Our Casa Clementi flat was ready for keys collection early March, but we've postponed it to as late as possible - mid-April (this week), mainly because we can hardly afford the downpayment. Everything happened so quickly. I reckon we didn't expect to get a flat this quickly. Having only worked for about 4 years in total (both of us), we have insufficient CPF even for the first 10% downpayment. Our cash payment to HDB is going to exceed 20k, emptying our savings. It's a stressful period, yet all we can do it take a step at a time.
HDB is surprisingly very efficient. We joined the September Sale of Balance Flats exercise and got our results in October. Our selection date was in mid-January, and 7 weeks after, we got our HLE and appointment to collect keys/sign lease. It took HDB only 7 weeks after selection to give us the keys! The whole process took us 5 months, and people who are applying for SOBF must be prepared for the cash outlay or producing the marriage certificate really soon!
Although we've got our flat and are out of the race for the March BTO, I still feel really excited looking at the launch. There are so many great areas which I would love to stay at. Having said that, the prices are getting ridiculously expensive.
Why is it that prices seem to keep going up every launch?
There's ONE more Casa Clementi 4-room unit put up on SOBF this March. It's at Block 425, #05-289 and it's going at $501,000 for 100sqm. The September's SOBF offered #04-289 at $464,300 and #06-289 at $473,500. The price obviously went up this launch and comes to $465psf. This was high-floor prices the last launch in the same project. Average 5th floor units cost $443psf the last launch, and that's a 5% increase in price within a 6-month period!
Since we have just got our Clementi flat, I am obviously more interested in looking at Clementi Ridges and comparing it to Casa Clementi.
Location wise, Clementi Ridges win hands-down. It's a 5 minutes walk to the train station and malls. It's also within 1km of the branded Nan Hua Primary School and right beside Trevilis, the Clementi DBSS. However, I do not mind Casa Clementi's location either. It's a 10 minutes walk to the train station and 5 minutes walk to the NTUC and town centre. It's about 800m, 2 bus-stops away and some may find it too far, but I'm used to walking 10 minutes to the train station and prefer walking to squeezing on buses. Moreover, Casa Clementi is near to NUS High, NUS, Singapore Poly, Nan Hua Secondary School and the SDTU - I've already seen tenants looking to rent flats in Casa Clementi. Rental demand will be high given the proximity to so many schools. I also like it that the estate has its own supermarket and food centre. The stadium and swimming pool is only across the road too. The walk home passes through the town centre, which means that I have many chances to do my grocery shopping or buying food back on the way home. It'll take a detour to go to the town centre for Clementi Ridges, since it is on the other side of the train track. Distance to amenities such as banks and post offices or the wet market is comparable for both projects. The only difference is the distance to train station actually. (Yes, I'm biased, I spent half a million, of course I am).
Size wise, Casa Clementi wins hands down! The 4-room flat we chose had a floor area of 100sqm which is pretty big for today's BTO standard. Clementi Ridges have 4-room flats of 93sqm and 5-room flats of 113sqm. I've visited many DBSS flats with areas ranging from 83sqm to 90sqm and found it really tiny. 100sqm without balconies would logically be noticeably bigger than the 90sqm with balconies I suppose. Clementi Ridges is the norm for today's BTOs but it's still really small!
Price wise, I would say Casa Clementi is a better bargain. In the September SOBF, the average price was $459psf. This is in comparison to Clementi Ridge's $504psf, which makes Clementi Ridge about 10% more pricey psf. I'm not sure if the relative proximity to the train station is worth this premium, considering that the distance to town centre for both is similar. Moreover, Clementi Ridge will only be ready in 4 years' time and you'll have to start paying the downpayment and forgo interest income for 4 years! That would cost 3.6% p.a. given CPF's interest rates now (assuming that the downpayment is paid by CPF). If like me, you've insufficient CPF for downpayment, this will be more painful.
Can someone tell me how a installment to income ratio that exceeds 30% be 'affordable'? There are the bills like handphone, internet, electricity, allowances to parents, whatever licensing fees and miscellaneous HDB fees. And when the kids come into the picture, there’s the maid and car and education and tuition. I shudder when I think about these. How are you supposed to maintain marriages and want kids when you are under so much stress in your everyday life? What about retirement? These are all assuming that your income will not drop for the next 30 years and both of us have to work!
The only silver lining is to hope that housing prices continue to increase and we can make some money when we eventually sell the house. That should probably be enough for retirement if we downgrade.
Looking at resale prices in Clementi now, there is a good chance that people who got Clementi flats at 500k would make a decent profit of 200k. But that is after 30 years of hard slog and stress.
My excitement and enthusiasm has waned after the reality of dollar and cents set in. It's difficult to be too excited when you're penniless and do not have enough for renovation nor furniture. It's like all the dreams of our ideal home is not going to materialize. But I suppose, we will make do with whatever we have. Afterall, we have been very lucky that things turned out really positive for us.
Whatever it is, I'm getting slightly excited about collecting our keys and living in the neighborhood soon. I can imagine myself in a very functional but small kitchen cooking and baking, getting up early to get fresh food from the market, doing grocery shopping and trying out new recipes, jogging regularly in the stadium opposite and eating hawker food at the food centre nearby.
Despite the high prices of Clementi Ridges, I'm sure it's going to be a tough fight to get a unit. Reviews are saying that getting a unit is like winning TOTO! Good luck and I share the excitement!
Anyway, here is a summary of March's BTO prices. Clementi is ridiculously expensive and have breached the 500psf price. It wasn't too long ago that you could get a suburban condominium for around that price.
And here's the average rental yield from Q2 2009. Rents seem to have risen like prices have.
P.S. Data from HDB. Use at your own risk.
Did I mention that I'm really excited about collecting our keys this Friday? *wee. All I see in my mind now is my future home, Scandinavian styled warm wood flooring with bright white kitchen.
We have met up with a few interior designers, and it hasn't been such a great experience. I reckon the Scandinavian style has not caught up with most of the interior designers here. The featured ones in magazines can produce the look and feel I want, at a price tag of easily $80k. Quotations I have gotten is an estimated $40-$50k, excluding electrical and plumbing works, nor the stoves, hood, toilet bowls and sinks and rain showers. Did you know that a rain shower can easily cost $1k?! I'm gonna blog about my experience with interior designers soon.
Did I mention that I'm really excited?