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Surviving SERS: What You Need to Know (Part 1)

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Jeff Cuellar

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The Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) is a noble strategy to “transform” aged estates by destroying and then rebuilding them redeveloping them (no Iraq jokes please). Regardless of whether you see an SERS site notice as a life-altering inconvenience or as a chance to move into a new modern flat, the fact is: your home has a date with the wrecking ball.

Becoming familiar with the benefits you’re entitled to under SERS is best thing you can do at this point. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered with information on HDB’s responsibilities to you.

Compensation for Your Flat

A private valuer licensed by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) and appointed by HDB will inspect your home and assess its market value at the point of time after the SERS is announced.

If the high-profile Rochor Centre SERS case is any indication, you can expect the following compensation for your flat:

 

  • Market rate compensation that factors cash-over-valuation (COV) into your flat’s resale value
  • Payment of “reasonable expenses” (i.e. removal fees, stamp and conveyance fees for another flat, etc.)
  • Guaranteed flat at HDB’s designated replacement site at a subsidised price (around 20% lower than the replacement flat’s market value) on a 99-year lease
  • Additional 20% discount off the subsidised price capped at a max of $30,000 (for those eligible to buy an HDB flat)

 

Despite the compensation, you may feel like the soldier who drew the shortest straw of the lot and has to lead a machinegun nest charge. SERS will screw up your daily transit routine, the kids may need to change schools, and you may have to top up additional $$$ just to move into the new relocation site.

So what else can you do?

 

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Thank you for the relocation! I’ll just relocate myself to another flat.

 

 Thank You, But I’ll Go Elsewhere

You don’t have to bite the bullet and live at the replacement site if it’s not in your best interest.

As long as you are eligible to apply for a new flat under HDB’s public sales schemes, you can move into another flat while retaining the SERS benefits listed above. HDB will give you a 1-year deadline from the SERS announcement date to apply for a new flat elsewhere. 

HDB even set aside 5% of all Build-to-Order (BTO) flats island wide just for SERS flat owners. If SERS flat owners make up more than 5% of a particular BTO site, then those who missed the cutoff will still be eligible to compete against other applicants for the favour of HDB’s HAL 9000 Computer Balloting System.

 

What If I’m a PR Or Single?

If you’re a flat owner who doesn’t normally qualify to purchase an HDB flat if not for the SERS, you can still get another flat instead of moving to the relocated site, but the biggest place you will be offered is a 4-room flat or the equivalent of your current flat type at the subsidised price. Just remember that you have a 1-year deadline to apply for a new flat from the SERS announcement date.

Unfortunately, because of your household status, you won’t get the further 20% discount (capped at $30,000). If you have the stomach for some Game of Thrones-style family scheming, you can get that 5-room flat and that 20% discount:

 

  • Singapore PR: Persuade a family member at least 21 years old (Singapore Citizen) to be a joint-applicant and take up the flat together
  • Single Citizen/Sole-Occupant Owner: You must take up the flat with your newly schemed formed family nucleus with your parent(s) and/or children… or you must be legally married  
  • Unsatisfied MOP: If you have not fulfilled your minimum occupancy period, you must take up the replacement flat instead of selling your existing one.
  • Sold Private Property within 30 months of SERS: You must take up the replacement flat instead of selling your existing one

 

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“No further discount on my flat? Sigh… Guess I’ll…OOH CAKES!”

 

Singles Who Purchased Flats under Existing Schemes

Depending on whether you purchased your existing flat under the Single Singapore Citizen (SSC) Scheme, Non-citizen Spouse (NCS) Scheme, or the Joint Singles Scheme (JSS), the flat type and discount limit will vary.

Here are the benefits you can expect for the various schemes:

 

Single Singapore Citizen (SSC) Scheme

Under SERS, you are guaranteed to have either a 3-room flat or flat type equivalent (whichever is larger) at the replacement site and a 20% discount capped at $15,000 ($11,000 if your SER site was announced before 15 August 2011).

Non-citizen Spouse (NCS) Scheme

You are guaranteed to have either a 4-room flat or flat type equivalent (whichever is larger) at the replacement site and a 20% discount capped at $15,000 ($11,000 if your SER site was announced before 15 August 2011). If you are below 35 years of age at the time of the SERS announcement date, your spouse must have had a long-term visit pass or a work pass for at least six months.

Joint Singles Scheme (JSS)

For the JSS, you are guaranteed to heave either a 4-room flat or flat type equivalent (whichever is larger) at the replacement site and a 20% discount capped at $30,000 ($22,000 if your SER site was announced before 15 August 2011).

For the eligibility criteria under the various schemes, you can check out HDB’s full list here. We will explore the resale options for SERS flats in a later article, so follow us on Facebook to stay up to date.

For the second part of this article, you can carry on reading here.

 

Image Credits:
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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.