New flats in old estates bring cheer

New flats in old estates bring cheer

When Ms Daphnie Chong, 28, and her longtime boyfriend applied for a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat in Pasir Ris earlier this year, they were in for a surprise.

It was their first time applying for a flat and they got lucky: They will get the keys to their four-room flat at the end of 2014.

The first-time buyers had not had their hopes up, having heard stories from peers about repeated unsuccessful applications.

Ms Chong, who works as an events coordinator, told my paper: "We didn't expect it. It's good that we got it now, because prices next year may go up."

Shorter queues for units have been a boon for young couples such as Ms Chong and her boyfriend, as a result of the Government's ramp-up in BTO projects for this year and next year. But rising prices are still a source of worry for many.

Yesterday, the Housing Board (HDB) announced that the total supply of BTO flats will hit 27,000 units for this year, up from the 25,000 planned originally.

Seven new BTO projects offering 3,727 flats were also launched yesterday. Among them are 2,424 units in mature estates, such as Ang Mo Kio and Tampines.

First-time buyers are set to benefit most, with 95 per cent of the BTO flats, excluding studio apartments, reserved for them in these mature towns.

HDB also said it will offer 3,328 balance flats in 11 non-mature and 12 mature towns. At least 95 per cent of this supply, excluding studio apartments, will be set aside for first-time buyers.

Yesterday's HDB announcement comes hot on the heels of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's reiteration of the Government's stance on public housing made earlier this week.

Responding to questions submitted to - The Straits Times' current-affairs website - Mr Lee said that the Government's purpose is to build enough flats for Singaporeans and to offer more affordable housing for first-time buyers.

Mr Lee also addressed concerns of rising prices and questions about whether HDB flats should be treated as assets.

He said he preferred giving young people a housing asset as an "endowment" - something to help them start off with "the right chips".

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