Category Archives: HDB

Private apartment rents edge down in May; HDB rents remain flat: Property index

Rental prices for Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats remained flat in May, while those for non-landed private properties decreased by 0.6 per cent compared to April 2016, according to flash estimates by SRX Property.

Rental volume increased by 5.8 per cent, with about 4,400 units rented in May – up from 4,158 the previous month.

Year-on-year, rental prices for private apartments were down 5.2 per cent. Private apartments in the city fringes saw the biggest drop in rent at 8.1 per cent, while those in the Core Central Region and Outside Central Region saw decreases of 1.5 per cent and 6.5 per cent, respectively.

HDB RENTAL VOLUME UP

For the month of May, rents for HDB three-room flats remained the same. HDB four-room flats posted a 0.4 per cent increase in rents, while HDB 5 Rooms and Executive rents posted a 0.1% and 1.5% decrease, respectively.

Rental volume for HDB flats saw a 1.5 per cent increase in May. About 2,005 HDB flats were rented, compared to 1,975 units in April.

Year-on-year, HDB rents in May were down by 3.8 per cent, and were down 9.7 per cent compared to its peak in August 2013, according to data from SRX Property.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 15 Jun 2016

HDB resale prices inch up 0.2% in May: Property index

The resale prices of Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats inched up in May, but resale volume remained flat, according to estimates released by SRX Property on Thursday (Jun 9).

On a month-on-month basis, HDB resale prices were up 0.2 per cent last month. Compared to a year ago, prices remained flat.

Resale prices of three-room and five-room flats rose by 0.7 per cent, while prices of executive flats increased by 0.4 per cent. In contrast, the resale prices of four-room flats decreased by 0.7 per cent.

A total of 1,826 resale flats were sold in May, similar to the 1,828 units transacted in April. However, compared to a year ago, resale volume was up 15.9 per cent.

TOX NEGATIVE

The overall median Transaction Over X-Value (TOX), which measures whether people are overpaying or underpaying SRX Property’s estimated market value, fell to -S$1,000, compared to zero in April.

For HDB towns with more than 10 resale transactions, Sembawang posted the highest median TOX of S$6,000, followed by Geylang with S$3,500. The lowest median TOX were in Hougang at -S$12,000, followed by Ang Mo Kio at -S$7,500.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 9 Jun 2016

30 HDB projects win awards for sustainable, inclusive designs

Thirty public housing projects have won 33 awards for their environmentally friendly and inclusive living environments, with the Yuhua estate receiving the top award for sustainable design.

The Greenprint programme in Yuhua was awarded the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) Green Mark Platinum Award, the highest accolade for the BCA-Green Mark scheme.

Under the pilot programme, which was launched in 2012 and completed last year, a host of green features were added to the mature estate. These include an automated waste conveyance system, green roofs and vertical greenery.

Seven other Housing and Development Board (HDB) projects received the Green Mark GoldPLUS award. These include upcoming BTO project The Verandah@Matilda and Kampung Admiralty, an integrated development and one-stop community hub.

TOP AWARD FOR INCLUSIVE DESIGN

SkyVille@Dawson was one of the winners of the top award for inclusive design, the BCA Universal Design Mark Award, which was revealed earlier this month. It was also the first public housing project to do so.

Located along Dawson Road in Queenstown, SkyVille@Dawson was noted for its efforts at promoting community bonding through the building of a rooftop garden, as well as wide open spaces for families to relax in. Ramps have also been incorporated around the estate for the disabled and elderly, while the flats have large light switches that are easy to reach.

Three other HDB projects received the GoldPLUS award for Universal Design – the Acacia Breeze@Yishun, Punggol Topaz and Senja Parc View.

HDB also received four Construction Excellence Awards, three Construction Productivity Awards, and one Design & Engineering Safety Excellence Award for its developments.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 26 May 2016

8,940 HDB flats on offer in May BTO, balance flat launch

A total of 8,940 flats were launched on Tuesday (May 24), comprising 3,770 Build-To-Order (BTO) units and 5,170 balance flats, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) announced.

Four new BTO projects were launched in Bukit Panjang, Sembawang, Ang Mo Kio and Bedok. A project in Bukit Merah originally planned for launch in May is undergoing further review to better integrate the project with the surrounding developments, HDB said.

The flats are priced from S$73,000 (excluding grants) for a two-room Flexi flat in Bukit Panjang to S$541,000 (excluding grants) for a 3Gen flat in Ang Mo Kio.

