Overwhelming response to Sale of Balance Flats

The Housing & Development Board (HDB) says the chances of a first-time flat buyer shortlisted to select a flat under the first Sale of Balance Flats exercise is slim, despite the priority given to them.

This is due to the overwhelming response to the exercise which will end at midnight Wednesday. More than 20,000 applications were received as at 5pm for the 2,100 flats on offer.

About seven in ten applicants are first-time buyers. The rest have bought at least one flat in the past. Demand was high across the board, even in less mature and less centralised locations such as Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang and Woodlands.

Property analysts attributed the strong demand partly to the boom in the housing market.

Jeffrey Hong, executive director of HSR Property Group, said: “The cash above valuation, it has been huge right now. Owners are expecting like $50,000 above valuation or some may be asking for $60,000 above valuation. So, for those first-time flat owners, they cannot fork out this money. So, they have basically no choice but to narrow down towards the less popular areas.”

HDB says first-time flat buyers who would like greater certainty in securing a flat should apply for the Build-to-Order or BTO flats, which are the main mode of supply for flats.

Its records show that 96 percent of first-timers have been given a chance to select a BTO flat within two tries.

The HDB will launch two new BTO projects offering more than 1,000 flats in Sengkang and Jurong West on Friday.

This will be followed by six more launches with 4,000 flats in Punggol, Sembawang, Bukit Panjang and Dawson estates in November and December.

This will bring the number of new BTO flats the board is launching to 5,000 in three months.

In total, HDB says it will be supplying 9,000 new BTO flats this year. That’s far more than the 2,900 balance flats sold under the current and previous sale exercises for this year.

HDB says it will continue to monitor housing demand and ensure that there is sufficient flat supply for first-time buyers.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 14 Oct 2009

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