Thursday 6 December 2012

Number of resale flats down 19%

By Daryl Chin, The Straits Times, 5 Dec 2012

THE number of resale flats has diminished for the second year running, falling 19 per cent, according to the Housing Board's latest annual report.

The figures for the year ending this March showed resale application numbers dropping to 24,331, compared with 30,061 the previous year.

While stricter ownership conditions for resale flats and tighter financing rules played a part, the HDB said the dip in numbers could be largely due to ramped-up housing supply.

There were 44 projects offering 28,424 flats launched in that period, a 64 per cent increase on the number of flats in the previous financial year.

This has served to soak up some demand in the red-hot public housing market.

The report shows a total of 33,140 bookings were made for new flats in the year, a 75 per cent increase over the previous year's 18,849 bookings.

Summarising the year in review, HDB chairman James Koh said the agency's priority was to meet the continuing housing demand, particularly from first-time home buyers, and to lend stability to the market.

Part of the changes over the year included raising the income ceiling for new flats, as well as maintaining a higher priority in flat allocation for first-timers, while giving second-timers - or those who have previously availed of a housing subsidy - more chances in less-developed towns.

Despite seeing signs of stabilisation in the public housing market, Mr Koh admitted that demand remained strong.

Besides seeing more flat bookings, the HDB's capital expenditure for the year also rose from $5.2 billion to $7.1 billion - a large proportion of which went on purchases of land and construction in the wake of an increase in building contracts.

The year also saw a higher overall net deficit of $443 million, compared with $143 million the previous year.

This was due to more funds being pumped into building resources, as well as having more subsidised rental flats leased out to meet demand.

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