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ANALYSIS: Which HDB towns have the highest and lowest price growth?
By Elizabeth Choong | March 4, 2024

Prices for HDB flats in Bukit Batok have been increasing at a steady pace. (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp)

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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Prices for HDB flats have been on the rise. The overall average price for resale HDB flats was $564 psf last year, which marked an increase of 6% from $532 psf in 2022 and a surge of 27.9% from $441 psf since 2014.

Supported by strong demand and increasing household income, HDB resale prices are expected to continue increasing, albeit at a slower pace. There was a record high of 29,065 resale transactions in 2021, but it dipped to 26,805 transactions in 2022 before inching down to 25,990 transactions last year. In contrast, the number of such transactions was below 24,000 from 2014 to 2020.

Demand is also fuelled by two government regulations that may give a boost to the HDB resale market. There is a 15-month wait period imposed on previous owners of private residential property who wish to buy resale HDB flats as their replacement homes. The wait period has just ended for those who sold their private residential property when the regulation was first introduced. The longer minimum occupation period (MOP) of 10 years for the upcoming Prime and Plus categories for Build-to-Order (BTO) flats could encourage some buyers to turn to the resale market. The MOP for resale flats remains at five years.

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In this article, we examine which HDB towns and regions have the highest and lowest resale price growth to aid prospective buyers in making more informed decisions.

West Region tops the growth chart

Last year, the Central Region had the lowest price growth of 5.2% y-o-y, while the West Region had the highest growth of 7.2% y-o-y. However, the Central Region had the highest average price of $684 psf last year, while the West and North Regions brought up the rear with average prices of $524 psf and $511 psf, respectively.

Bukit Batok: Sitting at the top of the growth chart

Resale HDB flats in Bukit Batok, located in the West Region, experienced the highest resale price growth of 14.1% y-o-y last year. Bukit Merah and Bukit Timah, located in the Central Region, took second and third place with growth rates of 10.7% y-o-y and 9% y-o-y, respectively.

It is notable that Bukit Batok is among the top three HDB towns for the highest price growth when comparing the average price from last year to the average prices from 2014, 2021, and 2022. This persistent strong growth probably helped propel the West Region to the top of the chart for price growth.

 

Prices and demand for flats in Bukit Batok were given a boost by the growing popularity of the town. The number of resale HDB transactions reached a record high of 1,415 flats last year. Bukit Batok could have benefited from the buzz created by Tengah, which is a nearby new town, as well as government plans to transform nearby Jurong Lake District into a regional centre.

Demand for flats in Bukit Batok was also given a boost by the numerous flats that obtained MOP last year. Many potential buyers are willing to pay more for such flats because they are newer and hence have a longer remaining tenure. Approximately 42,000 flats in Bukit Batok obtained MOP last year.

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Furthermore, Bukit Batok is one of the smaller HDB towns. According to the latest HDB annual report, there were 45,261 flats in Bukit Batok as of March 31, 2023, which accounts for only 4.3% of the total HDB stock in Singapore.

The impending improved connectivity has increased the attractiveness of the town. Bukit Gombak and Bukit Batok MRT Stations are the only two stations in the town. Both MRT stations will be only a stop away from an interchange station on the upcoming Jurong Region Line. Bukit Gombak MRT Station is a stop away from Choa Chu Kang MRT Station, while Bukit Batok MRT Station is a stop away from Jurong East MRT Station.

Why did Kallang/Whampoa underperform?

Kallang/Whampoa is the only HDB town that saw its average price decline last year. The 1% y-o-y price drop could be attributed to weaker demand for resale flats in the town. Sale volume for resale HDB flats in Kallang/Whampoa fell from 929 flats in 2022 to 790 flats last year.

The weaker demand for resale flats in Kallang/Whampoa could be due to a bumper crop of approximately 5,000 BTO flats launched in the town last year. Buyers without an urgent need for housing are likely to purchase a BTO flat, which is more affordable than a resale flat. As a testament to Kallang/Whampoa’s popularity, all BTO flats launched last year in the town were oversubscribed. In contrast, no BTO flats were launched in Bukit Batok last year.

A deep dive into four-room flats

Four-room flats make up the bulk of the stock for HDB flats. They also tend to hit the sweet spot between size and affordability for many homebuyers and therefore are the most transacted flat type.

The four-room flats in Bukit Batok experienced the highest price growth of 13.5% y-o-y last year. It is not surprising that strong price growth was observed for four-room flats in Bukit Batok because the town is among the top three towns with the highest overall price growth for all flat types. In contrast, the West Region also has two towns where the four-room flats had the bottom three price growth last year.

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Last year, the four-room flats in Bukit Timah had the second-highest price growth of 13% y-o-y. This can be attributed to its central location in a prime district. According to HDB’s latest annual report, the well-located town has only 2,554 flats, and a mere 920 flats are four-room flats. This accounts for only 0.2% of all four-room flats in Singapore.

 

On the flip side, the four-room flats in Clementi brought up the rear with a price growth of only 1% y-o-y. Weak price growths were also seen for four-room flats in Choa Chu Kang (1.3%) and Kallang/Whampoa (1.5%).

As of March 31, 2023, there were 10,513 four-room flats in Clementi, which accounts for 2.4% of all four-room flats in Singapore. While Clementi is a popular estate due to its numerous amenities and easy connectivity via public transport, the estimated average age of 39 years for the HDB flats in the town could have deterred some potential buyers. Only 227 and 221 four-room flats in Clementi were sold in 2022 and last year, respectively.

Prospective buyers who wanted newer flats probably submitted applications for BTO flats in neighbouring towns. Nearby Tengah featured several BTO projects that were launched last year. Additionally, the transformative plans for Jurong Lake District could have caused some buyers to choose Jurong East instead of Clementi.

Furthermore, the average price for four-room flats in Clementi is significantly higher than in Jurong East. Last year, the average prices for four-room flats in Clementi and Jurong East were $675 psf and $477 psf, respectively. As a result, budget-conscious buyers could have chosen Jurong East over Clementi.

Conclusion

The highest price growth can be found in the unassuming town of Bukit Batok, driven by numerous flats that just obtained MOP, impending improved connectivity, and increased buzz for the area.

On the flip side, HDB flats in Kallang/Whampoa can be expected to offer weaker capital appreciation. The numerous BTO flats in Kallang/Whampoa could have diverted some potential buyers away from the resale market. Weak demand and price growth were also observed for four-room flats in Clementi. Potential buyers could have been more attracted to the affordable BTO flats in nearby Tengah and the transformative plans for the nearby Jurong Lake District.

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