Ang Mo Kio Sers residents to get compensation from HDB that is about 7.5% higher than estimates

HDB said the actual selling prices of the new replacement flats will be made known during flat selection in late 2023. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - The 606 Ang Mo Kio households whose flats were picked for the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers) will receive compensation that is about 7.5 per cent higher than previous estimates, due to resale market movements and their flat condition.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Housing Board said its officers went door to door to deliver compensation notices to flat owners living in Blocks 562 to 565 in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3.

HDB previously estimated the compensation amount for owners of three-room flats – whose units are 68 sq m or 82 sq m – to range from $290,000 to $390,000. Four-room flat owners – whose units are 92 sq m to 93 sq m in size – were estimated to get $380,000 to $450,000. These four blocks were completed in 1979 and are about 43 years old.

HDB cited two main factors for the higher actual compensation that residents will receive. First, the actual compensations reflect resale market movements between the time the estimates were prepared in February and the announcement in April. 

The Board also said flats that are well maintained will generally command higher market prices.

In response to queries, HDB said it was unable to factor in market movements from February to April as the estimates were prepared ahead of the April 7 announcement.

“The valuer is, however, able to do so using the resale transactions up to the Sers announcement date, hence the higher valuation compared with earlier estimates,” HDB said, adding that its appointed private valuer SRE Global conducted valuations according to established valuation principles and market practices.

Residents can opt for new replacement flats with a fresh 99-year lease in Ang Mo Kio Drive, next to ITE College Central, which have estimated selling prices that range from $438,000 to $563,000 for a 90 sq m four-room flat, and $396,000 to 487,000 for an 80 sq m four-room flat. New three-room flats, which are 65 sq m, are estimated to sell for $292,000 to $384,000.

HDB said the actual selling prices of the new replacement flats will be made known during flat selection in late 2023.

Under Sers, owners are compensated for their existing flats based on their flats’ prevailing market value at the time of the Sers announcement.

The Ang Mo Kio site came into the spotlight when some residents, upon comparing their estimated compensation amount and the selling price of similar-sized replacement flats, were upset at having to fork out more money.

In response to their concerns, HDB announced two new rehousing options.

First, a shorter 50-year lease, which makes the replacement flats more affordable. Second, seniors could take up the lease buyback scheme for their existing flats and buy a short-lease replacement flat after.

With these additional options, and based on the actual compensation amounts, HDB said 99 per cent of affected owners can buy a new replacement flat of a similar flat type or size with no cash top-up, with a lease that will cover them till the age of 95 and above. 

Affected residents were also able to apply for a new flat in Ang Mo Kio under a priority scheme in the August Build-To-Order (BTO) sales exercise.

About 20 per cent – or 117 out of 606 – of affected residents applied for new flats in the May or August sales exercise. Of these, 104 – or close to 90 per cent – have been successful, said HDB. 

Registration for the new replacement flats will start in the first quarter of 2023, and owners will be invited to book a unit in late 2023. 

Asked if the actual price of replacement flats may be higher than the estimates, HDB said the selling prices of the new flats are pegged to the time of the announcement, and will not be affected by further market fluctuations.

All 12 residents ST spoke to on Wednesday night said their actual compensation amount is higher than the previous estimates, but only one expressed satisfaction.

Mr Camel Leo, 71, who works as a part-time flyer distributor, said his first reaction when he saw his actual compensation amount was disappointment. He will receive $351,000 for his three-room flat, an increase of $11,000 from his estimated compensation amount. 

“$11,000 is nothing, especially when we have to count in renovation costs. I had hoped we could get closer to $400,000 because as semi-retirees, every dollar is important,” he said. 

Customer service agent Sutha Devi, 42, said she is dissatisfied with her $340,000 compensation, which was a $30,000 increase from the earlier estimate. 

“I’m disappointed because since we are being forced to leave, I expected the amount to at least be higher to compensate us,” said Ms Devi.

She and her husband will be taking up a four-room BTO flat in Lakeside that costs less than the replacement flat. 

Administrative assistant Karine Wong, 36, who lives with her parents who are in their 60s, said the $36,000 increase in actual compensation is helpful, but not enough. 

“We’ll just take a three-room replacement unit on a lower floor, as long as we don’t have to fork out more money,” she said.

Housewife Noorjahan Aburahman, 59, said she is quite happy with her compensation, which is almost $50,000 more than the earlier estimate.

“My husband and I are almost in our 60s, so we will take a three-room flat with a 50-year lease because it is cheaper and will give us some cash, and we will live the rest of our lives there,” she said.

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