Take-up rate of 3Gen flats surpasses analysts' expectations

Mr Tan Chow Hua, his wife Woon Chay Lee, Mr Tan's mother Loh Khim and the couple's daughters Si Qi (right), 17, and Si Min, 15, at Madam Loh's home in Jurong West. In March, Madam Loh will move in with the family to a 3Gen flat in Boon Lay View.
Mr Tan Chow Hua, his wife Woon Chay Lee, Mr Tan's mother Loh Khim and the couple's daughters Si Qi (right), 17, and Si Min, 15, at Madam Loh's home in Jurong West. In March, Madam Loh will move in with the family to a 3Gen flat in Boon Lay View.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

When teacher Tan Chow Hua, 49, found out that an upcoming Build-To-Order project in Jurong was offering larger flats for multiple-generation families, it did not take much to convince his wife, two teenage daughters and mother to apply for it.

After all, they had been on the lookout for such a flat, so they could keep a closer eye on Mr Tan's 86-year-old mother, whose health began to deteriorate in the past six years.

Last month, Mr Tan's family was the first to collect the keys to the Housing Board's three-generation (3Gen) flats, a new flat type which registered a take-up rate that exceeded analysts' expectations.

Yesterday, HDB announced that eight in 10 such units launched from 2013 to 2015 had been taken up. Launched in September 2013 to help multi-generational households live under one roof, the 115 sq m flats come with four bedrooms and three bathrooms, two of which are ensuite, to give their occupants more privacy and comfort. The units are about 5 sq m larger than the average five-room flat.

"We like that everyone is together, but still gets his private space," Mr Tan said of his Boon Lay View home, which his family will move into in March.

Since its launch, about 1,100 3Gen homes have been offered across 18 projects.

Such flats, for which the selection process has been completed, saw an average take-up rate of 83 per cent, or 651 of 786 units being booked.

First-time buyers made up 47 per cent of those who booked the flats, while second-timers took the rest. 3Gen flats in three projects were fully snapped up: 84 units in Saraca Breeze @ Yishun, 52 in Punggol BayView and 56 in Tampines GreenRidges.

To be eligible for 3Gen flats, applicants must form a multi-generation family comprising at least a married or courting couple and their parents. Flats launched last year started from $316,000 in Bukit Panjang and $541,000 in Ang Mo Kio.

Like all new HDB flats, the units have a minimum occupation period of five years. After this, they can be sold only to other eligible families.

The Housing Board did not give the take-up rates for other types of flats in the same time period. But property analysts said they were surprised by the positive response to the 3Gen units.

ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim said the response was higher than expected - he had thought it would be a more lukewarm 50 per cent - given the strict resale condition.

"Clearly these flats appeal to people who prioritise living with their parents. It is a niche group, but their needs are being catered to," he said.

Similarly, SLP International Property research head Nicholas Mak said the rate was "not bad", as he had thought that most multi-generation families would not find the units big enough.

But the Tans have prepared themselves for these concerns.

Elder daughter Si Qi, 17, said she is looking forward to having her own bedroom, no matter how small. "My sister and I have different working habits. Hopefully this means I'll disturb her less when I study late into the night."

Mr Tan's wife, accounts executive Woon Chay Lee, 49, said her mother-in-law initially had reservations about moving in, after living in her own flat for years.

"But after all these years, she more or less knows how we are like, so it wouldn't be too much of a shock," she said. "We also told her we welcome her, and she said okay."

Rachel Au-Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2017, with the headline 'Take-up rate of 3Gen flats surpasses analysts' expectations'. Print Edition | Subscribe