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Ang Mo Kio Sers: Despite higher-than-estimated compensation, residents call for more transparency in how HDB derived sums

SINGAPORE — Some residents of Housing and Development Board (HDB) blocks in Ang Mo Kio selected for the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) are seeking greater transparency over compensation payment levels even after being told their payout will be higher than first estimated.

The Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 estate where four Housing and Development Board blocks had been identified for redevelopment under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers).

The Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 estate where four Housing and Development Board blocks had been identified for redevelopment under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers).

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  • HDB said on Wednesday (Nov 9) that residents of Ang Mo Kio HDB flats selected for the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme would receive higher compensation than earlier estimates
  • However, some residents told TODAY that they are not satisfied with the amount
  • They also said that there should be greater transparency in how the compensation amounts were derived 
  • This is because the compensation figures differed across units of similar size and floor level
  • In response, HDB said that the compensation amounts are different as the flats have different attributes

SINGAPORE — Some residents of Housing and Development Board (HDB) blocks in Ang Mo Kio selected for the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) are seeking greater transparency over compensation payment levels even after being told their payout will be higher than first estimated.

Several residents told TODAY on Thursday (Nov 10) that they would like to see the details of how the compensation and flat valuation figures were derived because they are aware that some payout figures differ even though the flats involved are the same size and on the same floor.

In response to TODAY's queries, HDB reiterated on Thursday that under Sers, flat owners are compensated based on their flats' prevailing market values that are assessed by a professional private valuer using established valuation principles.

On Wednesday, HDB announced that residents of Blocks 562 to 565 at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 would be getting 7.5 per cent more compensation after being selected for Sers than estimates previously given to them by the authorities.

Officers went door-to-door on the same day to deliver compensation notices to residents affected by Sers living in the four affected blocks.

According to residents, this notice includes the valuation of their flat, the amount of “reasonable expenses” they would receive and other details such as the estimated subsidised price of the replacement flats located at Ang Mo Kio Drive.  

The “reasonable expenses” comprises a removal allowance of S$10,000 to defray their relocation cost, as well as the payment of stamp and legal fees for the purchase of a replacement unit that is equivalent in value to their Sers flat.

However, only one of the 10 residents interviewed by TODAY expressed satisfaction with the amount of compensation while others said that the amount is not enough to offset the cost of moving to a new flat. 

Ms Karen Nui, 50, has been living in her four-room flat for over 17 years, said that she is satisfied with the S$460,000 sum offered. 

Ms Nui, who works in the logistics sector, had expected around S$450,000 for her four-room flat.  

However, she is worried about the timing of the move to the replacement flat at Ang Mo Kio Drive in five years' time, as she would be 55 by then. 

This would mean that savings in her Central Provident Fund will be transferred to her Retirement Account and she would not be able to use the money to pay for the new house. 

Ms Kiddy Lee, 56, who works in the food and beverage industry, had expected a higher amount than the S$347,000 she was offered for her three-room flat. 

She added that the reasonable expenses offered by HDB are not enough to offset the renovation costs, which she estimates could cost up to S$70,000. 

Another issue raised by residents was the difference in compensation levels among the affected units.

According to an HDB press release on Wednesday, one of the factors determining the level of compensation is the condition of the flats. Residents may receive higher compensation if their flat is well renovated and well maintained and therefore would command a higher value. 

Older flats with shorter remaining lease would also have a lower valuation than flats with a longer remaining lease.  

HDB had also announced earlier in April that flat owners will be compensated based on the market value of their flat as assessed by a professional private valuer appointed by the board.  

However, residents told TODAY they would like greater transparency in how these figures were derived. 

Mr Goh Chye Hock, 61, who works part-time as a food delivery rider said that the latest compensation notice stated that he was estimated to receive about S$353,000 for his three-room flat on the 12th floor. 

However, he said that some units which are on the same level in other blocks have been assigned a higher value of around S$380,000.

“I don’t know how HDB calculates the numbers, it’s not fair,” he said in Mandarin. 

I don’t know how HDB calculates the numbers, it’s not fair.
Affected Ang Mo Kio resident Goh Chye Hock, 61

The sentiment was echoed by 40-year-old analyst Rachel Chua: “There’s no transparency in these valuation figures. Everybody has a different valuation.” 

She added that she is attempting to seek clarification from HDB on how the figures are derived, as well as the breakdown for these figures. 

Similarly, Mrs Teo, who declined to provide her full name, said that she wanted to know how the valuers had arrived at this amount — whether it was because of factors such as an unblocked view or whether the condition of certain flats was not good. She is in her 50s and works in the financial sector. 

Several residents also said that the potential value of the land should be factored into the valuation. 

The compensation amounts are different, as the flats have different attributes.
Housing and Development Board

WHAT HDB AND ANALYSTS SAY ABOUT VALUATION OF FLATS 

In response to TODAY's queries, HDB said on Thursday that the prevailing market value of a Sers flat is based on the transacted prices of similar resale flats.

"Adjustments are made to account for the differences in the individual flat attributes, such as the location, floor level, orientation, age, floor area, extent of renovation and the market conditions," HDB added. 

"The compensation amounts are different, as the flats have different attributes."

The board's appointed private valuer is SRE Global, which is licensed by the Inland Authority of Singapore and is a member of the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers.

"The valuers conduct their valuations according to established principles and market practices," HDB added. 

Analysts told TODAY that myriad factors go into determining the valuation of a flat. 

Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research and consultancy at ERA Realty Network said that this includes the location, size and height of the flat, its orientation — if it is facing the afternoon sun and the amount of traffic noise. 

He added: “Property valuation is partly an art and partly a science. There is a science behind it but there’s also a human factor that goes into it because it is an educated assessment of a real estate professional valuer.

"So if you put three different human valuers to value the same property independently, you can come up with three different values.” 

Mr Lee Sze Teck, Huttons Asia's senior director for research, agreed with the factors Mr Mak mentioned. 

He said that other factors could include the current market conditions and internal condition of the flat. 

However, it is not feasible to provide a detailed breakdown for the valuation cost, Mr Lee said. 

This is because valuers may not know how much the different items in the flat costs. 

He added: “We do take into account all the different conditions and then adjustments are made to account for that condition itself. Then it is derived as an eventual valuation price.” 

On the point raised by residents about factoring in the potential value of the land, Mr Mak and Mr Lee said that it was not possible to do so. 

Mr Mak said: “They cannot demand that as HDB owns the land. When they buy an HDB flat, they are buying a lease for the flat…That means that HDB is selling you the lease to use that flat…The owner of that HDB flat does not own the land.” 

In response to TODAY's queries, Ms Nadia Ahmad Samdin, Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency (GRC), who covers the area in question, said that the affected residents have had varied responses to the higher levels of compensation.

"A number are positive about this, but with concerns of inflation and costs of living, others had hoped for a higher compensation, especially our seniors who were worried if they need to take on additional debt for replacement homes or renovation costs," she said. 

However, her main concern for residents is affordability, and to reduce the financial and emotional stress for residents during the transition as each household has their own unique circumstances. 

She added that she will continue to engage HDB to ensure that residents have appropriate guidance on their options and next steps.

Related topics

Sers Ang Mo Kio HDB

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