Most of us would be familiar with executive condominiums (ECs) here in Singapore. They are quintessentially the “best of both worlds” between public and private housing, starting with being classed as the former and eventually becoming the latter.
Unbeknownst to many, before the reign of ECs, there was actually an earlier version of such a public-private housing hybrid.
Enter the Housing and Urban Development Company flat, or HUDC flat, which was the OG of public-to-private housing. Built under a subsidiary company of the HDB, HUDC flats were launched as an option for the ‘sandwich class’ Singaporeans: those who found private condos still a bit of a stretch for them financially, yet weren’t eligibility for an HDB flat.
Here’s everything you need to know about HUDC flats, what makes them different from normal flats, where you can find them today and our take on if they are worth your money.
The origins of HUDC flats
Way back in 1974, HDB set up the Housing and Urban Development Company (HUDC) to produce residential housing for the middle-income class here in Singapore.
You see, this was the group of homebuyers who could easily afford HDB flats, but were often unable to get one because of the income ceiling back in the day, which was a mere $1,500. The initiative would give homeowners greater control over matters such as the administration and management of their estate. Think of it like the role that Management Corporation Strata Title (MCSTs) play in condos now.
The old Normanton Park HUDC flats.
Image credit: Estate.sg
The first HUDC flats were Lagoon View and Laguna Park, built in the East Coast vicinity in 1975 and in 1987, respectively. The HUDC scheme was eventually discontinued due to weak demand for units. At present, there are a total of about 7,731 HUDC flats across 18 estates island-wide.
Apart from these 18 estates, there are actually 3 more HUDC projects to have seen the light of day, but these were initially launched with special conditions attached to them. These were Neptune Court at Marine Parade, Lagoon View at Marine Parade and Normanton Park at Portsdown Road.
These HUDC developments were specially reserved for civil servants working either in the Ministry of Finance or the Singapore Armed Forces. Of course, that has since changed, and now anyone is eligible to purchase flats from these 3 projects.
What’s the difference between a HUDC flat and a normal flat?
A renovated Lagoon View HUDC flat.
Image credit: 7 Interior Architecture
Just like the ECs we know today, HUDC flats initially started out being categorised as public housing, but were eventually re-categorised to be private housing. This process started in 1995, when the HDB allowed HUDC projects to be sold to private developers so long as this motion was passed via vote and had achieved at least 75% majority from owners.
As of 2017, all HUDC flats are now privatised, with Braddell View being the last – and the largest – HUDC estate to be privatised.
Generally-speaking, HUDC flats have larger floor areas as compared to normal flats. For instance, HUDC flats typically ranged from 139sqm (1,416sqft) to as large as 158sqm (1,700sqft), which with all things considered, is quite spacious and can contend with the likes of jumbo flats and maisonettes.
The HUDC developments also had better build quality, fancier designs, and often had amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts and round-the-clock security commonly found in condos today.
Both Lagoon View and Laguna Park are located just minutes away from East Coast Park.
Image adapted from: Google Maps
Location-wise, HUDC estates were not too shabby either. They were built in relatively central estates like Novena, Bishan and Marine Parade, which afforded residents convenience and connectivity.
Since crossing over to the private property domain, HUDC flats are not bound by rules governing public housing. This includes the 5-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP), and so you can immediately rent it out or sell it should you purchase a flat. However, do bear in mind that you are still subject to Seller Stamp Duty, if you’re selling your HUDC flat in under 3 years from the purchase date.
Where can you find HUDC flats today?
One of the challenges of tracking down HUDC flats is that most of them have gone through a fair amount of changes, and so are largely unrecognisable today. After all, remember that as part of the privatisation process they were bought over by private developers, and so they were open to be redeveloped into newer residential housing projects.
One such HUDC development of the past is Farrer Court – located in the highly coveted District 10 of Holland/Bukit Timah area, which was demolished in 2009, and relaunched as the private condo D’Leedon. Amberville, which was the first-ever HUDC estate to be privatised, was demolished in 2008 to make way for Silversea condo.
With that being said, not all the former HUDC estates were demolished completely and redeveloped; some of them are still standing to this day, but of course with some renovation and maintenance work done throughout the years.
Image credit: Teoalida
This includes developments such as Braddell View at Toa Payoh, Neptune Court at Marine Parade, and Lakeview Estate at Bishan. At the time of writing, these are the remaining HUDC estates that haven’t undergone demolition:
- Lakeview Estate (Bishan) – 240 units
- Laguna Park (Marine Parade) – 516 units
- Braddell View (Toa Payoh) – 918 units
- Chancery Court (Novena) – 136 units
- Ivory Heights (Jurong East) – 654 units
- Pine Grove (Bukit Timah) – 660 units
- Hougang N7 (renamed Florence Regency) (Hougang) – 336 units
- Lagoon View (Marine Parade) – 480 units
- Neptune Court (Marine Parade) – 752 units
Are HUDC flats a worthwhile investment?
Although the HUDC flat concept has changed quite a fair bit from when it was since launched, you can still buy an “HUDC flat” – just note that it’s now considered as private a condo. And while these HUDC flats might be appealing for they’re central locations in mature estates, do note that most of these developments are quite old with a remaining lease of less than 60 years.
And as for those looking to buy these units in hope of an en-bloc sale, we have to add that can be akin to gambling. Ultimately, you are buying a piece of property that has a short remaining lease, which translates to a depreciating value over time. Plus, there are potential dangers when the property’s lease eventually expires.
In the case of public housing with short remaining leases, there is, of course, the very slim chance that the government will step in with SERS, in which part of the process would be to offer existing owners alternative housing options as a form of compensation.
However, remember that HUDC estates are fully privatised, which means that the developers can just take back the property and land when the lease runs up, and they don’t have the obligation to provide such rehousing options to homeowners.
Image adapted from: PropertyGuru
Based on our checks online, there are units in HUDC estates such as Lagoon View and Braddell View up for sale. The large majority of these flats have quite high asking prices of over a million dollars, and so have clearly appreciated quite a fair bit and are held in the same regard as private condos today, sans facilities such as gyms or swimming pools. No doubt it is a hefty investment to make, and quite a gamble to purchase one with so much uncertainty as to its future.
As these estates continue to mature, there is a high likelihood that all of them will eventually be demolished and rebuilt. When that happens, perhaps we can then truly say it is the end of an era for the HUDC flat here in Singapore.
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- Cheapest towns to buy newly MOP-ed 5-room flats