Not all old HDB flats are eligible for en bloc: Lawrence Wong
SINGAPORE — Do not assume that all old HDB flats will be automatically eligible for the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme, or SERS, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong cautioned in a blog post on Friday (March 24).
Expressing his concern that some buyers are forking out high prices for older flats in anticipation of SERS which was highlighted in a Lianhe Zaobao report last week, Mr Wong noted that only 4 per cent of HDB flats have been identified for SERS since the scheme’s launch in 1995.
“SERS, as the name implies, is on a selective basis,” he emphasised. “For the vast majority of HDB flats, the leases will eventually run out, and the flats will be returned to HDB, who will in turn have to surrender the land to the State.”
He also advised couples – especially younger buyers – to be realistic when buying flats with short leases, as flat prices will drop correspondingly towards the tail-end of the lease.
First-time home-buyers should also choose a resale flat with a sufficiently long lease to cover their needs, he added. For example, with average life expectancy being close to 85 years now, a 30-year-old couple should aim to buy a resale flat with at a lease of at least 65 years to last them till they are 95.
He added that such properties with longer leases can benefit from the appreciation in property value in the medium-term, especially after factoring in the Government’s housing grants and subsidies.
Support for SERS has been strong, according to a biennial SERS survey started by HDB in 2001. The last SERS survey released in 2013 polled 628 households (across five projects), showing 87 per cent support for the scheme.
Then, almost all households interviewed (97 per cent) had lived in three-room flats or four-room (50 per cent and 47 per cent respectively) before the SERS exercises, but many subsequently upgraded to bigger replacement flats, with seven in 10 now residing in four- and five-room units (61 per cent and 10 per cent respectively).
CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this report, we said almost all households interviewed in the SERS survey released in 2013 lived in three-room flats or smaller. It should be three-room and four-room flats. We are sorry for the error.