SINGAPORE: The Housing and Development Board (HDB) will launch a new resale portal to reduce the transaction time for buying and selling HDB flats, it announced on Thursday (Oct 19).
The HDB Resale Portal will be launched in January next year to process new resale applications. It aims to cut the time taken to complete a resale transaction by up to half the 16 weeks currently required.
Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong had earlier announced in this year’s Committee of Supply debate that his ministry will leverage technology to streamline the transaction process for resale flats.
ONLY ONE HDB APPOINTMENT UNDER STREAMLINED PROCESS
Currently, a resale transaction requires two appointments with HDB. The first appointment is to work out the sellers’ sale proceeds and assess the buyers’ financial plan, and the second appointment is for buyers and sellers to complete the resale transaction and sign the documents.
Ahead of the first appointment, resale flat buyers and sellers must complete an online resale checklist before they commit to buy or sell a flat. This checklist includes a section on financial planning. They will then be required to use the e-Services available on the HDB website to complete a series of other checks, such as one’s eligibility to buy or sell a flat, and the available ethnic quota in the block or neighbourhood.
The new portal will integrate all the eligibility checks on a single platform, which HDB says will increase convenience for the public.
For example, once flat buyers or sellers register their Intent to Buy or Intent to Sell a flat in the portal, their SingPass personal details from the Government’s MyInfo service will be used to auto-populate the application forms, reducing the need for manual entry of data.
All eligibility checks will also be integrated on a single platform in the portal, reducing the need for buyers and sellers to access different links on the HDB website to conduct the various required checks. The portal will also be customised to the individual, and display their eligibility to buy and sell their flat, as well as their eligibility for any housing grants or concessionary loans.
If buyers are using their CPF money or planning to take up a housing loan to buy a flat, they can also use the portal to request HDB to confirm the value of their flat, in order to determine the basis of the limits on their CPF usage or home loan amount for the flat purchase. Under the current process, every flat has to go through a valuation for this purpose. But under the streamlined process, HDB said some cases may not require a valuation, as it is able to use technology and transaction data to establish the reasonableness of a transacted price.
This, it said, will help expedite the processing of resale transactions. Nonetheless, where a valuation is assessed to be needed, HDB will arrange for one to be conducted.
A processing fee of S$120 will be payable to HDB to cover the cost of this review, and is a standard fee payable by all flat buyers, regardless of whether or not a valuation is required.
Hence, under the streamlined process, flat buyers and sellers will only need to attend one appointment with HDB, which is the resale completion appointment to sign the documents that require signatures to be done in person. HDB said that if flat buyers and sellers submit their documents promptly, the entire transaction time –from submission to completion of the resale application – can be shortened by up to eight weeks.
The streamlined resale process will apply to applications where the Option to Purchase (OTP) is granted by flat sellers on or after Jan 1, 2018. Resale applications with OTPs granted before Jan 1, 2018, will continue to be processed under the current procedures.
DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY CAN BE APPLIED IN PRACTICAL WAYS: LAWRENCE WONG
The new HDB resale portal is an example of how digital technology can be applied in practical ways to streamline existing processes and make citizens’ lives more convenient, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.
Writing in a blog post, he noted that the portal is one of the initiatives under the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map, and part of its move towards a Smart Nation.
He said that currently a HDB resale transaction can be “quite an involved process” for both buyers and sellers, and his ministry “can do better than this”. He added that the HDB will streamline its internal processes with the portal, and reduce the number of resale appointments from two to one.
“The first appointment will no longer be needed as the required documents and verification checks can be completed digitally,” he said. “You can do away with the filing of hard-copy forms, and save on a trip to HDB Hub.”
He added that the new portal would also benefit real estate agents, by freeing them up from time-consuming administrative work and allow them to focus on higher value-added work.
In developing the portal, HDB has taken in feedback from stakeholders to ensure that it is user-friendly, said Mr Wong. But he noted that there may be some flat buyers and sellers who will need help to use the new portal.
Hence, HDB will set up a dedicated helpline and helpdesk at the HDB Hub to guide those who require assistance through the resale process, he said.
“I encourage buyers and sellers to share your feedback with HDB, so that it can continue to improve the system, and serve our residents even better.”
PRIVATE VALUERS MAY SEE HIT IN BUSINESS: ANALYST
However, with the launch of the new portal, private valuers could take a hit in business of as much as 50 to 80 per cent, according to one analyst. There are more than 500 licensed appraisers in Singapore.
“It has been a long-time practice in transactions of HDB flats or private properties, where if the buyer were to take up a mortgage, the lender would typically engage an independent valuer to conduct a valuation of that subject property,” explained SLP International’s head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak. “And based on the valuation that is derived, lenders would grant their loan as a percentage of that valuation.”
But in the new process, HDB would not engage an external valuer to conduct a valuation of a flat if they feel the transaction value is within a “reasonable range”.
Mr Mak noted that HDB valuation assignments make up a significant part of many private valuation firms’ business.
“If HDB is going to reduce the reliance and business given to these private valuers, their business is going to be quite adversely affected,” he said. “Business could drop by 50 to 80 per cent.”
But he added that a lot would depend on the range of transacted prices that HDB deems is reasonable. “HDB will only engage a private valuer to conduct a valuation if the transaction value is outside a reasonable price range,” he said. “But that price range is determined by HDB, so in a sense, they have the ability to decide how much business they want to farm out to private property valuers.”
Additional reporting by Wendy Wong