SINGAPORE - The HDB resale portal - a site that streamlines the buying and selling resale flats - will launch on Monday (Jan 1) at 1pm, marking one of the biggest transformations to the HDB resale market processes in decades.
All flat sellers and buyers must switch to submitting their resale applications on the portal, which can be found on the HDB Infoweb at www.hdb.gov.sg. They can log on using SingPass.
To ease the transition, HDB is deploying a team to man a dedicated customer service line and a helpdesk at HDB Hub. In addition, there will be a HDB customer relations manager assigned after a resale application is accepted. The public could also attend seminars to learn about the resale transaction process.
The portal integrates all the eligibility checks on a single platform. This means buyers and sellers need to attend only one appointment with HDB, instead of two previously. The first appointment is no longer required as financial statements will be uploaded to the portal and verified. This shortens the transaction time from 16 weeks to eight.
Users can also use the portal to check the available quota in the block or neighbourhood for different ethnic groups and citizenships, as well as recent transacted prices of nearby units.
Real estate analysts have largely welcomed the new streamlined process, calling it a significant breakthrough in HDB transaction conveyancing. It also comes at a time of rising numbers of DIY resale transactions. Nearly 30 per cent of transactions in the first half of 2017 were completed without an agent.
"We see the new process moving closer to the private property conveyancing process," said Mr Nelson Lim, key executive officer of C&H Properties.
Mr Lewis Ho, managing director of LHG Properties, said this "isn't just a an IT development alone, it is an integration involving various HDB departments - policy staff, housing market analysts and resale departments have come together to create this portal".
HDB has given until March for the old transaction process to be cleared, Mr Lim said. There are currently about 7,000 ongoing resale cases.
While the portal is expected to smoothen the transaction process, some believe that won't have much impact on resale transaction volumes.
Resale prices, the needs of buyers and sellers and market conditions will have a bigger influence on transaction volumes than the resale process, Edmund Tie & Co head of research Lee Nai Jia said.
Electronic payment may be a potential challenge, Mr Lim said. "Customers that don't have a personal credit card may have to make one or more trips to HDB Hub to make payment in person. In some cases, the transaction payment amount may be too huge to be facilitated by credit card," he added.
ERA Realty said the portal is able to handle more than 20,000 resale transactions annually or more than 1,500 a month. Although the portal will negate the need for HDB valuers, most analysts say the role of the agent remains relevant as customers may still be unfamiliar with HDB regulations and need advice.
Those who are not IT savvy, lack computer access, do not read English and do not have a Singpass should seek help from HDB or engage an agent to navigate the portal, analysts say.
"The portal doesn't match seller and buyer, so it doesn't replace the role of the property agent. It isn't a marketing sales portal. It is an admin portal," Mr Eugene Lim, key executive officer for property agency ERA Realty, said.
"In the past you had to go through different e-services within the HDB website, for instance, checking eligibility to buy, what price to sell and what your sales proceeds are. Now, everything comes under one portal. It's very systematic. But those who don't follow the instructions correctly, won't be able to get to the next stage," he said.
DBS customer service officer Xavier Chia said the portal would save him time submitting documents as he could now do it online.
Mr Chia, 31, who just got his BTO flat last year, said he liked that the portal filters out who is eligible to buy or sell. "For someone who has never sold a property before, even I found it easy to know what's required of me.
"But the portal should include instructions in other languages. At least give people the option," he added.