Many Singaporean couples celebrated Valentine's Day by trying their luck for a love nest, as the Housing Board launched its first Build-To-Order (BTO) exercise of the year yesterday.
There were 4,056 BTO flats on offer, ranging from two-room flats to multi-generational homes, in Punggol and the mature estates of Clementi and Tampines.
A project in Woodlands had to be deferred to later this year, as a further review was needed to study the drainage and sewerage design, and how it can be integrated with the surrounding developments, HDB said.
Clementi is expected to be the most popular, followed closely by Tampines, industry watchers said.
R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng noted that it has been a while since new flats were released in Clementi. Their proximity to the upcoming Jurong Lake District would also attract buyers, he said.
Tampines flats are relatively affordable despite their location in a mature estate, said ERA Realty key executive Eugene Lim.
Flats there start from $299,000 for a four-room flat without grants. In contrast, a four-room flat in Clementi starts from $432,000.
As of 5pm yesterday, there were only 449 applicants for 1,603 units in Clementi, and 254 applicants for 638 units in Tampines.
But PropNex Realty chief executive Ismail Gafoor predicts that this will rise to four applicants for each Clementi flat, and five for each Tampines unit, by the time the exercise closes next Monday. He expects two applicants for each flat in Punggol, but that is because it takes up the lion's share of the exercise with 1,815 units. The area has received 831 applications in total.
But it is also the only town offering two-room flexi flats this time, and observers expect this unit type to be popular. R'ST's Mr Ong predicts that the number of applications will be five times more than the 713 units on offer. As of 5pm yesterday, the Punggol two-room flexi flats were the most heavily subscribed, with 435 applications.
He said: "The north-eastern part of Singapore is shaping up to be a lifestyle cluster, thanks to Punggol's waterway living. This matches many singles' lifestyle requirements, even though the town is in a far-flung area."
Also eligible for such flats are families on the Fresh Start Housing Scheme - the first time they can apply since the scheme was launched last December to help second-timer families with young children in a public rental flat own a home again.
In a Facebook post, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said the latest exercise, coupled with HDB schemes, continues to "promote mutual care and support for families".
He pointed to the "bumper crop" of 194 multi-generational flats on offer. Couples who wish to live with their parents under one roof can now apply for a three-generation (3Gen) flat in Clementi for the first time, or in Tampines.
Similarly, those who wish to live near their parents - but in separate units - can apply in Clementi and Punggol under the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme. Under this, parents and married children can jointly apply for two flats in a BTO project where there are two-room flexi or three-room units in the mix.
Yesterday's exercise marked the first batch of 17,000 flats to be launched this year. The next exercise in May will see 4,600 BTO flats in Bidadari, Geylang, Woodlands and Yishun, as well as about 3,000 balance flats on offer.