HUDC and the story of housing windfalls

FIRST built as affordable homes for the sandwiched middle class, they were a ticket to a windfall three decades later. With the last HUDC estate heading towards privatisation - Braddell View - that chapter in Singapore's housing story is drawing to a close.

It began with little fanfare in the Budget debate of 1974.

What happened to Singapore’s 18 HUDC estates
  • Privatised: 1997
<br>Sold en bloc: 2007 (The Interlace)
  • The Interlace.
  • Privatised: 1996
  • Privatised: 1998
  • Privatised: 2001
<br>Sold en bloc: 2007 (The Minton)
  • Privatised: 2002
<br>Sold en bloc: 2006 (Waterfront Collection)
  • Privatised: 2002
  • Privatised: 2002
<br>Sold en bloc: 2007 (d'Leedon)
  • Privatised: 2002
<br>Sold en bloc: 2006 (Silversea)
  • In January 2006, the first HUDC estate went en bloc: the 168-unit Amberville estate, which sold for $183 million.
  • This works out to $1.09 million per unit, which was said to be at least 85 per cent over the market value then - and also quite a windfall, considering that a three-bedroom flat there originally went for under $100,000.
  • Privatised: 2003
  • Privatised: 2004
  • Privatised: 2007
  • Privatised: 2011
  • Privatised: 2013
  • Privatised: In progress
  • Privatised: In progress
  • Privatised: In progress
  • Privatised: In progress
  • Privatised: Seeking mandate

MPs wanted middle-income earners to be able to buy private property with Central Provident Fund savings.

Then Minister of State for Labour Sia Kah Hui turned them down, but signalled: the Government would be building, "in the very near future", flats for this exact middle-income group.

Three days later, then Minister for Law and National Development E.W. Barker gave details.

The aim: to provide homes for the sandwiched class of young professionals and executives, who earned too much for a Housing Board flat but too little to afford private housing.

This, as Housing and Urban Development Company manager Lim Poh Guan put it in a 1976 interview, was "so that they could have a stake in the country".

The five estates of the pioneer batch were an ambitious alternative to condominium living.

Some, such as Braddell View - which the Ministry of National Development on Tuesday announced has been designated for privatisation - and Farrer Court, were conceptualised as green, sprawling spaces. The 618 units in Farrer Court estate, for instance, had 838,488 sq ft of land to themselves - about 21/2 times the size of the Padang.

Braddell View up for privatisation
  • The last of Singapore's 18 HUDC estates, Braddell View, has been designated for privatisation, said the Ministry of National Development on Tuesday.
  • But before the privatisation works can begin, land lease issues must be sorted out. The estate, comprising 918 flats and two shops, was developed in two phases on two separate land leases, with different expiry dates.
  • To harmonise these leases - such that they have the same expiry date - the land lease of the older land parcel will be "topped-up" to that of the newer one. A land premium must thus be paid by every flat owner in the estate.
  • Residents will vote on whether to privatise the estate. If the required mandate of at least 75 per cent in favour of the move is obtained, the amount of top-up premium will be determined by the Chief Valuer Office and the Housing Board will apply to the Singapore Land Authority for the top-up.
  • "After the lease top-up, the whole process of legal privatisation can be expected to take about 15 months, barring any unforeseen circumstances," said the MND.
  • "The era of HUDCs has ended. However, HUDC estates will remain a testament to the creative ways in which we have housed our people and help them fulfil their dreams," Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said on the Ministry's blog on Tuesday.

Others commanded views of parkland, such as Lakeview estate in Upper Thomson Road, or the sea, like Laguna Park and Amberville in the east. They featured landscaped grounds, playing fields and covered carparks. And the three-bedroom flats they contained, which came in two sizes, were larger than any before.

The smaller ones, at 139 sq m, are more than twice the size of a new three-room flat today.

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