Remembering Lee Kuan Yew - Thank you - The nation with you in your final journey - See u in heaven

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew - Thank you - The nation with you in your final journey - See u in heaven
Presented to you by Property Smart Investor- A Real Estate Online Education and Discussion

Sunday, 30 September 2018

HDB Resale Procedure and Timeline For Buyers

From 1 January 2018, resale flat buyers and sellers will need to login to the HDB Resale Portal using their SingPass, to start their buying or selling journey.

Buyer: The portal will guide you through the following steps:-

1.  Register Intent to Buy via HDB Resale Portal 
     - Buyer has to login with their SingPass
     - Agent cannot submit on behalf of the buyer
     - Immediately get a completed pdf confirmation after submission
     - Intent to Buy is valid for 12 months
     - It will state the types of grant you are eligible

2.  Choose Mode of Financing (HDB Loan or Bank Loan?)
     - For HDB Loan, need to apply for a valid HLE (Valid for 6 months)
     - HLE stands for HDB Loan Eligibility or Home Loan Eligibility 
     - It will takes 2 weeks to be approved
     - Valid for 6 months
     - Need to have the HLE before Seller can grant you (buyer) the OTP
     - For Bank Loan, need a valid LO before exercising the OTP
     - LO stands for Letter Of Offer from Bank (Financial Institution) 

3.  Search for Suitable Flat, Negotiate and decide on price with Seller

4.  Get Option to Purchase (OTP) from Seller. Before OTP do take note of the following
     - Important Notes on OTP (Please read through thoroughly)
     - Buyers have 21 days to Exercise OTP. 
     - Whether Sellers or Buyers need to Contra Form 
         - Fill up the 'Application for Enhanced Contra Facility' Form)
     - Whether Sellers requires to Extend to stay after completion. Fill up the Request for Temporary Extention. (Only Contra Party can extend if there are 3 parties. Fill up the Request for Temporary Extension to stay form, Cannot exceed 3 months)

During the 21 days

5.  Decide Mode of Financing
     - For HDB Loan, you must have a valid HLE by now, before Seller grant you OTP 
     - Date of HLE MUST be before Date of OTP
     - For Bank Loan, after Seller grant OTP, together with Valuation, apply to bank to get a Valid LO before you exercise the OTP
     - Date of LO MUST be before the date of Exercising the OTP

6.  Buyer has to Submit Request for Valuation through the HDB Resale Portal
     - Terms and Condition for Request For Valuation
     - Login to HDB Resale Portal to Apply for HDB Request for Valuation

7.  Received a Valid Valuation Report from HDB
     - Within 2-3 days

8.  Exercise OTP within 21 days (after you have HLE/LO and Valuation)

9.  Submit Resale Application after you have exercised the OTP
     - Buyers and Sellers discuss and decide on completion date
     - Either Seller or Buyer can submit 1st, the 2nd party has to submit within 7 days (After 7 days, has to resubmit again)
     - Login to HDB Resale Portal to Submit for Resale Application

10. Acknowledge Resale Documents

11. Pay Fees (Online Payment)

12. HDB Approval of Resale

13. Wait for Completion letter from HDB Resale (Generally about 8 weeks from Resale Submission)

13. 1 or 2 days before completion, make appointment with Seller to inspect the house for vacant passion.

14. Completion of Resale and take over of keys at HDB. If buyers use bank loan, the Lawyer can represent you to take over the keys, you don’t need to be presence.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Private Enclosed Spaces and Private Roof Terraces to be included as GFA

Private Enclosed Spaces and Private Roof Terraces to be included as GFA

24 June 2015
This is with reference to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) guidelines which came into effect from 12th January 2013.
This article aims at new home owners who may not be completely aware of the following guidelines established by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in 2013.

Private enclosed spaces (PES) and private roof terraces (RTs) are usually found in flats and condominium developments. Located on the first storey or roof level, these spaces are commonly used for outdoor gardens. Similar to balconies these are semi–outdoor spaces that form a part of the private area which are sold to home buyers.
Formerly, private enclosed spaces and private roof terraces were not included in the computation of Gross Floor Area (GFA). This was to encourage developers to build more outdoor spaces so that residents could enjoy light and openness in their apartment.

