HDB En Bloc (SERS): What Is It and Do You Stand A Chance?

Colourful HDB housing blocks in Singapore

Over 80% of the population live in HDB flats, and one of the main concerns of HDB flat owners is the decaying lease and value of their flats. If you happen to live in one of the older flats, then you’re probably sweating over its resale value. Thankfully, if there’s one thing that Singaporeans like more than complaining (and eating), it’s spending time to research about property. If you've been reading up, you may have heard of HDB's Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme, or SERS for short.  

 

Introducing HDB SERS, the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme

SERS is an urban redevelopment strategy, introduced by HDB in 1995 to renew older residential properties, and is basically HDB’s version of the en bloc process

If you are a resident staying in a block that’s lucky enough to be selected for the SERS, you’ll be relocated to a new HDB flat with a new 99-year lease.

The main difference between a private en bloc sale and SERS is that property owners can make a choice in the former, but not in the latter.

In a private en bloc sale, as an owner, you can decide to stay or sell your unit. In the case of SERS, you don’t get a say in whether you can stay or sell - you have to give up your residential unit to the government and accept the compensation package.

HDB does this by informing owners that they are about to procure their flat before the 99-year lease is up. In return, HDB will offer you some form of compensation and provide assistance for your relocation. 

You will usually get relocated to a new home that is located near where your old flat used to be, and get a brand new 99-year lease.  

Related article: The decaying HDB lease: myth or reality?

 

How Likely Will Your HDB Flat Be Chosen for SERS?

These three key factors have been observed over time as common denominators of flats selected for the SERS.

1. The Age of the Flat

Older flats tend to be the ones chosen for SERS, and many of the ones that have been selected are around 50 years old, if not older. 

2. The HDB Flat’s Location

Location is another big factor. This is because location determines whether the land the flat is sitting on has increased in value enough to make financial sense for HDB to acquire the land. 

An example of this would be the HDB flats at Queenstown that were designated for SERS in the early 2000s. Back in the 1960s, Queenstown was widely known as a ‘heartland’ estate. Over time, Queenstown evolved into a sought-after city-fringe district at the time of the SERS.

3. Flats That Don’t Maximise Land-use

Prior to the 1990s, HDB flats weren’t exactly land-efficient, since they didn’t adhere to the plot ratio system (gross floor area divided by land area) used today. Instead, they were planned using a standard density measure of 200 dwelling units per hectare. This resulted in bigger flats being closer together, while smaller flats were further apart. 

It’s likely that such under-utilised land areas will be among the first to be redeveloped under the SERS.

Related article: 5 Ways The Government Can "Save" Ageing HDB Flats in Singapore

 

Jackpot! My Flat Was Selected for SERS. What's Next? 

If your flat is chosen for the SERS, it will take a few years before your new home is ready.

Here are the SERS milestones you’ll need to go through:

HDB SERS process 

 

Announcement

You will receive a notification that your HDB flat has been selected for SERS.

Visit the exhibition 

HDB will set up a SERS exhibition near your home, during which you can learn about the process and clarify any doubts.

Flat valuation 

An experienced valuer will then visit your flat and assess its value. Make sure your flat is clean, tidy, and clutter-free. Keeping your flat in good order is likely to increase its valuation.

SERS Connect (collector’s inquiry)

You will then have an appointment at HDB Hub with your HDB officer-in-charge to perform a Collector’s Inquiry where 1) you will be validated as the owner of the flat, 2) you will receive help with the financial planning for your replacement flat, and 3) you will participate in a survey in order to help the government decide which replacement flat (with a new 99-year lease) is best suited for you. 

Precinct survey

A precinct survey will be conducted to help you decide what kind of facilities and amenities you would like to have in the new neighbourhood. You will also get the chance to name your new flat.

Compensation Notice

HDB will inform you of the amount of compensation you will receive.

