The Straits Times
Thursday, Jan 03, 2013
New flats a-plenty
What: Bountiful supply of housing
Why it matters: House-hunters are going to be spoilt for choice, given the bumper supply expected to hit the market.
The Government has promised to roll out at least 20,000 new Housing Board flats this year to meet demand from newly-wed couples, and to cool the red-hot resale market.
It has also earmarked sites that could yield 14,000 private homes in the first six months alone.
This includes 3,100 units of increasingly popular executive condominiums, some of which have hogged headlines recently for their ritzy offerings, including a $2.05 million penthouse in a Tampines project which was sold within two hours after bookings began.
This generous infusion comes on the back of a strong supply last year, when both the number of new HDB flats (27,084) and overall private homes in the pipeline (more than 93,000) reached record highs.
PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail said the market will likely be able to absorb the supply on both fronts despite a plethora of choices.
"The public-housing supply of subsidised new flats is meant to stabilise demand. But this will not dampen the resale market that has surged in recent years simply because new flats will only come on-stream later," he noted.
HDB's resale price index, which tracks price movements of resale flats, stood at 197.9 in the third quarter of last year. This is almost double the 104.9 registered in the first quarter of 2007.
Demand will also persist for private homes should the climate of low-interest rates continue.
"But expect prices to go up, maybe 10 per cent in the case of mass-market condos, due to developers being overly aggressive in bidding for land," he said.
Singles can buy new HDB flats
What: Singles will be allowed to buy new Housing Board flats for the first time.
When: It is likely to happen in the first half of the year.
Why it matters: In last year's National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong promised to address the problem of limited housing options for single Singaporeans.
Currently, they are allowed to buy only a resale flat - and only if they are older than 35.
While those earning $5,000 or less are eligible for a cash grant of $15,000 and a loan from the HDB, the rise in resale prices in the past few years has put a flat out of reach for many singles.
New flats from the HDB can be up to 40 per cent cheaper than resale flats in the same area.
But National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said last September that some restrictions would still apply to singles buying new flats because the HDB's priority is to meet the needs of couples and families.
For example, they will likely be eligible to buy only smaller flats. To prevent profiteering, it is likely that they will not be allowed to sub-let their flats, even after a minimum occupation period.
Still, Singaporean singles are awaiting the change with bated breath. IT engineer David Tan, 36, lives with his parents in Toa Payoh because he cannot afford private property on his own or the cash-over-valuation payment that resale flats command.
"A flat from the HDB would be subsidised and brand new. I understand that the Government has to be family-oriented, but singles are also Singaporeans and should be entitled to some benefits."
Young families come first
What: Young families will get priority in the queue for new HDB flats.
When: Early 2013.
Why it matters: As part of the Government's push to stem declining birth rates, the Housing Board will act to help families with young children get a new flat more quickly.
This is also to encourage young couples not to delay starting a family out of housing concerns.
The HDB is likely to enact the new policy as part of the Government's revamped Marriage and Parenthood package early this year.
This is also set to include a slew of measures to boost the total fertility rate, which currently stands at just 1.2.
Property analysts say the new HDB measure could come in the form of reserving a percentage of flats in new build-to-order launches specifically for couples with young children.
Another idea is for "balance flats" - completed units left over from previous launches - to be sold exclusively to such families.
This is so that they will be able to move into a new home immediately.
Martin Koh | 86666 944 | R020968Z
Sherry Tang | 9844 4400 | R020241C
Senior Sales Director
DTZ Debenham Tie Leung (SEA) Pte Ltd (L3006301G)
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