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Monday, 4 April 2016

Got lucky again! I got my HDB SERS Penthouse replacement!

OK, its not a penthouse, I exaggerated. Pardon my happiness. 

It's a HDB BTO top floor corner unit that's my first choice! Wink.

First sign I noticed Lady Luck was blowing my way was my ballot queue number - it's around the 1/3 quartile? Not the best; but at least not the bottom of the queue like some of my neighbours...

Second luck factor was that most of the current HDB flat owners are in their 70s or 80s. Those ahead of me were definitely not out to take full advantage of their better ballot queue numbers like in regular BTOs. Older folks don't like high floors. 

Kudos to HDB as the flat selection process was very transparent. There's a website where we can see the units being "booked" by those ahead me. I watched with incredulity and a sigh of huge relief as many were selecting the mid and lower floor units!?

Without the above luck, all the factors I can "control" and somewhat "influence" below will be for naught.

1.  I spent 6 years of my primary school in that area so I knew the 5 SERS replacement sites extremely well. That's the advantage of property over equities. Can see, and touch, and smell!

2.  I knew the meaning of 闹中取静 - seek sanctum of quiet in a busy marketplace. My first choice site was not the top 2 most popular sites in this SERS exercise.

For eg, I want to be situated near a MRT station; not next to one. 

3.  I got do independent research. Many were getting their info at the coffee shops or at the lift landings. You know, similar to stock "investing" - like what stocks to buy, what you bought recently, got tips or not?

It's not surprising if an opinion leader says she will chose site X, most of her kakis will follow. It's fun to eavesdrop to their conversations.

When you buying your property, how many of you took a look at:

4.  What would happen had I taken the stance that the place we are living in is not an "investment". Or 99 year lease is not "ownership".

Why bother on improving our craftsmanship on something we don't care about?

It helps to have the "correct" mindset from the beginning.

5.  What luck? I like the smell of sunshine on my laundry!

There are only 4 flats on a straight horizontal row on the top floor. They are all North-South facing.

However, the laundry yards are either facing East or West.

The unit I am eyeing is the corner unit with laundry yard facing the West setting sun - that's the arrangement of my current Tanglin Halt flat. Nothing beats first hand experience!

The corner unit with laundry yard facing the East was snapped up pretty early. It's facing another nearby block so I am guessing the owner wants to avoid the West setting sun. Lucky me!

My selection was 2:30 pm and on the morning; I got a mild heart attack when I checked at the HDB website at 12:30 pm - someone booked a unit on the top floor!

Lucky me again!!! This owner chose the 2nd unit with laundry yard facing the 3rd unit on the top floor!?

Hate the sun until don't mind others looking into your yard? OK, on the top floor not so bad. But for the lower units, this arrangement creates an air well that will never see the light of day unless the sun is directly overhead. Some of you may have experienced this effect in the newer BTO flats where its noon and the kitchen is so dark you need to switch on the lights?

Hey! I'm not complaining! I'm the first person in the queue after the lunch and I quickly made my selection. Top corner North-South facing unit with laundry yard facing the West setting sun. Ho say!

I tell you. Lucky as lucky does!

This post is a follow-up to my previous post:

My vision for SERS came true!


  1. Now you also HDB expert.

    But honestly, many good points you have I also agree with. This - For eg, I want to be situated near a MRT station; not next to one.

    URA is the secret manual many neglect. A mini-mall is finally popping up a few minutes from my flat. Woohoo.

    I don't care too much abt the sun. I use a dryer, so..

    High-flr is really important. New HDBs are packed so close together. My 15-flr unit is super bright in the day. A low unit can be really dark.

    Anyway, congratulations!

    1. Kevin,


      I'm not a HDB expert; but I did from a trader perspective.

      In retail, we have a mantra:

      A merchandise well bought is a merchandise well sold ;)

      P.S. My emoticon at your post was a compliment.

    2. Hi Jared, :)

      Nowadays lego-block HDB build very fast, but even after the building is done standing there, you wonder what is the administrative stuff holding back the release of keys.

      The flip-side of speedier construction is cracks for sure. Every room in my house, from floor to ceiling, has a continuous, enormous crack. Even in bathroom wall-tiles there are cracks. Tsk.

      Probably after a couple of yrs, if you find such things an eyesore then it's another round of plaster/paint.

    3. Kevin,

      It's subsidised public housing after all...

      Those pre-HDB Tiong Bahru walk-up apartments' walls are solid like hell. But no lifts :(

      Older HDBs suffer from spalling concrete and ceiling leaks; but they are in demand now due to bigger sizes. For eg, the 3 room "I" version's kitchens are bigger than today's BTO 5 rooms!

      Now the new BTOs bedrooms and kitchens are like WTF... I can't complain as I've seen HK and Tokyo's apartments :(

      Nothing lasts forever. We just have to follow the shopping centres and do "makeovers" every 10 years for our HDB flats if we want everything to be "perfect"?

      Once upon a time I used to mind a wrinkle and an acne.


