Sunday, 31 October 2021

HDB Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) Model: Keeping public housing in prime locations affordable, accessible and inclusive for Singaporeans

Subsidy clawback, 10-year MOP for new prime location HDB flats to keep them affordable, inclusive
By Michelle Ng, The Straits Times, 27 Oct 2021

Future Housing Board (HDB) flats built in prime, central locations will be subjected to a 10-year minimum occupation period (MOP) and additional subsidies will be clawed back by the Government upon their resale.

These are among the key measures under a new prime location public housing (PLH) model, aimed at keeping prime HDB flats affordable and inclusive, announced by National Development Minister Desmond Lee on Tuesday (Oct 26).


The first Build-to-Order (BTO) project under this model will be located in Rochor and launched next month.

The pool of resale buyers of these prime HDB flats will also be limited to households who earn not more than $14,000 a month and at least one applicant must be a Singapore citizen.

Under the PLH model, fewer flats may be set aside under HDB's Married Child Priority Scheme, which gives priority to applicants whose parents or children live in the same area.

Currently, up to 30 per cent of new flats are set aside under this scheme for families buying a flat for the first time.


At a media briefing on Tuesday, Mr Lee said the new model is to keep public housing in prime locations affordable, accessible and inclusive for Singaporeans, both at the initial purchase and at subsequent resales on the open market.

The PLH model will apply only to future public housing in prime locations and not to existing flat owners.

There will be at least one prime location public housing project launched each year, but the exact proportions will differ year on year, as it depends on site availability and the overall supply of flats across all towns, said Mr Lee.


In order for HDB to launch these prime flats at affordable prices at the BTO stage, it has to provide additional subsidies on top of the those provided for all BTO flats, said Mr Lee.

All subsidies are factored into flat prices when they are launched as BTO flats.

"But the concern is whether this would lead to the lottery effect, excessive windfall gains and whether it would be fair to BTO buyers in other parts of Singapore, who would not get these additional subsidies," he said.

A record number of HDB flats have changed hands for at least $1 million this year.

In the first nine months of this year, there were 174 million-dollar HDB flats, compared with 82 for the whole of last year, which raised eyebrows and set off concerns about home affordability.

They came on the back of a buoyant HDB resale market, in which resale flat prices also hit a record high in the third quarter of this year.


To address these concerns, the Government will claw back additional subsidies provided to PLH flats.

Flat owners will pay a percentage of the resale price to HDB when they resell their home on the open market for the first time, he said.

This will apply only to those who bought the flat from HDB and not to subsequent resale transactions.

The exact percentage will be announced at the launch of the Rochor BTO project next month, which is the first site under the PLH model, and may be adjusted for other projects in the future, he said.

Other prime locations for public housing include the future Greater Southern Waterfront.


However, buyers who want one of these flats on the resale market will have to meet the prevailing eligibility conditions for buying a flat directly from the HDB.

These include having at least one applicant who is a Singapore citizen, meeting the household income ceiling of $14,000 and not holding a private property or sold any in the last 30 months.

Singles above 35 years old will not be allowed to buy these PLH flats. This is in contrast to current rules that do not place limitations on singles above the age of 35 buying resale flats.

"Without such restrictions, the resale prices of these homes in prime locations may rise beyond the reach of many Singaporeans over time," said Mr Lee.

These conditions on the resale pool will also act as safeguards to prevent sellers from adding the subsidy recovery to their asking price in the hopes of trying to maximise gains, he added.

“Buyers will be a circumscribed group of people who meet BTO eligibility requirements, so that means not anyone can buy. And buyers will also have to bear in mind the impositions on subsequent resale on him or her,” he said.

“So that will ensure that the moderated market for the prime location public housing flats is functional.”


To ensure buyers are genuinely buying the flat to live in, instead of hoping to flip it for a windfall, the MOP for prime location HDB flats will be extended to 10 years, up from the current five.

Owners will also not be allowed to rent out their whole flat at any point in time, even after the MOP is over.

These conditions will apply to all flat owners who purchase BTO and resale flats under the PLH model.

