High demand for 3-room and larger BTO flats

New BTO projects (clockwise from top left) Ang Mo Kio Court, Bedok North Woods, Bukit Panjang's Senja Heights and Sembawang's EastCreek @ Canberra. PHOTOS: HDB

On the second day of this month's Build-To-Order (BTO) launch of new Housing Board homes, there were already more applicants than the three-room or larger flats on offer.

As of 5pm yesterday, there were 2,393 applications for 2,351 units.

The response was cooler for two-room flexi flats, with 519 applicants for 1,419 units.

Still, the high demand is in line with the predictions of experts, who point to flats in the mature estates of Ang Mo Kio and Bedok as especially attractive.

Although pricier than other flats in the same BTO exercise, units in those towns are affordable compared to resale prices, said ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim.

Three-room BTO flats in Bedok, which start at $272,000 before grants, are almost half the price of the resale comparables, he noted.

Among those aiming for a Bedok three-roomer yesterday was banking executive Bella Phea, 24, who was applying with her husband.

"The reason we prefer houses in Bedok is because they are centrally located and convenient in the long term, for us," she said. A BTO flat is also cheaper than a balance flat, she added.

This month's launch takes place alongside a Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise, with 5,170 units on offer.

Balance flats are closer to completion and are spread across more locations - which is why housewife Penmy Ang, 56, applied for one.

"I like SBF houses as they are faster to procure and I can live close to my children," said Madam Ang, who applied for a three-room flat in Queenstown.

Competition for flats in mature estates is keen due to their popularity, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong noted in a blog post on Tuesday.

He encouraged young couples to apply for BTO flats in non-mature estates, as they are more affordable and come with more grants.

This month's launch includes four BTO projects in Sembawang and Bukit Panjang. As of 5pm yesterday, application rates in these non-mature towns ranged from 0.3 applicant for each Bukit Panjang three-room flat to 0.9 for each Bukit Panjang five-roomer.

Applications close on Monday. Experts expect demand to have grown even more by then.

PropNex chief executive officer Mohamed Ismail Gafoor, for instance, expects four or five applicants per unit in mature towns, and two per unit in the rest.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2016, with the headline High demand for 3-room and larger BTO flats. Subscribe