Declining rates of young couples getting HDB flats via Sale of Balance, open booking

Sale of Balance Flats launches happen twice a year, in May and November. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The proportion of young couples who got a chance to book Housing Board flats through Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises has fallen since 2017.

For first-timer couples with at least one party below 30, the success rate for SBF fell from 52 per cent in 2017 to 17 per cent in 2021.

The Ministry of National Development (MND) said an application was successful if the applicants had a chance to book a flat.

Every year, HDB releases new Build-To-Order (BTO) flats in February, May, August and November. SBF launches happen twice a year – in May and November.

The success rate of young couples who apply for open booking of flats also declined to 65 per cent in 2021, down from 100 per cent in 2019 when it was introduced.

Young couples were also less likely to get a flat under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS), which provides interim housing for couples while waiting for their BTO flats.

The success rate dipped from 96 per cent in 2018 to 11 per cent in 2021.

MND on Monday provided the figures in a written parliamentary reply to Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim (Chua Chu Kang GRC), who had sought a breakdown of young couples who have successfully applied for a HDB flat through those avenues.

"Unlike BTO flats, SBF and open booking flats are not the mainstay of HDB's flat supply. The number of flats offered for sale depends mainly on the unsold flats from previous BTO exercises," the ministry said.

The Straits Times has asked MND for data on the success rates of young couples applying for a BTO flat.

In the written reply, MND encouraged young couples to apply for BTO flats in non-mature estates.

On average, almost 90 per cent of first-timer families applying in such estates managed to secure their BTO flats by their second attempt, it said.

Those who are unsuccessful in two or more attempts for a BTO flat in non-mature estates will be given an additional ballot chance in subsequent applications in those estates.

"As a result, virtually all first-timer families who apply for non-mature estate BTO flats are successful within their first three tries," MND added.

On PPHS, MND said it fine-tuned the criteria for the scheme in August 2021 to prioritise applicants with more urgent need for temporary housing.

It will also increase the PPHS supply from 800 in 2021 to 1,800 in 2023.

"As a result, the share of young couples who had a chance to select a PPHS flat has risen in 2022 (up to September) to about 20 per cent," it said.

In August, MND raised the allocation quota for first-timer families applying for a four-room and larger BTO flat in non-mature estates from 85 per cent to at least 95 per cent.

At least 85 per cent of the three-room BTO flats in these estates will also be set aside for first-timer families, up from 70 per cent.

In mature estates, at least 95 per cent of flats are set aside for first-timer families.

HDB said in June that about 40 per cent of applicants invited to book a BTO flat ended up declining the offer, meaning serious applicants still had a high chance of securing a flat.

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