BTO vs Resale Flat vs Condos in Mature Estates: Which Suits You Best?

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Mature estates have long been the favourite of property buyers. This so-called maturity refers to the age of the town, and is a title normally conferred on estates that have existed for 20 years or more. Since these neighbourhoods have had time to develop, they are usually easily accessible via public transport, and is home to many amenities and facilities, from shopping malls and dining options to polyclinics and schools. 

If you’ve already decided that you’d like to live in a mature estate, the next order of business is to decide between a new flat (BTO or balance flat), resale flat or condo

All three have their own pros and cons, and each deserves a detailed look. But before we get to that, let’s first zoom out and take a wider view at the benefits of living in a mature estate before narrowing down to the specific type of properties that’s best suited for you.  

Note: We’ve left landed properties out of the equation since most landed homeowners drive anyway, so there isn’t much added convenience to living in a mature estate. 

 

Mature Estates in Singapore 

  • Ang Mo Kio
  • Bedok
  • Bishan
  • Bukit Merah
  • Bukit Timah
  • Central
  • Clementi
  • Geylang
  • Kallang/Whampoa
  • Marine Parade
  • Pasir Ris
  • Queenstown
  • Serangoon
  • Tampines
  • Toa Payoh

FYI, for reference and comparison, these are the non-mature estates:

  • Bukit Batok
  • Bukit Panjang
  • Choa Chu Kang
  • Hougang
  • Jurong East
  • Jurong West
  • Punggol
  • Sembawang
  • Sengkang
  • Tengah
  • Woodlands
  • Yishun

 

Benefits of Living in A Mature Estate

The main benefit of living in the heart of a bustling mature estate is the transport accessibility and convenience of nearby amenities and facilities.

Mature estates have been around for at least 20 years, and thus have had ample opportunities to be connected to the rest of Singapore via MRT stations, bus routes and interchanges, highways, and even park connectors.

Comparatively, non-mature estates are young and hence typically less accessible as the MRT stations may still be undergoing construction. 

Much like accessibility, mature estates are better serviced with amenities like shopping malls, food and beverage (F&B) options and commercial outlets because they have been around for a longer time. Another reason is that mature estates tend to be more densely populated and thus fuel greater demand for these services. Schools and recreational facilities like sports complexes and nature parks are likewise more abundant in mature estates.

 

Mature vs Non-Mature Estates: Which is Better? 

To put the above factors into perspective, let’s consider the following example of two popular neighbourhoods: 

Tampines (mature estate) vs Tengah (non-mature estate)

No. of MRT stations

3
(Tampines, Tampines East and Tampines West) 

None
(Tengah and Hong Kah will only be ready in 2026; while Tengah Park and Tengah Plantation will be ready in 2027) 

Other transport nodes 

Tampines bus interchange (35 bus services)  

None, but is serviced by certain buses from Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Batok interchanges

Shopping malls

Tampines 1, Tampines Mall, Century Square, Our Tampines Hub 

None, nearest malls are at Sunshine Place at Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Batok West Shopping Centre

Schools

12 primary schools, 9 secondary schools, 4 tertiary schools and 1 international school

None, need to go to neighbouring estates 

 

As you can immediately see, the difference between Tampines and Tengah is glaring. 

Accessibility

Tampines is serviced by three MRT stations spanning across the East West line (Tampines) and the Downtown line (Tampines East & Tampines West). It is also home to one bus interchange with 35 bus services operating from it. Although there are as many as four upcoming Jurong Region Line MRT stations for Tengah (Tengah, Hong Kah, Tengah Park and Tengah Plantation), those will only be ready in 2026 and 2027. 

For now, getting to Tengah is quite inconvenient, with the nearest stations being Bukit Batok and Choa Chu Kang MRT. Bus-wise, Tengah is currently serviced by buses that come from Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Batok interchanges, with its own bus interchange (Tengah Integrated Transport Hub) still yet to open. 

If you are someone who likes to walk home from the MRT station instead of taking the bus, it would not be possible in Tengah (unless you are willing to walk for quite a while from Choa Chu Kang) but would be very doable in Tampines. Travelling from Tengah to other parts of Singapore via public transport, especially to the east, is also not conducive compared to other estates with their own MRT stations. 

Nearby amenities and facilities

Being a mature estate, Tampines is commonly known as “Orchard Road” of the East due to its many shopping malls and amenities. It is serviced by three malls, all of which is in immediate proximity to Tampines MRT station and the bus interchange. 

There is also the massive Our Tampines Hub, which itself is a conglomeration of retail and F&B shops, an advanced library, swimming pools, a rock-climbing wall, and more. In addition to the abundance of amenities in central Tampines, there is also a plethora of food options like hawker centres and food courts even in the surrounding heartlands. 

In contrast, Tengah does not currently enjoy any malls of its own. Residents of this non-mature estate will need to satisfy their shopping needs at nearby malls like Sunshine Place at Choa Chu Kang or Bukit Batok West Shopping Centre. 

