The phenomenon of million-dollar HDB flats seems to be growing strong, despite the Singapore government’s recent moves such as the Sep 2022 cooling measures which included a 15-month wait-out period for private property owners who wish to downgrade to a non-subsidised HDB resale flat. This shows that the recent ABSD cooling measure serves to curb foreign investment, but the market is still hot for those buying for own-stay purposes. We previously also explored some of the factors that contribute to the rise of million-dollar HDB flats, using some case studies of successful deals brokered by the PropertyLimBrothers team.
As we have observed, buyers are typically more willing to pay the premium for units that are rare, offer more space in terms of square footage, and are located in a prime location. In one of our latest NOTG episodes, we also talked about how 4-room HDB flat prices are starting to catch up to 5-room HDB flat prices, resulting in more buyers opting for the latter to have additional space at roughly the same quantum.
On that note, our team has recently transacted a 5-room HDB flat at SkyOasis @ Dawson for a record price of $1.48 million. It surpasses the previous most expensive HDB resale flat – a 5-room unit at SkyTerrace @ Dawson which was sold for $1.418 million in July 2022. In this article, we dive into the transaction process to examine what led to the successful sale of this unit, courtesy of our Listing Managers Shawn Tay and Jollene Leow who brokered the deal.
About the Unit – Strong Inherent Attributes
Balance Lease of 97 years
Typically, HDB flats have to fulfil a 5-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) before owners can put it up for sale, or a 10-year MOP if it falls under the Prime Location Housing (PLH) model. This means that you will rarely find resale HDB flats with a balance lease longer than 95 years.
However, our unit located at 42A Margaret Drive was acquired by the owners through the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) in 2014. This allowed the owners to fulfil the MOP earlier because seven years had passed since they booked the flat, and were able to put it up on the market for sale ahead of the other units. Since SkyOasis @ Dawson achieved its Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) in 2021, this put the unit’s balance lease at a very healthy 97 years – one of the strongest selling points of this unit.
Our unit belongs to one of the newest clusters in the Queenstown district, just a 5-minute walk to Queenstown MRT station on the East West Line (EWL). Amongst the three projects that TOP-ed at the same time in 2021, SkyOasis @ Dawson is the closest plot to the MRT station. Furthermore, its city-fringe location puts it at less than a 12-minute drive from the CBD.
In recent years, HDB has classified Queenstown as a mature estate and most of the new BTO launches in the area fall under the PLH model. As a mature estate, the vicinity has plenty of amenities such as hawker and shopping centres available, including those in the neighbouring Redhill and Commonwealth estates.
One of the key factors of the unit was the location within the Prime Hexagon which was highlighted in our Signature Home Tour Video.. It consists of the Orchard area, CBD, Greater Southern Waterfront, One-North, Holland Village, and Bukit Timah. These are the prime areas that will be seeing major transformations in the future according to the URA Master Plan. Properties that fall within this prime hexagon get to benefit from the growth and development of these six different areas in the near future.
Rarity & Perpetual Unblocked Views
SkyOasis @ Dawson comprises 1192 units spread across 8 blocks, out of which 3 stacks offer 5-room flats. Among these 3 stacks, only 2 of them enjoy an unblocked greenery view. For those seeking an elevated living experience on the uppermost 5 floors, a limited selection of only 10 premium units are available, boasting unparalleled panoramic views. This means that such units only make up 0.8% of the unit mix, making them extremely rare and attractive.
The layout also included a balcony space that is only available for units from the 37th floor to the 45th floor, a great addition to enjoy the view that stretches over the Good Class Bungalow (GBC) enclave towards Malaysia.
Looking at the URA Master Plan, you will also notice that the plot in front of SkyOasis @ Dawson is marked as a residential zone with a plot ratio of 2.1. This means that the maximum number of storeys would be 24, and will not be high enough to block the view from the 41st floor. The GCB enclave right in front is also a protected view as it is gazetted as one of the conservation areas, giving this unit a perpetual unobscured view.
Pristine Condition, Minimal Renovation
Move-in condition is one of the factors homebuyers consider, because it allows them to consider if the funds they would save for renovation is worth the additional premium. A unit in good condition and ready to move into will make prospective buyers more inclined to consider it, even if it comes with a premium. Units without major changes to the layouts are typically preferred because the new owners would not have to fork out an extra sum of money to overhaul the changes that the previous owners made.
