$1M HDB Flats in Singapore: Are They Worth The Hype?

Deborah Gan

Deborah Gan

Last updated 29 August, 2022

In just the first half of 2022, 166 resale HDB flats were sold for S$1 million and above. But are million-dollar HDB flats really worth it? Or is the resale market just feeling the heat?

Throwback to when HDB prices were much cheaper compared to now. Just a few days ago, my uncle recalled how he had spent less than S$100,000 for his 5-room flat in Yishun close to 20 years ago. Fast forward to 2022, and you’ll see that the recent May BTO launch in Yishun was going for S$485,000 for a 5-room flat. That’s close to a five-fold increase!

In the past, million-dollar HDB flats were unheard of until the first unit located at 149 Mei Ling Street in Queenstown was sold for a record-breaking price of S$1.01 million back in July 2012. Now, you see million-dollar transactions happening every other week. And we’re unfazed. Just recently on 17 September 2022, a jumbo flat in Bedok Reservoir was also sold for S$1.04 million — the first in Bedok.

So what exactly is the hype about, and are they really worth the million-dollar price tag? We take a deep dive into some of the recent transactions to explore these.

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Why are HDB prices so high now?

Aside from the skyrocketing private home prices that have been the talk of the town, HDB’s prices don’t trail too far behind either. In fact, HDB resale prices rose by 2.6% in the second quarter of the year, compared to the 2.4% increase in the previous quarter.

Despite this, analysts say that the market might be stabilising as last year's quarterly price gains were hovering at about 3% compared to 2.5% this year. Nevertheless, PropNex Realty head of research and content Wong Siew Ying, expects HDB resale prices to increase by about 7% to 9% at a slower pace than in 2021, when the market saw a 12.7% full-year increase.

So why are the prices so high? This could be due to a range of factors.

Firstly, we are still experiencing the effects of COVID-19. During the pandemic, a majority of Singaporeans had to WFH, resulting in an increase in demand for homes and bigger spaces to accommodate their new normal. Because of construction delays during that time, many turned to resale HDB flats as a quicker and more convenient option.

But as we mentioned earlier, it seems like the resale market is starting to lose its momentum. Though the market activities are usually the busiest in the second quarter of teh year, there seems to be a drop in resale volume. 

For one, it is probably due to the limited supply of HDB flats in the market, as well as the disparity in price expectations between buyers and sellers. On top of that, the cooling measures pushed out by the government are probably taking effect. Moreover, recent BTO launches had many prime location housing (PLH), clawing back some demand for resale HDBs. 

All in all, if you’re a homeowner, maybe it’s best to strike when the market is still hot. And these are probably why million-dollar HDB homes that used to be the outliers are now becoming more prevalent in the market, even in heartlands like Yishun. 

What makes a million-dollar HDB flat?

1. Good location

 Million-dollar HDB flats are usually located in prime locations like Core Central Region (CCR) or the Rest of Central Region (RCR), as they are in close proximity to the CBD for an easy commute to work. 

However, there have also been HDB flats transacted for more than S$1 million in the Outside of Central Region (OCR). These flats are usually very close to MRT stations, which makes it extremely attractive to buyers. If the flat is located just beside an MRT station or a short walk away, you’ll likely be more willing to pay a higher premium because of its convenience.

2. Limited supply

The supply largely depends on the property market and the surrounding properties available. If the market is bad, chances are homeowners will want to hold onto their units and wait for the market to rise again in an attempt to fetch a better price. But conversely, selling your unit in such a market might be beneficial for you if the demand is high. With less competition, homebuyers will have limited choices available, and hence the power of requesting for a higher price lies in the hands of the homeowner.

In other cases, having a limited supply of HDB flats in the area will also fetch you a higher price. In prime locations like Central, there is an influx of private properties all around, and the supply of HDB flats is very limited. If you’re holding onto a spacious 5-room HDB flat, you’re likely able to command a high price. A much roomier unit at a cheaper price (compared to private property)? What a steal!

3. Premium flat types and flat size

Some premium flat types that are widely known, like Natura Loft DBSS and the SkyTerrace@Dawson can definitely fetch you a much higher price because of their unique qualities. Treelodge@Punggol has also recently gained traction and transacted for S$970,000 back in December 2021. Though it hasn’t reached S$1 million, it might very soon will.

Other kinds of premium flat types are jumbo units and Executive Apartments (EA), and Executive Maisonettes (EM), which are very rare to find these days since HDB has stopped producing such flat types in Singapore. These units are a lot bigger than your usual 5-room flat and are definitely worthy contenders for big families or multi-generational families living under the same roof.

4. Age of unit

The unit’s age also plays a huge role in determining the asking price. The younger the flat is, the higher price it commands. Usually, resale flats reach their peak resale value when they are fresh out of the Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP) after five years. So that's the best chance of your unit reaching the coveted seven digits.

5. Unblocked views

Though it’s not the most important, having an unblocked view of the sea, park or reservoir might help you hit your million-dollar goal. But of course, it’s always better if it's a high floor so your unit’s selling point increases.

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Million-dollar HDB flats in prime locations

#1 Central (Pinnacle@Duxton)

When we say Central, we’re actually talking specifically about Pinnacle@Duxton because, in just 2022 alone, there have already been 24 units sold for S$1 million and above. Located right in the heart of Tanjong Pagar, it is no wonder why the units there are of such high value. 

