Mar 5, 2010

50% of applicants drop out

HALF of the applicants for Housing Board's new Build-to-Order (BTO) flats did not book a unit when invited to do so last year, even though the application rates exceeded the flat supply by several times.

About 22 per cent of the applications for such flats in the last four months - from November to February - were repeat applicants from the same household and not all the applicants were in urgent need of a flat, said National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan in Parliament on Friday.

He said the high application rates for recent BTO launches did not reflect the true demand for flats.

Citing the BTO project at Fernvale Palms in SengKang as an example, Mr Mah said when it was launched last October, the number of applicants exceeded the flat supply by four times. But by the end of the selection exercise earlier this week, 44 per cent of first-timers who were invited to pick a flat did not do so.

'Even when all the flats were available on the first day, 34 per cent of applicants gave up their chance to select a flat,' he added.

When asked for their reasons, the applicants said their choice units were taken or they were considering other housing options. 'I can only conclude that these applicants were not in urgent need of a flat and preferred to wait for their choice flat. Unfortunately, they drive up application rates, and create undue anxiety that demand far outstrips supply,' said Mr Mah.

While the Government is committed to helping Singaporeans own their first homes and there are enough new flats to meet demand, flat buyers must be realistic, said Mr Mah.

'It is not possible to promise every applicant who buys direct from HDB his 'choice' flat, at the floor of his choice; at the place of his choice; at the time of his choice; and at the price he wants,' he added.

'Our land is limited, especially in the mature estates. So is our housing budget, generous as it is. Buyers have to decide on the tradeoffs they want to make - whether they should keep on trying for their 'choice' flat, and delay setting up their home, or to settle first for one within their budget and move to a better flat later when they have up their finances.'