The balance flats, which are in 11 non-mature towns and 14 mature towns, are priced from S$81,000 (excluding grants) for a two-room Flexi unit in a non-mature estate to S$530,000 (excluding grants) for an executive flat in a mature estate.

Interested applicants for the current exercise may submit an application online at HDB’s InfoWEB from May 24 to 30. They can also apply at any HDB Hub or any of HDB’s branches.

This is the second BTO launch for 2016, bringing the total number of BTO flats offered in the first half of this year to 7,940 units. Together with the 5,170 balance flats offered in this exercise, HDB has offered a total of 13,110 flats for sale in the first half of this year.

Another 4,810 BTO flats in Hougang, Sembawang, Tampines and Yishun will be launched in August, HDB said.

‘NON-MATURE ESTATE TODAY, MATURE ESTATE TOMORROW’

In a blogpost on Wednesday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said it has been more than three years since BTO flats were launched in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok and Bukit Panjang. This is also the first time that 3Gen flats were launched in Ang Mo Kio and Bukit Panjang, he said.

More flats have also been launched in mature estates, after such flats received much interest from buyers in the last two BTO launches, Mr Wong said. But application rates for these flats are expected to be high, which means a lower chance of success, he added.

Encouraging young couples to apply for BTO flats in non-mature estates, Mr Wong said these flats are more affordable and come with more grants.

“By opting for a 3-room flat in Sembawang instead of one in a mature estate like Bedok, you get to save more than S$100,000 instantly, which you could set aside for renovation and more. You will also enjoy a much higher chance of success in your application,” he said.

“There’s a perception that flats in non-mature estates are located far from work, and are not as well served by transport connections, or other amenities and facilities. But there are significant development plans in many of these areas, which potential home buyers should take into consideration.”

The Government’s move to decentralise urban development and build commercial centres outside the city will also create more investments and jobs closer to homes in these areas, he added.

“I remember when my parents bought their HDB flat in Marine Parade back in the 70s. At that time, it was a completely new town with few amenities. There were also concerns about it being built on reclaimed land.

“But look at how the whole area has developed over time. So a ‘non-mature’ estate today can become a ‘mature’ estate tomorrow.”

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 24 May 2016

Annual take-up of HDB’s Lease Buyback Scheme more than doubles

Five hundred and forty-one households have taken up Housing and Development Board’s Lease Buyback Scheme within a year of enhancements, with 233 households owners of four-room flats.

HDB noted that this annual take-up had more than doubled compared to previous years. Since the launch of the scheme in 2009, 471 households signed up in the first four years – averaging at about 117 annually. A further 494 took up the scheme following modifications in February 2013 over a period of about two years, an average of slightly less than 250 a year.

The Lease Buyback Scheme is catered to elderly home owners living in four-room flats or smaller. They can sell the tail end of their flat’s 99-year lease back to HDB, in exchange for a cash bonus.

On top of that, the proceeds from selling their flat’s lease will be used to top up their CPF Retirement Account. This provides them with monthly payouts, while they continue living in their flats.

Among the 541 households who took up the scheme is Mr Abdul Rahman Kemat. He and his wife have been living in their four-room flat in Jurong West for since 1985.

In January, the 68-year-old decided to sell about 34 years of the remaining lease of his flat to the Government under the Lease Buyback Scheme, giving him a payout of about S$1,000 each month. HDB then sold a new 35-year lease of Mr Abdul Rahman’s flat to him at S$228,900 under the Lease Buyback Scheme.

Because the security officer expects to retire soon, he said the extra income is useful. And that the Lease Buyback Scheme was the best option for him, as he did not want to downgrade to a smaller flat or rent out his apartment.

“Because I love this place so much,” he said. “The people here, I know well. My children are all grown up, they’ve got grown-up children. So I think it is not suitable for me to stay with my children. So I prefer to stay independently here with my wife.”

The latest round of enhancements, which kicked in in April last year, saw four changes to the scheme to benefit more elderly citizens and make it more flexible:

  • The scheme was extended to 4-room flats, covering 75 per cent of elderly households, up from 35 per cent previously
  • The income ceiling was raised from S$3,000 to S$12,000
  • Households with two or more owners will only need to each top up their CPF Retirement Account to the basic age-adjusted retirement sum, instead of the full age-adjusted retirement sum. This gives them more cash in hand
  • Elderly households can choose how long they want their lease to be retained, from 15, 20, 25, 30 or a maximum of 35 years. But it must cover the youngest owner until he or she is 95 years old. Previously, flat-owners only had the option of keeping a 30-year lease

‘STILL A SMALL PORTION OF ELIGIBLE HOUSEHOLDS’: ANALYST

Since then, around 5 per cent of the 541 households who signed up had income exceeding S$3,000. Nearly half, 261 households, chose to retain a lease length other than 30 years.

