Steady Progress in Meeting Home Ownership

SINGAPORE: The application rate for singles for Housing & Development Board (HDB) flats has fallen, HDB said on Saturday (Jan 2).

In an update, HDB said that it has “made steady progress in meeting the home ownership aspirations of singles”. It added that the rate is now about 7 applicants per flat in November 2015 – the most recent BTO exercise, down from 58 per flat in July 2013, when singles were first allowed to apply for new flats under the Singles Scheme.

“Over the last two and a half years, we’ve seen the supply increase somewhat, and over this period of time, those who can qualify have already qualified,” said Mr Alex Yam, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for National Development.

November also marked the launch of the first batch of new 2-room Flexi flats, which were first introduced in August under the 2-room Flexi Scheme. Upcoming executive condo include The Visionaire EC , Wandervale EC and Parc Life EC while existing ones include The Terrace EC, Waterwoods EC, Signature EC at Yishun and Brownstone EC.

“Those who are interested in buying have already entered the market,” he added.

One of those who applied under the scheme is Ms Tay Nguang Kee. The 53-year-old previously lived with her sister and is now preparing to move into her new two-room flat in Choa Chu Kang.

She decided to apply for a BTO flat under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme in 2013 and got lucky on her second try.

“It’s peaceful and comfortable for me. The new environment in a BTO is better. It’s clean and nice, and near my sister’s house,” she said.

Ms Tay added that she opted not to get a resale flat as these are more expensive. Under the Singles Scheme, she bought her flat for S$119,000.

“Since July 2013, we have invited about 11,600 singles to book a 2-room flat in the non-mature estates like Choa Chu Kang and Sengkang. As at end Nov 2015, about 7,700 singles had booked a flat, out of which, about 700 singles have collected the keys to their new homes,” said HDB.

“HDB has ramped up its 2-room flat supply from 2,600 units in 2013 to about 5,000 units in 2014,” it added. “In 2015, HDB has offered about 4,000 units of 2-room Flexi flats to meet the housing needs of singles and low-income families.”

TOO EARLY TO TELL IF DEMAND HAS EASED: ANALYST

However, an analyst said it is too early to tell if the demand for new flats under the Singles Scheme has eased.

Propnex Key Executive Officer Lim Yong Hock, said: “When there’s a huge increase in demand, it could also be because of a specific location. For instance, the flats in the recent November launch in Choa Chu Kang was about 30 times oversubscribed.

“But overall, it’s seven applicants to one flat. It’s probably too early to review this because the demands for different locations will still take a bit of time to digest and deflate the demand in that location.”

Mr Yam also suggested that a wider range of flats could be included under the scheme, to encourage more singles to own their own homes.

He said: “Singles are not homogeneous. There are those from lower income, those with slightly higher income – so their needs and wants are going to be a little more diverse.

“We don’t have enough of that diversification as we have with the rest of the population. That’s perhaps one area that HDB can relook, now that we’ve reached the 2.5-year mark. It’s maybe timely for us to review how we can provide some diversification, perhaps in the type of flats, and therefore encourage other singles to have a home of their own.”

HDB said it will continue to monitor this group of home buyers and calibrate the supply of two-room flats to better meet their housing needs.

executive condo and land site pic 1