Punggol Topaz popular with home buyers

The Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) latest public housing project, Punggol Topaz, is a hit with home buyers.

As at 5pm on Tuesday, it received 6,846 applications for the 1,010 units available. This works out to nearly 7 applications for each unit offered. Applications close at midnight.

But the strong demand for new flats is proving to be a continuing problem for those in search of their first home.

27-year-old Han Heyuan and his fiancee Kristin Chan have been house-hunting for the past two years.

Put off by high asking prices in the resale market, they set their sights on a new flat.

But it has been four times unlucky for the couple.

They said: “We have tried for four different applications – two BTO (Build-To-Order) flats and two Sale of Balance Flats. And so far, we have not been successful. We had a few opportunities to do an HDB (first) appointment. But unfortunately, by the time our queue number arrived, we received the unfortunate SMS from HDB that our ethnic quota has been filled.”

Hoping their fifth attempt proves to be the winner, the couple recently applied for a five-room flat in Punggol Topaz.

HDB sets aside 95 per cent of all new flats for first timers. But for couples like Mr Han and his fiancee, the odds do not appear to be in their favour. Short of a successful ballot this time, their only option is to continue staying with their parents or to fork out thousands of dollars in cash to secure a resale flat.

Market watchers are not surprised by the strong interest in Punggol Topaz, due to its good location – it is walking distance to Punggol MRT station and Punggol Reservoir.

Another factor is the price.

Eugene Lim, associate director at ERA Asia Pacific, said: “The pricing of the flats is about 20 to 25 per cent cheaper than resale flats in the area. And these resale flats are already 10 years old. So this makes the new flats attractive to first-time buyers.”

For example, a four-room unit in Punggol Topaz costs S$329,000, while a similar sized resale flat in the surrounding area can fetch up to S$432,000.

Market watchers said Punggol Topaz is unique in its attributes and not all projects will see such a high demand.

The last BTO project in Yishun drew just over three applicants for each unit offered.

HDB has said it plans to release 11,000 new flats in the first half of this year.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 4 Jan 2011

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