HDB to launch 2 BTO projects under prime location model in Bukit Merah, Queenstown

A view of the Queenstown area. In Queenstown, around 860 BTO flats will be launched on a site in Ghim Moh Road. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Two upcoming Build-To-Order (BTO) projects in the mature estates of Bukit Merah and Queenstown will fall under the prime location public housing (PLH) model, said the Housing Board on Monday (May 23).

The two BTO projects are among the five sites that will be launched for sale in May.

In Bukit Merah, around 1,660 three-room and four-room units will be offered on a site bounded by Henderson, Tiong Bahru and Lower Delta roads.

Future residents will be served by both Redhill and Tiong Bahru MRT stations.

In Queenstown, around 860 three-room and four-room flats will be launched on a site in Ghim Moh Road, next to Buona Vista MRT station.

BTO projects that fall under the PLH model comes with stricter buying and selling conditions, including a 10-year minimum occupation period and a subsidy clawback at the first resale transaction.

Around 4,500 BTO units will be launched this month in the mature estates of Bukit Merah, Queenstown, Toa Payoh and the non-mature estates of Jurong West and Yishun, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee in a Facebook post on Monday.

There were two BTO projects to be launched in Bukit Merah this month but one has been shifted to the August sales exercise, said Mr Lee.

"More time is needed to review the project and (the shift is) to better spread out the location of projects in mature and non-mature estates at each launch," he added.

There will also be a concurrent Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise, which offers flats across various towns islandwide.

SBF flats are either already under construction or have been completed, so buyers can get these flats earlier, the minister said.

HDB is on track to launch up to 23,000 BTO flats this year.

Mr Lee said a sizeable number of units in the May BTO sales exercise will be in mature estates to meet the strong demand.

"They will better cater for young families who wish to live near their parents already staying in existing mature estates, for better mutual care and support. Hence, buyers have more options this time."

Mr Lee noted that application rates for BTO projects in mature estates are expected to remain high, and encouraged buyers to consider applying for flats in non-mature estates - such as Jurong West and Yishun - to maximise their chances of getting a flat.

Two BTO projects in Rochor and Kallang/Whampoa have been launched under the PLH model since it was announced in October last year.

The model is meant to keep HDB flats in prime and central locations affordable and accessible for Singaporeans.

In his post on Monday, Mr Lee said about 80 per cent of successful applicants who were invited to select flats at the first PLH project in Rochor have gone on to book their flats - higher than the average of 60 per cent for most BTO projects.

"We will continue to assess the project's locational attributes and market values, and continue to offer PLH projects in future sales exercises, if there are available and suitable sites," he added.

Huttons Asia senior director of research Lee Sze Teck said the Bukit Merah and Queenstown areas have seen multiple HDB resale flats changing hands for at least $1 million.

A five-room 113 sq m HDB flat at Block 96A Henderson Road - a stone’s throw away from the upcoming Bukit Merah BTO site - was sold for an all-time record of $1.4 million this month. 

“Planning two PLH projects in Bukit Merah and Queenstown is sending a signal to the market that there will be affordable BTO flats and perhaps curb the possibility of more record-breaking HDB resale flat prices,” added Mr Lee.

Ms Christine Sun, senior vice-president of research and analytics at real estate firm OrangeTee & Tie, said the popularity of the previous two PLH projects showed there is demand for such units despite the stricter buying and selling conditions. 

Such offerings may also serve as a good alternative for the sandwiched class, as prices of private condominiums and new executive condominiums are still climbing, she added. 

“Offering these PLH projects on a regular basis may help close the affordability gap among Singaporeans,” she added.

“Going by the current trend, PLH projects may become a norm and more of such flats could be released in every launch or at least twice a year.”

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