Marsiling HDB flats' acquisition: Little to no top-ups for new replacement flats

Blocks 210 to 218 in Marsiling Crescent and Marsiling Lane will make way for an expansion of Woodlands Checkpoint. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Home owners in the nine Housing Board blocks in Marsiling that are set to be acquired by the Government will need little to no top-ups for new replacement units if they pick the same flat type - though they will have to settle for a smaller floor area.

It was announced last month that Blocks 210 to 218 in Marsiling Crescent and Marsiling Lane will make way for an expansion of Woodlands Checkpoint.

The owners of the 732 affected flats will be offered the same benefits as those under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers), including compensation based on the market value of their units and the option to buy a new replacement flat in nearby Woodlands Street 13 with a fresh 99-year lease.

According to a brochure given to residents and seen by The Straits Times, the estimated selling prices of the replacement units are lower than the compensation that owners are expected to get across all flat types.

For instance, five-room flat owners will get between $437,600 and $550,900, and will be able to buy a replacement five-room unit for between $405,000 and $502,000.

One downside, however, is that the new five-room flats are smaller at 110 sq m, down from the 118 sq m of existing five-room units.

Housewife Saniah Dasmin, 63, who has been living in her five-room unit in Block 215 for the last 25 years, said she is reassured by the prices stated in the brochure.

"I'm wondering if I'll get to make some profit that I can keep but I don't think that's possible. To me, as long as I don't have to pay more money for the new flat, I'm happy because we will still have to fork out some money to do renovation and downsize some of our big appliances like the fridge," she noted.

Madam Saniah said she may opt for a four-room replacement unit.

The nine blocks were completed between 1980 and 1986 - which makes them between 36 and 42 years old - and have a mix of three-, four- and five-room flats.

About 1,100 replacement flats will be built in Woodlands Street 13, about a 10-minute walk from Marsiling MRT station, and work should be completed by the fourth quarter of 2027.

Eligible flat owners will receive a Sers grant of up to $30,000 to buy a replacement flat.

They will also get a $10,000 removal allowance, as well as have their stamp and legal fees for their next purchase covered.

Owners who do not wish to take up a replacement unit can choose to sell their flats on the open market.

A check by ST on Monday (June 27) found two five-room flats in Block 215 listed on property portals with asking prices of $578,000 and $650,000.

Retired factory worker Cheung Zi Bao, 72, who has been living in a three-room unit in Block 213 for the last 40 years, hopes to take up a four-room replacement flat with minimal top-up.

"Nowadays, new three-room flats are so small, I don't want to squeeze in my retirement years. I don't know how I can afford a four-room flat but I'll think about it when it comes or appeal to the Government for help," said Mr Cheung, who lives with his wife and daughter.

About 1,100 replacement flats will be built in Woodlands Street 13. PHOTO: HDB

Mr Sufian Khamis, 28, who moved into his five-room unit four years ago, will consider selling it if it can fetch a better price than the compensation amount.

"We don't know exactly how much compensation we'll get yet but for sure we're just going to break even. And at the same time, there's the hassle of moving, paying for renovation, losing out on the unit size and our view," said Mr Sufian, who works in the fraud prevention field.

His unit on the top floor at Block 215 has an unblocked view of Woodlands Checkpoint.

Earlier this month, an Ang Mo Kio Sers project came under the spotlight as some residents were upset that they might have to fork out money if they were to pick a similar-sized flat at the replacement site.

In response, HDB said it is looking into feedback from seniors that they do not need the fresh 99-year lease that comes with the replacement units and is exploring options to assist these households in the four affected blocks.

Professor Sing Tien Foo, director of the Institute of Real Estate and Urban Studies at the National University of Singapore, said Marsiling - which sits in the non-mature estate of Woodlands - is likely to have more empty land that could serve as replacement sites.

"More options for replacement sites could mean the pressure on land costs is lower with lesser supply constraints, compared to the situation in the mature estate of Ang Mo Kio where there are fewer land options," he noted.

"Besides, the flats near Woodlands Checkpoint have always been in high demand because of their spacious floor area and are popular among buyers and renters, which could have led to higher market value," he added.

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ERA Realty head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said the compensation amount is "more than reasonable" looking at past transactions in the nine blocks.

For instance, the market value of a four-room flat ranges from $355,000 to $415,000 although the transacted price was $361,000 at its lowest and $378,000 at its highest since January last year, added Mr Mak.

HDB could have used a different time period which would affect the compensation quantum, he noted.

"This compensation amount seems to be more in line with what people typically expect of Sers; not having to top up if they move laterally to the same flat type." 

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