Before there was such a thing as BTO (Build-to-Order) flats, blocks of Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats were built before they were sold.
Sometime in the 1990s, there was a massive oversupply of flats in Woodlands and Yishun. In response to the oversupply, HDB combined many of the unsold units into jumbo flats, effectively halving the number of unsold flats. Jumbo flats can also be found in Jurong East.
WHAT ARE JUMBO FLATS?
Jumbo flats are rare – there are only 485 such units in Yishun and Woodlands combined.
These properties are made up of two units (typically three-room flats) that have been combined into one.
Ranging between 1,442 sq ft to more than 2,000 sq ft, Jumbo flats are huge by HDB standards, but not a lot of space is dedicated to bedrooms.
Instead, there is an abundance of common space because of the combination of two living/dining areas and a kitchen. That said, many Jumbo flat owners decide to partition the additional living area into an extra bedroom.
WHY WOULD YOU WANT A JUMBO FLAT?
For starters, they are huge. They also offer a range of advantages you won’t find in traditional HDB properties:
1. A compromise between getting more space, and having to buy a pricey condo
Yes, there are already five-room and executive HDB flats, but these sometimes don’t offer enough space for extended families, especially for three generations under one roof. A Jumbo flat would give flat owners 15 per cent to 30 per cent more floor area than an average five-room HDB flat.
If you were to look anywhere else for an apartment of such a size, the only choice would be a condominium, which is too big a step up in terms of per square foot price when you’re looking at 1,500 sq ft.
While a 2,066 sq ft Jumbo flat in Woodlands is listed for an average asking price of S$380 PSF, an equivalent leasehold condo in the cheapest Outside of Central Region can easily cost double or more.
So if space is your main concern, Jumbo flats present a viable alternative to going private. And as a bonus, these are HDB properties, so you can use an HDB loan rather than taking on a private bank loan (that means you can get up to 90 per cent financing).
2. Opportunity for an affordable family home
Jumbo HDB flats are answer to the prayers of big families. The whole kampung can now live under the same roof. Best of all, if you and your parents and/on in-laws share the cost of the Jumbo flat, the financial commitment for both parties will be fairly manageable. Every member of the household can have a space to call their own, a benefit usually enjoyed by those living in landed properties.
3. Themed homes, which are tough to do in most other HDB units
If you want a themed home, for example, French cottage, industrial, shabby chic, there’s only so much you can do within a regular HDB unit.
With Jumbo HDB flats, the sky’s the limit. With all that space at your disposal, you can pretty much have a different theme in the each living area.
4. Good rental income and potential returns
Jumbo flats aren’t just aesthetically pleasing, they provide a unique opportunity for rental play.
For instance, if your children eventually move out and vacate what’s essentially an entire standalone unit, you have the flexibility to market the HDB as a “whole-unit” rental by re-partitioning the area between the original units with a mandatory door adjoining the two units that can remain closed.
This arrangement enables you to net a stable rental income without having to move out or sacrifice privacy (when renting out individual rooms).
In addition, and much like the million-dollar maisonettes, the scarcity of Jumbo HDB flats lends them some resistance to downturns. If the seller’s agent markets the flat correctly and the flat itself is in good condition or tastefully renovated, there’s almost always a pool of interested buyers.
CAN YOU CREATE YOUR OWN JUMBO HDB FLAT?
Yes, you can. For resale flats, HDB has a Conversion Scheme whereby eligible buyers/owners can apply to join up two existing flats on either of these two conditions:
1. You currently own a three-room HDB flat (or smaller) and want to buy an adjoining three-room or smaller resale flat. The two title deeds will be merged and only one unit number will be retained.
2. You do not own a flat and are looking to by combining two adjoining units of three-room or smaller resale flats. The title deeds for the two flats will be merged and only one unit number will be retained.
In either instance, the two merged flats (ie, a converted flat) cannot be split up again into individual units. Single buyers, as well as joint singles, are not eligible for this scheme.
The buyers must also consist of at least one Singaporean Citizen aged 21 or above, and apply for the scheme together with either: Spouse and children (if any), parents and siblings (if any), children under you legal custody, care and control (if widowed and divorced).
This article first appeared on 99.co.