Flats in Geylang and Bidadari available in HDB’s latest BTO Launch

HDB’s latest sales launch of Build-to-order (BTO) and Sale of Balance (SBF) flats will include 1,273 units in Geylang and 1,355 Bidadari (Toa Payoh HDB estate).

BidadariHDBflatMAy17May’s launch may not be huge considering it will span 14 mature estates and 11 non-mature estates, but the inclusion of many flats in popular estates such as Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Clementi and Kallang/Whampoa will draw the crowds for sure. 5 applicants per unit is expected for Geylang as the area has not had a launch for the past 3 years.

The government is however attempting to shift applicants’ focus to non-mature estates up North, namely in Woodlands and Yishun. Up to 2,000 new BTO flats will be launched in these 2 HDB towns with prices considerably lower than those in mature estates. For example, a 2-room flexi HDB flat in Geylang will cost $179,000 while the same in Woodlands will cost more than $100,000 lesser at $73,000. In Bidadari, a 2-room flexi unit will cost $169,000. A 3-Gen flat in Bidadari will be priced at $622,000 while the same in Woodlands costs slightly over half of that at $320,000.

DakotaHDBflatMAy17Bigger 4- and 5-room flats will also be made available in the current launch. But be prepared to pay $489,000 for a 4-bedroom unit in Geylang while a 5-bedroom flat in Yishun will set you back only $331,000. Plans to establish Woodlands as an area for regional businesses is on the way, though it will take some time before it becomes a full-fledged hub. Infrastructure that is being developed includes new MRT stations, a terminus connecting Woodlands to Johor Bahru and the North-South corridor. More HDB launches can be expected in the Woodlands estate in future.

In the meantime, the mature estates are expected to dominate the latest launch. Applications close on Wednesday, May 24. HDB’s next launch will be in August and it will include 3,850 new BTO flats in Bukit Batok and Sengkang.

*Photo credit: HDB

1 in 5 first-time HDB Flat buyers opt for resale

CLementiHDBIt has become easier for first-time HDB flat buyers to secure a new flat directly from the Housing Board (HDB) but some are still opting for one in the resale market. 95 per cent of new Build-to-order (BTO) units are now reserved for first-time buyers. But yet figures have shown that 1 in 5 first-time HDB flat buyers are still choosing to buy a unit from the resale flat market instead of applying for a new one.

The decline in resale flat prices, the growing pool of available resale flats on sale in mature estates and the fact that more young buyers are willing to pay dearly for older flats to get the space and location they desire could all be reasons for the high numbers of first-time buyers choosing to buy resale.  Younger families prefer homes in better locations, perhaps also to be closer to their extended families, and they now have more available stock to choose from. For buyers buying a flat near their parents, they can also receive a $20,000 housing grant.

ClementiHDBflat3,441 Singaporean families purchased a resale flat with the aid of housing grants last year – that is almost 20 per cent of the flat purchases made by first-time buyers. The remaining 80 per cent applied for 14,273 subsidised units directly from HDB. Young couples who are eager to start a family may also choose to purchase from the resale market in order to skip the waiting period of 3 to 4 years which comes with the acquisition of a new BTO flat. The now-enhanced CPF Housing Grants also mean first-time buyers can get up to to $50,000 in subsidies.

Will this then mean that resale flat sellers can price up as demand does not seem to have waned? Not necessarily so, as the option of new flats are very much available to first-time buyers. There have however been recent transactions in popular areas where records were set for resale units – such as $1.04 million for a 118 sq m resale flat on the 39th floor of Clementi Towers.

First-time HDB flat applicants to get BTO flats sooner

For first-time home buyers who need a permanent roof over their heads may now get to live their dreams sooner.

PunggolBTOflatThe Housing Development Board (HDB) has committed to setting aside 1,000 Build-to-order (BTO) flats in non-mature estates for first-time applicants. These flats will be constructed regardless of whether HDB receives the optimum number of applicants, which means they will be ready in 2 and a half years, much sooner than the 3 to 4 years it usually takes.

BukitBatokHDBFlatThis new scheme was implemented together with a few other changes announced in the latest Singapore Budget 2017 which will elevate the home-seeking process for young families or couples looking to start a family. Prior to the change, the only other option they had was to look for one in the resale HDB flat market. The CPF Housing Grant has also been raised from $30,000 to $50,000 for 4-room and smaller resale flats, and to $40,000 for 5-room and larger flats.

The authorities have mentioned that these flats, though are to be ready sooner, will not be costlier than other BTO flats. In addition, a new common pool of flats that remain unsold after a Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise will be put aside and sold at regular intervals with priority given to first-time households.

Property cooling measures to stay put

National Development Ministry Lawrence Wong has recently mentioned that the curbs placed on the property industry are here to stay as demand for property not declined.

HillsTwoOneThough property prices may have fallen, the dip has been gradual and slow. Coupled with the fertile bedrock of low interest rate and affordable quantum pricing of residential properties, the authorities may be afraid of a sudden and unmanageable spike in demand from investors should the curbs be lifted anytime soon.

And their fears may not be entirely unfounded as the market has been showing budding signs of recovery in the past couple of months. Demand, in particular for smaller units in well-located properties, from local and foreign investors alike, have been on the rise while prices are beginning to hold steady. Pent-up demand from previous quarters of muted activity have meant a rise in sales volume.

