Home buyers in a 'seller's market'

PHOTO: Home buyers in a 'seller's market'

THE cash over valuation (COV) for their 11th-storey four-room flat in Punggol was $60,000.

Operations manager, Mr B. Wong, 32, and his wife would not be able to afford the COV had they not sold their previous flat, a third-storey four-room unit, also in Punggol.

Said Mr Wong: "We wouldn't be able to afford the COV if we didn't have money left from the proceeds of our flat.

"My wife just gave birth and we have a two-year-old child - it would be a huge stretch on our finances if we had to cough up that kind of cash.

"I guess I would have to borrow from relatives or choose not to buy the flat," he said.

Mr Wong got $39,000 in COV when he sold his flat.

Property agent Tia Tan told The New Paper that COV in Punggol and Pasir Ris have in recent months averaged $40,000 to $50,000.

"There are some sellers in Tampines who have been asking for $70,000 to $80,000 for COV, but these are flats near MRT stations and town amenities," Ms Tan said.

Yesterday in Parliament, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan acknowledged that home buyers are in a "seller's market", as they have to pay above the value assessed by professional valuers.

Said Mr Khaw: "HDB has always advised buyers to think carefully before agreeing to a price that's substantially above what the professional valuers have estimated."

He was responding to Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC Baey Yam Keng, who had highlighted the increasing COV figures and wanted to know if the system could be fine-tuned to make resale flats more affordable.

Mr Khaw said: "Resale prices are determined by willing buyers and sellers; the Government cannot intervene to determine the transaction prices for buyers andsellers."


'Informed decisions'

However, the Ministry of National Development can help "players make informed decisions through timely release of pricing data via the HDB website", hesaid.

On Monday, Mr Khaw had warned that housing prices could "rise beyond sustainable levels" because the global environment of low interest rates looks set tocontinue, owing to monetary expansion in the US and Europe.

This prompted the Monetary Authority of Singapore to restrict the length and size of home loans earlier this month to curb over-buying, Mr Khaw said on Monday.

Faced with the prospect of rising property prices, pre-school teacher Adeline Koh told TNP that she is adopting a wait-and-see approach.

The 41-year-old, who is single, had sold her four-room flat last year. She is now living with her sister.

Said Ms Koh: "I was originally looking to downgrade to a smaller a flat, but I'm not so sure now.

"I've been looking for a four-room flat in Tampines or Pasir Ris and the COVs have ranged between $30,000 and $50,000.

She added: "I'm not in a urgent rush to get a flat and I can pay for the COV from the proceeds of my flat, but my sentiment would be different if I have children in tow, need a home urgently, and can't afford the COV."

Mr Baey also asked if the basis of valuation for all HDB flats - resale, flats affected by Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme, or flats that are compulsorily acquired - is the same.

Mr Khaw said: "Their values are assessed by a panel of professional valuers, based on established valuation principles, such as location, size, storey height and the extent of renovations."

In the written reply to a parliamentary question from Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Gan Thiam Poh, who asked if the ministry would reconsider building more executive maisonettes (EMs), MND said that executive condominiums (ECs) come in a broader range of sizes, including duplexes that are similar to EMs.

"The EC is better placed to meet the diverse needs of Singaporeans, there is no need to re-introduce EMs," it said.

ECs range from 69 to 324 sq m, while EMs ranged from 138 to 243 sq m.

ECs also have more unique design features and are sold with initial eligibility and ownership restrictions to help keep prices affordable, MND pointed out in its written reply.

Additionally, executive condos become private property with no restrictions on their sale after 10 years - this meets the private housing aspirations of Singaporeans, MND added.

Highest COV for resale flats

  • Executive maisonette at Bishan: $250,000
  • Executive maisonette at Bishan: $200,000
  • Executive maisonette at Queenstown: $198,000
  • Executive maisonette at Tampines: $168,080
  • Five-room flat on Holland Drive: $135,000