First batch of BTO flats for singles to be in Sengkang, Yishun

Additional CPF housing grant also extended to help this group buy resale flats.

First batch of BTO flats for singles to be in Sengkang, Yishun

The first batch of two-room Build-to-Order (BTO) flats set aside for singles aged 35 and above will be built in Sengkang and Yishun, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) announced yesterday.

In all, 155 two-room units — with a size of 35 sq m or 45 sq m each — are available for singles under this month’s BTO exercise, which was launched yesterday. This is the first BTO exercise under which eligible singles can apply for new two-room flats in non-mature estates from the HDB.

It also announced more help for singles: With effect from yesterday, the additional CPF housing grant (AHG) was extended to singles buying a resale flat. The AHG will be up to S$20,000 for those who apply under the Single Singapore Citizen (SSC) scheme and up to S$40,000 for those who apply under the Joint Singles Scheme (JSS). These will be on top of the CPF Housing Grant (S$15,000 under SSC and S$30,000 under JSS).

The move to allow singles to buy BTO flats answered long-standing calls. While there will be takers, analysts and singles TODAY spoke to said they do not expect most to make a beeline for the flats available under this exercise, citing the location and size.

The two-room BTO flats for eligible singles are part of the 3,861 flats on offer in the mature estate of Bukit Merah and the non-mature estates of Sengkang and Yishun under this month’s exercise. The units set aside for singles make up about 30 per cent of the 519 two-room flats on sale.

Previously, singles could only buy resale flats under the JSS or the SSC scheme. Now, singles who apply for the BTO two-room flats under the JSS will pay the same price as married couples. However, singles who apply under the SSC will pay S$15,000 more than married couples.

Singles who subsequently marry after buying their BTO flat will receive the CPF Housing Top-Up Grant of S$15,000 after marriage. Lower-income singles who are buying a BTO flat for the first time could also be eligible for the AHG and the Special CPF Housing Grant.

On the two-room flats on offer in Sengkang and Yishun, Administrative Executive Grace Ng, 35, said: “The locations are not the right fit for me … (they) are too far away from my workplace and from my parent’s home.” She added that she will continue to live with her parents in Queenstown.

Technical officer Mohd Norizan, 35, felt the sizes were too small. “I will not be able to entertain my friends and family,” he said.

Suntec Real Estate Head of Research and Consultancy Colin Tan said the sizes and locations of units were not attractive enough to draw eligible singles away from the resale market. “I believe many singles would have been disappointed at what was offered to them, these flats are small and have nothing going for them,” said Mr Tan.

International Property Adviser Chief Executive Ku Swee Yong, however, said the two-room units would add “diversity” to the choices available to singles.

Notwithstanding the attractiveness of units to buyers, the small number of two-room flats on offer for eligible singles under the BTO launch would not have any impact on the resale market, he added.

Chris International Director Chris Koh noted that the resale market would continue to see strong demand from permanent residents, singles who earn more than S$5,000 a month as well as buyers who need a house urgently.

In March, National Developmenet Minister Khaw Boon Wan announced in Parliament that from this month, singles aged 35 and above, who earn less than S$5,000, would be eligible to buy new two-room BTO flats. He also subsequently said that more than 80 per cent of singles aged 35 and above, excluding retirees, earn below S$5,000.

The HDB said that the next BTO exercise will be launched in September, where 4,140 flats in Punggol and Yishun will be offered, including about 170 two-room units in Punggol, which are set aside for eligible singles.

It said that for the BTO exercise in November, it will be “looking into offering more new two-room flats from earlier BTO projects”. More details will be announced in September.
Source – Today – 31 Jul 2013

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