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Will a Home Improvement Programme increase the value of your HDB flat?

Does a Home Improvement Programme by HDB actually increase the value of a HDB flat? Get to know how the HIP affects your HDB flat!


What is the Home Improvement Programme (HIP)?

First up, what is HIP? This programme helps resolve common maintenance problems such as spalling concrete for flats built before 1986. This means these flats are around 30 years in history by now.

Also, during the National Day Rally 2018, it is announced by Prime Minister Lee that there will be an expanded programme dubbed the HIP II, which will give all HDB flats a second round of upgrading when they reach their 60 to 70-year mark.

The purpose of these upgrades is to keep HDB flats safe and livable. The HIP will proceed when at least 75 per cent of a block’s eligible Singapore Citizen households have voted in favour of the HIP.

There are three main components of HIP. They are (1) Essential Improvements, (2) Optional Improvements and (3) Enhancements for Active Seniors (EASE). Under the essential improvements, the upgrades are done for public health, safety, or technical reasons.

Will a Home Improvement Programme increase the value of your HDB flat?_Home Quarters SG_KC Ng Keng Chong

HIP upgraded bathroom source: The Straits Times

They include repairing spalling concrete, replace waste / soil discharge pipes, replacing pipe sockets with a new clothes drying rack and upgrading the electrical load. Under the Optional Improvements, residents can choose whether or not to upgrade existing bathrooms, install a new decorative door or grille gate, or even a new refuse chute hopper. 

Under the EASE program, if there are elderly family members living in the unit, residents can choose from a range of elderly-friendly fittings, such as slip-resistant treatment for bathroom floor tiles and grab bars within the flat.


What about the costs of the HIP?

Secondly, let’s take a look at the cost. For Singaporean households, the Essential Improvements are fully paid for by the Government. The Optional Improvements are heavily subsidized up to 95%, so residents pay an estimated amount of between $630 and $1,575, depending on their flat types. For EASE, the full range of items will cost around $2,500. After government subsidies of up to 95%, Singapore Citizens pay between $125 and $312.50, depending on their flat types

Residents can use their CPF to pay for these costs, in full, if they choose to. However, Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) households have to pay the full upgrading cost. Because of this, for HDB owners that are looking to sell the unit after the HIP is announced but the bill has not yet been paid, SPR households may be discouraged from buying it. They will need to pay the full sum which could add up to a 5-figure sum when they are the owners.


Duration of the upgrading

Thirdly, how long will the upgrading takes? The construction period for a typical precinct comprising eight to 10 blocks will take about 1.5 to 2 years. The actual renovation works in each flat will take 10 days or less, depending on the improvements selected.

The implication here is that there is only an estimated date that is release when HIP is announced and thus, if buyers are looking to renovate the unit, they will either choose to forgo the heavily subsidised bathroom renovation provided by the government or renovate the rest of the house leaving the bathrooms, door and gate to be renovated later. This will be a huge inconvenience if the buyers do not have an alternative place of residence and will need to move into a ready unit fast.


So, will the HIP increase the value of the HDB flat?

From experience, they help the flat retain its value as its 99-year lease runs down but does not serve to increase the value of the HDB unit. If it occurs before or during the works, it might attract Singaporean household buyers that are keen to enjoy a heavily subsidized new bathroom, chute hopper, door and gate as these are items that usually will be replaced after the sale anyway.

But will turn off SPR households that will need to fork out more money than the resale price of the unit when they are being billed the HIP cost by the government or those buyers that wish to move into a ready unit soon and do not want to put up with the inconveniences.


Contact Us

Do share your opinions on this article with us by dropping us an email or contacting us through our Facebook and Instagram pages! We’d be happy to provide you with various analyses, advice, and any sort of assistance you may require, whether you’re a buyer or a seller. Leave your contact details and any queries down below, and we’ll contact you ASAP.

That’s it for this article! Stay safe everybody, and remember, call Home Quarters and start packing!

Should you sell your property now or wait until after COVID-19 end?

