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Record 23 HDB flats in non-mature estates resold for over S$800,000 in 1Q 2021

SINGAPORE — Amid a pandemic property upswing that has already set off concerns about home affordability, the rising prices of resale flats in non-mature estates such as Punggol, Sengkang and Choa Chu Kang have also caught the attention of some industry watchers.

Record 23 HDB flats in non-mature estates resold for over S$800,000 in 1Q 2021

Punggol was once derided as far-flung and inaccessible but improved amenities have led more buyers to pay higher prices for HDB resale flats at this and other non-mature estates, analysts say.

  • The highest was a five-room flat in Punggol, which sold for S$910,000
  • Prices of resale HDB flats in Choa Chu Kang, Woodlands, Sembawang, Bukit Panjang and Hougang have risen over 10 per cent since before the pandemic
  • Experts predict that a Punggol resale flat could fetch S$1 million flat within the next year or so

 

SINGAPORE — Amid a pandemic property upswing that has already set off concerns about home affordability, the rising prices of resale flats in non-mature estates such as Punggol, Sengkang and Choa Chu Kang have also caught the attention of some industry watchers.

In the first quarter, from January to March this year, 23 flats in non-mature Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates transacted for at least S$800,000, a record number of such units sold above that level in a quarter, a recent property report found.

This made up nearly 10 per cent of the 245 flats in non-mature estates that have sold above S$800,000 since 1990, achieved in a single quarter.

If this trend continues unhindered, analysts told TODAY an HDB resale flat in Punggol could soon fetch S$1 million.

Said Ms Christine Sun, senior vice president of research and analytics at realtor OrangeTee & Tie: “Barring further external shocks, an influx of flat supply or cooling measures, we may see more flats inching closer to the S$1 million mark (in non-mature estates) ... at the current rate of price increase.”

This milestone had been frequently breached by flats in mature estates, but never in non-mature towns.

One transaction in Punggol last month came fairly close. On Tuesday (April 27), a report from Ms Sun’s company noted that a five-room, nine-year-old premium flat in Punggol changed hands for S$910,000 in March.

It is a two-storey, 147-sqm HDB loft unit on the top floor of the Treelodge@Punggol project — attributes which are relatively rare in public housing.

Since 1990, there have been only 15 flats in non-mature estates that have fetched above S$900,000, four of which occurred between 2019 and 2021, excluding the sale of the Punggol flat in March.

When asked why people were willing to splurge on a flat in Punggol, which has been regarded by some as far-flung and inaccessible, Ms Sun said enhancements to the estates and extensive town planning such as the upcoming Punggol Digital District seem to have drawn buyers to the area.

“A new university campus, market village, heritage trail, offices, logistic hub and amenities will be established over the next few years. The progressive enhancements have continued to entice buyers to Punggol and Sengkang,” said Ms Sun.

Mr Alan Cheong, executive director of research and consultancy at real estate services provider Savills Singapore, added: “These two estates are demographically dominated by younger families, and this youthful vibrancy reinforces the positive view amongst those who are looking for a home.”

HIGHER PRICES IN NON-MATURE ESTATES

Apart from Punggol, analysts said that the surging trend of HDB resale prices has also been seen in all other non-mature estates.

The HDB does not set out a precise criteria on why mature or non-mature estates are categorised as such and the main distinction is the unit price at launch — Build-to-Order (BTO) prices of non-mature estates are lower than mature estates.

Resale data for all other non-mature estates reveal a general price increase during the pandemic, with Choa Chu Kang, Woodlands, Sembawang, Bukit Panjang and Hougang recording price growth in double digit percentage terms.

The average price of a five-room flat in a non-mature town in the first quarter this year was around 11 per cent higher than in pre-pandemic 2019, according to data compiled by property consultancy Huttons Asia:

  • Bukit Batok — S$532,038, which was 3.8 per cent more than in 2019

  • Bukit Panjang — S$543,755, which was 13 per cent more than in 2019

  • Choa Chu Kang — S$486,734, which was 19 per cent more than in 2019

  • Hougang — S$532,038, which was 3.8 per cent more than in 2019

  • Jurong East — S$562,734, which was 8.9 per cent more than in 2019

  • Jurong West — S$481,647, which was 9.4 per cent more than in 2019

  • Punggol — S$565,589, which was 9.6 per cent more than in 2019

  • Sembawang — S$456,309, which was 14.4 per cent more than in 2019

  • Sengkang — S$520,986, which was 7 per cent more than in 2019

  • Woodlands — S$470,457, which was 16.7 per cent more than in 2019

  • Yishun — S$520,394, which was 8.9 per cent more than in 2019

Said Huttons Asia’s director of research Lee Sze Teck: “The differentiation between mature and non-mature estates has blurred over the years. As connectivity and amenities improved in non-mature estates, some of the resale flat prices are very close to mature estates.”

Based on his firm’s data, Mr Cheong from Savills Singapore pointed out that the resale HDB prices of non-mature estates have outpaced those in mature estates during the course of the pandemic.

Comparing March 2021 and December 2019, average resale prices for flats in non-mature estates shot up by 11.9 per cent, while those in mature estates rose by 8.7 per cent.

“Generally speaking, resale prices have risen across the board in both mature and non-mature estates. However, prices of resale flats in the non-mature estates rose more versus those from mature ones,” said Mr Cheong.

The reasons behind this buoyant price trend for non-mature estates are also similar to those for mature estates — the current low cost of borrowing, pent-up demand after the circuit breaker, as well as optimism about vaccines and a recovering economy, said experts.

Many of the buyers could also be downgrading from private property, or want to live close to family living nearby, which is why a location like Punggol and Sengkang could be popular, they added.

Predicting a further 10 per cent increase in resale HDB prices by the end of 2021, Mr Cheong added: “The delays in the construction of Build-to-Order flats made some switch over to the resale market. Another reason is that Singaporeans who lost their jobs overseas are returning and are looking for an affordable home to move into quickly.”

Based on HDB data, around 25,530 flats will be reaching their five-year minimum occupation period (MOP) this year, an increase from the 24,163 units in 2020. HDB flats may be sold on the open market only after its occupants have lived in the flat for this period of five years.

A large portion will be in non-mature estates. 

Yishun, Sengkang and Choa Chu Kang, as well as the mature estate of Kallang are the towns that have the highest number of flats reaching their MOPs in 2021.

Another 31,325 units will reach their MOP in 2022.

Mr Lee from Huttons Asia explained that this would mean higher resale prices since newer flats often command a higher resale price than an older flat in the same vicinity.

Property analyst Ong Kah Seng believes the milestone of a million dollar flat in a non-mature town may even be reached by the end of this year.

“New cooling measures (for the HDB resale market) to rein exuberance and relentless resale flat price increases, and ensure price sustainability and affordability, could be necessary,” he said.

Related topics

HDB resale property

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