The Housing Development Board (HDB) of Singapore recently announced that it will be releasing lesser HDB flats in 2019. HDB had previously launched 17,584 flats in 2017 and projected the launch of an estimated 17,000 flats in 2018. However, only about 15,800 flats were up for sale this year. The number will go further down to around 15,000 in 2019.
The BTO (Build-To-Order) HDB units slated for 2019 are located in Kallang/Whampoa, Sengkang, and Jurong West. Around 2000 of these are flats with reduced wait-time in Tengah. Usually, homeowners need to wait for about three to four years from the time of application to be in possession of their flat keys. In comparison, the applicants for the Tengah flats will need to wait only two to three years.
Some real estate developers believe the projected number of new flats for 2019 reflect a decline in application for homebuyers who are first-timers on estates that are zoned non-mature. The number of flats slated for launch in 2019 is the lowest ever since 15,100 flats were put on the market in 2015. Others see this decline as reflective of the Government’s changing priorities. Since 2016, HDB has also been looking at ways to better the older existing flats and make them more durable. Perhaps the reason for lesser new flats is that they will be concentrating on renovating older flats.
In its statement released on 7 December 2018, the HDB clarifies that BTO application rates for first-time homebuyers on three-room HDB flats and larger have remained the same in all estates, with an average of two applications for each BTO flat released. HDB adds that most Singaporean families who apply for their first HDB in the non-mature estates usually succeed in making a booking within their first three attempts. Last month, the first batch of 1,100 flats with shorter wait-times was launched in Yishun and Sembawang, Sengkang. According to HDB reports, each flat had an average of 3 applicants. In their resale portal launched earlier this year, the HDB also showed that the required time for transactions has now halved from 16 weeks to 8 weeks.
HDB maintains that the low flat supply projected for 2019 is in keeping with the estimated housing needs of Singapore. Since 2011, the agenda of HDB has been to address shortages in supply of BTO flats and simultaneously manage soaring home prices. This led HDB to cut back almost 30% of flat supply in 2015. In 2016, the supply of new flats was increased to about 18,000 units.
These developments were made in conjunction with a study of the income rates of buyers in the corresponding years. The statement released by HDB adds that the agency will continue to work on improving the housing experience of all Singaporeans. It will prioritize on releasing new flats in keeping with the real estimated requirements for new flats in Singapore to keep housing affordable while meeting all minimum quality requirements.
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