New Guidelines with effect from 12th January 2013.
1. The URA has reviewed the guidelines and will now count PES and private RTs for non-landed residential developments as part of the bonus GFA capped at 10% above the master plan control.
2. The above revision will prevent excessive provisions of PES and private RTs and hence in turn
there will be no more compromise on communal space. However developers are still given
flexibility to propose various sizes of PES and private RTs in different configurations that best
meet the market demand.
3. Coverings over PES and private RTs are allowed to address the needs of home owners for
protection against killer litter and weather. However, they need to comply with a set of
guidelines to retain a semi-outdoor character to qualify for the bonus GFA scheme. The list can be found on the URA website.
Height of Common wall between two Residential Units with PES
Due to requests received from residents of the 1st storey units to raise the height of PES common wall with their neighboring unit for better privacy, the common wall may be built up to 1.8m high between a paired PES. However the common wall beyond the balcony edge shall be kept to a maximum of 1m high so as to keep PES beyond the balcony edge as an open outdoor space.

Revision to the Balcony Bonus Gross Floor Area (GFA) Scheme for Private Non-landed Residential Developments to Promote Higher Construction Productivity – Changes to Phase Two Conditions

Revision to the Balcony Bonus Gross Floor Area (GFA) Scheme for Private Non-landed Residential Developments to Promote Higher Construction Productivity – Changes to Phase Two Conditions

  Published: 09 December 2014
Circular No : URA/PB/2014/27-DCG, BCA 104.1.2
Fax : 6227 4792 (URA)
6325 4800 (BCA)


Who Should Know:
Building owners, developers, architects and structural engineers

Effective Date: 
With effect from 9 Dec 2014 to 31 Oct 2018

This circular should be read together with the following circulars:
  1. URA’s Circular No: URA/PB/2009/03-DCG dated 29 April 2009 on “Framework for Managing Bonus Gross Floor Area Incentives”, specifically on the overall 10% bonus GFA budget; and
  2. BCA and URA’s Joint Circular No. BCA 104.1.2 URA/PB/2013/10-DCG dated 2 Sep 2013 on “Revision to the Balcony Bonus Gross Floor Area (GFA) Scheme for Private Non-Landed Residential Developments to Promote Higher Construction Productivity".
  1. The revised Balcony Bonus GFA scheme was implemented on 1 Nov 2013 to encourage the industry to adopt more productive construction solutions. It also aimed to reward developers who make the extra effort to strive for higher buildability.
  2. Since its implementation, BCA and URA have received encouraging response in support of the productivity drive. To further raise construction productivity, BCA has amended the Building Control (Buildability) Regulations to require higher minimum Buildable Design Scores as well as mandatory use of drywalls for all internal dry areas and Prefabricated Bathroom Units (PBUs) for selected developments with effect from 1 Nov 2014 (See BCA’s new Circular No. BCA APPBCA-2014-16 dated 31 Oct 2014).  With these changes, BCA and URA are updating the conditions of the scheme with immediate effect.
Revised conditions to make use of the Balcony Bonus GFA Scheme
  1. Private non-landed residential developments (including executive condominiums) and the residential component of mixed-use projects1 can apply for the balcony bonus GFA scheme up to 10%, subject to the revised conditions specified in the table below with immediate effect.

    Previous ConditionsRevised Conditions
    1. At least 65% of the bathrooms are PBUs1. At least 80% of the bathrooms are PBUs
    2. Achieves a buildable design score that is at least 10 pts above the minimum legislated score2. Achieves a buildable design score of at least 
    a) 90 points for GFA ≥ 25,000sqm 
    b) 87 points for 5,000sqm ≤ GFA < 25,000sqm 
    c) 82 points for 2,000sqm ≤ GFA < 5,000sqm
    3. Uses drywalls for all internal dry areas in the developmentSee note below
    Note : The condition for use of drywall for all internal dry areas is no longer required since drywall is already mandated for all non-landed residential developments under the amended Building Control (Buildability) Regulations.
  2. Where balconies are proposed under the scheme, the prevailing standard guidelines for balconies (e.g. perimeter openness, balcony screening requirements, etc.) will still be applicable.  The Balcony Bonus GFA will not form the new prescribed maximum GPR for the site upon redevelopment.
  3. The requirements for approval of the Balcony Bonus GFA under the scheme, the submission and evaluation process, as well as the consequences of non-compliance as stated in the earlier circular released on 2 Sep 2013 (Circular No. BCA 104.1.2 URA/PB/2013/10-DCG) shall remain the same.
  1. The revised conditions will supersede the previous conditions under Phase 2 of the Balcony Bonus GFA scheme and will apply to all new applications for private non-landed residential developments (including executive condominiums) and the residential component of mixed-use projects submitted on or after the effective date2. Only formal development applications (excluding Outline Applications) submitted before the effective date2 which have already been granted Provisional Permission or which will result in a Provisional Permission, will not be subject to the revised conditions under Phase 2 of the Balcony Bonus GFA Scheme2.
  2. We would appreciate it if you could convey the contents of this circular to the relevant members of your organisation. If you or your members have any queries concerning this circular, please do not hesitate to contact BCA’s Mr James Lu at Tel: 6325 5091 (email: or URA’s DCG Enquiry Line at Tel: 6223 4811 (email: For your information, the past circulars to the professional institutes are available from our BCA, URA and CORENET websites in the links, and .
Thank You. 


