HOUSING and Development Board (HDB) flats house over 80 per cent of Singapore’s population and, more often than not, are the first choice of housing for young families. A perennial question among this group of buyers has always been: Build-To-Order (BTO) flats versus resale flats, which is the better option?
While BTO flats are cheaper, they come with a longer waiting time of around three years before buyers can move in. Resale flats are pricier, but the sale process takes a shorter time. Buyers’ choice would therefore depend heavily on their individual circumstances. However, with stabilising resale prices and increased Central Provident Fund (CPF) Housing Grants, resale flats have become an increasingly attractive option lately. Upcoming executive condo launches include Hundred Palms Residences EC, Yio Chu Kang EC, Inz Residence EC, Anchorvale Lane EC, while existing ones include The Terrace EC, Brownstone EC, The Vales EC, Parc Life EC , Sol Acres EC, The Visionaire, Bellewoods EC, Signature at Yishun, The Criterion EC and Northwave. Hundred Palms Residences details and Hundred Palms EC show flat will be available shortly.
In 2016, resale HDB flat prices were almost unchanged, dipping by only 0.1 per cent. Over the same period, the number of HDB resale transactions increased 8 per cent to 20,813 units. Among these transactions, there were 20 units that changed hands above the S$1 million mark. Evidently, resale flats are popular choices among buyers.
There are several reasons why the number of buyers is on the rise. A key one is that prices have fallen from their peak in 2013 and have been stable since mid-2015. It is extremely unlikely that HDB resale prices will register huge drops in the near future, as buying activity is already picking up at current price levels. Given the limited downside risk, buyers can be more confident in their purchase.
Also, HDB resale transactional information is available publicly. Buyers no longer need to be afraid of getting a bad deal by “overpaying” a premium above the flat’s valuation. They can easily check against HDB’s database, which is updated on a daily basis, prior to any negotiations. Armed with such information, buyers now have a firm basis on which to centre discussions.
Recently, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced during Budget 2017 that the amount of grants available to eligible first-timer buyers would be increased with immediate effect. Previously, the Family Grant was S$30,000, but has since been increased to S$50,000 for first timers buying a four-room or smaller resale HDB flat and S$40,000 for those buying a five-room or larger resale flat. Together with the Additional CPF Housing Grant and Proximity Housing Grant, the total amount a first timer is eligible for is now a maximum of S$110,000. Effectively, this makes resale flats more affordable for buyers. This is expected to swing more buyers to the resale market, especially those still deciding between a BTO flat and resale flat, as they capitalise on the higher grant amounts.
Hence, the current market is a favourable one for buyers. Now would be a good time for buyers to consider committing to a purchase, especially if they have been sitting on it for some time.