The resale restrictions will be in place for at least half of the 99-year lease of each prime location HDB flat before the Government considers whether to review them, Mr Lee said.

"These policies will help to strengthen the owner-occupation intent of public housing and also seek to deter speculative demand and moderate resale prices," he added.

However, HDB housing grants will still be available for eligible buyers and the prevailing ethnic quota under HDB's Ethnic Integration Policy will apply.

When asked what constitutes a prime location, Mr Lee said it refers to the city centre in central Singapore and the future Greater Southern Waterfront.

Some of the HDB towns and estates immediately surrounding the city centre may qualify, depending on the attributes of the sites within those areas, he said.

"I think let’s keep it tight for now to these central prime locations. Because there are constraints on the buyers of these homes and we have a clear social objective to achieve by injecting these flats in areas which, under today’s context, would normally be for private housing."


Public rental flats will also be included at these sites where feasible, said Mr Lee.

He added that the new PLH model, which comes after almost a year of public consultations, strives to balance the many considerations and trade-offs, while fulfilling the key social objectives of public housing.

"As with all our policies, the new PLH model is not cast in stone. It is very new and we will continue to review the parameters over time, based on our experience from the projects that are launched along the way," he said.










Tighter measures for prime HDB flats should dampen resale price increases in future: Desmond Lee
By Ng Keng Gene, The Straits Times, 30 Oct 2021

The tightened measures for future Housing Board flats in prime locations, such as a longer 10-year minimum occupation period (MOP), should help temper demand and dampen resale price increases in future, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee.

He was addressing concerns that first-time sellers of these prime flats could bump up the price of their units to account for the subsidies that HDB will claw back at the point of sale.

The recovery of additional subsidies that will be pumped in to keep new build-to-order (BTO) flats in prime areas affordable is another feature of the new prime location public housing (PLH) model announced on Wednesday (Oct 27). All subsidies will be factored into prices when the units are launched as BTO flats.

Mr Lee said it is hard to predict how exactly prices will evolve. He said: "It depends on so many factors and considerations - market considerations, buyers' sentiments and so on."

Speaking at the Singapore Economic Policy Forum 2021 on Friday (Oct 29), he said the Government has received "diverse feedback from all quarters" since the new model was revealed.

One of the deepest points of contention was on the additional eligibility conditions for resale buyers of PLH flats, said Mr Lee. The conditions include a $14,000 income ceiling, similar to that for BTO applicants.

Some have asked why the rules include an income ceiling, given the Government's aim to keep prime locations inclusive.


But without some intervention, Mr Lee said, resale prices would likely rise out of reach of many Singaporeans, thus excluding them from these prime location flats.


Calibrated restrictions are thus needed to keep such flats accessible to a wider group, he added.

He said there are existing HDB resale flats and private housing in prime central areas for those who do not meet the PLH eligibility conditions, which are similar to existing criteria for buying BTO flats.

This is "an objective set of means-tested conditions that Singaporeans are already familiar with", Mr Lee said. The $14,000 income ceiling covers more than eight in 10 households.

He noted that the income ceiling does not keep out those who have low income but high wealth, such as children of well-to-do parents, or wealthy retirees.

"We considered this too, but it's not straightforward to comprehensively means test one's wealth or one's family's wealth," said Mr Lee, who added that the BTO criteria "serve as some form of proxy for wealth".

For instance, private property owners are not allowed to buy a PLH flat until 30 months after selling their private property, he said.

"But it's hard to do much more in a meaningful way. We remain always open to suggestions, and we will keep studying the issue."

On concerns from some people that the 10-year MOP - up from five for typical HDB flats - is too long and not practical because family and life circumstances may change during that period, Mr Lee noted that there were others who felt 10 years was too short.

"On balance, we thought that the longer MOP was indeed warranted - to emphasise owner-occupation and reduce speculative demand, which would be greater for flats in such good locations," he said, adding that HDB data indicates that most people live in their flats for more than 10 years before selling them.

"There is no magic number that works for all families in all situations," said Mr Lee.

He added that those who face extenuating circumstances during their MOP will have their appeals considered on a case-by-case basis, in a manner similar to those currently on five-year MOPs.


