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Property: Buying or selling your HDB resale flat will be much easier in the near future

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(Photo: ST File)

From 2018, it will be faster for buyers and sellers of HDB resale flats to complete the transaction process.

The Housing Board is upgrading its resale portal to make it easier to file applications and conduct eligibility checks, it said in a statement on Thursday (Oct 19).

As a result, only one appointment with the HDB - instead of two - will be required.

Currently, the first appointment is used to work out the sellers' sales proceeds and assess buyers' financial plans.

But this will be done away with, as all financial statements will be uploaded and verified online. Only the second appointment to sign the legal documents will be required. The entire transaction time will be shortened by up to eight weeks, from 16 weeks now.

The change, which was promised during March's debate on the National Development Ministry's budget, will kick in on Jan 1, 2018.

The new portal aims to be a one-stop service that takes buyers and sellers through the resale process from start to finish.

For example, instead of looking up multiple e-services spread across the HDB website, all eligibility checks will be available on one page. Buyers and sellers can check if they are eligible for housing loans and grants, or whether they are within ethnic quotas imposed on a flat or neighbourhood.

The updated portal will also minimise the need for buyers and sellers to manually key in their data, as it will pull in common information used by government services, such as names, IC numbers and addresses, for the relevant forms.

Another change is that buyers will soon get the HDB to confirm the value of a potential flat directly, instead of getting a report through a panel of valuers. This will cost $120 for all flat types, instead of $156.45 for reports for one- and two-room flats, or $226 for three-room and larger flats.

Said an HDB spokesman: "By harnessing technology and transaction data to establish the reasonableness of a transacted price, some cases may not require a valuation. This will help expedite the processing of resale transactions. Nevertheless, where a valuation is assessed to be needed, it will still be done."

Flat buyers and sellers will have to use a new Option to Purchase form - a legal document that gives a buyer the exclusive right to buy a flat - when the changes take effect. The current form is valid till Dec 31.

In a blog post on Thursday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said the new platform was one of the initiatives under the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map and "part of our move towards being a smart nation". He added that the HDB will set up a dedicated helpline and help desk at the HDB Hub in Toa Payoh to guide those who require assistance.

Civil servant Rachel Samuil, 32, who hopes that her husband can sell their four-room Jurong flat to move to a bigger one, was among those who welcomed the shorter process.

"We have had some difficulty engaging the right buyer since it was put up for sale in May, but a shorter resale process means we will get to move to our new space as soon as it is sold," she said.

Written by Racle Au-Yong for The Straits Times.