beeline for these units given that they are located in a mature estate, experts said. “All the linkages and facilities there are already established,” said ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim. “The value of flats there is also likely to hold in the resale market.”

One of the projects, Tampines GreenRidges, will offer 3Gen flats for multi-generation families – a first for a mature town. Prices of these flats start at $407,000 without grants, and $397,000 with grants.

Also on sale are 3,291 SBF units, which span both mature estates like Bukit Merah and non-mature estates such as Punggol. SBF units are either balance flats from earlier BTO launches, surplus Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme replacement flats, or repurchased flats.

Changes to the Married Child Priority Scheme are kicking in with these launches. Announced last week, the enhanced scheme will set aside up to a third of new flats for married children and their parents who apply to live with or near one another.

Priority will be given to two groups under the scheme: Parents and married children who apply to live under one roof, and parents who own flats in mature estates and apply for BTO flats near their married children in non-mature estates.

But this is unlikely to drive up demand significantly for 3Gen flats and flats in non-mature estates, said experts.

“A lot of elderly parents live in mature estates and would not want to uproot themselves,” said R’ST Research director Ong Kah Seng, adding that the take-up for 3Gen flats might be lukewarm as many young couples prefer privacy.

“There is also the perception that 3Gen flats might be too small.”

As of 5pm yesterday, the overall application rate for the Tampines BTO flats was 0.4, with 825 applicants going for 1,947 units.

Personal financial consultant Eddie Su and his fiancee Cheryl Ng, both 25, are looking to buy a five-room SBF unit in Tampines.

“We are getting married next year so we want our own place sooner,” said Mr Su, referring to the shorter waiting period for SBF units compared with BTO flats.

The latest launch brings the number of new flats put up for sale this year to 29,129, down from 33,568 last year.

Applications have to be submitted by midnight on Dec 1.

(Source: The Straits Times)

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2014 in Residential

 

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Queenstown area set for biggest Sers project to date

THE biggest collective redevelopment for public housing is in the offing for one of the country’s oldest neighbourhoods in Queenstown.

Time may be up for 3,480 flats in 31 blocks along Tanglin Halt Road and Commonwealth Drive, which are slated to be demolished under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme, or Sers.

Residents, who found out only yesterday, will be offered new flats in the nearby Dawson estate, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan announced in a blog post yesterday.

The affected blocks are 24 to 38, and 40 to 45 Tanglin Halt Road, and 55, 56, 58 to 60, and 62 to 66 Commonwealth Drive.

commonwealth SERS

The revamp will also require 157 market and hawker stalls, 50 shops and four eating houses to move out. A new neighbourhood centre will be built, but other redevelopment plans are still pending.

Residents, many of whom have lived in the area for more than 50 years, will be given the choice of relocating to one of the five new sites along Dawson Road, Margaret Drive and Strathmore Avenue, which will have new developments by between 2019 and 2020.

Sers was introduced in August 1995 to rejuvenate ageing Housing Board blocks and has been implemented at 78 other sites, covering 349 blocks. Residents are offered replacement flats.

This is the largest project to date. The flats in question were completed between 1962 and 1963. Ranging from two-room to four-room flats, they are all owned. Residents will be compensated based on market value.

For instance, a three-room flat in the area would fetch between $305,000 and $390,000.

HDB and National Environment Agency (NEA) officers have begun going door to door to inform residents and business tenants of the changes.

Madam Quah Bee Lian, 74, who lives alone in a two-room flat at Block 25 Tanglin Halt Road, cheered the move.

skyterrace at dawson

She said: “My neighbours and I are all really happy. Why wouldn’t you want a new flat?”

Still, others said they would miss the home they had lived in for decades. “It’s very sayang. We’ve developed feelings for the place,” said retiree Alice Lee, who has lived there for about 45 years.

Together with her late husband, Madam Lee raised her two children, who are now in their 40s, in her flat at Block 33 Tanglin Halt Road. She also goes with her neighbours every day to the nearby wet market, which she says she will miss. “But at least we can all move together and won’t be alone.”

