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Do the Dead Affect HDB Prices? Nope

Farhan
Farhan

Are HDB prices affected by cemeteries and columbariums

Recently, the furore kicked up by future residents of Fernvale Lea over the presence of a columbarium near their flats made headline news. But, will their HDB prices be affected?

It’s quite telling that the issue uppermost in the minds of the future Fernvale Lea residents is not about possible supernatural occurrences, but whether the presence of the columbarium will be detrimental to the resale value of their HDB flat. One angry resident, in particular, asked whether he could get a refund on his purchase.

This is not the first time that the residents of an estate became upset over the construction of a building dedicated to the dead.

Eight years ago, Thomson residents expressed their frustrations to the then-Transport Minister Raymond Lim about yet another funeral parlour being built in Sin Ming. The folks living in the area wanted to know whether this would cause their HDB prices to plummet and “whether the government would compensate them for the drop in property prices”. Today, Sin Ming is one of the hottest residential areas in Singapore, as you’ll discover in our figures below – the estate was even the backdrop for one of the most expensive HDB resale transactions in history when, in 2010, an Indian Singaporean couple forked out close to a million dollars for a Bishan maisonette located on the 24th floor. The S$900,000 flat is a stone’s throw away from Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, which houses a crematorium and a columbarium.

We’ve combed through the HDB resale transactions in the past decade and connected the dots to come to a conclusion.

READ: The Financial Guide to Buying Your First HDB Flat

The Crematorium and Columbarium at Bright Hill

Nestled in the middle of a cluster of terrace houses, HDB blocks, and industrial businesses is the iconic Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, a massive religious building that houses a Buddhist library, a crematorium, and a columbarium among other things. A few hundred metres away, along Sin Ming Avenue and Bright Hill Drive, you can find about a dozen HDB blocks, all of which commenced their leases in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Below are a few notable resale transactions that occurred at Bright Hill Drive in the past three years.

Transaction Date Block & Room Type Floor Range Lease Commencement Date Resale Price of Flat
Apr 2012 Blk 447 5-room 04- to 06-storey 1990 S$560,000
Apr 2013 Blk 446 5-room 01- to 03-storey 1990 S$628,000
Sep 2013 Blk 447 5-room 07- to 09-storey 1990 S$705,000
Oct 2014 Blk 446 4-room 01- to 03-storey 1990 S$480,000
Oct 2014 Blk 447 5-room 01- to 03-storey 1990 S$635,000

The flats at Bright Hill Drive are a few kilometres away from the Marymount MRT station and Raffles Institution.

For comparison, we’ve looked at the resale transactions for flats at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1. These flats are much further away from the columbarium in question and are located a few kilometres away from Ang Mo Kio MRT as well as a few good schools such as Anderson JC.

Transaction Date Block & Room Type Floor Range Lease Commencement Date Resale Price of Flat
Jan 2013 Blk 305 5-room 01- to 03-storey 1977 S$630,000
Sep 2013 Blk 305 5-room 01- to 03-storey 1977 S$605,000
Feb 2014 Blk 222 5-room 07- to 09-storey 1993 S$607,000
Mar 2014 Blk 222 4-room 07- to 09-storey 1993 S$478,000

As you can tell, there is barely any significant difference in the resale price of a flat near the columbarium compared to one that’s much further away. In fact, a couple of the Bright Hill Drive flats even managed to fetch a higher price than the ones at Ang Mo Kio. However, across the board, the prices hovered in the range you see above.

An article in The New Paper tabloid mentioned that the Singapore Real Estate Exchange analysed prices and noted that “there could be a negative impact on prices if they are located less than 250 metres away”. Notice the use of the word “could”.

We began wondering whether there was any columbarium, crematorium or cemetery located right smack in the middle of an estate. Turns out that there is.

The Cemetery near Holland Village

In the middle of the Commonwealth heartlands and walking distance away from two train stations – Commonwealth and Holland Villages – lies the ancestral temple Ying Fo Fui Kun. What makes the place a tad unnerving (and also what makes it an attraction for the curious and the steel-hearted) are the tens of rows of memorial stones, under which you can find urns containing the remains of the dead.

 At Holland Close, HDB prices are not affected by the cemetery nearby

You can read more about the place from this wonderfully-written piece by the folks at local-centric site POSKOD.SG (which is where the picture above is from).

As for Block 32, which is located literally right beside the graveyard, we perused the numbers to see whether there was any correlation between a flat’s resale price and its proximity to the dead.

Transaction Date Block & Room Type Floor Range Lease Commencement Date Resale Price of Flat
Mar 2012 Blk 32 3-room 06- to 10-storey 1974 S$378,000
Dec 2013 Blk 32 3-room 01- to 03-storey 1974 S$380,000
May 2014 Blk 32 3-room 04- to 06-storey 1974 S$395,000

A bit further away is blocks 7 and 7A. Fortunately, the residents there have their views of the graveyard slightly obscured by a multi-storey carpark (similar to the folks at Fernvale Lea) but we decided to put the figures into the article anyway for posterity.

