Two in five applicants for Housing Board flats between 2012 and 2016 did not go on to pick a flat after being shortlisted to do so.
The most common reasons were that their preferred units had been snapped up, they wanted to apply for flats in other sales exercises, or they had changed their minds and wanted to consider other options.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said this in Parliament yesterday in response to Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC), who asked for the rate of rejection of flats under the Build-to-Order (BTO) or Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) schemes.
Mr Wong said the HDB shortlists up to three times as many applicants as the flat supply. The average time taken to complete the BTO selection exercise is six months, and for an SBF exercise, 10 months.
Flats which are not booked are offered for selection in future SBF exercises, he said.
Mr Gan suggested that unsuccessful applicants should be allowed to stay in the queue, but Mr Wong said it would be better to inform them so they will not "end up having to wait for an even longer period of time, without any certainty that the flats will be available". He added that they would then be able to make alternative housing plans.
Mr Low Thia Khiang (Aljunied GRC) asked why some unsold BTO units were priced higher when they were offered in an SBF exercise.
Mr Wong replied that the HDB uses the same methodology to determine the prices for both BTO and SBF flats, which takes into account the prices of comparable resale flats in the vicinity, as well as the specific attributes of the flats, such as storey height and design.
The prices could differ for several reasons, he said. For example, SBF prices could be higher as the units are offered closer to completion, or lower if the prices of comparable resale flats nearby have softened since their first launch.
"As the market adjusts, we also update the pricing. That's been the practice of HDB all this while," he said.