The allure of HDB maisonettes and 3 reasons why they will remain popular despite cooling measures

There’s been an increased interest in HDB maisonettes lately, especially since the recent headline-grabbing million-dollar-flat transactions involve such a flat type. One example is this 30-plus-year-old maisonette in Bukit Timah.

But these HDB maisonettes that have breached the million-dollar mark aren’t just those in central locations.

This year, we’ve seen more million-dollar flats in less central locations, with 16 sold in the first nine months. Out of these flats, five are HDB maisonettes located in Tampines, Pasir Ris and Bukit Batok. Punggol also saw its first million-dollar HDB resale at S$1.198 million.

What are HDB maisonettes?

Unlike the typical HDB flats, HDB maisonettes are double-storey flats and come with high ceilings.

In general, their size can range from around 1,540 sq ft to 1,760 sq ft. A number of them are even as spacious as 2,140 sq ft!

First built in the 1980s, HDB eventually stopped building HDB maisonettes in 1995 when Executive Condos were introduced for the sandwiched class.

So they’re now among the rarest types of HDB flats, just like jumbo flats, and are only available on the resale market.

At the same time, HDB maisonettes have a newer counterpart in the form of HDB loft units, such as the million-dollar resale loft unit at Punggol.

The current record holder for the most expensive HDB resale flat is also a loft unit, located at SkyTerrace @ Dawson. It was sold for S$1.418 million.

Read this: What’s the difference between HDB loft units and executive maisonettes?


3 reasons why HDB maisonettes will remain popular, even with cooling measures

Limited supply

HDB maisonettes are among the largest HDB flats after jumbo flats. With units spanning from around 1,540 sq ft to 1,760 sq ft, they’re perfect for those looking for bigger space.

On the other hand, since maisonettes are no longer built, there’s a limited supply in the market.

And with new flats getting built and entering the resale market after Minimum Occupation Period (MOP), the proportion of resale flats that are maisonettes decreases. This makes them even more coveted as people demand bigger space these days.

What’s more, new flats built these days are not as spacious as maisonettes. The largest BTO flats include 5-room flats and 3Gen flats, with a floor area of around 1,216 sq ft to 1,290 sq ft.

Loft units are probably the biggest BTO flats, with the S$1.418 million Dawson flat spanning 1,313 sq ft. The first million-dollar resale loft unit in Punggol is even more spacious at 1,603 sq ft.

First million dollar flat at Punggol
Interior of the S$1.198 million HDB resale loft unit in Punggol. Image credit: Yuna Lim

At the same time, loft units are rare, with the last batches launched through BTO in 2009 with the SkyTerrace @ Dawson project.

Bigger space, at a cheaper price

Just like other types of HDB flats, HDB maisonettes are relatively affordable in terms of price psf.

For instance, the transacted price psf over the past one year (7 October 2021 to 7 October 2022) for these flats ranged from around S$450 psf to S$770 psf in central locations such as Bishan and Queenstown. For suburban areas such as Jurong and Tampines, the transacted price psf ranged from S$350 psf to S$630 psf.

In comparison, leasehold condos of comparable size and built around the same period (1980 to 1995) have transacted from around S$900 psf to S$1,300 psf over the past one year.

Of course, one main reason for the higher premium of condos is the availability of facilities. But for those who prioritise space above all else, the cheaper price psf of maisonettes can be a more compelling factor. owner listing maisonette
The spacious living room of an HDB maisonette in Bishan that was sold for S$1.18m.

This is why we’ve seen some buyers willing to pay top dollar for a unit. As much as some of us scoff at these buyers for shelling out so much for public housing, to these buyers, it makes sense to breach the S$1 million psychological barrier to secure it.

Even if the unit is located in the suburbs like Bukit Batok and Pasir Ris, proximity to the city centre may not matter as much as space.

It may also be due to the fact that the MRT network has improved connectivity around the island tremendously over the years, especially with Downtown Line and Thomson-East Coast Line. For instance, those living in Tampines can now rely on the Downtown Line as well, on top of the East-West Line.

However, with the 15-month wait imposed for private property owners (PPOs) and ex-PPOs in the latest round of cooling measures, we’ll probably see fewer million-dollar-flat transactions (at least in the short term). Some of these owners, who are more likely to be willing (and have the money) to pay such a high price for a flat, won’t be entering the HDB resale market anytime soon, unless they’re downgrading to a 4-room resale flat or smaller.

And with increasing interest rates and other borrowing restrictions, the housing loan people can take will be lower, reducing their budget. Instead of having a budget of S$900k for a maisonette, they may reduce it to S$850k.

Nevertheless, demand for HDB maisonettes will persist. This is especially because of the bigger size and rarity, and they’re a more affordable option compared to private properties.


Feel like landed property

Because of the double-storey layout, HDB maisonettes give off the landed property vibe, which owners can enjoy without paying for the price of private landed property.

On the first floor of a typical HDB maisonette are the communal areas, such as the kitchen, living and dining areas. The bedrooms are on the second floor. This also means that the communal areas are separated from the bedrooms, providing more privacy especially for those who host friends and family frequently.

(If you manage to get a maisonette, it also means you’re less likely to have prying relatives look into your bedrooms during Chinese New Year, or your friends invading your bedroom and sitting on the bed when you have them over.)

Dakota Crescent million dollar HDB flat
Interior of a S$1.05m maisonette in Dakota. Image credit: Ryan Ong.

The “landed” feel is augmented by the staircase, which you have to climb up to get to your bedroom, or climb down for mealtimes and when going out.

At the same time, living in a maisonette means owners don’t have to deal with the hassle of living in a landed property.

After all, landed properties are generally harder to maintain than non-landed homes. Unless they live on the top floor, they don’t have to worry about a roof leak. The flat is also less prone to pest infestation, unless it’s a ground-floor unit.

Would you buy an HDB maisonette? Let us know in the comments section below.

If you found this article helpful, recommends Bishan HDB with 64 years left sold for $1.18m, with a record S$750 psf for the neighbourhood and Dakota Crescent maisonette sold for a record S$1.05 million.

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