Dec 2023 BTO Launch Sees Shorter Wait Times, HDB Raises Subsidies For 2 PLH Projects


December 6, 2023

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The Housing and Development Board (HDB) launched 6,057 BTO flats on 5 December 2023 across eight projects in Bedok, Bishan, Bukit Merah, Bukit Panjang, Jurong West, Queenstown, and Woodlands. 

The final BTO sales exercise of the year is typically launched in November, but it was pushed back to December due to the huge backlog created by the implementation of the new HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter. The Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise, typically launched together with the final BTO sales exercise, has been pushed to next year.

Since the HDB reclassification framework that was announced during this year’s National Day Rally 2023 has not been rolled out yet, the projects that are launched in this BTO sales exercise will either fall under the Prime Location Housing (PLH) model or the standard model. 

Shorter Wait Times

The government announced earlier in the year that HDB will be launching more BTOs with shorter waiting times starting from 2024 onwards, among measures to help first-timers address accessibility and affordability concerns. Tighter rules for non-selection of BTO flats and a new priority category were also introduced to strike a balance between addressing the urgent housing needs of applicants and maintaining fairness for those who succeed in the balloting process.

In this launch, about half of the flats on offer across four projects will have a wait time of less than four years. 

The Chai Chee Green project in Bedok, which offers Community Care Apartments and up to five-room flats, will see a waiting time of 3 years and 3 months.

Jurong Arcadia in Jurong West, another project offering bigger five-room flats, will also see a waiting time of 3 years and 1 month. 

Petir Park Edge in Bukit Panjang, a project offering only two- and four-room flats, will have a slightly longer waiting time of 4 years.

More significantly, the Sin Ming Residences project in Bishan will have a wait time of just 2 years and 8 months – the shortest wait time in this launch. There are a total of 732 three- and four-room flats, with prices ranging from $374,000 to $473,000 for three-room units and $519,000 to $665,000 for four-room units before grants.

Prior to the launch, there was already much hype surrounding the project given that it is the first Sin Ming flats to be built in the area in 35 years. With such a short wait time, coupled with the fact that it does not fall under the PLH model, it is likely to be the most popular project for applicants vying for a flat this time round. We predict that this project will be heavily oversubscribed. 

Higher Subsidies for PLH Projects

In this sales exercise, two out of eight of the projects launched fall under the PLH model. These are the Alexandra Peaks project in Bukit Merah and the Ulu Pandan Vista project in Queenstown.

To recap on the restrictions imposed on PLH projects, owners will have to serve a Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) of 10 years and will not be allowed to fully rent out their flat even after fulfilling the MOP. Additionally, resale of these flats will be subjected to a subsidy clawback. 

The Alexandra Peaks PLH project in Bukit Merah will have two-room flexi, three- and four-room flats, totalling 904 units. As the project is relatively close to Redhill MRT station, which is right on the city fringe, it is not surprising that HDB has classified this under the PLH model. Prices range from $380,000 to $512,000 for a three-room unit, and from $533,000 to $723,000 for a four-room unit. These prices are before grants.

The Ulu Pandan Vista project in Queenstown, with three- and four-room flats totalling 890 units, is located right next to Dover MRT station. It is the third and final project in the eastern half of Dover Forest in Ulu Pandan. Similarly, its location right on the city fringe and the Buona Vista office district puts it under the PLH classification. Three-room units range from $430,000 to $541,000, and four-room units are priced from $598,000 to $763,000 before grants. 

This makes the PLH projects the priciest at this launch, with the longest wait time of about four years and 11 months. 

The good news is that HDB has announced that these two PLH projects will be getting additional subsidies as a response to the increasing resale prices. However, HDB’s press release did not provide any specific information on exactly how much subsidies will be given. 

To ensure equity, those who sell their Alexandra Peaks or Ulu Pandan Vista flats after the 10-year MOP will face a higher subsidy recovery rate when they resell their flats. This rate will be 8% of the higher value between the resale price and the property valuation, an increase from the previous 6% rate applied to earlier PLH projects.

HDB further stated that they will reserve 20% of the PLH flats for families buying their first home, and 2% will be allocated for families purchasing their second home under the Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS). The MCPS is designed to enable a married child to reside with their parents or live in close proximity for mutual support.

Closing Thoughts

Looking back on all the housing measures that have been announced and implemented this year, it is clear that the government is prioritising the needs of first-time homebuyers while carefully striking a balance between fairness and reducing the windfall effect. 

HDB has also ramped up the supply of BTO flats, with the December sales exercise bringing the numbers up to 22,780 in 2023. The next launch in February 2024 will see another 4,100 flats launched in Bedok, Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Punggol, Queenstown, and Woodlands. These housing measures will work in tandem to ease housing shortage for first-time buyers.

The deadline for submitting applications is at 11:59 pm on December 11 via the HDB flat portal and the allocation of flats will be conducted through a ballot system.

The December 2023 BTO sales exercise looks to be an interesting launch with many excellent options to choose from. Will you be applying this time round? Or will you be opting for a resale flat instead? If you are a first-time buyer still torn between the two options, and are looking for more guidance and advice on your property journey, do reach out to us here and we will be glad to guide you through the financial assessments.

If you had already gotten a queue number or appointment date from the previous launch, check out this guide to navigate your HDB appointments (or save the link for when you get your queue number for this launch!). See you in the next one.

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