How to pick a BTO flat that would sell for a million dollars.

HDB BTO Launch Picture

Credits : HDB Website

It’s almost like a dream that is within our grasp as Singaporeans. Selling our flats for a million dollars or at least a large profit so that we can retire happily ever after. But that dream is ….. so near yet so far.

How exactly do you go about picking a really good flat that people will literally throw money at?  What are the common traits of those flats that people clamour for … versus flats that you don’t even make a profit selling i.e. a negative sale? 

If you have not picked a flat yet, you’re in luck. If you get a good BTO/SBF/ Ballot number from HDB in a good location, you have a chance of achieving this dream. 

[For sellers, you might have learnt the hard way if your flat still has no buyers yet. However, as Singaporeans, we can each purchase 2 brand new flats from HDB and the next one can potentially be a gold mine. (Please read this important article if you are a second time buyer

So what’s considered a ‘desirable’ flat? 

Million Dollar HDB BTO

You can see that we stayed away from the word ‘good’ because ‘good’ is very subjective. Almost everyone adapts to the flat that they live in, and can only see the best in it. That’s why sellers sometimes overvalue their residence while buyers are more discerning and can pick apart your unit seconds after they walk in, that is if they choose to actually go for a viewing, after reviewing other specifications like location, level, flat size etc. 

So how do you, as a potential buyer, go about picking a good unit that can potentially get you a good payout? Even if it can’t sell for a million dollars, I’m sure you’ll settle for one that can appreciate enough to fund your retirement. We can’t predict the market of course, but in the course of our experience, there are some mistakes that we see again and again and we want to help you avoid that.

With quite a few BTO /SBF launches coming up, you can select one with common desirable traits that are in demand with a majority of the buyers.

1. Location, location, location. 

Singapore districts

If there was a more cliche adage about real estate, this is it, but it cannot be any more true. The location matters and with everything else equal, you will always find that property in the central or city fringe area will always cost more than one in the OCR (outside central region) or in the surburban areas of Singapore. When you read about flats that sell for a million dollars, they are usually located in  areas like Bendeemeer, Tiong Bahru, Cantonment, Ang Mo Kio and never one in Chua Chu Kang, Sengkang etc. 

Case in point : 41st floor flat at Pinnaccle@Duxton , Carousell article on million dollar flats,  ST article on million dollar flats ,  Clementi million dollar flat

One main reason is that these flats are in estates that are mature and developed, and supply is always an issue. There is rarely space for new developments, so those constructed with fresh leases are usually in huge demand. 

This of course means that during launches,  they are usually oversubscribed multiple times over and chances that you get a good ballot number can be quite slim. Even if you manage to get a ballot number, sometimes ethnic quota restrictions gets in the way.  We will discuss ethnic quota restrictions in separate article since it usually affects sellers more.

2. Views from a height

View from Height

A good rule of thumb when you select property is that you can change the inside of the house but you have no control over the outside i.e. the view from your apartment. Therefore this factor is as important as the insides of your home.  After viewing countless HDB flats, the view is literally a breath of fresh air.  

Once common feature of million dollar units is that they have stunning unblocked views, and that it comes from a height. If you study the prices of BTOs sold by HDB, you see that the higher the level, the more expensive the unit. High floors are usually a selling point and there are people who wouldn’t even go for a viewing of a unit if they are on the lower floors . This is also why units on the lower floors are really hard to sell. ( Conversely, you may be able to get a bargain if you are fine with lower floors).

When selecting your BTO, be sure to study the developments surrounding the block as much as you study the floor plan of your chosen unit. Try and imagine how the views from your unit would be like and how close the neighbouring blocks would be and if it would affect your privacy.  If you have an option to select ones which are not blocked by blocks of flats, these are usually better IF they are not in direct afternoon sun.

3) Avoiding the afternoon sun 

The curse of the Afternoon Sun

A positive ray of sunlight this is not. Unfortunately the effects of climate change can be felt most obviously in flats that face west.  A tip from someone who’s felt it, try not to select any units which face west. Even if there are no windows which can let the sunlight in, the concrete bricks of the flat absorb the heat which make your unit a kiln every afternoon.  Unless you feel like having a sauna bath or treatment everyday, avoid units that face west. Units that face east get the morning sun and this is relatively better. 

4.Convenience vs seclusion – Corner units are best.

corner or corridor

Some developments have multistorey carparks and lift levels that are attached to the carparks.  There are buyers who may like the convenience of having their homes directly connected to the carpark but many more consider it a lack of privacy at having many people constantly walk in front of their homes. This may be a point of consideration for you when selecting a flat.

Similarly, for older resale flats, you may notice that corner units command a premium, and those with windows facing corridors are not as popular. 

When all is said and done ….

These are some guidelines which mirror those flats that already sold for millions of dollars. However there is no 100% guarantee that the flat you select would potentially get you a profit. For HDBs, there is the additional ‘danger’ of facing ethnic quota restrictions when selling your flat, since the HDB is essentially meant to be a roof over your head, not a profit making endeavour. 

Therefore, always purchase within your means and don’t stretch yourself unnecessarily. Good Luck! 

The following two tabs change content below.
Zubz Kadir is the founder of PropertyRocking.SG She believes that real estate is the biggest purchase one can make and such a decision should not be taken lightly. Knowledge can make or break a purchase. Zubz graduated from National University of Singapore (NUS) Bachelors with a Degree in Informations Communications and Sociology from the and a Masters of Mass Communications from Nanyang Technological University (NTU).