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    Mar 14, 2014

    Rare-flat sellers may eye a loophole

    WITH few comparable transactions to go by, anxious sellers of rare units may try to exploit a loophole in new Housing Board rules, several property agents said.

    New rules dictate that only the buyer or his agent can apply for an HDB-approved valuation after a price has been agreed with the seller. Sellers no longer get a copy as they do not need it in theory, unlike buyers who need it to apply for bank loans.

    But while sellers of typical flats have plenty of transactions to take reference from, those selling rarer units may feel like they are fumbling in the dark without a valuation to guide asking prices.

    "If a seller really wants to find out how HDB values his flat, he could just get a friend to pose as a buyer, get the valuation, then let the option lapse after 21 days," said ERA Realty agent J. A. Goh.

    This may happen for unique flats such as the discontinued Design, Build and Sell Scheme flats, or the Pinnacle@Duxton, which will see its minimum occupancy period expire at the end of this year.

    "The Pinnacle is public housing but it's so unique that you can't exactly base prices on nearby HDB flats," Mr Goh said.

    "Sellers may want peace of mind and find out what is reasonable from the HDB," he added.

    Getting a friend or relative to pose as a buyer and getting an HDB-approved valuation is cheaper than going through private valuers. An HDB-approved valuation costs $191.90 for a three-room flat or a larger one, while private valuations can cost thousands of dollars.

    However, most are unlikely to resort to getting friends or family members to pass off as buyers.

    "The prices of a typical unit are pretty standard," said Dennis Wee Realty agent Dennis Foo. "If you get a valuation just to 'be sure', you'll lock yourself out of a potential deal for the next 21 days. There's no point."