Aside from its impeccable location, 50-storey high Pinnacle@Duxton is extremely valued. As the tallest public housing building, it has won numerous eyeballs because of its award-winning design and condominium-like features, like its 500m long sky gardens. Because of this, homebuyers are definitely willing to pay a million-dollar price tag for a 4-room unit. 

To date, it holds the record for having the highest number of resale flats above S$1 million, and with good reason. The most expensive unit was a 1,152 sqft 5-room unit in March 2022, which went for S$1.39 million.

#2 Queenstown

Another estate that needs no introduction, Queenstown has always been one of the more expensive estates to stay in that’s located in the OCR. The estate includes neighbourhoods like Holland Village, Commonwealth and Dawson. In fact, Queenstown is home to the first ever million-dollar HDB flat back in July 2012, Since then, Mei Ling Street has been a hotspot for families looking for EAs since they are no longer produced. 

Aside from its large resale units available, Mei Ling Street is also a prime location for convenience since it’s located next to Queenstown MRT station and its close proximity to Mei Ling Market and Food Centre. In 2021 and 2022, there have been a total of 6 EAs sold above S$1 million, with room sizes of about 1,615 sqft. The most expensive one takes the cake at S$1.18 million.

Other attractive properties also include Buona Vista Court, Commonwealth 10, SkyVille@Dawsin and SkyTerrace@Dawson. The most expensive unit sold in SkyTerrace@Dawson was a premium loft apartment that transacted at S$1.24 million. This was probably due to its large land size and limited supply, on top of its unique loft feature.

#3 Bishan

Bishan is another estate with an unsurprising number of million-dollar resale flats and is currently the third estate that has the most. Bishan is known for its large number of EM, which is quite rare to find these days.

The most expensive Maisonette transacted for S$1.29 million. The rest of the other 10 million-dollar Maisonettes are all located across Sing Ming Ave, Bright Hill Drive and Shunfu Road. 

Aside from the Maisonettes, there are six 5-room units sold above S$1 million as well, housed under Natura Loft. Because it is part of the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS), they are rather scarce and therefore gathers high demand. On top of that, its located near Bishan and Marymount MRT station, making it extremely convenient for residents to commute, and is in close proximity to Bishan North Shopping Mall and Junction 8. The most expensive unit was sold at S$1.34 million.

#4 Toa Payoh

Home to a total of 56 million-dollar transactions from 2020, Toa Payoh is another estate that requires no explanation for its high-priced resale flats. Situated close to the CBD, residents living in Toa Payoh have a lot to gain in terms of convenience. 

As a mature estate, the whole neighbourhood is littered with shopping malls, grocery stores and coffee shops for food and lifestyle needs. Since it has been around for a very long time, Toa Payoh has many older and larger HDB units, as big as 1,732 sqft EAs up for grabs. There were two Maisonettes sold at S$1 million and above this year, with the highest at S$1.01 million.

Toa Payoh also has DBSS properties like The Peak@Toa Payoh, which has about 90 years left on its lease. 17 million-dollar 5-room flats were transacted above S$1 million, owing a large portion of it to DBSS units. The highest transacted price was a DBSS unit that sold at S$1.29 million.

Buying a house soon? Make sure you safeguard your home with a comprehensive home insurance plan.

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Million-dollar HDB flats in the heartlands

#1 Yishun

If you’ve been keeping up with the current news, you’ll know that Yishun has made quite a reputation for itself. With three cat killings in the same week and serval murders, including a murder of a child by his own father, who would have expected Yishun to be home to several million-dollar flats? But for good reason.

Aside from Yishun’s numerous counts of unfavourable news, it still is a great neighbourhood to reside in, given its slew of amenities and revamp of Northpoint City to include a new south wing.

In the first half of 2022, three new HDB units in Yishun were added to the list of million-dollar flats sold. They are three jumbo executive apartments with sizes of 1,765 to 2,013 sqft, located between Khatib and Yishun MRT stations. Out of which the most expensive one was transacted at S$1.04 million, at 652 Yishun Avenue 4.

#2 Pasir Ris

Non-Easties might have their reservations about living right at the end of the East-West Line, but Pasir Ris does have its charm. As of May 2022, Pasir Ris has got its first million-dollar HDB flat under its belt, which transacted at a whopping S$1.14 million. This particular EA has a size of 2,034 sqft, much larger than the usual 1,604 to 1,636 sqft of the other EAs in the area.

Located at Pasir Ris Street 13, it’s relatively close to neighbourhood mall Loyang Point and Pasir Ris East Community Club. It’s also a short drive from Pasir Ris MRT station and White Sands. And with its large size, maybe a million dollars isn't such a bad deal.

#3 Woodlands

As one of the cheapest housing estates to live in Singapore, who would expect it to produce not one, but two transactions of million-dollar HDB flats?

Under the URA Masterplan, Woodlands has been earmarked for redevelopment by building a Woodlands Regional Centre to take its place as the largest economic hub in the North. Woodlands is also home to Causeway Point, which has recently undergone an asset enhancement initiative (AEI) that included upgrading its amenities and tenant mix. This is why Woodlands may soon pick up in value.

With regards to its two million-dollar flats, they are both jumbo-sized executive flats of 2,034 sqft, ideal for multi-generational families.

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A mahjong addict with an undying love for dogs, Deborah is always on the hunt for cheap deals because she is always broke. That is why she is attempting to be more financially savvy to be.. less broke


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