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HDB BTO Exercise Launched With New Rules


Introduction


As part of the government’s effort to increase the supply of public housing in Singapore, the Housing & Development Board (HDB) launches 6,800 new Built-to-Order (BTO) flats for applications today. The flats are in 8 projects located in 6 different locations.


The BTO projects


Among the eight BTO projects, half of them are in mature HDB towns and the other half are in non-mature towns.


Two of the BTO projects in the mature towns are located in the Balestier area. The projects are the 739-unit Rajah Residences and the 1,040-unit Tenteram Vantage. The other two BTO projects are in mature towns, namely Verandah @ Kallang and Tanglin Halt Cascadia, and will be sold to homebuyers under the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) Model. HDB flats in the PLH model come with additional restrictions and rules, such as longer Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) and the flat owner is not allowed to rent out the entire flat.


Table 1: Latest BTO non-PLH projects in HDB mature towns (source: HDB)

​Project

Town

Estimated Waiting Time (months)

Flat type

No. of units

Indicative price range (excluding grants)

Rajah Residences

Kallang/Whampoa

52

2-room flexi

31

$176,000 - $216,000

2-room flexi

101

$214,000 - $294,000

4-room

607

$480,000 - $675,000

Tenteram Vantage

Kallang/Whampoa

45

3-room

88

$339,000 - $420,000

4-room

952

$488,000 - $628,000

Table 2: Latest BTO projects under Prime Location Public Housing Model (PLH) (source: HDB)

Project

Town

Estimated waiting time (months)

Flat type

No. of units

Indicative price range (excluding grants)

Verandah @ Kallang

Kallang/Whampoa

42

2-room flexi

28

$193,000 - $237,000

2-room flexi

112

$240,000 - $303,000

3-room

110

$368,000 - $475,000

4-room

893

$535,000 - $675,000

Tanglin Halt Cascaida

Queenstown

54

3-room

155

$364,000 - $509,000

4-room

818

$537,000 - $702,000

The BTO projects in the non-mature towns are located in the western part of Singapore. Two of the projects, Rail Green 1 & 2 @ CCK, are situated next to each other at Choa Chu Kang. They are the largest combined project with a total of 1,895 flats.


The other two projects, Plantation Edge 1 & 2, are also located next to each other, near Bukit Batok and Tengah.


Table 3: Latest BTO projects in HDB non-mature towns (source: HDB)

Project

Town

Estimated waiting time (months)

Flat type

No. of units

Indicative price range (excluding grants)

Rail Green I & II @ CCK

Choa Chu Kang

39 (rail Green I @ CCK

48 (Rail Green II @ CCK)

2-room flexi

114

$106,000 - $132,000

2-room flexi

283

$134,000 - $168,000

3-room

152

$216,000 - $272,000

4-room

802

$319,000 - $437,000

5-room

518

$463,000 - $595,000

3Gen

26

$471,000 - $530,000

Plantation Edge I & II

Tengah

36 (Plantation Edge I)

40 (Plantation Edge II)

2-room flexi

52

$114,000 - $133,000

2-room flexi

211

$142,000 - $183,000

3-room

81

$232,000 - $279,000

4-room

353

$353,000 - $418,000

5-room

313

$460,000 - $568,000

Absence of bigger flats in mature estate BTO projects


Homebuyers looking for bigger flats in this BTO exercise, such as 5-room flats and 3Gen flats, could only find them in the projects in non-mature towns. The largest flats offered in the four projects in the mature towns are 4-room flats, which measure between 89 sqm and 93 sqm.


On one hand, the government is encouraging young families to have more children. On the other hand, for the past few years, the government is not offering larger flats, such as 5-room flats in the more popular mature towns.


Couples who plan to have more children would require larger flats. They would also prefer to live near their parents, who typically would live in mature towns. Firstly, their parents could help to look after their young grandchildren. Secondly, by living within the same town, the multi-generational families could provide mutual support to one another.


Hence, the government is doing these families a disservice by not offering larger BTO flats in mature towns.



Most attractively located projects


The most attractively located BTO project is arguably the Tanglin Halt Cascadia. The 973-unit project is accessible to three MRT stations. It is located only 300 metres from the Commonwealth MRT station, 800 metres from the Buona Vista MRT station and 1 km from the one-north MRT station. It is also near the one-north Business Park, technology-related companies are located.


Map 1: Tanglin Halt Cascadia (source: HDB)

Some of the newer HDB flats near this location are sold for more than $1 million in the resale market, which attest to the popularity of the public housing in this area. Therefore, it is not surprising that this BTO project is under the PLH Model.


The second most attractively located BTO project is another PLH project, namely Verandah @ Kallang. Located about 300 metres from the Kallang MRT. The project is located at the city fringe, and it is only about a 10-minute train ride to the CBD. However, this project also at the fringe of the Geylang red light district, which could diminish some of its appeal to homebuyers.


Map 2: Verandah @ Kallang (source: HDB)

These two PLH projects could draw number of applications that are 2 to 5 times more than the number of flats offered.


Go west, young man


The government is trying to encourage BTO applicants to apply for HDB projects in non-mature estates, especially those located further from the city centre. BTO projects located in the western region that requires more than 45 minutes to commute by public transportation to the city centre are usually not as popular as those in mature estates.


In order to enhance the attractiveness of the four BTO projects in the non-mature estates in this exercise, all the four projects are located within 5-minute walk to their respective nearest MRT stations. In fact, the BTO project, Plantation Edge 1 is located next to the upcoming JE2 MRT station, that is part of the Jurong Regional Line (JRL).


Map 3: Plantation Edge I & II (source: HDB)


Map 4: Rail Green I & II @ CCK (source: HDB)

Effects of the new HDB classification


From the second half of 2024 onwards, BTO projects that are well-located, such as those situated near MRT stations and town centres could be classified as “Prime” or “Plus” HDB flats. Such flats will come with additional restrictions such as 10-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP), which some homebuyers find it to be onerous and unpopular. Furthermore, then these HDB flats are offered for sale in the resale market after the MOP, the subsequent buyers are also subject to the income ceiling restrictions.


Therefore, some BTO applicants may plan to buy well-located non-PLH BTO flats in mature estates before the new HDB classification comes into effect, because currently, the MOP of such flats is the usual 5 years.


However, the two non-PLH projects in mature estates offered in this BTO exercise, namely Rajah Residences and Tenteram Vantage, are not attractively located. They are separated from the nearest MRT stations and town centres, namely the Toa Payoh Hub and Potong Pasir, by expressways such as the CTE and PIE.


Map 5: Rajah Residences (source: HDB)


Map 6: Tenteram Vantage (source: HDB)

The selection of these two projects in this BTO exercise could be an attempt by the government to encourage homebuyers to apply for the projects in the non-mature estates.


New rules and penalty


Starting with this BTO exercise, first-time homebuyers who rejected the invitation from the HDB to select their BTO flats will be regarded as second-time applicant for the next one year. If a second-time BTO applicant rejects the HDB invitation to select the BTO flat, the applicant will not be able to apply for BTO flats for the next one year.


According to the HDB, about 40% of the previous BTO applicants who were issued queue numbers and invited to select their flats rejected the invitation. This resulted in a waste of the authorities’ time and resources, as well as wasting the opportunity for other homebuyers to select the BTO flats.


The introduction of the new penalty would likely force BTO applicants to consider carefully before applying for any BTO flats. It could reduce the number of frivolous BTO applications which would result in as much as 20% fewer number of applications, especially for popular BTO projects.


This BTO exercise closes on 10 October 2023. We will be closely monitoring the results of this exercise.


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