Half of all two-room flexi flat buyers are aged above 55, says HDB

Madam Hamidah Rosman (left) and her husband Abdul Rahim Abdullah moved into their two-room flexi unit in December 2019.
Dated: 27-Feb-2021

Two-room flexi flats have proved popular with older buyers, with more than half of them aged 55 and above, figures revealed on Saturday (Feb 27).

Singles have been the second-largest group purchasing the units since they were introduced six years ago, the Housing Board (HDB) said.

As at Dec 31, about 34,700 two-room flexi flats had been launched for sale since they were brought in by the HDB in 2015. Around 84 per - or 25,189 flats - of the 29,924 units offered have been booked by home buyers, said the HDB. Selections are still ongoing for the remaining 4,700 units.

Of these buyers,56 per cent were older people aged 55 and above. Singles made up 38 per cent while the remaining 6 per cent of home buyers were families.

Among the flats purchased by older buyers,92 per cent were on short leases. The remainder were on 99-year leases.

The 40-year lease was the most popular, at 4,046 units, followed by the 35-year lease at 3,526 and the 30-year lease at 2,291 units.

Only 215 older buyers opted for the shortest lease of 15 years, with the oldest being 99 when applying for a flat with such a lease.

Sizes for these flats range from 36 to 46 sq m.

Older buyers pay less for a flat with shorter lease. In the February Build-To-Order (BTO) sales exercise, prices for a two-room flexi flat with a 15-year lease started at $34,000 at West Hill @ Bukit Batok and $39,000 at Parc Woods @ Tengah, both non-mature estates.

Prices for same flat with a 99-year lease started from $101,000 at Bukit Batok and $110,000 in Tengah.

Prices also depend on the location. In the same sales exercise, prices for a 15-year lease at McNair Heights in the mature estate of Kallang/Whampoa started at $69,000. The two-room flexi flats in the project did not come with a 99-year lease option.

These short-lease two-room flexi flats will have to be paid for fully upfront with cash or with Central Provident Fund monies.

They also cannot be resold or rented out. Owners who no longer need the flat can return it to the HDB, which will refund them the value of the remaining lease based on straight line depreciation.

Another housing option for seniors are the assisted living HDB flats, targeted at those aged above 65 who wish to live on their own and yet enjoy some care, support and communal activities.

The pilot batch of Community Care Apartments at Harmony Village @ Bukit Batok, which launched in February's BTO sales exercise, were well-received. There were 706 applicants vying for the 169 units on offer.

The Government previously said that it has plans for the Community Care Apartments housing model to be piloted at additional sites if the take-up rate and public response for the first pilot at Bukit Batok is good.

Government subsidies such as the Silver Housing Bonus (SHB), which gives seniors a cash bonus of up to $30,000 when they sell their existing flat and use the proceeds to top up their CPF Retirement Account, are applicable.

As at Dec 31 last year,970 households have benefited from the SHB, said the HDB.

Eligible first-time buyers can also tap the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) of up to $80,000 and do not have to pay a resale levy.

In the upcoming May and August BTO sales exercises, the HDB will launch two-room flexi flats in Geylang, Hougang, Jurong East, Tampines, Tengah and Woodlands.

Madam Hamidah Rosman,65, who works as a clerical officer, and her husband Abdul Rahim Abdullah,73, sold their four-room resale HDB flat in Yishun for about $370,000 before moving into their two-room flexi unit in Canberra in December 2019.

Their flat in Canberra, which they bought on a 35-year lease, cost around $70,000. The couple's daughter and three grandchildren, aged six to 10, live with them.

What the family of six lack in space, they make up for in financial freedom.

"It was not easy for me to keep up with the housing bills in the previous flat. With this new flat, although smaller in size, I have lesser bills to pay which is less of a financial burden on me, " said Madam Hamidah.

Eden (left) and Aura, Madam Hamidah Rosman's grandchildren, in the bedroom on Feb 25,2021.

OrangeTee & Tie senior vice-president of research and analytics Christine Sun said the short-lease two-room flexi flats are one way for seniors to monetise their existing units but still ensure they have a roof over their heads.

She said: "Some seniors may opt to cash out and sell their bigger flat that they bought a long time ago and buy a cheaper short-lease two-room flexi to leave a sum of inheritance money for their children. Others may simply just want to live in a smaller home to enjoy their retirement life."

Source: Straits Times