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HDB launches 494-unit Punggol project

Four-room flats in BTO project meant to meet high demand; 278 applications so far

THE Housing Board has released another new build-to-order (BTO) project in Punggol to meet surging demand from house hunters.

It is offering 494 flats, all four-room units, at Punggol Spring – the first batch of 4,500 BTO flats planned for the first half of this year.

Already, 278 applications have come in for the flats, following their launch yesterday. They are priced at between $204,000 and $259,000 – about two-thirds the current price of resale flats in Punggol.

Industry players expect demand to continue to be strong, given the overwhelming response to recent HDB flat releases. Earlier this month, almost 10,000 hopeful buyers applied for just 278 surplus flats in Toa Payoh and Tampines.

By the time the BTO exercise for Punggol Spring closes on March 17, the flats could be four times oversubscribed, predicted Mr Mohamed Ismail, chief executive of property agency PropNex.

To address the shortage of flats – estimates show only 2,000 surplus units in stock – the HDB has recommended that would-be buyers consider resale flats and BTO projects.

It will release another 4,000 BTO flats between now and June, mainly in Punggol and Sengkang. The HDB also said it still has 711 flats available from recent BTO launches in Punggol and Sengkang, including more than 200 each in Punggol Vista, Fernvale Vista and Coral Spring.

But the HDB’s last four BTO projects have all seen at least twice the number of applicants than flats available.

The most recent were Damai Grove in Punggol and Jade Spring @ Yishun, which were released late last year. There were 1,888 applications for the 738 flats in Damai Grove and 1,908 applications for Jade Spring’s 384 flats.

PropNex’s Mr Ismail said that for many first-time buyers with relatively low income, BTO flats have become their only housing option as home prices soar.

But Mr Eugene Lim, the assistant vice-president of ERA Realty Network, pointed out that more BTO projects will not address the immediate housing shortage, as they take a few years to be constructed.

‘BTO is a longer-term solution,’ he said. ‘The segment of buyers that go through BTO may not be the same as the 10,000 applicants looking for leftover flats that are available sooner.’

Punggol Spring is expected to be completed by 2011. It is located within walking distance of the Damai LRT station, next to Punggol Secondary School and near the future town centre where the MRT station and bus interchange are located.

Source: The Straits Times 27 Feb 08

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