Is it really mad to pay $1 million for a Woodlands HDB flat? We find out if there are better condo alternatives

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

I can’t help but notice that Singapore’s resale HDB prices have been performing inversely to the stock market (for the last few weeks at least).

It was just earlier in May that a 5-room flat at City Vue @ Henderson broke the record for the most expensive HDB ever transacted – at a staggering $1.4 million. It’s anyone’s guess when it would be next broken again – but I certainly wouldn’t bet against it being surpassed very soon.

And so despite all the market turmoil, May has had quite the bumper crop of million-dollar HDB transactions. 30 of them, as compared to 22 in April. While it is just 1.4 per cent of the total resale transactions in May, there were a couple more deals elsewhere that really caught my attention. 

2 non-mature estates, Pasir Ris and Woodlands, recorded their first million-dollar HDB resale transactions. We did write about these seven non-mature areas that were creeping towards a million dollar transactions in April, so perhaps it should come as no surprise to anyone. But before you get into a frenzy at how crazy HDB prices are getting, you should know that these units are quite unlike most other HDB units.

PHOTO: Stackedhomes
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

In Pasir Ris, this was a massive 2,034 square feet Executive Maisonette penthouses unit. At that size and height, this is as rare as they come. We actually picked it up in our Units Of The Week issue in March, as besides the size, it has a very special balcony on the first floor (yes, it has 2 floors). 

Likewise at Woodlands, both Executive flats were at an equally spacious 2,034 square feet. Again, these are sizes that are way beyond what you’d typically see in most HDB flats. 

Here’s what you would have got for $1.04 million:

832 Woodlands St 83 sold for $1,040,000

View the listing

Tenure: Oct 1994

Remaining lease: 71 years four months

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

Block recent transactions:

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

Transactions beyond $800,00 in woodlands

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

Frankly, at this size (4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms) for multi-gen living, it’s hard to see where else you can get such space at that price. It comes with a separate living and dining space, as well as a huge kitchen and even a family room. 

This particular one was also a high-floor unit that looked over the opposite block and at the much favoured corner stack facing Fu Shan Garden. It is also within walking distance to the newly renovated Woodlands North Plaza and 888 Plaza for your basic necessities.

Finally, you are also very close to Woodlands Central, and the dual-line Woodlands MRT that serves the Thomson East Coast and North-South line. So while Woodlands is as far as they come, it is undeniably very conveniently located.

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

Still, like what happened with Henderson, there are probably many people that aren’t able to understand who would want to pay a million bucks for an HDB in these far-off locations. Are Singaporeans really that flush with cash? Or are there really no other options at that price point?

I’d think people are more surprised about Woodlands reaching $1 million than Pasir Ris, so perhaps let’s start there. 

Here’s what else $1 million can get you in Woodlands:

What 4 bedroom condo units can $1 million get you in Woodlands

Project Price Size $PSF Sale Date Address Tenure
PARC ROSEWOOD $1,260,088 1,787 $705 Jan 26, 22 73 ROSEWOOD DRIVE #05 99 yrs from 07/09/2011
ROSEWOOD $1,500,000 2,153 $697 June 11, 21 11 ROSEWOOD DRIVE #17 99 yrs from 20/06/2000

Source: URA. Transactions from May 2021 – April 2022. Disclaimer: 4 bedroom sizes were matched through URA’s available records and may not reflect all 4 bedrooms that may have actually transacted.

It’s a tall ask, and I certainly didn’t even think it would be possible. And as expected, at a $1 million price point, you definitely aren’t able to get anything at that price point.

PHOTO: Stackedhomes
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

However, if you do bump your budget up to $1.26 million you can get a 1,786 square feet 4 bedroom penthouse at Parc Rosewood. It isn’t the same size though, and would definitely feel smaller in reality given it is set over 2 floors and has 2 balconies and an open roof terrace. 

It is much newer though, as it only TOP-ed in 2014, as compared to 1994 for the Woodlands unit. And it comes with luxuries like 10 swimming pools to choose from. It does make that fight between the two a little harder to decide, but I still can’t imagine that anyone looking for such a space would opt for the private option instead. 

So since we couldn’t find anything at the strictest criteria, let’s open it up a little – instead of a 4 bedroom unit, what about something of a similar size?

