Shorter wait for BTO flats for young couples

Shorter wait for BTO flats for young couples
An artist’s impression of the first smart homes at Punggol Northshore that were launched for sale in May 2015.
PHOTO: HDB

From next year, young couples applying for Build-To-Order (BTO) flats in selected locations will need to wait for only two to three years to get their keys.

Down from the three- to four-year waiting time, this will be done not by rushing through construction, but by starting construction ahead of the BTO launches, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong assured the House.

Speaking at the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament yesterday, he said: "I know there are many young couples who hope to move into their own home even more quickly, to embark on this marriage and parenthood journey together.

"So we have looked into their requests seriously."

The first batch of 1,000 flats will be launched among non-mature estates (less than 20 years old) with special quotas to further prioritise young couples ready to settle down, he said.

For now, such BTO projects with shorter waiting times will be located in non-mature estates.

A Housing Board spokesman told The New Paper: "As there is limited land in mature estates that is readily available to start construction and build new HDB flats earlier, BTO projects in infill sites also typically take longer to build."

At least 95 per cent of flats that are four-room and larger - they are the most popular among first-time families - will be set aside for first-time buyers, said Mr Wong.

This is up from the current quota of 85 per cent in non-mature estates.

More details will be released at a later date.

Those looking at resale flat options - popular among couples who want to get their new flats quickly - can look forward to a more "efficient manner" of balloting for unsold resale flats.

Currently, Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises are done twice a year, according to specific towns and flat types.

From the second half of the year, the unsold flats from SBF exercises will be offered in a common pool instead.

Priority will also be given to first-timers.

URGENT

"Those with urgent housing needs and who are less particular about location can apply and need not wait for the usual SBF exercise," said Mr Wong.

The ministry is also looking at how to speed up the transaction process for resale flats.

Now, it takes 16 weeks and two HDB appointments, said Mr Wong.

"Today, doing a resale transaction can be quite an involved process, even with the help of an agent. We will leverage technology and make the process faster and more streamlined," he said.

fjieying@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on March 8, 2017.
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