HDB offers option of shorter 50-year lease for some SERS flat owners after concerns of Ang Mo Kio residents
Eligible elderly residents can also consider taking up the lease buyback scheme.
SINGAPORE: Some flat owners whose homes have been chosen for the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) will be given the option of buying a new replacement unit on a shorter 50-year lease instead of a fresh 99-year one.
Announcing this on Saturday (Jul 2), the Housing and Development Board (HDB) said it is among two additional rehousing options that will be offered to eligible flat owners, starting from the four blocks in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 that were recently picked to undergo SERS.
The second option allows eligible elderly home owners to take up the lease buyback scheme for their existing flat. They can then buy a new replacement flat on a short lease similar to that left on their SERS flat after selling the lease to HDB.
Previously, home owners can no longer apply for the lease buyback scheme after their flat has been announced for SERS.
HDB said on Saturday that the two additional rehousing options take into consideration feedback from some older residents who said they do not need a fresh 99-year lease for their new replacement flat. Some had also expressed concerns about needing to top up cash for replacement flats that are similar in size to their existing homes.
"HDB understands their concerns and has therefore provided the additional options to help them purchase their new replacement flats," said the agency in a media release.
"These options will also be extended to flat owners of Blocks 212 to 218 Marsiling Crescent/Lane whose flats were announced for acquisition on May 26, 2022, for the redevelopment and extension of Woodlands Checkpoint."
50-YEAR LEASES FOR NEW REPLACEMENT FLATS
SERS home owners can choose to buy a three-room or larger new flat at the designated SERS replacement site on a 50-year lease - if the 50-year lease flat is able to last them until at least age 95.
This means owners and their spouses need to be at least 45 years old at the point of the SERS announcement, to be eligible.
“For the flat owners at Ang Mo Kio, this 50-year lease length would be close to the balance lease of their existing flats when they move to their replacement flats around end-2027,” HDB noted.
"Further details on the actual selling prices of the replacement flats at the designated SERS replacement site in Ang Mo Kio Drive will be made known to SERS residents during flat selection."
In an example provided by HDB in its media release, the agency said that the estimated market value of a four-room SERS flat (92/93 sq m) on the sixth floor is valued at around S$415,000.
The estimated subsidised selling price of a 90 sq m replacement flat that is also on the sixth floor - after factoring in a S$30,000 SERS grant - is S$470,000 for a unit that is on a 99-year lease. It is S$359,000 for a unit on a 50-year-lease.
This means that instead of having to fork out S$55,000 for a replacement flat on a 99-year lease, home owners will get to keep S$56,000 instead, either in cash or in their Central Provident Fund (CPF).
Flat owners who choose to buy a replacement flat on a 50-year lease will be able to sell it on the resale market after meeting the minimum occupation period of five years.
HDB recently changed the criteria for selling replacement flats under SERS, requiring owners to sell them only five years from the date of collecting their keys. Previously, they could sell their unit seven years from the date of selection of the replacement flat, or five years from the date of key collection - whichever is earlier.
LEASE BUYBACK SCHEME
For SERS flat owners who are at least 65 years old, they can consider taking up the Lease Buyback Scheme if they are eligible and have not done so.
Under this scheme, flat owners can retain a lease length that will cover them and their spouse until they are at least 95 years old and sell the remaining tail-end lease to HDB.
The proceeds of this sale will be used to top up their Central Provident Fund (CPF) Retirement Account and buy a CPF Life plan that will provide them with a monthly payout for life.
They will also receive a cash bonus of up to S$30,000 for flats that are three-room or smaller, and S$15,000 for four-room flats, for the CPF Retirement Account top-up.
The market compensation for the lease retained under the scheme can then be used to buy an equivalent replacement flat of the same lease length and up to the same type, HDB said.
“For example, a four-room flat owner who has retained a 30-year lease under LBS (lease buyback scheme) can buy a four-room flat with a lease length of 30 years at the replacement site,” it said.
If the SERS flat is a three-room flat with a floor area that is at least 10 per cent larger than the new three-room flats offered at the designated replacement site, the flat owner may buy up to a four-room flat at the designated site.
ANG MO KIO SERS PROJECT
SERS was introduced in 1995 as part of the Government's efforts to renew older housing estates. Under the scheme, residents are offered new homes nearby, while the old site will be redeveloped.
Before the Ang Mo Kio site was announced on Apr 7, the last SERS project was in MacPherson, announced on May 31, 2018.
On Saturday, HDB said that for the past SERS exercises, the market compensation for flat owners, together with the SERS grant, had "generally been sufficient" to cover the purchase price of the replacement flat of a similar type or size on a fresh 99-year lease. This is because the SERS flats were generally younger at the point of the SERS announcement.
The affected flats in Blocks 562 to 565 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 are about 43 years old, having been completed in 1979.
HDB said its representatives have conducted door-to-door house visits on Jul 2 to explain the additional rehousing options to residents of the four blocks in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, as well as to address concerns that they may have.
“HDB will continue to ensure that public housing remains affordable and accessible for Singaporeans, and review our policies over time, making adjustments where necessary to ensure they remain relevant to the needs of Singaporeans,” it added.