A HOUSING Board flat has hit the $1 million mark for the first time, surpassing the previous record that was set only last week.
The sale of the high-floor executive apartment, at Block 149 Mei Ling Street in Queenstown, has turned a few heads, with a cash over valuation (COV) of $195,000.
The 17-year-old unit, with a floor area of 1,615 sq ft, has an unblocked view of Queenstown stadium and is close to food centres, supermarkets and Queenstown MRT station. The buyers and sellers are both Singaporean couples.
"It was love at first sight for them," said Dennis Wee Group agent Irene Ho who represented the sellers. The buyers previously owned a private property.
After the flat was put on the market in June, Ms Ho received more than 50 bids.
"But from the very beginning, the sellers had already set their sights on a price of $1 million. The deal was struck once that price was met," she said. The price works out to be about $620 per square foot.
Yesterday, both buyers and sellers met at the HDB Hub in Toa Payoh for staff to vet documents and do eligibility checks. The sale is slated to be wrapped up in two months.
Property analysts The Straits Times spoke to said such high prices, although rare, could soon become the norm when other coveted units - such as those at Pinnacle@Duxton - enter the resale market.
Last Saturday, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan set out to reassure Singaporeans and urged them not to be "traumatised" by the price at which the Queenstown flat changed hands.
There will always be "units with fantastic views that fetch fantastic prices". He said: "More important is the larger picture."
Mr Khaw added: "Are prices affordable generally for most units? I think we have largely achieved that in the last few months with the pricing of the new Build-To-Order flats."
The previous benchmark was set last week when an executive maisonette in Bishan fetched $980,000, inclusive of a COV of $200,000.
PropNex CEO Mohamed Ismail said: "Although a new milestone has been set, when you look at the upward movement in property prices and taking inflation into account, a $1 million price tag for a flat, perhaps unimaginable 10 years ago, might be common for sought-after flats now."
Dennis Wee Group spokesman Lee Sze Teck was more circumspect and said prices are generally affordable for most new flats.
"It all boils down to the buyers. Prices will skyrocket as long as they find something they like and are willing to put a premium on it," said Mr Lee, pointing out that the overall median COV is still about $30,000.
But not all HDB owners want to cash out. Commodities trader Baljeet Singh, 57, who bought his Mei Ling Street executive unit from the HDB for $295,000 in 1994, is not selling.
He gets fliers slipped under his door daily, promising about a million for his 1,600 sq ft home. "I'm close to three hospitals and my grandchildren go to a nursery nearby. Why should I sell, when this is the only investment I can leave for my children?" he said.