Thursday, April 9, 2009

Condo-Style HDB Flats: Peak Price Of $722k

Source : The Straits Times, April 9, 2009

WILL house hunters spend more than $700,000 on a premium HDB flat with some condo-style features in Toa Payoh?

A Hoi Hup-led consortium is about to find out after offering premium five-room flats at its new The Peak project for up to $722,000.

Analysts question whether HDB flat buyers will bite, given that they are constrained by an $8,000-a-month income ceiling and are dealing with a recession.

Next Wednesday, The Peak @ Toa Payoh, boasting 1,203 units in two 42-storey blocks and three 40-storey blocks, will be launched.

The project, at Lorong 1A Toa Payoh, comes under the design, build and sell scheme (DBSS), and offers premium fittings. But unlike private condominiums, these projects do not have facilities such as pools and gyms.

The smallest units - 95 of them - are the 753 sq ft three-room flats. They are priced from $355,000 to $398,000.

The 306 four-room flats of 980 sq ft will go for $468,000 to $582,000.

The next rung up the price ladder are the five-room flats, which mostly go for $539,000 to $698,000, and range from 1,184 sq ft to 1,259 sq ft.

The priciest of the lot are the 24 five-room high-ceiling flats costing between $700,000 and $722,000.

The developer - a group comprising Hoi Hup Realty, Sunway Development and Hoi Hup J.V. Development - said the flats are about $500 per sq ft (psf) to $510 psf on average. A quick calculation shows the price can go up to $594 psf.

A spokesman said The Peak is near Toa Payoh MRT station. And like the earlier City View DBSS project by the same group, The Peak offers an exclusive touch with a card-access security system at all ground-floor lift lobbies.

Buyers will also get large bay windows, Daikin air-conditioning units, built-in kitchen cabinets and wardrobes.

Still, industry watchers note that for the same price, buyers are spoilt for choice in the current market. Experts have said DBSS projects have to be priced lower than private flats as they are essentially HDB flats. They face restrictions such as an income cap, an ethnic quota and a minimum occupation period.

'Toa Payoh is a mature estate but in the current economy, there will be resistance at above $500,000,' PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail said yesterday.

Resale five-room flats in the area now cost about $450,000 on average while three-roomers go for $260,000 to $270,000 on average, though the latter are more than 30 years of age, he added.

Knight Frank research and consultancy director Nicholas Mak said The Peak's prices are comparable to those of resale executive condos (EC), which have condo facilities but also face public housing sale restrictions.

For just over $700,000, buyers can buy a private but older 99-year resale condo unit nearby, added Mr Mak.

For the same price as a five-room flat, they can buy a resale EC unit at a more distant location. In the first quarter, 94 EC deals were done at $579,000 on average.

The Peak is the fifth DBSS project. The sixth, in Simei, is expected to be released for sale soon.

Last year, three such projects were launched. City View in Boon Keng, Park Central @ AMK, and Natura Loft in Bishan have since sold the bulk of their units. The latest of the lot, Natura Loft, was launched late last year and has about 30 per cent left to sell, said developer QingJian Realty. Its five-roomers are already half sold, it said.

DBSS projects are now sandwiched in a narrowing gap between HDB resale flat prices and private condo prices.

'DBSS flats will be relevant again when the gap widens. In the meantime, these developers will just have to do the best they can,' said Mr Mak.

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