More BTO flats in non-mature estates set aside for first-time applicants; next launch on Aug 30: HDB

At least 95 per cent of four-room and larger BTO flats in non-mature estates will be set aside for first-timer families. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - First-timer applicants will now stand a better chance at securing a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat in non-mature estates, starting with the upcoming sales launch next Tuesday (Aug 30).

At least 95 per cent of the four-room and larger BTO flats in these estates will be set aside for first-timer families, up from 85 per cent, said the Ministry of National Development (MND) and the Housing Board (HDB) on Saturday.

The allocation quota for first-timer families for three-room flat supply in non-mature estates will also increase to at least 85 per cent, up from 70 per cent.

There is no change to the allocation quota for BTO flat supply in mature estates. Currently, at least 95 per cent of flats in mature estates are set aside for first-timer families.

Up to 65 per cent of the non-senior two-room flexi flats in non-mature estates will be set aside for first-timer singles, up from 50 per cent.

The adjustments to the allocation quotas are to give first-timer applicants "greater certainty" in securing their first homes, as this group forms the bulk of BTO applications, said MND and HDB.

Next Tuesday, HDB will offer about 4,900 flats in seven BTO projects across six estates, including in the non-mature estates of Choa Chu Kang, Jurong East and Woodlands.

The rest are in the mature estates of Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Merah and Tampines.

MND and HDB said the latest move was consistent with past approaches to revise the BTO allocation quota based on demand from first- and second-timer applicants.

The quotas for second-timer applicants in non-mature estates were raised in March 2012. HDB also made adjustments for first-timers during the housing crunch in November 2009.

First-timers still form the bulk of BTO applications.

The number of unique first-timer family applicants increased from more than 19,000 in 2018 to about 34,000 last year. 

This translates to around 4.1 first-timer families vying for each BTO flat in 2021, compared with 2.2 in 2018.

Demand from first-timer singles for two-room flexi flats in non-mature estates has also increased. There were around 7.5 first-timer single applicants for each available flat last year, up from 5.1 in 2020.

“We also recognise that first-timer applicants generally have more pressing and immediate housing needs to start their life plans,” said MND and HDB.

With the adjustments, second-timer families – those who had previously bought a subsidised flat – will now have slimmer chances of securing a BTO flat. 

MND and HDB said they will ensure that these families who need subsidised housing will continue to have access to BTO flats, including divorced or widowed parents with children and those living in rental flats.

They advised flat buyers to maximise their chances of securing a BTO flat by applying in non-mature estates, and to book a flat when invited to do so. 

First-timer families who have been unsuccessful in two or more BTO flat applications in non-mature estates will be given an additional ballot chance for their subsequent applications in these areas. 

This means almost all first-timer families applying in non-mature estates have been successful within their first three tries, said MND and HDB.

Huttons Asia senior director of research Lee Sze Teck said the quota adjustment 
is good news for first-timers who may be priced out of the HDB resale market in the light of rising interest rates.

Second-timers will likely be squeezed out of the BTO market and will have to turn to either the HDB resale or private markets, he added.

Second-timer applicant Leanna Tan, 36, said she now intends to submit a combined application for two units in the upcoming Woodlands BTO project with her parents under the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme.

Ms Tan, an accounts executive, hopes that this will mean a better shot at securing a queue number, as the allocation quota under the scheme is higher than those for second-timers.

Associate engineer Muhammad Afiq Baharudin, 35, who is a first-timer applicant and has been unsuccessful twice, said he is hopeful for a better ballot number to secure a four-room flat in the Woodlands BTO project.

“It’s good that the quota has increased but, ultimately, it still depends on your luck and how popular that project is. Right now, the Woodlands project seems very popular, especially among the Malay community, as it is near a mosque,” he said.

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