By S Ramesh, Tan Qiuyi, Channel NewsAsia, 27 Sep 2012
The Housing and Development Board (HDB) is increasing its new flat supply for 2012 by 2,000 units, boosting the number of Build-to-Order (BTO) flats for the year to 27,000 -- up from the originally planned 25,000.
This is the biggest ever launch of new flats in a year.
The news comes as HDB launched on Thursday 7,055 flats for sale under the joint BTO and Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises in both non-mature and mature towns.
More than half of them (3,727 units) are from seven new BTO projects.
They are spread across two non-mature estates of Choa Chu Kang and Woodlands, and three mature towns of Ang Mo Kio, Kallang-Whampoa and Tampines.
The remaining 3,328 flats on offer are balance flats -- ranging from studio apartments to executive flats -- from previous launches.
HDB said another 6,400 BTO flats will be launched in November.
It said the ramp-up of HDB flat supply would further help to meet housing demand, especially from first-time home buyers.
As demand for flats in mature estates is expected to be high, HDB advises applicants to apply for a BTO flat in non-mature towns and estates for a higher chance in securing a unit.
Meanwhile, to provide greater flexibility to home buyers and to minimise wastage in renovations, HDB will introduce a new opt-in scheme for sanitary fittings in bathrooms.
It will also pilot an "open kitchen" concept for flats at Teck Ghee Parkview.
Buyers will be given a choice to opt for a partition wall between the living/dining area and the kitchen to better suit their lifestyle needs.
Property analysts said the latest offering would likely put a lid on the rising prices of resale flats in mature towns.
Eugene Lim, ERA Realty's key executive officer, said: "Recently, after the one million dollar flats grabbed the headlines, many flat owners, especially those in mature estates, have raised their prices.
"So these launches are timely because they add a lot of supply into the mature estates and this helps to prevent runaway price increases."
HDB said first-timer households may make use of the various housing grants to help them own a new flat.
With the grants, young couples buying their first homes will be able to buy a four-room flat for as low as S$219,000.
HDB's next BTO offering in November will see projects in other mature towns like Queenstown, Bedok and Toa Payoh.
Mr Lim said: "Depending on the flat type and location, the price difference between these BTO flats and comparable resale units can be S$60,000 to S$130,000.
"And these resale flats are 12 to over 30 years old. For first-timers, this represents huge savings if they are able to wait for the 3 years or so for the BTO flats to be built."
The balance flats on offer include some from recent BTO launches with completion dates a few years down the road.
Dennis Wee Realty's senior manager for training, research and consultancy, Lee Sze Teck, said selling these unsold flats now, instead of waiting, is a sign that authorities are serious about satisfying demand for HDB flats.
"But the trend of BTO flats being sold under SBF launches is worrying. This means that in certain towns, for example Sengkang, Punggol and Yishun, quite a number of BTO flats launched there were not sold," he added.