Million Dollar HDB Guide

Public housing that costs a cool million – a surreal but true-to-life phenomenon that surely deserves its own article.

HDB flats that crossed the $1 million mark have been a fairly recent phenomenon. In spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, a total of 82 Housing Board flats were sold for at least $1 million in 2020, up from 64 in 2019.


First ever million dollar HDB flat in Singapore

The “million-dollar flat” phenomenon started in 2012 with a unit at Mei Ling Street in Queenstown.

The first-ever million dollar HDB flat sale was recorded in July 2012 for a 150 sq m executive apartment in Block 149 Mei Ling Street in Queenstown. Three months later, in October 2012, a 163 sq m executive maisonette in Block 194 Bishan Street 13 was sold for $1.01 million.

This triggered seven-figure asking prices for a growing number of HDB properties from 2013 onwards – albeit most of the million dollar HDBs back then were HUDC apartments. The public baulked at such prices and the thought that HDB flats – built by the Government to provide affordable public housing – could potentially command such sky-high prices. If you were to list your HDB flat for a million dollars back then, people called your asking price wishful thinking.

Million Dollar HDB Flats: Who is buying them?

Who were these early buyers of million dollar HDBs? Mike Wong, associate director of Orange Tee, noted that potential buyers are mostly aged in their early 40s, but some are also young yuppie couples. “Most potential buyers are downgraders who have sold their private property at a tidy profit; they tend to look at the price as a whole, not at the COV,” he notes.

However, the appetite for such flats has grown over the years. Today in 2023, million dollar HDBs are a norm. This has spawned a new generation of HDB BTO buyers who are buying with the intent and consideration of possible million dollar resale values after the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP).

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14 Million Dollar HDB Flats in Singapore

Where are most of these million dollar HDB flats? From sale data collected between 2012 to 2021, most of the million dollar HDBs were located in the central, Bishan, Queenstown, Toa Payoh, Bukit Merah, Kallang Whampoa areas.

Here’s a look at some of the million dollar flats sold in Singapore historically. There are hundreds of million dollar HDBs transacted since.

DateAddressPriceFlat Type
Aug 16Clementi Towers, Clementi Avenue 3, 18 storey$1,005,0005-Room
Aug 16City View @ Boon Keng, 28 storey$1,100,0005-Room DBSS
Sep 16The Pinnacle @ Duxton, Cantonment Rd, 43 to 45 storey$1,120,0005-Room
Feb 17Natura Loft, Bishan St 24$1,180,0005-Room
Mar 18148 Mei Ling Street $1,080,000EC
Jun 1818C Holland Drive, 38 storey$1,100,0005-Room
Aug 19City View @ Boon Keng, 39 storey$1,205,0005-Room
Mar 20The Pinnacle @ Duxton, 1B Cantonment Rd, 40 to 42 storey$1,232,0005-Room
Aug 2043 Moh Guan Terrace$1,088,000Two 2-Room
Sep 20The Pinnacle @ Duxton, 1B Cantonment Rd, 43 to 45 storey$1,258,0005-Room
Nov 20The Pinnacle @ Duxton, 1A Cantonment Rd, 49 to 51 storey$1,248,0005-Room
Dec 20Natura Loft, 273B Bishan St 24, 25 to 27 storey$1,218,8885-Room DBSS
Jan 21Natura Loft, 273B Bishan St 24, 25 to 27 storey$1,210,0005-Room DBSS
Feb 212 Toh Yi Dr, 13 to 15 storey$1,210,000Maisonette
*This list is not exhaustive, and only lists the first few million dollar HDBs that transacted

Why are people willing to fork out so much for an HDB flat? The buyer who paid $1.232 million for a five-room flat at The Pinnacle @ Duxton – the third-most expensive flat sold here – said the convenience of living in a central area that he is familiar with outweighs the price tag.

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The million dollar HDB flat at Block 43 Moh Guan Terrace in Tiong Bahru was created by joining two 2-room flats.

Million Dollar HDB Flat vs Condominium

2021 and 2022 both saw of million-dollar flats; and while these are still outliers, they are becoming almost expected in some areas like Tiong Bahru, Queenstown, and more specific projects like.

But is this a healthy phenomenon?

