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Good response for HDB's bumper crop of new flats; application rates stabilising: Wong

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Response for the Housing and Development Board's (HDB) November launch of new flats was good, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said in a blog entry on Thursday.

RESPONSE for the Housing and Development Board's (HDB) November launch of new flats was good, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said in a blog entry on Thursday.

Noting that application rates are stabilising, he added that the government will keep a close eye on buyer demand and adjust the build-to-order (BTO) supply accordingly.

Application rate for two-room flats with flexible leaseholds is at a healthy 2.5 times. Flats in Bidadari received some of the highest application rates, despite their higher prices, he said. This was in line with what consultants had forecast.

"This can be attributed to their central location, presence of two MRT stations and distinctive 'Community in the Garden' concept. To meet the strong demand, we will be launching more flats in Bidadari next year, with close to 1,600 units in the Feb 2016 BTO exercise."

Overall, the BTO application rate for three-room or larger flats is a healthy 3.2 times.

"Notwithstanding the strong demand, for Singaporeans buying their first home, the good news is that the first-timer application rate in non-mature estates is only around 1.6 times," Mr Wong added.

Non-mature estate flats are more affordable and make up 70 per cent of the BTO flats launched in this round.

"Taken together, this means that almost all first-timer applicants will stand a good chance of selecting an affordable flat of their choice," he said.

This is a landmark launch for HDB, with a record 12,411 of BTO and sale of balance flats on offer. It is also significant because several policy changes took effect, benefiting Singaporeans across different buyer groups.

Among those who benefited are:

* about 2,100 families and 220 singles which took advantage of the higher income ceilings of S$12,000 and S$6,000 respectively; and

* about 1,400 seniors applied for the 966 units of two-room flats with flexible leaseholds.

The November sale exercise will close on Thursday night.