New SERS rehousing options for Ang Mo Kio flat owners will apply to similar projects in future: Desmond Lee

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SERS, introduced in 1995, is part of the Government’s efforts to renew older housing estates. Under the scheme, residents are offered new homes nearby, while the old site will be redeveloped.

It was announced in April that the four HDB blocks at Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 – comprising 606 units – will undergo SERS. Home owners will be offered new replacement flats at the nearby Ang Mo Kio Drive.

Mr Lee said that with size, location and other attributes being held constant, an older flat will have a lower market value compared to a younger one with a longer ownership duration.

Flats involved in the past SERS exercises were generally younger at the point of announcement, with around 70 years of lease remaining, he added. Hence, the market value of these flats was “generally sufficient” for affected flat owners to purchase a new replacement unit of a similar type or size on a fresh 99-year lease.

In comparison, the flats for the Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 SERS exercise are older, with a balance lease of about 57 years.

“So that’s the key difference here,” said Mr Lee. “The basis of determining the compensation for the Ang Mo Kio SERS flats is the same as past exercises.”

“STILL GAPS TO CROSS”

In her speech, Ms Nadia thanked the authorities for introducing the alternative options but noted “there are still gaps to cross” amid varying needs among the different demographics of residents.

“While I understand that it is improbable in policymaking that every single circumstance gets accounted for, I think members of this House will agree that the goal is to strive towards making sure that home owners do not get disadvantaged by redevelopment programs like SERS,” she said.

“And since value will be unlocked, I hope that this can be shared with residents.”

Among her slew of clarifications for authorities, Ms Nadia asked for assurance that taking up the shorter 50-year lease option will not require residents in Ang Mo Kio to top up further funds.

She also asked if this option, currently available to flat owners over the age of 55, can be extended to younger home owners on a case by case basis if they find it more affordable.

Noting that the financial value of home leases “decay in an accelerated fashion” towards the end of the lease, Ms Nadia wanted to know how these shorter-lease homes will be priced for sale and what will happen once the 50-year leases run out given that the rest of the estate will have flats on longer 99-year leases.

“In the future, this estate may pose a curious mix of flats with varying leases, potentially creating price distortions in the market. I would like to ask if HDB has considered these implications,” the MP said.

She also sought details on the valuations of the SERS flats and asked if authorities can consider waiving or deferring the payment of a resale levy required from some affected households.

Ms Nadia said while her adjournment motion on Monday is mostly motivated by concerns faced by her residents, she hoped that the “context of the issues raised and potential solutions proposed will be given consideration in the broader pursuit of achieving equitable outcomes in housing redevelopment”.

Redevelopment programs like SERs may be introduced as part of a broader strategy to meet future housing demand, but there is also the need to consider “how to best mitigate the chasm between the needs of the future and the needs of the present”, she added.

“SERS is blunt in its application, affecting all residents of the identified estates, but given the variety of the home owners and complexity of the housing schemes, the solutions offered cannot be based on a one-size-fits-all approach.”

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