Record number of HDB flats on offer in May BTO, balance flat launch

SINGAPORE: The Housing and Development Board on Wednesday (May 27) launched its largest Build-To-Order (BTO) cum Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise, with a total of 9,431 new flats for sale in 24 HDB towns and estates. This includes 1,402 flats at Punggol Northshore, which will be the first to test-bed smart technologies.

The 4,044 BTO flats and 5,387 balance flats are on offer in the May exercise.

The BTO flats on offer include four projects in the non-mature towns of Punggol and Sembawang, and two projects in the mature towns of Clementi and Tampines. The first homes at Northshore District, with smart technologies found within the projects, are also part of the launch.

Analysts felt that the Clementi project has the most attractive location, although that will come at a cost. PropNex Realty Mohamed CEO Ismail Gafoor said when a BTO and a resale flat are compared, there is a discount of 30 to 35 per cent across the board.

However, for flats in Clementi in particular, there will not be huge discounts, he said. “When I look at the highest price of a BTO and a resale, the discount is barely about 14 to 15 per cent.”

“Therefore one who buys the BTO in Clementi will have to accept the fact that he is not going to get the  huge discount, but in terms of its location and the upside capital appreciation in the near future, it is still bright for Clementi,” added Mr Ismail.

ERA Realty’s Key Executive Officer Eugene Lim agreed that the Clementi BTO flats – which cost S$478,000 to S$621,000 for four-room flats and S$576,000 to S$725,000 for five-room flats – may seem pricey for some buyers.

“Comparatively, older 99-year leasehold condos around the West Coast area are just below S$1 million for two-bedroom units and just above S$1 million for three-bedroom units,” he said.

Still, the Clementi BTO flats are expected to attract strong demand. Suntec Real Estate Consultants Director of Research & Consultancy Colin Tan said: “Sometimes when people look at a property, they do not look at the absolute price, they look at the value for money, and sometimes they actually look at the potential for appreciation.

“Because the project is right in the middle of the town centre, fairly close to the MRT, I think it will still be fairly popular.”

This is the second BTO launch of the year, bringing the total number of BTO flats offered this year to 8,039 units. Together with the 5,387 balance flats offered in this exercise, HDB has offered a total of 13,426 flats for sale in the first half of 2015.

Eligible first-timer families participating in the BTO exercise will enjoy S$60,000 of housing grants, comprising the Additional CPF Housing Grant up to S$40,000 and the Special CPF Housing Grant up to S$20,000. With these grants, 2-room, 3-room, 4-room and 5-room flats can be purchased from S$15,000, S$102,000, S$203,000 and S$354,000, respectively, HDB said in its press release.

New flats are priced with a subsidy, taking into account factors such as location, flat attributes, project design and prevailing market conditions, the agency added.

MAY 2015 SBF EXERCISE

HDB will offer 5,387 balance flats in 11 non-mature and 13 mature towns/estates under the May exercise. They comprise 227 Studio Apartments, 272 units of 2-room, 1,892 units of 3-room, 2,091 units of 4-room, 862 units of 5-room, 32 units of 3Gen and 11 units of executive flats. Flats offered under the SBF exercise are reserved for families, said HDB.

About 27 per cent of the balance flats are already completed, while the remaining 73 per cent are under construction. Analysts said this may impact the demand for the BTO exercise, as balance flats offer a shorter waiting time.

HDB advised applicants to apply for a BTO flat in non-mature towns to enjoy a higher chance of success in securing a flat. “Although the SBF flats have a shorter waiting time to completion, the number of units in each town is small, and is likely to attract high application rates,” it said in its press release.

Application for new flats launched in the May 2015 BTO cum SBF exercise can be submitted online on the HDB InfoWEB from May 27 to Jun 2.

The next BTO exercise will be held in August. A total of 4,860 flats will be launched then, including 2,150 units in the much-anticipated Bidadari estate.