Boon Keng DBSS flat that fetched $1.1 million is most expensive sold this year

Boon Keng DBSS flat that fetched $1.1 million is most expensive sold this year

This is the view that fetched $1.1 million.

The 28th-storey Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flat at City View @ Boon Keng (right) made headlines earlier this month because it became the most expensive public housing flat transacted so far this year.

The New Paper understands that the couple who bought the flat are "semi-retired".

The agent who helped broker the deal, Mr Kavin Kuah, 28, said the couple were attracted by the unblocked views of the Sports Hub, Marina Bay Sands and the sea in the distance.

"They will be able to enjoy the firework displays every National Day and New Year's Eve. The flat is also a stone's throw from shops and restaurants. To top it off, there is the Boon Keng MRT station," said Mr Kuah.

The seller, who wanted to be known only as Mr Tan, 35, told The Straits Times earlier that he thought he could try his luck, because "the location is very convenient".

Mr Tan and his wife had bought the flat for about $700,000, when the premium public housing project was launched in 2008. With this sale, they made a profit of more than $300,000.

Home buyers are growing more willing to dig deep into their pockets for public housing, this despite a depressed resale market.

The move underscored what housing experts say is a persistent demand by some buyers for premium units in central locations.

In January, City View became the second DBSS project to enter the resale market, after The Premiere in Tampines in 2014.

City View has been fetching higher prices due to its location, with three other units there crossing the $1 million mark.

Since January this year, 12 public housing flats have been resold for more than $1 million - 11 of which are five-room flats. One is an executive maisonette.


The "million-dollar flat" phenomenon started in 2012 with a unit at Block 149 Mei Ling Street in Queenstown.

At the peak of the property craze, a maisonette at Bishan sold for $1.05 million and last year, the Pinnacle@Duxton was ahead with about six flats reaching $1 million or more.

Head of auctions at Knight Frank, Ms Sharon Lee, said: "It's all about location, location, location. Singaporeans would pay that something extra to get a home in specific places - in town, near prominent schools, near good transport network.

"Also these million dollar apartments are located in town and at five to six years, are relatively new. If you look at other flats in the same area, they are much older."

Key executive officer of Spruce Realty Jasmine Lau, 42, said many of the buyers of these million dollar flats are young couples whose average gross monthly household income exceeds the income ceiling stipulated by the Housing Board for new flats.

"And apartments in the private condominiums are too expensive and out of their price range.

"By buying resale flats, they can still apply for government grants if they live near their parents. To them, that's a good deal.

"Besides, the monthly Service and Conservancy Charges would not be as high as the management fees at the condo," she said.

"Take the flat in City View that was recently sold for instance, it is about $800 per square foot (psf). A private condo, like Eight Riversuites nearby, with an equally good view would be priced at $1,300 psf.

"What this means is there would be half a million dollar difference in price," Ms Lau added.

Agreeing, Mr Kuah said: "The other group that would pay premium prices (for public housing) comprises older couples who are already established in their career or are semi-retired.

"They want the convenience of a centrally located flat with amenities such as the MRT and buses, shops and eateries near by."


Mr Kavin Kuah explained how he worked the ground despite the depressed market. "I worked really hard on this project, making sure I went for the right buyers, paying the right price for the right flat," he told The New Paper last week.

Part of ERA Realty Network, Mr Kuah started out about four years ago after he completed his national service. He was only 24.

With no contacts, no referrals and no money to print fliers or for advertisements, he pounded the pavement and knocked on doors. He would read the news and familiarise himself with the rules and regulations on websites of agencies such as the Housing Board, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore and the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

He would also call and meet agents to find out the latest transaction and asking prices.

His hard work paid off. Within two months, he was earning $20,000 to $30,000 in commissions.

He was top in resale transactions for 2013 and 2014. Last year, he was ERA's top achiever both here and in the Asia Pacific region.

Not even 30, Mr Kuah has already earned a median monthly gross commission of $119,873. He paid off his parents' mortgage when he made his first $200,000 in commissions.

"But it's not easy. Although there are opportunities around, it's all about hard work, commitment, passion and perseverance," he said.

Mr Kuah's philosophy: Help buyers get their dream home.


TNP posed these questions to key executive officer of Spruce Realty, Ms Jasmine Lau, 42:

Who are the buyers?

One group consists of young couples whose average gross monthly household income of $12,000 exceeds the ceiling stipulated by the Housing Board for new flats.

This means they are not eligible to buy them.

The other (group are) older, well-established couples, who probably have an empty nest and are looking to get a nice place, with a nice view and all the amenities nearby.

So what do buyers look for when they want a premium flat?

Apart from the better designs and better finishes, many want to live on the high floors because of the fantastic view.

At City View, you would want the unblocked sights of the Sports Hub, Marina Bay Sand and the sea. The Pinnacle@Duxton offers panoramic views of the skyscrapers, the port and the sea.

Another reason is the location of these premium flats. They are centrally placed so residents can enjoy convenient access to shops, restaurants, schools...

They are also a stone's throw away from MRT stations, providing residents with alternative transportation (methods) to go to the workplace or school.

Will the value of the flats appreciate?

Yes, but minimally.

These flats are relatively new now, only five years old. They are also in highly sought after locations. There are very few units that are high up and offer unblocked views. So if new buyers have the same criteria - good location and beautiful scenery - they will be willing to pay a higher premium.

This article was first published on August 18, 2016.
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