Launch Delayed to Take into Account Major Housing Initiatives

SINGAPORE — With a week left to the end of the month, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan announced today (Sept 23) that the September launch of Build-To-Order (BTO) flats will be combined instead with the last BTO launch of the year.

That will yield a bumper crop of 12,000 flats in November, in what will be the Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) largest concurrent sale under its BTO and Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises.

In his National Day Rally speech (Aug 23), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced to effervescent applause that monthly household income ceilings for new HDB flats and ECs will be increased by S$2,000 to S$12,000 and S$14,000, respectively. The existing executive condo includes The Terrace EC and Brownstone EC while upcoming ones include Signature At Yishun EC and Parc Life EC.

Last month, Mr Khaw said this month’s launch would be delayed by a few weeks to take into account three major housing initiatives unveiled during the National Day Rally on Aug 23.

These were the new 2-room Flexi Scheme, which offers buyers a range of tenure periods, the higher income ceilings for buying subsidised flats, and enhancements to the Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG) for lower and middle-income families to afford their first homes.

executive condo and housing situation

In a blog post today, Mr Khaw said the implementation of any new policies requires time, and the delay of the September launch would allow for “as many Singaporeans as possible” to benefit from the initiatives.

“Looking at the timing of the November BTO launch, we decided that a practical way is to merge the two launches into one mega launch,” he wrote. “I am sure home buyers will be able to find a flat that will suit their budget and needs.” About 7,000 BTO flats will come from six projects across Bidadari, Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Punggol Northshore and Sengkang. The other 5,000 flats will come from the SBF exercise.

Property analysts TODAY spoke to said they expect a healthy demand to soak up the bumper crop of flats.

“There will be this pent-up demand. So, when November comes on stream, there will easily be four months of applicants (from August to November) waiting for the launch,” said Mr Chris Koh, director of property consultancy Chris International.

PropNex Realty CEO Ismail Gafoor thinks the impact of this mega launch on the resale market will be marginal, given the “outlying” locations of the six coming BTO projects, as well as the “buoyant” resale market with competitive prices and low cash-over-valuation. “It’s a good idea to merge the two launches into one mega launch in November, as the overall supply of 25,000 flats for this year is not changed,” he added. “The same group and number of home buyers will now have more choices and a higher chance of getting their dream home.”

Mr Wong Xian Yang, senior manager of research and consultancy at OrangeTee, said that with the new income ceiling of S$12,000 and a broader base of buyers, the higher-income group will most likely focus on pricier projects such as in Bidadari, which analysts agreed will be the hottest project in this launch.

Looking ahead at launches next year, ERA’s key executive officer Eugene Lim said the HDB would adjust the number of new units based on the take-up rates in the November launch.

“It’s the first time they’re rolling out (new flats) into market after the policy changes. I believe they’d want to see demand is well taken care of, so that’s why the large supply,” he said. “They’ll probably make adjustments going forward. I don’t think they’ll launch so many units every time.”