      I see "imperfections" as part of being unique ;)

  2. Sorry to burst your bubbles, but Top floor + corner flat would always be "heated"
    there will be areas in your house that face the afternoon sun and the walls of such areas will be hot. Such heat will last till the night.

    The walls are also the most subject to wear and tear, i.e. you have more walls facing the elements compared to your neighbor. Cracks would appear down the road eventually.

    This is from someone who had lived in a corner top floor for many years. :)

    That's the downside. Apart from that, no dripping wet clothes from an inconsiderate neighbor, which is good.

    1. theuser,

      No worries! I glad there are people who can choose top floor units but declined. In normal BTOs, I don't think I can get the top floor units with my queue number...

      I'm currently living 2 floors down from the top floor with my bedroom wall facing the West setting sun.

      Before, I were staying at my parent's place on the 2nd level.

      1) The higher the floor, the more windy ;)

      2) On a hot day, it feels warm. On a cool day, it feels cool. The level of the unit has less of an impact.

      It's the ORIENTATION of the flat that's more important. My silbing had a East-West facing unit, now that's warm... But its easily fixed with blinds and aircon ;)

      Oh! Did I mention my unit is North-South facing?

      3) No cracks after 10 years of replastering the walls after I bought this very old 1971 resale unit.

      Of course cracks will happen one day - its called normal wear and tear. Nothing some replastering can't fix ;)

      Unless I want to create the distress, worn out, retro, industrial look; then cracks are very much welcomed!

      4) There must be a reason why the most expensive unit in a condo is the penthouse unit ;)

      How about landed units? They may be "low" but surely there must be a "top" floor right? Hot? Cracks? Spalling concrete? Ceiling leaks?

      Make a wild guess how many of those record breaking HDB flats sold on the resale market were top floor units?

      5) Top floor of HDB flats built before 1998 and after 1998 are not the same ;)

      I am making a guess your unit was built BEFORE 1998?

      Like I've said, I got do independent research. It's not just reading and listening to opinions; I got go kick the typres ;)


    2. Hello, yes it's actually my parents unit. The cracking walls I was referring to was exterior walls of the building. Not interior.

      Hence no amount of interior touch up will help as the exterior is the one where it has the cracks.

      North south facing or not, top floor always gets more sun as the sun shines on the ceiling. So the urban rumour is to choose 2nd highest floor.

      For pre cast homes, hard to say whether they are more durable as the old ones as they aren't really that old yet.

      All flats will have their pros n cons, just need to cherish the pros and live with the cons. :)

    3. theuser,

      You'll make a good RC member!

      Cracks outside you care :)

      I would love to have neighbours like you. Lifts not working, corridor lights broken, place dirty, you'll call town council on our behalf ;)

      As for HDB flats built after 1998, they do not require the water proofing membrane any longer due to new technology used.

      And this new technology includes heat buffering ;)

      P.S. It will be interesting to see what you would do when it comes to your own BTO. Will you forgo the top floor and choose the one floor lower?

  3. Hi SMOL,

    Wah, looks like you got lucky :) I would also choose the top floor if I can help it. I lived in one and know how it feels :) I know the feeling you get cos the place I was living (with my parents) kena SERS too. Same thing, nobody wants the top floor, so we take loh, hahaha! SERS too many times can heart attack, really

    1. LP,

      I tell you. When browsing the housing forums, there are strange urban myths being spread that buying one floor below the top floor makes better sense!?

      HDB has cotton on to it and now priced the top 2 floor units at the same price for my block.

      Talk about reverse psychology! LOL!

      Now I can enjoy the same views you were sharing in your Facebook ;)

      You are right. I am not greedy. I got my Singles grant and now this SERS grant - 2 bites of the cherry already.

      If one day I ran out of money, I can do a sell and lease back or downdrade to HDB 2 room; and still get a 3rd bite of the cherry with the $20K grant from big daddy!?

      A bit of luck, a little bit of creativity, plus a little shoe leather ;)

      Now waiting for luck to smile on me for my Toto.

      Wait. I'm greedy afterall!

  4. Congratulation!

    I feel you because I am a proud owner of a top floor corner BTO flat owner too. However, mine is quite beside the MRT but not affected by the visual and the noise. This is actually my top choice because my queue no. is about 21. lucky that the first 20 missed the gem. haha.

    This is how you just earned yourself a pot of gold for retirement. Luck matters a lot on finance too.

    1. Frugal Daddy,


      You got a great queue number! Mine was 251.

      Even so, I can imagine your nail-biting moments hoping the other 20 people ahead of you can't see what you see ;)

      Yup, this is another pot of silver added.

      I guess I'll count it as property silver?

      Nice addition to my career and investing pots of silver ;)

      Now waiting for my Toto pot of silver to drop on my lap... Waiting for 30 years liao. How's that for long term punting?

      "Wait long will have"?


  5. Congrats !! SMOL!

    Housewarming? Lol?

    1. Sillyinvestor,

      Work has started on the replacement SERS sites. The site I've selected is due for delivery Sept 2021!?

