What is a DBSS flat and is it worth buying? [2020 MOP Update]

The Peak at Toa Payoh HDB DBSS flat

DBSS flats are public apartments built under the Housing & Development Board's (HDB) short-lived Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) from 2005 to 2012. They are a unique (and premium) breed of HDB flats in Singapore, which are built by private developers.

DBSS flats are known for their high prices: In fact, many of the million-dollar HDB transactions involved 5-room DBSS flats in sought-after locations.

Here's a list of all the HDB DBSS projects (2005 to 2012):

 A total of 13 DBSS projects, amounting to 8,649 units, were built in less than a decade.

 

DBSS flat vs regular HDB flats  

Unlike a regular HDB flat that is developed by the HDB (i.e. a government authority), a DBSS flat is developed by a private developer. The private developer in charge of the DBSS project bids for and purchases the land from HDB, oversees the design and planning of the project, as well as the sale and construction of the flats. 

DBSS flats are different from more common, cookie-cutter HDB flats that have standard layouts and features. Build-To-Order (BTO) flats and Sale of Balance Flats are all regular HDB flats. Within the home, residents of DBSS flats can expect features such as balconies, study areas, floor-to-ceiling windows and more natural light. The interior will resemble a private condo unit more than an HDB flat. 

5-Room DBSS flats have an additional bedroom 

For 5-room flats, this is where DBSS flats stand out. Five-room DBSS flats usually have four bedrooms, whereas regular 5-room flats typically only have three bedrooms and a study space that requires the addition of walls should the owner want a fourth bedroom.

DBSS flat vs 5 room HDB BTO Floor Plan

 

DBSS flat vs executive condominium (EC)

You may be wondering: since they're sold by HDB but built by private developers, aren't they the same as executive condominiums (ECs)? 

Indeed, the two property types are similar in that sense. However, they differ in a few key areas: a DBSS flat is essentially like a standard HDB in most ways, except with more premium interior furnishing and larger space. On the outside, a DBSS flat looks pretty much like any ol' HDB. The DBSS project may have better common facilities like barbecue areas and multi-purpose sports courts, but no swimming pools and/or security guards.  

Unlike DBSS flats, however, ECs are built exactly as private condos are - think swimming pools, fitness gyms, and all the usual frills. They feature the full suite of facilities and amenities, and are physically indistinguishable from regular condos. In fact, after 10 years, ECs become private and can be sold on the open market.  

Lastly, ECs are still being launched by the government, but DBSS flats have been discontinued since 2012.  

 

DBSS flat prices   

You can't buy DBSS flats from HDB anymore, but you can find them on the resale market (more on that below). 

Pasir Ris One (Pasir Ris)

2012 (completed in 2015) 

-

Parkland Residences (Hougang) 

2012 (completed in 2014) 

$580,000 to $700,000

Lake Vista @ Yuan Ching (Jurong West)

2011 (completed in 2015) 

$620,000 to $673,000 

Trivelis (Clementi) 

2011 (completed in 2015)

$695,000 to $800,000 

Centrale 8 (Tampines) 

2011 (completed in 2015)

$560,000 to $688,000 

Belvia (Bedok) 

2011 (completed in 2014)

$597,000 to $735,000

Adora Green (Yishun) 

2011 (completed in 2013)

$460,000 to $625,000

The Peak @ Toa Payoh

2009 (completed in 2012)

-

Parc Lumiere (Simei) 

2009 (completed in 2011)

$580,000 to $655,000

Natura Loft (Bishan)

2008 (completed in 2012)

$808,000 to $980,000 

City View @ Boon Keng

2008 (completed in 2011)

$820,000 to $900,000

Park Central @ AMK

2008 (completed in 2011)

$639,000 to $758,888

The Premiere @ Tampines

2006 (completed in 2009)

-

Although DBSS flats are priced at a premium, there are a handful of affordable ones too. The million-dollar ones are usually located in the city fringe areas, or popular estates like Bishan.

When we looked at the recent 4-room DBSS flat transaction prices (above), the most affordable price was $460,000 at Adora Green in Yishun. The most expensive one sold for $980,000 at Natura Loft in Bishan. 

Related article: Million-Dollar HDB Resale Flats in 2020: What’s So Special About Them?

 

Are DBSS flats subject to the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)?

Yes, all DBSS flats are subject to the five-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP). Buyers of resale DBSS flats will need to occupy it for a minimum of five years before the unit can be rented out or sold.

As there were many DBSS projects completed in 2014 and 2015, there is a huge supply of resale DBSS flats in the market this year (2020). Resale DBSS projects such as Parkland Residences and Trivelis are already proving popular with buyers - they even made it to our list of the most popular HDB flats in May and June 2020

Here's the list of DBSS flats that will MOP in 2020, and the HDB towns they are located in:

Pasir Ris One 

Pasir Ris 

No 4-room transactions, but there was a 5-room unit that changed hands for $790,000 in June 2020.

Parkland Residences

Hougang 

$580,000 to $700,000

Lake Vista @ Yuan Ching 

Jurong West

$620,000 to $673,000 

Trivelis 

Clementi

$695,000 to $800,000 

Centrale 8 

Tampines

$560,000 to $688,000 

Belvia 

Bedok

$597,000 to $735,000

 

DBSS projects reaching MOP in 2020

Thinking of moving into a DBSS flat? Here's an overview of the ones MOP-ing in 2020. 

.

