By Lip Kwok Wai and Melissa Chong | POSTED: 26 Nov 2013 12:41 | UPDATED: 27 Nov 2013 00:16 | CNA

SINGAPORE

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) launched 8,952 flats on Tuesday for sale in the largest joint Build-To-Order (BTO) and Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise so far.

This brings the total number of flats launched in 2013 to 25,139 — in line with the commitment made earlier by the board to launch 25,000 BTO flats.

HDB said it has offered a total of 33,568 flats for sale this year.

4,978 BTO flats from six projects were offered in five non-mature towns: Bukit Batok, Hougang, Jurong West, Sembawang and Woodlands in the current launch.

First-time buyers will continue to enjoy priority flat allocation with at least 85 per cent of four-room and five-room BTO flats and 70 per cent of two-room and three-room BTO flats in non-mature states set aside for them.

During this BTO exercise, HDB also launched its second batch of Multi-Generational flats to help parents and married children stay closer to each other.

These projects include Hougang Meadow and Boon Lay View.

3-Gen flats start from S$321,000 onwards — comparable to 5-room flats.

Lim Yong Hock, key executive officer at PropNex Realty, said: “(Although the) price… is rather similar, it caters to different groups of buyers. Some would really just want to go for a 5-room if they’re not a multi-gen family.

“But for multi-gen (families)… they already probably made up their mind… to stay together so they can take care of each other.”

The Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS) for parents and married children to apply jointly for flats in the same BTO project will be available to those applying for flats at Admiralty Grove, Hougang Meadow, Boon Lay View and West Ridges @ Bukit Batok.

This exercise also saw the third batch of flats released for singles, who can apply for a two-room flat in Admiralty Grove or West Ridges @ Bukit Batok.

Demand for these flats exceeded supply, and as of 5pm on Tuesday, they were the most popular type of units.

Mr Lim said: “We have already seen that the applicant rates are rather high. And it will still take a while for demand to ease off, especially because not every single is eligible to get the flat.

“There will still be a fair bit of singles who didn’t get a flat in the last two rounds. They will probably try again and again until they get it.”

As for balance flats, 3,974 units in 11 non-mature and 13 mature estates were being offered under the current exercise.

These include Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Punggol, Woodlands, Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Clementi and Kallang-Whampoa.

Counting both SBF and BTO flats, HDB said it has offered a total of 33,568 flats for sale this year.

The most sought-after housing project, however, was the Pinnacle@Duxton.

Analysts said that while demand for BTO flats has been high throughout the year, the demand this round was lower than the previous exercise.

Christine Li, head of Research & Consultancy at OrangeTee, said: “Firstly, it could be because it’s jointly held with sales or balance flats which have shorter waiting time, so a lot of people with immediate housing needs might go for sale of balance flats instead of BTO.

“Secondly, we’re also noticing more zero COV (cash-over-valuation) and negative COV transactions which could indicate that buyers don’t need to fork out extra cash for their resale flat.”

HDB is due to hold its next BTO exercise in January 2014, where it will offer some 3,150 flats in Bukit Batok, Jurong West, Punggol, Serangoon and Woodlands.

More information is available at the HDB website.

– CNA/xq/gn

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/record-8-952-hdb-flats/900300.html