Halfway into 2020 in June, we are still in the midst of a massive global COVID-19 pandemic. One of our clients asked us this question – “Should I sell my property now or wait until after COVID-19 end?”. It’s a great question that we would like to address in an article. The more accurate question is “Will I get a lousy price if I sell now during these uncertain times or wait to sell after COVID-19?” ‘

This is not only applicable during this pandemic but also to adverse news that occur periodically around the world. Simply put, the word “COVID-19” can be easily replaced with sharp fall in the Dow Jones Index, a new policy from the government and the list goes on and on.


What’s your motivation to selling your property before the COVID-19 end?

However, the reason for selling could be that family circumstances have changed. You could face a need to upsize the unit. Family members often rubbing elbows with one another can cause a lot of friction within the family. At this juncture, as the seller, you have to decide if it is an urgent matter and how long you can afford to wait.

Another reason for selling can be due to the investment acumen. You may see that the asset is reaching its maturity, and the growth of the unit is stagnating or decreasing. In that case, it is worthwhile to sell now. 


What are you buying next?

The next question is, what will you be buying next? In a balance market or a buyer’s market, the next house that you wish to buy might be realistically priced. If you are upgrading where the next house will cost more than the selling price of your current house, savings can be very significant if you choose to buy now.

If you wait for the market to recover, the prices could be much higher then. The same holds true for investor selling off the current investment unit to purchase another investment unit.


Will you get a lousy price if you sell now during these uncertain times or wait to sell after COVID-19?

If you have decided to move forward to sell, then this is perhaps the best time to sell. The buyers that are in the market currently are the serious ones and also because of these uncertain times, many of your competitors may pause selling because of fear. They will not be listing their units up in the market.


Bonus

Another bonus, there are more instances of working from home and if digital and social marketing is used in the marketing of the unit, there will be an increase in viewership. We will be able to target and induce buyers to be interested in buying the unit. So if the right pricing and marketing strategies is utilised, I believe that a fair price will obtain in any sort of uncertain times and news.

It is not about just producing an amazing video, but the ability to promote this particular video featuring your unit, to the correct audience that will get the house sold! Of course, there are other factors that will affect how fast a unit get sold. This includes price, lease tenure, and layout. We would work out these details on a case by case basis.


Contact Us

If you have questions or if you are thinking about properly showcasing your house for sale, contact Home Quarters by going over to homequarters.com.sg or send us an email at homequarterssg@gmail.com or direct message us on Facebook or Instagram!

If you would like to schedule a virtual viewing, that is also possible – you can read all about what you need to look out for during a property virtual viewing here before COVID-19 end.

That’s it for this article! Stay safe everybody, and remember, call Home Quarters and start packing!

Your house determines what pets you can have in Singapore!

Cat lovers, do you know that if you owning a cat in a HDB flat, you can be fined up to $4,000? Certainly, pets could provide some great furry companionship in our lives. However, there are rules to owning pets in Singapore with regards to where you stay. In this article, we will be looking into rules and regulation of owning pets in HDB flats and also private homes. There are exceptions to the rules and regulations too.


Having pets, such as cats in HDB flats

Under the Housing and Development (Animals) Rules 1989, it is illegal to keep cats in your HDB flat. In fact, you will be liable for a fine up to $4,000 if you fail to comply. The reason that cats are prohibited is because “They are generally difficult to contain within the flat. When allowed to roam indiscriminately, they tend to shed fur and defecate or urinate in public areas, and also make caterwauling sounds, which can inconvenience your neighbours.”


What about dogs?

Five weird lifestyle-changing factors for HDB Flat

HDB Approved Dog Breeds Source: HDB

While dogs are allowed in HDB flats, it has to be one of the 62 HDB-approved dog breeds. You can refer to the full list here on the SPCA website. Moreover, only one dog is allowed per household. Dog owners do not need to apply for HDB’s approval to keep the dog as long as it is an approved breed and the dog needs to be licensed by the NParks Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS).

Other pets that are allowed in HDB flats include rabbits, hamster, approved bird breeds, approved fish breeds, crabs, frogs and approved turtle breeds.


For the love of pets..

