Demand from couples with young kids is especially strong in mature estates
The Straits Times - February 14, 2013
A NEW priority scheme to help married couples with young children secure a new Housing Board flat more quickly has seen a strong take-up.
Applicants in this category made up 30 per cent of the flats on offer - precisely the proportion of flats set aside for them - in the non-mature estates of Choa Chu Kang, Hougang and Yishun in last month's Build-to-Order (BTO) exercise.
This means these applicants have a virtually 100 per cent chance of getting a BTO flat.
These probabilities fall, however, in the more popular mature estates of Ang Mo Kio, Kallang/ Whampoa and Tampines.
There, the number of married applicants with kids was almost 80 per cent of the flat supply - more than twice the 30 per cent allocation for them.
This is according to fresh figures provided yesterday by the HDB in response to queries from The Straits Times.
The Parenthood Priority Scheme was announced last month as part of a broader package of measures to spur marriage and parenthood in Singapore.
Under the scheme, 30 per cent of the flats in any launch of new BTO flats are reserved for married couples with children under the age of 16. This would enable such couples to secure their homes quicker and therefore encourage them to have children earlier.
The scheme took effect this year for the first time with the BTO launch of 3,346 units across six towns last month.
There were more than 12,000 bids for these flats and the HDB said yesterday that some 20 per cent of the first-timers applied under the new priority scheme.
Experts said yesterday it was no surprise that applicants with young children gunned for flats in mature towns, which have better transport links and amenities.
"It's a safe bet that many of these buyers are staying with their parents in these towns," said Dennis Wee Group spokesman Lee Sze Teck. "Their kids probably attend a neighbourhood school there, and this would mean minimum disruption overall."
Mr Nicholas Mak noted that married couples in their late 30s to 40s are likely to have sufficient savings to go for larger flats in mature towns, which will typically appreciate more in value over the years.
He estimated that even more of such bidders might emerge when HDB launches "balance flats" for sale later this year. These are flats which are either close to completion or already built, and half the supply is reserved for this group.
Such flats would have a stronger appeal with families with young children, which have a more urgent need for a new home.
Noting that flats in mature towns were oversubscribed by these priority applicants, an HDB spokesman said those who are unsuccessful will get another chance to ballot for a flat.
This is because their names now go into the general pool of first-timers, which includes engaged couples and married couples without children. Between 85 per cent and 95 per cent of BTO flats in any launch are reserved for this group.
Mrs Celine Chia, who had hoped the new scheme would make a difference to her chances, looks to be able to rest easy. She had applied for a five-room flat in Hougang, after balloting unsuccessfully many times in the past.
But the 32-year-old account director said she is not counting her chickens just yet. "Right now, everything is still up in the air. I'll only be assured once I get to choose my flat."
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