Singles' rush for new two-room flats eases

Singles' rush for new two-room flats eases

Two-and-a-half years after singles were allowed to buy new Housing Board (HDB) flats, the flood of demand that resulted seems to have receded. In July 2013, when they could buy new two-room flats in non-mature estates, 57.5 singles competed for each available unit.

This has fallen to 7.5 singles per unit in the latest Build-To-Order (BTO) launch in November.

The HDB said that it has "made steady progress in meeting the home ownership aspirations of singles". It told The Sunday Times that it "will continue to monitor this group of homebuyers and calibrate its supply of two-room flats to better meet their housing needs".

Since July 2013, about 11,600 singles have been invited to book new flats. By the end of November last year, 7,700 had done so.

About 700 singles have collected the keys to their new homes, as some new units offered were remaining flats from earlier BTO exercises and were completed sooner.

The lower demand is significant as it ensued despite a fall in supply.

The supply of two-room flats rose from 2,600 units in 2013 to about 5,000 in 2014, all in non-mature estates.

Last year, it fell to 4,000 units.

These included 192 units in Bidadari estate, part of the mature town of Toa Payoh, for which singles are not eligible. It also included units under the new Two-Room Flexi Scheme, which merged the previous two-room and studio apartment schemes.

With less competition, singles have also grown more discerning.

In November's BTO launch, singles' application rates varied from 4.3 to 4.5 singles per unit in Sengkang and Bukit Batok respectively, to 10 per unit in Punggol and up to 34 in Choa Chu Kang.

This is in contrast to the BTO exercise in September 2013, where even traditionally less popular areas such as Jurong and Sembawang had 14.7 and 10.4 single applicants per two- room flat respectively.

R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng said the singles' application rate is unlikely to fall much lower than four or five per unit.

The current trend should be seen as a sign that demand is stabilising, he added.

Mr Khaw Boon Wan, in his last blog post as National Development Minister, named two-room flats for singles as one aspect of unfinished business, saying: "There are still a few thousand singles waiting for their new flats."

The HDB is set to supply 18,000 new flats this year, up from 15,000 last year, but it remains to be seen whether this increase will translate to more two-room flexi flats.

janiceh@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Jan 3, 2016.
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