Friday 25 September 2015

November 2015 launch of 12,000 flats to include Bidadari units

Two launches merged to let more benefit from new housing policies, says Khaw
By Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times, 24 Sep 2015

The highly anticipated Bidadari development will be part of a mega Housing Board flat launch in November, when around 12,000 new flats will be put on the market.

Of these, about 7,000 will be Build-to-Order (BTO) flats located in six towns, including Punggol Northshore, Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Hougang and Sengkang. The other 5,000 are balance flats not sold in previous BTO exercises.

The bumper crop is the result of merging this year's remaining two BTO flat launches, including one scheduled this month, in a bid to include the implementation of three major housing policies - two of which were announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally last month.

These were increasing the household income ceiling for new HDB flats from $10,000 to $12,000, and enhancing the Special CPF Housing Grant. This grant will be extended to households earning up to $8,500, up from $6,500 now.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan posted on his blog yesterday that combining this month's BTO exercise with November's was a practical solution. He wrote: "As implementation of any new policy does require some time, we therefore decided to delay the September BTO launch by a few weeks, so that these initiatives can benefit as many Singaporeans as possible."

The fresh initiatives also include a new Two-Room Flexi scheme that allows elderly buyers to choose shorter leases.

The highlight of the mega launch will be the 2,130 Bidadari flats, said property analysts, who expect them to cost more owing to their central location on the city fringe.

The estate, near the Woodleigh and Potong Pasir MRT stations, will also feature a park and lake.

PropNex Realty chief executive Mohamed Ismail Gafoor predicts that the flats will be oversubscribed by more than five times and will cost 20 per cent more, which means buyers can expect to pay "well above $400,000" for a four-room flat.

"It has the potential to be the Bishan of the future," he said.

Flats in the mature estate of Bishan, which enjoys a central location and also once hosted a cemetery, typically fetch some of the higher prices in the resale market.

But Bidadari's history might put off some buyers, suggested Mr Chris Koh, director of estate agency Chris International. The estate will be built on the former Bidadari cemetery, which was fully exhumed by 2006. Mr Koh also pointed out that more flats are slated for Bidadari so, unlike BTO launches in mature estates that are rare, there is "no rush" for buyers.

Still, SLP International Property Consultants research head Nicholas Mak believes competition will be stiff at November's launch, as more people are now eligible to buy flats, given the new housing policies. He said: "There may be more supply for this launch but it also pools together more buyers."

Flexi scheme 'unlikely to hurt singles' chances of getting an HDB flat'
By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 24 Sep 2015

Single applicants' chances of getting a new flat are unlikely to be hurt by the upcoming new Two-Room Flexi scheme, although the quota of flats set aside for them is changing, said the Housing Board in response to queries on Wednesday (Sept 23).

The Two-Room Flexi scheme merges and replaces the studio and two-room flat schemes. Studio apartments were previously meant for only the elderly.

Out of this larger combined supply, 40 per cent in each Build-to-Order (BTO) project will be set aside for applicants aged 55 and above, subject to a minimum of 100 units, as announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally.

At the time, it was not clear what this meant for non-elderly single applicants. Previously, half of all new two-room flats in non-mature estates were set aside for singles.

In response to queries, the HDB clarified that a share of Two-Room Flexi flats in non-mature estates will still be reserved for singles.

In non-mature estates, after 40 per cent is set aside for elderly applicants, the remaining 60 per cent and any units not taken up by the elderly will be split. Half will be offered to families and half to non-elderly singles.

This means in such estates, at least 30 per cent of the Two-Room Flexi supply will be for non-elderly singles. They may even get more, as flats not taken up by the elderly or by families will also be offered to them.

Furthermore, elderly buyers in mature estates are likely to prefer new flats in the same area, said the HDB. This means less competition with non-elderly singles, who cannot buy new flats in mature estates.

"Based on past application trends, we thus do not expect significant impact on non-elderly singles' chances of getting a Two-Room Flexi flat," said an HDB spokesman.

In fact, non-elderly singles are likely to get most of the units, as studio apartments and two-room flats have been undersubscribed by elderly and family applicants.

For instance, two-room flats were offered in three towns in the BTO exercise in November last year. In each case, there were fewer family applicants than available units: no more than 0.2 first-timer families for each unit, and no more than 0.7 second-timer families.

Though the trend is not expected to change, the HDB said it will monitor the take-up rate of such units by various groups and adjust the quota if needed.

More than 70 projects with Two- Room Flexi flats will be launched in the next five years. The first such units will be offered in the next BTO exercise in November in Bidadari, Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Punggol and Sengkang.

In particular, the Choa Chu Kang project consists of only Two-Room Flexi units, with 120 on offer.


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