Hot demand for BTO flats for singles
SINGLES aged 35 and above who meet certain criteria can now apply for Build-To-Order (BTO) units, following the launch of two-room flats in non-mature estates yesterday.
A total of 519 new Housing Board (HDB) two-room flats in Sengkang and Yishun are on offer: 301 units in new BTO projects and 218 units from previous BTO exercises.
Up to 30 per cent of the two-room flats have been set aside for first-time single buyers.
The two-room flats are part of this month's BTO sales exercise offering 3,861 new flats in Bukit Merah, Sengkang and Yishun, and were oversubscribed as of 5pm.
Yesterday's launch marks the first time that single Singaporeans earning $5,000 or less monthly are eligible to apply for new two-room flats in non-mature estates from HDB.
Eligible singles include divorcees and those who are widowed.
Previously, singles could buy only a five-room or smaller resale flat, with a grant of $15,000. HDB said singles who buy a two-room BTO flat on their own have to pay $15,000 more than married couples on the unit’s price. Singles who later marry will get a $15,000 grant.
The move to help eligible singles own their own home was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech last year.
Property experts raised concerns about the size of the two-room BTO flats, pointing out that the units could be too small to meet the needs of singles.
Two-room units are typically about 45 sq m. In addition, the Sengkang and Yishun BTO projects will offer smaller 35 sq m units to "meet different needs and budgets", said HDB.
Mr Nicholas Mak, executive director of the research and consultancy department at SLP International, said some singles may "need more space for work".
"Some may want more space to entertain and have friends over, while others may have accumulated possessions over the years," he added.
As of 5pm yesterday, there were 313 applications for the 288 two-room units available at Vine Grove@Yishun and an earlier BTO launch at Orchid Spring@Yishun. Such flats set aside for singles had 3.1 applicants per unit, higher than the overall application rate of 1.1 for the two-room units.
Demand was overwhelming for the 231 two-room units available at Fernvale Riverwalk and two earlier BTO launches, Rivervale Arc and Fernvale Lea. A total of 607 applications were received. Such flats for singles had 7.6 applicants per unit, versus 2.6 applicants per unit overall.
Mr Andy Choa, executive director of real-estate firm DWG, noted that people who buy new two-room flats "have to be mentally prepared to live in the flat for quite a long while". This is because transactions for such flats in the resale market are "few and far between", he said.
Yesterday, the HDB also announced more help for lower-income singles. The additional housing grant of up to $20,000 will be extended to singles buying a BTO flat and earning up to $2,500 monthly. Besides this, a special housing grant of up to $10,000 is also available for eligible singles earning up to $1,125 monthly.
Applicants have until Monday to apply for flats under the latest BTO exercise.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY WINONA WEE