Hougang Avenue 7 HUDC estate all set to go private

The HUDC estate in Hougang Avenue 7 comprises 286 units in Blocks 344 to 350. Some improvement works are already under way, such as the addition of carpark spaces. Next up are gantries for vehicle access. A boundary fence is also planned.
The HUDC estate in Hougang Avenue 7 comprises 286 units in Blocks 344 to 350. Some improvement works are already under way, such as the addition of carpark spaces. Next up are gantries for vehicle access. A boundary fence is also planned.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

With its conversion on June 13, only 2 HUDC estates are left to be privatised

The four-decade-long HUDC scheme is coming to an end, as yet another estate is completing its privatisation journey.

Hougang Avenue 7 HUDC estate is expected to be successfully privatised on June 13, The Straits Times has learnt, leaving just two others in the midst of doing so.

That will make it the 16th out of 18 such projects to make the leap from public to private housing - and the third since May.

Such Housing and Urban Development Company estates, with large units and fancier designs, were introduced in the 1970s for middle-income families but began to be privatised after 1995.

For Hougang Avenue 7, the news was announced to residents in a May 28 letter from the pro tem committee overseeing this process, with copies put up on void deck notice boards.

The estate, comprising 286 units in Blocks 344 to 350, will then become a strata-titled property under the Land Titles (Strata) Act.

The Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) will no longer be responsible for its management and maintenance.

Instead, residents will have to elect a management corporation strata title (MCST) council to take over.

They will also have more control over their units and the common property. Housing Board restrictions on selling flats to foreigners, for instance, will no longer apply.

And improvement works can take place.

Some are already under way, such as the addition of carpark spaces. Next up are gantries for vehicle access.

A boundary fence has also been planned. But whether it goes ahead will be up to the residents to decide once the MCST is elected, said pro tem committee chairman Lee Meng Chin.

This is because the sinking fund is much less than expected, he added, though he declined to reveal the exact figure.

Hougang Avenue 2 HUDC, which went private last month and was also previously under AHPETC, faces a similar issue.

Its fencing plans have been put on hold until its MCST is elected due to limited funds.

But residents are in no rush to follow in the footsteps of some HUDC estates privatised in the mid-2000s, which were sold en bloc to private developers.

"I did vote for privatisation but I'm not in favour of going en bloc," said retiree Steven Ng, 62.

"With the prices now, I think it's not possible to buy a unit with the same floor area elsewhere."

HUDC units tend to be larger than 150 sq m. A five-room flat, in contrast, is around 110 sq m.

Other owners are also holding on to their flats.

HDB records show that no Hougang Avenue 7 HUDC units have changed hands in the last year.

But HUDC units which do enter the resale market tend to be sought after, going for as much as $1.1 million, as a 151 sq m apartment in Serangoon North did in January.

The last two estates still on the way to privatisation are Potong Pasir and Braddell View.

Braddell View was put up for privatisation only this January, but has already secured more than the 75 per cent support required.

About 80 per cent of its residents were in favour, said management committee chairman Alex Teo. This mandate was obtained late last month.

The tiny three-block Potong Pasir HUDC, with just 175 units, got the required support in January 2012. It is near the end of its journey as well, with official privatisation expected within a month or so, said pro tem committee chairman Sukhmindar Singh.

janiceh@sph.com.sg