Would You Pay $1.6M For An Executive Maisonette In Bukit Timah?

13 December 2022 | BY

How much are you willing to spend on an HDB Flat? Do you think paying $1.6M for a maisonette in Bukit Timah is worth it?

With the way property prices have been going for the better part of this year, it seems like new record-highs are being set every other month. Homeowners are capitalising on the market and selling high, while homebuyers who fear that prices will become financially out of reach, are jumping into buy.

After all, when you have a dwindling supply of preferred housing options coupled with high demand and plenty of cash-rich Singaporeans, it’s more or less the perfect brew for a flourishing property market with some eye-watering prices.

We now know that million-dollars HDBs are no longer outliers, but have become increasingly the norm in the resale market, especially for highly-sought after unit types. A check on property listing platforms will reveal many flats asking for upwards of a million, and in particular, as high as $1.6M!

Join us as we chat to some property owners if they’d pay that high a price tag for an executive maisonette, and if not, what would be their preferred alternatives.

Executive maisonette in Bukit Timah sold for 1.29M

Speaking of Executive maisonettes making the news, yet another one made headlines for being the most expensive executive flat sold in Singapore, just in this month alone.

Located at Blk 3 Toh Yi Drive – which is in the Bukit Timah estate, the 1,615sqft Executive Maisonette (EM) was sold for $1.291M, which translates to around $799psf.  

Image adapted from: Google Maps

Curiously, it seems that Toh Yi Drive is the street for expensive executive maisonettes in Bukit Timah; before this Blk 3 $1.291M sale, the previous record holder for the most expensive executive flat in Bukit Timah belong to one in the neighbouring Blk 6 Toh Yi Drive, which was sold for $1.28M in September. 

Given that it was sold at around $814psf, some might say that it’s still the most expensive executive flat sold, at least in terms of psf price rather than absolute selling price.

The $1.291M sale makes our Blk 3 EM the most expensive HDB executive flat of all time. Previously, the most expensive executive flats were sold for around $1.288M – two of which were in Queenstown, and one in Bishan. Of course, as far as we can remember, this isn’t the most expensive HDB resale flat of all time; that record still lies with a 5-room loft unit at Skyville @ Dawson, which was sold for $1.41M in July.

Toh Yi Drive – a hidden gem in Bukit Timah
A renovated Executive Maisonette on Toh Yi Drive.
Image credit: Zenith Arc Interior Design

In any case, the fact that the flat is located in Bukit Timah certainly lends a sort of allure to it. The estate is well known for being the enclave of the rich and affluent, with rows and rows of landed property and private condominiums with astronomical price tags. 

Even though Toh Yi Drive is a bit further away from the likes of Sixth Avenue or Namly Drive, it’s located in a fairly decent locale within Bukit Timah – just a short walk away from Beauty World MRT, a good selection of smaller shopping malls and famous dining spots, and the connectivity options to other places around Singapore.

Image adapted from: HDB

In fact, Toh Yi Drive seems to be quite the popular choice amongst homebuyers. A check on the HDB’s data on resale transactions showed that ever since Dec 2021, all the executive flats and a handful of 5-room flats sold in Bukit Timah have solely been in Toh Yi Drive alone. 

As you can see above, all of them are over a million dollars, ranging across various floors but otherwise similar in terms of price range and remaining leases.

What’s available at Toh Yi Drive now?

Image adapted from: PropertyGuru

At the time of writing, there are 9 executive maisonettes being listed for sale on property platform PropertyGuru, with varying asking prices of upwards of $1.24M. Of the 9 being listed, one in particular caught our eye: a similar 1,615sqft EM at Blk 2 Toh Yi Drive, being listed for a staggering $1.6M, or around $990psf. Its TOP was listed to be in 1988, which means it would have a remaining lease of around 64 years.

