The first Housing Board sales exercise this year includes two projects in Kallang/Whampoa, which experts expect to be popular despite having prices that are just shy of those of resale flats in the area.
A new four-room flat in the mature estate costs $598,000 on average, only 7.4 per cent cheaper than the average price of resale flats in the area, leading observers to believe that the flats may find more traction with second-timers.
In comparison, new flats in the non-mature towns of Jurong West and Sengkang are about 20 per cent to 33 per cent cheaper than their resale counterparts.
HDB yesterday launched 3,739 flats, including 3,162 Build-To-Order (BTO) units in five projects across the three towns. Prices start from $95,000 for a two-room flexi flat in Jurong West, and from $523,000 for a four-room flat in Kallang/Whampoa. These prices exclude grants.
The Kallang/Whampoa projects are likely to be the most popular because of their attractive locations.
Besides its proximity to the Central Business District, the 411-unit Kallang Breeze is less than 400m away from Kallang MRT station, and is also near the Kallang River. Meanwhile, the 444-unit Towner Crest is next to Boon Keng station.
But the high prices mean the flats are likely to attract more second-timers than new buyers, said ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim. In a mature estate, only 5 per cent of the flats are reserved for second-timers, though excess flats may go to them.
OrangeTee & Tie research head Christine Sun said: "Some young couples may consider older HDB resale flats in some mature estates to be more value for money and as attractively located."
As of 5pm yesterday, there were 1,654 applications for 2,225 three-and four-room flats there. But the application rate for first-timers was 0.7 per unit, almost half that of second-timers at 1.3 per unit.
The Kallang/Whampoa projects are likely to be the most popular because of their attractive locations. Besides its proximity to the Central Business District, the 411-unit Kallang Breeze is less than 400m away from Kallang MRT station, and is also near the Kallang River. Meanwhile, the 444-unit Towner Crest is next to Boon Keng station.
PropNex Realty chief executive Ismail Gafoor said he expects the final application rate to be between four and five per unit - less than half the 12.1 per unit for four-room flats at the last Kallang/Whampoa launch in November 2016 - because of the projects' "premium prices".
That is not to say flats in the non-mature towns will remain on the shelf. Mr Lim said the two projects in Jurong West should be fairly well received as both are near MRT stations - Pioneer and Boon Lay. Flats are also "attractively priced", starting at $257,000 excluding grants.
Meanwhile, the Sengkang flats are near Thanggam LRT station and The Seletar Mall. But as they are not near an MRT station, they may be less popular, he added.
However, Ms Sun noted that Sengkang was one of two non-mature towns to see a price increase for four-and five-room flats last year.
Also up for grabs are 577 Re-Offer of Balance Flats (ROF), comprising 173 two-room flexi units, 166 three-room flats, 129 four-room units, 10 five-room units, 96 three-generation flats and three executive flats.
Applicants can apply for a flat either under the BTO or ROF exercise, but not both. Applications close next Monday.
This is the first tranche of 15,000 flats to be released this year. The next BTO launch will be in May, when HDB will offer about 3,400 flats in Kallang/Whampoa, Tengah and Woodlands.