Monday, February 10, 2014

L.A.M. on Value of HDB flats at end of 99 year Lease

So I read on Gerald Giam's blog that Khaw Boon Wan, Minister for National Development had confirmed in Parliament that the value of flats will be zero at the end of their 99 year lease. He also indicated that the selection of sites and pace of SERS depended on factors including the site’s redevelopment potential. Implicit in what he said was that SERS is not a scheme intended solely to replace old flats reaching the end of their lease.

To me, this is a very disturbing development because so far, the market has been pricing HDB flats as if it had an infinite lease and the resale price index has increased from 33.6 in 1990 to 201.7 in 2013. (An astounding 5 fold increase).

Since this means that a house becomes a depreciating asset towards the end of the lease, then it begs the question of when is the ideal point to sell a flat. In the graph below, we see that there is a high point for a typical leasehold property where everything literally goes downhill after that.

(Modeled graph based on property 40 years into it's lease with 59 years remaining and based on a very modest future asset appreciation rate of 1.6% p.a.)

So there are 2 forces at work with regards to one's property.

1) Asset appreciation. Due to demand and supply forces (more demand than supply), asset prices (property) have been increasing over the years, leading to asset appreciation. This is the force which causes the value of a resale unit to grow. For the model I created, I assumed that the asset appreciation rate is constant.

2) Lease amortization. As lease on your property counts down to zero, the value of the property decreases. In the model, lease amortization increases as the number of years of lease remaining decreases to zero.

So in order to answer the question, I developed a model where a user can input the details of his flat, such as the lease commencement year, and valuation of property and determine the ideal year to sell his flat. (See download link below)

How to use the file:

Enter the input variables into the following cells
C3: Original Lease. Usually 99 years for HDB flats
C4: Lease Commencement Year. Can be found in title deed
C5: This Year. Which ever year this is.
C8: Value of property based on Valuation (excluding COV)

I have taken the following assumptions:

1) Property appreciation rate based on the weighted average growth rate based on the resale price index with more current years having a higher weightage than earlier years

2) Long Term Bond Yield based on information from Singapore Government 10Y bond historical rates taken from

PS: Although the model is able to determine the ideal year in which to sell your flat, it doesn't mean that you will be able to get a ready buyer on that ideal year. Depending on economic and market conditions, it might be better to plan ahead and time your exit 5-10 years earlier than the ideal year. The model also doesn't fully capture the effects of potential future government policies. This is just an amateur model based on my assumptions, please feel free to comment below if you feel this model can be improved in any way.

For a property valuation tool, see my other blog post:


coern said...

Will the same apply for private properties on 99-yr leases?

John Lam said...

Yes. It is also applicable to private properties on 99 year lease. But the difference is that private property owners have a title deed and can try to apply to top up lease and sell the land to developer for en bloc. For HDB flats, it is entirely up to the HDB whether to SERS your flat or let the lease expire.

Anonymous said...

Good attempt...however, I feel your model is overstating the value. In a simplistic sense, it is assuming that most properties will start losing their value after the 60th year in a 99 year lease property.

Recently, HDB also came out with two separate policies that limit people, both on the CPF they can use, as well as the loan they can take on HDB properties that are more than 40 years old. These will also have an accelerating effect in reducing the values of older HDB flats.

Nevertheless, your attempt at working on this is commendable.