Last Updated: Nov 22, 2016
The Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme or SERS was a brilliant initiation by the Singapore government in 1995 to provide a big scale upgrading of ageing Housing Development Board (HDB) estates sitting on prime locations. Under the scheme, selected precincts within older estates are demolished to make way for redevelopment with better utilization of land. Residents affected by SERS will be given a brand new 99-year lease flat in the vicinity at discounted prices. Their existing HDB flat will be compensated at market value. Last but not least these residents will have the privilege of selecting their preferred unit before the remaining are released to the public.
By and large SERS has been well accepted by affected residents though not without unhappiness among minority. For example, older residents may abhor the idea of uprooting from their comfort zone. Some would have lived in their flat for 30 years or more. Whether due to sentimental reasons, the hassle of moving house, or simply pure resistant to changes, these reasons ARE their reasons, which could well cause distress among them. Or the unhappiness could be a case of restrictions imposed on some residents with regard to their selection choice. Others may be disappointed with the payout. At the end of the exercise, in as far as compensation is concerned, some will have positive gains, while others may end up having to cough up some cash for a bigger unit.
Bearing some of the above gripes, SERS’ good intent and eventual plus points far outweigh the dissatisfaction among a small group. A new and clean precinct welcomes the “displaced” residents. Flats would be of better quality and design. Better amenities are incorporated. Most importantly, since these new flats are located in sough-after locations, healthy price appreciation can be expected. Future advantages, be it monetary gains from selling the unit, or simply keeping the flat for posterity should bring a smile to the residents!
Certain limitations, however are imposed across the board on these new HDB flat owners. Much like any other BTO (Built-To-Order) units, a mandatory 5-year MOP (Minimum Occupancy Period) is required before a unit can be put up for sale. Another drawback is the construction timeline of 2 to 3 years being added to the MOP before residents are allowed to purchase a private property, be it a new condo launch or a resale unit from the secondary market. As such, some of them would have decided to decline the SERS offering and sell their unit in the open market or to the HDB. This way, they are free to purchase anything in the property market, be it BTO unit, a resale HDB, a new Singapore condo, a resale condo, or anything that the pocket permits!
Suffice to say that from a macro perspective, SERS is an ingenious approach by the government to maximize land usage, besides creating an excellent opportunity to improve the standard of HDB dwelling. 21 years after its introduction, there have been 80 SERS sites announced, with 65 completed thus far. The government deserves a bouquet for this initiation!