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More than 7,000 new flats expected over next 7 months

Over 1,000 flats in 2 projects launched yesterday; 6,000 more to come by next June

NEWLY-WEDS need not worry about not having a new HDB roof over their heads.

More than 7,000 new Housing Board flats will be offered for sale over the next seven months, as well as seven plots of land which could boast another 3,200 units.

To cater to different income groups, flats on the drawing board range from the humble two-room flat to privately-designed estates and executive condominiums.

This increase in flat supply, the biggest in recent years, is expected to ease the bottleneck that has emerged in recent months as buyers, put off by the high prices of private homes and resale flats, turned to new subsidised HDB flats.

Prices of resale HDB flats grew by 11 per cent in the first nine months of this year, while prices of private homes shot up 22.9 per cent.

An indication of the rush for new flats: the HDB recently received almost 8,000 applications for just 400 flats in Telok Blangah and more than 1,600 applications for 516 homes in Punggol.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan yesterday made clear the HDB was stepping up flat building ‘in a very major way’.

At 4,800 units, the number of HDB’s build-to-order flats offered by the end of this year is already more than double the number launched last year.

Property agents say the move will also encourage HDB flat sellers to be more realistic about their asking prices.

Mr Albert Lu, managing director of C&H Realty, thinks that prices may drop. ‘But it’s a good thing, as more people will be able to afford flats,’ he added.

Two build-to-order projects were launched yesterday:

  • Segar Meadows in Bukit Panjang Ring Road, comprising 412 three- and four-room flats.

  • Compassvale Beacon in Punggol Road, comprising 750 two-, three-, and four-room flats.

From next month till June, the HDB will also launch for sale another 6,000 new flats under the build-to-order system, where projects are built only if the majority of flats are booked.

It will also launch for sale four plots of land in Bishan, Simei, Toa Payoh and Bedok for flats to be built and sold by private developers. Another three sites – in Yishun, Jurong, and Sengkang – will be made available next year for development of executive condominiums.

Mr Mah reassured homebuyers – especially those buying their first subsidised home – that there were enough flats as well as a variety of properties to meet their needs.

About 80 to 90 per cent of applicants for each build-to-order project are such ‘first-timers’, many of whom are newly-weds. In the two recent balloting sales exercises, 92 per cent of shortlisted buyers fell into that category.

He urged them: ‘Don’t be too choosy…It’s not possible or realistic for the HDB to offer only new flats in mature estates in the heart of the city.’

The boost in supply buoyed buyers like Ms Affizah Aziz, 40, who turned to the HDB resale market after failing to get a new flat in a recent ballot. The housewife said: ‘I still would like to have a new flat. Its surroundings and atmosphere are much better.’

Mr Mah promised that new flats will remain affordable. Their prices, long pegged to the values of resale HDB flats, will not be affected by a rise in building costs.

He also rejected suggestions that the release of the flats was meant to prevent a property bubble from forming. ‘I don’t see any bubble forming,’ he said. Unlike the private property sector, the HDB market is a much bigger and more stable. ‘The growth we are seeing is a healthy one in the resale market,’ he said.


Source: The Straits Times 29 Nov 07

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