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HDB to sell unsold flats on a less frequent basis

April 11, 2008
By Joyce Teo

NOT so long ago, unsold Housing Board flats were so plentiful that home buyers could simply walk in and buy a completed unit.

But with fast dwindling stocks, the HDB is streamlining the system for launching batches of unsold flats.

Starting July 1, it will hold fewer launches - but each launch will boast more flats.

It will sell three-room and smaller unsold flats once every three months, instead of once a month. And the bigger flats - three-room premium and above - will be sold half-yearly starting Oct 10, instead of every two months.

Property market observers say this will make life easier for urgent home buyers.

PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail said it will help unsuccessful buyers avoid the anxiety of having to re-apply for a dwindling pool of unsold flats every month or two.

An economic downturn in the late 1990s resulted in the excess stock of unsold flats.

'With the progressive clearance of these unsold flats, the number of ready-built flats available for sale will decline and the sales launches for unsold flats will become less frequent over time,' said the HDB in a statement yesterday.

HDB launched the final bi-monthly sales exercise yesterday.

Already, demand is strong. As at 5pm, 1,752 applications had been made for 490 four-room and bigger flats in the north and west zones. The 76 four-room flats, 371 five-room flats and 43 executive flats are in various towns such as Bukit Batok, Jurong East and Yishun.

From now on, the board will also be consolidating the supply of unsold four-room and bigger flats in a single launch. They were previously grouped under three sectors - north and west, north-east and established towns.

There is also good news for first-time buyers. Responding to public feedback, the HDB will now set aside 90 per cent of the flat supply in these exercises for first-timer applicants, similar to its practice for the build-to-order (BTO) scheme.

They will also enjoy double the number of chances compared to regular applicants under the ballot to determine their queue position.

Still, HDB encourages those needing a flat urgently or wishing to live in mature estates to con- sider a resale flat.

But not all home-hunters can afford a resale flat as they cost more and typically, require a fairly large cash-over-valuation sum, agents said.

Serious buyers should look to the BTO system, where projects are built only when a majority of units are booked, as this will be the main way the HDB will sell new flats from now on.

The catch is that buyers have to wait about three years for their flats to be built.

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