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Changes to HDB resale process could hit some valuers hard, benefit some buyers

SINGAPORE — Faster resale flat transactions would benefit first-time buyers looking to settle quickly into their new homes, as well as sellers with existing properties to move into, said buyers and sellers in the resale flat market.

Changes to HDB resale process could hit some valuers hard, benefit some buyers

Faster resale flat transactions would benefit first-time buyers looking to settle quickly into their new homes, as well as sellers with existing properties to move into, said buyers and sellers in the resale flat market. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — Faster resale flat transactions would benefit first-time buyers looking to settle quickly into their new homes, as well as sellers with existing properties to move into, said buyers and sellers in the resale flat market.

They were responding to the Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) announcement on Tuesday (Oct 19) that transactions can be accelerated to eight weeks, down from an average of 16 weeks, following the launch of an online resale portal on Jan 1.

More paperwork will be submitted online and buyers and sellers will only visit the HDB office once — to sign the legal documents — instead of twice under the existing system.

“Anything that shortens the time is always a good thing, provided we can be walked through the process,” said Mr Leow Hua Sheng, who has been house-hunting for a four- or five-room flat in Queenstown and Telok Blangah since the start of the year.

But sellers who have yet to find a new home may still require more time for the handover, said the defence engineer, 28. “It only makes sense if the seller already has a place to move into,” he said.

Ms Rachel Samuil, 32, who works in sales, appreciated saving a trip to the HDB. She and her husband, who tied the knot this year, are currently living with her parents and looking for a five-room flat in Bukit Panjang.

Real estate industry players said the new online portal would benefit tech savvy users but pose challenges to others.

“In the HDB market, there are people who are less tech-savvy. They might not know how to log into the portal on their own,” said Ms Eileen Soh, a property agent with Huttons Asia.

The new valuation process will deal a blow to valuers who focus on the HDB market. Instead of appointing a valuer for each resale transaction, HDB said it would rely largely on “technology and transaction data”.

Valuers could see a 50 to 80 per cent drop in assignments from HDB, estimated Mr Nicholas Mak, executive director of real estate company ZACD Group. “This can only mean bad news. The business pie will be getting smaller for property valuers,” he said.

Mr Alan Cheong, head of research and consultancy at Savills Singapore, cautioned against using past transaction figures to decide on the value of a flat as the condition of flats differ.

“Valuation is an art. Automation converts it into science,” he said.

According to the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers (SISV), there are around 560 licensed valuers but not all handle valuation of HDB flats.

For those who handle other types of valuations, such as for public listing, real estate investment trusts, business or intellectual property, the impact would not be significant, said a SISV spokesperson.

Parties that are keen to diversify their skills and undertake other types of valuation, or transit to new jobs via the government’s Professional Conversion Programme may contact the institute, said the spokesperson.

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