As some people have incessantly pointed out, it could make sense to spend a bit more for even a resale condo, given the resale potential. Here are some of the opinions we’re getting from Singaporeans:

>The view from the 36th-floor unit at Block 18D, Holland Drive which fetched $1.03m in July 2017.
View from the 36th-floor unit at Block 18D, Holland Drive which fetched $1.03m in July 2017.

1. HDBs save on maintenance fees

One of the realtors we spoke to transacted a million-dollar DBSS flat just last year, and he said that:

Some of them (condo owners) feel they are wasting money on maintenance once they grow older. They are paying around $300 to $400 per month for maintenance, whereas HDB conservancy fees are rarely even $100. But if you observe at the same time, most of the facilities are frankly for the young. As my last client asked me, what do I pay for tennis courts when I am almost 76?

Might as well keep the money to enjoy their retirement more. An extra $300 or $400 a month to enjoy, and maybe their resale flat is even bigger than their old condo.” 

He also added that public housing provides subsidies on conservancy fees, for retirees with low or no income; but a condo MCST has no such consideration. 

This 36th-floor unit in Holland Drive was sold for $1.03 million in July 2017. The buyers are said to have been drawn to its “million-dollar view” of landed properties.

2. HDBs more living space than condo

As an example, let’s take a look at resale condo prices in District 3. This area encompasses Queenstown, Commonwealth, and Tiong Bahru, all locations in which we’ve seen million-dollar flats transact:

Image: StackedHomes

Over the past year, resale condos in this district have gone from $1,743 to $1,791 psf. The typical Executive Apartment (EA) unit is about 1,240 sq. ft. So to buy a resale condo that’s of similar size in this area, you might expect a quantum of over $2.29 million. 

Resale prices for HDB flats rarely reach $1 million. The record- setting flat in Clementi Avenue 3 belongs to a unique development: Clementi Towers (above), the first HDB project to be integrated with both a shopping mall and a bus interchange.
Record-setting flat in Clementi Avenue 3 sold for $1,005,000 in Aug 2016 belongs to a unique development: Clementi Towers (above), the first HDB project to be integrated with both a shopping mall and a bus interchange.

If the size is important to you (as it is for many homeowners) you might understand why even a price of around $1 million can seem attractive; even if it’s for an HDB unit. 

Henderson HDB vs Condo

For example, take a look at the table we compiled below if you want to live in the Henderson area where HDB flats are listed for $1.4 million:

CondoPriceSize (Sq ft)$PSFSale DateAddressTenure
Alex Residences$1,550,0009261,67428-Jan-2228 ALEXANDRA VIEW #0399 yrs from 18/03/2013
Alex Residences$1,595,8808831,80822-Oct-2128 ALEXANDRA VIEW #0299 yrs from 18/03/2013
Echelon$1,628,0008611,89127-Aug-219 ALEXANDRA VIEW #0299 yrs from 06/03/2012
Echelon$1,675,0008611,94526-Jan-227 ALEXANDRA VIEW #1099 yrs from 06/03/2012
Alex Residences$1,680,0009261,81528-Feb-2228 ALEXANDRA VIEW #0499 yrs from 18/03/2013
*Note that these were prices recorded from when the article was written in May 2022

And while it’s true a flat doesn’t come with facilities like a clubhouse, pool, etc., you do have to consider if the price difference justifies these niceties.

At the high condo prices we’ve seen since 2021, the answer from most buyers is a resounding no; and this may have contributed to the rise in million-dollar flat transactions (at least before the September 2022 cooling measures). 

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This 36th-floor unit in Holland Drive was sold for $1.03 million in July. The buyers are said to have been drawn to its "million-dollar view" of landed properties.
36th-floor unit in Holland Drive sold for $1.03 million in July 2017

3. Million-dollar HDB flats tend to be in good neighbourhoods

One reader noted that, for around $1.3 million, she could have indeed purchased a resale condo – but only a small one, and in a very fringe area. She says:

For private, the only condo within our budget would have been in a very undeveloped area around Changi. Our current flat in Tanjong Pagar actually cost slightly less. But there is an MRT station nine minutes away, there are coffee shops, restaurants, and even some places that are open 24/7. 

So if you compare in terms of amenities – between a mature HDB hub and a fringe condo at the same price – HDB wins out.”