If you are looking to own a cat or dog that is not one of HDB’s approved breeds, or looking to have multiple dogs, a private property might be a better fit. AVS’s current rule states that a maximum of three dogs is allowed to be kept in any one private residences. Of which, only one Specified dog can be licensed and kept in each private residence.

So what exactly is a Specified dog? These are dog breeds that are reported to be more aggressive, and additional measures such as muzzling, have to be put in place to minimize chances of an attack.

Cats and other legal pets can be kept at private residences but do be mindful that if you are living in a condominium or apartment, there might be other by-laws set by the condominium’s Management Corporation Strata Title (MCST) that will restrict the number and type of pets you can own. Do check with the specific MCST or Managing Agent in the Condominium or apartment.


What are the exceptions?

There are exceptions; however, to what is mentioned above regarding pets in HDB and also private housing in Singapore. One such exception is Project ADORE  (ADOption and REhoming of dogs) which have became a permanent scheme in May 2014, the project allows HDB flat owners to adopt and keep bigger local mixed breed dogs, also known as Singapore Specials, which are up to 55 cm in height.

This is a 2 year pilot program that started recently on 1 March 2020 to revise the height criteria from 50 cm to 55cm and the weight criteria of 15 kg to be removed. Under the project, adopters have to abide by stringent ownership conditions and need to sign off on requirements to ensure that their dogs do not cause nuisances to the neighbours in the HDB.

The project has also since been expanded in August 2018 to include a pilot project till early 2022 called K9 Adoption Scheme to allow dog handlers to rehome retired sniffer dogs from Singapore Police Force, Singapore Civil Defence Force and the Singapore Armed Force in HDB flats. There is also a higher possibility to keep more than 3 dogs if the fourth dog is a mongrel adopted from one of the rehoming partners.


Another project called Project Love Cats, which is a pilot project on cat ownership, was launched on 20 October 2012 in Chong Pang and was supported by its Member of Parliament Mr K. Shanmugam. The programme was effected to test a community management framework on responsible cat ownership in HDB estate. To qualify to be a cat owner in Chong Pang HDB estate, cat owners will need to register with the Cat Welfare Society and abide by ownership conditions such as microchipping and sterilisation. The areas covered are only at Old Chong Pang and New Chong Pang. Cat owners, check out if you stay in one of these blocks, if so you will be able to legally keep cats in your HDB without worrying that you will be fine up to $4,000! Looking ahead, whether the pilot Love Cats be expanded to other HDB estate still remains to be seen.

During a parliament sitting on 6 January 2020, Member of Parliament Mr Louis Ng of Nee Soon East asked Minister of National Development Mr Lawrence Wong very recently:

1. What is the rationale for not allowing people living in HDB flats to keep cats; and

2. whether the Ministry is reviewing this rule.

Minister Lawrence Wong replied, HDB’s pet ownership policies have to strike a balance between residents who are pet lovers and those who are not. Irresponsible pet ownership can lead to dis-amenities in the community and cause unhappiness. In the case of cats, dis-amenities include shedding fur, defecating/urinating in public areas, and caterwauling by roaming cats.

Notwithstanding these concerns, HDB recognizes that there are many residents who are cat lovers and who would like to keep cats in their flats. Hence, HDB will continue to review and update its pet ownership policies, together with NParks/Animal & Veterinary Service which is responsible for the broader issue of animal welfare and licensing.

While we would like very much to accommodate the wishes of all pet owners, we also have to take into consideration the views of other home-owners, and take a holistic and balanced approach in addressing this issue.”

For now, it looks like cats are still a no in other HDB flats in Singapore outside of Chong Pang


Contact Us

Pets are lifelong companions and the commitment to care for it is a big responsibility. So much so that it would also affect the type of property that you are looking to purchase next. That is where Home Quarters’ expertise lies.

Come sit down with us to go through which property type is more suitable for you as a whole by going over to homequarters.com.sg or send us an email at homequarterssg@gmail.com or direct message us on Facebook or Instagram.

If you would like to schedule a virtual viewing, that is also possible – you can read all about what you need to look out for during a property virtual viewing here.

That’s it for this article! Stay safe everybody, and remember, call Home Quarters and start packing!

The 3 Best Timings To Sell Off An Investment Property!