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1 Applicable to all new building projects with GFA of 2,000m2 or more.
2 Development applications submitted before the effective date resulting in an Advice or Refusal of Written Permission (RWP) will be evaluated based on the revised conditions under Phase 2 of the Balcony Bonus GFA scheme upon resubmission after the Advice or RWP.

Strata void areas in condos: How to avoid ‘paying for air’

Strata void areas in condos: How to avoid ‘paying for air’

JUNE 12, 2018
When The Straits Times ran the article Are you ‘paying for air’ when you buy a house? on 11 June 2018, it highlighted an unknowing buyer who was quoted a much higher price than the gross floor area for a new launch condo unit. The article’s intention was to inform buyers of strata void area, which is defined as the void space that is included in the total saleable floor area of the strata unit (e.g. condo unit), as our illustration of a 2-storey unit below shows:
Per square foot, a strata void area may be 30 to 50% the price of actual floor area. This means that a condo unit with strata void area will list a lower psf price than a unit without. This may create some confusion in buyers who don’t immediately discern that a particular unit’s listed psf price is cheaper solely because of its strata void area, example below:
Assuming everything else is the same (e.g. rooms layout, facing, floor),
Unit A: 2,000 sq ft (inclusive of 500 sq ft strata void area) at $1,300 psf priced at (2,000 x $1,300) = $2,600,000
Unit B: 1,500 sq ft (with regular ceiling height throughout) at $1,600 psf priced at (1,500 x $1,600) = $2,400,000
To help buyers identify strata void areas without confusion, we’ve created a simple and straightforward guide. Bookmark this for the next time you’re viewing or buying a property — be it a strata condo or landed unit — so you’ll never be uncertain about “paying for air”.

Do: Pay attention to the floor plan

Since 2014, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has mandated that developers disclose the breakdown of the different areas in the unit, including any strata void areas, in sales documents such as the floor plan.
An example:
Strata Void Area Floor Plan
The strata void area is clearly marked out in this project’s floor plan.
Another example:
Strata Void Area Example 2
The strata void area for this unit is stated in different way. Can you find it?
In other words, developers have an obligation to be transparent to the prospective buyer. Note that although the strata void areas are marked out in the examples above, the prospective buyer should go one step further and clarify the exact boundaries and area of the strata void area with the sales rep.

Do: Read sales documents carefully

Before the buyer pays the booking fee for his desired unit, the developer is required by law to provide him/her with the details of the unit and the housing project, such as the description and estimated areas of all spaces. This includes the void area, if any.
There’s more. The developer must obtain the buyer’s written confirmation of receiving such information. Buyers are understood to have read this information carefully before paying the booking fee.
So, regarding strata void areas, can buyers somehow argue that they were misled in any way? Let’s look back to 2014 when a couple took a executive condominium (EC) developer to court. The couple alleged that the penthouse they paid a $56,050 option fee for was smaller than what they were led to believe.
In its defence, the developer argued that there had been no misrepresentation. This was because the Option to Purchase signed by the couple had clearly stated that the total saleable floor area took into account the air-conditioner ledge, roof terrace and the void area of the unit. The couple eventually dropped the suit.
This case shows that, at the very least, buyers are expected to recognise if any void area is specified on the developer’s sales documents (e.g. Option to Purchase, Sales & Purchase agreement) before they sign. The actual wording might be something like this:
(a) Floor area refers to the estimated area of the whole apartment, inclusive of the area of the air-conditioner ledge and voids (where applicable).
(b) Internal floor area refers to the estimated area of the apartment computed based on the centre line of the apartment wall.