      5.5 years from now!? Still early days!

      I guess everyone now smart. Under promise over deliver? (Can't be it takes 5 years to build a HDB BTO)

      Singaporeans nowadays very short fuse. A bit of delay KPKB.

      I now have converted to the Eagles' "Take it easy", and Thailand's "Sabai Sabai" mindset.

      It's all good!

  6. Hi SMOL,

    Congrats! Yes now for the Toto pot of silver!

  7. Hey Jared,

    Congrats! SERs is always good. I think HDB is a gift from our govt to Singaporeans really.

    Like u, I am particular about the N-S facing which both my current and previous flats are. Both also at top floors. One highest and now second highest.

    Any similarity is I also like to be near train station but not too near.

    Congrats once again for ur penthouse! Sounds like some kind of "magazine"?

    1. Thanks Rolf!

      That makes 4 of us staying at the top floors :)

      I guess we are able to transfer our stock picking skills to picking choice units in our high rise honeycombs :)

      Yup, that's the downside of staying with mommy dearest...

      Can't bring penthouse pets home :(

      Thank goodness I did my wine, woman, and song bit in Shanghai :)

      Got it out of my system. Now just waiting for true love to hit me with a sledgehammer!


  8. 南北不是西北,heng ah! :P

    Congrats, SMOL! Not sure if u have checked your gua number. Hope it's the heng heng facing for u! :D

    1. Endrene,


      LOL! I'm not into those extreme Fengshui stuffs.

      I do use common sense "Fengshui" though.

      The living room and bedrooms are facing the Dempsey area - a sea of green "maciam" overlooking Central Park, New York ;)

      Looking at the URA Masterplan 2014, I don't think they will develop that area for the next 10-15 years. Even so, the plot ratio opposite my block meant my flat will tower over them even if they were to build a condo opposite ;)

      Heng heng is right! I'm glad the majority didn't do their shoe-leather research!

  9. I got a top floor corner BTO too.

    1. E H,

      Cool! That makes 5 of us now and counting!

      What are the odds?

      All of us are bloggers too ;)

    2. It's very much dependent on luck if you ask me. Get a good ballot num and you got all the choices available. Get a lousy draw, good luck.

      My take on enhancing chances at BTO for young couples: http://callingthetop.blogspot.sg/2015/11/how-can-young-couple-get-unit-at.html?m=1

    3. E H,

      Of course luck is the no.1 ingredient!

      That's why I am pinching myself - queue 251 still can get top floor!? LOL!

      The other alternative will be to wait 5 years and pay top dollars for the top floor units in the resale market :(

      Sometimes got money also cannot buy...

      The occupants don't want to sell...


  10. Looking at the way BTOs are built these days, the heat, wind and light exposure can really vary very much between high floors and the low floors.
    I guess I am the odd ball blogger staying at low unit (till I can get lucky with my own flat). Little sunlight, negligible wind and perpetually cool... can grow mould liao.

  11. Thanks for sharing on your SERS part II and congratz! :)

    1. Rainbow lady,


      Have fun when its your time to get a place of your own ;)

      Don't follow the crowd; follow your heart.

      There are those who prefer to live close to the ground - they aspire to join the landed class ;)

      And if extrapolate into the future with population growth, our grandchildren may have the option to live in apartments underground!

      No need air-con as it will be cool all year. And no sun whatso ever for those who hate sunshine beaming into their windows!

  12. Hi SMOL,

    Think I'd found my new future neighbour now.

    Yes, SERS and selected site C instead the two popular sites which are just next to the mrt station.

    Like you, we prefer a 闹中取静 place. A big NO for next to a noisy marketing/shopping area aka site A (okay, admit will be easy to do marketing and shopping...but I do believe a short distance walk will be healthy too if you are growing old). A big no-no to a children playground...work-up area still acceptable for us.

    Next, we don't like to be surrounded by the HDB flats so site D - passed. Site E next to a main cross road with heavy traffic...it'll be dirty and noisy too so dropped again. So after all these considerations, went down with my girlfriend to the site visit. *(2 of my single girl buddies, we staying in the same neighbourhood just few blocks away of each other)

    So after some meet-up discussions, they selected site B units in different blocks while I took the site C. And yes, I got my 1st choice - a top floor 3rm corner unit with laundry area facing the east (Blk x4)

    Hello neighbour, nice to meet you:)

    1. Pomme K,

      Hey! Congrats future neighbour! You got the top floor corner unit too!!!

      Our service yards face each other diagonally.

      You can wave down at me since your block is 3 floors higher than mine ;)

      Our place got 24 hours NTUC supermarket and upstairs NTUC got Kopitiam food court.

      Nearby the new Skyxxxxx BTO opposite got coffee shop and mini Sheng Siong downstairs. What more to ask?

      The 10 minutes stroll to MRT can count towards our daily 10,000 steps regime? LOL!

      Orchard Road super near and can be our backyard shopping area if we feel like some downtown excursions ;)

      P.S. You know what to do with your 2 single girl buddies... Wink.


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