Drop-out rate 50% for selection of BTO flats in 2009

The Housing and Development Board said that one in two applicants did not book a flat when invited to do so under the Build-To-Order (BTO) system.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan revealed this figure in Parliament on Friday. He added that the high application rates for recent BTO launches do not reflect true demand for flats.

Mr Mah noted that 22 per cent of the applications for BTO projects in the last four months are repeat applications from the same households. He gave the example of a recent BTO project, Fernvale Palms, that had just completed selection.

He said: “By the end of the selection exercise just this week, 44 per cent of first-timers who were invited to select a flat declined, did not do so.

“They were given the chance; they went, they saw, they said, ‘No, thank you, I don’t want.’ – even when all the flats were available on the first day. 34 per cent of applicants gave up their chance to select a flat.”

Members of Parliament, such as Cedric Foo and Cynthia Phua, had questioned if there was a sufficient supply of housing.

Responding to them, Mr Mah said that HDB received nearly 480 appeals in the last six months from home buyers who said they could not get a flat. But he added that only six per cent of these applicants genuinely did not have a chance to choose a flat in at least two BTO exercises in non-mature estates.

Mr Mah said that the government is committed towards helping Singaporeans own their first home. But he urged home buyers to be realistic.

He said: “It is not possible to promise every applicant who buys direct from HDB his ‘choice’ flat, at the floor of his choice; at the place of his choice; at the time of his choice; and at the price he wants. Our land is limited, especially in the mature estates. So is our housing budget, generous as it is.

“Buyers have to decide on the tradeoffs they want to make – whether they should keep on trying for their ‘choice’ flat, and delay setting up their home, or to settle first for one within their budget and move to a better flat later when they have built up their finances.”

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 5 Mar 2010