HDB to raise new flat supply to 22,000 in 2011

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) disbursed $502 million in CPF housing grants for the financial year 2009/2010.

The figure is 52 per cent higher than the previous financial year.

The HDB also said its priority is to help first-time home-buyers set up their first homes through both demand and supply measures.

Speaking to the media at its Annual Report briefing, CEO Mrs Cheong Koon Hean said HDB will raise the supply of new flats to 22,000 next year if demand persists to achieve their aim.

She added that at this rate, HDB would have launched enough flats in just two years to create another Toa Payoh new town.

HDB added that all these measures have helped to ease the resale market which remains an important option for buyers.

Mrs Cheong explained that the Build To Order (BTO) programme is a good gauge of demand and supply for new flats and is committed to launching one new BTO programme each month.

“Well the BTO is a very important initiative because it enables us to gauge the demand, the real demand for flats. So I think using the BTO programme where people have to commit to buying a flat before we build is helpful for us because we know it is real demand.

“I think this is one clear benefit. And we will also know whether we are oversupplying or undersupplying based on gauging the demand from the BTO flats.”

In 2010, HDB nearly doubled the new BTO supply to 16,000 units.

Another group of aspiring home owners which the HDB has not forgotten are those from lower income families.

To date, HDB has added 3,500 new rental flats through building and conversion, increasing the rental stock to 45,500.

HDB aims to increase this number to 50,000 by 2012.

As a result of the larger number of rental flats available, HDB has been able to shorten the waiting time for a rental flat to about nine months now, down from the average 21 months previously in 2008.

Another scheme which has helped the lower income families is the additional housing grant introduced in March 2006.

HDB said up to September this year, close to 25,700 homes have benefited from it and $442 million have been disbursed.

Moving forward, Mrs Cheong said some of the challenges facing the HDB include addressing the needs of a growing ageing population in Singapore, ensuring that flats remained affordable and people exercise financial prudence in making their housing choices.

She said: “We have a customer base of three million people with many levels of income, many levels of aspirations so we will have to provide for this full range.

“Another area which we will challenge would be the ageing population. We have to make our estates elderly friendly. And in doing all this, we need to be more innovative, more productive and cost effective in delivering the flats.

“And last but not least, it’s not just about the hardware but its about the software. How do we make Singapore an endearing home? How do we preserve and build hopes and memories? I think that is a very difficult challenge but we hope to do so.

“We want people to take ownership. We want people to know each other as neighbours and to integrate well as communities which are vibrant. I think that would be a major challenge.”

And with housing expected to be a keenly discussed issue during the next general election, Mrs Cheong said that HDB always does its best in delivering housing to the majority of Singaporeans regardless of the general election.

“We will continue to do this. We look at how the market is doing and already on the 30th of August (2010), and throughout this year, we have already put in many measures.

“It’s not an issue of GE or no GE but really we always monitor the market and we do our best to make housing within the reach of all Singaporeans. Increasing the supply is one strategy in the recent announcement of the demand measures. We continue to do this job and to try to meet our mission and objectives”

Another task ahead for the HDB is to make the housing estates eco-friendly.

Mrs Cheong said Singapore’s first eco-precinct Treelodge@Punggol, will be completed this year.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 21 Oct 2010

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