Singapore

HDB offers 8,748 flats in its biggest launch so far this year

Almost 9,000 units up for sale in HDB's biggest launch so far this year

Homebuyers can choose from nearly 9,000 new flats after the Housing Board's (HDB) biggest launch so far this year.

The 8,748 units put up for sale yesterday comprise 4,802 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats in four estates - Bidadari (Toa Payoh), Geylang, Woodlands and Yishun - and 3,946 leftover flats from previous launches across 25 towns.

They range from two-room Flexi to three-generation (3Gen) units.

Calling the release a "bumper crop" in a Facebook post, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong encouraged buyers who are flexible with locations to apply in Woodlands or Yishun to improve their chances.

Some 2,000 BTO flats in the two towns were launched yesterday - about half of all BTO flats in the batch.

Units in the north cost less than those in mature estates. In Woodlands, they range from $73,000 for a two-room Flexi unit to $320,000 for a 3Gen unit; in Yishun, a two-room Flexi unit costs $77,000 while a five-room unit is priced at $331,000.

Woodlands, in particular, has not been a popular location in the past, but the Government hopes a slew of developments could change this.

It will have new MRT stations, including a terminus connecting Woodlands with Johor Baru. The North-South Corridor also promises to shorten journeys to the city by up to 30 minutes.

"All this will greatly improve transport connectivity for residents," said Mr Wong.

SLP International research head Nicholas Mak said the plans may sway those on the fence about living in the north.

"The rejuvenation of Woodlands is a long-term process and we can expect more BTO projects in the near future," he said.

But the buzz in this BTO batch comes from Geylang and Bidadari, which are expected to be the most popular despite their higher price tags.

Prices in Geylang range from $179,000 for a two-room Flexi unit to $489,000 for a four-roomer; in Bidadari, a two-room Flexi costs $169,000 and a 3Gen unit commands $622,000.

For now, the mature estates are attracting the most interest. PropNex key executive officer Lim Yong Hock expects the flats in Geylang to be especially popular, where he predicts five applicants per unit. There is "pent-up demand", given that it has not had a BTO launch in the last three years.

This year, over its two launches so far, the HDB has offered 12,804 flats - more than three-quarters of its promised 17,000 flats for the year.

This is fewer than the 18,000 units last year, part of a generally downward trajectory over the past five years as fewer new families are formed.

As of 5pm yesterday, there were 312 applicants for 1,273 units in Geylang, 303 applicants for 1,355 units in Bidadari, 250 applicants for 1,418 units in Woodlands and 126 applicants for 756 units in Yishun.

Applications for the flats close next Wednesday. The next exercise in August will see about 3,850 new flats in Bukit Batok and Sengkang on offer.

Those hoping for a flat in some of the most desirable estates may have their best bet yet in the Sale of Balance Flats exercise.

HDB is offering 3,946 flats in 11 young towns and 14 mature estates that remained unsold from previous launches.

Two towns stand out for the relatively large number of balance flats on offer: Queenstown, with 523 units, and Kallang/Whampoa with 263 units.

Typically, mature estates will see tens of units on offer, not hundreds, said R'ST research head Ong Kah Seng.

"For a mature location to have a few hundred flats is a bit abnormal," he said.

One reason for the high number of flats in Queenstown is the release of leftover replacement units for those on the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers).

ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim said he expects the Queenstown balance flats to be over-subscribed by at least three times.

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