Can the Value of Your HDB Flat Increase?

How Have HDB Prices Performed?

Have you wondered about the following questions?

  1. Is it true that nowadays, HDB prices will only drop with age?
  2. Do prices of HDB flats move in tandem across Singapore?
  3. When is the best time to sell your HDB to cash out your profits?

Before we attempt to answer these questions, let’s first take a look at the general price trend for resale HDB flats since 1994. From the graph below, you can easily see that ever since 2013, prices of resale HDB flats have been on a downtrend. Why did prices peak in 2013? Well, it was mainly because of the introduction of Mortgage Servicing Ratio, which inhibited buyers’ ability to borrow, and HDB changed the way resale HDB prices are negotiated, which stopped the unsustainable cycle of COVs pushing up valuations for future transactions.

The main question on the minds of most HDB owners like yourself would be this – will prices continue to fall? Or will we ever see a repeat acceleration in HDB prices between 2007-2013? Unless our politicians wish to see HK’s troubles unfolding here, a price spike will be highly unlikely. It also did not help that Lawrence Wong reminded everyone that the value of HDB flats will depreciate to zero at the end of their lease. Does that mean resale flat prices have only one direction to go, which is down?

Let’s not depend on guesswork and unsubstantiated claims. Instead, let’s use actual data to compare how HDB prices in 3 different estates moved over the past few years. From here, you can make your own objective assessment.

Methodology

  1. Only HDB flats that are less than 15 years old are shortlisted for analysis. 
  2. Prices of same sized units within the same floor range (e.g. levels 7-9) in the same block are measured over time.

Fernvale Grove

Our first case study is located at Fernvale (Sengkang). The block that we used for comparison is at 436D Fernvale Road, which is located right beside Fernvale LRT and Seletar Mall. Construction of the mall started in 2012 and it officially opened on November 28, 2014. Here is the location of the flat:

If you stayed in this block and knew that Seletar Mall will only be completed in late 2014, would you have sold your flat in 2013? Probably not! You would expect prices to increase after Seletar Mall was completed right? Was it worth the wait? Let’s see the actual numbers:

For units on levels 7-9, prices fell from $514k in 2013 to $420k in 2015 to around $400k in 2019. Since 2013, prices fell by a total of $114k, which a whopping 22%! If an owner waited for Seletar Mall to be completed before selling his flat in this block, he would have kicked himself really hard! How many years do you need to work to save $114k?

Can you afford to lose such a big sum of money? What happened here?

Sembawang Green

Our 2nd case study is located in Sembawang. The block that we used for comparison is at 490 Admiralty Link, which is a few bus stops from Sembawang MRT station. Here is the location:

For units on levels 4-6, prices rose slightly from $367k in 2014 to $372k in 2015 before falling to $345k in 2019. Since 2014, prices fell by a total of $22k, which is only about 6% compared to Fernvale’s drastic drop of 22%.

Why did prices in Sembawang fall less than those in Fernvale?

Eunos Court

Our 3rd case study is at Eunos, which is a mature estate located nearer to town. Did HDB prices at Eunos also drop like those in Fernvale and Sembawang? Let’s check it out!

Eunos Court is less than 5mins walk from Eunos MRT station. The block that we used for comparison is 35 Eunos Crescent. This block, at 13 years old, is older than the other 2 mentioned above. Here is the location:

For units on levels 16-18, prices were flat between 2012-2014 before dipping slightly in 2016 and rebounding in 2019. Between 2012 and 2019, prices had an overall increase of $27k (4%).

Observations

It is interesting to observe that prices moved rather differently across these 3 estates across the same period of 2013-2019. To summarise:

  1. Fernvale prices fell 22%
  2. Sembawang prices fell 6%
  3. Eunos prices increased 4%

Why is this so? Why did Fernvale prices drop so much? Why did HDB flats in Eunos buck the trend?

Are price movements driven by proximity to MRT station? Do “better locations” drive prices upwards? These are unlikely explanations because the Sembawang flat that we have analysed is further from the MRT station and further from town compared to the Fernvale flat, and yet Sembawang prices performed better than Fernvale.

So how do we explain this?


A logical way to explain this is to look from a supply perspective. What do I mean by that? Consider this – which area do you think HDB supply increased most over the past few years? If you were to rank them, would it be (1) Fernvale, (2) Sembawang, and (3) Eunos? Isn’t this in line with how prices moved?

Conclusion

What does all this mean for you? Here are a few questions to consider…

1. Are you planning to stay in your current HDB flat for the rest of your life?

If you are near retirement or have retired, and you have no intention to move to another place, it does not really matter whether your flat’s value increases ten fold or decreases to zero. As long as you are comfortable living where you are, just stay put!

But if you are young and intend to upgrade/downgrade at some point in future, can I say that capital appreciation is very important to help you achieve your goals more easily? By making the right investment, you can cash out more profits when you retire. Don’t you want to retire early and escape from a stressful corporate life? For example, if you have bought Eunos Court 7 years ago, you can downgrade to Fernvale Grove today and make an overall gain of around $140k! Now, how many years do you need to work to save $140k?


2. Will there be a huge pipeline of supply being released soon in your vicinity?

According to a Morgan Stanley Research, we will expect around 3x more HDB flats completing their MOP over the next few years. This will likely affect HDB prices in Punggol which had many BTOs completed over the past few years.

Other than Punggol, we will see HDB supply spikes in Tampines (21,000 units to be added), Tengah (30,000 units to be added) and Queenstown (5,000 units to be added). If you are living in or near these areas, your flat’s prices might be at risk and face similar outcomes as those in Sengkang. If you cannot afford to lose $100k from your flat’s value, you might wish to cash out earlier than later!


3. Are you intending to upgrade to a condo at some point in time?

HDB intends to launch 15,000 units across Singapore in 2019. The question is this – will the future demand be sufficient to absorb the upcoming supply? Even if HDB prices in your area are expected to drop, will condo prices drop too? Should you wait?

According to a Credit Suisse report, the price gap between HDB flats and private properties is expected to widen. But don’t take their analysis at face value. I have the actual numbers of supply and demand for both HDB flats and private properties for the next few years. These numbers can be used as reliable leading indicators for future prices for both HDB and private properties. As this is proprietary information, I am unable to publish them here. If you desire so, I can share them with you offline to help you make an informed decision.

Should You Take Action Now?

Do you really understand how HDBs behave and how HDB policies are expected to influence future price movements? Have you been making real estate decisions without relying on proper research? Can you afford to lose $100k?

Most property agents can take orders and help you sell your property. But how do you decide which property to buy next? Should it be another HDB or private condo? Should it be freehold or leasehold? Should it be new or resale? How can you be certain that your next stop will be better off than your current place? Will it be wise to keep your HDB and buy a 2nd property for investment? By analysing relevant and independent data (like those that you have seen above) that you can review for yourself, I can help you make these decisions with lower risk and greater confidence.

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* I wish to learn more about my current property and what are my options to maximise profits over the next few years.