HDB flat buyers would pay 3% more for a greener neighbourhood

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SINGAPORE (April 25): The presence of green spaces can bring up the value of a public housing apartment, and on average, people would pay 3% more to live in a greener neighbourhood.

This is according to a study by Mr Richard Belcher from the Future Cities Laboratory at the Singapore-ETH Centre, and his former Master’s degree supervisor Assistant Professor Ryan Chisholm, who is from the Department of Biological Sciences in the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Faculty of Science.

Based on the sale prices of 15,962 apartments on Singapore’s Housing and Development Board (HDB) resale market over a 13-month period, the study found that HDB apartments with more green spaces within a 1,600m range had, on average, higher resale prices. On average, 3% of a public housing apartment’s resale value (S$11,200 or abour RM33,000) was attributable to nearby green spaces. This amounts to a total of S$179 million for all public housing apartments sold during the period of April 2013 to April 2014 when the study was conducted.

This positive effect came almost entirely from managed vegetation, such as public parks, park connectors, vegetation surrounding residential estates, and managed street trees.

In contrast, for apartments in close proximity to primary or secondary forests, mangrove forests, and freshwater marshes, which are collectively known as “high conservation value vegetation”, the effect on prices was varied. Apartment buyers seem to value these more natural vegetation types only when there is relatively little managed vegetation nearby.

“Overall, the value we found may be undervalued, because homebuyers may not be fully informed of the benefits of the ecosystem services provided by greenery,” says Belcher. Having more greenery on and around buildings can lower surface and air temperatures by providing shade and through evapotranspiration, thereby reducing the need for, and hence the cost of, air-conditioning, Belcher adds.

The researchers pointed out that new public towns should be located away from areas that are identified for conservation, and should continue to provide high quantities of managed vegetation. This is to reconcile the protection of areas with high conservation status, and maximise utility to homebuyers.