New HDB community care flats to receive good demand, analysts

December 11, 2020

Based on the oversubscription for two-room flexi flats in the recent launches, experts believe that there will be good demand for the new Community Care Apartments launching this February. Image: HDB

Property analysts expect the new community care apartments in Bukit Batok that are set for launch in February next year to receive good demand from seniors, reported TODAY.

Measuring 32 sq m each, the 160 Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats will come with services like 24-hour monitoring for residents with medical conditions, simple home fixes and basic health checks. They are set to be ready by 2024.

“I think take-up would be good. This is somewhat similar to (flats at) Kampung Admiralty, which were all snapped up in the July 2014 Build-To-Order (BTO) exercise,” said Wong Xiang Yang, Associate Director of Research at Cushman and Wakefield as quoted by TODAY. 

He believes the flats occupy a niche segment of the market between nursing homes for the elderly and the conventional HDB flats. 

“The subscription rates for two-room flexi flats are mostly over-subscribed for seniors, based on past launches in November and August, suggesting that there should be good demand for these flats as well,” said Wong. 

The flats have an indicative upfront cost of between $62,000 and S$124,000, depending on the length of the lease and based on the assumption that applicants pay the basic service package in full during the purchase.

The main difference of the new flats to the elder-friendly units at Kampung Admiralty is the mandatory care services that come with the acquisition of the apartments, said Wong.

Recommended article: HDB EASE Programme: How to Apply and How Much Does it Cost?

Applicants can choose a lease ranging between 15 and 35 years, in five-year increments, such that the lease covers them until they reach the age of 95 – which is based on Singaporeans’ increasing life expectancy.

Wong explained that offering studio apartments on short leases makes it “affordable for mobile and able older homeowners who are independent and do not need high levels of assistance or supervision for day-to-day activities”.

“This is timely given Singapore’s ageing population,” he said.

PropNex CEO Ismail Gafoor said the launch of such flats is a step in the right direction, given the expected hike in aging population within the city-state.

“I think, because of the well-thought-out integrated support system catering to elders, these schemes will be popular for two reasons — one, mainly because of the lifestyle and the convenience and the holistic support system provided,” he said as quoted by TODAY.

“The other reason is that it also allows seniors to resize their property by selling their existing HDB flats and cashing out (some of the sales proceeds). They will then have some money to live comfortably during their older years.” 

Suggested read: Agent Turned Friend: The Tale of An Elderly Lady’s New HDB Studio Flat

With the two-room HDB flexi flats’ design not catering for a domestic worker, Huttons Asia Research Director Lee Sze Teck believes the value-added service offered by the bundled package will help overcome this shortfall. 

“With an ageing population, there is a need for more assisted care facilities, but we have a land resource constraint. Also, not many seniors can afford assisted care facilities. If priced correctly, this new community care apartments can (tackle this) constraint,” said Lee as quoted by TODAY.

Chris International Director Chris Koh, on the other hand, expects to see more demand for such community care apartments.

“The flexibility of choosing shorter leases and paying a lower price for the apartment is a pull factor. Coupled with the elder-friendly features and 24-hour emergency monitoring, these will definitely attract older buyers,” he said. 

And given Kampung Admiralty community’s success, Koh expects more elder-friendly apartments to be built in other parts of the city-state.

Meanwhile, homebuyers have also expressed their thoughts on the new community care apartments.

Suggested read: More Fitness Corners and Elderly-Friendly Facilities for Jalan Besar, Choa Chu Kang GRCs

Florence KH said such schemes will be helpful for seniors with problems living with their children or those who are single.

The 73-year-old housewife, however, noted that it would be good if the government could offer more locations since “not everyone wants to live so far from family”. 

“Some who are living in these new flats would still want to be near their siblings and relatives. Also, it will be good to not have all the old people living together because it can be depressing, too,” she told TODAY. 

Semi-retired commercial photographer Eddie Chen, on the other hand, said he would not live in such flats. 

“I’m still healthy, I don’t think I want to buy a flat that can last me just 35 years and the pricing is too expensive. Starting from S$62,000, that’s absurd,” said Chen, 65.

“But for people who have a lot of money and they need medical attention most of the time or assistance, then they may go for this instead of going for daycare or staying at a nursing home.”

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