Experts say ‘mature’, ‘non-mature’ HDB estate categories could go after review; new ‘semi-mature’ label also possible

Mr. Ong Kah Seng, an independent property analyst, said that a new “semi-mature” estate categorization could be possible since some estates are quite developed, although not as much as mature estates.

Mr. Lee Sze Teck, senior director and head of research at real estate firm Huttons Asia, agreed that an “emerging estate” classification could be added, and may also include the new towns of Tengah and Bidadari.

Mr Pow and Ms Christine Sun, senior vice-president of research and analytics at real estate firm OrangeTee & Tie, both suggested that using geographical location instead of land availability may be another way of classifying estates.

Mr Pow said that housing estates could be divided into four groups based on these general locations:

  • The Greater Southern Waterfront
  • The city fringes such as Geylang, Bukit Timah, Clementi, Bukit Merah and, to some extent, Bishan
  • The east and northeast
  • The north and west

Mr Mohan Sandrasegeran, senior analyst, research and content creation at real estate agency One Global Group, said that the population density in a particular estate or sub-zone of an estate could be used to determine whether an area was developed or not.

Another expert, Mr. Chris Koh, founder of real estate agency Chris International, said that the classification of mature and non-mature estates could be removed, because the distinction between these two types of estates has become unclear.

Instead, homebuyers could rely on either the PLH or non-PLH classification, which is more useful in informing prospective buyers about the proximity of homes to amenities such as public transportation and shopping centers, and proximity to the city center.

Mr. Koh also said that the review was necessary to clear up confusion, and to change the misconception prevalent among some homebuyers that a clear-cut distinction exists between mature and non-mature estates in terms of development and other issues.

“There is a wrong perception or confusion that housing in mature estates is more expensive than in non-mature estates, which may not be true.

This is because non-mature estates could also have close proximity to good amenities, which is what house prices are based on,” he added.

IMPACT ON PRICES, HOUSING MARKET

If the review changes the status of any given non-mature estate to mature, homebuyers could change their perspectives on these estates, leading to more demand and higher prices, Mr Lee Sze Teck from Huttons Asia said.

Mr. Sandrasegeran from One Global Group and Mr. Pow from 99.co also agreed that this is a possibility, but added that the change would be gradual.

“A broad-based price growth would continue to take place in the overall market,” Mr. Pow said.

“But as perception changes and more non-mature estates get connected to major transport nodes with more developed amenities, it is possible that the price gap between mature estates and some non-mature estates could narrow in the future,” he added.

However, Mr. Nicholas Mak, head of research and consultancy at ERA Real Estate, said that reclassifying non-mature estates as mature estates may not affect flat prices in that area.

“It is quite unlikely that prices of those estates would change, just like the price of a house doesn’t increase just because the name of the road is changed from Avenue 5 to Avenue 6.”

Mr Koh from Chris International said the same thing, that housing prices are pegged to the proximity and availability of amenities, not whether it is located in a mature or non-mature estate.

Both he and Mr. Mak also said that if more non-mature estates are reclassified to semi-mature or mature, this could possibly reduce the availability of flats for singles.

Singles can buy a flat only after turning 35. They are allowed to buy only two-room flexi flats in non-mature estates if they are buying new flats, but they can buy any flat type if getting a resale flat.

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