1,394 balance flats available on re-offer

Those with urgent housing needs can choose units including 393 in popular mature estates

Blocks of HDB housing flats in Toa Payoh.

Home buyers in urgent need of flats now have 1,394 units to choose from - of which 393 are in popular mature estates such as Toa Payoh, Ang Mo Kio and Queenstown.

But there is a catch: These are flats which were not taken up in previous sales exercises, for various reasons.

They were made available again yesterday in the first Re-offer of Balance Flats (ROF) exercise, which pooled all balance flats last offered in November last year.

Altogether, more than 5,200 Build-To-Order (BTO) and ROF flats were launched for sale yesterday. Applicants may apply for a flat under either exercise, but not both.

Unlike the existing Sale of Balance Flats exercise, the ROF groups all available balance flats in a common pool, and home buyers do not have to indicate their preferred flat type and estate in their application.

Under the ROF, home buyers - based on their balloted queue numbers - pick their preferred unit from the pool.

The Housing Board was not able to specify how long the ROF units had been on the market. But these flats could cater to buyers with more urgent housing needs who are less particular about location. Some 71 per cent of the flats have been completed, so buyers can move into them sooner.

The ROF will take place every August and February.

The flats offered in this first ROF exercise comprise 110 two-room flexi units, 384 three-room units, 624 four-room units, 260 five-room units, seven three-generation units and nine executive flats.

HDB will set aside at least 95 per cent of the flat supply for families buying a flat for the first time, and up to 5 per cent for families purchasing for the second time.

Seniors may apply if they meet the eligibility conditions to buy a two-room flexi flat.

Property agents said some of the flats could still be on the market because of their small size or their location on lower floors. The different ethnic quotas for the flats could also pose limitations.

Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research and consultancy at ZACD Group, said less desirable flats "may snowball and go over to the next round" of the re-offer. "If there are still no takers, the Government may have to decide to relax the ethnic quota or lower the price," he said.

PropNex Realty's chief executive Ismail Gafoor said he expected "strong demand" for the ROF units, partly because buyers could move into them more quickly than BTOs.

Furthermore, they are priced about 20 per cent to 30 per cent lower than resale flats in the same areas, he noted.

Applications for new flats launched in this month's BTO and ROF exercises can be submitted online on the HDB InfoWEB until next Monday.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2017, with the headline 1,394 balance flats available on re-offer. Subscribe