Tuesday, August 7, 2012

HDB to offer 20,000 new flats next year

Straits Times: Tue, Aug 07

THE Housing Board (HDB) will offer at least 20,000 new flats next year as part of its efforts to meet demand.

This comes on top of the 25,200 flats offered last year and a similar number this year.

This sustained supply is expected to "firmly stabilise" the housing market, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday.

"This will give Singaporeans many options as they make their flat purchases prudently and wisely," he added.

Last year, the Government committed to offering a total of 100,000 units by 2015.

Mr Khaw's announcement came even as the latest Build- To-Order exercise ended last night. More than 4,000 flats were offered last week across a mix of mature and new towns such as Choa Chu Kang, Punggol, Clementi, Bukit Merah and Geylang.

About 11,600 applications were received as of 5pm yesterday, with larger flats drawing the most interest.

The application rate of first-timers, or those who have yet to enjoy a housing subsidy, was 1.7.

Mr Khaw said the figure meant that almost all first-timers will get the chance to select a flat when they apply for one, especially in non-mature estates.

The application rate of second-time applications, or those who had previously enjoyed a housing subsidy from the Government, was 11.4.

This was a drop from a rate of more than 25 as recently as the start of this year.

"This means there is more certainty for second-timers to get a flat," said Mr Khaw.

He added that these were "good outcomes" which the Government intends to sustain.

It will launch another 8,000 new flats by the end of this year, and an additional 3,000 balance flats - which are flats that were unsold in previous exercises - next month.

Mr Chris Koh, director of property agency Chris Koh International, said: "It's a supply game. If more flats are being pushed out and it attracts those eligible to buy directly from HDB, then that will reduce demand for resale units, and eventually prices will adjust."

SLP International head of research Nicholas Mak said while HDB is trying to satisfy demand, it also has to tread carefully so as not to create a glut in the market.

ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim predicted further tweaks to incentivise more second-timers to take up units in non-mature estates.

In March, the number of flats allotted to second-timers went up from 5 per cent to 15 per cent if they applied for a flat in a non-mature, or less developed, estate.

House-hunter James Tay, 29, said he would still go for resale flats despite the upcoming supply of new flats.

"I would rather not wait a few years before my home is built," said the engineer. "But at least I'm also more assured now that I can try for new flats if I can't get an affordable alternative."

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