93% take-up for 1st batch of Re-offer of Balance Flats

Mr Adrian Tay and his wife Joan Tan, with their year-old daughter Kiersten, at their new place in Admiralty Grove.
Mr Adrian Tay and his wife Joan Tan, with their year-old daughter Kiersten, at their new place in Admiralty Grove.

Come April, barista Adrian Tay and his wife Joan Tan will no longer have to change their year-old daughter's nappy in the living room due to a lack of space.

Nor will the family have to continue squeezing into a room at his mother's two-room flat in Sengkang where they have been living for the past two years.

The Tays will be moving into a new three-room flat in Woodlands which they bought in last August's inaugural Re-offer of Balance Flats (ROF) exercise.

Ninety-three per cent, or 1,300, of a total of 1,394 flats were booked in the exercise, the Housing Board revealed yesterday. There were a total of 6,102 applicants last August - more than four applicants for each flat. The HDB added that the take-up rate was good across the unit types offered, from two-room Flexi flats and four-room flats to executive flats.

The ROF exercise, held twice yearly, pools together unsold balance flats from previous sales exercises and re-offers them in a common pool. The August ROF launch featured unsold flats from the November 2016 Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise. First-timers booked about 70 per cent of the 1,300 flats.

Mr Chong Jun Yi, 27, who is currently unemployed, and his fiancee Song Xuezhen, 30, a research engineer in the biomedical sector, are one such couple. They collected the keys to their four-room flat in Jurong on Wednesday, and are looking forward to completing renovations in time for their June wedding.

About one in five buyers has collected the keys to their new homes.

Mr Chong said: "The whole process of applying and receiving the keys was pretty fast. We were quite surprised it took only three months, which was great news to us because the flat can be ready before our wedding."

The ROF exercise is meant for people with urgent housing needs who are less particular about location.

About 71 per cent of the flats in the August exercise were completed at the time of the launch, enabling a quicker move-in period.

Mr Ku Swee Yong, chief executive officer of International Property Advisor real estate agency, was not surprised by the 93 per cent take-up rate. He said: "It is within expectations, as the ROF has a good mix of flats that are already completed, and many are in good locations and mature estates."

Flats under the scheme continue to be in high demand. The second ROF exercise, held this month, saw 4,707 applicants vying for 717 units.

Mr Tay, 35, and Ms Tan, 31, said it feels good to finally have a space to call their own after being married for close to two years, especially as they have another child on the way.

They bought their flat in Admiralty Grove for about $100,000, after receiving $75,000 in grants.

They cancelled their application in the May 2017 launch for a unit under an SBF exercise, also in Woodlands, after getting a queue number that was twice as high as the supply of units. Mr Tay said: "I feel very blessed to have a home where I can raise my kids in. It has always been my wife's and my dream to have our own home."

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 25, 2018, with the headline 93% take-up for 1st batch of Re-offer of Balance Flats. Subscribe