Mr Lee also addressed feedback that allowing PLH flat owners to only rent out rooms – and not the whole flat – diminishes their property rights.

While he said he understood such opinions, others who faced difficulties in getting flats have voiced frustration when they see HDB flats for rent as they feel that subsidised housing should not be a source of income.

To strike a balance, Mr Lee said PLH flats – which will likely fetch higher rents – should be prioritised even more for those buying a long-term home to reduce speculative demand and moderate resale prices.

“We may not be able to screen out speculative demand completely, but the 10-year MOP, and disallowing whole flat rental, will go a long way,” he said.

Firm action will be taken against people who abuse the rules by renting out their entire flat while locking up one room and pretending to still live in it, he added.

Some have done so with existing flats, renting out the entire unit before their MOPs have expired.

Flats have been taken back from owners in egregious cases, and the authorities will see how best to enforce regulations, especially for prime location flats where “the temptation to game the system may be higher”, he said.













Singles unable to buy new prime HDB flats as numbers are limited, families prioritised for now: Desmond Lee
By Ng Keng Gene, The Straits Times, 29 Oct 2021

Singles will not be allowed to buy new Housing Board flats in prime locations for now as the housing model they come under is untested in the market and not many units will be launched for a start, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee.

"So we're prioritising them, for now, for larger households who may need more space for their families," he said on Friday (Oct 29) in addressing questions on why singles are not allowed to buy prime location flats under the new model, even in the resale market.

He added that the Government is "not taking a step backward" when it comes to public housing policies for singles, who can continue to buy existing resale flats in the meantime, including in prime central areas.

Mr Lee was speaking at the Singapore Economic Policy Forum, two days after the new prime location public housing (PLH) model was announced.


Under existing criteria for Build-To-Order (BTO) flats, singles are allowed to buy only new two-room flats in non-mature estates, he noted.

Acknowledging the housing needs of this group, Mr Lee said: "We understand their concerns. Some Singaporeans remain single for a variety of reasons including obligation to family and to parents, or a matter of choice or a matter of life course.

"They may wonder if we care about their housing needs. To these Singaporeans, let me assure you, we do."

This is why the Government has expanded housing options and grants for singles over the years, he said.

Measures under the new model will be assessed, he said, and the Government will make adjustments and improvements, "bearing in mind the evolving demographic of Singapore and the changing aspirations of Singaporeans".


The first BTO project under the PLH model in Rochor will include 40 rental units - a move that has drawn concerns about the subsidies required to make them affordable, if people would get along, and if public rental households could afford city living.

Mr Lee said such questions are not invalid, but stressed that building rental flats in prime areas reflects the Government's commitment to ensure housing estate communities are inclusive and diverse.

Many lower-income Singaporeans will benefit from living in prime areas, where they work in food and beverage, cleaning and security jobs, he added.

Besides subsidised rents, Mr Lee said the Government will ensure there are affordable food, shop and recreation options for rental households in prime areas.

He said that on a whole, the Government has kept its eyes firmly on its social objectives in devising the PLH model, but acknowledged that "no one policy can address every concern".

To that end, Mr Lee said that the model will be reviewed over time - like all housing policies - and is not cast in stone.
















First BTO project in Rochor under new prime housing model to launch in November 2021
By Ng Keng Gene, The Straits Times, 27 Oct 2021

The first project under a new model for public housing in prime locations will be built in Rochor and launched at the Build-to-Order (BTO) exercise next month.

The project will have a mix of 960 three-room and four-room flats, and also include 40 two-room rental flats, as part of efforts to make living in prime areas accessible to all.

It will be located on two plots of land along Weld Road and Kelantan Road next to Jalan Besar MRT station, said the National Development Ministry and Housing Board in a joint statement on Wednesday (Oct 27).

An open-air carpark next to Sim Lim Tower used to occupy one plot, while the other was vacated by the Sungei Road flea market in July 2017.

Besides an MRT station at their doorstep, future residents will also be within walking distance of Berseh Food Centre and Stamford Primary School.