“Perhaps one of the reasons is that retirees in four-room flats may feel that the value of their flats is a bit larger,” said Mr Nicholas Mak, executive director of SLP International Property Consultants. “So if they were to join this scheme, they would be able to unlock a larger part of cash that can help them in their retirement planning.”

Mr Mak said while there was a significant increase in the take-up of the Lease Buyback Scheme, it is still a small proportion of the eligible households.

“When we look at over 500 households that have taken up this scheme, and we compare this islandwide, with all the HDB flats that’s available out there, the number seems to be very small. I estimate less than 1 per cent of the eligible households have actually taken up this scheme,” he said.

Mr Mak said that perhaps more awareness of the scheme was needed to encourage more households to take part. HDB added that it will continue outreach efforts to help elderly households better understand the monetisation options available to them.

HDB is providing financial counselling for applicants of the Lease Buyback Scheme. During these counselling sessions, the various monetisation options available are explained to those interested. They are also given an estimation of how much total payout and monthly income they can expect to receive.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 15 May 2016

Private apartment rents remain flat, HDB rents slip 0.6% in April: Index

Rental rates for Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats continued their downward trend in April, while those for non-landed private properties remained flat with minor fluctuations outside of the Core Central Region.

Overall rental prices for private apartments were constant from March, although private apartment rents in the city fringes increased by 0.1 per cent and they decreased by 0.1 per cent in the Outside Central Region in April. Rents were down 5.4 per cent year-on-year, and 16.1 per cent lower than the peak in January 2013, according to flash estimates by SRX Property.

Private apartments in the city fringes saw the biggest drop in rent year-on-year at 8.2 per cent, while those in the Core Central Region and Outside Central Region saw decreases of 1.9 per cent and 6.8 per cent, respectively.

Rental volume plunged by 10.3 per cent from the previous month, with about 3,953 units rented in April compared to 4,405 in March. However, this was still 10.5 per cent higher than the 3,578 units rented in April 2015.

On the other hand, HDB rents saw a 0.6 per cent decrease from March to April. Year-on-year, rents in April were down by 4.3 per cent, and were down 9.9 per cent compared to the peak in August 2013.

Compared to the previous month, HDB three-room and five-room flats saw a 0.8 per cent and 1.1 per cent decrease in rents, respectively. Rentals for four-room flats remained the same, while executive flats posted a 0.4 per cent increase.

Furthermore, non-mature estates experienced a larger decrease of 0.9 per cent in April compared to the previous month. Rentals in mature estates fell by 0.3 per cent. Compared to the same time last year, rents in mature and non-mature estates dropped 3.9 per cent and 4.8 per cent respectively.

Rental volume for HDB flats also inched down by 2.2 per cent in April. SRX Property estimated that about 2,048 HDB flats were rented, compared to 2,093 units in March. Year-on-year, this was a 5.8 per cent increase from April 2015, however.

PRIVATE RENTS LIKELY TO CONTINUE DECREASING: PROPERTY AGENT

Property agent ERA said that while there was minimal movement in private rents in April, it expected the “general downward trend” to persist given that supply exceeded demand in the market.

“Landlords will have to up their game to retain their tenants or attract new ones,” ERA key executive officer Eugene Lim said.

Mr Lim added that the agency expected the number of leasing transactions for private apartments to remain stable in the short term as “the tenant pool is limited”, noting that the year-on-year increase in volume was mostly due to tenants renewing leases or switching apartments for better deals, rather than new tenants.

For HDB flat rentals, Mr Lim said units in mature estates were “typically easier to rent out”, as they were able to hold their value better especially if located near amenities and transportation nodes.

As they are still more affordable than private developments, Mr Lim also said ERA expected leasing demand for HDB flats to “remain resilient” as more tenants renewed their leases.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 11 May 2016

More budget, lower owner contribution to support HDB shop revitalisation efforts

There will be a bigger upgrading budget and shopowners will have to bear less of the cost to upgrade their shops as part of the enhanced Revitalisation of Shops (ROS) Scheme, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) said on Monday (May 9).

