May 6, 2007

Bukit Merah has priciest HDB flats

Some flats are selling at $100,000 more than the estate's valuation

By Jocelyn Lee

THE priciest HDB flats are now in Bukit Merah, with some units selling at $100,000 above valuation.

A four-room flat in Redhill Road was sold for about $470,000 while a five-room one in Jalan Membina fetched $550,000, according to HDB resale figures for February to April.

The prices for these flats have set new national benchmarks for four- and five-room units.

They have even surpassed the 1996 boomtown prices for units in Bishan, which traditionally command the best prices.

Four-room units in Bishan were then going for about $425,400, with buyers paying between $50,000 and $70,000 above the valuation for the then five-year-old flats.

But the appeal of Bishan, which came with good amenities and a park nearby, is waning now that the estate has aged.

'Buyers now are looking for flats in estates which are convenient and near to town, such as the newer flats in Bukit Merah and Queenstown,' said Mr Mohamed Ismail, chief executive of property agency PropNex.

'Orchard Road is within a five-minute drive and downtown within a 10-minute drive.'

Mr Phng Tiong Huat, senior marketing director of ERA, who has just brokered a four-room-unit transaction in Dover Crescent - classified under Queenstown - at a high price of $394,000, said: 'Although Queenstown and Bukit Merah are mature estates, the newer flats can fetch very high resale prices.

'They are on the higher floors, and near amenities like markets, MRT stations and good schools. These flats are usually sold out within a week.'

The buyer of the Dover Crescent unit - who wanted to be known only as Mr Koh - said that he did not mind paying a premium as the location is convenient and the unit is new and well maintained.

Another four-room Bukit Merah unit fetched $468,000 in February.

Ms Loh Meilin, who lives next to that unit, is happy about the high resale prices.

'This is the best place to live in Singapore. It is within walking distance to the MRT, near town and you can get a cab any time,' said Ms Loh.

High HDB resale prices could finally mean some good news for owners who have seen values stall in recent years while those of high-end condominiums and private homes rocketed with the surging economy.

Private home prices rose 4.6 per cent between January and March and are just 3 per cent shy of the 2000 peak. HDB prices have risen only 1.2 per cent, yet that is the most in 21/2 years.

But it is still all about location.

Flats in estates such as Yishun are not enjoying high prices. Four- and five-room flats there have been selling at prices close to the average market valuation. A four-room flat fetches an average of $220,000 while a five-room unit sells for an average of $300,000.

'Generally, old HDB estates at the outskirts not within walking distance of the MRT are still transacting at value while those near MRT stations and in good condition are going for about $5,000 to $10,000 above value,' said PropNex's Mr Mohamed.

Additional reporting by Vincent Leow

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