Fall in demand for BTO flats in latest exercise

The demand for the second batch of Build-to-Order (BTO) flats launched this year has dropped, compared to the previous batch. But analysts Channel NewsAsia spoke to said the housing needs of some groups are still not being met.

The exercise will close at midnight on Tuesday.

There were 4.1 applicants vying for each unit in January’s BTO exercise.

But for the exercise this month, the number is at 2.4, as at 5pm on Monday.

Eugene Lim, key executive officer at ERA Realty Network, said: “Some buyers may have held back their applications this round, one reason being that there is an upcoming Sale of Balance Flats (exercise).

“Some of those flats are almost completed and you can actually get them quite fast.”

Some 3,000 flats will be offered in a Sale of Balance Flats exercise in May.

Analysts also said the lower application rate for this month’s BTO exercise shows that supply has generally caught up with demand.

But they added that housing needs of some groups are still not being met.

Mr Lim said: “If you look at the overall figure, it does seem to give you the impression that housing needs are being met.

“But if you look at the various sub groups, then you can actually pick up that for certain groups, their housing needs are still not met.

“So for example, one that still stands out very strongly is the singles (group). The application rate for BTO flats is still very high among singles.”

As at 5pm on Monday, there were 27.6 singles applying for each two-room flat in Yishun.

Over at Sembawang, there were nine single applicants for each two-room unit.

Analysts said it is no surprise that the flats in Yishun are more popular among singles, compared to Sembawang.

Analysts said the area is closer to mature estates such as Ang Mo Kio and Yio Chu Kang, while Sembawang is at the northernmost point of Singapore.

This month’s BTO exercise also saw the fourth batch of 3-Generation (3Gen) flats being launched.

The popularity of such units continues to be higher among second-timers.

As at 5pm on Monday, there were three first-time buyers applying for each 3Gen or five-room unit, compared to 13.2 second-time applicants.

One analyst Channel NewsAsia spoke to said the Housing and Development Board could consider allocating more 3Gen flats to second-timers.

Thomas Tan, executive director at Remax Singapore, said: “If I am a first-timer and I own a HDB flat, that is probably for myself, maybe my children. But as time goes by, the household size grows, together with the initiative where one wants to look after parents.

“Generally, the (household) size grows — that is probably why you see greater need (for 3Gen flats) from second-timers rather than first-timers.”

The next BTO exercise will be in May, and the HDB will offer 3,060 flats in Bukit Batok and Woodlands.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 31 Mar 2014

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