Even for necessities, which residents in a mature estate can fulfil easily, Tengah residents would have to travel outside of the immediate estate to supermarkets or wet markets located further away in Choa Chu Kang or Bukit Batok. For families with kids, the lack of schools in Tengah may also be a concern. In Tampines, on the other hand, there are 12 primary schools, nine secondary schools, four tertiary schools and one international school. 

If work takes up much of your time daily, consider the effort needed to travel to a neighbouring estate just to get groceries, catch a movie, have more food options or fetching your kids! Of course, more amenities will eventually spring up as the estate matures, but for now residents will have to make do or go the extra mile. 

To be clear, we are not making this comparison to promote Tampines and ‘hate’ on Tengah. Non-mature estates could very well be a paradise for those who prefer quieter neighbourhoods and are willing to trade some degree of convenience in exchange for cheaper housing prices. We are just using this example to illustrate the benefits of living in mature estate so you can decide for yourself whether or not you agree with them. 

 

Mature-Estate BTO vs Resale HDB vs Private Condo 

Say you really resonated with the above, should you then buy a BTO, resale flat or condo?

The usual differences between a BTO, resale flats and a condo apply in a mature estate. Let’s take a look at their individual pros and cons specifically in the context of mature estates.

 

BTO Flats in Mature Estates

BTO flats in mature estates are very popular, are often the most highly oversubscribed projects in BTO launches. This is because you get to enjoy the perks of having a new flat (subsidies, longer lease, etc) as well as a well-developed neighbourhood. This is the most affordable option of the list. BTOs are also eligible for CPF housing grants. 

The trouble is, BTO launches in mature estates tend to be rarer. Even within the projects, usually fewer units are available. That makes sense, since there’s less space to develop new HDB housing projects. 

Additionally, BTO flats in mature estates are usually much more expensive than non-mature ones. Potential capital appreciation is also lower, since you already paid a premium for the convenience and there won’t be many new developments in the area. 

In contrast, a BTO in a non-mature estate will most likely see its price rise significantly as the area gets developed. 

Verdict:

If you are looking to pay less but still want to enjoy the benefits of a mature estate, you can try your luck balloting for a BTO. As mentioned, however, it is quite competitive. 

Read more about the upcoming 2021 BTO launches: 

 

HDB Resale Flats in Mature Estates

Compared to new flats, it’s easier to find HDB resale flats in older estates. 

HDB resale flats – whether in mature estates or not – are priced higher than BTO flats. That’s because new flats are subsidised by the Government. Subsidies don’t apply to resale flats since you’re buying them for other owners.

That said, there are certain CPF housing grants that apply specifically to resale flats. For example, if you want to live your parents, you can take advantage of the proximity housing grant (PHG) to lower your cost of buying the resale flat

Note that when you buy a resale, you are buying what is left of the 99-year lease. So if you eventually intend to sell your home, this may affect your appreciation potential (because the next buyer will have an even shorter lease with it). This appreciation potential is then further stunted by the fact that most development has already happened in the estate. This is why newly-MOP-ed flats with the longest leases are the most popular in the resale market. 

Another note of caution – depending on what size of flat and which estate you’re eyeing, resale HDB flat prices could go quite high. For example, 5-room flats in areas like Dawson Road are known to exceed the million-dollar mark

Verdict:

If you do not mind paying significantly more for a completed flat that you can move into as soon as possible, with all the amenities of a mature estate at your doorstep, then this is the choice. 

Shop for HDB resale flats on PropertyGuru. 

 

Condos in Mature Estates

It’s not really an apple to apple comparison to look at HDB flats and condos, especially since the price point is quite different. Condos are a step up from HDB flats, costing significantly more. 

First of all, it’s private property. There is no subsidy, no CPF housing grants, whatsoever. You buy directly from the developer (new launches) or previous owners (resale) and negotiate prices with them. Prices vary according to market conditions. 

Generally, private property prices are not categorised based on how mature the estate is. It more commonly depends on which region it is located in, and how far away it is from the city (Core Central Region (CCR) vs Rest of Central Region (RCR) vs Outside Central Region (OCR)). 

As such, it may be possible to get an affordably priced private condo in a mature estate if it’s in the OCR. For example, one of the most affordable condos at the moment is Treasure at Tampines – even though it’s right smacked in “the Orchard Road of the East”!  

If you’re looking for an investment property, condos in mature estates would also be preferable since tenants often prioritise public transport accessibility (you can’t buy HDB flats for investment). 

Verdict:

If you are buying a home to live in, condos are more expensive than HDB flats. So if you want more value for money (e.g. more space for the same price), condos may not be ideal. However, if you look in OCR areas, you may be able to find more competitive prices. That said, the experience of living in private property, however, is quite different and may well be something you are willing to pay more for.

 

For more property news, resources and useful content like this article, check out PropertyGuru’s guides section

Are you looking to buy a new home? Head to PropertyGuru to browse the top properties for sale in Singapore.  

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This article was written by Ali Musak, who hopes to help PropertyGuru readers make wise choices. When he's not writing, he likes to dream about big houses and read fiction.

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