SignatureECYishunBigger Central Provident Fund housing grants will be included in the upcoming Budget talks, which may sustain resale HDB flat volume as more buyers qualify for subsidies. Resale volume for the public housing sector has already risen 7.8 per cent last year. As demand for resale flat increases, so will pricing and sales volume. A stabilising resale flat market could also mean an increase in the number of HDB upgraders who are buying off the private property market, in turn boosting sales in the private housing sector as well.

Fresh Start Housing Scheme helps families start afresh

A new Housing board programme has been rolled out last December to help families own a HDB flat.

fresh-start-housing_long

Photo credit: Ministry of National Development

Aptly named the Fresh Start Housing Scheme, it is aimed at helping families who have once lived in subsidised housing and are now living in rental flats. They can now apply for 2-room flexi flats with shorter leases of 45 to 65 years, which means they pay less than the usual 99-year leasehold HDB flats secured directly from the housing board.

These will be a boost for lower-income families or those wanting to move on and up from the rental schemes. But as these rare 2-room flexi units are also made available to singles and senior citizens, they are one of the most popular unit types in the board’s latest BTO (build-to-order) sales launch. 713 such 2-room units were put up for ballot and the subscription rate was almost four times that with 2,894 applicants. First-time home buyers are also allowed to apply for grants of up to $35,000.

PunggolBTOFlat

Photo credit: HDB

There are however clauses in the Fresh Start Housing Scheme that limit qualifying applicants. Households applying under this scheme must have at least 1 citizen parent, 1 citizen child under the age of 16 and at least 1 family member must have had a stable employment for the last 12 months. The Ministry of Social and Family Development will also need to assess applicants and they must not have accumulated more than 3 months in arrears on their rental units.

Fewer new HDB Flats to be launched in 2017

sembawanghdb-flatMore applicants have been successful in securing a suitable and preferred unit from the Housing Board (HDB) directly since the authorities ramped up supply a few years back. Come 2017, the supply flow of new Build-to-order (BTO) flats will be reduced by 1,000 units from 18,000 this year to 17,000. Some of the latter launches this year, in particular those in non-mature estates such as Sembawang and Yishun, have already seen lower application rates and the 10,000-unit stock of balance flats from previous launches is also rather high.

81d36c494a88405a9dbd5dad5c28924aPart of the reason for the trim could also be the slowing economy and the reduced pace of family formation. But unlike the long 3- to 4-year wait typical of most BTO flats, these newer launches could be launched by 2018 and be ready for occupation by 2020. With the declining local populus, tighter immigration policies and a rapidly ageing population, the Singaporean government is feeling the increased urgency in encouraging millennials to form new family units.

Most of the younger generation of Singaporeans prioritise acquiring a home and having children in that order. Being able to provide them with a home quickly will no doubt be crucial in the push for Singapore’s birth rate. The National Development Minister, Lawrence Wong, has however promised that the supply of new BTO flats will continue, albeit being adjusted according to demand, across both non-mature and mature HDB estates to provide applicants with a range of choices.

HDB flat prices rise slightly in November

A 0.2% rise in resale HDB flat prices may bely the fall in sales volume in November due to a possible trickle-down effect from heightened activity in the new Build-to-order (BTO) flat segment.

bidadariNovember’s launch of BTO flats was the largest in the year, with flats in Kallang/Whampoa and Bidadari garnering the biggest response from applicants. With flats in these areas oversubscribed, some may have decided to skip the wait and go for resale flats instead. The overall buying sentiment in the HDB market may have also received a boost from the launch.

In a year-on-year comparison, prices are however 0.7 lower than that in November 2015 while resale volume is 7.1 per cent higher. The figures are not surprising since resale HDB flat prices have been stabilising over the past year while sales volume is largely dependent on demand and the option of new flats. Flats in mature estates continue to command high prices and in that, the property cooling measures may not have had that kept selling prices high and most sellers are not in a hurry to let go of their flats, until the time when keys to their new flats are ready for collection.

NorthwaveECPrivate property prices may have declined in single-digit percentages, and while that narrows the gap between smaller non-landed private property units and more expensive public housing options such as executive condominiums (EC), resale flat prices have budged only slightly which may not be sufficient for those who fall between these price segments. Prices of resale HDB flats are expected to have up to a 0.5 per cent price rise in 2017.

 

Raised income ceiling for HDB grants – Help or Hurt

The income ceiling for the application of HDB grants was raised last year, and till date, the policy change has helped more than 1,500 household secure new or resale HDB flats. Previously, the income cap was $12,000 for executive condominiums, $10,000 per household  or $5,000 for singles. Following the adjustment in August last year, the income cap is now $14,000, $12,000 and $6,000 respectively.

Westwood ResidencesThe Housing Board has cited rising income and an increased demand for public housing as push factors for the change. Some property experts however feel that the move has hurt the private property market as these are potential private property buyers whom the market may have lost out on and whom may have cost taxpayer’s more burden. However, these buyers could also have been sandwiched between the public and private housing markets, unable to afford the latter nor the former without a CPF housing grant.

From the 11,833 new HDB flats and 6,464 resale flats sold within the last year, about 5 per cent and 15 per cent of the purchases would not have been made prior to the income ceiling revisions. The last time the income ceiling was raised by $2,000 was 5 years ago in 2011. The question remains if it is a matter of eligibility or affordability of existing public housing units which detracts a possible remaining group or groups of buyers who may still be unable to purchase resale units despite securing all possible grants.