HDB to combine BTO launches for June, July

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) will combine the Build-to-Order (BTO) flat launches for June and July, for release in mid-July. National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said this in his blog on Saturday.

This came a week after he said he was considering moving away from the current practice of monthly launches of BTO flats and explore ways to have larger combined launches. He had said that larger launches offer buyers a wider range of choices and reduce the odds of repeated disappointment.

In his blog entry on Saturday, Mr Khaw also urged Singaporeans to be patient and allow the changes on housing to work their way through the market.

He said earlier rounds of cooling measures, increased supply of BTO flats, latest BTO launch prices, the state of the economy and loan interest rates will combine to impact the housing market. He said the interactions are complex and do not work entirely in a mechanical way.

He added that there will be fluctuations and short-term volatility, at both volume and price levels.

Meanwhile, the HDB is pressing on with its increased BTO launches to provide affordable options for home buyers, especially the first-timers.

Mr Khaw said his current focus is on public housing, and the HDB is helping to analyse the profile of successful BTO applicants, which he will share when ready.

He said the housing market was “too lively”. Last year, for example, about 89,000 units were sold.

Analysts Channel NewsAsia spoke to said they welcome the move to combine the BTO flat launches as it will spread out the number of applicants.

Eugene Lim, Key Executive Officer with ERA Realty Network Pte Ltd, said: “This will be good for the home buyer because there are more varieties. More importantly, it will help spread out the number of applications.

“In the past, HDB usually conducts BTO one project at a time. So home buyers who are unsure of where the next launch is will just jump onto the bandwagon. So sometimes you do get an impression that there actually is a huge backlog but its just because home buyers are unsure and therefore they just apply, [regardless] of whether they actually like the location.

“So this would help spread out the numbers and therefore, reflect a more realistic number of buyers in the market for BTO flats. This would also have the impact of reflecting what is the real demand for BTO flats, and therefore you may not see such high numbers of oversubscription.”

Meanwhile, the HDB has analysed the profile of people who bought resale flats last in May.

There were about 2,162 transactions. The demand for all flat types was quite evenly distributed, with four-room flats enjoying an edge. Mr Khaw said this is not surprising as the four-room flat is the most common flat type.

Mr Lim said: “Typically in a resale transaction, four-rooms would form about almost 40 per cent of the flat transactions. This is not surprising because a four-room flat has three bedrooms, its a practical size. Its also not as pricey as a five-room flat, therefore its usually the most popular as far as resale flats are concerned.”

The majority of buyers were second-timers, chalking up a third of all transactions. First-time buyers made up a quarter of transactions.

There were clear differences in preference among first- and second-timers. First-timers preferred larger flats, while the second-timers, smaller flats. The next buyer groups were permanent residents (20 per cent), singles (15 per cent) and private property owners (eight per cent), with clear differences in flat type choices.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 25 Jun 2011

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