Residential properties in Bukit Merah and Toa Payoh are sought after for their close proximity to the city. They’re both mature estates with plenty of amenities right at people’s fingertips. As a result, real estate in these areas are historically costlier – with resale prices as high as $402,500 for a 3-room and $750,000 for a 4-room flat.
That’s why it might come as a bit of a shocker to most that some of the cheapest transacted prices for HDB resale units in the months of May and June came from these two HDB towns. From as low as $227,000, these 1-room and 2-room resale flats are proof that affordable gems can still be sussed out in expensive neighbourhoods.
Where are these resale units?
7 Telok Blangah Crescent.
Image adapted from: Google Maps
Image adapted from: HDB
In May and June 2022, 2 1-room resale flats on 7 Telok Blangah Crescent were sold for $227,000 and $230,000, respectively. They are each approximately 333sqft in size with a less than 52 years’ lease left. The flat with the cheapest logged price sits somewhere on the 7th-9th floor. Comparatively, the median prices for 2-room flats in this area was about $245,000 in 2021.
There were another 2 resale flat sales (2-room) in the area with one along Telok Blangah Drive and Jalan Bukit Ho Swee. These both sold for $240,000 in May and June this year, with the Jln Bukit Ho Swee flat with under 50 years left on the lease.
120 Lorong 2 Toa Payoh.
Image adapted from: Google Maps
Like Bukit Merah, Toa Payoh is also a mature estate sitting on prime land and its resale prices are also telling of just how valuable its real estate is. In the last 6 months alone, we’ve seen over 19 resale flats in Toa Payoh sold for more than $1M.
Image adapted from: HDB
Yet, not all properties in the estate can necessarily fetch a premium. Most recently, there were two 2-room resale units that have sold for $240,000 and $242,000, respectively.
More about the 2-room in question: they’re located on 54 Lorong 5 Toa Payoh and 120 Lorong 2 Toa Payoh, between the 1st and 3rd floors. This might not be so attractive to potential buyers, who seek to purchase homes away from the streets, or with a better view of the surrounding environment.
While the unit on Telok Blangah Drive has a floor area of 44sqm (approximately 474sqft), the one on Jalan Bukit Ho Swee has a floor area of 34sqm (approximately 363 sqft).
If you’re interested to know the prices of the 3-room flats in this same area, they typically list for about $300,000-$400,000 and are sized around 646-753sqft.
While it’s normal for flats with shorter remaining leases to go for less, homeowners looking to sell will usually place a higher price tag on an HDB in a mature and popular area such as Telok Blangah – especially at a time like this where the property market is at a high. This is what makes the sale of these flats an outlier.
What are the implications of buying a flat with <50 years left on the lease?
Older flats are notoriously associated with higher renovation quotes, bigger maintenance bills and decaying values. Beyond that, buyers looking to purchase a flat with a shorter lease should also consider how this might affect financing through bank loans.
Expect to face restrictions on loan-to-value (LTV) limits, because these flats are prorated based on the extent to which the remaining lease can cover buyers till the age of 95. In other words, there’ll be a cap on the amount you’ll be able to borrow to finance an older flat.
Still, buyers are eligible for various housing grants, although they’re prorated as well. First-timers can consider the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG), while second-time buyers and families can look to the Step-Up CPF Housing Grant (Families) and the Proximity Housing Grant (Families) to help with the financing of a new home.
Selling an older flat like this in the future might also pose a challenge as it might not be eligible for HDB’s Lease Buyback Scheme in the future. These factors might serve to explain why these and the following resale flats are significantly cheaper than those on the market.
What are in these areas?
Being in a prime location seems to be these neighbourhoods’ greatest selling point – a major factor that explains the high demand and exorbitant prices for its HDB resale flats. But what does this entail? With a more central location comes greater connectivity, as well as close proximity to various amenities and Singapore’s central region.
This is clear to see from the rising prices of newer HDB developments in the area, like The Peak @ Toa Payoh, where properties are still sought after despite their hefty million-dollar price tag. In August 2021, a 5-room unit at this DBSS development sold for a record $1,238,000 – its floor area measures 1,227sqft.
So let’s take a closer look at what makes these neighbourhoods so special and why they have been so sought after.
Bukit Merah is home to local favourite haunt and hipster estate Tiong Bahru, as well as some of Singapore’s most well-known parks and amenities. Residents can head to Mount Faber Park or Labrador Park to jog or cycle, while soaking up the sights of lush foliage and immersing oneself in the tranquil sounds of nature.
At the very edge of the planning area also lies Harbourfront Centre and VivoCity – the latter is Singapore’s biggest mall. If you fancy a short getaway from the fast-paced Singaporean life, you need only travel through Sentosa Gateway to get to the attractions at Sentosa Island.
Toa Payoh’s Dragon Playground.
