Record Breaking $1.4 Million HDB Costs Too Much? The Alternatives May Not Be Any Better
- May 21, 2022
- 11 min read
If you haven’t heard by now, a 5-room HDB flat at Henderson just broke the record for the most expensive HDB ever transacted – at a stunning price of $1.4 million.
The unit is located in City Vue @ Henderson, an HDB development known for its striking view of the city, and convenient location. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that you have sheltered walkways all the way to the MRT station! It’s 1,216 square feet (113 sqm) in size, and situated on the 41st floor of the 48-storey block (it’s not even the highest floor). Given the lease only started in 2019, it is only 3 years old at this point.
For those wondering how they managed to sell before the usual 5-year MOP, this was actually a replacement home for the 878 homes at Redhill Close that underwent the Selective En-Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) back in 2011.
So unlike BTO units, the MOP criteria here is different. This would either be 7 years from the date of selection of the replacement flat, or 5 years from the date of occupation – whichever is earlier. Hence in the case of this particular purchase, if construction took 4 years, and they’ve stayed for 3, that would already fulfil the minimum criteria.
Now, while many people are struggling to comprehend why anyone would pay $1.4 million for an HDB flat at Henderson, the reality is that what people value in a home can be a very subjective thing. From scenic views to proximity to your parent’s home, to even just the typical convenience factor – it’s something that can’t always be justified by numbers.
Still, we thought it would be an interesting exercise to see what other options you have in Singapore at a $1.4 million price point.
Let’s start with the most obvious one – what can you get for $1.4 million in the same Bukit Merah planning area?
What 3 Bedroom Condo Units Can $1.4 Million Get You In Bukit Merah
To keep things as fair as possible, we isolated it down to as many equivalent factors as possible. It has to be a development that was as new (or close to) as City Vue @ Henderson, and a 3-bedroom unit as well. We decided to forgo having to be on a high floor too, as we knew you wouldn’t be getting any equivalent results at that point. (If there was, we doubt anyone would be choosing the HDB unit instead).
|Project Name||Price||Size (Sqft)||$PSF||Sale Date||Address||Tenure|
|Alex Residences||$1,550,000||926||1,674||28-Jan-22||28 ALEXANDRA VIEW #03||99 yrs from 18/03/2013|
|Alex Residences||$1,595,880||883||1,808||22-Oct-21||28 ALEXANDRA VIEW #02||99 yrs from 18/03/2013|
|Echelon||$1,628,000||861||1,891||27-Aug-21||9 ALEXANDRA VIEW #02||99 yrs from 06/03/2012|
|Echelon||$1,675,000||861||1,945||26-Jan-22||7 ALEXANDRA VIEW #10||99 yrs from 06/03/2012|
|Alex Residences||$1,680,000||926||1,815||28-Feb-22||28 ALEXANDRA VIEW #04||99 yrs from 18/03/2013|
|Echelon||$1,690,000||861||1,963||4-Aug-21||9 ALEXANDRA VIEW #07||99 yrs from 06/03/2012|
|Alex Residences||$1,700,000||926||1,836||11-May-21||28 ALEXANDRA VIEW #13||99 yrs from 18/03/2013|
|Spottiswoode Suites||$1,708,000||1087||1,571||27-Jul-21||16 SPOTTISWOODE PARK ROAD #05||Freehold|
|Alex Residences||$1,728,000||926||1,867||9-Jul-21||28 ALEXANDRA VIEW #18||99 yrs from 18/03/2013|
|Alex Residences||$1,735,000||926||1,874||15-Apr-21||28 ALEXANDRA VIEW #16||99 yrs from 18/03/2013|
|Echelon||$1,750,000||1001||1,748||15-Oct-21||9 ALEXANDRA VIEW #18||99 yrs from 06/03/2012|
|Echelon||$1,750,000||1001||1,748||25-Oct-21||9 ALEXANDRA VIEW #07||99 yrs from 06/03/2012|
|Alex Residences||$1,770,000||926||1,912||24-Aug-21||28 ALEXANDRA VIEW #19||99 yrs from 18/03/2013|
|Alex Residences||$1,795,000||926||1,939||22-Dec-21||28 ALEXANDRA VIEW #28||99 yrs from 18/03/2013|
Probably to no one’s surprise, if you are looking to live within the same area, there is nothing that you can find at that same price point.