So you bought an investment property years ago, and are now wondering when is the best time to sell? In this article, we share about what we feel are the 3 best timings to sell off an investment unit.


Stagnation of prices of the unit when you want to sell off an investment property

As investors, we know the importance of making your money work hard for you. For property, we look at both rental yields and capital appreciation potential in a real estate asset. Rental yields are easy to determine, based on the current market rental that is being transacted. For example, in a condominium unit, we can take reference to the recent transacted rental prices in the condominium.

The 3 Best Timings To Sell Off An Investment Property!_Home Quarters SG_KC Ng Keng Chong

That will determine the next rental price if the current tenant is looking to renew or terminate. From there, we are able to calculate the gross rental yield and also the nett rental yield after taking into account other costs relating to the investment unit such as mortgage rate, condo maintenance fee, property tax and agent service fees to name a few.

Capital appreciation potential is a little more complicated. Like the name suggests, it is potential and it could go higher in due time. But how long the potential can be realized is important here. Let me illustrate. If there are 2 properties that cost S$1 million each, and both have the potential to increase 50% to S$1.5 million. Investors will most likely be indifferent to choose one over another.

The 3 Best Timings To Sell Off An Investment Property!_Home Quarters SG_KC Ng Keng Chong

However, let’s say after 5 years, Property A appreciates by 25% and Property B appreciates by 30%. On hindsight, Property B is a better investment if the investor only wants to hold on to the unit for 5 years. However, if the investor has another 5 years to go before needing the money from the investment for other needs, then what could be done?

Assuming that both Property A and B’s prices are already stagnant. For one, the investor can keep the same property and hopefully at the end of another 5 years, it will realize its full potential and appreciate to S$1.5 million. He could sell off the unit and put it in another one that have a better growth potential. As an added bonus, with a larger capital after sale, there could be units with better opportunities available.


Restructuring the owners for tax planning purposes

If you have bought an investment unit with a partner or spouse, and currently have capital to invest into the real estate market, it might be helpful to look at how you plan the ownership of the current residential property portfolio.

In a typical scenario, a couple bought a 2 bedroom condominium unit for investment for S$700,000 and it has since appreciated to S$1 million as their second property purchase. Their first property purchase is a built-to-order HDB flat that they currently own, valued at around S$500,000. If together, they were to put the money into another 2-bedroom unit priced at S$1 million, they will have to pay 15% Additional Buyer Stamp Duty(ABSD).

What they can do is to sell off both the HDB flat and the 2 bedroom unit and start afresh. One of them can purchase and own a S$1.5 million 3 bedroom condominium unit. The other spouse can then purchase the 2 bedrooms unit for investment. Between the both of them, they are able to make profit as well.

Each of them owns 1 property, so there is no need to pay the ABSD. The same scenario works if the couple aims to sell the 2 bedroom unit to purchase a landed property priced above S$2 million. The ABSD would have been at 12%. That would be S$240,000 – almost half the price of their HDB flat! Of course, there are other considerations such as loan eligibility and whether they will want to live in a condominium. 


Better investment opportunities

Lastly, with limited capital, an investor may identify a better investment unit than the one they currently own. Thus, it might be worthwhile to take the profit that the current investment unit generated and put it in another unit with better growth potential.

We have seen cases where investors cut losses to do the same as well. The money returned together with rentals and savings accumulated over the years. In that way, they might be able to purchase a bigger investment unit or even multiple investment units diversified across Singapore.

For example, take the case that we have mentioned regarding the 2 bedroom unit which initially cost S$700,000 and have appreciated to S$1 million. Assuming they have S$400,000 mortgage loan left, the cash returned would be S$600,000. After an even split of S$300,000 each between the couple, each partner can put a down payment on a close to S$1 million property at a 75% loan from the bank.


Contact Us

If you have questions or if you are thinking about properly showcasing your house for sale, contact Home Quarters by going over to homequarters.com.sg or send us an email at homequarterssg@gmail.com or direct message us on Facebook or Instagram!

If you would like to schedule a virtual viewing, that is also possible – you can read all about what you need to look out for during a property virtual viewing here before COVID-19 end.

