Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of National Development

Shorter waiting time for 1,000 new BTO flats

Mr Quek and Ms Dee, both 24, are hoping that BTO flats with shorter waiting times will be released in Bukit Panjang as they are drawn to the amenities there. "A shorter waiting time gives us the assurance and room to plan our future," said Mr Quek.
Mr Quek and Ms Dee, both 24, are hoping that BTO flats with shorter waiting times will be released in Bukit Panjang as they are drawn to the amenities there. "A shorter waiting time gives us the assurance and room to plan our future," said Mr Quek. ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong

First-time home buyers to get priority for the faster flats located in non-mature estates

Next year, young couples can pick a home from 1,000 new flats that will be ready a lot earlier.

The waiting time for these flats in non-mature estates will be 21/2 years compared with the current waiting time of three to four years.

The HDB has assured would-be buyers that the shorter waiting time will not translate into significantly higher prices.

In addition, first-time home buyers will get priority for these flats, which - unlike the typical Build-To-Order (BTO) flats - will be built before the HDB receives an optimum number of applicants.

Explaining the move in Parliament yesterday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said: "I know there are many young couples who hope to move into their own home even more quickly, to embark on their marriage and parenthood journey together. We've looked into their requests seriously."

REASON FOR MOVE

I know there are many young couples who hope to move into their own home even more quickly, to embark on their marriage and parenthood journey together. We've looked into their requests seriously.

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT MINISTER LAWRENCE WONG

 

With this latest offer, couples have four HDB flat purchase options: a normal BTO flat, a faster BTO flat, a flat from the pool of unsold flats, or a resale flat.

Mr Wong, speaking during the debate on his ministry's budget, said first-time home buyers will get priority for the faster BTO flats.

Of these, at least 95 per cent of the four-room or bigger flats will be set aside for these first-timers, up from the current quota of 85 per cent. More details will be made known later.

Another change Mr Wong announced is that the HDB will offer in one common pool the flats that remain unsold after a Sale of Balance Flat (SBF) exercise.

They will be sold at regular intervals, with priority given to first-time households. The first such sale will be held in the second half of this year.

The typical SBF exercise is currently held twice a year, and there are separate selection queues for each town and flat type.

Housing experts said the new options will be well-received.

R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng predicted at least 1.5 applications for each faster BTO flat.

"Currently, young couples who urgently need flats only have resale ones as a costlier alternative.

"A BTO flat that comes with a shorter wait and is more affordable will excite them," said Mr Ong.

PropNex Realty chief executive Ismail Gafoor, referring to the four purchase options, said: "They have varying timelines, which means young couples can choose and make their plans with greater certainty. This, in turn, helps to reduce conflict that may arise from confusion about their next move."

The duration of a resale transaction looks set to be shortened too.

Said Mr Wong: "We can leverage on technology and make the process faster and more streamlined." The details will be announced later.

At present, it takes about 16 weeks for the deal to be completed and requires two appointments with the HDB.

The suite of changes comes on the back of an increase in subsidy for young couples buying resale flats.

The increase in the CPF Housing Grant was unveiled in the Budget statement last month.

Previously capped at $30,000, the grant was raised to $50,000 for four-room or smaller resale flats, and to $40,000 for five-room or larger flats.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2017, with the headline 'Shorter waiting time for 1,000 new BTO flats'. Print Edition | Subscribe