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Analysts still see healthy demand for new BTO flats

Four BTO projects will add 3,497 flats in Sembawang, Sengkang, Yishun.

Posted on 27-Mar-2014
By: Lynette Khoo

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Analysts still see healthy demand for new BTO flats

DESPITE signs of waning prices and slowing sales in the resale market, analysts are still expecting healthy interest for new Build-To-Order (BTO) projects rolled out by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) yesterday.

The HDB launched four new BTO projects that will add another 3,497 flats in the non-mature towns of Sembawang, Sengkang and Yishun - its second BTO launch this year.

This brings the total number of flats offered for sale this year to 6,636.

The 3,497 new flats comprise two-room and five-room flats, as well as three-generation (3Gen) flats, to meet the housing needs of first-timers, second-timers, multi-generation families and singles, HDB said yesterday.

"Even as resale flats are expected to continually moderate in prices, the BTO flats released in March are expected to be fairly well received," said Ong Kah Seng, director at R'ST Research. "Interest will come from applicants who are cost-sensitive, and who can afford to wait three years for the BTO flat to complete."

ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim noted that BTO demand is expected to be healthy with singles and second-time applicants finding it easier to apply for BTOs.

Both EastCrown @ Canberra in Sembawang and Fern Grove @ Yishun offer two- to five-room flats. Another Sembawang project EastLace @ Canberra offers two- to four-rooms flats, while Anchorvale Parkview in Sengkang offers four-room, five-room and 3Gen flats.

Affordability is still the main theme of BTO flats, said SLP International research head Nicholas Mak, who noted that the price range of this new batch of BTO flats is about 16 to 39 per cent cheaper than the prices of the comparable resale flats.

Prices start from $70,000 for a two-room BTO unit at EastLace @ Canberra and EastCrown @ Canberra; and $358,000 for a five-room unit at Anchorvale Parkview. Eligible first-timer households can enjoy housing grants and priority flat allocation.

Given that demand from singles has not been fully satisfied, there may be an over-subscription for two-room flats under this new BTO exercise in Sembawang and Yishun, Mr Lim said. He is also expecting good take-up for the 3Gen flats at Sengkang, after January's BTO launch saw 300 applications for the 164 3Gen flats in Jurong West and Punggol.

Analysts also note that the Sengkang project may be popular given its proximity to the LRT station and the Punggol River, as well as potential upside from the Punggol's waterway living concept.

"Sengkang is gradually becoming livelier and in the subsequent years, residents will benefit from greater amenities," Mr Lim said. "The upcoming Seletar Mall will offer an impressive range of amenities, including restaurants and shops."

As with all new public housing projects launched since January, HDB will introduce a standard suite of eco-features in the new BTO flats that will help to manage water, energy and waste more efficiently.

Mr Ong noted that these eco-friendly systems "can help to ultimately lower utility and running costs for all residents".

Applications for the BTO flats will close on April 1. Eligible applicants can apply for only one flat type in one town.

Later in May, HDB will launch another 3,060 BTO flats in Bukit Batok and Woodlands.

For buyers looking for flats in mature estates, they may wait for the Sale of Balance Flats exercise in May, when there will be 3,000 units available, Mr Lim said.

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