Thursday 29 March 2012

1-year debarment if you cancel HDB booking

By Sumita Sreedharan, TODAY, 29 Mar 2012

In a move to discourage buyers who book a flat but subsequently cancel their booking, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) yesterday unveiled new penalties to "deter non-genuine" buyers and protect the interests of serious buyers.

Flat applicants who cancel their bookings will now be barred for a year from applying, or be included as an essential occupier for a new HDB flat, a Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) or a Executive Condominium (EC) unit, or a resale flat with housing grants.

This requirement will, however, be waived in "exceptional circumstances beyond the control of the applicants".

"Applicants who booked a flat and subsequently cancelled their booking would have deprived someone the chance to book the unit," explained the HDB. "The imposition of the one-year debarment period is intended to deter non-genuine flat applications and cancellations."

Currently, buyers pay a nonrefundable booking fee when they select a unit and a 10 per cent downpayment when they sign the purchase agreement.

The move triggered a reaction from some property agents but was welcomed by genuine buyers.

The HDB also stressed that this revision would not affect serious buyers and would enable the HDB to help those with urgent housing needs. As to what would constitute "exceptional circumstances", the HDB said it would review each appeal on a case by case basis.

The HDB has seen a steady increase in the number of flat booking cancellations over the last five years - from 309 in 2007 to 1,540 cancellations last year.

The cancellations form 5 to 6 per cent of BTO supply. The applicants cite various reasons for cancellation, such as a change in housing plan and intention to buy another flat.

With the high number of new BTO flats to be rolled out - there will be 25,000 new units this year - Mr Mohamed Ismail, chief executive officer of PropNex Realty, felt that the HDB could be urging buyers to take applications seriously, as their decisions would impact their ability to get a future flat.

"People tend to be fickle and could decide they prefer a unit in a newer launch and cancel their previous booking," he added.

However, Mr Eugene Lim, ERA key executive officer, felt that the ban was "too harsh". He noted the applicant would already have lost their booking fees, which meant applicants were being penalised twice. "If a buyer were to cancel an order for a BTO, the ban should just be on another BTO, and not for ECs and DBSS units," said Mr Lim.

Flat buyers welcomed the HDB's move. "I don't think the ban will affect real buyers as most of us know where we want to apply," said preschool teacher Lucy Chia, 32.

Business development manager Bernard Choo, who is considering buying a Bedok BTO flat, added: "It is a good thing so that you don't waste the time of serious buyers. It would be frustrating to know you didn't get a flat because buyers were applying and then giving them up. There are some of us who are really tied to certain areas and want to continue to live there with our own families."

Another tweak that the HDB announced yesterday was in the income ceiling for two room flats in mature estates, which has been raised from S$2,000 to S$5,000.

The HDB explained the revision is part of their regular review of policies "to ensure that they remain relevant to meet the changing needs of society".

This revision, according to the HDB, is meant to provide an additional housing option for households who prefer to live in mature estates, while ensuring that two-room flats in non-mature estates continue to be safeguarded for low-income families. This will also help households live near their families who may reside in mature estates, said the HDB.

No comments:

Post a Comment