The closest would be a compact 3-bedroom 926 square feet unit at Alex Residences (you know, that one with the magnificent 40th-floor rooftop infinity pool). But even then, it’s hardly the same comparison given this unit that was sold is located on the 3rd floor.
Still, at a price of $1.55 million, it’s a good 10% higher than the price of the Henderson flat. And it’s also worth noting here, that just a month later, a similar size unit just one floor up sold for $1.68 million – so that seemingly low resale price may just be a one-off.
What $1.4 Million Can Get You In Bukit Merah Without Any Restrictions
What if we made it a little less strict? If you had that same budget but are set on staying in the same area (without the other restrictions), what options do you have?
|Project Name||Price||Area (Sqft)||$PSF||Date||Address||Tenure|
|Principal Garden||$1,399,999||764||$1,832||10-Jun-21||99 PRINCE CHARLES CRESCENT #05||99 yrs from 21/07/2014|
|The Foresta @ Mount Faber||$1,400,000||872||$1,606||5-Oct-21||106 WISHART ROAD #05||Freehold|
|Principal Garden||$1,410,000||764||$1,845||10-Sep-21||99 PRINCE CHARLES CRESCENT #08||99 yrs from 21/07/2014|
|The Foresta @ Mount Faber||$1,450,000||786||$1,845||18-May-21||102 WISHART ROAD #03||Freehold|
|Principal Garden||$1,450,000||807||$1,796||11-Jun-21||93 PRINCE CHARLES CRESCENT #07||99 yrs from 21/07/2014|
|Principal Garden||$1,478,000||764||$1,934||19-Nov-21||97 PRINCE CHARLES CRESCENT #13||99 yrs from 21/07/2014|
|The Foresta @ Mount Faber||$1,490,000||829||$1,798||2-Jul-21||102 WISHART ROAD #02||Freehold|
|Principal Garden||$1,490,000||764||$1,950||11-Jan-22||97 PRINCE CHARLES CRESCENT #09||99 yrs from 21/07/2014|
Again, it’s quite slim pickings here.
The closest would be a 2 bedroom 764 square foot unit at Principal Garden that comes in at a hair under $1.4 million. Although we must point out that this was transacted in June 2021, and prices have moved a fair bit since then (a similar-sized unit sold for $1.49 million in January 2022).
Condo ReviewsPrincipal Garden Review: Astonishing Swimming Pools and Spaceby Reuben
As much as we love Principal Garden for its wonderful landscaping and many different swimming pools to choose from, it’s really not the same comparison here. This unit also unfortunately will be facing the future Alexandra BTO blocks, so it’s not going to enjoy the same current open views.
Next, what if we were to look at the same location, with the requirement of a similar-sized 3 bedroom, but no restrictions on age?
What $1.4 Million Can Get You With No Restrictions On Age
|Project Name||Price||Area (Sqft)||$PSF||Sale Date||Address||Tenure|
|Spottiswoode Park||$950,000||1,270||$748||23-Dec-21||105 SPOTTISWOODE PARK ROAD #13||99 yrs from 01/08/1976|
|Spottiswoode Park||$1,000,000||1,270||$787||20-Sep-21||107 SPOTTISWOODE PARK ROAD #15||99 yrs from 01/08/1976|
|Spottiswoode Park||$1,093,000||1,313||$832||25-Mar-22||107 SPOTTISWOODE PARK ROAD #15||85 yrs from 01/08/1990|
|The Pearl @ Mount Faber||$1,430,000||1,292||$1,107||18-Nov-21||1 MOUNT FABER ROAD #01||99 yrs from 03/12/2002|
|Emerald Park||$1,450,000||1,130||$1,283||30-Jul-21||6 INDUS ROAD #03||99 yrs from 01/09/1991|
|Tanglin View||$1,470,000||1,152||$1,276||27-Apr-21||150 PRINCE CHARLES CRESCENT #02||99 yrs from 17/05/1997|
|Reflections At Keppel Bay||$1,480,000||1,012||$1,463||4-Jun-21||23 KEPPEL BAY VIEW #03||99 yrs from 15/03/2006|
This time, you do have some choices to compare with, namely Spottiswoode Park, Emerald Park and Tanglin View (although they will be slightly above budget).
