SINGAPORE: Young couples and first-time home buyers will receive more help in getting their Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats earlier, announced Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong on Tuesday (Mar 7).
"I know there are many young couples who hope to move into their own home even more quickly, to embark on this marriage and parenthood journey together," he said. "So we have looked into their requests seriously."
HDB will thus shorten the waiting time for new Build-To-Order flats in some projects by a year. "We are achieving this not by rushing construction, but by commencing construction ahead of launch," said Mr Wong. "So the waiting time will be cut to around two-and-a-half years."
The first batch of about 1,000 units in non-mature estates is targeted to be launched in 2018.
At least 95 per cent of flats which are four-room and larger will be set aside for first-time buyers, up from the current quota of 85 per cent in non-mature estates. This is to "further prioritise young couples who are ready to settle down", Mr Wong explained, adding that "these are the flat types which are most popular amongst first-timer families".
Additionally, unsold flats after twice-yearly Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises will be available for balloting at regular intervals.
To be launched in the second half of 2017, this new, "more efficient" measure will see these balance flats offered in one common pool instead of separate selection queues for each town and flat type, said Mr Wong. Priority will also be given to first-timers.
"Those with urgent housing needs and who are less particular about location can apply and need not wait for the usual SBF exercise," he said.
The transaction process for resale flats will also be sped up from the current 16 weeks and two HDB appointments required, said Mr Wong.
"Today, doing a resale transaction can be quite an involved process, even with the help of an agent. We will leverage technology, and make the process faster and more streamlined."
He further revealed that HDB will lower the monthly rental rates by S$200 to S$400 for its Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS), which helps first-timer families live on their own while awaiting completion of their new flats.
The revised rents will take effect from Apr 1 for both new applicants and existing PPHS tenants. They will be about or less than half of market rental rates, thus helping families save more than S$1,000 a month by opting for a PPHS flat instead of one in the open market.
"I hope that all these measures will make housing more affordable and accessible for young couples, and help them start their marriage and parenthood journey early," said Mr Wong. "I encourage young couples to do your research and consider the different options. Be prudent and find a home that’s within your budget and means."