More new flats to be set aside for first-time homebuyers, starting from BTO exercise on Aug 30
At least 95 per cent of the four-room and larger BTO flat supply in non-mature estates will be set aside for families applying for the first time, up from current 85 per cent currently.
SINGAPORE: With effect from the next Build-to-Order (BTO) launch on Aug 30, more newly constructed flats will be allocated to families and singles applying for the first time, in view of strong housing demand from this group and to increase their chances of securing their first homes.
In a joint press release issued on Saturday (Aug 27), the Ministry of National Development (MND) and the Housing and Development Board (HDB) announced that from the August 2022 BTO exercise, at least 95 per cent of four-room and larger flat supply in non-mature estates will be set aside for first-time family applicants - up from 85 per cent currently.
For three-room BTO flat supply, at least 85 per cent of the quota will be set aside for these families, up from 70 per cent now.
"For mature estates, we will continue to set aside at least 95 per cent of BTO flat supply for first-timer families," said MND and HDB.
For first-time single applicants, up to 65 per cent of non-senior two-room flexi flats in non-mature estates will be set aside for them, up from 50 per cent currently.
The agencies noted that first-timers continue to form the bulk of BTO applications, with the number of such families seeking new flats increasing from more than 19,000 in 2018 to about 34,000 in 2021.
There were 4.1 first-time family applicants per BTO flat in 2021, compared with 2.2 in 2018.
In 2021, there were 7.5 first-time single applicants per two-room flexi flat in non-mature estates, up from 5.1 in 2020.
"We also recognise that first-time applicants generally have more pressing and immediate housing needs to start their life plans," said MND and HDB.
The BTO allocation quota has been previously revised based on demand from both first-time applicants and second-time family applicants.
In 2012, the quota for all BTO flats in non-mature estates for second-time applicants was increased; and in 2009, the BTO quota for first-time families was increased amid tight housing supply.
Huttons Asia's senior research director Lee Sze Teck said the increase in first-time BTO applicants was due to rising resale flat prices, rising interest rates and BTO completion periods recovering to pre-COVID-19 levels.
"This is definitely good news for first-timers as some of them may be priced out of the resale market amid rising interest rates," he said.
HDB said on Saturday that it would continue to set aside part of the BTO supply for second-time family applicants, while ensuring that those in this group in need of subsidised housing will continue to have access to BTO flats.
"We will continue to set aside 5 per cent of two-room flexi and three-room BTO flats in non-mature estates for divorced or widowed parents with child, under the Assistance Scheme for Second-Timers (Divorced/ Widowed Parents)," MND and HDB said in its press release.
"Public rental households who are able and ready to move to homeownership will continue to enjoy priority under the Tenants’ Priority Scheme."
These households can also access the likes of the Fresh Start Housing Grant and Step-Up CPF Housing Grant, and receive guidance from HDB's Home Ownership Support Team, to help them own a flat.
Huttons' Mr Lee said Saturday's news was "not good" for second-time BTO applicants.
"They are allocated fewer BTO flats to upgrade, right-size or move laterally to another flat," he noted.
"This means they may have to turn to either the resale HDB market, stay put, buy an executive condominium (EC) or private condominium ... It remains to be seen if the lesser allocation to second-timers will worsen the supply crunch in the HDB resale market."
Last year, HDB announced that it would launch up to 23,000 BTO flats per year in 2022 and 2023, a 35 per cent increase from the 17,000 launched in 2021.
The board also said then that it was prepared to launch up to 100,000 flats in total from 2021 to 2025, if needed.
"The increased supply of flats will provide more affordable housing options for BTO applicants, including young couples in their marriage and parenthood journey, as well as second-timer families, seniors and singles," said MND and HDB on Saturday.
"We will continue to closely monitor the situation and explore other ways to provide further support to first-timers and other groups in their homeownership journey."
The agencies also advised flat buyers to maximise their chances of securing a home by considering the following:
- Apply for BTO flats in non-mature estates. First-time family applicants who have been unsuccessful in two or more BTO flat applications in non-mature estates will be given an additional ballot chance at their subsequent BTO flat application in a non-mature estate. Virtually all first-timer families applying for BTO flats in non-mature estates have been successful within their first three tries.
- Refer to the median application rates on the HDB Flat Portal during the BTO exercises and consider flat categories with lower application rates, to improve their chances of securing a flat.
- Book a flat when invited to do so. For first-timer families who turn down one chance to book a flat in the BTO or Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise, any additional ballot chances accumulated from past unsuccessful BTO applications in non-mature estates will be set to zero. Those who turn down two chances to book a flat will be considered as second-time applicants in the computer ballot for one year, and may find themselves taking a longer time to secure a new HDB flat.
- Flat buyers with specific locational preferences or more immediate housing needs may also consider buying a resale flat on the open market, where first-time families may be eligible for up to S$160,000 in housing grants.