By Sumita Sreedharan | POSTED: 21 Oct 2013 08:53 | CNA

SINGAPORE

Singles looking to buy a Build-to-Order (BTO) flat will now have more chances to do so as the Housing and Development Board (HDB) has decided to allow this group to buy any excess two-room flats in non-mature estates after catering to the demand from first- and second-timer families.

HDB rules stipulate that 30 per cent of two-room flats will be set aside for singles, but the demand for such units from this group has been so overwhelming that the housing authority is offering them more than the prescribed quota.

In July’s BTO exercise, which marked the first time singles aged 35 and above are able to buy new HDB flats, almost 9,000 singles made applications for the some 155 units offered in Sengkang and Yishun. This translates to about 58 singles vying for each two-room unit.

In comparison, the application rates of families for two-room flats came in much lower – between 0.8 and 1.1 for first-timers, and 1.9 and 3.2 for second-timers – which led to some property analysts to call on the HDB to increase the allocation of such units for singles.

In response to TODAY’s queries, the HDB said more than half of the almost 9,000 singles who applied for a two-room BTO flat in July applied again for a unit in the latest sales exercise last month, adding that it expects to see “strong demand (from singles) for many more BTO exercises”.

“Even as we seek to meet the housing needs of single citizens, families (both first- and second-timer) remain our priority,”it said. “Nevertheless, any excess two-room flats (in non-mature estates) after catering to the demand from first- and second-timer families will be allocated to singles.”

The HDB added: “With the significant ramp-up of the building programme in the last few years, we have cleared the backlog of young families buying their first home. This has allowed us to look into the housing needs of other segments of the population, including single citizens.”

In last month’s BTO exercise, the HDB put up for sale all the balance two-room flats in the non-mature estates from previous exercises. This added 1,100 flats to the 190 units offered last month.

Property analysts TODAY spoke to applauded the HDB’s move to allow singles to buy excess flats. “With this caveat that surplus flats will be allocated to singles after meeting the demand from families, the HDB has solved the problem of allocation, they do not need to raise the quota for singles and deprive a family of a unit,” said Mr Chris Koh from property firm Chris International.

PropNex CEO Mohamed Ismail said the move is similar to the one that governs executive condominiums, where second-time buyers will be allocated units above the 30 per cent quota after the demand from first-timers is satisfied.

The HDB said it will continue to “work to address the demand from singles”. For example, another 450 units of two-room BTO flats will be offered during next month’s BTO exercise, bringing the total number of two-room flats in the non-mature estates launched this year to about 2,500.

“We will also increase the two-room BTO supply in the non-mature estates to 5,000 units next year – twice the supply of two-room flats this year,” it added.

TODAY

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/more-chances-for-singles/854730.html