Do: Obtain the necessary certificates (if the property is not a new launch)

If buying a resale condo unit, it might be harder for buyers to notice strata void areas given there might be a lack of documents from the outset. So, buyers should do the following instead before paying the option fee (information courtesy of the Singapore Land Authority, SLA):
Buyers who are buying an uncompleted property in the sub-sale market (i.e. not directly from the developer) should ask the seller for a copy of the Certificate of Strata Area from the seller before paying the option fee. The certificate would state the floor area of the property, including void areas, if any.
Before buying a completed strata unit for which a Subsidiary Strata Certi cate of Title (SSCT) has been issued by SLA, buyers can buy a print-out of the SSCT to check the area of the strata unit and also check if the area of the strata unit includes any Void Areas. For SSCTs issued on or after 1 August 2012, Void Areas, if any, will be shown in the SSCT.
Before buying a completed strata unit, buyers can buy the Strata Certi ed Plan (CPST) for the strata unit from SLA’s Integrated Land Information Service (INLIS) to check if the unit interested in is affected by Void Areas.
If all this sounds complicated to you, that’s the cue for you to engage a CEA-registed Buyer’s Agent to help you with your home-buying journey.

How high must the ceiling be for it to be considered as strata void area?

This is where ambiguity can set in as the practices differ from one developer to another, and from one project to another. Generally, loft units with ceilings that aren’t high enough to allow standing on the loft deck do not count void areas. On the other hand, units with a “double volume” space as part of the strata area, such as a penthouse with a 4.7 metre floor-to-ceiling height, will have void areas factored into the total cost.
An important note for strata landed houses. If there’s an airwell or similar feature, buyers might end up paying for several levels of void areas between the ground floor and the roof.Investors of industrial and commercial spaces should also take note of strata void areas as tenants typically only take floor space into account when renting these spaces.
A good rule of thumb is, if you view a unit and you’re not comfortable when something is classified as a strata void area, just walk away.

Private Enclosed Spaces (PES): Are you paying too much for them?

Private Enclosed Spaces (PES): Are you paying too much for them?

JUNE 10, 2018
A Straits Times report in 2017 revealed that Singapore’s home buyers pay an estimated $780 million for air-con ledges every year. That’s enough money to trade these void spaces for three F-16 fighter jets!
The latest angry buyers are 200 residents in La Fiesta condominium in Sengkang, who have been charged for air-con ledges that are up to five meters long, and take up around nine square meters. That’s the size of a common bedroom in condos nowadays, and buyers are essentially paying for an oversized resting spot for pigeons.
However, it’s not the first time disputes about similar “useless spaces” have occured. Besides air-con ledges, developers have another trick up their sleeve: Private Enclosed Spaces (PES). Here’s what condo buyers need to know about it before they decide to buy a condo unit.

Private Enclosed Spaces (PES) and the Gross Floor Area (GFA) rule: Where is the loophole

The GFA denotes the maximum amount of liveable space a developer can build on a given plot of land.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) determines what counts as GFA, and what doesn’t. For example, the following Private Enclosed Spaces (PES) do not count as part of the GFA, and hence developers don’t have to worry about them taking up strata space (i.e. space that buyers actually pay for in a condo).
  • Covered link-ways, pavilions, and sheds, such as the gazebo in the communal garden
  • Basement diaphragm walls, which are only important if you don’t want the house to collapse
  • Cladding or curtain walls, a superficial layer that conceals the front of the real thing. Like a fake brick cladding, or Donald Trump’s charity organisation
  • Any leftover space in the carpark, although storage, loading platforms, and lifts still count as part of the GFA.
  • Covered public walkways
  • Covered public concourse
  • Fake roof to conceal unsightly rooftop equipment
  • Utility rooms, such as pump rooms for swimming pools, or chambers for power cables
  • Roof-top or other uncovered landscape gardens, tennis courts, swimming pools
  • Ledges for air conditioners and planters. This is where the above-mentioned problem lies
  • Space for equipment that has to be mounted or permanently put in place, such as a water tower
So air-conditioner ledges are not part of the GFA, which means developers can build them the size of a football field if they want. It still doesn’t take up the spatial limit they have to build more units.
However, as mentioned, developers can charge buyers for the space of the ledge. The reason: air-con ledges solely serve individual units, they are considered part of the strata area, and are therefore chargeable to the buyer. At a price of $900 per square foot, for example, a nine square meter ledge (approx. 97 square feet) will set you back $87,300. That’s pricey for something that holds two air-con compressors and bird poop.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this kind of shenanigans though

Back in 2013, the URA had to revise rules regarding Private Enclosed Spaces and private Roof Terraces (RTs). Before that, PES and RTs were not counted as part of the GFA as well.
The result, as you can see in the linked document, was some developers losing their minds and creating giant PESes and RTs. It was good money, because it’s cheaper to build this kind of space than indoor space (just make the top of the unit flat, or throw in a balcony with giant planter boxes, and suddenly the developer makes $150,000 more per sale).
So the URA clamped down on the exploitation of these spaces for profit (with the exception of shared, or communal RTs, which are still not part of the GFA).
private enclosed space balcony

What about balconies, which counts as GFA?