At a media briefing on Tuesday (Oct 26), National Development Minister Desmond Lee said more HDB flats will be rolled out progressively after the Rochor project, in prime areas within and surrounding the city centre.

Moving forward, HDB will launch at least one prime location housing project per year, he said, adding that the proportion of new prime location flats to flats in other areas will differ year on year to ensure a diverse supply across areas.

Mr Lee said that the HDB is not ruling out any housing type for future prime location housing projects, adding that three- and four-room units, with some rental flats, were chosen this time to provide options for families to live in the city.

Under a new model for public housing in prime locations, flats may only be sold after 10 years' minimum occupancy, to buyers with a combined salary not exceeding $14,000.

In comparison, BTO projects in other areas have a minimum occupancy period of five years and no salary cap for resale buyers.

Higher subsidies will be provided for BTO flats in prime locations compared with typical BTO units, to keep prices affordable.

To further curb the "lottery effect" - where BTO unit owners resell their prime location flats for an excessive windfall - HDB will also recover the higher subsidies for such flats by taking a cut of the resale proceeds. More details will be announced next month.

The prime location housing model, which applies only to future projects, will be implemented for BTO projects in central areas like the upcoming Greater Southern Waterfront. About 9,000 housing units - both public and private - will be built on the site of Keppel Golf Club, whose lease expires in December this year.

Mr Lee said: "If you leave everything to the forces of the private market, these attractive locations would likely become very expensive and exclusive locations, with housing that only the well-to-do can afford."

This has happened in many cities around the world, he noted, adding: "We are determined not to let this happen in Singapore. We want to keep our city inclusive."

The new model comes on the back of a public engagement that lasted more than 10 months, where more than 7,500 Singaporeans gave their views on the issue.

The 960 units in Rochor will be among 4,400 BTO flats to be launched next month, with others in areas such as Chua Chu Kang, Hougang, Jurong West, Kallang/Whampoa and Tengah.

Another 2,000 to 3,000 BTO flats in Geylang, Tengah and Yishun will be launched in February next year.













Home seekers see benefits of 10-year MOP, limitations on resale buyers for new prime HDB flats
By Michelle Ng and Ng Keng Gene, The Straits Times, 27 Oct 2021

The 10-year minimum occupation period (MOP) for new flats in prime, central locations is key to attracting those who genuinely want to live in the flats and are not looking to profit from reselling, say home seekers and flat owners.

The longer MOP, up from the current five years, subsidy clawback and limitations on the pool of resale buyers are among the key measures under a new prime location public housing (PLH) model announced by the Government on Wednesday (Oct 27).

Among those who plan to apply for a unit in the upcoming Rochor build-to-order (BTO) project, the first site to come under the PLH model, is logistics manager Jacob Phua, 40.

He is more deterred by the pricing and waiting time for the flat than the various restrictions under the new model.

"The restrictions are not an issue to us because we plan to stay for the long term if we get a unit. Whether it's five years or 10 years' MOP, we're unlikely to sell once we get used to the convenience of the location," said Mr Phua, who has lived in Yishun all his life and hopes to move to a more central location with his wife.

"But looking at prices in previous BTO launches, I believe the Rochor prices may be more than $500,000, in which case, I may have to reconsider. There's also the completion date to consider; I'm not that young to wait for more than five years for a flat," he added.

The PLH model, which comes after almost a year of public consultations, is aimed at keeping new HDB flats in prime, central locations affordable and inclusive.

The pool of resale buyers of these flats will be limited to households which earn no more than $14,000 a month and with at least one Singaporean applicant.

Video producer Maverick Chua, 24, said the "long lock-in period with no definite returns" would not suit those who see properties as an investment, such as himself.

"Personally, the restrictions are too much for me, but I can see how it will still be attractive to someone who is looking for a place to live in and have no plans in upgrading or investing in property as the resale value will likely be controlled due to the various selling conditions," he said.

Graphic artist Lim Qian Ting, 22, said she supports the new policy as it will deter those who are out to make a quick buck on the resale market.

"Prices of newer HDB resale flats are just so ridiculously high now and it's so frustrating trying to get a BTO flat because of the high application rates," said Ms Lim, who has been unsuccessful twice in her BTO applications.

