Eight more projects under BTO system to be launched by year end

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) will launch another eight “build-to order” (BTO) projects for flats by the end of this year.

These projects will be launched in Sengkang and Jurong West this month, two projects in Punggol next month and four projects in Dawson, Bukit Panjang and Sembawang in December.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan, who viewed one of the selection exercises at the HDB Hub on Wednesday, has assured Singaporeans that the supply of new flats under the BTO programme is more than adequate to meet the needs of younger couples.

He said that these flats are affordably priced and are good quality housing.

According to HDB, under the BTO system, the success rate for first timers who select their flat within the first try is 80 per cent, and within two tries is 96 per cent.

However, some have complained that they have not been able to get a flat after many attempts.

“Every time we get such emails we check – is it true? Why is it that after 12 times he still didn’t get a flat. It is ridiculous, surely something is wrong with the system,” said Mr Mah.

“So I have asked HDB to check and the sad part of it is – a lot of the times this is not entirely truthful. It’s not a matter of them not getting the flat, it’s a matter of getting it and not selecting it for one reason or the other.

“I would go further to say that if you (are) genuinely in (need of a flat) and you have not been able to succeed after three or four times, I’m prepared to look at it and find out what is going on.”

Just this year alone, some 2,400 first time applicants were invited to select flats under the BTO system.

However, HDB said that some 45 per cent of these applicants did not book a flat.

Said Mr Mah: “You just have to make sure that they don’t jeopardise the chances of others, and that’s the reason why we put them at the back of the queue. So if you are in greater need of a flat – you are getting married, you don’t mind any of these flats – I will let you choose first.

“(There are) those who have a less urgent need or actually have a place to stay but are just trying their luck and are hoping that they get a good balloting number and a flat of their choice. In fact, many of those who reject say their preferred flat has been taken up. In such cases, we cannot cater for them.”

Other reasons cited for not taking up BTO flats include flat buyers reconsidering other housing options or that the completion dates for the projects were too long.

HDB’s advice to flat buyers is: plan ahead for the purchase and also know the trade-offs between wanting a flat in a mature or non-mature estate.

Flat buyers have also been urged to be realistic and exercise prudence, and buy a flat they can afford.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 7 Oct 2009

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