The Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said yesterday (Sep 10) that a new HDB portal will be introduced to streamline and simplify the process of buying and selling HDB flats.
The HDB automated the resale transaction process last year. After automation, HDB has been able to halve the total transaction processing time from 16 to 8 weeks. Mr Wong said, “many resale transactions have benefited from this because we have shortened the transaction process.”
“HDB has been studying how we can further improve the process, and make buying and selling HDB flats more convenient and more seamless. Today, there is no single, one-stop platform for buyers and sellers to transact HDB flats. The entire process can be quite time-consuming. So we intend to introduce a new HDB portal.”
The new HDB portal will feature a flat listing service where buyers can look at the range of flats available – be it new of resale flats – and compare their options holistically.
With the new HDB portal. buyers will be able to find information about current and upcoming new flats, be it the BTO flats or balance flats, and also options for flats in the resale market. And then they can make detailed comparisons among your shortlisted options, see which flats are within their budget, and look at which ones have leases that can cover them for life. The Minister said, “then you can make more informed decisions on your home purchases, all on one single platform.”
The new HDB portal will also make the sales process more convenient. It will allow sellers to list and advertise their flats online and they can then continue to complete the resale application seamlessly on the same platform.
The Minister added, “with this one-stop portal, we can add many value-added features for the convenience of both buyers and sellers. We can have financial calculators with customised information for every individual. For example, we can enable buyers to estimate their housing budget, and sellers to estimate their sales proceeds.”
All this is work in progress, and HDB intends to get the new portal ready by the end of next year. HDB will be engaging industry players and stakeholders, to share more details of this work and to see how we can work together on this project.
Mr Wong said that he believes the new HDB portal can complement existing property portals and the work of property agents to make real estate transactions more convenient and efficient.
“For example, property agents can use the new HDB portal to list flats on behalf of their clients. This can then free up their time to focus on other value-added services for their clients. HDB will also share common APIs – these are the Application Programming Interface – with industry players. So industries can use these to enhance the information and offerings available on their own portals. All these will help towards transforming the real estate sector and providing better services for Singaporeans.”
Property analysts predicted that the advent of property technology could have a significant effect in the property industry. Mr Ku Swee Yong, CEO of International Property Advisor, in writing for Storm Asia in June last year, said, “it is estimated that technology could result in the loss of anywhere from $15 million to $30 million worth of legal fees and over $100 million worth of agency commissions annually. Not to mention job losses in the thousands among property agents.”
He predicted, “With over one million HDB flats and over three million occupiers in total (the new HDB portal) will be one of the largest property trading portals in the world.”
Currently, about 15,000 out of the 30,000 property agents are involved in HDB resale and HDB rentals. Mr Ku said that with technology making transacting public housing easier, “up to 10,000 agents’ jobs will be affected. Of these, 5,000 might leave the industry altogether. The other half will have to move to other segments such as industrial or commercial properties or expand into international property sales.”
In this new landscape, property agents “must upgrade or die,” said chief mortgage consultant of iCompareLoan.com, Mr Paul Ho. In order to cope as technology threatens to take over the industry, Mr Ho says that agents must adopt technology and automate their workflow or risk being replaced by automation or technical tools.
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