Many who secured Rochor BTO project flats say they plan to stay for long haul

The Rochor project sits on two plots of land along Weld Road and Kelantan Road. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE – Freelance investor Jamie Ng can currently look into her neighbours’ homes from her parents’ unit in Bukit Panjang, but in six years’ time, she will trade it for a view of the Central Business District and Marina Bay Sands.

She is among those who successfully applied for a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat in Rochor.

It is the first HDB project to come under the new prime location public housing (PLH) model announced last October, which imposes stricter buying and selling conditions.

“The top-floor unit in this BTO project costs $688,000, but the view is worth $1 million. It feels like I’ve struck the HDB jackpot,” said Ms Ng, 34.

Ms Ng, who is a first-time applicant, had applied with her boyfriend. Two weeks ago, they selected a four-room flat on the 45th storey.

The PLH project in Rochor – River Peaks I and II – was launched last November to strong demand, with around five first-time applicants vying for each available four-room unit.

Flat selection began in March, with successful applicants picking units based on their queue numbers.

The project has a total of 960 three-room and four-room flats spread across six 47-storey blocks. One of the blocks include 40 two-room rental flats.

It sits on two plots of land along Weld Road and Kelantan Road, and is directly connected to Jalan Besar MRT station on the Downtown line.

Of the 20 successful applicants who received queue numbers that fall within the flat quota the Straits Times spoke to, 19 said their intention is to live there for a long time based on their current situation.

However, 11 of them said they would not rule out the possibility of selling the unit should their life circumstances change in the future, with the offer of a good price as the top motivation for them to cash in.

The remaining eight are confident that it would be their retirement home.

Only one applicant interviewed said she bought the unit for investment purposes and will likely sell it after completing the minimum occupation period (MOP).

She declined to be named.

Under the PLH model, owners of these Rochor flats are subject to a 10-year MOP before they can sell their flats on the open market. The MOP for other HDB flats is five years.

The PLH project in Rochor – River Peaks I and II – was launched last November to strong demand. PHOTO: HDB

Owners also have to pay 6 per cent of the resale price or valuation, whichever is higher, to HDB when they sell their home on the open market for the first time.

Home owners who choose not to sell will not get their subsidies clawed back.

Buyers will have to wait around six years for these flats, as the project is estimated to be completed in the second quarter of 2028.

This means the flats can only be resold some time in 2038.

Recruitment officer Chloe Xu, 26, had initially applied for the flat with the intention to flip the unit for a profit after completing the MOP.

But she has since changed her mind and intends to stay for life.

Ms Xu, who is expecting her first child in July and is currently living with her in-laws, said: “By the time we move in, my daughter will be around seven years old.

“We plan to enrol her in the nearby St Margaret’s Primary School, so it makes sense to stay there long term.”

The school is currently located at a temporary site in Mattar Road in MacPherson, but is slated to move to its permanent location at 99 Wilkie Road in Rochor at the end of next year.

“Now that we have a child on the way, the likelihood of us selling is quite low, as the location is very convenient and has many surrounding amenities.

“We also enjoy having our own space,” said Ms Xu, who had applied to other BTO projects twice previously and was unsuccessful.

Some who successfully applied for the Rochor BTO project said that, other than a good price, they may sell their units if they need a larger space to accommodate a growing family, or money for medical or emergency purposes.

Inconsiderate neighbours could also push them out, they added.

Relationship manager Richard Lim, 26, said he may consider selling his four-room flat to move closer to his workplace if it is no longer in the city.

Mr Lim, who currently lives with his parents in a HDB flat in Tanjong Pagar, had previously applied four times to BTO projects around the central area but was unsuccessful.

“Before I turn 50 years old, I’d say I’m still young enough to move to another location if I need to.

“But after I turn 50, I’ll probably just settle in Rochor for the rest of my life and not sell it,” he said.

Administrator Janice Wu, 51, had no plans to move out of her current four-room HDB flat in Buffalo Road next to Tekka Market until she heard about the Rochor BTO project.

“This is the BTO project that I’ve been waiting for, of course I’ll live there for a long time. I’ve lived in the central area for more than 30 years,” she said.

It was Madam Wu’s first time applying for a BTO flat.

The 88 sq m four-room flat she selected will be slightly larger than her current 82 sq m flat.

“My children are very happy we got the new place. I told them they don’t have to worry about buying a home immediately after getting married.

“They can live with me first,” said Madam Wu, who has a 17-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son.

Property agent Benjamin Long, 41, who will be moving into his top-floor four-room flat in Rochor with his wife, parents and two daughters, said it will be his forever home.

Although the new flat will be smaller than his current 123 sq m five-room HDB in Serangoon North, Mr Long said his family does not mind as they are close.

“The 6 per cent subsidy clawback and 10-year MOP is no issue for us as I intend to stay for life.

“My parents are near retirement and ease of transport is a huge factor. It’ll be nice for us to be able to travel easily around Singapore,” said Mr Long, who added that he may do without a car when he moves in.

Final-year university student Jane Kwek, 23, said the six-year waiting time for her three-room flat works out for her and her 25-year-old boyfriend, who has just completed his National Service.

It was their second attempt at applying for a BTO flat.

“The six-year waiting time sets our minds at ease as we can secure a home first and still have time to save up for the down payment and all the other expenses,” said Ms Kwek, who also applied for HDB’s deferred income assessment, which allows her to stagger the down payment for the flat.

She said she is aware that she is committing to live in the flat until she is almost 40.

“When you’re young, you’re able to make spontaneous decisions, isn’t it?

“I guess I have the yolo (you only live once) mentality. I just want a shelter, a family and a peaceful life.”

“Source: [Many who secured Rochor BTO project flats say they plan to stay for long haul] © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction”

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