Strong demand even as singles get more BTO flats

Strong demand even as singles get more BTO flats

SINGLES continue to home in on new Housing Board flats, as more units are set aside for them during the latest sales exercise.

In Punggol and Sembawang respectively, there were 2.1 and 1.4 applicants for each two-room Build-To-Order (BTO) unit available to singles as of 5pm yesterday.

More than 9,000 new flats were launched yesterday, in the largest joint BTO and Sale of Balance Flats exercise so far.

This exercise is the first where up to half of the two-room BTO flats in non-mature estates are set aside for singles, up from a third.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who announced the new quota in March, said this would reduce the demand backlog among singles.

It is good news for fire safety officer Akhbar Khan, who is eyeing a two-room flat in Punggol.

"I've been planning to move out for a long time," said the 43-year-old, who is single and lives with his younger brother in a one-room rental flat in Beach Road. "It's more private with my own place, and it's also an investment."

Some 4,044 BTO flats in Clementi, Tampines, Punggol and Sembawang are on offer during this month's exercise, which will close next Tuesday.

With housing grants, the selling prices of two-, three-, four- and five-room flats start from $15,000, $102,000, $203,000 and $354,000 respectively.

Clementi Crest, the only new project in the mature estate, has seen strong demand so far.

As of 5pm yesterday, five- room flats there had the highest overall application rate of 2.5, with 384 applicants vying for 156 units.

Four-room flats in the popular mature estate were close behind, with an application rate of 1.6, or 355 applicants going for 229 units.

Property experts said the project's proximity to Clementi town centre makes it particularly attractive.

Teacher Julia Lee, 45, is applying for a four-room flat there because of its convenience. "It's a good location near the MRT."

SLP International Property Consultants research head Nicholas Mak said: "Clementi is a mature estate where there is limited supply of vacant land for future BTO flats."

Also launched yesterday were two projects in Punggol's Northshore district, which will boast the first HDB smart homes.

These flats will come equipped with additional infrastructure so that smart systems can be easily installed.

Some 5,387 balance flats, in estates such as Woodlands, Jurong, Bukit Merah and Queenstown, are also on offer.

Some balance flats in the usually popular mature estates, however, were undersubscribed as of yesterday. Queenstown three- room flats had only 19 applicants vying for 127 units. Toa Payoh three-room flats had 29 applications for 105 units.

One reason for the low take-up could be cooling housing market sentiments, said R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng.

"Prices of resale HDB flats are actually quite affordable compared to the past," said Mr Ong.

"Resale flats also offer more choices when it comes to location."

A further 4,860 BTO flats in Bidadari and Punggol Northshore will be launched during the next sales exercise in August.

Additional reporting by Ong Kai Xuan

This article was first published on May 28, 2015.
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