HDB tweaks rules to protect serious buyers, will launch 4,640 flats in May

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has tweaked its rules to discourage buyers who book a flat but subsequently cancel their booking, in a move designed to better protect the interests of serious home buyers.

Such applicants who cancel their booking cannot, within one year from the date of cancellation, apply or be included as an essential occupier for a new HDB flat, DBSS (Design, Build and Sell Scheme) unit, Executive Condominium unit, or a resale flat with housing grants.

The requirement will be waived in exceptional circumstances beyond the control of the applicants.

The HDB hopes this will ensure that the flats are only allocated to serious buyers.

Currently, buyers only have to pay a non-refundable booking fee when they select a unit and a 10-per cent downpayment when they sign the agreement.

The HDB said it has seen a steady increase in the number of flat booking cancellations over the last five years – from 309 in 2007 to 1,540 cancellations in 2011.

It said one of the reasons for the increase is the higher BTO supply in recent years.

The cancellations form five to six per cent of Build-to-Order (BTO) supply.

The applicants cite various reasons for cancellation, such as a change in housing plan and intention to buy another flat.

In order to help some families enjoy greater access to two-room flats, the HDB is also raising the income ceiling for two-room flats in mature towns and estates from S$2,000 to S$5,000 per month.

The move provides an additional housing option for households who prefer to live in mature estates, but whose monthly income exceeds S$2,000.

The HDB also said it will be offering 4,640 BTO flats for sale in Choa Chu Kang, Kallang/Whampoa, Punggol and Sengkang in May.

It has ramped up flat supply substantially, to some 50,000 units in two years, to meet housing needs and will continue to build more if demand persists, the HDB said.

The HDB also launched on Wednesday 7,978 flats for sale under BTO and Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises for March.

The public housing authority continues to place priority on first-time flat applicants.

In the March launch, 4,153 units are new flats in eight BTO projects and 3,825 are SBF flats in 26 towns and estates. Of these, 1,739 of the BTO flats in mature estates and 3,609 SBF flats will render top priority for first-timers.

The HDB said 95 per cent of these flats will be reserved for them.

At the same time, the HDB is enhancing housing options for second-time home-buyers, married children and parents wanting to live with or near each other, as well as the elderly who want to age in a familiar environment and families preferring two-room flats in mature estates.

For second-timers, the chances of securing a flat will be tripled from 5 per cent to 15 per cent for 2,094 BTO flats in non-mature estates. The proportion of these flats reserved for first-timers will be reduced to 85 per cent.

The HDB said the chances of first-timers will not be too greatly affected, after successive massive BTO launches in the past one year.

The HDB also said there will be more housing options in mature estates, with 3,174 flats in the March launch located in such estates. These include 397 studio apartments and 366 units of two-room flats.

More choices will be provided for married children wanting to stay near their parents, the elderly who want to remain in the same town or estate, as well as families preferring two-room flats in mature estates, the HDB added.

To help married children and parents live with or near each other, the HDB introduced the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS) at Ping Yi Greens in Bedok.

The scheme gives priority allocation to married children and their parents who jointly apply to live near each other. Married children can apply to buy a two-room, three-room or four-room flat at Ping Yi Greens, while their parents can apply to buy a two-room flat in the same project.

The HDB has also enhanced the Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS) to increase the number of ballot chances a married child receives if he applies to live with his parents. Such an applicant will now receive six ballot chances if he’s a first-timer, and three ballot chances if he’s a second-timer.

To help the elderly to age in a familiar environment, the HDB has introduced Ageing-in-Place Priority Scheme (APPS) to give priority to seniors living in the same town/estate or within two kilometres of the project they apply for.

Seniors applying under the scheme will receive two ballot chances, instead of one. If they are also applying to live near their married child under MCPS, they will receive four balloting chances altogether.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 28 Mar 2012

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