The first is a 5-room private apartment at Spottiswoode Park. It’s quite an interesting property as Blocks 101, 102 , 105, 107 here are considered private, while Blocks 103, 104 , 106 ,109, 110 are classified under HDB instead.
If you look at the transaction data, you’d see that the HDB units are actually going for $200,000 – $300,000 cheaper when on the outside and inside they are basically the same!
So yes, you can get an equivalent sized unit at a cheaper price, just that it’s much, much older.
Emerald Park is a 99-year leasehold development that was completed in 1993, so yes, it is significantly older. With just 280 units though, it isn’t quite as dense as City Vue @ Henderson, and enjoys a slightly less busy location. You are also quite close to Tiong Bahru (you can cut through the HDB blocks at Havelock, and the upcoming Havelock MRT station will be a short walk away.
Tanglin View is probably in a better spot if you are after convenience. You can quite easily walk to Redhill MRT station, and the Alexandra Park Connector is just behind. This means you can walk/cycle to CBD quite easily if that’s your thing. It was built by Far East Organization as well but is newer too as it was built in 2002.
Ultimately, the trade-off of these in terms of lease years remaining is significant enough that it’s not such a clear-cut decision if you have to choose between either. Unless the pull of being able to enjoy the facilities in a condo is so strong, it’s hard to declare a clear winner here.
Next, let’s open it up more. Let’s see what options there are with the same budget, 3 bedroom equivalent size, and age, but this time to the rest of Singapore.
What $1.4 Million Can Get You In The Rest Of Singapore
|Belysa||$1,400,000||1,421||$985||10-Feb-22||57 PASIR RIS DRIVE 1 #09||99 yrs from 24/01/2011|
|Hedges Park Condominium||$1,400,000||1,346||$1,041||29-Oct-21||81 FLORA DRIVE #08||99 yrs from 28/07/2010|
|The Tampines Trilliant||$1,400,000||1,378||$1,016||7-October-21||27 TAMPINES CENTRAL 7 #01||99 yrs from 13/07/2011|
|Heron Bay||$1,400,000||1,389||$1,008||29-Sep-21||61 UPPER SERANGOON VIEW #14||99 yrs from 04/06/2012|
|Twin Waterfalls||$1,400,000||1,507||$929||28-June-21||114 PUNGGOL WALK #01||99 yrs from 05/10/2011|
|Seastrand||$1,400,000||1,302||$1,075||28-Oct-21||1 PASIR RIS LINK #09||99 yrs from 03/01/2011|
|A Treasure Trove||$1,400,000||1,206||$1,161||4-Jun-21||68 PUNGGOL WALK #09||99 yrs from 09/03/2011|
|River Isles||$1,400,000||1,227||$1,141||10-Aug-21||58 EDGEDALE PLAINS #13||99 yrs from 06/02/2012|
|Waterfront Isle||$1,400,000||1,259||$1,112||14-Apr-21||736 BEDOK RESERVOIR ROAD #01||99 yrs from 26/11/2009|
|Riversound Residence||$1,400,000||1,367||$1,024||7-Jul-21||1 SENGKANG EAST AVENUE #06||99 yrs from 26/08/2011|
|Sea Esta||$1,400,000||1,378||$1,016||27-Jul-21||30 PASIR RIS LINK #01||99 yrs from 09/01/2012|
|Riversails||$1,400,000||1,367||$1,024||16-Sep-21||6 UPPER SERANGOON CRESCENT #03||99 yrs from 07/12/2011|
