HDB to raise supply of new flats to record high

Move to meet strong demand from first-time home buyers

Published on Sep 28, 2012

By Daryl Chin

THE Housing Board has decided to increase the supply of new build-to-order flats this year by 2,000 to a record 27,000 units - a move it says will further help it meet strong demand, especially from first-time home buyers.

It revealed this yesterday, as it launched more than 7,000 HDB flats for sale, spread out across both mature and non-mature estates islandwide.

More than half are new build-to-order (BTO) flats in areas like Choa Chu Kang, Woodlands, Ang Mo Kio, Kallang and Tampines.

The selling price of a four-room BTO flat starts from $234,000 in Choa Chu Kang. This is excluding grants given by the Government, which brings the price down to $219,000.

The rest of the sales launch consists of "balance flats", which are units either left unsold in previous sales exercises or returned to HDB when buyers reject them.

The cheapest four-room balance flats start at $223,000 in Woodlands ($208,000 inclusive of grants), and the priciest include a few sought-after apartments at the Pinnacle@Duxton.

HDB has been ramping up the supply of new flats in the last few years. This year's total will best the 25,200 units launched last year, a number which was already raised from the original target of 22,000. In 2010, it released about 16,000 new flats.

Industry watchers said yesterday that the latest offerings are timely given recent news of a resale flat in Queenstown being sold for a record $1million.

ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim said many resale flat sellers, particularly those in mature estates, have since increased their asking prices.

"Having more choice in mature estates for first-time home buyers in this launch and the next will help put a lid on runaway resale price increases," he said.

This is because new flats are significantly more affordable than their resale counterparts.

Mr Lim noted, for example, that the price difference between a new four-room flat and a comparable resale unit in Woodlands can be as much as $130,000. "This represents a huge saving for a first-timer household," he said.

Of the increased supply this year, PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail said: "At the moment, demand is still higher than supply. The additional 2,000 flats will speed up the process of moderating the market."

Dennis Wee Group spokesman Lee Sze Teck expects buyer interest to be healthy. "On the ground, we are noticing more sellers standing firm on their prices. This could funnel buyers to go for new flats instead," he said.

House-hunter Jonah Lai said she plans to suss out, through HDB's website, how popular certain estates are before putting in her bid. "It's not a decision to make lightly. A wrongly placed application could mean months of waiting," said the 25-year-old public relations officer.

Applications close next Wednesday.

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