More take Special CPF Housing Grant

Blocks of housing flats in Toa Payoh.
Blocks of housing flats in Toa Payoh. PHOTO: ST FILE

Numbers tripled in the last financial year after income ceiling raised, 4-room flats included

Households receiving the Special Central Provident Fund Housing Grant more than tripled in the last financial year, according to the Housing Board's latest annual report.

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

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

The Special CPF Housing Grant goes up to $40,000 currently, depending on household income.

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

From 2011 to last year, 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, according to the report, which was released at the weekend. 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 chief executive Ku Swee Yong said the actual speed of construction could also have risen. BTO projects launched in the second half of 2011 were completed by early this year, he said. "The pace was faster than normal - just over three years," he added.

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

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

The changes include higher income ceilings for new flats, and enhanced housing grants, which will 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 last month 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 a unit.

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

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2015, with the headline 'More take Special CPF Housing Grant'. Print Edition | Subscribe