SINGAPORE: From May, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) will allow young couples applying for their flats to defer their assessment of income for housing loans and grants to just before they collect their keys, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong announced on Tuesday (Mar 6).
This is designed to help them save some time in buying a new flat.
Speaking in Parliament during his ministry’s committee of supply debate, he noted that buying a flat is a serious commitment. But in the case of young couples who have “considered it carefully”, he said the Government can “exercise some flexibility to support them in their marriage and parenthood journey.”
Giving more details of the announcement in a joint press release, the Ministry of National Development (MND) and HDB explained that currently, first-timer couples buying a new flat have to be continuously employed for 12 months before their flat application if they wish to apply for grants such as the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) and Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG).
They also need to remain employed at the time of their flat application, and those who intend to take up an HDB housing loan must have a valid HDB Loan Eligibility letter when they book a flat, MND and HDB said.
However, from the May 2018 Build-to-Order and Sale of Balance Flats exercise, first-timer couples who are full-time students or National Servicemen (NSF), or have recently completed their studies or NS will be able to qualify for this deferment.
HDB and MND said the deferment of income assessment will reduce the time required for them to secure a new flat by at least a year. More details will be announced at a later date, they said.
EASIER ACCESS TO FLATS
Mr Wong added that 3,000 flats with shorter waiting times of two to three years will be launched. Of these, 1,100 will be launched for sale in the second half of 2018 in three projects in Sembawang, Sengkang and Yishun. Another 2,000 will be offered in 2019.
Under the Re-Offer of Balance Flats (ROF) scheme launched last year which puts up unsold flats, more than 90 per cent of ROF flats on offer were snatched up, Mr Wong said.
Mr Wong also gave an update on the balloting process for flats and said that HDB is reviewing the process to make it simpler and faster.
Previously, applicants need only attend a ballot ceremony for their flat allocation but this was only possible because the number of flats and applicants were smaller, said Mr Wong.
Today, it takes more than six weeks to work through the entire balloting process because of checks that HDB has to conduct such as the applicant's eligibility, schemes and quotas and that the ballot is fair, he added.
"Still, I think the time taken can be reduced. I’ve challenged the HDB team to see if we can halve the balloting time from six weeks to three weeks. HDB has taken on this challenge and it is working through processes, and I hope it will be able to announce some good news before too long," Mr Wong said.