Reach out to us any way you like and we love to help you out and answer any questions you have to sell your house so that you can move on to the next big thing in life!

That’s it for this article! Stay safe everybody, and remember, call Home Quarters and start packing!

Purchasing the Recess Area Outside of Your HDB Flat!

Calling on all Housing and Development Board (HDB) dwellers and owners! Do you know you can buy the small space right outside your door? Have you ever wondered why some HDB flats have their gates outside on the common corridor and some have them just right outside the door? That fine difference is because of the recess area.

In this article, we will explore what that is, who can buy them, how much does it cost and also how to go about buying it. Importantly for those concern about selling your unit in future, we also discuss if buying it will increase the value of your house.


What is the recess area and who can buy it?

Purchasing the Recess Area Outside of Your HDB Flat!_Home Quarters SG_KC Ng Keng Chong

Source : HDB

HDB flats have corridors that lead to staircase and also lift landings that serve as common spaces, and these areas are considered the recess area. Some residents have converted these extensions outside their home for their personal use by putting their own belongings such as shoe racks, cabinets, bicycle and even park benches.

Home Quarters do advise that home owners reduce the clutter in the common corridor as this will pose as a fire hazard, and restrict escape routes and access in case of an emergency. The safest way to enjoy the corridor space directly in front of the flat is to purchase it from HDB under the Sale of Recess Area Scheme and turn it into your own private space.

In order to be eligible to buy, home owners have to meet certain conditions. First, the space have to meet technical requirements relating to design, access, fire safety and ventilation. There should not be service ducts such as gas pipes, water meters and electrical ducts in the space.


In what situation is the purchase of recess area not allowed?

Purchasing the Recess Area Outside of Your HDB Flat!_Home Quarters SG_KC Ng Keng Chong

In addition, the purchase of recess area is not allowed if the flat is built after 1996 or under a Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) project. Also, under these circumstances, purchase is also prohibited:

• Space does not comply with the Fire Safety Code
• Space contains electrical risers
• Flat is located next to a corner unit
• Flat is located next to the opening that leads to the canopy of the protruding access balcony
• Flat is located in a point block where it is the only unit on the floor which has the recess area


How much does the small recess area cost?

According to HDB, the purchase price of a 4 sqm recess area outside a typical three-room flat would cost S$6,800. The price per square meter is also reviewed every quarter by HDB. Just like a normal purchase procedure, stamp and registration fees, conveyancing fees and also survey fees are required for the purchase. Survey fees refer to the fee paid to confirm how big the area is.

Purchasing the Recess Area Outside of Your HDB Flat!_Home Quarters SG_KC Ng Keng Chong

Source : HDB

HDB estimates that the total cost for the recess area adds up to S$7,297.30 after factoring all the fees involved. Additional costs might also be needed for relocating service ducts, fittings, or fixtures out of the recess area, and for renovation works to be carried out which is not included in the estimate. 


Procedure to buy recess area

Purchasing the Recess Area Outside of Your HDB Flat!_Home Quarters SG_KC Ng Keng Chong

Source : HDB

If their flat meets the requirements, they may submit an online application via My HDBPage. An on-site inspection of the recess area is required to determine if the space meets technical requirements. Thereafter, they will be subsequently informed of the outcome in writing. In certain cases, they will be advised to relocate services, fittings and fixtures at their own cost before making payment and signing of legal documents to complete the purchase.


Impact of recess area towards valuation and price of HDB flat

Factually, the area of the HDB flat will increase as it includes the bought area of the recess area. The valuation price will definitely be higher than a typical unit. On top of just adding space to the unit, if the purchase of recess area changes a typical corner corridor unit to that of a private corner unit without any windows facing the common corridor, then the purchase of the recess area will increase the desirability of the unit.

Purchasing the Recess Area Outside of Your HDB Flat!_Home Quarters SG_KC Ng Keng Chong

Source: Fatema Design Studio

For example, a 3-room flat in Toa Payoh that have purchased the recess area and renovated it, would have increased its attractiveness. People might prefer to buy this unit with recess area because it is now more private, without windows that allows public to peek into the unit from the common corridor. That will definitely increase the demand and thus, the market price of the unit.


