HDB committed to upgrading existing towns

Estate rejuvenation could be a focus area for the Housing and Development Board (HDB) going forward. Having largely fulfilled first-timer demand for flats, HDB has already started tapering new supply of Build-To-Order (BTO) flats.

Experts have said this could also free up resources to commit to maintaining and upgrading older estates.

HDB currently has 26 towns and housing estates, some which are decades-old, and others newly-built. Even as it rolls out new BTO launches, HDB said it is committed to upgrading existing towns in order to enhance the living environment and amenities for residents.

For its financial year 2014/15, HDB expanded its upgrading programme to more towns, which saw the upgrading segment post a deficit of S$574 million, up from the S$568 million last year.

Said Mr Nicholas Mak, executive director of SLP International: “The theme of estate rejuvenation is going to be an on-going process. The public flats programme has been around (for) more than 40 years. We also have some estates which are ageing, even some of the non-mature estates are also ageing; it’s actually a necessary part of urban renewal.”

Meanwhile, deficit from home ownership – which comprises the gross loss on the sale of flats, disbursement of CPF housing grants and the expected loss for flats that are currently under development – was S$1.75 billion, 9 per cent lower than in the previous financial year.

Overall, HDB incurred a net deficit of S$2.02 billion before Government grants, up slightly from the S$1.97 billion in the previous fiscal year.

Property watchers said application rates from recent sales exercises show that the backlog from first-time applicants is being substantially reduced, and this could prompt HDB to re-calibrate its flat allocation.

Mr Eugene Lim, key executive officer at ERA Realty Network, said: “They left the majority of the numbers to sell to families – those buying under the family scheme. (As for) the singles, there were flats for them, but application rates for singles were extremely high; because of the limited number of flats made available, the application rate was also quite high.

“So I think going forward, HDB is likely to recalibrate the number of flats they are putting onstream to cater to these groups which particularly have higher application rates so as to balance the table.”

For the whole financial year ending in March 2015, HDB launched five BTO sales exercises, offering almost 20,000 units across 27 projects.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 2 Dec 2015

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