Households receiving Special CPF Housing Grant triple

Households receiving special CPF Housing Grant more than tripled in the last financial year.
Households receiving special CPF Housing Grant more than tripled in the last financial year. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Households receiving the Special CPF Housing Grant more than tripled in the last financial year, according to the Housing Board's (HDB) latest annual report.

In the 12 months up till March 31, 2015, 10,213 households received the Special CPF Housing Grant, up from 3,380 in the previous financial year.

This increase came after the changes in July 2013 which raised the income ceiling for the grant and extended it to four-room flats.

The HDB's annual report also shows longer-term trends. For instance, public flats have been built at a faster rate to meet demand, with more than double the number being completed in the last four years, compared to the previous four years.

From 2011 to 2014, 72,218 units were built whereas 29,935 units were built from 2006 to 2010. A total of 55,135 flats were built from 2001 to 2005.

The spike in figures stems from the Government's ramping up of new flat supply from 2011 to 2013.

More than 25,000 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats were launched each year to meet what then-National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan called "pent-up demand".

According to the HDB report, demand for flats for the financial years of 2011/2012 to 2014/2015 stood at 114,207 units, up from 64,767 units in the previous five years.

Real estate firm Century21's chief executive officer Ku Swee Yong said the actual speed of construction might also have risen.

BTO projects launched in the second half of 2011 were completed by early 2015, he noted. "The pace was faster than normal - just over three years."

As pent-up demand was addressed, the supply of new BTO flats was tapered to 22,455 units in 2014, and 15,100 this year.

However, in October, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said that supply is likely to go up again next year to meet higher demand arising from recent policy changes.

These changes include higher income ceilings for new flats and enhanced housing grants, which widen the pool of home buyers.

"Because of the new measures that were introduced, we expect demand to go up," said Mr Wong. "So I've asked HDB to look at supplying more BTO flats next year in order to accommodate higher demand."

He added that the response to last month's sales exercise would be taken into consideration.

The 7,061 BTO flats launched in November met with a generally warm response, with 2.8 applicants for every two-room flexi unit and 3.5 applicants for every three-room and larger flat.

In particular, the first-timer application rate for three-room and larger flats was 2.8 applicants per unit.

This was the same as in the previous BTO exercise in May, which included a popular project in the mature estate of Clementi.

Yet that rate is the highest since separate first-timer figures were made available in 2011.