Thursday, July 21, 2011

3 buyers vie for each flat in BTO exercise

THREE buyers applied for every Build-To-Order (BTO) flat on offer when applications for the latest projects closed yesterday.

The 3,556 flats, originally slated to be offered over two exercises, were combined into one launch as part of National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan's move to provide more choices and lessen repeated disappointments for buyers.

As of 5pm yesterday, 11,548 applications were received for the seven projects in Sengkang, Tampines, Jurong West, Bukit Panjang and Yishun.

A range of units, from studio apartments to five-room flats, were on tap, at prices from $83,000 to $381,000.

With the exception of the studio apartments aimed at the elderly, 95 per cent of the supply is for first-time applicants who may find resale flats too pricey for them.

New flat costs are typically pegged to prevailing resale prices, but they are sold at a discount.

Resale flat prices climbed 2.9 per cent last quarter, according to official estimates, while data from real-estate firms indicate that cash premiums, paid on top of a flat's valuation, had risen by as much as 50 per cent.

The huge release of 1,829 standard units in Sengkang - the most among all five areas - met with an equally enthusiastic response of 5,805 applications - about three per unit.

The small pocket of premium flats - 140 four-room units and 112 five-room types in Yishun - drew the most interest, with seven and six applications per flat respectively.

Least in demand were the 232 studio apartments in Jurong West, which drew 340 applications.

Flats under the standard contract come with minimal fittings, while the premium ones boast better quality finishes.

Dennis Wee Group director Chris Koh linked the strong demand for Yishun flats to the fact that the area has a strong transport system and facilities like Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

'Although the site is near the perimeter of Yishun, there haven't been any new flats released there for a while so there is definitely pent-up demand,' he said.

Mr Koh added that the downward trend of overall subscription rates showed that Mr Khaw's move to have larger launches seemed to be working.

'Smaller launches can create an artificial shortage because people might rush out to grab the few units on offer. Sold in bulk, it should deter panic buying,' he added.

On Monday, Mr Khaw said he was monitoring the outcome of this exercise.

Referring to the previous launch in May, where 3,957 units garnered about four applications each, he said he was now assured that 'quite a big number will have a chance to say 'yes'.'

Saying a solution to BTO woes was within sight, he added that he planned to offer projects slated for August and September in a combined launch.

These could potentially yield more than 6,000 units in areas such as Ang Mo Kio, Jurong East, Jurong West, Punggol, Bedok and Sengkang, according to data culled from the Housing Board's website.

The Housing Board has released about 15,500 BTO flats so far and plans to deliver 25,000 units by the end of the year.

To supplement supply, about 2,000 surplus flats will also be put up for sale.

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