We already know that Singapore’s public housing programme is a smashing success. But the fact that HDB flats keep getting sold for $1 million and above? That really drives the point home.
The first million-dollar HDB flat on 149 Mei Ling Street was sold in July 2012. Judging from the figures, the trend only really took off in 2018, the year when 71 flats were sold for $1 million or more. That was over four times the amount sold in 2016 (17 million-dollar flats were sold). Although the number dipped to 42 in 2018, it rebounded to a healthy 64 in 2019 and rose further to 82 in 2020 in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What about 2021 then? You would think a global pandemic with no end in sight would dampen our enthusiasm somewhat, no?
But that’s not been the case at all. In the first half of 2021 alone, 87 HDB flats priced over $1 million were sold, beating the 82 million-dollar HDB flats sold in all of 2020. A record total of 261 million-dollar HDB flats were sold in 2021.
HDB Resale Flats That Sold for $1 Million and up in 2021
By looking through the last 12 months’ data on the HDB Resale Flat Prices portal, we’ve compiled a list of $1 million and above resale HDB flat transactions, summarised here:
Now let’s take a closer look at some of these hotspots and find out if your HDB flat has a shot of joining the million-dollar HDB club too.
Shopping for an HDB resale flat? Check out the top HDB properties for sale on PropertyGuru.
Million-dollar HDB Resale Flats in District 2 (The Pinnacle @ Duxton)
No surprises here: The HDB project with the highest number of million-dollar HDB resale flats is Pinnacle @ Duxton, the pride and joy of the Tanjong Pagar constituency.
It consistently attracts a stream of buyers willing to pay top dollar for a rare HDB flat right in the city centre. In 2021, a whopping 75 flats at The Pinnacle @ Duxton were sold.
But what’s even more astounding is that even 4-room flats here can fetch a million dollars and up. In fact, 38 of the 75 units sold at The Pinnacle @ Duxton were 4-room flats, with the most expensive one priced at $1.2 million.
Browse all Pinnacle @ Duxton listings for sale on PropertyGuru.
Million-dollar HDB Resale Flats in District 3 (Bukit Merah and Queenstown)
Another high-profile hotspot for million-dollar HDB flats is the handful of blocks along Boon Tiong Road, in between the hipster part of Tiong Bahru and the MRT station. At this part of the dog-friendly neighbourhood, you can find a cluster of flats that just fulfilled their 5-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP).
Not only do these freshly-MOPed flats have an amazing location, but also the high floor units also supposedly boast incredible views of the city. In 2021, six 5-room flats and four 4-room flats on Boon Tiong Road were sold for at least $1 million.
District 3, in general, is terribly popular with cash-rich resale flat buyers, who have snapped up at least 48 other million-dollar HDB units.
The almost-central location, proximity to the upcoming Greater Southern Waterfront and limited HDB flat supply all create the perfect conditions for extremely expensive HDB flats.
These include one 4-room Premium loft and 20 5-room Premium flats at SkyTerrace @ Dawson, 15 other units in the Commonwealth and Holland area and 13 units other in the Bukit Merah area.
Million-dollar HDB Resale Flats in District 12 and 20 (Boon Keng, Toa Payoh and Bishan)
Like in District 3, the HDB flats in Boon Keng, Toa Payoh and Bishan all boast excellent locations on the city fringe.
However, only the more premium units here seem to command prices in the million-dollar range. 55 of the 58 units that changed hands for more than $1 million in 2021 were 5-room units in luxurious DBSS developments: Natura Loft @ Bishan, The Peak @ Toa Payoh and City View @ Boon Keng.
Although these are technically HDB flats, they were built and sold by private developers. There are only a handful of DBSS projects in Singapore, so it’s not surprising that these “limited edition” flats have been able to fetch a premium.
The remaining units sold in the area were a new flat on 8A Upper Boon Keng Road which just fulfilled its MOP, a rare 5-room Maisonette at 121 Potong Pasir Avenue 1 and a 5-room Improved flat at 153 Lorong 2 Toa Payoh.
Special Cases: Million-dollar HDB Resale Flats in the Heartlands
With the majority of million-dollar HDB flats located in the central or city fringe area, it’s clear that location is a major contributor to the resale value of a flat. But there have also been a few million-dollar HDB flats in the heartlands, too.
First, there were 10 5-room flats in Clementi that changed hands for more than a million dollars. Although it is quite a distance from the city core, Clementi is a popular mature town with established amenities like Clementi Mall and within close proximity to NUS and many elite schools.
Other heartland unicorns include the five 5-room flats sold for over $1 million in the Ang Mo Kio area.
Can Your HDB Resale Flat Fetch Over a Million Dollars too?
By examining the million-dollar HDB resale flats in 2021, we now have a pretty good picture of what sort of HDB flat has a good chance of fetching a 7-digit price.
1. Good Location
Centrally-located HDB flats fetch higher prices, as do HDB flats located close to MRT stations. These flats usually benefit from the MRT Effect.
Browse all property listings by MRT station on PropertyGuru.
2. Limited Supply
The less competition (other HDB flats) in the area, the better your chances. When the surrounding properties are mainly private apartments, a spacious 5-room flat going for $1 million looks like an absolute steal.
3. Premium Flat Types
High-profile HDB developments like the Natura Loft DBSS and the SkyTerrace @ Dawson premium flats can fetch higher prices and are distinctly more condo-like than regular HDB flats.
4. Flat Being 5 to 10 Years Old
As a rule of thumb, most resale flats are at peak resale value when they are fresh from the MOP of 5 years.
5. Flat Size
A prominent exception to the age rule is the older, bigger Executive Apartments and Maisonettes – HDB does not build them in this size anymore. And as we’ve seen from the Potong Pasir Executive Maisonette, buyers can pay a huge premium for space.
6. Unblocked Views
It’s not a must, but if your home lacks all the other attributes, a high floor with unblocked views of, say, a reservoir, will definitely improve your chances of hitting the million-dollar price tag.
How to Increase Your HDB Resale Value
Even if you do not have a home that ticks all the boxes, the real lesson here is that there are buyers who are willing to pay huge sums for HDB flats!
But, on the seller’s part, you need to make sure your home really stands out in order to command a premium.
First, create the illusion of space by removing excess furniture and clutter. You can leave a few things around for a casually lived-in feel, but overall you’ll want your space to look simple and spacious.
Next, pay attention to the amount of light that is entering your house. Removing heavy drapes and dark HDB window grilles can make a world of difference, as can a fresh coat of paint to the walls and ceilings. Liven up the space with indoor plants to demonstrate just how much light you can get at home.
Our biannual Consumer Sentiment Study found that Singaporeans are now spending more time at home than ever due to the pandemic. Enduring work from home arrangements has changed the way we buy homes.
Ventilation and lighting top the list of features that increased in importance when shopping for a new home during this period.
Now that you’ve let the light shine in, it’s also time for a deep clean to make everything spick and span for home viewers. You should also do basic repairs, such as filling out holes in the walls with putty.
Pay particular attention to the bathroom and kitchen, which are the two areas that tend to start looking used and dated quickly.
Apart from cleaning and decluttering, you may also want to update the more worn-out parts, such as replacing the backsplash and swapping out bathroom hardware for shiny new pieces. You can buy these parts cheaply online and install them yourself.
Finally, don’t forget to take nice, well-lit photos of your home before you list it on PropertyGuru’s marketplace. Good luck!
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