If you wonder why so many condos have disproportionately oversized balconies when the dining room can barely fit two people and their toy poodle, it’s because URA states that GFA of the balconies “is allowed to be computed over and above the Master Plan control, subject to a cap of 10%.” In layman terms, developers have bonus GFA just for balconies, so they happily build them as part of their units because one, it’s the cheapest part of an apartment block to build and, two, they get to charge you for it.
The truth is, while many buyers love balconies, they half-wish they can switch it to a bigger indoor living area. So to make the best decision when buying a new launch condo, ask yourself whether the balcony is actually laid out in a functional shape and configuration, or if it suits your plans (e.g. the balcony as just a lounge area vs. an entire dining area).

Will we see air-con ledges become part of the GFA?

This may not be as common sense an issue as it seems. You see, including the air-con ledges in the GFA means some* developers might be incentivised to build them as narrow as possible. That’s going to be problematic five to 10 years down the road, when your air-con does break down and you need to find a technician who also doubles as a parkour expert.
What’s probable is that air-con ledges won’t count as part of the GFA, but will remain subject to regulations. For example, URA prescribes that air-con ledges be no wider than a metre, and might in future issue some guidelines on the right size (or range of sizes) for air-con ledges.
(*Not all. High-end developers don’t bother with GFA tricks too often, for the same reason Mercedes won’t use a cheaper car radio to con you out of $50. They’ll tell you that it’s beneath their architects.)

But I don’t want to pay for air-con ledges!

You can’t get out of paying air-con ledges, but you can tell when you’re paying too much. At the condo’s sales office, the developer is required to answer all your questions about which PES or ledge is used for what. While viewing the showflat, also peer out of the windows and yard to see if the air-con ledge, for instance, is clearly represented as per the floor plan.
For the sake of reference, most air-con ledges should be about three to five square meters (approx. 32 to 54 square feet), and will take up to 3% of the total floor space of your unit, no matter its size.

What is Gross Floor Area (GFA), Strata Area, Build-up Area and Build-in Area

What is GFA?

GFA = Land Size (Plot size) x PR (Plot Ratio)

Gross floor area (GFA) measures the bulk and intensity of a development for the purposes of plot ratio control and computation of development charge. Using this GFA concept, the owners or developers are free to determine how much neutral areas they want to provide in their buildings.

All covered floor areas of a building, except otherwise exempted, and uncovered areas for commercial uses are deemed the gross floor area of the building for purposes of plot ratio control and development charge. The gross floor area is the total area of the covered floor space measured between the centre line of party walls, including the thickness of external walls but excluding voids. Accessibility and usability are not criteria for exclusion from GFA

URA Gross Floor Area Handbook
URA Gross Floor Area Handbook PDF



What is Strata Area or Strata Size?

The word Strata means Share. Many strata units sharing the same Land or Plot.
Only for build up blocks like HDB Flat, Condominium, would use Strata Area.

Strata Area = GFA + All the followings

Strata Area is the size of individual units all add up together. This is where the Developer take advantage of the following to made more money and make than enough profit for themselves.

The following are things included in the Strata Area (Size) that was not included in the GFA when developer bought the land from GLS or En-bloc

* Strata Private Void Area

- Strata void areas in condos: How to avoid ‘paying for air’
Strata void areas graphic illustration by SLA. Making dollars and sense of void areas in a Strata Development. PDF

* Strata Private Balcony Area (Add 10% of GFA)

-  Bonus Balcony Area. Generally about 10% of the GFA
Revision to the Balcony Bonus Gross Floor Area (GFA) Scheme for Private Non-landed Residential Developments to Promote Higher Construction Productivity – Changes to Phase Two Conditions
Strata void areas are getting more rampant in B1 Industry Building and Private Condo

Balcony generally refers to those located in between ground floor and roof terrace.

* Private Enclosed Space (PES)

Private Enclosed Spaces (PES): Are you paying too much for them?
PES normally refers to Ground floor only

* Strata Private Roof Terrace
Roof Terrace generally located at the highest floor or Penthouses

Generally, the PES and the Roof Terrace are Capped at 10% of GFA (Add 10% of GFA)
The URA has reviewed the guidelines and will now count PES and private RTs for non-landed residential developments as part of the bonus GFA capped at 10% above the master plan control.

* Strata Aircon Ledges Area

Setback of RC and Air-Con Ledges for Landed Housing (PDF)

Close loophole that allows developers to charge for space, say buyers and experts

What is Build-Up Area or Build-In Area?

Build-Up Area or Build-In Area normally can be used interchangeabilly. It is used for Landed Properties only.