Demand for BTO HDB flats jumped 70% in 2020, with 87,800 applications

HDB said it has ramped up the supply of new flats to meet housing needs in recent years.
HDB said it has ramped up the supply of new flats to meet housing needs in recent years.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Demand for Build-To-Order (BTO) flats jumped 70 per cent in 2020 with some 87,800 applications, driven by marriage and family formation and as multigenerational living loses popularity.

Comparatively, 51,400 BTO applications were made in 2019, and 38,500 applications in 2018, said the Housing and Development Board on Sunday (Nov 21).

The number of BTO flats launched, however, did not keep up with demand, with the gap increasingly widening over the last three years.

Specifically, only 16,800 BTO flats were launched last year, compared with 14,600 flats in 2019 and 15,800 in 2018.

According to HDB, there remains strong demand in both mature and non-mature estates, with the demand for BTO flats in mature estates remaining consistently higher.

It said the strong demand was driven by marriage and family formation.

Citing the 2020 population census, it said the number of married couples have increased from more than 880,000 in 2010 to more than 977,000 last year.

It also said the annual average number of Singaporean marriages from 2015 to 2019 was 23,600, up from the 22,400 from between 2010 and 2014.

Changing social norms and aspirations also drove up demand.

Specifically, more young couples, singles, and the elderly with adult children want to have their own flats instead of live together, resulting in a growing trend of smaller households, said HDB.

It said there has also been more support for singles to own a home, citing the 2013 announcement that first-timer singles could buy a two-room flexi flat from HDB in non-mature estates.

"This is in addition to resale flats of any size and in any location, which they were already eligible to buy," it said.

However, provisions for singles exclude flats under the new prime location housing (PLH) model, which will not be available to singles even in the resale market.

Many singles have been up in arms after the PLH model was announced last month, barring them from buying the new flats.

National Development Minister Desmond Lee had said families would be prioritised, as they may need more space for their families.

The HDB said the number of first-timer singles consistently made up over 6 per cent of the total number of BTO applications over the last three years.

The monthly household income ceiling for eligible households has been raised in recent years.

Since September 2019, the income ceiling has been raised from $12,000 to $14,000 for families, and from $6,000 to $7,000 for singles.

As at December last year, there have been more than 7,500 applications from families and 360 applications from singles who would not have been eligible previously.


PHOTO: HDB

About 15,000 first-timer families and 3,000 first-timer singles received housing grants for the purchase of new flats from 2018 to 2020.

These numbers made up about 40 per cent of first-timer families, and 64 per cent of first-timer singles.

HDB said it has ramped up the supply of new flats to meet housing needs in recent years, having launched more than 17,000 BTO flats this year.

Together with more than 5,000 balance flats that were also offered, this meant that about 22,400 flats have been made available this year.

It is expected to launch at least another 17,000 flats next year.

"Taking into account long-term demographic and population trends, as well as the strong demand for housing, HDB will continue to ensure that the supply of public housing remains responsive to the housing needs of the population," said HDB.

"This includes ramping up our BTO flat supply in existing estates as well as reviewing our land use plans to secure new housing sites, while carefully calibrating the balance between safeguarding our green spaces and building new homes and amenities for Singaporeans."