SINGAPORE. Marking a shift from its annual routine since 2015, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) announced it will reduce its Build-to-Order (BTO) sales exercises from four to three in 2024. The new housing plan will see a total of 19,600 new public housing flats released in February, June, and October.
“With three BTO launches instead of four, home buyers can look forward to a bigger housing supply at each launch. This will enable them to select from a wider range of flats and locations,” HDB elucidated on 8 January.
While 2023 saw the launch of 22,800 BTO flats over four periods, averaging 5,700 per exercise, the upcoming year promises an increased average of 6,533 flats per exercise.
HDB notes that applicants in each BTO launch “will now be able to enjoy a higher chance of success in finding a flat that meets their budget and needs.”
Additionally, the restructuring is expected to mitigate overlapping between selection exercises and provide more certainty to prospective homeowners. The primary channels for flat applications remain through BTO, Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises, and open booking of flats, with most opting for the BTO route.
The first BTO exercise in February 2024 will include approximately 4,100 flats across various locales including Bedok, Queenstown, Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Punggol, and Woodlands, complemented by around 1,500 SBF units. This reduction in BTO exercises aligns with the moderating application rates for first-time buyers across all flat types, which have significantly decreased from 3.7 applicants per unit in 2019 to 1.9 in 2023. This indicates a softer demand post-pandemic.
Moreover, October 2024 will witness the introduction of the Standard, Plus, and Prime flat categories, a departure from the traditional classification of housing estates into mature or non-mature. This new categorisation, announced during Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally in August 2023, is based on location and other flat attributes and will not affect existing or previously launched flats.
“HDB remains committed to provide affordable and accessible housing options to buyers, and will continue to monitor the response and refine our sales processes where necessary,” said the board.
Shorter waiting times
HDB reaffirmed its commitment to providing affordable and accessible housing, promising to “monitor the response and refine our sales processes where necessary.” As part of their ongoing efforts to shorten waiting times for new flats, almost 70% of flats in 2023 had waiting times of four years or less.
HDB aims to increase this to 75% in 2024, with more than 2,800 flats, or 14% of the new offerings, being Shorter Waiting Time (SWT) flats with less than three years of waiting, marking a significant increase from 732 in 2023.
In terms of construction progress, HDB completed 21,400 flats across 23 projects in the past year, addressing 80% of the delays caused by the pandemic.
More from OMY: Complete Guide to Buying Your First HDB BTO Flat in Singapore