New Housing Board flats were launched in two northern towns, but those in Punggol garnered more attention than the ones in Yishun.
As of 5pm yesterday, there were 5,608 applications for 1,221 three-room and larger flats - 4.6 times the number of flats available - in the newly launched waterfront district of Punggol Point, the most north-eastern part of the town where it meets the Johor Strait.
In contrast, there were applications for just 60 per cent of the total number of four-room flats in Yishun, and 90 per cent of the five-room flats. Only three-room flats were oversubscribed 1.5 times, compared to 2.8 times for the same flat type in Punggol.
Altogether, there were 6,620 applicants for 2,475 three-room and larger Build-To-Order (BTO) flats.
ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim said the difference in application rates was not surprising as Punggol is popular with the younger crowd, while Yishun "has a reputation as an old town".
He added that there might have been less cannibalisation if the launch for flats in the same region is split up.
"When you pair an attractive product with a normal one in the same area, of course the attention would be diverted," he said.
Punggol is particularly popular this time round because some flats offer views of the Johor Strait. Sea views are extremely rare for HDB flats and may help to fetch higher prices later, observers said.
"This product practically sells itself," said Mr Lim.
The new homes are also next to the upcoming Punggol Coast MRT station and an existing LRT station of the same name, while the Yishun flats are much farther from Yishun MRT station.
ZACD Group executive director Nicholas Mak said the disparity - the application rates for flats in Punggol were two to six times higher than that in Yishun - signals that applicants can now afford to be choosy.
"It might mean that potential buyers these days prefer flats that have better chances for price appreciation in the near future," he said, adding that HDB may wish to slow down the release of housing parcels in less popular towns.
Mr Lim noted the particularly high application rate among second-timers for five-room and three-generational flats - 21.6 in Punggol. If this keeps up, he said, HDB may wish to tweak the priority ratio to allow more second-timers a better shot of getting a right-sized home.
There were also 2,745 app-lications for 1,900 two-room flexi flats in both towns, with the app-lication rate in Punggol double that of Yishun.
As for the 726 Re-Offer of Balance Flats available, which pools unsold flats of different sizes and locations, there were 4,929 applications. But Mr Mak cautioned that many applicants might just be trying their luck and some flats may continue to go unsold.