Published September 08, 2012

Fancy a million-dollar HDB apartment?

Executive maisonette on Mei Ling Street could cross that figure in just-concluded deal

By Felda Chay

AN executive maisonette on Queenstown's popular Mei Ling Street could become the first public housing apartment to be sold for a million dollars.

The first appointment with the Housing & Development Board (HDB) has yet to be completed, though the buyer and seller have come to an agreement on the price, said Lee Sze Teck, senior manager at DWG's research and consultancy division.

DWG is brokering the deal, under which the Singaporean buyer has agreed to pay a cash premium of $195,000 for the flat, which is located near the Queenstown MRT Station. No details were given on the size of the apartment.

If the sale goes through, the home will sit at the top of a list of HDB apartments that have been sold at prices close to $1 million this year. At least 19 homes have changed hands for over $800,000, with nine of them crossing the $900,000 mark, data from SRX and ERA Realty showed.

Experts, however, say there is no bubble in the market. Homes transacting at such prices are usually located in popular areas, and may have highly sought-after design features that are rare for public housing.

Mei Ling Street, for instance, is just opposite Queenstown MRT Station, said Mr Lee.

"This is a very popular area. Many residents say they enjoy an unblocked view and it is very near the MRT station."

Buyers of homes along the street have given reasons such as the good view and home layout as reasons for their willingness to splash on their apartment of choice, added Mr Lee. Some have even cited good fengshui as a reason.

For an executive maisonette in Bishan that was sold at close to $1 million, the home came with a roof terrace, which is rare for public housing, said ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim. "There are not many of such units (that come with a roof terrace). So they are a highly sought-after commodity," said Mr Lim. "But the majority of transactions are not like that".

He noted that homes in "hot areas" - such as Bishan, Toa Payoh, Queenstown and Marine Parade - generally see buyers who are willing to fork out top dollar. But in other areas, prices are far more moderate.

"So what you see (for these homes that are sold at over $800,000) is top-of-the-range pricing. If you draw a bell curve, they will be right at the top, but they are not reflective of the general market."

According to an SRX report issued yesterday, the median resale price of homes in Bishan compiled on Aug 5 was $520,000, and in Marine Parade it was $532,500. The median resale price of HDB apartments in Queenstown was $517,500.

In contrast, homes in Ang Mo Kio fetched a median resale price of $398,000, while for those in Bedok it was $412,000.

Homes in highly sought-after areas also tend to see higher cash premiums, noted Mr Lee.

When it comes to median cash over valuation (COV), Bishan homes had a $47,000 cash premium, based on data compiled on Aug 5, said the SRX report. In Marine Parade, this was $45,000, and in Queenstown, $38,944.

Houses in Ang Mo Kio and Bedok registered a median COV of $30,000.