More Opportunities for Families to Live Closer Together

SINGAPORE — Another 1,600 flats — or almost 40 per cent of the total flats on offer — will be launched in the Bidadari estate in the next Build-to-Order (BTO) exercise in view of the strong demand for the area’s projects, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong today (Nov 26) as applications for the latest — and the biggest so far — public flat launch drew to a close.

This month’s BTO launch was held together with the Sale of Balance Flats exercise, with a record 12,411 flats on offer. “It is also significant because several policy changes took effect, benefitting many more Singaporeans across different buyer groups,” Mr Wong noted.

These policies, which were first announced during the National Day Rally, include the raising of income ceilings to S$12,000 for households and S$6,000 for singles, as well as the enhanced Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG).  Income ceilings were also raised from $12,000 to $14,000 for executive condo applicants. Existing executive condominiums include The Terrace EC, The Brownstone EC, Signature EC at Yishun while upcoming ones include Parc Life EC, Visionaire EC and Wandervale EC .

Elderly citizens aged 55 and above will also be able to choose the length of their lease under the new two-Room Flexi Scheme, which will be rolled out for the first time under this latest exercise.

The next BTO exercise will be in February and flat buyers can choose from a wide range of flat types in the Bidadari estate – two-room Flexi, three-room, four-room, five-room and Three-Generation (3Gen) flats. In all, 4,150 flats be on sale in Bidadari, Bukit Batok and Sengkang.

This month’s mega launch of of over 12,000 new flats by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) closed at midnight today. As of 5pm today, the overall application rate for the BTO launch for three-room and bigger flats was 3.3, with exceptionally high demand for five-room flats in Bidadari.

There was a total of 3,283 applicants vying for 151 five-room units in Bidadari – or more than 21 applicants per unit. In comparison, the four-room flats on offer in Bidadari were oversubscribed by five times while the application rate for the area’s three-room flats was 1.4.

The project in Hougang was also popular among flat hunters, with application rates of 4.3 and 3 for the four- and five-room/3Gen flats respectively.

Writing on his blog, Mr Wong noted that the Bidadari flats received “some of the highest application rates, despite their higher prices.”

He said: “This can be attributed to their central location, presence of two MRT stations and distinctive ‘Community in the Garden’ concept. To meet the strong demand, we will be launching more flats in Bidadari next year.”

Prices of four- and five-room flats in Bidadari without grants were at least S$433,000 and S$544,000 respectively – more than 70 per cent higher than the prices for flats of similar sizes in the other towns.

Mr Wong said it was “heartening” that about a quarter of Bidadari applicants applied through the Married Child Priority Scheme to live with or near their parents or married child. “This is an example of how we provide more opportunities for families to live closer together for mutual care and support,” he said.

Mr Wong said the response for the two-room Flexi has been encouraging – about 1,400 seniors applied for the 966 units offered under this month’s BTO exercise.

Mr Wong also described the overall BTO application rate for three-room or larger flats as “healthy”. “Notwithstanding the strong demand, for Singaporeans buying their first home, the good news is that the first-timer application rate in non-mature estates is only around 1.6,” he said. “Non-mature estate flats are also more affordable and make up 70 per cent of the BTO flats launched in this round. Taken together, this means that almost all first-timer applicants will stand a good chance of selecting an affordable flat of their choice.”

Property analysts agreed that the overall application rate was at a desirable level.

Mr Chris Koh, director of property firm Chris International, said: “Theoretically in three rounds to four rounds, everybody gets their flat… (so) I think this is a very healthy number.”

The previous BTO exercise in June saw an overall application rate of 4.1 for three-room and bigger flats.

Citing the stabilising application rates, Mr Wong said the Government is “still keeping a close eye on buyer demand and will adjust the BTO supply accordingly”.

Mr Colin Tan, director of research and consultancy at Suntec Real Estate Consultants, felt that the popularity of the Bidadari flats would have skewed the overall demand. “In a sense, it has clouded the picture somewhat… You can read something but you must bear in mind that a lot of people who could have applied elsewhere may have applied for Bidadari,” he said.

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