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Mature estates feature in 2016's final BTO launch
THE biggest joint build-to-order (BTO) and sale-of-balance-flats (SBF) exercise for the year was launched on Tuesday, offering more than 10,000 BTO and SBF units across 25 estates.
Most markedly, about three-fifths of the BTO supply is located in mature estates - which is rare, and which National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said shows that the government is delivering on its earlier promise to do so.
These flats on offer are spread across nine projects. Of these, three are in the non-mature town of Punggol (2,194 units); another six projects are in the mature estates of Bedok (1,655 units), Bidadari/Toa Payoh (1,018 units) and Kallang/Whampoa (243 units).
Consultants widely expect higher subscription rates for the units in the mature estates.
For example, PropNex Realty key executive officer Lim Yong Hock anticipates subscription rates of four to eight times for projects in such estates; those in non-mature estates are likely to have a subscription rate of one to three times.
He noted: "HDB BTO overall subscription rates for this year dropped from 4.7 in February to 3.7 in May and 2.3 in August.
"We predict that this last BTO launch for the year will see an average rate of three to five times due to more mature estates released this time round."
ERA Realty Network's key executive officer Eugene Lim agreed that the higher prices will not deter buyers from subscribing for units in the mature estates. The application rates for second-timers, especially, are projected to be high," he said.
He believes that the Punggol flats will appeal to younger families, especially first-timers, for affordability reasons. In a Facebook post, Mr Wong said: "At the beginning of the year, I shared that we intend to have more BTO projects in mature estates. So in this exercise, there are BTO projects in Bedok, Bidadari, and Kallang/Whampoa. We're trying our best to provide more options for home-buyers."
But he added: "Given limited land and the popularity of projects in these mature areas, we can expect application numbers to exceed the units available.
"So I encourage those who need flats more urgently to consider non-mature estates, where the chances of getting a flat are much higher. There are over 2,000 flats in Punggol in this BTO exercise, and there will be many more in other towns next year."
Tuesday's launch brings the total BTO supply this year to 17,891 units. Together with the 10,178 balance flats offered, this adds up to some 28,069 flats launched this year.
Lee Nai Jia, head of South-east Asia research at Edmund Tie & Company, expects Kallang Residences to be the most well-received project, as it is "relatively rare" to see a BTO project in that area and so near Kallang MRT station.
"This is likely to be followed by Toa Payoh (Bidadari), as the flats are close to good schools and Woodleigh MRT station. Overall, the flats in Toa Payoh are likely to be seven to 10 times oversubscribed, and Kallang Residences, at least eight times oversubscribed."
Past launches of Bidadari were heavily over-subscribed, the key draws in that area being its central location and transport links.
As for the flats in Bedok, they are spread across three projects: Bedok Beacon, Bedok North Vale and Bedok South Horizon.
Bedok Beacon is beside Bedok MRT station, and Bedok North Vale, a short distance from the station; Bedok South Horizon will be next to the upcoming Bedok South MRT station.
November's batch of balance flats will be in 11 non-mature towns and 14 mature estates.
Come February, HDB said it will offer about 4,100 flats in Clementi, Punggol, Tampines and Woodlands.
Dr Lee said the current BTO supply "adequately satisfies" the demand from new households and that this demand for new public housing should remain stable next year in spite of downside risks to the economy.