We should throw in a disclaimer here though, and say that there are some older resale condos in the $1.3 million range which are also in well-developed spots, but you do need to spend a lot of effort looking for them. They might not necessarily be in the same size range though, as you can be sure if so these would have been snapped up in a jiffy.

Dawson HDB vs Condo

Another example, if you are looking to live in Dawson where HDB flats are going for $1.418 million, these are the equivalent-priced units to see what were possible comparisons at the same price point.

CondoPriceSize (Sq ft)$PSFDateAddress
The Skywoods$1,418,0001012$1,40118-Nov-213 DAIRY FARM HEIGHTS #02
The Gardens At Bishan$1,418,0001152$1,23121-Sep-211 SIN MING WALK #09
Residences Botanique$1,418,0001152$1,2314-Aug-2130 YIO CHU KANG ROAD #03
A Treasure Trove$1,418,0001206$1,17611-Feb-2254 PUNGGOL WALK #02
Grandeur 8$1,418,0001227$1,1565-Jul-2118 ANG MO KIO CENTRAL 3 #13
Bishan Park Condominium$1,418,0001270$1,11614-Apr-2218 SIN MING WALK #06
*Note that these were prices recorded from when the article was written in July 2022

We do need to highlight that there were plenty of options at this price point, but as mentioned above, most options seemed to be in the fringe or less developed regions.

Read More: 5 Best Freehold Condos in Singapore – Under $2.3 Million

Record sale for Bishan DBSS flat — $1.18 million

4. HDB no worries about en-bloc sales

Not every home buyer looks forward to an en-bloc sale. Some people loathe the thought of having to move again; and for older homeowners, the financing issues can be a major headache (e.g., if you are 65 years or older, you may have more trouble getting a loan for your next home – and en-bloc sale proceeds can take as long as a year to arrive). 

Chuan Park Condo En Bloc Stopped by Strata Titles Block in Dec 22

In the case of the Chuan Park en bloc saga, it’s reached a stage where if you’re an owner there, it’s not a great situation to be in. Because it seems uncertain if the sale would go through in the end, you’d be stuck in the limbo of whether to commit to another purchase or if you’d still be staying there in the long term.

It’s not so bad if you’re young, but when you are in your twilight years, the last thing you want is the stress of not knowing if you have to uproot or have to move homes despite wanting to stay.

Not everyone is fond of condo en blocs

One reader, who experienced such an upheaval back in 2014, said she no longer wants to accept such a risk:

“With HDB things like SERS are very rare. But with condos you can see they en-bloc like crazy – after 20 years people already start thinking of money from an en-bloc. Most of them don’t care about residents who find it hard to move, all they think about is the money.”

(We should add that HDB has discussed a VERS scheme for flats that are 60+ years old; this will lead to redevelopment if sufficient homeowners agree to it. However, we have yet to see a VERS exercise in Singapore).

For those who intend to age in place, developers’ voracious demand for new land is always a threat. The last thing you want to do is to have settled in, and have friends and your favourite hang-outs nearby, only to be forced to move against your will. This is more likely with a condo, so keep it in mind.

5. HDB million-dollar flat your final home? Resale doesn’t matter at all

For many who choose a flat, this is the argument that clinches it. As most realtors may be quick to inform you, private property on the whole appreciates better than resale flats.

It’s certainly also true that – with their more advanced age – million-dollar flats may have greater issues with lease decay.

28th-storey Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flat at City View @ Boon Keng sold for $1.1 million in Aug 2016

However, as the owner of a million-dollar DBSS flat explains:

“I am intending to stay here for the rest of my life, and even if you cut off 20 years from it, my flat will still last longer than me. I don’t intend to buy any other property after this. So it doesn’t matter to me whether a condo will make more profit.”

And as another realtor pointed out, a resale condo that is only around $1 million in the current boom market is probably an older leasehold condo; so it will also have lease decay issues anyway.

A five-room flat at City View @ Boon Keng has scored a record price of $1.1 million for a Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) development in Aug 2016

In general conclusion, a million-dollar HDB flat has the biggest advantage over a condo if there’s no intention to resell

Younger buyers, who are not on their final leg of the property journey, should rethink the long term prospects of a million-dollar flat. But for those who are certain the flat is their final home, a million-dollar flat can be worth it for purely home-owner reasons (i.e., personal comfort and a matching lifestyle).

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Part of this article first appeared in StackedHomes.