Five-room Bishan HDB flat sold for record $1.295 million

Among the main draws of the unit, at a DBSS project called Natura Loft, are its unblocked city view and central location. PHOTOS: ERA, KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - A five-room Housing Board flat in Bishan has changed hands for a record $1.295 million this month, smashing the previous high of $1.268 million lodged just last month.

The 120 sq m unit at Block 273A Bishan Street 24 in a Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) project called Natura Loft was sold just three weeks after it was put up for sale, ERA Realty property agent Elson Wang, who brokered the deal, told The Straits Times.

The unit, which is in a 40-storey block, is now the most expensive HDB resale unit to change hands. The unit sits above level 35 - sellers declined to share exact floor - and has about 89 years left on its lease.

The transaction comes against the backdrop of steadily rising prices for HDB resale flats in what has been a record year for million-dollar flats.

Last month, a 49-year-old HDB terraced house in Whampoa took the spotlight when it was sold for $1.268 million, beating the previous record by around $10,000.

In the latest transaction, the Bishan DBSS unit has widened the price gap by about $27,000, an indication of the robust HDB resale market.

Mr Wang, 34, said the sellers had set a bottom line of $1.27 million when they approached him and would not consider any offers below that amount.

"They didn't share the reason for picking that figure but I guess different people have different expectations. I had advised them that the transaction might take time as we need to wait for the right buyer," said Mr Wang, who has been in the industry for seven years.

They just needed to host five groups of potential buyers and the sellers got an offer in three weeks.

While the initial offer of $1.25 million was deemed "too low" by the sellers, after a few rounds of negotiations, the offered price gradually crept up to $1.28 million before landing on the final $1.295 million figure.

There was an earlier offer, but it was below the sellers' expectations so they did not pursue it, said Mr Wang.

The sellers are a Singaporean Chinese couple in their late 50s and have one child, and are now moving to a private property.

Mr Wang said he told the buyers to be prepared to pay a cash over valuation of around $100,000 to $150,000, but they ended up paying "less than expected".

He declined to reveal the final figure.

Mr Wang cited the unblocked city view, its central location and the well-maintained interior as the unit's main draws.

The sellers had spent almost $100,000 on renovation works with frequent touch-ups over the years, Mr Wang added.

As at Friday (July 30), 124 HDB resale flats have sold for at least $1 million this year, the highest number of million-dollar flats sold in a year on record.

Eighteen were transacted this month.

This brings the total number of million-dollar flats to 426 since the first such transaction in 2012.

Million-dollar HDB flat transactions will end on a record high note this year, with one analyst predicting that it may exceed 180 units, given that the quarterly average was 25 units over the past three years.

DBSS units are built by private developers, with each development characterised by unique external features, although owners are subjected to the same regulations as HDB owners.

These units are very sought after due to their rarity and larger living spaces.

There are a total of 13 DBSS projects in Singapore, all built between 2005 and 2012, although not all command a million-dollar price tag.

Units in at least two other DBSS projects - The Peak @ Toa Payoh and City View @ Boon Keng - have changed hands for at least $1 million.

Ms Christine Sun, senior vice-president of research and analytics at OrangeTee & Tie, said the latest transaction may set the precedence for more $1.2 million to $1.3 million HDB resale deals in time to come.

"Mass-market condo prices have been increasing so perhaps some are willing to turn to such million-dollar HDB flats that have equally attractive attributes," she said.

"There are also more Build-To-Order (BTO) HDB flats in mature estates with higher price tags around the $600,000 to $700,000 range, so in comparison, paying $1 million for a premium resale flat may be okay for some."

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