Mr Khaw said: “With every new HDB town becoming more modern and better designed, there is a need to ensure that the older towns do not end up too far behind.”

He added: “They will get a new modern flat with a fresh 99-year lease, with greenery on their doorstep, and panoramic views of the city and surrounding areas. I am sure they will find this attractive and exciting.”

skyterrace at dawson

About 3,700 new two- to five-room flats, 30 shops, four eateries, a supermarket and a two-storey hawker centre will be built at these sites, currently vacant land. The new blocks will feature greenery such as sky gardens and landscaped sky terraces.

There will be no replacement units for shop tenants, but those eligible can get a $60,000 ex-gratia payment, a $30,000 relocation grant, and a 10 per cent rental discount on other HDB rental shops anywhere else for their first tenancy term. Market and hawker stallholders will either be allocated a stall at the new hawker centre or neighbourhood centre, or at other centres that have availability.

Cooked food and market stall tenants who wish to wind up their stalls will receive a $23,000 and $18,000 ex-gratia payment respectively from the NEA.

An exhibition on the replacement flats will also run from June 30 to July 13 at the former Queensway Student Hostel.

(Source: The Straits Times)

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2014 in Others, Residential

 

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Bumper sales of government land last year

SINGAPORE – The Government sold more land last year despite cooling measures and soaring prices, but it will be a more muted performance this year as fewer sites are available.

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) sold 338.1ha of land in the 12 months to Dec 31, up 11.2 per cent from the 303.9ha sold in the same period a year earlier, according to figures obtained by The Straits Times.

This boosted Government coffers by about $17 billion, up from $15.5 billion in 2012.

Private sector sales underpinned last year’s takings, with a contribution of $9.1 billion.

This exceeded the $7.9 billion from sales to the public sector.

However, deals from the private sector were still down from the $10.4 billion collected the previous year, as the number of sites put up for sale through the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme fell last year.

The $7.9 billion in revenue from the public sector was well up from the $5.1 billion collected the previous year.

The Government sells state land to the private sector for residential, commercial, industrial and other projects, while land is sold to public agencies to carry out developments such as building public housing estates and industrial estates, an SLA spokesman said.

SLA, which manages more than 14,000ha of state land and about 5,000 properties, is the national land registration authority for property transactions.

Ms Alice Tan, research head at Knight Frank, noted that the increase in public land sales could be due to the Housing Development Board’s move to ramp up the supply of public housing.

More land could have also been sold to the JTC Corporation for developing new industrial areas in Tuas, she added.

Although developers lodged higher bids for sites last year, private sector sales still fell from 2012, pointed out Century 21 chief executive Ku Swee Yong.

“Private sector sales should have been up in 2013 over 2012, if we only focused on GLS sales,” Mr Ku said.

“But it was not the case because private sector deals also include industrial land sold to multinational companies or those that are under the special permission of (government bodies like) the Economic Development Board and Ministry of Trade and Industry. These deals tend to be more lumpy and unpredictable.”

A total of 16 residential parcels were sold to developers last year, raking in about $5.1 billion in sales, according to official data.

This was well down from the 36 sites sold in 2012, which brought in about $8.9 billion.

“The fall in the number of land sales could mean that the Government is aware of the high incoming supply, and is slowly tapering off land sales in order to prevent a major correction in property prices in the future,” said Ms Christine Li, research head at property firm OrangeTee.

The largest residential GLS sale last year was for a 130,101 sq ft site at Commonwealth Avenue.

It attracted a top bid of $563 million from a joint venture between City Developments and Hong Leong Holdings, noted Ms Tan.

Mapletree struck the largest industrial deal, paying $120 million for a 1.18ha site at Tai Seng Street.

Frasers Centrepoint landed the biggest deals for commercial and mixed-use sites.