Rehousing Choices

Next, choose between several available rehousing options. HDB’s officers will be on hand to offer their assistance. You can also choose to receive ex-gratia payment instead of SERS rehousing benefits.

New Flat Registration

If you decide that you want to move to the designated replacement site, you can then register for a new flat by submitting the application. You may participate in the Joint Selection Scheme, where you and 5 other households can select flats on the same day in order to continue living close to each other. 

Booking your new flat

You will need to attend an appointment at HDB Hub to book your new flat. During this time, you will be provided with a sales brochure, price lists, and balloted queue number before the selection begins. 

Key Collection

Once your new home is complete, you will need to head down to HDB Hub for your key collection appointment. This is where you will also pay for the flat. You can use the money you received as compensation for the SERS acquisition. However, if you used your CPF, or took out any loans to buy your original flat, you may need to use some of that money to pay off those loans or top up your CPF. You can also submit a request for up to $35,000 to help with renovating your new place.

 

How Much Will the SERS Compensation Be?

Your compensation will be based on the market valuation of your SERS flat. Here are some of the main factors that will influence the valuation of your home:

  • Factors that influence valuation
  • Which floor your unit is situated on
  • Renovations and improvements to the home
  • Size and type of flat
  • Length of lease remaining
  • Transaction rates in your area

What’s more, other forms of allowance are also given under the SERS. Additionally, you’ll also receive a $30,000 SERS grant to pay for your replacement flat.

  • Stamp duties and conveyancing fees that you have to pay for when buying a new flat
  • A payment of $10,000 will also be given as a “removal allowance”. This allowance is mainly to cover moving costs and purchasing furniture that you could not move from your old home (such as built-in cabinets etc.).

Related article: En Bloc in Singapore: Properties With Potential and How to Spot Others

 

What Are the Latest Flats Selected for the SERS?

On average, 3 HDB flats used to undergo SERS every year. However, since 2012, the selection has decreased to 1 HDB flat every 2 years. The latest SERS flats are West Coast Road selected in 2016, and MacPherson Lane in 2018.

Here are the most recent SERS sites in the past 10 years: 

SERS HDB site 

Date of announcement

81 to 83 MacPherson Lane

31 May 2018

513 to 520 West Coast Road

3 Aug 2016

24 to 32, 33 to 38, 40 to 45, 55 to 58, 60, 62 and 66 Tanglin Halt Road / Commonwealth Drive

27 June 2014

1 to 3, 5 to 22 

Redhill Close

3 December 2011

321 to 323 Clementi Avenue 5

13 February 2011

1A and 2A Woodlands Centre Road

25 June 2012

167 to 172 Boon Lay Drive

29 December 2011

1 to 3 East Coast Road

9 November 2011

  

You can check out the full list of in-progress and completed SERS projects here.

Artist’s impression of the SERS replacement flats at Circuit Road

Artist’s impression of SERS replacement flats at Circuit Road (Source: HDB)

 

Why do some people purposefully seek out SERS flats?

The most obvious reason people seek out these flats is the rehousing benefits. When someone buys over your SERS home, you’ll no longer be eligible for the rehousing benefits. The new resident of the flat would obtain the compensation package.

Sometimes, people are interested in replacement flats because of their good location. The new site could be in a prime estate where transport hubs, schools, and malls are nearby. If they purchase the SERS flat, they are ensured a spot in the replacement site. 

 

Is it a good idea to buy old HDB resale flats, hoping it gets chosen for en bloc (SERS)?

When you buy an old HDB resale flat, there is no guarantee that the purchased flat will become a SERS flat. In fact, only 4% of HDB flats were selected for the SERS since the scheme was launched in 1995.

You should also note that when you purchase an HDB resale flat with less than 60 years on its remaining lease, your age plus the remaining lease must be more than 80. Even if you satisfy these criteria, you will not be able to pay for 100% of the valuation/purchase price (whichever is lower) with your CPF.

 

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