Depending on how old you were back in the early 2000s, you may have heard all about the now-defunct DBSS model for public housing, and how it was slated to be the next big thing for homeowners.
Short for Design, Build & Sell Scheme, the whole DBSS model basically revolved around HDB flats that were built by private developers, who had the autonomy to decide on the overall design, construction, and pricing of flats in the project. Because of this, DBSS flats often distinguished themselves from the other ‘normal’ HDB flats by having additional features, such as balconies, sky gardens, larger rooms, or even a whole additional room.
While the past few months have seen plenty of notable resale transactions involving executive apartments, maisonettes and of course the multitude of million-dollar HDB sales, we came across a recent sale involving a 3-room DBSS flat back in August, which caught our attention.
Here’s everything you need to know about the transaction, as well as our take on how the DBSS market might shape up in the immediate future.
3-room DBSS flat sold for $641K
Back in August this year, a 70sqm (753sqft) 3-room DBSS flat in Blk 9 Boon Keng Road was sold for $641K. It was a relatively low-lying flat located between the first and third stories, and had a remaining lease of over 87 years.
Image adapted from: HDB
If you’re familiar with the area, you might recognise the address; the flat belongs to a DBSS project called City View, which comprises 3 individual 40-storey high tower blocks and a total of 714 units. It’s also the only DBSS development in Boon Keng, with the next closest being The Peak @ Toa Payoh.
Location-wise, there are many things to love about City View. For starters, it’s situated just along the main Bendemeer Road, which has plenty of bus services plying the route – over 10 in fact – to take you to various parts of Singapore like Bukit Merah, East Coast and the CBD. Otherwise, both Boon Keng and Bendemeer MRT stations are a short walk away.
For those who drive, its relatively central location also means that you can more or less get to various parts of Singapore easily; for instance, heading into the CBD is a simple 15-minute affair, and the major highways of the CTE and PIE are but a short 5-minute drive away.
Of course, there are a few downsides as well. While being located right along Bendemeer Road is certainly a plus in terms of connectivity options, residents will have to contend with the constant noise generated from traffic, given that the road is quite a busy one at most times during both day and night. This would be a concern especially for those lower-level units.
Image adapted from: Google Maps
Another plus point to rave about City View is its proximity to various amenities and highlights. It is just across the road from the main Boon Keng Central area (called Boon Keng shopping mall), which has a giant food centre and market offering a multitude of food and grocery options.
Otherwise, there are also other independent dining outlets in and around the estate, including the likes of famous names such as Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice, a Harry Potter-themed café, and yes, McDonalds as well.
Even though City View is just across the road from a small industrial estate cluster which might dissuade some homebuyers, it really isn’t too much of an issue. Most, if not all, of the companies in the estate are not involved in heavy machinery or work, and so you’d need not be concerned with noise or air pollution.
Image credit: DirectHome
Another great thing to love about City View are the views that you can get, especially if you live on the higher floors. Depending on which unit you get and the orientation the unit is facing, you can potentially get great views of the skyline leading to the CBD, and even the sea all the way out at the East Coast.
History of sales of City View units
Image adapted from: HDB
Looking at the sales history of similar 3-room City View flats in the past 12 months, there seems to have been only a small handful of such transactions. Before the recent $641K sale in August, the previous sale was in fact all the way back in February. Otherwise, the characteristics of units sold are more or less similar, across metrics such as floor area and remaining leases.
Image adapted from: HDB
As for the 4-room unit sales in City Views, they too have not seen a whole lot of sales, with only 7 recorded sales in the past 12 years. Naturally, the higher resale price would be due to the larger floor size as well as being situated on the higher floors.
Image adapted from: HDB
Interestingly, 5-room units seem to have fared better in the resale market, with about 21 recorded sales in the same time period. Given their high floors and larger floor size this would naturally lead to significantly higher prices, and this is where your million-dollar price thresholds start to be broken.
Price trends for City View
Based on our checks, these were the indicative prices for City View flats, when the development was launched all the way back in 2008:
- 3-room: $349K – $394K
- 4-room: $523K – $597K
- 5-room: $$536K – $727K
14 years on, the various unit types have appreciated quite significantly in terms of value. For example, if we assume the higher price bracket for launch price and the highest recorded resale price in the last 12 months, 3-room units would have seen an average increase of 67% in value, 4-rooms an average of 60%, and 5-rooms a whopping 76%.
Based on our checks as of 8th Nov 2022, there are a small handful of current listings for City View units up for sale, although most of them seem to be 5-room units, with an average asking price of over a million dollars.
Will prices continue to rise in the future?
As we’ve established in our previous articles, one big factor in determining price trends in the resale market pertains to the exclusivity of units vis-a-vis the overall market. Unit types such as executive apartments, maisonettes, and yes, DBSS flats, would generally be guaranteed to see a continual climb in average resale price trends, given that they are no longer being produced today and so would have a limited supply in the overall market.
Of course, we would have to also understand what makes DBSS units so attractive. We can probably establish that floor size isn’t too big of a consideration, given that the average floor area of the various DBSS unit types aren’t that significantly different from the BTO offerings that you get today. And of course, they would pale in comparison to the huge floor area of other ‘exclusive’ unit types like maisonettes and executive apartments.
Image credit: Natura Loft at Bishan
One key selling point of DBSS flats lies in how it distinguishes itself from the ‘normal’ cookie-cutter HDB units you can get in the market. For example, some DBSS developments like City View have balconies that come with the unit, which you won’t get in normal BTO projects.
Other DBSS projects have interesting features like floor-to-ceiling windows or even gated entrances into the development, which some might value. It also helps that quite a number of the DBSS projects are located in popular estates and/or central locations with plenty of accessibility options and amenities, and these would also contribute to the appeal of DBSS flats.
And so in summary, yes we can expect prices to continue to rise, especially in tandem with recent upward movements in the resale market in general. However, given the recent cooling measures implemented by the government last month coupled with the high inflationary environment that we’re facing, there’s a good chance that we will see some slower growth in terms of price trends moving forward.
Cover image adapted from: Zidane Design Associates