Friday, March 16, 2012

SERS - Tweaks or Not, Not Exactly One-for-One Swap

Constants in life - tax, death, change and can't please everybody. HDB unveiled what is supposed to be goodies for people affected by SERS. SERS basically means the government kicking you out of your old bigger home usually in a CCR or OCR, and then moving you to a nice new smaller home away, sometimes across the street, sometimes much further away. Not everybody likes that trade-off although SERS is more attractive now with the new rulings.

Now, those who are SERSed have more options in the flats they can pick. Previously they were just stuck with what HDB pointed them to. So for those staying at the HDB blocks at Rochor Centre, who were not exactly SERSed but treated in the same way as they were evicted for the North-South Expressway, can decline the Kallang flats.  They can instead choose and have a priority at a BTO or under a SBF. Sounds great!

There is a caveat to the priority though - 5% of  any BTO and SBF supply is for those on the priority list - WHICH IS COCK. HDB evicted someone, so out of goodwill by HDB if it had manners, that someone should pick wherever-whatever he wants and have a priority regardless of that silly 5% rule.

Still, big smile everyone for the SERS tweaks! Hey, why isn't the old uncle at the back not smiling? You know no need pay stamp duty when you get your replacement flat right? That's because the old uncle doesn't want to move. He has lived in block 69 in that D1-D8 HDB flat with that squat toilet and zinc toilet doors with a hook latch inside since when SBS buses had conductors punching tickets, and is happy where he is. He does not want to move out to live in a smaller unit, regardless if it is new. And he is afraid that once he moved out to another estate, the ghost of his dead wife cannot find him at his new home and keep him company anymore. Really? Really.

Alas, money can't solve everything but it can make difficult decisions easier. The main shaky foundation over the popularity of SERS despite the tweaking is the max $30,000 or 20% discount off the replacement flat. While the cost of HDB flats has soared since, this cap has not changed since SERS started in 1995!

BTW why isn't Khaw blogging about these changes to SERS? WTF

New changes 'more favourable' for SERS residents
by Esther Ng 04:45 AM Mar 15, 2012

SINGAPORE - Residents who have to relocate under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) will enjoy priority allocation for coming public flat sale exercises. They can also defer the entire resale levy till they sell their flat, or have it capped at S$30,000 with the remainder waived.

These were among the tweaks to the 17-year-old scheme - announced by the Housing and Development Board - to make it "more favourable" for affected residents.

According to the HDB, eligible SERS lessees will be given priority in a Build-to-Order or Sale of Balance Flat exercise launched from this month onwards, instead of being saddled with a flat at a pre-selected location.

SERS lessees may apply under the Resettlement/Relocation/Tenants' Priority Scheme in the application for BTO and SBF flats, where 5 per cent of flat supply from each exercise is set aside for priority applicants. "In the event that SERS applicants are not successful under the 5 per cent quota, they will still be included in a second round of computer ballot together with all other public applicants for the BTO/SBF flat supply," the HDB said.

"Previously, people had complained that the replacement flats were too far. This move gives residents more options," said property watcher Chris Koh.

PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail added: "Many of these SERS residents are seniors - their children have grown up and bought flats in towns farther away - so this measure allows them the chance to buy flats near their children and live nearer to them."

The HDB said it "regularly reviews its policies and processes to ensure they remain relevant and meet the needs of residents". The latest enhancements came after "taking into consideration feedback from our residents", it added.

Previously, SERS lessees who sold their first subsidised flat had to pay a resale levy for buying a second subsidised flat, or were liable to pay the resale levy for the SERS replacement flat.

Under the changes, they may defer the entire payment of the resale levy or premium without interest till they sell or transfer the replacement flat. Alternatively, they can choose to pay an amount capped at S$30,000 if they pay the levy or premium before they collect the keys to their replacement flat. The balance amount will be waived.

The HDB said it has also worked with the Central Provident Fund Board to relax guidelines on the use of refunded CPF money to purchase a replacement flat.

Those who are aged 55 and above will now be allowed to use a portion or all of the refunded CPF money in their Retirement Account to buy the replacement flat.

Last November, the Government announced that flats at Rochor Centre will make way for a new expressway. Apart from Rochor Centre residents, the new concessions will be extended to other SERS lessees whose grace period to apply for a flat has not expired yet.

These include residents from Blocks 321 to 323 Clementi Avenue 5; Blocks 1 to 3 East Coast Road; Blocks 1 to 3, 5 to 22 Redhill Close; and Blocks 167 to 172 Boon Lay Drive. HDB also announced it will grant a 10 per cent rental rebate to all shop tenants at Rochor Centre, in view of their petition and the coming tunnel boring works.

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