It paid $924 million for a 81,840 sq ft commercial plot at Cecil Street, and $1.4 billion for a 442,235 sq ft parcel at Yishun Central 1 that will be developed into an integrated project.

The robust numbers will not be repeated this year, say experts.

Dr Chua Yang Liang, research head at Jones Lang LaSalle, South-east Asia, said: “Given the reduction in the number of GLS sites this year, we reckon the total sales volume would be weaker, but interest will remain strong as developers continue to bank up on their supply.”

Ms Tan estimates that sales to the private sector could fall by 15 per cent to 20 per cent, but sales to the public sector should remain healthy, with the Government’s push towards optimising land use for industrial and institutional purposes.

Source: The Straits Times

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2014 in General

 

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HUDC and the story of housing windfalls

FIRST built as affordable homes for the sandwiched middle class, they were a ticket to a windfall three decades later. With the last HUDC estate heading towards privatisation – Braddell View – that chapter in Singapore’s housing story is drawing to a close.

It began with little fanfare in the Budget debate of 1974.

MPs wanted middle-income earners to be able to buy private property with Central Provident Fund savings.

Then Minister of State for Labour Sia Kah Hui turned them down, but signalled: the Government would be building, “in the very near future”, flats for this exact middle-income group.

Three days later, then Minister for Law and National Development E.W. Barker gave details.

The aim: to provide homes for the sandwiched class of young professionals and executives, who earned too much for a Housing Board flat but too little to afford private housing.

This, as Housing and Urban Development Company manager Lim Poh Guan put it in a 1976 interview, was “so that they could have a stake in the country”.

The five estates of the pioneer batch were an ambitious alternative to condominium living.

Some, such as Braddell View – which the Ministry of National Development on Tuesday announced has been designated for privatisation – and Farrer Court, were conceptualised as green, sprawling spaces. The 618 units in Farrer Court estate, for instance, had 838,488 sq ft of land to themselves – about 21/2 times the size of the Padang.

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Others commanded views of parkland, such as Lakeview estate in Upper Thomson Road, or the sea, like Laguna Park and Amberville in the east. They featured landscaped grounds, playing fields and covered carparks. And the three-bedroom flats they contained, which came in two sizes, were larger than any before.

The smaller ones, at 139 sq m, are more than twice the size of a new three-room flat today.

And the larger ones, at 158 sq m or 1,700 sq ft, remain among the biggest public flats ever.

Who lived in them? Four in five buyers were aged below 35, said the HUDC in 1976. They were doctors, teachers and engineers; architects, accountants and assistant managers.

The smaller, cheaper units proved more popular with these young professionals. In 1977, balloting began for the second phase of HUDC estates, and a waiting list began to build.

Going upmarket

BUT in 1979, things took a sharp, upmarket turn. Phase II units in Chancery Court, Amberville and the second part of Braddell View cost up to 20 per cent more than their predecessors.

And the HUDC added that it was going to focus on higher-priced, better-quality units.

The reason? A new option had emerged for middle-income buyers: HDB executive apartments, which would also be cheaper.

For the same reason, smaller HUDC units would no longer be built. Phase II flats were an intermediate size, at 155 sq m.

And the HUDC introduced grander options, such as 178 sq m maisonettes in Chancery Court.

In 1980, the income ceiling for HUDC buyers was also raised, to a maximum combined family income of $6,000, up from $4,000.

Coming down to earth

TILL then, HUDC estates might have been seen as exclusive preserves of the middle class, ensconced in leafy surrounds.

But that was an image that then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, for one, did not want.

In 1981, at a New Year party in his Tanjong Pagar ward, Mr Lee urged the middle-income to live and mix with their less well-to-do neighbours. He also exhorted them to take leadership in their communities, for instance in residents’ committees.

Later, then National Development Minister Teh Cheang Wan followed up with the announcement that more HUDC flats would be built in HDB estates, for a balanced mix of residents.

“They will become an integral part of public housing,” he said.