What similar-sized 2,000+ square foot condo units can $1 million get you in Woodlands

Project Price Size $PSF Sale Date Address Tenure
NORTHOAKS $1,290,000 2,486 $519 July 19, 21 26 WOODLANDS CRESCENT #15 99 yrs from 16/12/1997
NORTHOAKS $1,450,000 2,486 $583 Jan 28, 22 30 WOODLANDS CRESCENT #15 99 yrs from 16/12/1997
WOODGROVE CONDOMINIUM $1,460,000 2,034 $718 Nov 26, 21 12 WOODGROVE DRIVE #04 99 yrs from 17/05/1997
WOODGROVE CONDOMINIUM $1,488,000 2,024 $735 May 11, 21 8 WOODGROVE DRIVE #02 99 yrs from 17/05/1997
PARC ROSEWOOD $1,490,000 2,250 $662 Mar 7, 22 87 ROSEWOOD DRIVE #05 99 yrs from 07/09/2011
ROSEWOOD $1,500,000 2,153 $697 June 11, 21 11 ROSEWOOD DRIVE #17 99 yrs from 20/06/2000
FORESTVILLE $1,535,000 1,991 $771 May 17, 21 36 WOODLANDS DRIVE 16 #12 99 yrs from 06/08/2012
PARC ROSEWOOD $1,539,000 2,250 $684 Sep 7, 21 87 ROSEWOOD DRIVE #05 99 yrs from 07/09/2011
FORESTVILLE $1,850,000 2,217 $834 June 11, 21 32 WOODLANDS DRIVE 16 #13 99 yrs from 06/08/2012
FORESTVILLE $2,080,000 2,465 $844 Sep 8, 21 36 WOODLANDS DRIVE 16 #13 99 yrs from 06/08/2012

Source: URA. Transactions from May 2021 – April 2022.

Looking at options that are sized 2,000 plus square feet and above, the results are again unsurprisingly not comparable at all.

The closest option is a 2,486 square-foot Northoaks EC unit, which is bigger on paper. But because it’s a penthouse unit set over 2 levels, it may actually have less interior space given that you have to account for the stairs and 2 large terrace spaces on the second floor as well. 

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

But the real issue here is the price. The cheapest unit was sold for $1.29 million (which is already nearly 30 per cent higher), but do note that this was in July 2021. A closer transaction would be the one in Jan 2022, which had quite a big price increase at $1.45 million!

Next, let’s look at 4 bedroom options in Woodlands – if the size isn’t a concern. 

What 4 bedroom condo units can $1 million get you in Woodlands

Project Price Size $PSF Sale Date Address Tenure
FORESTVILLE $1,090,000 1,249 $873 June 24, 21 32 WOODLANDS DRIVE 16 #07 99 yrs from 06/08/2012
NORTHOAKS $1,100,000 1,485 $741 Feb 18, 22 20 WOODLANDS CRESCENT #13 99 yrs from 16/12/1997
TWIN FOUNTAINS $1,100,000 1,270 $866 Sept 16, 21 17A WOODLANDS AVENUE 6 #02 99 yrs from 19/12/2012
FORESTVILLE $1,120,000 1,195 $937 July12, 21 46 WOODLANDS DRIVE 16 #10 99 yrs from 06/08/2012
FORESTVILLE $1,120,000 1,195 $937 Oct 1, 21 42 WOODLANDS DRIVE 16 #08 99 yrs from 06/08/2012
FORESTVILLE $1,120,000 1,195 $937 Oct 14, 21 46 WOODLANDS DRIVE 16 #07 99 yrs from 06/08/2012
FORESTVILLE $1,140,000 1,259 $905 Aug 6, 21 36 WOODLANDS DRIVE 16 #05 99 yrs from 06/08/2012
FORESTVILLE $1,140,000 1,292 $883 Sept 16, 21 30 WOODLANDS DRIVE 16 #02 99 yrs from 06/08/2012
FORESTVILLE $1,150,000 1,292 $890 May 17, 21 26 WOODLANDS DRIVE 16 #07 99 yrs from 06/08/2012
FORESTVILLE $1,150,000 1,292 $890 July 9, 21 26 WOODLANDS DRIVE 16 #06 99 yrs from 06/08/2012
TWIN FOUNTAINS $1,150,000 1,206 $954 June 1, 21 19A WOODLANDS AVENUE 6 #04 99 yrs from 19/12/2012
TWIN FOUNTAINS $1,150,000 1,206 $954 June 18, 21 19A WOODLANDS AVENUE 6 #05 99 yrs from 19/12/2012
TWIN FOUNTAINS $1,160,888 1,206 $963 June 29, 21 19A WOODLANDS AVENUE 6 #10 99 yrs from 19/12/2012

Source: URA. Transactions from May 2021 to April 2022.