"The future generations also need a home. It's not fair to us if property prices are constantly rising as it puts a lot of financial pressure on us."

HDB resale prices have been on the rise in the past year, with overall prices hitting a record high in the third quarter of this year, according to HDB data.

Finance trainee Charleston Lim, 26, was hopeful that the new model would curb the "lottery effect", which is a major point of discontent in the resale market where some first-time buyers earn a neat profit when sellingtheir well-located flats.

"The BTO ballot should not be seen as a lottery for those hoping to make an investment, as such a mindset impacts those who genuinely need housing," he said.

However, Mr Lim concurred that the measures may benefit people like him, as flat prices in the city fringes may rise. He recently got a BTO flat in Geylang.

"Resale buyers who don't want to be restricted by the PLH model may look for 'second best' flats just outside the city, while new prime housing residents may be less inclined to sell with the subsidy clawback, potentially raising the prices in areas like Geylang," he said.

"Disallowing rental of whole units in PLH projects will also bode well for me, as city-fringe rentals rates may increase."

While most were supportive of the new model, there were concerns that some groups of people, such as singles, would be left out as they are not eligible to buy these flats both at the initial purchase and on resale.

Singles are not allowed to buy these PLH flats, even after they turn 35 years old.

This is in contrast to current rules that do not place limitations on singles 35 and above buying resale flats.

A 44-year-old housewife, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Goh, said while the policy may be helpful to curb speculative buying, disallowing singles from buying puts them at a disadvantage.

She said: "While the country's longstanding policy is to encourage a family nucleus, the society has changed with many more singles, including divorcees and unwed mothers, today. Optically, they appear to be second-class citizens and that's unhealthy for nation-building."
















Sell back to Govt, shorter lease: Six proposals that were not adopted in prime location HDB model
By Michelle Ng, The Straits Times, 30 Oct 2021

Over the course of almost a year, more than 7,500 Singaporeans weighed in with ideas and suggestions on how to make prime location Housing Board flats affordable and inclusive.

These are six proposals that were considered but not factored into the new prime location public housing (PLH) model announced earlier this week.

1. Sell back to Government

One suggestion to moderate and reduce the windfall gains from HDB flats under the PLH model was to mandate that the units be sold back to the Government.

This means that these flats cannot be sold on the open market, but instead be returned to the Government when owners no longer need their flats so that HDB can control prices directly.

This possibility was studied "very carefully", said National Development Minister Desmond Lee on Friday (Oct 29).

"But ultimately, we found that it would be very challenging to set the right price to buy back these flats. There was no strong consensus on this... Do we peg the buyback price to resale prices in other locations, or gross domestic product growth, or some other metric?"

If the price was set too low, it would not be fair to flat owners, he said. If the price was set too high, it would be unfair to others who do not own such flats as they "do not enjoy a similar government-guaranteed backstop", added Mr Lee.

"So market pricing is still useful as an allocation mechanism. It's not easy for the Government to get the pricing right," he said.

2. Shorter lease

A suggestion to maintain affordability was to launch these flats on a shorter lease instead of the standard 99-year tenure.

An online survey by the Ministry of National Development (MND) in June mooted a 75-year lease that could reduce the flat's cost by about 8 per cent.

"While this could help improve affordability for the first set of buyers, the remaining lease may be insufficient for subsequent young buyers who purchase the PLH on the resale market," said MND, in response to queries from The Straits Times.

ERA Singapore's head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak noted that the reduction in flat cost is merely hypothetical.

"The first BTO buyer won't be affected but the discount will be felt 20 to 30 years down the line when some buyers will not be eligible to buy these resale flats due to their ages," he said.




3. Smaller flat sizes

The MND survey also suggested having the size of a four-room flat in a prime location be 5 per cent smaller than a typical four-room flat in other mature estates, but launched at a similar price.

Professor Sing Tien Foo, director of the Institute of Real Estate and Urban Studies at National University of Singapore, said differentiated flat sizes may create price comparison among buyers. People may also not be willing to pay the same amount for a smaller flat, he pointed out.

