SINGAPORE: About 93 per cent of flats offered under the first Re-Offer of Balance Flats (ROF) exercise have been taken up, said the Housing and Development Board (HDB) on Saturday (Feb 24).
The sales exercise was launched last August, pooling all flats which remain unsold after previous Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises. It is part of efforts to help young couples buy their first home more quickly, and at least 95 per cent of the flat supply is set aside for first-time buyers.
Of the 1,394 flats offered for sale, 1,300 units have been booked, said HDB, adding that the “good take-up” was seen across all types of flats.
Of the 1,300 flats taken up, about 70 per cent were booked by first-time buyers, said HDB.
The August ROF exercise was oversubscribed by almost four times, with more than 5,500 applications received for the 1,394 flats on offer.
STRONG DEMAND DUE TO SHORTER WAITING PERIOD: ANALYSTS
Analysts Channel NewsAsia spoke to said that the ROF exercise would continue to see strong demand due to its shorter waiting period, compared to BTO flats.
PropNex CEO Ismail Gafoor said the ROF units "make a lot of sense" for those in urgent need of a flat.
"In the month of the previous ROF exercise in August, 71 per cent of units were already completed," he said. "In other words, any of them who are picking up these units are able to collect their keys three to four months down the road, and yet at a discounted price of 20 to 30 per cent in comparison to a neighbouring resale unit."
But ZACD Group executive director Nicholas Mak said that flat location and attributes still matter to some home buyers. "At first glance, the 90 per cent take-up rate is very good. But we must remember that when the first batch of ROF exercise closed in August last year, the application rate was about 4.4 times. That means that for every flat that was offered, there were 4.4 households that applied for it.
"And considering that not all 100 per cent were taken up, it means there were some applicants who were offered the chance to purchase these flats actually rejected them," he said.
Mr Mak said this was because ROF applicants are given a list of units to choose from and cannot select the location. "For some of them they may find that there's nothing there that appeals to them, which is why they reject the opportunity."
As at Jan 31, around one in five, or 265 home buyers, have collected the keys to their new home. So far, two ROF exercises have been rolled out – one in August last year and one this month. The next exercise is due to take place in August.
HDB has said it will "continue to monitor the response to the ROF sales mode, and make refinements where necessary".