Before the executive condominium (EC) came about in 1999, aspiring ‘sandwich class’ Singaporeans who wanted something between an HDB flat and a private condo had the Housing and Urban Development Company, or HUDC flat.
Though HUDC was discontinued in 1987, it’s still one of the most popular HDB property types in Singapore. And today, we’re going to tell you why.
What are HUDC flats?
As mentioned above, HUDC flats were the predecessors of ECs.
They were introduced by the government to cater to middle-income Singaporeans who could afford more than an HDB flat, but still considered private homes a bridge too far.
HUDCs were developed between 1975 and 1987 in four phases; phase one and two were developed by HUDC Private Limited, and phase three and four by HDB. In total, 7,731 units were built across 18 HUDC estates over the span of 12 years.
Back then, HUDC flats were popular as private homes and housing types were quite limited. However, due to dwindling demand as well as more available housing options in the market, the HUDC scheme eventually ended in 1987.
In terms of characteristics, HUDCs were typically larger, better built and also had better amenities compared to regular HDB flats, such as covered carparks and sheltered grounds. The largest HUDC flat was 1,700 sq ft, which is amongst the biggest HDB flats ever constructed.
In 1995, the government introduced plans to allow HUDC to be privatised with at least 75% approval votes from the owners; the first HUDC to be privatised was Amberville in Katong.
Since then, all HUDC flats have been privatised, with the last being Brandell View in 2017. As such, when talking about HUDC in today’s context, we’re actually referring to ex-HUDC flats.
What makes HUDC flats popular?
There are three main reasons why HUDC flats are popular:
1. They are well-built, spacious and located in good locales
As mentioned, HUDC flats were originally catered for buyers who want to own private properties, but couldn’t quite afford to buy a private condo.
Though the scheme required buyers to pay a premium, HUDC flats boast spacious interiors, ranging between 139 and 158 sq m. This is ideal for those who want a privatised home with spacious interiors.
Another selling point of HUDC flats is that they are located in prime locations with good amenities such Marine Parade, Bishan, Toa Payoh and Novena. This is a stark contrast to ECs — which are usually located in outskirt areas such as Sembawang and Sengkang and are slightly further away from amenities such as MRT stations, schools and malls.
Apart from space and location, HUDC flats are also better-built compared to their HDB counterparts.
Over the course of its 12 years in production, there have been very few complaints about its quality. This is very much unlike another HDB flat type, the Design, Build, and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flat, which was known for problems such as poor workmanship, designs and defects.
2. They aren’t bound by HDB’s rules
Since all HUDC flats are now privatised, you can buy a resale HUDC flat without worrying about HDB rules.
For example, there’s no 5-year Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP) restriction, which means you can rent it out immediately after buying it and start collecting rental income.
You can also sell it immediately, but bear in mind that you’re subjected to Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) if you sell it within the first three years.
3. Potential for en bloc
Perhaps one of the well-known facts of HUDC flats is that they have a high potential for en bloc. The first HUDC flat to undergo an en bloc sale was Amberville, which was sold for $183 million in 2006.
Since then, several eye-catching en bloc sales have followed over the years. Most notably, Farrer Court was sold for a whopping $1.3 billion in 2007 — which is the priciest en bloc deal to date.
Of the 18 HUDC estates that were built, all but five have undergone en bloc sales:
But there are actually more than 18 HUDC flats in Singapore
Officially, there are 18 HUDC flats. However, there are three more ex-HUDC projects: Neptune Court, Lagoon View, and Normanton Park. These were initially built as affordable condo homes for government officials working for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and Ministry of Finance (MOF) for years, before they were made available for the public.
So far, only Normanton Park has undergone a collective sale (in 2017 for $830.1 million by Kingsfold Hurray Development), while the remaining two remain unsold:
Are HUDC flats good investments?
Though HUDC flats have a good en bloc track record, that doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed.
In fact, the remaining HUDC flats have attempted to go for en-bloc several times over the years, without success.
Brandell View, which is the largest private residential property in Singapore, was in the market twice in the space of three months, but failed to receive the $2.08 billion asking price.
Meanwhile, Ivory Heights was unable to secure the necessary 80% approval rate, while Pine Grove’s $1.8 billion tender received no bids.
Before buying an HUDC flat, also consider the remaining lease. Remember, the remaining HUDC flats were built between the 70s and 90s; which means some have less than 60 years lease left. Banks will also restrict the financing of the home for properties with shorter leases.
That being said, HUDC flats have their benefits.
As explained above, they are comparatively larger than most HDB and private properties, and are also privatised properties in good locations. These are valid aspects to consider, especially since the work-from-home trend during the COVID-19 pandemic has seen demand for bigger homes has gone up as more are opting for bigger homes, whether they want to cater a dedicated workspace or small office at home, or need more privacy.
Bearing the above in mind, good luck in finding your new home!
Looking for HUDC flats for sale?
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This article was written by Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru. When he’s not busy churning out engaging property content* or newsletter copies, he’s busy being a lover of all geeky things. Say hi at: email@example.com.
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