HDB launches flats for sale in Punggol and Tampines
The Housing Board (HDB) launched 4,089 flats for sale yesterday, a day after higher grants and higher income ceilings for flat buyers were announced.
A total of 3,373 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats in Punggol and Tampines are up for sale, and they include flats ranging from two-room flexi to five-room units.
Prices start from $109,000 excluding grants for a two-room flexi flat in Punggol, and from $312,000 for a four-room flat in Tampines.
The sales exercise had been pushed from last month to this month to allow more home buyers to benefit from the latest changes, which include raising the income ceiling for Singaporeans to buy HDB flats by $2,000 to $14,000.
Another major change is the new Enhanced Central Provident Fund Housing Grant (EHG) of up to $80,000. It replaces two previous grants, but allows more people to benefit as it has a higher income cap and does not impose any restrictions on the flat size or location.
With the EHG – given to firsttimer families earning $9,000 and less – buyers can purchase a tworoom flexi flat in Punggol for as little as $29,000 after housing grants.
Huttons Asia research director Lee Sze Teck expects the two sites in Punggol – Punggol Point Crown and Punggol Point Cove – to be more popular, as they are near the future Punggol Coast MRT station and near the coast, “where they can get an unblocked view of the sea”.
But he added that he did not think there would be a significant spike in applicants just because of the new announcements. “Buyers need time to digest the information and decide whether to buy. Some buyers might hold out for the upcoming launches.”
PropNex chief executive Ismail Gafoor said the “strategically located” Tampines GreenGlen is likely to see more than eight applicants for each of its 649 units.
Also, bigger units may be more popular, given the higher grants. Mr Ismail predicted double-digit subscription rates for the 722 five-room flats in both Punggol and Tampines.
Also up for sale are 716 Re-Offer of Balance Flats across various towns in mature and non-mature estates.
These are unsold flats from the sales exercise last November. About 12 per cent of these homes are already completed, while the rest are being built.
The application process ends next Tuesday.
In November, the HDB will offer 4,500 BTO flats in Ang Mo Kio, Tampines and Tengah. In total, the authorities are on track to launch 15,000 flats this year.
Another 3,000 BTO flats in Sembawang and Toa Payoh will be released next February. The supply of BTO flats next year is likely to go up, to meet anticipated demand from the policy changes.
While the resale market for ageing flats is set to see a boost from changes to housing grant schemes that kicked in yesterday, the prices of such flats may not necessarily rise in tandem with increased demand, property observers said.
This is because the Government is likely to increase the supply of new flats to match the higher overall demand and keep housing prices under control, they added.
The analysts were responding to changes announced on Tuesday, which included the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG).
The EHG – given to first-timer families earning $9,000 or less – replaces two previous grants.
It allows more people to benefit, as it has a higher income cap and does not impose any restrictions on flat size or location.
PropNex chief executive Ismail Gafoor said the EHG will increase buyer interest in resale flats and could help owners who have found it difficult to sell their older flats.
He noted that while resale flats are about 20 per cent pricier than comparable new flats, the additional grant money (up to $40,000), coupled with other advantages such as saving on renovation and a shorter waiting time, could narrow the price gap for first-time buyers.
But he does not expect prices to rise significantly just because there are more buyers.
To keep public housing affordable, the Government will most likely monitor the market and ramp up the supply of new flats if needed, he said. Prices may increase slightly with inflation but should remain stable overall, he added.
ERA Realty’s head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said the changes may not mean that buyers will now rush for resale flats in mature estates, as many consider multiple factors in buying homes.
Some who have specific wants, such as living near their parents, may be prepared to pay a higher price or receive less in grants to get their desired flat through the resale market, he noted. Buyers who get a resale flat with a lease that does not cover them till age 95 will see their grants pro-rated.
But for most, the specific flat’s proximity to amenities like MRT stations and schools, or to undesirable elements like columbariums and expressways, is more significant than the type of estate, Mr Mak said.
And younger buyers generally tend to prefer newer flats that are easier to sell off a few years down the road, he added.
The housing policy changes include raising the income ceiling for executive condominiums (ECs) from $14,000 to $16,000.
In the short term, this will likely widen the gap between the high demand and low supply of ECs as the land supply for such projects is scarce, Mr Mak said. “The supply in the short term is quite inflexible,” he added, noting that the rules require developers to wait at least 15 months before they can launch EC projects after acquiring land parcels.
So even if the Government were to sell more land parcels next year, new ECs would be launched in 2021 to 2022 at the earliest, he said.
Mr Mak noted that there are currently three EC projects set to be launched next year.
There were no would-be buyers yesterday afternoon when The Straits Times visited the showroom for Piermont Grand in Punggol – the only EC launched this year.
“It’s still early days. I’m hopeful for the weekend when more people have heard about the news and are not working,” said OrangeTee & Tie property agent Andrew Yew.
“The EHG has been a long time coming and really helps young couples who might have been considering ECs previously but whose income exceeded the ceiling.”