MND said the sizes of prime location HDB flats will be similar to current Build-To-Order (BTO) flats.

Four-room flats will range between 85 and 93 sq m, and three-room units between 60 and 65 sq m, with slight variations depending on factors like site layout, location and design.

4. Channelling resale proceeds to CPF Special Account

This means that owners do not receive their profits in cash immediately, as the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Special Account is set aside for retirement and can only be withdrawn at age 55.

MND said this measure was not taken up as it "may not reduce the disproportionate windfall gains from sellers of PLH flats".

Prof Sing said that while this suggestion may lock up the money for a longer period of time, it does not tackle the crux of the "lottery effect", which is the large sum of profit made upon selling the flat.

ERA's Mr Mak said channelling the resale proceeds to CPF will not be a big issue for older buyers.

But "younger buyers will probably be frustrated that they cannot use the sales proceeds to upgrade or use for other purposes such as their kids' education", he added.

5. Higher resale levy

Under current HDB rules, families buying a second subsidised flat from the HDB have to pay a resale levy ranging from $15,000 to $55,000. One suggestion was to impose a higher resale levy on owners of prime location HDB flats.

It was not taken up as imposing a higher resale levy may not reduce the gains from the additional subsidy provided, said MND.

Prof Sing said an easy way for owners of prime location HDB flats to work around a higher resale levy was to upgrade to a private property, making this likely one of the first suggestions to get canned.

6. Imposing a capital gains tax

A capital gains tax works to "cream away" the excess profit, although it would be challenging to implement a tax that is equitable for everyone, said ERA's Mr Mak.

"The easiest way is to give a flat rate, say 10 per cent, but how do you make it fair? In addition, any tax system should also be easy to apply across the board," he added.

MND said a capital gains tax would have to be applied to all forms of housing, including private homes. "On balance, we have decided on a subsidy recovery, which would fairly recover the extent of additional subsidies."



















*  New public housing model: Different areas may become prime over time, says Indranee Rajah
By Michelle Ng, The Straits Times, 11 Nov 2021

An area like the Greater Southern Waterfront - with sea views and proximity to the city centre - would likely be considered a prime public housing locale by many people.

But different areas may also become prime over time, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah during a radio show on Thursday (Nov 11).

This is why the Government's approach is to first focus on locations that "everybody readily recognises as a prime area" under the new prime location public housing (PLH) model that was announced last month.

Public rental flats will also be built at these sites, where feasible, for lower-income households.


The first Build-To-Order (BTO) project to come under the new model will be in Rochor and units will be up for sale this month.

Owners will be subject to a 10-year minimum occupation period (MOP) and have additional subsidies clawed back by the Government upon the flat's resale, among other conditions.

When asked what constitutes a prime location during the Money FM 89.3 The Breakfast Huddle show, Ms Indranee said: "It's a bit like an elephant, you can describe it but it's very hard to pinpoint every single detail until you see it."

A good example of a prime location is the upcoming Greater Southern Waterfront (GSW), she added.

It is prime because it is close to the sea, is central and has access to facilities, said Ms Indranee, who is also Second Minister for National Development and Finance.

"We didn't want to hard code it in the beginning. Over time, different areas may become prime. So what we're doing now is focusing on the areas which everybody readily recognises as a prime area and we'll announce as and when," she said.

National Development Minister Desmond Lee previously said that besides the city centre, some of the Housing Board (HDB) estates immediately surrounding the city centre may qualify, depending on specific site attributes.


The PLH model - to ensure that new public housing in prime, central locations will remain affordable, accessible and inclusive for Singaporeans - comes after almost a year of public consultations.

More than 7,500 Singaporeans weighed in with ideas and suggestions.

"We did a very wide consultation because we wanted to make sure people, firstly, understood the rationale (for the PLH model) and, two, that the conditions (imposed) sit well with people," said Ms Indranee.

The decision to extend the MOP for prime location HDB flats to 10 years, up from the current five, came after extensive discussions.

MOP is the period of time owners have to live in a flat before they can sell it on the open market.

