Shorter wait for BTO flats from 2018
Minister: 17,000 flats to be launched next year
Young couples will get to move earlier into their build-to-order (BTO) flats launched from 2018.
In a blog post yesterday, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said that he has asked the Housing Board (HDB) to plan and prepare the land for several new sites, which can subsequently be put out as BTO units with shorter waiting time.
He also gave several updates about the public housing situation - 17,000 new flats will be launched next year, a slight dip from the 18,000 flats offered this year.
Mr Wong wrote: "We are gradually tapering supply but still ensuring a healthy pipeline to meet demand. Once again, we will offer a good spread across mature and non-mature estates.
"This will give buyers a range of choices, including young couples who wish to live near their parents, or the elderly who want to right-size and age in place."
He urged young families to apply for BTO flats in non-mature estates to increase their chances.
This year, an average of two first-timer applicants vied for each three-room or bigger flat in non-mature estates.
At the latest launch in November of more than 5,100 BTO flats in Bedok, Kallang, Bidadari and Punggol, the first-timer application rate was 1.5 times for Punggol, a non-mature estate.
In comparison, almost 11 applicants vied for each of the 158 four-room units in the Kallang Residences project, reported The Straits Times last month.
Experts thinkBTO flats with shorter waiting times will likely be launched in non-mature estates and appeal to young couples with smaller budgets.
ERA key executive officer Eugene Lim told The New Paper: "For young couples, the shorter waiting time and lower price, instead of location, would be the main draw."
He suggested Punggol and the newly launched Tengah HDB town as possible sites.
"There might be minor hiccups for the first takers, but eventually each HDB town is meant to be self-contained. Punggol is a good example of an estate that has transformed into an attractive location," he said.
To reduce the wait time for BTO flats, HDB could begin construction before launching them for sale, said Mr Lim.
"This is judging from the responses at recent BTO sales launches, especially for those in mature estates."
R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng thinks that HDB could consider adding a few more blocks to BTO projects currently under construction.
He said: "It could work if there is a small, excess plot of land at the site (because) there is already demand for the project. Alternatively, HDB can start preparing reserve land sites way in advance, in terms of assessment and getting interest from contractors."