Transaction Date Block & Room Type Floor Range Lease Commencement Date Resale Price of Flat
Apr 2012 Blk 7 4-room 11- to 15-storey 1996 S$670,000
Aug 2012 Blk 7A 5-room 01- to 03-storey 1996 S$770,000
Dec 2013 Blk 7 5-room 16- to 18-storey 1996 S$770,000
Oct 2014 Blk 7A 4-room 04- to 06-storey 1996 S$620,000
Nov 2014 Blk 7 4-room 10- to 12-storey 1996 S$700,000

For comparison purposes, we went further down the road towards Commonwealth and Queenstown MRT, specifically the block of flats at Commonwealth Drive, Tanglin Halt Road, Stirling Road, and Strathmore Avenue with comparable lease commencement dates. Here are the resale prices of the past few years.

Transaction Date Block & Room Type Floor Range Lease Commencement Date Resale Price of Flat
Sep 2012 Blk 59 3-room 01- to 03-storey 1971 S$320,000
May 2013 Blk 59 3-room 10- to 12-storey 1971 S$370,000
Jan 2014 Blk 55 3-room 04- to 06-storey 1970 S$340,000
Transaction Date Block & Room Type Floor Range Lease Commencement Date Resale Price of Flat
Sep 2012 Blk 91 4-room 07- to 09-storey 2008 S$730,000
Feb 2013 Blk 184 4-room 16- to 18-storey 2000 S$641,000
Nov 2013 Blk 182 4-room 01- to 03-storey 2000 S$635,000
Nov 2014 Blk 55 5-room 10- to 12-storey 2002 S$725,000

As you can tell, there are no significant price differences between a flat that’s literally right beside a cemetery and one nowhere close to said cemetery, with all other factors more or less constant – distance to MRT and other amenities.

A Sanctuary for the Dead

HDB prices are not affected by the dead

We thought that the somewhat central locations of the two areas might have influenced flat buyers to shut one eye when it came to the proximity of the cemetery, so we went into the depths of the Tai Seng industrial estate. Near to the rows of carpenters and other industrial businesses is Joo Seng Road where the windows of a few flats directly oversee the columbarium and crematorium at Mount Vernon Sanctuary.

Transaction Date Block & Room Type Floor Range Lease Commencement Date Resale Price of Flat
July 2014 Blk 17 4-room 13- to 15-storey 1983 S$425,000
July 2014 Blk 18 4-room 10- to 12-storey 1984 s$480,000

We compared the flats at Joo Seng Road with the ones at Potong Pasir, further away but with somewhat the same amenities around the area and a similar distance away from an MRT station.

Transaction Date Block & Room Type Floor Range Lease Commencement Date Resale Price of Flat
Feb 2014 Blk 120 4-room 07- to 09-storey 1984 S$397,000
July 2014 Blk 115 4-room 13- to 15-storey 1984 S$440,000
Nov 2014 Blk 122 4-room 01- to 03-storey 1984 S$345,000

Once again, we didn’t find any significant differences in the flats’ resale prices.

Former Resting Places Turned Economic Hubs

Many bustling hubs in Singapore such as Orchard Road and Bishan used to be cemeteries, only for the graves to be exhumed and the land taken back by the government for development. Yet, despite this history, many of these areas are now some of the most coveted real estate in the country, not only for residential but business purposes as well.

For many of us, the HDB flat is all about location, location, location. In a small country such as Singapore, where land is at a premium, it’s somewhat inevitable that the dead and the living have to jostle for elbow space. It’s an inconvenient truth but it’s something that we probably have come to expect and made peace with, as you can tell from the HDB prices. So, residents of Fernvale Lea, there’s really nothing to be worried about when it comes to the resale value of your flat.

Unless you have the third eye, of course.

Farhan
Farhan
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2 thoughts on “Do the Dead Affect HDB Prices? Nope”

  1. Hi Jeremy Lee Chuen Yang,

    Thank you for the link. When doing research for this article, I actually did look through that particular piece from SRX Property. Initially, I also agreed with their assessment. However, upon closer inspection of their numbers, I realised that the relationship between the distance of the columbarium to the flat and the resale price might have been due to other extenuating factors.

    For example, in the link, if you take a look at the HDB Median Resale PF for the Yishun Columbarium, transactions less than 250 metres away are more pricey than those between 1 and 2 kilometres away. That puzzled me, especially since all other factors remained more or less similar. That's why I decided to find a resting place the dead that is literally right beside a HDB flat, hence the inclusion of Holland Close as you can see in the article, and also included lease commencement dates and floor range into my analysis.

    Reply

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