HDB says BTO flats to constitute main supply going forward

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) said build-to-order (BTO) flats will constitute the main supply of new flats going forward.

HDB also plans to build another 5,000 units under this scheme, between now and September 2008.

The move comes as HDB’s stock of unsold flats is progressively being taken up.

During the days of excess supply of HDB flats, there were over 25,000 ready-built flats waiting for buyers. But now, that number has shrunk to about just 1,300 units.

To avoid an over-supply, HDB said it’s looking to the BTO scheme which was launched in 2001. So construction will begin only when the majority of planned units have been booked.

This means home-buyers will have to start planning ahead, as the flats take about 3 years before they are ready.

Between now and September, HDB plans to offer another 5,000 BTO flats. These will be in areas like Punggol, Sengkang, Woodlands and Bukit Panjang.

With the latest addition, the total number of such flats, for the first nine months of this year, will be increased to 6,100. This is higher than the number launched in each of the previous two years – 6,000 BTO flats in 2007 and 2,400 in 2006.

HDB will provide more details of these projects when they are launched.

As for the remainder of unsold flats, HDB said from July, these will be offered under a revised sales exercise under the combined balloting/walk-in system which will see more flats offered for sale in quarterly and half-yearly intervals.

All 4-room and bigger flats will also be pooled under a single launch. Sales of these units currently take place by sector – North & West, Northeast, and Established Towns. The timing of such exercises will also be changed so that more flats will be offered under each sale.

Unsold 3-room and smaller units will be released once a quarter, instead of once a month currently. Larger flats – 3-room premium and bigger – will be sold every six months starting this October, instead of bi-monthly.

Priority will be given to first-time homebuyers. 90 percent of unsold flats will be allocated to this group, which will also enjoy a double chance over regular applicants, for a place in the queue.

“This new scheme (does not) favour second-timers. So if I’m a second-timer, I’ll have very little chance if I go to the 6-monthly selection. So my only other chance is to go to the resale market to buy my flat,” said Eugene Lim, Assistant VP of ERA Realty Network.

But analysts said, with prices in the resale market still out of the reach for many home-buyers, BTO flats remain the cheapest option for them. – CNA /ac/ls

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 10 Apr 2008

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