Published March 19, 2008

HDB's 2nd BTO project takes off


THE Housing and Development Board launched its second build-to-order (BTO) project yesterday.

Jade Spring @ Yishun (Phase 2) will have 576 flats for sale. With 494 flats launched last month, HDB has made available a total of 1,070 flats so far.

It says five more BTO projects will be launched by June and they will make available 3,430 flats, taking the total number to 4,500 for the first half of 2008.

At the end of the first day of the Jade Spring @ Yishun (Phase 2) launch yesterday, HDB had received 247 applications.

Cushman & Wakefield managing director Donald Han said that demand for BTO flats is expected to remain firm despite volatile economic conditions worldwide. 'HDB buyers are different from those in the private market,' he said.

And because there are few launches at the low end of the private residential market, he reckons that that sector is not likely to be affected by new BTO projects.

Mr Han said that while the top price for a four-room flat at Jade Spring is around $250,000, a low-end mass market private home costs at least $500,000. 'At these prices, the HDB market still has room to grow,' he said.

Jade Spring will comprise mostly four-room flats, costing $189,000-$253,000 for unit sizes of 92-97 square metres.

Three-room flats will cost $124,000-$141,000 for unit sizes of 67 sq m. Two-room flats will cost $77,000-$97,000 for unit sizes of 47 sq m.

The monthly household income ceilings for purchasing the flats are $2,000 for a two-room unit, $3,000 for three-room and $8,000 for four-room.

ERA Realty Network assistant vice-president Eugene Lim said that the flats should appeal to first-timers and those with lower budgets, as little or no cash is needed to buy them.

He estimates that the median cash-over-valuation (COV) for a four-room Yishun resale flat is about $18,000. Current resale prices of four-room flats of about 20 years old at Yishun Avenue 11 are around $230,000-$260,000.

Mr Lim said that the HDB resale market is still active despite the global economic bad news. 'Any flat that has a COV of $50,000 and below sells relatively quickly, usually within a month or less.'