Application rate for BTO flats rises marginally

Application rate for BTO flats rises marginally

SINGAPORE - Overall application rates (excluding studio apartments) for built-to-order (BTO) flats rolled out in November rose marginally to 2.8, even as a record supply of BTO units were launched this year.

Figures provided by the Housing Development Board showed that as at 5pm on Tuesday, the first-timers' application rate for the November BTO launch dipped to 1.7 from 1.9 in September's launch. The rate for second-timers was 12.7, versus 12.5 previously. The overall application rate for the September launch was 2.7.

"It is evident that HDB's larger BTO launches every two months has been effective in bringing down application rates especially for first-timers, which recorded the lowest rate in recent years," said Mohamed Ismail, chief executive of PropNex Realty.

In November, HDB rolled out 6,463 new units. Including the 7,153 balance flats offered earlier in the Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) Exercises, the total number of new flats launched in 2012 was 34,237.

Of the units launched, the most popular flat type was the five-room unit in Bedok (Fengshan GreenVille), which had an overall application rate of 6.0. It was also a favourite among second-timers, with an application rate of 51.6.

"The results are expected, given the increasing trend of resale prices this year," said ERA Realty Network key executive officer Eugene Lim, who noted that resale prices for the third quarter increased 2 per cent, breaking a record.

With the gradual stabilisation of application rates for first-timers, it is perhaps timely to address the needs of second-timers as rates continue to be high, said Mr Ismail. "HDB can consider altering the allocation of flats from the current 5 per cent/15 per cent of the total BTO supply in mature and non-mature towns, to 30 per cent/10 per cent for second-timers respectively," he suggested.

"The 30 per cent allocation towards second-timers is also not unusual, as currently executive condominiums (ECs) also have the same rate set aside for this group of buyers," he added.

In August, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan noted on his blog that the momentum created to help more Singaporeans own their flats had made steady progress.

"Second-timer application rates, which used to exceed 25, have come down significantly," he noted. In January, the application rate for second-timers was 25.6.

Application for the November BTO launch closes at midnight on Nov 27. A final update of the total number of applications received will be given on Nov 28, at 2pm.

Meanwhile, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore said that the property tax bill for 2013 will increase by between $40 and $50 for most HDB flat types, after taking into account a one-time rebate of $40 for owner-occupied HDB flats. All one-room and two-room owner-occupiers of HDB homes do not need to pay property tax in 2013, similar to last year.

The increase in property tax comes after a revision of annual values of HDB flats with effect from Jan 1, 2013, reflecting the rise in market rentals. Since Jan 1 this year, market rentals of HDB flats have risen 8-13 per cent.

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