Mega launch of HDB flats: Applicants get more time

An artist's impression of the upcoming Bidadari estate.
An artist's impression of the upcoming Bidadari estate. PHOTO: HDB

Application period extended to 10 days; robust demand expected for the 12,000 flats

For the upcoming bumper launch of Housing Board flats, which will include the hotly anticipated Bidadari district, the application window will be extended to 10 days, up from the usual seven.

This comes as property experts expect robust demand for the largest sales exercise yet, in the second half of this month.

The extension is meant to give prospective flat buyers "more time to consider the wide range of flats offered and make an informed decision", the HDB said yesterday .

This month's sales exercise, which combines the September and November launches, will see 12,000 public flats up for sale.

Of these, 7,000 will be Build-To-Order flats in Bidadari, Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Punggol and Sengkang. The other 5,000 will be balance units not sold in previous exercises.

The HDB previously said the two launches were merged so that more home buyers could benefit from recent policy changes, many of which will kick in during this sales exercise.

For the first time, citizens with a household income ceiling of $12,000 will be able to apply for new HDB flats. This is after the ceiling was raised from $10,000.

Singles earning up to $6,000 can also apply for a new flat, after their ceiling was raised from $5,000.

The Special Central Provident Fund Housing Grant, aimed at helping lower- and middle-income households afford their first home, will also get a boost from this sales exercise. The maximum grant amount will be doubled to $40,000, and the income ceiling raised from $6,500 to $8,500.

This means more than two-thirds of Singaporean families can qualify for the grant, compared with just over half currently, said the HDB.

This month's launch will also see the introduction of the new two- room flexi scheme, which offers elderly buyers units with shorter leases. Applicants aged 55 and older can choose units with shorter leases ranging from 15 to 45 years, in five-year intervals.

This programme merges and replaces the current studio apartment and two-room flat schemes.

With a wider pool of buyers amid a bumper crop of flats, property experts are expecting greater hype for this month's launch. R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng said Bidadari is set to attract the most interest, given its central location.

ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim described the extension of the flat application period as a "pre-emptive measure" in anticipation of strong demand.

"Given the large number of flats offered in various new towns, applicants will need more time for financial planning and to make comparisons," he said.

But some home buyers like bank analyst Jeremy Ho, 26, and his girlfriend have already made up their minds. The fourth-time applicants are gunning for a four-room flat in Bidadari.

Said Mr Ho: "We want a location that is close to our workplaces."

The HDB yesterday urged the public not to rush their applications. It said: "Flat applications are not processed on a first-come, first-served basis."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2015, with the headline 'Mega launch of HDB flats: Applicants get more time'. Print Edition | Subscribe