Phase III thus included HUDC flats in Bedok North, Hougang and Jurong East, alongside Gillman Heights and Pine Grove developments.

Yet even as the scheme aimed to put the middle-income in touch with the ground, it was losing steam. Private property prices were falling at the upper end; executive and resale HDB flats provided alternatives at the other.

In 1984, one in five of the 2,142 Phase III units on offer was rejected. Phase IV faced a similarly lukewarm response. In 1987, there were 704 HUDC flats completed but lying empty.

And so, that year, the HUDC scheme came to an end. It eventually had 18 estates and 7,731 units to its name.

Going private, going en bloc

BUT the story was far from over for existing HUDC estates.

In 1995, the HDB announced that it would start privatising them, letting home owners have control of their estate.

This was not entirely out of the blue. In 1982, the HDB took over the estates from the original HUDC, and faced complaints about bad service. It decided to let the Phase I and II estates run themselves – while still remaining public housing – from 1986.

In 1996, however, it was the Phase III estates which first took the leap. Between then and 2001, Gillman Heights, Pine GroveIvory Heights in Jurong East and Minton Rise in Hougang went private.

In 2002, they were joined by Waterfront View and the newer Tampines Court – as well as their predecessors. From 2002 to 2004, four of the first six HUDC estates privatised.

At first, residents focused more on upgrading plans and the higher prices which their units now commanded.

But privatisation opened the door to an enticing prospect: a collective sale of the entire estate to private developers.The greatest obstacle was securing the approval of 80 per cent of all residents.

But in 2005, amid a feverish property market, one estate after another started to gain this approval and go on the market.

And in January 2006, the first HUDC estate went en bloc: the 168-unit Amberville estate, which sold for $183 million.

This works out to $1.09 million per unit, which was said to be at least 85 per cent over the market value then – and also quite a windfall, considering that a three-bedroom flat there originally went for under $100,000.

The next year-and-a-half saw a flurry of en bloc deals for Waterfront View, Minton Rise and Gillman Heights. In June 2007, the 618-unit Farrer Court went for $1.34 billion, in the largest ever collective sale of a residential site.

But that was to be the last collective sale for years.

The rest of 2007 saw failed en bloc attempts by Pine Grove, Lakeview and Chancery Court.

In the years since then, some have tried again, while others have tried and failed. Meanwhile, latecomers were finally getting on the road to privatisation.

Eunosville went private in 2011, and Shunfu last year. Four more estates have garnered enough votes from residents to begin the legal process.

Now, the last remaining HUDC estate has started its journey.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Braddell View was designated for privatisation. Its management committee says it is close to securing the required mandate of 75 per cent from its residents.

“Symbolically, the designation marks the end of the HUDC era,” said Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan.

But though the historical chapter may have closed, the story will keep unfolding.

For one thing, Braddell View’s privatisation will take about another year and a half, and four other estates are still in the process.

For another, as long as the possibility to go en bloc remains open, some may chase it. Eunosville, for one, launched its second en bloc attempt just last month.

And any such pursuit could be a long and trying one.

The sprawling size of HUDC estates makes them intimidating to developers, says Century21 chief executive officer Ku Swee Yong.

And getting all residents on board in the first place can be a struggle. In 2008, for instance, Laguna Park saw tussles between residents who wanted a collective sale and those who did not. The cars and mailboxes of the unwilling were hit by vandals. “There’s a strong sense of attachment among residents too, in most potential en blocs, and some may be above monetary reasons for relinquishing their homes,” said R’ST Research director Ong Kah Seng.

As Braddell View resident and retiree K.C. Lam, 81, put it: “This is my home. Might as well own it.”

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Others

 

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Budget 2013: New restrictions on renting HDB flats out to foreigners

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To prevent the formation of foreign enclaves in some HDB blocks and estates, the Government will implement a quota on the number of flats which can be rented out to foreigners.

