SINGAPORE - The last Build-to-Order (BTO) exercise of the year closed on Tuesday, with 2.7 applications for each HDB flat on offer.
This is slightly higher than the 2.4 overall rate of the previous exercise in September, as more second-timers made a pitch for the homes in five estates.
There were 12.7 applications from these second-timers for each flat, a rise from 11.5 in the previous round.
In contrast, applications from first-timers for the 6,463 flats stayed low, dipping marginally to 1.7 from 1.8 in September.
Analysts told The Straits Times that the higher prices of HDB resale flats may be driving second-timers - a group that includes those upgrading to larger flats - into the BTO market.
Senior manager Lee Sze Teck, of property firm Dennis Wee Group, said there was little room to negotiate the prices of some resale flats, forcing some upgraders to turn to BTO flats.
Resale prices have been persistently high because they are supported by demand from private property owners who are downgrading, permanent residents and singles who are not eligible for new HDB flats, said ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim.
Mr Lim, like Mr Lee, said that more second-timers prefer flats in mature housing estates over those in new areas.
But it is difficult for them to snag a new BTO flat in these mature estates, so resale flats are the next-best option, said Mr Lim.
Second-timers are allocated 5 per cent of BTO flats in mature estates and 15 per cent in non-mature estates.
Said Mr Lim: "Perhaps this is an opportune time for HDB to tweak the ratio of flats allocated for second-timers, as this may help divert some demand away from the red-hot resale market."
The most sought-after flats are the larger units in the mature estates of Bedok and Toa Payoh.
Six applications were received for each five-room flat available in Fengshan GreenVille in Bedok, and almost five for each four-room Toa Payoh unit.
At the same time, the BTO flats on offer in the new estate of Sengkang proved popular as well.
Nearly six applications were received for each of the 104 three-room Compassvale Mast units.
This was expected since the flats will be next to the Sengkang MRT station, said Mr Lim.
The Housing Board plans to offer at least 20,000 more BTO flats next year.
The large supply of new homes in the pipeline could slow down the demand for resale flats, he added.