|Stratum||$1,400,000||1,399||$1,000||7-Sep-21||86 ELIAS ROAD #01||99 yrs from 11/07/2012|
|Stratum||$1,400,000||1,399||$1,000||20-Jan-22||80 ELIAS ROAD #01||99 yrs from 11/07/2012|
|Citylife@Tampines||$1,400,000||1,195||$1,172||29-Oct-21||53 TAMPINES CENTRAL 7 #11||99 yrs from 13/08/2012|
|Ecopolitan||$1,400,000||1,216||$1,151||14-Mar-22||136 PUNGGOL WALK #05||99 yrs from 04/12/2012|
|Lush Acres||$1,400,000||1,238||$1,131||30-Aug-21||3 FERNVALE CLOSE #15||99 yrs from 13/02/2013|
|Lush Acres||$1,400,000||1,238||$1,131||16-Sep-21||3 FERNVALE CLOSE #06||99 yrs from 13/02/2013|
|The Topiary||$1,400,000||1,238||$1,131||5-Jan-22||23 FERNVALE LANE #14||99 yrs from 03/07/2012|
|Skies Miltonia||$1,400,000||1,313||$1,066||24-November-21||31 MILTONIA CLOSE #06||99 yrs from 20/02/2012|
|Sea Horizon||$1,400,000||1,335||$1,049||23-Mar-22||15 PASIR RIS RISE #04||99 yrs from 25/02/2013|
|Waterbay||$1,400,000||1,346||$1,041||3-June-21||47B EDGEFIELD PLAINS #13||99 yrs from 02/07/2012|
|Ecopolitan||$1,400,000||1,367||$1,024||2-Sep-21||128 PUNGGOL WALK #14||99 yrs from 04/12/2012|
|Ecopolitan||$1,400,000||1,367||$1,024||7-Sep-21||136 PUNGGOL WALK #12||99 yrs from 04/12/2012|
|Ecopolitan||$1,400,000||1,367||$1,024||10-Sep-21||128 PUNGGOL WALK #11||99 yrs from 04/12/2012|
|The Topiary||$1,400,000||1,389||$1,008||8-Sep-21||15 FERNVALE LANE #02||99 yrs from 03/07/2012|
|Forestville||$1,400,000||1,399||$1,000||29-Oct-21||40 WOODLANDS DRIVE 16 #09||99 yrs from 06/08/2012|
|Forestville||$1,400,000||1,399||$1,000||7-Feb-22||40 WOODLANDS DRIVE 16 #04||99 yrs from 06/08/2012|
|Lush Acres||$1,400,000||1,485||$942||19-Aug-21||3 FERNVALE CLOSE #25||99 yrs from 13/02/2013|
|Sea Horizon||$1,400,000||1,485||$942||22-October-21||19 PASIR RIS RISE #02||99 yrs from 25/02/2013|
|Forestville||$1,400,000||1,496||$936||14-Apr-21||48 WOODLANDS DRIVE 16 #02||99 yrs from 06/08/2012|
|The Wisteria||$1,400,000||1,173||$1,193||26-July-21||596 YISHUN RING ROAD #12||99 yrs from 27/04/2015|
|The Visionaire||$1,400,000||1,313||$1,066||1-Mar-22||170 CANBERRA DRIVE #06||99 yrs from 09/01/2015|
As expected, at this price point and with the freedom of any location, you do have quite a big range to pick from. That said, it’s not so much a big range of locations as it is the range of condos, as you are restricted to mostly areas like Punggol, Tampines, and Pasir Ris. Some of these even have bigger unit sizes, so you do get more bang for your buck, in that sense.
At the end of the day though, that’s always going to be the tradeoff here. Should you stay in a central location, where you have to pay more for a smaller space? Or stay further away, where travel times are going to be longer but you can enjoy a bigger home?
Lastly, just as the last point to satisfy our curiosity, let’s look at what equivalent units you can get at a $1.4 million budget if staying on a high floor was your main concern. In this scenario, we picked units that were from at least 35 floors and up.
