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Over 2,000 applicants vying for 129 'rare' 5-room BTO flats in Serangoon

SINGAPORE - Flat buyers made a beeline for bigger flats in Serangoon in the ongoing Build-To-Order (BTO) sales exercise, signalling a pent-up demand in the mature estate that had not seen new flats launched for about nine years.

As at 5pm on Thursday, 2,390 applicants had applied for the 129 five-room flats in the Serangoon North Vista BTO project. This translates to more than 13 first-timer applicants for each available unit.

First-timer applicants who are hoping to secure a four-room flat in the same BTO project face equally daunting prospects, with more than nine such applicants vying for each available unit.

The last BTO launch in Serangoon was in January 2014, where 150 studio apartments for the elderly were offered.

Huttons Asia senior director of research Lee Sze Teck said the “rare” BTO project in Serangoon is attractive to first-timer families who hope to live in an area near their family.

The availability of five-room flats, which are more commonly offered in non-mature estates and selected mature estates located farther from the city centre, was another factor that appealed to young families, he said.

Five-room and three-Generation BTO flats in Bedok were also oversubscribed, with more than three first-timer applicants for each available unit. The mature estate has not seen new flats launched for about seven years.

The four-room flats in the Bedok South Blossoms BTO project drew around three first-timer applicants for each available unit, while the three-room flats drew around two such applicants.

An artist’s impression of the Bedok South Blossoms BTO project. PHOTO: HDB

The five-room flats on offer in the two estates make up more than 40 per cent of the total five-room BTO flat supply in May’s launch.

The third project in a mature estate – Farrer Park Arena – drew more than two first-timer applicants for each of its four-room flats. However, first-timer applicants gunning for a three-room flat in the same project will likely be able to book a flat as demand remains muted.

The Kallang/Whampoa project – located on a site bounded by Farrer Park Road and Dorset Road – falls under the prime location public housing (PLH) model.

These flats come with stricter buying and selling conditions, including a 6 per cent subsidy clawback when resold and a 10-year minimum occupation period (MOP).

An artist’s impression of Farrer Park Arena. PHOTO: HDB

Standard BTO flats come with a five-year MOP and do not have a subsidy clawback clause.

Demand was moderate for the nearly 3,000 flats across two BTO projects in Tengah, with between one and two first-timer applicants for each of the three-room, four-room and five-room units on offer.

One of the two developments in the area – Parc Meadow @ Tengah – will be situated within 1km of the future Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) Primary school when it moves to the town in 2030.

An artist’s impression of Parc Meadow@Tengah. PHOTO: HDB
An artist’s impression of Plantation Verge. PHOTO: HDB

Before the launch, some observers had speculated that the BTO project’s proximity to ACS Primary might see application rates spike.

Explaining the relatively muted demand for Tengah flats, Mr Nicholas Mak, chief research officer of property portal, said it was because these units were up against other projects located in “superior” locations.

“I think the attractiveness of ACS Primary is oversold. Not every BTO applicant will have children applying to study in school when it opens and not every parent wants their child to go to this school,” he said.

In a statement on Thursday, the Housing Board said the median application rate for first-timer applicants for three-room and bigger flats for this exercise was 2.2 applicants for each available unit. 

This is comparable to the past two BTO launches in February 2023 and November 2022, which were “generally lower” than the application rates of BTO sales exercises launched since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, said the board.

Historical HDB data shows that most first-time applicants for BTO projects with an application rate of 1.7 or lower have a good chance of booking a flat after accounting for a 40 per cent rejection rate.

This means most of the first-timer applicants who had applied for the two Tengah BTO projects and the Kallang/Whampoa BTO project stand a good chance of being invited to book a flat.

About 90 per cent of the BTO flats in the May launch have a waiting time of less than four years, down from the median waiting time of between four and five years at the peak of the pandemic.

Applications close at 11.59pm on June 8 on the HDB flat portal and flats will be allocated through balloting.

HDB had extended its May sales launch by three days following complaints of technical glitches and long waiting times to enter its flat portal.

It is the first time applicants are required to complete a preliminary assessment for the HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter before applying for a flat, which contributed to the long waiting time.

Applicants who had contacted HDB via the e-Feedback form will be given assistance with their flat application even after June 8, if they are eligible to apply but did not manage to do so with the application period due to system issues, said HDB.

In August, HDB will offer about 6,700 BTO flats in towns such as Choa Chu Kang, Tengah, Kallang/Whampoa and Queenstown.

About 6,300 flats will be offered in towns such as Bukit Panjang, Jurong West, Woodlands, Bedok, Bishan, Bukit Merah and Queenstown in November, the final launch of the year.

HDB said it is on track to launch a total of 100,000 flats from 2021 to 2025.