The HDB resale portal - a site that streamlines the buying and selling of resale flats - is being launched today, 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 in using their SingPass.
To ease the transition, the Housing Board is deploying a team to man a dedicated customer service hotline and a helpdesk at HDB Hub. In addition, an HDB customer relations manager will be assigned after a resale application is accepted. The public can also attend seminars to learn about the 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 the different ethnic groups, as well as recent transacted prices of nearby units.
Real estate analysts have largely welcomed the 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 last year were completed without an agent.
AGENT'S ROLE STILL RELEVANT
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 administrative portal.
MR EUGENE LIM, key executive officer of property agency ERA Realty.
"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 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 time until March for the old transaction process to be cleared, Mr Lim said. There are now about 7,000 ongoing resale cases.
While the portal is expected to smoothen the transaction process, some believe it would not impact resale transaction volumes too much.
Resale prices, the needs of buyers and sellers, and market conditions will have a bigger influence on transaction volumes, said Edmund Tie & Co head of research Lee Nai Jia.
Electronic payment, however, may be a potential challenge. "Customers who 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," said Mr Lim.
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 administrative portal," said Mr Eugene Lim, key executive officer of property agency ERA Realty.
DBS customer service officer Xavier Chia, who got his Build-To-Order flat in 2016 and participated in the final testing of the portal, 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," said Mr Chia, 31.
"But the portal should include instructions in other languages. At least give people the option."