CHEAPER prices - and a wide range of new flats - are the big draws for first-time buyers in the latest launch of Build-to-Order (BTO) flats.
The Housing Board (HDB) is offering 3,556 flats in seven locations in Sengkang, Tampines, Jurong West, Bukit Panjang and Yishun.
Indicative prices for the three-, four- and five-room flats are cheaper than those in previous BTO projects.
They start from $137,000 for a three-room, $217,000 for a four-room and $274,000 for a five-room flat.
The starting prices were $166,000, $264,000 and $335,000 for the same flat types in May's launch of 4,000 new flats.
The lower prices announced yesterday come even as the HDB resale price index continues its upward march - suggesting a widening price gap between new flats and resale ones.
HDB's new homes are typically pegged to resale prices but are discounted.
The new launch follows National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan's recent pledge to combine launches. In a previous blog post, he had noted that large ones 'offer buyers a wider range of choices and reduce the odds of repeated disappointment'.
'I am therefore working with HDB to see how the June and July launches can be combined for a larger launch. And I will price them wisely,' he had said.
Analysts whom The Straits Times spoke to said yesterday's rollout demonstrates Mr Khaw's commitment to aggressively ramp up supply in a cost-effective manner to relieve the hot demand for homes.
Current median cash premiums - paid on top of valuation - for resale flats have risen to about $32,000 from $21,000 in the last quarter, noted property agency PropNex spokesman Adam Tan, which hurt more price-sensitive first-time buyers.
HDB resale flat prices have climbed a further 2.9 per cent in the second quarter according to official estimates - on the back of a 1.6 per cent increase in the first quarter and a 14.1 per cent hike last year.
He noted that though the new launch's lower prices could be due to the location of the flats, there was a distinct trend of offering a bigger discount.
'In the past, new flats were discounted at a range of 15 to 25 per cent from similar resale flats in the area - we are seeing this range expanded to 23 to 32 per cent now,' Mr Tan said.
Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research at SLP International, said the attractive pricing will further alleviate demand in the resale market and shift first-time buyers' preference to HDB's new flats.
The launch yesterday offers 381 studio apartments in Tampines and Jurong West - ranging in price from $83,000 to $96,000.
There are 459 three-room, 1,674 four-room and 1,042 five-room flats - with the option of standard and premium finishes - in Sengkang, Bukit Panjang and Yishun at a price range of between $137,000 and $421,000.
The launch will bring HDB's supply of new flats this year to about 15,500. It said yesterday it is on track to deliver 25,000 new BTO flats for this year.
Mr Tan expects the new flats to be 'very well received'.
As of 5pm yesterday, HDB had received 1,541 applications for the 3,556 flats.
The closing date is next Wednesday.
WHAT'S ON OFFER
381 Studio apartments
459 Three-room flats
1,674 Four-room flats
1,042 Five-room flats
3,556 Total number of flats offered
As of 5pm yesterday, 1,541 home buyers had applied for the flats available.