Singapore

HDB to scrap Re-Offer of Balance Flats exercises

New measures also aim to help meet housing needs of seniors and unwed parents

To help home buyers access flats more quickly, the Housing Board will scrap the existing Re-Offer of Balance Flats (ROF) exercises.

All unsold Build-To-Order flats will first be offered through the Sale of Balance Flats exercises, and those that remain unselected will be directly offered for open booking, instead of going through another round of balloting.

The move was among various measures that National Development Minister Lawrence Wong announced yesterday.

Mr Wong noted that more balance flats will be offered for open booking earlier by cutting out ROF exercises.

HDB rolled out an open booking option last June for unselected flats left over from ROF exercises, to let home seekers apply for a new flat all year round instead of waiting for semi- annual sales exercises.

"Now that we have some experience with this open booking system, we are ready to extend it further," Mr Wong said.

"This will enable home seekers with urgent needs to access flats more quickly."

Unwed single parents aged 21 and above will be allowed to buy new three-room flats in non-mature estates, on top of the existing two-room flexi flats in non-mature estates and resale flats, said Mr Wong.

"For those who have insufficient finances and need a place to stay, we will continue to consider them for public rental if it is in the child's best interests."

He announced improvements to schemes that aim to help more seniors monetise their flats to fund retirement. The Silver Housing Bonus, a cash bonus for older flat owners who meet certain requirements when they buy a three-room or smaller flat, will be raised to $30,000 from $20,000.

To make the scheme more attractive, seniors will be required to top up their account with a flat rate of $60,000, with no other top-ups required.

Seniors no longer have to sell a larger flat and move into a smaller one to qualify for the bonus. They can sell any existing flat as long as they buy a three-room or smaller flat.

The Lease Buyback Scheme bonus will be raised by 50 per cent up to $30,000. Owners can get a maximum cash bonus of $30,000 for three-room and smaller flats, $15,000 for four-room flats and $7,500 for five-room and larger flats.

The scheme allows flat owners, aged 65 and above, to sell part of their leases back to the HDB. They need to have at least 20 years of lease remaining to sell, while maintaining a minimum lease of 15 to 30 years, depending on their age.

The improvements to both schemes took effect yesterday.

Mr Wong noted in some areas, the prices of resale HDB flats are beyond the reach of young couples. "If this trend continues, it will mean that certain public housing estates become exclusive areas that only a few can afford and will lead to social stratification. So we have to do something about this," he said.

Property