The Housing and Development Board (HDB) will launch 1,000 Build-to-Order (BTO) flats with shorter waiting times of two-and-a-half years next year, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Tuesday (7 March).
These units will be spread across non-mature estates, with 95 per cent of four-room or larger flats reserved for first-timer families, Wong said during the Committee of Supply debate on the Ministry of Development’s (MND) 2017 Budget.
The current waiting period for BTO flats is typically three to four years.
“We are achieving this not by rushing the construction but by commencing construction ahead of launch,” said Wong, while acknowledging that there are many young couples hoping to move into their homes quickly and that MND takes their requests “very seriously”.
The minister said he had also asked HDB to be more efficient in dealing with the unsold units left from the Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercises – a popular option for couples looking to quickly obtain a home but which currently take place only twice a year.
From the second half of this year, HDB will pool together such unsold units and put them up for sale at more regular intervals, Wong said, adding that priority will be given to first-timers.
Couples renting homes under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS) will also see rental rates slashed by $200 to $400 a month. The PPHS is a temporary housing option for couples who are waiting for their flats.
“To date, 2,000 households have lived in PPHS flats and we have welcomed more than 400 PPHS babies,” said Wong of the scheme, which was introduced in January 2013.
More help for seniors who want to get new homes
Meanwhile, senior citizens who wish to right-size their homes will also receive more help from HDB.
Wong acknowledged that not many seniors have taken up the two-room flexi scheme, saying that the process for them was “daunting”.
“The numbers who take up the right-sizing option are not large. And when we survey and people, they tell us that the process is sometimes quite daunting,” said Wong.
Under the Deferred Downpayment Scheme, seniors will be allowed to defer the full down payment of their new flats until they collect the keys. This will take effect from the May 2017 sales exercise. Those aged 55 and above and who are right-sizing to a three-room flat or smaller will be eligible for this scheme.
In addition, those with cash flow issues can apply for a Temporary Loan Scheme (TLS) while waiting for their existing flats to be sold. The scheme applies to all resale transactions submitted from 8 March 2017, according to HDB.
Those who apply for flats near their existing flat or near their married children will get priority when applying for the two-room flexi scheme.
Since December last year, HDB has also introduced an Elderly Priority Queue at the HDB Hub to help seniors with enquiries on housing-related matters.
–additional reporting by Hannah Teoh