1. Pasir Ris One DBSS 

Pasir Ris One DBSS 

 

Address

Pasir Ris Dr 1 

Nearest MRT

Pasir Ris MRT (East West Line, EWL) 

Nearest bus interchange

Pasir Ris bus interchange 

Nearby amenities 

White Sands Shopping Mall, Pasir Ris Park, Downtown East

Pasir Ris One was the last DBSS launched before the scheme was discontinued. It was completed in 2015, and only just reached completed its MOP. There is no data on 4-room flat transactions in the past year (August 2019 to August 2020), but there was one 5-room unit sold at $790,000. 

If you enjoy the east, this DBSS flat will be quite appealing - it's right opposite the White Sands Shopping Mall, and is near the Pasir Ris MRT and bus interchange. It's also one MRT stop away from Tampines MRT, where there is a cluster of three mega malls (Tampines 1, Century Square and Tampines Mall). 

Browse Pasir Ris One DBSS for sale on PropertyGuru.

 

2. Parkland Residences DBSS 

Parkland Residences DBSS 

 

Address

Upper Serangoon Cres

Nearest MRT

Hougang MRT (North East Line, NEL)  

Nearest bus interchange

Hougang bus interchange 

Nearby amenities 

Punggol Park, Hougang Mall, Punggol Community Centre, Buangkok MRT, Rivervale Plaza

Unlike Pasir Ris One that is a stone's throw away from the MRT station and shopping mall, Parkland Residences at Hougang is much less accessible. It is right next to Punggol Park, but 1.5km away from the nearest MRT (Hougang). Buangkok MRT is 1.7km away too. That's about 20 minutes away by foot. 

There are supermarkets nearby for essential shopping through (Giant at Compassvale Bow, NTUC Fairprice at Hougang Lifestyle Mall, and Giant at Hougang Plaza).

Browse Parkland Residences DBSS for sale on PropertyGuru.

 

3. Lake Vista @ Yuan Ching DBSS 

Lake Vista @Yuan Ching DBSS 

 

Address

Yuan Ching Rd

Nearest MRT

Boon Lay MRT (East West Line, EWL) 

Nearest bus interchange

Boon Lay bus interchange 

Nearby amenities 

Superbowl Jurong, Jurong ActiveSG Stadium, SAFRA Jurong, Jurong Point

In terms of accessibility, Lake Vista @ Yuan Ching is similar to Parkland Residences: in a reasonably developed estate with basic amenities nearby, but not particularly close to the main MRT network and any shopping malls. 

In fact, it's even further: the closest MRT is Boon Lay MRT station, which is over 3km away. There, you'll find the massive Jurong Point mall. 

Browse Lake Vista @ Yuan Ching DBSS for sale on PropertyGuru.

 

4. Trivelis DBSS

Trivelis DBSS 

 

Address

Clementi Ave 4

Nearest MRT

Clementi MRT (East West Line, EWL) 

Nearest bus interchange

Clementi  bus interchange 

Nearby amenities 

Clementi central, Clementi Mall, Orange Valley nursing home

Like Lake Vista @ Yuan Ching, Trivelis is also located in the west side of Singapore. However, it's in the much more popular estate of Clementi, which explains the higher prices. Furthermore, it's less than 1km from Clementi MRT and right next to the main Clementi central where it's food and shopping options galore. 

Browse Trivelis DBSS for sale on PropertyGuru.

 

5. Centrale 8 DBSS

Centrale 8 DBSS 

 

Address

Tampines Central 8

Nearest MRT

Tampines MRT (East West Line, EWL and Downtown Line, DTL) 

Nearest bus interchange

Tampines Central bus interchange 

Nearby amenities 

Tampines Mall, Century Square, Tampines 1, British Council Tampines, Tampines Swimming Complex, Tampines Central CC, Our Tampines Hub, Tampines plaza, Tampines Regional Library

If you're looking for a home that's reasonably near the MRT and shopping malls, this one could be for you: Located a street away from the main Tampines Central area, Centrale 8 is near enough to be accessible, yet far enough to be less noisy. 

In addition to the usual suspects, Centrale 8 is also near the smaller, heartland malls like Our Tampines Hub, as well as community facilities like the Tampines Swimming Complex. But perhaps the best part despite the above, the prices are on the lower side (compared to the others in this list). 

Browse Centrale 8 DBSS for sale on PropertyGuru.

 

6. Belvia DBSS

Belvia DBSS 

 

Address

Bedok Reservoir Cres

Nearest MRT

Bedok North MRT (Downtown Line, DTL) 

Nearest bus interchange

Bedok bus interchange 

Nearby amenities 

Bedok Reservoir food centre, Bedok Reservoir MRT, Bedok Reservoir, Temasek Polytechnic 

Looking for a home near nature and the reservoir? Good news: the Belvia DBSS is right next to Bedok Reservoir and Bedok Town Park. It's also near Bedok North and Bedok Reservoir MRT stations - both on the Downtown Line (DTL). 

Other than that, there isn't much in the area. Kaki Bukit is generally an industrial area, so there aren't any noteworthy malls or major amenities nearby. It's near Temasek Polytechnic though. 

Browse Belvia DBSS for sale on PropertyGuru.

 

Oh, and why did HDB stop building DBSS flats anyway?

The DBSS scheme was first launched in 2005, but was suspended years later in 2012 due to the many DBSS complaints. Buyers were unhappy over issues such as poor design, workmanship and defects despite them paying a premium. These issues have largely been rectified across affected developments such as Pasir Ris One and Trivelis.

In any case, no matter what property you're viewing, do your due diligence when looking for your dream home!

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