Contact Us

Now, after you understand what is the recess area, is it a key criteria when you are looking for your next home? Come sit down with us to go through your current needs and want for the property to purchase next.

If you have questions or if you are thinking about properly showcasing your house for sale, contact Home Quarters by going over to homequarters.com.sg or send us an email at homequarterssg@gmail.com or direct message us on Facebook or Instagram! If you would like to schedule a virtual viewing, that is also possible – you can read all about what you need to look out for during a property virtual viewing here before COVID-19 end.

Reach out to us any way you like and we love to help you out and answer any questions you have to sell your house so that you can move on to the next big thing in life.

That’s all for this article! Stay safe, and remember, call Home Quarters and start packing!

3 Tips To Selling Your Housing Unit In Record Time!

Tips To Sell Off Your Unit Quickly

#1 Appraise the demand for the unit before selling your housing unit

So, you want to sell your housing unit quickly. Firstly, we have to assess the demand for the unit that is being sold. We can approximate the demand of a unit through its past transactions.

If the unit is a HDB flat, we start by looking at the “resale flat price”. We check how many units and price of each unit are being sold in the last 6-month and 12-month period in the HDB town or even down to the street level.

3 Tips To Selling Your Housing Unit In Record Time!_Home Quarters SG_KC Ng Keng Chong

HDB Resale Flat Price Source: HDB


For private residential units, we look at Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)’s Private Residential Property Transactions where you can search by the appropriate project name. Primarily, this is used for condominiums and apartments. We can also search by property type and postal district. This is used for landed properties or cluster housing.

3 Tips To Selling Your Housing Unit In Record Time!_Home Quarters SG_KC Ng Keng Chong

Private Residential Property Transactions Source:URA

Next, we also look at the resale data. We see how many units of the particular type of house that you are selling. That will give you a gauge if there are buyers interested to buy the unit that you are selling.

If there are multiple transactions in the condominium or HDB estate, it is a good indication that there would be strong demand for the unit that you are selling. However, it could also mean that there are not many units available for sale in the area. To check if this is true, we move on to our second tip.


#2 Evaluate your competition

Check if there are many of your neighbours that are putting up their unit for sale. If there are, and your research also shows low demand of the unit from past transactions, it would mean that the actual demand for your particular type of unit is low.

So, where and how do we check if your neighbours are selling their unit? Generally, you can do this by going to popular multiple listing portals and select filters based on your unit type, your area or your condominium. Of course, do keep in mind that there might be a few repeated advertisements of the same unit.

If there are many similar units that are up for sale, we will classify the level of competition as “high”. Buyers have more choices if they are looking in the area, and in order to stand out, you need to have a unique selling point that can entice the buyer to choose your unit over the rest. In order to perform better than the competition and sell the unit, marketing is key.


#3 A Strong Marketing Matrix For Your Unit

At Home Quarters, we emphasize on customized marketing strategies that will showcase your unit to the right audience. In this aspect, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

We would position the unique selling point of the unit and re-package the advantages to the potential buyers in the area. In this way, we can reach buyers that are looking for the unit perfect for their needs. For example, if the family-friendly unit is close to good schools, and are looking for a unit in the East, we would be activating our precise digital audience targeting methods.

It is not about just producing an amazing video, but the ability to promote this particular video featuring your unit, to the correct audience that will get the house sold! Of course, there are other factors that will affect how fast a unit get sold. This includes price, lease tenure, and layout. We would work out these details on a case by case basis.


Contact Us

If you have questions or if you are thinking about properly showcasing your house for sale, whatsapp message or call KC from Home Quarters and begin finding your new home today: +65 8809 2889! Or drop us an email, commenting on our YouTube or contacting us through our Facebook and Instagram pages!

If you would like to schedule a virtual viewing, that is also possible – you can read all about what you need to look out for during a property virtual viewing here before COVID-19 end.

Reach out to us any way you like and we love to help you out and answer any questions you have to sell your house so that you can move on to the next big thing in life.

That’s it for this article! Stay safe everybody, and remember, call Home Quarters and start packing!