The Straits Times | MARCH 22, 2013
Nearly 4,000 new flats on offer
The Housing Board has rolled out close to 4,000 new flats, with 470 in Punggol, the new town that has generated lots of buzz recently.
Experts expect the four- and five-room units there to be the most popular picks of the flats launched yesterday. Prices of the Punggol flats start from $294,000 for the four-room units, and $363,000 for the five-roomers.
But the other offerings, in Bukit Batok and Sengkang, could draw lower interest than normal, warned experts, as some buyers may adopt a wait-and-see approach as plans are being made to reduce the prices of new flats.
Yesterday's launch of Build-to-Order (BTO) projects is the HDB's second this year.
It is also the first time since last July that the Government has offered new flats in Punggol, which is being developed into a new centre of waterfront living.
A report last October showed median resale prices of flats there rising at 3.7 per cent, higher than the national average of 2.3 per cent, in a trend that analysts believe will accelerate.
But experts added that Punggol could well prove to be the only hot spot in the latest launch offering, as some buyers turn more cautious about taking up BTO flats in non-mature estates.
Yesterday's launch was the first since National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan promised to bring down new flat prices in non-mature estates by 30 per cent. He had made it clear that the cheaper flats would come with restrictions to differentiate them from current BTO units.
With the details still to be revealed, buyers may hold back, said DWG senior manager Lee Sze Teck.
And as reports have emerged of delays in the completion of BTO projects, some might also choose to wait for the upcoming Sale of Balance Flats exercise instead, as these units have already been built. The HDB said yesterday that 3,000 flats will be available in the exercise in May.
Church worker Hwang E-wan, 30, and her fiance, said they would hold back. "We are also waiting to see what the Government will do to bring prices down," she said. "The more affordable, the better."
Yesterday's launch was also the last one this year before a new initiative to cater to those looking to buy their second flat from HDB kicks in. In May, the quota of new two- or three-room flats for second-timers will double, from 15 per cent to 30 per cent.
This is to help financially vulnerable families downgrade with ease, Mr Khaw said during the Budget debate earlier this month.
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