As with the previous scenario, the cheapest option is a 4-bedroom unit at Northoaks. At 1,485 square feet, it is undoubtedly smaller, with one of the common bedrooms in a really awkward shape. At $1.1 million though, it is again more expensive. But Northoaks was built in 2001 so it is seven years newer and does offer facilities like a huge swimming pool, and a tennis and squash court. 

PHOTO: Stackedhomes

The next option is a $1.12 million 4-bedroom unit at Forestville EC. At 1,195 square feet, this is much smaller and of course, isn’t a direct comparison when it comes to size.

But considering this is much newer (completed in 2016), and also has your usual condo facilities, this could represent a rather reasonable option to think about. That said, while it does have a nicely sized junior master bedroom with an ensuite, both common bedrooms are on the small side and can probably just fit a single bed. 

Now as we’ve been unsuccessful so far at finding any real comparables in Woodlands, let’s look at our last resort – what similar-sized units are we able to find at a $1 million price point in the whole of Singapore?

What 2,000 square feet and up condo units can we find for $1 million in Singapore

Project Price Size $PSF Sale Date Address Tenure
TEACHER’S HOUSING ESTATE $1,000,000 2,196 $455 Sep 30, 21 1A KALIDASA AVENUE 999 yrs from 02/12/1885
LAKESIDE TOWER $1,120,000 1,981 $565 Aug 20, 21 9H YUAN CHING ROAD #04 99 yrs from 01/11/1975
NICON GARDENS $1,200,000 2,013 $596 Nov 1, 21 61H CHOA CHU KANG ROAD 99 yrs from 21/10/1981
NORTHOAKS $1,290,000 2,486 $519 July 19, 21 26 WOODLANDS CRESCENT #15 99 yrs from 16/12/1997
GOODLINK PARK $1,300,000 2,077 $626 May 27, 21 359A SEMBAWANG ROAD Freehold
THE FLORIDA $1,350,000 2,034 $664 June 11, 21 78 HOUGANG AVENUE 7 #16 99 yrs from 16/12/1997

Source: URA. Transactions from May 2021 to April 2022.

I have to say, I was quite surprised that there was just one close (but not an exact) comparable option. 

But before we get there, you might have noticed that there is an apartment at Teacher’s Housing Estate that was transacted at $1 million for a 2,196 square feet – which translates to just $455 psf!

Given how this is a 999-year leasehold as good as freehold space as well, the price just seems too good to be true in this day and age. As such, I’m not going to give it the benefit of doubt here, and I’ll just ignore this as a comparison. 

The only other option we are left with is a 1,980 square feet unit at Lakeside Tower that was sold for $1.12 million. While the unit sizes here are similar, it is again more expensive here. 

That said, this is an even older option (it was built in 1981) and like the Woodlands HDB, has no facilities to speak of.

It does have a better location in that it faces the scenic Jurong Lake and gardens. And seeing as its neighbour Lakeside Apartments has just gone en bloc for $273.9 million (and with the transformation of the Jurong Lake District) some may argue that it may just be a matter of time before Lakeside Tower will get sold as well.  

Final words

Just as how I concluded with Henderson, there is really no right or wrong option when it comes to housing. 

As long as you aren’t looking at an investment based on numbers, buying a home can be a very emotional purchase.

Sometimes you may not even be very enthused from looking at the photos on a listing, but once you actually visit the space, the vibe and feel can be a very different prospect altogether. And suddenly, you feel more drawn to the space that is hard to explain. 

And so even if it may not make as much sense on paper, you can envision the space to be one of a comforting home – and depending on your circumstance, sometimes worth the price the owner is asking for – as ridiculous as it may sound to others.

Just like with both cases so far, you can see that if you are looking for a home that has this amount of space for that $1 million mark, you really can’t find a single comparable that can match up. 

And if that’s important to you, who can say that it’s a bad decision?

This article was first published in Stackedhomes.