"Everybody knows the existing one is five years, so the question is how much longer than that. The general feel was that double that would be a fair time period," said Ms Indranee.

"If you're a young family buying (a PLH flat), 10 years really gives you time to have your kids, to make sure you're settled in your unit and you should be more settled in your job. Basically, it'll feel like a home and you're not going to be flipping it every few years."

Conditions such as the subsidy recovery drive home the point of home ownership, instead of speculative buying in the hopes of gaining a huge windfall, said Ms Indranee.

"Everybody knows that when you sell a resale HDB flat, unless the market is really very bad, you usually get a - I hesitate to use the word 'profit' - but you will usually be able to sell it for more than what you bought it for," she noted.

"What we're trying to do is to reduce some of that huge windfall so that you put these people in similar positions as other (HDB owners) who get a windfall."

On a broader scale, the PLH model is about ensuring land sustainability and breathing new life into old areas, said Ms Indranee.

"We're actually recycling the entire island as and when we're able to, so that over time, the entire island is renewed... There's a certain cycle to it - it could be 50, 70 years when the cycle comes around again," she added.

"And because this is public housing, it's a reassurance to Singaporeans that you'll be able to get access to public housing in beautiful, good locations and in a fair way."










* 960 Rochor BTO flats launched on 17 November 2021 under prime location model; HDB to claw back 6% of resale price
By Michelle Ng, The Straits Times, 18 Nov 2021

A total of 4,501 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats were launched for sale by the Housing Board on Wednesday (Nov 17), including 960 units in Rochor - the first project under a new prime location public housing (PLH) model - which come with a 6 per cent subsidy clawback clause upon their resale.

The units are spread across nine housing projects in six estates, with a median waiting time of 4.4 years for flats to be completed.

In addition, another 1,798 flats were on offer in this year's second, and final, Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) scheme.

In total, 6,299 new flats were launched on Wednesday.


The highly anticipated PLH project - River Peaks I and II in Rochor - comes with stricter buying and selling conditions.

A total of 960 three-room and four-room flats are on offer across six 47-storey blocks. One of the blocks will include 40 two-room rental flats.

The project sits on two plots of land along Weld Road and Kelantan Road and is directly connected to Jalan Besar MRT station.

Prices start from $409,000, without grants, for a three-room flat and $582,000 for a four-room flat, making them the most expensive units in a mature estate in this launch.

The prices are slightly higher than those in August's Queenstown BTO project, Queen's Arc, where the price of a three-room flat started from $382,000 and a four-room flat from $540,000.

The estimated floor area of the Rochor units is also slightly smaller, with three-room units at 66 sq m each and four-room units at 88 sq m each.

In Queen’s Arc, three-room units have an approximate floor area of 69 sq m each, with four-room units at 93 sq m each.

Under the PLH model, owners of these Rochor flats will pay 6 per cent of the resale price or valuation, whichever is higher, to HDB when they sell their home on the open market for the first time.

The subsidy clawback applies to only the first resale transaction and does not apply to subsequent resales.

This is because HDB has to provide additional subsidies on top of those provided for all BTO flats in order to launch these prime area flats at affordable prices.

All subsidies are factored into flat prices when they are launched as BTO flats.

In order to prevent excessive windfall gains when owners sell their flats on the open market, HDB said it will claw back the additional subsidies.

This also means that owners who choose not to sell their flats will not get their subsidies clawed back.


Owners will also be subject to a 10-year minimum occupation period, up from the five years for other flats, before they can sell their flats on the open market.

This comes on top of the 71 months - just under six years - estimated waiting time for these flats, as the project is estimated to be completed in the second quarter of 2028.

The longer construction time for the Rochor project is due to the height of the blocks and the proximity to Jalan Besar MRT station, which require more preparation work as well as compliance with more stringent requirements by the authorities.

This means owners will likely be able to resell these flats only some time in 2038.


The pool of resale buyers of these Rochor flats will also be limited to households which earn not more than $14,000 a month, with at least one applicant being a Singapore citizen.

The PLH model - to ensure that new public housing in prime, central locations will remain affordable, accessible and inclusive for Singaporeans - comes after almost a year of public consultations.

