SINGAPORE - National Development Minister Desmond Lee on Thursday announced various measures to help first-timer applicants secure their first home more quickly during the debate on his ministry’s budget.
1. New priority category
A new category has been created for first-timer families with Singaporean children aged 18 and below as well as married couples aged 40 and below, who will get more support when they apply for a new Housing Board flat.
To qualify for the new First-Timer (Parents & Married Couples) priority category, families must not have owned or sold a residential property before, or had a chance to book a flat in the past five years before their application.
This will take effect from the August Build-To-Order (BTO) sales exercise.
The current first-timer category includes all eligible Singaporeans who have not received a housing subsidy before, such as those who may have owned private property, HDB resale flat owners who did not receive housing subsidies and couples who are planning to get married.
2. More flats set aside
From the August sales exercise, up to 40 per cent of the BTO flat supply will be reserved for applicants under First-Timer (Parents & Married Couples) category - an increase from 30 per cent now.
Up to 60 per cent of Sales of Balance Flats (SBF) units will be set aside for this group as well, an increase from the current 50 per cent. SBF flats are typically either completed or in various stages of construction.
In addition, those under the new category will get first priority when applying for four-room or smaller BTO flats in non-mature estates.
Mr Lee said these applicants will be shortlisted ahead of all others who come under the expanded Family and Parenthood Priority Scheme – previously known as the Parenthood Priority Scheme.
3. Extra ballot chance
Applicants under the new first-timer priority category will get one additional ballot chance in their BTO and SBF applications, on top of the two ballot chances they receive today.
This means they will receive a total of three ballot chances when they apply for any flat type in any estate.
4. Tighter rules for those who do not select BTO flats
From the August sales exercise, first-timer applicants who do not select a BTO flat when invited to do so will be considered second-timers in subsequent flat applications for a year.
This means that successful applicants must pick a unit or lose priority in their subsequent applications, as far fewer flats - around 5 per cent - are set aside for second-timers.
The move is meant to reduce the number of people who decline to pick a flat and ensure more efficient allocation, so that those who need a flat can secure it more quickly, said Mr Lee.
5. Ramping up of flat supply
Close to 100,000 private and public homes are expected to be completed between 2023 and 2025, said Mr Lee.
Of these, almost 40,000 homes will be completed this year – the highest in the last five years, including the pre-Covid-19 years of 2018 and 2029, he added.
About 23,000 BTO flats will be launched in 2023 to meet strong demand, similar to 2022.
Mr Lee said HDB is building aggressively and on a very large scale, with almost 100 BTO projects currently ongoing islandwide. This will increase to more than 150 concurrent BTO projects by 2025.
6. Increased housing grant for resale flats
First-timers buying HDB resale flats can tap an increased housing grant, which Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong announced in his Budget speech.
Under the revised CPF Housing Grant, first-timer families buying two- to four-room HDB resale flats can now get $80,000, up from the previous $50,000. Those who buy five-room or larger units can get $50,000, up from $40,000.
First-timer singles buying HDB resale flats will also get a higher CPF housing grant of up to $40,000 for four-room and smaller units, up from $25,000 before. Those who buy five-room units can get $25,000, up from $20,000.
The revised grant took effect on Feb 14.
HDB has extended the revised grant amount to buyers who had not completed their resale transaction before the announcement, so buyers do not need to cancel and reapply to qualify for the grant, said Mr Lee.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.