Two-room HDB flexi flats a big hit with seniors

Over half of the buyers are aged 55 and above, with many of them opting for short leases

Madam Hamidah Rosman and her husband Abdul Rahim Abdullah sold their four-room resale HDB flat in Yishun for about $370,000 before moving into a two-room flexi unit in Canberra in 2019.
Madam Hamidah Rosman and her husband Abdul Rahim Abdullah sold their four-room resale HDB flat in Yishun for about $370,000 before moving into a two-room flexi unit in Canberra in 2019.ST PHOTOS: CHONG JUN LIANG
Aura and Eden (left) are two of the couple's three grandchildren who live with them in the flat, along with the kids' mother. The property cost around $70,000.
Aura and Eden (left) are two of the couple's three grandchildren who live with them in the flat, along with the kids' mother. The property cost around $70,000. ST PHOTOS: CHONG JUN LIANG

Two-room flexi flats have proved popular with seniors, with more than half of the buyers aged 55 and above, figures revealed yesterday.

Singles have been the second largest group purchasing the units since they were introduced six years ago, the Housing Board said.

As at Dec 31 last year, about 34,700 two-room flexi flats had been launched for sale since they were rolled out in 2015.

And 84 per cent - or 25,189 - of the 29,924 units offered have been booked by buyers, said the HDB. Selections are still ongoing for the remaining 4,700 units.

Of these buyers, 56 per cent were seniors aged 55 and above.

Singles made up 38 per cent while the remaining 6 per cent were families.

Among the flats purchased by seniors, 92 per cent were on short leases. The remainder were on 99-year leases.

The 40-year lease was the most popular, at 4,046 units, followed by the 35-year one at 3,526 and the 30-year type at 2,291.

Only 215 senior buyers opted for the shortest lease of 15 years, with the oldest buyer being 99 when applying for a flat with such a lease.

Sizes for these flats range from 36 to 46 sq m.

Senior buyers pay less for a flat with a shorter lease.

In this month's BTO sales exercise, prices for a two-room flexi flat with a 15-year lease started at $34,000 at West Hill @ Bukit Batok and $39,000 at Parc Woods @ Tengah, both non-mature estates.

Prices for the same flat with a 99-year lease started from $101,000 at Bukit Batok and $110,000 in Tengah.

These short-lease homes will have to be paid for fully upfront with cash or Central Provident Fund (CPF) monies.

Another housing option for seniors are the assisted living HDB flats, targeted at those above 65 who wish to live on their own and yet enjoy some care, support and communal activities.

The pilot batch of Community Care Apartments at Harmony Village @ Bukit Batok, which were launched in this month's Build-To-Order (BTO) sales exercise, were well received.

There were 706 applicants vying for the 169 units on offer.

The Government has previously said that it has plans for the Community Care Apartments model to be piloted at additional sites if the take-up rate and public response for the pilot in Bukit Batok is good.

Government subsidies such as the Silver Housing Bonus (SHB), which gives seniors a cash bonus of up to $30,000 when they sell their existing flat and use the proceeds to top up their CPF Retirement Account, are applicable.

As at Dec 31 last year, 970 households have benefited from the SHB, said the HDB.

In the upcoming May and August BTO sales exercises, the HDB will launch two-room flexi flats in Geylang, Hougang, Jurong East, Tampines, Tengah and Woodlands.

Madam Hamidah Rosman, 65, who works as a clerical officer, and her husband Abdul Rahim Abdullah, 73, sold their four-room resale HDB flat in Yishun for about $370,000 before moving into a two-room flexi unit in Canberra in December 2019.

The flat, on a 35-year lease, cost around $70,000. The couple's daughter and three grandchildren, aged six to 10, live with them.

What the family of six lack in space, they make up for in financial freedom.

"It was not easy for me to keep up with the housing bills in the previous flat. With this new flat, although smaller in size, I have smaller bills to pay," said Madam Hamidah.

OrangeTee & Tie senior vice-president of research and analytics Christine Sun said the short-lease two-room flexi flats are one way for seniors to monetise their existing units but still ensure they have a roof over their heads.

"Some seniors may opt to cash out and sell their bigger flat that they bought a long time ago and buy a cheaper short-lease two-room flexi to leave a sum of inheritance money for their children," she added.

"Others may simply just want to live in a smaller home to enjoy their retirement life."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 28, 2021, with the headline 'Two-room HDB flexi flats a big hit with seniors'. Subscribe