At least one prime location housing project will be launched each year, although the proportion of flats will differ year on year to ensure a diverse supply across estates.

Seniors can have their pick in the current sales exercise, with 68 two-room flexi flats on offer in a second "vertical kampung" in the non-mature estate of Choa Chu Kang.

The Heart of Yew Tee is an integrated development and houses Choa Chu Kang's first hawker centre, a polyclinic, a community club, a kidney dialysis centre, a community plaza and retail shops.

Flats will come with elderly friendly fittings and smart distribution boards.

Prices start from $72,000 without grants, and only seniors aged 55 and above can apply for these flats.

The project sits adjacent to YewTee Point shopping mall, which has a sheltered linkway to Yew Tee MRT station.

The estimated completion date is in the first quarter of 2026, so buyers have to wait about four years for their homes.

It is Singapore's third integrated development with housing for seniors, after Kampung Admiralty in Woodlands and the community care apartments - a type of assisted living public housing - in Harmony Village @ Bukit Batok.


In the current November launch, the only other BTO project in a mature estate is Kent Heights in Kallang/Whampoa.

A total of 430 two-room flexi and four-room flats are on offer, on a site along Owen Road, next to the Central Expressway.

Prices start from $192,000 for a two-room flexi flat and $511,000 for a four-room flat.

The estimated completion date is in the fourth quarter of 2026, which means buyers will have to wait more than four years for them to be ready.

There are two BTO projects in the non-mature estate of Hougang.

The bigger project is Hougang Olive, where 390 four-room and five-room flats are on offer on a site bounded by Hougang Avenue 3, Hougang Street 12 and Hougang Street 13.

Prices start from $308,000 for a four-room flat and $416,000 for a five-room unit.

The waiting time is about three years, as these flats are slated for completion in the first quarter of 2025, making these one of the earliest projects to be ready in this launch.

The smaller project, which sits on an adjacent site, is Tanjong Tree Residences @ Hougang, where 300 four-room and five-room units are on offer.

Prices start from $318,000 for a four-room flat and $419,000 for a five-room unit.

These flats are estimated to be ready in about four years, in the second quarter of 2026.

In the non-mature estate of Jurong West, 221 three-room and four-room flats are on offer at Nanyang Opal, on a site bounded by Jurong West Street 92 and 93.

Prices start from $173,000 for a three-room flat and $264,000 for a four-room flat, making them the most affordable in this sales exercise.

These flats are estimated to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2025, so buyers have to wait around 3½ years for them.

Tengah, Singapore's newest town, has two BTO projects in the Park district.

The bigger project is Parc Clover @ Tengah, where 1,124 two-room flexi, three-room, four-room and five-room flats are on offer.

Prices start from $119,000 for a two-room flexi, $312,000 for a four-room and $428,000 for a five-room flat.

The smaller project is Parc Glen @ Tengah , where 1,008 two-room flexi, three-room, four-room and five-room flats are on offer.

Prices start from $120,000 for a two-room flexi, $194,000 for a three-room, $319,000 for a four-room and $436,000 for a five-room flat.


Flats in both Tengah projects are slated for completion in the fourth quarter of 2024, with a waiting time of around 2½ years, making them among the fastest to be completed in this launch.

The 1,798 units offered under the SBF scheme are spread across mature and non-mature estates such as Bishan, Bukit Merah, Clementi, Queenstown and Punggol.

About 31 per cent of them are completed, while the rest are in various stages of construction.

These flats are expected to be popular among buyers as the completion date of BTO projects has been stretched longer due to the manpower shortage and supply disruption in the construction industry arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Applications for the flats close on Nov 23 at 11.59pm on the HDB flat portal. The flats will be allocated through balloting.

Next February, about 3,900 flats will be offered in towns such as Geylang, Kallang/Whampoa, Tengah and Yishun.

Another 5,200 to 5,700 flats will be offered in towns such as Bukit Merah, Jurong West, Queenstown, Tampines, Toa Payoh and Yishun in May next year.

The exact location of these projects and the number of flats at each site will be released closer to the launch date.







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