Image adapted from: PropertyGuru

If sold, this would essentially be the most expensive resale HDB sold ever in Singapore’s history. However, $1.6M for a flat is no joke, and it’ll be safe to say that not many would be willing to fork out so much for a HDB flat, what more one with a relatively short remaining lease of 64 years. Based on some rough calculations, your average monthly mortgage can be as high as $5.3K, and that’s also assuming you can commit a minimum upfront downpayment of $400K.

Assuming you did have enough money lying around, would you purchase this executive maisonette? We speak to several property owners to get their thoughts on the $1.6M executive flat:

“I’d rather buy a condo” – Amara, current maisonette owner

“I defo would not pay that much for a maisonette with only 63 years of lease left,” shares Amara, who currently owns and lives in a maisonette in Pasir Ris. “With that amount of money, I’d rather buy a condo!”

One of the main drawbacks to the $1.6M Blk 2 unit, as Amara pointed out, lies in its remaining lease. While many prospective homeowners would revel at the opportunity to live in huge jumbo flats with a luxury of space that you cannot find in today’s newer HDBs, one key downside is that these jumbo flats have short remaining leases, quite often at around 68 years or less. 

This is because said jumbo flats – of which executive maisonettes are a subset – are essentially ageing relics of the past, with the last EM being built around 1995.

The concern with such ageing flats would be its continuity. Assuming you bought one with a remaining lease of 64 years, the next time you can sell it would be after its MOP 5 years later, bringing it down to 59 years. At that stage, you might find it increasingly difficult to find a willing buyer who would pay for it at a higher price. 

Plus, bear in mind that en-bloc schemes (i.e. SERS) are not a given, and so you might eventually find yourself being caught out with a depreciating asset, though to be fair, that hasn’t happened yet.

“It would make more sense for me to get a condo at that price tag” – Melissa, current executive condo owner

As we’ve outlined earlier, $1.6M is quite a hefty price tag, especially for a HDB flat. Granted it isn’t any ordinary HDB flat, and yes it’s two-storied, in a highly-coveted central estate with an abundance of floor space, but ultimately, it’s still a HDB flat.

“$1.6M is a little too much for what is essentially a HDB flat,” says Melissa, who currently lives in an executive condo (EC). “I feel that with that high a price, there is very little room for it to appreciate further because it’s already scraping the ceiling in terms of HDB prices. It would make more sense to get a condo, because $1.6M can snag you a decent-sized unit with potential for it to climb higher.”

“The price will only make sense if you’re housing a large family” – Zheng Hong, current jumbo flat owner

“I’ve lived in my jumbo flat since the 1990s, when my parents first bought it. The large floor area is really a blessing, especially for my large family living together!” says Zheng Hong. “In total we have eight people living under one roof – my elderly mother, my wife and I, our three kids, our helper and my unmarried sister, and so having that large space is really important for us.”

In terms of if the $1.6M price is worth it, we’d say that you have to take into account your family’s needs. If, like Zheng Hong, you have to house a large number of family members together, then perhaps it would be ideal to get a jumbo flat. However, if it’s just you, your spouse and maybe 1-2 kids, then you’d be better off looking at other unit types.

“$1.6M is really quite high, and considering that jumbo flats like mine are quite ‘old’, I feel you have to factor that into consideration. The price will only make sense if you’re housing a large family like mine, otherwise I think it’s more worth it to use the money for a smaller and newer flat.”

$1.6M executive maisonette in Bukit Timah for sale

From our three crowdsourced opinions, it seems that the high asking price isn’t really as favourable as you’d expect. With its relatively short remaining lease, the $1.6M just might be a tad too high than what it’s actually worth, considering that the current frontrunner of $1.41M at Skyville @ Dawson has just over 92 years of lease remaining.

Of course, that isn’t to say that this price is non-negotiable, and perhaps we’ll just see this Blk 2 unit being sold for a lower price. Would you pay $1.6M for an executive maisonette?

Cover image adapted from : Zenith Arc Interior Design, Google Maps

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