What $1.4 Million Can Get You For Equivalent High Floor Units
|International Plaza||$1,180,000||1,033||$1,142.00||23-Aug-21||10 ANSON ROAD #40||99 yrs from 02/06/1970|
|International Plaza||$1,200,000||1,033||$1,161.00||12-May-21||10 ANSON ROAD #39||99 yrs from 02/06/1970|
|The Rochester Residences||$1,260,000||1,023||$1,232.00||10-Dec-21||33 ROCHESTER DRIVE #35||99 yrs from 02/02/2005|
|Trevista||$1,300,000||861||$1,510.00||5-May-21||21 LORONG 3 TOA PAYOH #35||99 yrs from 15/07/2008|
|Queens||$1,300,000||915||$1,421.00||24-Sep-21||10 STIRLING ROAD #38||99 yrs from 16/02/1998|
|International Plaza||$1,300,000||1,033||$1,258.00||24-Mar-22||10 ANSON ROAD #45||99 yrs from 02/06/1970|
|Stirling Residences||$1,364,000||818||$1,667.00||24-Apr-21||21 STIRLING ROAD #40||99 yrs from 18/08/2017|
|Trevista||$1,380,000||926||$1,491.00||22-Jun-21||21 LORONG 3 TOA PAYOH #36||99 yrs from 15/07/2008|
Unfortunately, if staying high up and having picturesque views are what you’d pay a premium for, there’s really no comparison at this price point if you are looking for a 3 bedroom unit.
The closest is a 2 bedroom 1,033 square feet at International Plaza. You do enjoy a fantastic location here, as you are right by Guoco Tower (and obviously, overshadowed by it). There are a ton of food options in the area, from the shophouses at Duxton to the ones at 100AM mall. The unit that was sold was on the 40th floor as well, so you should definitely be getting some decent views all around.
There’s really no right or wrong here
To be clear, this wasn’t to descend into a debate about whether a $1.4 million HDB or condo would be a better choice.
As the saying goes, one man’s meat is another man’s poison.
While it seems that everyone is supporting Johnny Depp at this point, there are also equal fanatic fans of Amber Heard that you may just be surprised about – it all depends on which side of the fence you are on.
In the meantime, if you need help in comparing between an HDB or condo purchase, do reach out to us at Stacked. If you’re certain you’re ready to buy, you can also check out our in-depth reviews of new and resale projects, to make an informed choice.
Finally someone wrote this piece because the amount of comments saying “I rather buy a condo” / “so stupid .. May as well buy condo” is just mind boggling. Even a 1.4m condo in the far remote west or north is not comparable because of convenience as you have pointed out
Thanks for reading 🙂
Can you also do a write-up explaining leasehold, particulary in the context of condos/private property?
I see so many comments on ST etc from people ridiculing paying high prices for HDB, as “you don’t own the property”. So much misinformation and misunderstanding about HDB leaseholds, and I think majority of these folks are not familiar with private property at all and seem unaware that private properties are largely 99 yr leasholds now too (although granted HDB vs private property 99 yr leaseholds do have some differences).
Sadly the whiners are those who stay in HDB and expect repairs etc to their property be borne by HDB or the Town Councils, yet in the same breath can complain about them not owning their HDBs..
Hi MBG, thanks for your feedback! We’ll let our editorial team know about it 🙂
Your table showing the comparison of unit for sale in Spottiswoode Blk 17 shows 2 different date of completion for the same block. can you please clarify.
Typo error.. Blk 107
Hi Loke, this was directly taken from URA records. While the lease end year still remains the same (ie 85 years from 1990 and 99 years from 1976 leads to the same outcome, just a different way of expressing it), it’s strange that they’re still written in two different ways. We’ll reach out to URA for clarifications but there’s no guarantee of a satisfactory answer. Thanks!
Hi, we have received an update from URA. According to them, the information provided is correct and are just based on the titles issued for the units. Hope this helps.