With the rising demand for Build-To-Order (BTO) flats, the Housing Development Board (HDB) has measures in place to ensure that homes remain affordable here.
So when homeowners sell their flats for a profit, it raises eyebrows.
One such home is a five-room unit along Bukit Batok East Avenue 6 that was listed for $688,888 on PropertyGuru last Sunday (Dec 18).
This unit was flagged by a netizen in the comments of Minister for National Development Desmond Lee's Facebook post on Monday (Dec 19) about the selling of BTO flats and minimum occupation period (MOP).
In his post, Lee shared that those who did not move into their flats for five years are not allowed to sell them as “almost brand new” on the resale market.
Lee said: "If the owners are unable to fulfil the MOP, then the flat needs to be returned to HDB.
"HDB will then put it up as a balance flat for other home buyers to apply for."
Lee's post comes after a recent report about a five-room flat in Yishun that was listed for sale in its original BTO condition. That unit was apparently left vacant for eight years because the buyers moved into their family's landed property.
Toilet bowl wrapped in plastic
For the Bukit Batok listing, the flat was under the BTO project SkyPeak @ Bukit Batok that was launched in March 2013.
Completed in 2017, this unit would have just completed its MOP this year.
A five-room 1,000 sq ft unit had a selling price from $411,000 onwards – excluding grants – then. If this current unit is sold at the asking price of $688,888 today, the owners would have gained almost 70 per cent in profit.
Accompanying photos in the listing showed that the flat appeared to be in its pristine original BTO condition – even the toilet bowl still wrapped in plastic.
With the lack of curtain rods and rail and furniture, the empty house suggests that it has been left vacant when it was put up for sale.
Describing the homeowner as a "motivated seller", the property agent wrote: "High floor, nice unit number and blank canvas. No need to spend money to hack anything."
AsiaOne has contacted the agent on whether the homeowners have ever lived in the flat but she has not replied to our questions.
Penalties for flat owners who breach HDB rules
According to HDB rules, BTO flat buyers have to physically occupy their flat during MOP the moment they get their keys, which is five years for BTO flats.
After fulfilling the MOP, they can then choose to sell or rent it in the open market.
Flat owners who are facing bankruptcy or going through a divorce have to meet additional conditions from HDB before they are allowed to sell their flat before the MOP.
HDB may issue a written warning, impose a financial penalty of up to $50,000, or recover flats from errant owners who have breached the rules.
ALSO READ: What an HDB second-timer must know before deciding to sell
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