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En bloc fever catches on in HUDC estates

Shunfu Ville, Eunosville, Serangoon North residents trying to go private to enable collective sales

THE collective sale fever that has swept through condominiums has spread to three HUDC estates.

Residents in Shunfu Ville, Eunosville and Serangoon North are trying to privatise their estates so that they can sell their flats to private developers for a premium in collective sales.

These HUDC flats, which come with a 99-year lease, were developed in the 1970s and 1980s for people who did not qualify for HDB flats but could not afford private apartments.

In privatisation, the residents essentially pay the HDB to take over the ownership of common property such as carparks and landscaped areas. They also take over the management of the estate from town councils.

Owners pay about $25,000 to $30,000 each for privatisation. This covers the cost of common property that has been transferred to owners, legal costs, survey and other processing fees, all of which can be paid using their Central Provident Fund savings.

At least 75 per cent of the owners must agree to privatisation. Of the original 18 HUDC estates in Singapore, 11 have already been fully privatised. The latest was Laguna Park in Marine Parade in July.

For the 358-unit Shunfu estate, this is its third attempt at privatisation. The first try in 2001 failed because only half the residents were for the idea.

In July this year, the residents tried to speed things up by launching a privatisation and collective sale exercise at the same time. They appointed Knight Frank as the marketing agent and even got a developer willing to foot the privatisation fees.

But HDB put a stop to their efforts, saying the estate must first attain privatisation before attempting any collective sale, said Shunfu’s pro tem committee chairman Philip Liau.

Thanks to talk of a collective sale, a 1,700 sq ft flat in the estate was sold for $850,000 this month – $200,000 more than the average price before. Some residents hope to receive up to $1.2 million for their flats in a collective sale.

At Eunosville – where many residents of the 10-block estate are retirees – getting owners to part with $30,000 for the privatisation fee can be difficult.

To overcome this, some residents have offered to help them apply for a bank loan.

Retired nurse Maznah Ahmad, 68, said: ‘They said I can pay back the bank after I get my en bloc money. But what if there is no en bloc?’

She and her husband, a 70-year-old retired teacher, have been living in their 1,700 sq ft maisonette for 20 years. The couple plan to transfer ownership of their home to their son, who will then pay the privatisation fee from his CPF savings.

Eunosville’s pro tem committee chairman Suhaimi Mustapha told The Sunday Times yesterday that the panel has almost secured the 75 per cent vote needed.

Serangoon North’s pro tem committee declined comment, saying its privatisation efforts are still in the early stages.

Over at Neptune Court in Marina Parade, residents are also trying to privatise their 752-unit estate, which is built on land owned by the Finance Ministry, not HDB.

A committee of residents is in talks with the ministry.


Source: The Sunday Times 18 Nov 07


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