Housing Board flats in Tanglin Halt are hitting the resale market and starting to fetch premiums after June's announcement that the estate will be redeveloped.
At least two units have been sold since then, with more than 30 listed on property websites.
Such flats are attractive because their owners will eventually be offered brand new units at five sites in the nearby Dawson estate in Queenstown under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers).
In prime locations such as Queenstown, resale units are pricey and Build-To-Order projects scarce, so the Sers exercise is a good chance to secure a flat there, said agents.
PropNex agent Xavier Ng, who is marketing a three-roomer in the estate, receives a few enquiries each day. "It's mainly younger couples who need to set up a family home," he said.
Most of the 3,480 units across the 31 blocks in Tanglin Halt Road and Commonwealth Drive are two- and three-room flats. The replacements range from two- to five-roomers, with larger units popular with families, said agents.
To give owners time to consider their options, there was a month-long freeze on resale applications. This ended on July 27, and applications can be submitted up till Aug 31 next year.
In anticipation of demand, property agents have been leaving fliers in letter boxes and going door to door in Tanglin Halt.
The attraction of a Sers flat was clear in the case of a Tanglin Halt three-roomer which was sold last week. PropNex agent Andy Azaly Suboh had been marketing it since February, with an asking price of $310,000 to $315,000.
"There were no takers initially," he recalled. But interest rose after the Sers announcement, and the flat went for $355,000, about $35,000 above its valuation.
Some Tanglin Halt owners might want to sell so they can upgrade to private property, said SLP International Property Consultants head of research Nicholas Mak. Another reason is that the replacement units are expensive, said agents and flat owners.
Even though they are subsidised, estimated prices for three-room replacement units at Dawson range from $284,000 to $386,000, according to the HDB.
"Actually, a resale flat somewhere else might even be cheaper," noted a flat owner who wanted to be known only as Mr Teh.
In the second quarter this year, the median price of a three-room flat was $357,000 in Queenstown, and as low as $311,000 in Yishun.
Mr Teh, a 34-year-old who works in sales, is open to the idea of selling his three-roomer in Tanglin Halt. But he has not decided whether to do so yet as the prime location of the replacement flats is still a draw. "You cannot find another place as good as this," he said.
The drawback of selling, of course, is missing out on a prized new flat in Dawson, said R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng.
This is why transport driver Ngeow Chee Hoe, 41, does not plan to sell his three-roomer: "The new flats will be of high value."
For many older residents, there is a simpler reason for not selling: being able to stay in a familiar, convenient place.
Said retiree Arif Supaat, 74: "This place is easy for me to get around: There are the buses, the MRT, it's near the mosque."
Retiree Helen Lee, 70, agreed, adding: "If you move somewhere else, you won't know the neighbourhood any more."