Image credit: @bloo_si
Toa Payoh is perhaps best known for its iconic Dragon Playground and affordable, yet hearty hawker options. From the long-queues at Soon Heng Rojak on Lorong 6 Toa Payoh to the greasy, yet delectable goreng pisang from Toa Payoh Lucky Pisang Raja, this neighbourhood is a foodie haven that should not be missed.
With its close proximity to the central region, residents can also easily head down to the nearby Orchard district for a plethora of shopping options, which is a short 12 minutes’ drive away.
Other neighbourhoods to look out for affordable resale flats
Like the two estates mentioned previously, other mature HDB towns have been shown to offer affordable resale flats as well. These rare gems range from 2- to 3-room flats, just right for couples looking to buy their first home on a budget, singles, or for older folks looking to downsize to a smaller home.
At the same time, if you’re looking for estates on the fringe of Singapore’s central area, that’re rich in amenities, or well-connected in terms of public transportation – here are 3 neighbourhoods we’ve flagged out for you.
Ang Mo Kio
Image credit: @johnsgfun
Spanning 12 districts in total, Ang Mo Kio is Singapore’s 3rd most populated planning area. In May 2022, the cheapest resale flat in the area was a 2-room unit which sold for $243,000. This is an anomaly because prices for 2-room HDB resales in the area typically start from $300,000-350,000.
Ang Mo Kio is known for being a family-friendly neighbourhood with a great network of public schools in the area, and even special education schools like Pathlight School. Let’s also not forget its close proximity to Singapore’s town area and the CBD district, both of which are about a 20-minute drive away.
As we speak, Ang Mo Kio is also in the midst of being remodelled into a cycling town, with more bicycle parking lots and cycling paths being produced. This will be great for households who wish to live in a car-lite community with less air pollution.
Singapore Sports Hub.
Image credit: @paper.shooting
In June and May alone, 2 3-room resale flats on Jalan Bahagia sold for $251,000 and $259,000, respectively. Yet, it greatly contrasts with the $350,000-$500,000 range that the area usually offers for 3-room resale flats.
It‘s no surprise that these neighbourhoods fetch a premium, considering that they are also fitness hubs, with access to sporting facilities like the Singapore Sports Hub and Kallang Water Sports Centre.
The Kallang/Whampoa planning area is also located near the central region of Singapore – just a 12- to 13-minute drive to the CBD and Orchard shopping district. At the same time, for those who take public transport, the area is well-connected to the rest of the island – residents can easily access 4 of Singapore’s 6 MRT lines here.
Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.
Image credit: @mister.faz
Bishan is home to some of Singapore’s most prestigious institutions in Singapore, including Raffles Institution, Eunoia Junior College, and the Australian International School. Parents living in the area can look forward to sending their children to these competitive schools in the near future.
You can also find the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park here, one of Singapore’s largest parks. With more than 62 hectares of open lawns, a winding river, and even a butterfly habitat that houses over 20 species of butterflies – the park is a beautiful location for recreational and fitness activities.
With the potential that this area promises, it’s a no-brainer that Bishan experiences a healthy demand for its residential properties. It’s also one of Singapore’s most expensive neighbourhoods, due to its close proximity to the Orchard shopping district – only a 15-minute drive away.
In May 2022, a 3-room improved resale flat on Sin Ming Road sold for $258,000 – significantly cheaper than the average price of $362,000; listings online have also revealed 3-room resale flats in Bishan with prices that have exceeded $1M.
What’s next for HDB resale prices in Bukit Merah and Toa Payoh?
In the first quarter of 2022 according to HDB’s Public Housing data, HDB resale prices have gone up by 2.4% from the previous quarter, with median prices for 3-, 4-, and 5-room resale flats exemplifying an upward trend.
In the last 5 years, both Bukit Merah and Toa Payoh charted a dip in prices from 2019-2020, as well as a significant rise in 2021 to -2022. However, these still place the median prices of these flats at an affordable price of about $220,000 for 1-room resale flats and $250,000 or so for 2-room flats; considering that some have gone for $385,000 and even as high as $560,000.
Just taking a look at resale prices for 3-room flats in Bukit Merah, we can see that the median resale price has gone up from $350,000 to $402,500 in the first quarter of 2022 – a significant jump in figures.
Prices had generally dipped in 2020, which could have been attributed to a fall in demand and financial struggles that some Singaporeans faced during the pandemic-induced recession at the time. The price of these resale flats have since picked up, averaging between $350,000-$450,000 for 2-room units.
With the newly launched BTO and Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) in the May 2022 cycle, as well as the upcoming new flats under HDB’s Prime Location Housing model (PLH), HDB resale prices have started to cool. Meanwhile, we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for certain outlier units that could list for prices as low as $227,000.
For more of the latest real estate scoop and insights:
- Yishun flats cross the $1M mark in May/June 2022
- HDB flats in Toa Payoh exceed $1M
- Guide to PLH projects
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