BTO flats for singles draw huge response

BTO flats for singles draw huge response
An example of a two-room BTO flat offered by the HDB in its July exercise.
Application rate highest in recent years, with over 8,500 to vie for 155 units available
Published: 4:02 AM, August 6, 2013
Updated: 4:00 AM, August 7, 2013
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SINGAPORE — Applications for new two-room flats set aside for singles shot through the roof, surpassing most expectations and setting the highest application rate for Build-to-Order (BTO) flats in recent years as the latest application exercise closed last night.

More than 8,500 applications by singles aged 35 and above were made for the 155 units available in Sengkang and Yishun. This means that, on average, more than 55 singles would vie for one two-room unit on offer.

In a blog post last night, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan welcomed the scheme as a much-needed one to address demand. He said: “The policy change was initially met with scepticism. Many were reported to predict a lukewarm response ... This is not lukewarm at all.”

At 5pm yesterday, 77 singles vied for one two-room unit at Sengkang. In comparison, the application rates from home buyers who were first-timers and second-timers were 1.0 and 3.0 respectively. At Yishun, over 36 singles vied for one two-room unit. The same unit had an application rate of 0.7 from first-timers and 1.8 from second-timers.

Property analysts said the singles’ application rate for the two-room flats was the highest they could recall in recent years. “I have never seen application rates this high for a BTO launch,” said Mr Eugene Lim, Key Executive Officer of ERA Realty Network. He had a caveat though — as only 30 per cent of supply of the two-room flats have been set aside, “the numbers will look large in comparison”, added Mr Lim.

In his blog post, Mr Khaw said the median age of the singles who applied was about 43, and they have a median monthly income of about S$1,800.

“Our decision to focus on the singles aged 35 years and above and up to S$5,000 income level was therefore appropriate,” he wrote.

Mr Khaw noted the move to open up two-room flats to singles “has also not affected the first-timer families applying for two-room flats, as their BTO application rate is below one time for now”.

The strong interest singles have shown in the most recent BTO exercise also sparked debate if more should be done to help the group.

Member of Parliament (MP) Liang Eng Hwa, who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for National Development, felt that the housing needs of singles should not be addressed by BTO flats alone.

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