Wednesday, January 30, 2013

3,300 BTO flats for sale in latest launch


Projects first to have priority scheme for married couples with young kids

The Straits Times
January 30, 2013

THE Housing Board (HDB) is rolling out 3,346 flats in mature and non-mature estates, the first to feature a new priority scheme for married couples with young kids.

The flats in the first launch of Build-To-Order (BTO) projects for the year are in Ang Mo Kio, Kallang-Whampoa, Tampines, Choa Chu Kang, Hougang and Yishun.

The Government recently tweaked the rules to help families with children younger than 16, and who had not obtained a housing grant, to secure a new flat.

Previously, they were grouped with newly married and engaged couples in vying for the allotment of at least 85 per cent of new flats for first-time applicants.

Now, 30 per cent of the BTO flat supply and half of leftover units on offer will be reserved for families with children below 16. This amounts to at least 7,000 new flats this year, based on the projected supply of 23,000 units.

Analysts were divided over whether there will be a rush from this group to buy the new flats.

"We could very well see more married couples with kids stepping forward to bid for a home in mature towns, thus increasing competition in those areas," said PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail.

But Dennis Wee Group spokesman Lee Sze Teck thinks that this segment is unlikely to be very large. "Many married couples would have gone for a flat before their children hit 16, and those who have not may be comfortable with their current housing arrangements," he said.

The units set aside for this group will be released to other first-timers if they are not taken up, said an HDB spokesman.

Prices start from $140,000 for a 700 sq ft, three-room unit in Choa Chu Kang.

Eligible first-timers can get up to $60,000 in grants.

Units in mature estates cost more. New five-room flats in Ang Mo Kio, for instance, sell for up to $575,000 without grants. Prices of comparable resale units can go up to $628,000.

The new priority scheme has made applicants like Mr Fabian Hui, 31, more optimistic about getting a unit. The bank executive, his wife and two young children now live with his parents in an HUDC apartment in Hougang.

"Our monthly income goes towards our family and we cannot afford the cash premium that resale flat sellers want," he said.

ERA Realty spokesman Eugene Lim said the BTO launches will continue to do well due to the variety and number of units available, as well as sky-high resale prices.

Another 3,890 new flats will be launched in March in Bukit Batok, Punggol and Sengkang.


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