Singapore Property Update

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Should my parents sell their maisonette and buy a HDB studio apartment for the elderly?

Hi Singapore Property Update Team,


My parents wanted to sell their Executive Maisonette in Bishan and downgrade to a HDB studio apartment as their children have moved out and they do not need such a big place. I understand that the lease of these studio apartments are only 30 years and cannot be sold on the open market. What is your take on this?




Hi Mr Cheng,

Thanks for your email. There are two parts to your question:

  1. Should your parents sell their maisonette?
  2. What should they buy after selling?

The answers to these questions depend on their financial circumstances and motivation in selling.

If they are not in urgent need of cash, we advise they wait for a while longer before putting it on the market. This is not a good time to sell old HDB flats because of the recent negative publicity of “lease decay” which has spooked many Singaporeans.

As HDB is no longer selling Executive Maisonettes, their scarcity will ensure that your parent’s unit will hold its value for a longer period of time than other HDB flats.


You mentioned your parents bought the flat in the 1990s. They would probably have bought it between $100,000 to $150,000 then. The market price for a Executive Maisonette located in a prime district like Bishan can go as high as a million dollars. They can expect to reap between $600,000 to $800,000 in gross profits and we suggest they consider other alternatives than the HDB studio apartments, or short-lease 2-room Flexi flats.

These flats are catered for the elderly and comes with many restrictions besides the short lease:

  1. You cannot sell the flat on the open market.
  2. You cannot rent a bedroom or the whole flat.
  3. If you no longer wish to live in it or become ineligible to do so, the flat must be returned to HDB which will then pay you the value of the unused portion of the lease.
  4. You can only use your CPF savings in excess of the Minimum Sum to pay for it. You have to pay in cash in full if you do not meet the requirement.
  5. You will not be able to secure a loan from any bank to finance your purchase.

To put it in a nutshell, you are only renting the flat from HDB and paying the entire lease in one lump sum. Instead of being an asset, the flat will become a depreciating liability to your parents.

We suggest your parents sell their maisonette a year later after the market has stabilized and buyers’ sentiment towards old HDB flats have improved and used the proceeds to buy a freehold two room apartment. You can get a relatively decent-sized unit for between $600,000 to $1 million dollars in today’s market. Freehold properties are always in demand in Singapore and their value will likely appreciate in the long run.

Please feel free to contact us if you need any recommendations of what to buy.




Singapore Property Update Team

Updated: September 8, 2018 — 3:35 pm

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