This includes those here on work passes as well as permanent residents, but excludes Malaysians as they face less integration issues, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament today during the debate for his ministry’s budget.

Responding to a call from West Coast GRC MP Foo Mee Har for a quota of 10 per cent to address her worry that foreign enclaves are sprouting, Mr Khaw said the ministry must do the analysis to see if 10 per cent is the appropriate quota, but that he agrees in principle on the need to impose one.

While the details of the new quota are being sorted out, HDB will halve the period of approval for new sub-letting arrangements to foreigners from three years to 18 months.

It will do the same for renewals of existing sub-letting arrangements to foreigners.

The new cap takes effect immediately, while the details of the quota will be announced when ready, he said.

(Source: The Straits Times)

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2014 in Others

 

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Time for sellers to be more realistic

SINGAPORE- After hitting record highs in previous years, cash premiums for Housing Board flats are tumbling.

From $35,000 in January last year, median cash-over-valuation (COV) across Singapore plummeted to $5,000 in December. And more flats are commanding no premiums at all, or going for less than their valuation.

Should this be any cause for alarm?

No, say experts. First, for a large proportion of the population, it is obviously cause for celebration instead.

“To the buyer, it’s good news,” notes SLP International Property Consultants head of research Nicholas Mak.

COVs have to be paid in cash, so the high premiums of earlier years made HDB resale flats hard to afford. With that initial financial hurdle now eroded, buyers today are in a much better position.

Those previously put off by high COVs might well return to the resale market – as experts expect them to do – later this year.

Second, the fall in COV is generally less alarming than movements in resale prices themselves. Experts say low and negative COVs will cause valuations themselves to come down, but only gradually.

“Unless there is a sharp drop in valuation itself, this is not a worry,” says Century21 chief executive officer Ku Swee Yong.

A flat’s valuation accounts for the bulk of its resale price. And resale prices have been falling by only about 2 per cent each quarter, notes Mr Ku.

“I think that is the sort of slow drop that the Government is happy to see,” he adds.

What about HDB flat sellers, who seem to have the most to lose from falling COVs?

Well, given that flat prices have probably appreciated quite a lot since these sellers bought their units, Mr Ku thinks they have little to complain about.

The resale price index went up 100 per cent in the last six years, he observes. Now, it has merely edged down a few per cent.

“You’re still making a profit,” he says. “You’re just making less of a profit.”

Mr Mak notes that some sellers could admittedly be in trouble if they were making future plans “counting on a high COV”.

For instance, they might have bought a condominium two years ago, based on the expected proceeds from selling their flat.

Now, if these people are about to sell the flat and collect the condo keys, they might find themselves short of cash.

But the mistake, says Mr Mak, was banking on that high COV to begin with.

“Perhaps we can draw a lesson from the recent trend of HDB resale prices and COV, and that is that property owners should not expect the values of their properties to be immune to price correction,” he adds.

Experts say that sellers have to accept that things have changed.

In today’s market, with tighter home loan rules restricting what buyers can afford, “sellers have to become more realistic if they want to sell their flats and move on”, says ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim.

“If you were to stubbornly hold out for a high COV, you may not find a buyer at all,” he adds.

R’ST Research director Ong Kah Seng sees a new, low-COV norm on the horizon.

With COVs now so low, sellers no longer see them as a major source of liquidity, he says. And since they have lost that significance, they are more willing to accept a low COV.

By the end of the first quarter, Mr Ong expects flats in far-flung locations to be offered at slightly below their valuation.

Those in mature estates and good locations will be sold at around valuation price, commanding either zero or “a few thousand dollars of COV”.

If this sounds bleak, let us keep in mind that – by definition – the COV is a bonus paid above what the flat is intrinsically worth.

High premiums are a sign of a seller’s market, with more demand than supply. A zero COV, in contrast, indicates that a flat is sold for what it is worth. You can’t say fairer than that.

(Source: The Straits Times)

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2014 in Others

 

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