By Olivia Siong | POSTED: 05 Jun 2013 7:44 PM | CNA

SINGAPORE:

The most popular choice in the Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) latest sales launch has turned out to be for left-over units or balance flats, from earlier exercieses .

The HDB received close to 20,000 applications for 3,100 units offered under the Sales of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise as of 5pm Wednesday. This works out to more than six applicants for each unit.

With their central city location and expected high returns in the resale market,  two available units at the coveted Pinnacle@Duxton are the most sought after with a unit equivalent to a five-room flat receiving 416 applications.

Located on the 46th floor, the unit is going at S$769,000.

The other available unit, which is similar to a four-room flat, received 206 applications.

Other mature estates like Toa Payoh and Bedok, which only have a handful of flats on offer, also saw strong demand.

Other popular areas include mature estates like Queenstown and Bukit Merah.

Key executive officer of ERA Realty Network, Eugene Lim said: “SBF flats are located in mature estates or well-established estates so the key factor is that the location is more attractive than the BTO flats. Secondly is the waiting time. As SBF flats are already near completion or under construction, you don’t have to wait so long to collect the keys.”

Observers said another reason why balance flats are in such high demand is because 50 per cent of these units are set aside for married couples with children under the age of 16. And for the first time, couples who are expecting their first child also get to benefit.

It was a different story for Build-To-Order (BTO) flats which received 4,882 applications for the 4,900 units on offer.

With at an application rate of one applicant for each unit on offer, this could possibly be the lowest rate ever. The application rate in the January BTO exercise was 3.8 and 3.1 in the March BTO exercise.

Analysts said location could have been a big factor.

The BTO projects launched in May are located in non-mature estates and seem less attractive compared to the balance flats that are being offered in mature estates.

Mr Lim added accessibility is also an issue with projects not located near MRT stations.

Colin Tan, research head at Chesterton Suntec International said he is not surprised that the project in the relatively better established Hougang saw the strongest demand.

There were about four applicants for each four-room unit on offer.

“Even though the units in the mature estates cost a lot more, they still attract a lot more applicants. When someone buys a home, they look at its entirety in terms of convenience, location, and even capital appreciation. Although they are priced a lot higher, people see that there may be more upside for units in the mature estates,” said Mr Tan.

The next BTO launch is in July.

Applications for the HDB’s latest sales launch will close at Wednesday midnight.

– CNA/fa

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/balance-flats-most-popular-in-latest-hdb/698938.html