The ROS upgrading budget for each HDB shop will be increased by 75 per cent from S$20,000 to S$35,000 per shop, according to the press release.

To encourage more HDB shops to participate in the scheme, the shopowners’ share of the upgrading cost will be reduced from 50 per cent to 20 per cent, and capped as S$5,000. HDB and the town councils will co-fund the remaining 80 per cent, capped at S$30,000 per shop, it said, adding that they will continue to bear 100 per cent of the upgrading cost for rental shops.

Additionally, HDB will provide new funding of up to S$10,000 for Merchants Associations (MA) to appoint a consultant to help shopowners in their ROS upgrading, the press release said.

Should the HDB shops not have a MA, HDB has also introduced a new Start-up Fund of S$10,000 to encourage them to form one.

The new enhancements are applicable for batch 7 of ROS onwards, a HDB spokesperson told Channel NewsAsia.

The upgraded ROS package will cost about S$15 million yearly and was first revealed by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget 2016 statement.

Since the ROS scheme was introduced in November 2007, 4,684 shops from 54 HDB town or neighbourhood centres islandwide have benefitted, covering more than 50 per cent of such centres, the agency said.

Of these, 16 HDB town or neighbourhood centres have completed upgrading and another eight centres are at various stages of upgrading. In addition, more than 300 promotional events have been organised by the MAs under the scheme, it said.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 9 May 2016

HDB tightens rules on changes on flat ownership

Keen to have a second property as a “vacation house”, 46-year-old Mr Khoo has been on the lookout for a private condominium since the start of 2016.

The Singaporean, who did not want his full name to be used, currently owns an HDB flat with his wife, so he was keen on taking up his property agent’s suggestion to “decouple” from his existing property to avoid having to pay Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD).

Through this process, Mr Khoo would have transferred his share in his existing HDB flat to his wife, thereby leaving him free to buy a private condominium without having to worry about paying ABSD, as the subsequent purchase would have been be seen as his first. Such a practice can mean substantial savings for home owners like Mr Khoo who are on the lookout for a second property.

However, he will now have to shelve his plans due to changes in the rules governing the transfer of flat ownership by the Housing and Development Board (HDB).

In an email response to a query from Channel NewsAsia, the HDB confirmed that changes in flat ownership will now only be allowed under six circumstances including marriage, divorce, death of an owner, financial hardship, renunciation of citizenship and medical reasons.

These new regulations took effect on Apr 1, according to the HDB spokesman, adding that HDB will assess on a case by case basis if the request to change flat ownership does not fall under the above circumstances.

This means that transfers in flat ownership between spouses or immediate family members will no longer be readily approved.

According to industry watchers that Channel NewsAsia spoke to, the practice of “decoupling” – a shift from co-ownership to sole ownership of an HDB – gained popularity among local home owners, particularly since the upward revision of the ABSD in Jan 2013.

Out of every 10 HDB flat upgraders, about 1 or 2 couples choose to “decouple”, said R’ST Research’s director Ong Kah Seng.

The ABSD, first introduced in 2011 and revised two years later, was part of the government’s cooling measures aimed at reining in escalating residential property prices.

Currently, Singapore citizens have to pay an ABSD of 7 per cent on a second property, and this increases to 10 per cent for third and subsequent purchases. Meanwhile, ABSD for foreigners is set at 15 per cent for first and subsequent property purchases.

Given the substantial savings, Channel NewsAsia understands that this practice was an “open secret” for home owners looking to avoid hefty duty, with property agents and lawyers readily offering advice to “decouple”.

However, the HDB spokesman stressed that the latest tweaks in regulations “are not meant to prevent married couples from decoupling to avoid ABSD” and are instead part of a regular policy review.

There are market watchers who applaud the move.

“The essence of an HDB flat is a basic shelter, and it should not be treated as investment product,” said Ku Swee Yong, Chief Executive of real estate agency Century21. “Home owners who engage in ‘decoupling’ have been treating the HDB as an investment tool and given the heavy subsidies by taxpayers and the state in this asset class, this is wrong.”

For R’ST Research’s Mr Ong, the latest tweak in regulations will ensure that buyers are not financially overstretched amid a weak economy.

“If we look at things holistically and strategically, changing of regulations (will) ensure that buyers do not beat the system by decoupling, or purchase a private property on impulse and overstretch property financing capabilities, especially in weak economic times that is set to persist.”

Given the sluggish economic conditions, there is a need for the government to “protect the masses by discouraging them in over-investing in private properties”, Mr Ong added.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 4 May 2016