BTO 2020 February Launch: Canberra – A project worth balloting for?

On the 11th of February 2020, the Housing Development Board (HDB) announced its open ballot application for its first phase of Built-to-Order (BTO) projects for 2020, comprising of 2 main heartlands along the North-South (Red Line), namely Canberra and Toa Payoh. Making the top of headlines in the news, it was released that a total of over 3000 units were made available for booking by the public.

BTO launches are a hot topic amongst many young couples who are often First-Timer Applicants, given the affordability and flexibility of payment schemes that are more forgiving and budget-friendly for those who may be unable to afford the hefty fees involved when buying other housing options for the time being. Even full-time students who do not currently possess a stable income stream may apply for this scheme!

Canberra or Toa Payoh? For most applicants, this becomes a very real dilemma. While it is commonly perceived that Toa Payoh carries a higher value given its location as a mature estate, Canberra has also garnered increasing attention over the years. So in this article, we will debunk the myths surrounding the Canberra/Sembawang region and hopefully bring you our readers, greater clarity on one of Singapore’s newest up and coming housing cluster regions.

Source: HDB

First, let us understand where this BTO project is situated. Named the Canberra Vista, it is located just literally outside Canberra MRT (Singapore’s newest MRT station). It’s convenience is impeccable, being just 20 minutes on a straight route to the heart of the city via the North South Line! While Toa Payoh boasts of the town’s maturity, the accessibility of the BTO Project in Toa Payoh falls short.

Few homeowners who are familiar with the housing market give a second thought to projects launched in the Sembawang region, for it was assumed to be a “ghost town” that would have “no foreseeable developments”. But this is completely unfounded. The Urban Redevelopment Authorities (URA) has launched its plans for the Northern region of Singapore, with special attention being paid to Canberra. Set to be fully opened in 2021, Bukit Canberra is a noteworthy government initiative – an integrated development hosting public amenities such as swimming pools, hawker centres and an indoor sports complex. This will be similar to the existing Tampines Hub. For all the gym junkies out there, Bukit Canberra would be home to the largest ActiveSG gym, standing at 1500 square meters! No more fighting for space and equipment in public gyms. Bukit Canberra is truly a project to look forward to!

Source: HDB

For our readers living in the North, you would have heard about Singapore’s very own hot spring in Sembawang. For a while, the hot springs closed its doors to the public as it underwent a major reconstruction. After months of renovation and beautification, NParks Singapore has opened it to the public, now known as the Sembawang Hot Spring Park. Here, public residents can enter for free to engage in recreational activities. It is not just a regular walk in the park, you can even bring your own tray of eggs and cook them to the perfect soft-boiled texture using the naturally-heated water.

The Northern region is peppered with green pockets of parks and natural reservoirs such as neighbouring Sembawang Park, Woodlands Waterfront and more. All these parks are connected via Park Connectors which promote cycling and walking within parks within the urban space. For nature lovers who require that stroll in a park after a long’s day work, Canberra is the place to be. Given its identity as a new housing cluster with plenty of room for further development, Canberra is overall very peaceful and is the perfect environment for those who love quiet estates.

Of course, while we present all the beauties of Canberra, homeowners would naturally be concerned with the property value. Most homeowners would shift homes at least once in their lifetime, and for most owners of a BTO property, after the first 5 years mandatory Minimum Occupancy Period (MOP), they would sell off their property to cash in the appreciation of value.

For example, a 4 Room BTO is purchased at $300,000. After the MOP period and should the buyer sell, depending on the location and other factors, one could cash in a resale value of around $450-$500k. One would notice that the Average PSF of Canberra has seen a gradual and steady increase over the years. In 2018, it has even surpassed that of Yishun which possesses a lot more amenities. While it is also true that the Average PSF of Canberra is still an average of $200 lower than the rest of the other heartland areas, do not take heart. Remember that at the beginning of the article, we have already listed a few of the up and coming projects set to be completed? This would greatly boost the amenity availability and desirability of the estate.

Applying for a BTO is definitely a major milestone, one which requires planning and far-sighted forecasting. Hence, you should consider your needs, financial capability and long-term goals. Also, if you are hoping to increase your chances of getting a BTO and is indifferent to the locational difference, perhaps Canberra would be a better option with 1400 units up for ballot.

For those applying for this launch, we wish you the best of luck! For our other valued readers, we hope that you have learnt a thing or two about Canberra.

Clive Chng
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