Lukewarm demand for two-room flexi flats

The new Two-Room Flexi Scheme got a modest reception on the first day of the Housing Board sales exercise.
The new Two-Room Flexi Scheme got a modest reception on the first day of the Housing Board sales exercise.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

364 apply for 2,093 units on first day of sale exercise; experts still expect strong demand

The new Two-Room Flexi Scheme got a modest reception on the first day of the Housing Board sales exercise yesterday, with the high supply remaining well in excess of demand.

In this Build-To-Order (BTO) exercise, two-room flexi units make up almost 30 per cent of flats offered and are located in five of six towns available, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong. "This will help ensure a broad range of options and locations to meet demand," he said in a Facebook post yesterday.

As of 5pm yesterday, there were 364 applicants for 2,093 two-room flexi units available, a ratio of about one applicant to every five units.

But experts still expect strong demand for the two-room flexi scheme, which merges and replaces the previous two-room flat and studio apartment schemes.

Units come in two sizes - 36 sq m and 45 sq m - and are available on 99-year leases or, on short leases of 15 to 45 years for eligible buyers aged 55 and above.

EXTRA OPTIONS

This will help ensure a broad range of options and locations to meet demand.

MR LAWRENCE WONG, National Development Minister

ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim expects short leases to be popular, noting that many older buyers "had requested for more flexible leases".

For BTO two-room flexi units, at least 40 per cent - subject to a minimum of 100 units - are for the elderly. Half of this quota is set aside for buyers of flats near their current home or married child, under the new Senior Priority Scheme.

In the concurrent Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise, two-room flexi units make up more than one in five of the 5,350 flats on offer. These include 442 units to be sold on either a 99-year lease or a short lease, and another 776 that are sold on a short lease only and come with elderly-friendly fittings.

While singles have been able to buy two-room flats in non-mature estates in BTO exercises since July 2013, this is the first time they can buy flats in SBF exercises, too.

In BTO launches, after setting aside flats for the elderly, half of the remainder is set aside for non-elderly singles. In SBF exercises, only 5 per cent of the remainder is reserved for singles.

Retiree Violet Seow, 69, is eyeing a 30-year-lease SBF flat in either Woodlands or Yishun. She said: "The shorter lease makes it more affordable for people like me who are not working and have no more money going into our Central Provident Fund."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2015, with the headline 'Lukewarm demand for two-room flexi flats'. Print Edition | Subscribe