HDB rolled out 50% more BTO projects in mature estates last year

There were 13 such projects offered last year, up from nine in 2017

As property seekers continue to home in on flats in mature estates, the Housing Board has rolled out more Build-To-Order (BTO) projects in these prime locations.

It said yesterday that 13 such projects were offered last year, compared with nine in 2017 - an almost 50 per cent rise.

Projects in mature estates formed 44 per cent of the overall BTO launches in 2017, but the proportion climbed to 55 per cent last year, said HDB.

Still, it was not easy to bag a unit in a choice area like Bishan, Toa Payoh or Kallang/Whampoa. The average application rate for a BTO flat in mature estates rose from 2.8 times in 2017 to 6.7 times last year.

The average rates in non- mature estates, which include Bukit Batok and Tengah, were 2.1 times in 2017 and 4.8 times last year.

Overall, there has been buoyant demand for new flats in the past four years, with the number of applicants vying for each BTO unit increasing from 2.3 in 2017 to 5.8 last year.

Some projects have drawn sky-high interest. In the May launch, Telok Blangah Beacon in Bukit Merah attracted almost 50 applicants for each of its 70 four-room flats, despite a waiting time of more than five years for the project to be completed and a starting price of $602,000.

The longer waiting time is the result of Covid-19 construction delays. Previously, buyers of BTO flats waited three to four years to get their keys.

Flats in mature estates were equally hotly contested in recent Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises. The average SBF application rate in mature estates is 5.4 times, compared with 4.8 in non-mature areas.

Some mature towns with fewer BTO projects proved to be more popular with home seekers, such as Clementi, with an application rate of 8.3 times, and Queenstown, 6.4 times.

National Development Minister Desmond Lee said in a Facebook post yesterday that almost 25,600 new flats have been launched in mature estates in the past four years.

He had received messages from young couples who "wish to start their own families in a new home... yet live close enough to their parents who are already living in mature estates for mutual care and support".

Yesterday, HDB said the overall strong demand for public housing can be attributed to marriage and family formation, as well as changing lifestyles and social aspirations.

Data from the latest census shows that the number of married couples rose from 880,800 in 2010 to 977,300 last year, with more marriages registered in the second half of the decade compared with the first.

HDB noted that more young couples, singles and their parents prefer to live on their own instead of with extended families, as average household sizes fall.

There is also an increasing preference for living close to family.

Findings from the HDB Sample Household Survey showed that married couples aged 54 and below who chose to live near their parents grew from 21 per cent in 2013 to 24.3 per cent in 2018.

The same trend was linked to older residents aged 55 and above, with more living near their married children.

More have also taken up the HDB's Proximity Housing Grant (PHG), which gives buyers up to $30,000 to buy a resale flat within 4km of their parents' or child's HDB flat or private property.

From 2017 to last year, resale transactions that tapped the PHG expanded by about 21 per cent, across both mature and non-mature estates.

Still, HDB acknowledged that there are many who prefer BTO homes in established locations.

"While the majority of past BTO supply has traditionally come from the non-mature estates, there is a continued need to provide for more new flats in mature estates as well, so that the children of HDB residents living in mature estates can also have the opportunity to live close to their parents and parents-in-law for better family support," it said.

HDB said it is on track to launch about 17,000 units this year as planned.

Next month, it will offer about 4,900 BTO flats in Hougang, Jurong East, Kallang/Whampoa, Queenstown and Tampines.

About 3,100 to 3,600 BTO flats will be offered in Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Jurong West, Kallang/Whampoa and Tengah in November.