When our owners first collected their keys in 2021, they chose to go with a minimalistic white renovation theme as they preferred more moveable furniture over built-in carpentry to achieve a cleaner look around the unit. There were very few fixtures in the unit – most of the in-built fixtures were storage cabinetries for the kitchen. Since the owners had only stayed in the unit for around two years, the unit was very well-maintained, clutter-free, and kept in pristine condition.
The Process: How We Sold After 40+ Viewings
The owners reached out to us to market and sell their property as they wanted to upgrade to a condo after they fulfilled their MOP. Given all its strong inherent attributes and the fact that it is an earlier sale (compared to the other units expecting MOP in 2026) with a rare balance lease of 97 years left, they wanted to challenge the record HDB resale price.
With an asking price of $1.5 million, we produced our Signature Home Tour video and addressed all foreseeable concerns, especially with regards to the price point. In the video, we did a comprehensive pricing analysis to justify the asking price.
Looking at newly MOP flats with super high floor units that enjoy unblocked view and city-fringe location, 5-room flats of similar size at City Vue @ Henderson are asking between $1.45 million to $1.47 million. Zooming into the Queenstown area, an interesting fact is that there are rarely any 5-room flats within 10 minutes walking distance to Queenstown MRT that have this kind of view. Options that are under 10 years old include SkyVille @ Dawson and SkyTerrace @ Dawson, which are asking between $1.25 million to $1.35 million for high floor units with unblocked city views. However, the unit sizes are slightly smaller with no balcony.
Those that prefer a bigger unit size but do not mind a slightly older flat can look to Stirling Road or Mei Ling Street, which have generously-sized units at 1,200 sqft and remaining leases of around 71 to 76 years. Because of the age and low-rise nature of these flats, they are asking around $1 million.
Looking at the condominiums in the Queenstown vicinity, the only units in the market you can get with a $1.5 million budget are 1 or 2 bedders ranging from 500 to 900 sqft. 3-Bedroom condo units in Queenstown that have a healthy balance lease of above 90 years command a quantum of around $2.5 million.
So for those who want to keep their quantum below $1.5 million and do not mind compromising on condo facilities, our unit standing at 1,194 sqft with 97 years balance lease and all its inherent attributes justified the asking price.
High Volume of Enquiries & Viewings
After our Signature Home Tour went live, local media caught wind of it and the listing had some press coverage. This further increased the exposure of this listing and the volume of enquiries coming in. The challenge was then to qualify the prospective buyers at this initial stage before arranging for the viewing.
In total, there were over 40 viewings, with each weekend packed with more than 10 groups coming to view the unit. Most of the groups that came for the viewing were family profiles staying around the region, wanting to upgrade to somewhere closer to the city centre. Many of them liked the perpetual unblocked view and the size of the unit which came with a regular layout and balcony.
The first few offers that came in were much lower than the asking price, because the main concern from potential buyers was a high Cash-over-Valuation (COV), given that the asking price was challenging the record price and there were not a lot of units transacted in the area. This would mean that buyers have to fork out a significant amount of cash if HDB’s valuation came back much lower than the asking price, since COV cannot be covered by loans or CPF funds.
The eventual buyers were in the market for a place to stay closer to the city centre. They initially put up an offer that was much lower than the asking price, and it was rejected by the owners. Some time passed and the buyers came back to us again because they liked our unit over the other options that they had viewed in the vicinity. They came back with an offer of $1.48 million, which the owners eventually decided to accept and the deal was closed.
Meet the Agents
This sale was conducted by Shawn Tay and Jollene Leow from our PropertyLimBrothers Inside Sales Team. Shawn thrives on the dynamic and flexible nature of the real estate industry. Constantly tackling new challenges and honing his skills as a salesperson, he embodies a relentless pursuit of growth and improvement. As someone who grew up in a real estate background, Jollene developed a profound interest in real estate and a passion for connecting sellers and buyers through strategic marketing.
If you are in the market for a new home and need some guidance, we are here to help! Our team of experienced and knowledgeable consultants is always available to assist you in finding the perfect home that suits your needs. Feel free to reach out to us here and we will be in touch shortly. PropertyLimBrothers, always happy to show you the place.