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    Dec 31, 2013

    HDB to cut new 3-room and larger flat supply in 2014

    AFTER three years of ramped-up launches, the supply of new Housing Board flats will fall 3 per cent next year to 24,300.

    The drop comes from the number of new three-room and larger flats being slashed by nearly a fifth, to about 18,600 units.

    But first-timers applying for such Build-To-Order (BTO) flats should not worry, say analysts, as their chances of securing them are unlikely to worsen. As for two-room flats, their supply will almost double to meet strong demand from singles.

    The cut in three-room and larger flats "is timely as the supply and demand for BTO flats by families have achieved a better balance", the HDB said yesterday. Ramped-up supply and cooling measures have "largely stabilised" the public-housing market and cleared the first-timer backlog, it added.

    In 2010, for instance, there were an average of 5.3 applicants for each BTO unit. This fell to an average of three this year. For first-timers, the average application rate was 1.7 this year. With such a low rate, first-timers "need not worry", said PropNex chief executive officer Mohamed Ismail Gafoor.

    Next year's supply of larger flats is still more than the 15,000 new families expected to be formed, said HDB. This excess puzzled Century21 chief executive officer Ku Swee Yong, who had expected a larger overall cut.

    The application rate for two-roomers among singles remains high, with 25.2 applicants per flat last month.

    To meet the demand, 5,000 two-room flats will be offered next year, up from 2,600 this year.

    And 700 studio apartments will be offered to meet the needs of seniors, down from 1,200 this year.

    The quotas for different groups have not changed, with the largest share of flats still set aside for first-timers.

    But SLP International Property Consultants head of research Nicholas Mak thinks the HDB may change this if demand shifts.

    Even as fewer flats are launched next year, more new flats - from ramped-up launches of the past three years - are set to be finished.

    This year, 13,600 new flats were completed, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said on his blog yesterday.

    "Next year, we will see greater results of this ramped-up programme, when we complete more than 28,000 new flats," he wrote.