April 18, 2008

HDB supply of completed new flats hits all-time low

THE Housing Board yesterday alerted couples looking to buy completed new flats that its supply had now dipped to an all-time low of 1,300.

With the 'progressive clearance' of its unsold stock, there will be fewer completed units offered for sale in future, it said.

The HDB is now urging buyers to consider its build-to-order (BTO) flats where there will be 'ample supply and regular project launches'.

BTO flats will be the main source of new flats in future, the board has said. These flats are built only when there is sufficient demand, and usually take about three years to build.

The next two BTO sales will be launched at the end of the month, for flats in Punggol and Sengkang.

These new flats and others in towns such as Woodlands and Bukit Panjang will make up the 5,000 new flats the HDB plans to offer in the period until September.

The HDB's latest sale of completed flats, launched on April 10 - of 490 four-room or bigger flats in various towns such as Bukit Batok, Bukit Panjang, Choa Chu Kang and Jurong East - had received 5,700 applications by the time it closed on Wednesday.

The ratio of about 10 applicants for every flat offered under its bi-monthly sales programme is 'similar to other sale exercises conducted over the past year', said the board.

The take-up rate is high because flats offered have been completed or are nearing completion.

The HDB advised buyers to 'plan ahead for their housing needs' to minimise waiting.

It also acknowledged recent public feedback that applicants who are not serious buyers 'should be discouraged from participating in sales exercises, to avoid crowding out those with more pressing housing needs'.

In recent BTO launches, for example, Punggol Vista, Fernvale Vista (Phase Two) and Coral Spring in Sengkang had take-up rates of 72, 65 and 70 per cent respectively.

Many initial applicants did not go ahead and make a purchase despite the chance to do, perhaps because their desired units had been sold, or they had decided on other housing options.

The HDB said that it is reviewing the flat application system to address this concern.

Only flats at Telok Blangah Towers and Treelodge @ Punggol, HDB's environmentally friendly project, had high take-up rates of 100 and 94 per cent respectively, it told The Straits Times.

Recently, the board also revised its launches and will sell three-room and smaller unsold flats once every three months, instead of once a month. And the bigger flats - three-room premium and above - will be sold half-yearly starting Oct 10, instead of every two months.