We’ve all seen the news of the record breaking highs some HDB flats have sold at. Just take a look at the 5 room DBSS Natura Loft in Bishan, which sold for a whopping $1.36 million, the highest any flat has ever been sold for. This got us thinking, many of the million dollar flats that sold were DBSS. But why? What makes a DBSS so valuable in the resale market? How are they different from HDB flats? Today, we will be exploring the topic of DBSS flats. What they are, why they are priced differently, and just what makes them unique. Let’s begin.
What is a DBSS?
A DBSS or Design, Build and Sell Scheme, in a few short words, is a premium HDB flat. In terms of buying, it is pretty much the same as a HDB flat, whereby it is sold under the same conditions as a HDB flat and is eligible for the same grants that you would typically get if you applied for a regular HDB flat.
The main difference between a HDB and a DBSS is its developer. A regular HDB flat is developed, or built, by HDB itself, for a DBSS on the other hand, it is developed and built by a private developer. The private developer oversees the design, pricing, and construction of the flat.
What makes a DBSS premium?
So the next question you’re probably asking is, what makes a DBSS premium? If it is, at the end of the day, still just a HDB flat, why am I paying extra? Technically a DBSS is not just a HDB flat, it is a little more than that, even though it goes through the same processes of a HDB flat. A great distinction we can make between a HDB flat and a DBSS is to look at it as a middle tier between a HDB and an EC/condo. A DBSS is the option you take when you want a step up from a regular HDB but a step down from an EC/condo. Think of it as an upgraded HDB, hence the term, premium HDB.
So what makes it “premium”? Well, DBSS incorporates premium designs and layouts which makes it look more luxurious than that of a regular HDB. For example, unlike regular HDBs that have standard layouts, within a DBSS flat, you can expect features like balconies, study areas, floor to ceiling windows, etc. The look and feel of a DBSS flat from the outside is also different from a regular HDB, one can say it is almost condo-like in design.
Another factor that makes a DBSS more premium is its location. DBSS are usually strategically located in prime areas of certain districts that are more desirable and coveted. Which is why you see so many of them selling at over the million dollar mark. For example Natura Loft in Bishan, which is excellently located in central Singapore, or The Peak at Toa Payoh, which of course needs no mention when it comes to its location knowing well that Toa Payoh is a hot estate in Singapore.
Within the home, residents of DBSS flats can expect features such as balconies, study areas, floor-to-ceiling windows and more natural light. The interior will resemble a private condo unit more than an HDB flat.
How many DBSS are there in Singapore?
There have been 13 DBSS projects in Singapore from 2005 to 2012 with a total of 8,649 units. Unfortunately, DBSS are no longer in production, meaning no more DBSS are being built. This is due to the fact that DBSS, which were originally created to provide affordable premium housing, started to price highly in the resale market (reaching to almost the same price of an EC) completely defeating the purpose of affordability.
Here is a list of all the DBSS in Singapore:
- Pasir Ris One (Pasir Ris)
- Parkland Residences (Hougang)
- Lake Vista @ Yuan Ching (Jurong West)
- Trivelis (Clementi)
- Centrale 8 (Tampines)
- Belvia (Bedok)
- Adora Green (Yishun)
- The Peak @ Toa Payoh
- Parc Lumiere (Simei)
- Natura Loft (Bishan)
- City View @ Boon Keng
- Park Central @ AMK
- The Premiere @ Tampines
How much is a DBSS and is it worth the price?
Since DBSS are no longer in production, you can only acquire them through the resale market, which you probably know by now, can go up to exorbitant prices. A great place to check the prices is to:
- Search up the DBSS of your choice on PropertyGuru to find what’s currently being sold
- Use a property valuation tool like this one to find out transacted prices (prices people actually bought flats at)
Now let’s tackle the question at hand, how much does a DBSS cost? For this, we shall take Natura Loft at Bishan as an example. Below you will find the 10 most recent transactions (as of January 2022) as well as trend reports from the DBSS at Natura Loft. All the figures mentioned below are accurate and are the real prices people have bought the apartments at.
|Dec 2021||273B||37 to 39||5 Room||1,360,000|
|Oct 2021||273B||22 to 24||5 Room||1,260,000|
|Oct 2021||275A||01 to 03||5 Room||908,000|
|Sep 2021||273A||37 to 39||5 Room||1,295,000|
|Sep 2021||273B||31 to 33||4 Room||930,000|
|Aug 2021||275A||25 to 27||5 Room||1,280,000|
|Aug 2021||273A||22 to 24||5 Room||1,240,000|
|Jul 2021||273A||01 to 03||5 Room||950,000|
|Jun 2021||273A||25 to 27||5 Room||1,239,000|
Natura Loft at Bishan Property Prices extracted from our Property Transaction Data Tool
As you can see from the table above, prices do tend to get on the higher side when it comes to resale DBSS. While the transactions at Natura Loft show an extreme whereby transactions average around the million dollar mark, because of its prime location and high demand, other DBSS in more residential areas can be found to be a lot more affordable. For example Trivelis DBSS at Clementi, where prices of apartments range from $460K to $852K.
So, is it worth the money? Prices of DBSS range from a number of factors, this can include location, size, floor level, etc. But no matter the factor, it will definitely be more expensive than a regular HDB. When it comes to whether it’s worth the price, this depends on what you value in a home and your budget.
If you’re someone who values great location and a beautiful look and feel of the place you’re staying, then yes you can say it’s worth paying extra for a DBSS. But if you’re someone who values frugality or saving the extra buck, then maybe a DBSS might not be worth the price.
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