Channelnewsasia.com | Posted: 28 March 2013 2147 hrs
SINGAPORE: After more than 10 years pushing to get their estate privatised, residents of Shunfu HUDC estate finally won the day.
The government has given it the green light to turn private.
Attempts started as early as 2001, but it was only in 2008 that the effort gained momentum, with the necessary 75 per cent of residents agreeing to privatisation.
There was a small notice on the lift landing... with big news for residents of the six blocks of HUDC flats at Shunfu Road in Bishan. The blocks are 314, 315, 316, 317, 318 and 319, comprising 358 units.
The estate officially becomes private property on Thursday, but the transformation has already started. A chain-linked fence has been set up around the estate, as well as a guard house.
HUDC flats were built in the 70s and 80s for middle-income Singaporeans, and in 1995, they were given the option to privatise.
There were 18 HUDC projects, all with 99-year leases.
The privatisation of Shunfu estate brings the total number of privatised HUDC projects to 13.
According to the residents' committee spearheading the privatisation process at Shunfu, home owners will have to pay no more than $30,000 in conversion fees each to the Housing and Development Board.
Ben Tan, a resident, said: "We were one of the pioneers who moved in here. The flat is already fully paid, we don't have any more instalments. So the $30k is nothing."
Dr Yuen Jye, a resident, said: "It's been a while, so I'm very happy that it's gone through now. There's always the thought of an en-bloc sale. That's probably one of the reasons, and also, increase in value of the overall property."
Mary Chu, a resident, said: "We'll just follow, see what comes. If it's en-bloc, we'll go with it. If everybody wants to stay on... we'll stay on."
Analysts say the road to an en-bloc sale may not be easy.
Nicholas Mak, Executive Director of SLP International Property Consultants, said: "The government presently is offering a lot of development sites through the government land sale programme. So developers actually have a lot of choices, and they're able to acquire these government land sites quite quickly after the tender closes."
Getty Goh, Director of Ascendant Assets, said: "With all these cooling measures, buyers would definitely be more cautious before they commit to a private property purchase."
Another challenge - with a remaining tenure of about 70 years, Mr Mak said developers may be put off by the need to pay a premium to top up the lease. This may reduce the payout that home owners are expecting from an en-bloc sale.
The good news is that apartments in the estate have already been fetching record-breaking prices way before the estate became private property.
A maisonette in the area changed hands for a solid $1.33 million last November, breaking the record held by a similar flat in the same estate.
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