Young couples looking to purchase a new flat will soon be allowed to apply for their home first before having their income assessed just prior to collecting their keys, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong in Parliament on Tuesday (6 March).
They will be allowed to do so from May, when the Build-to-Order (BTO) and Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise is held, he said during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate. The move is aimed at helping such couples save time when purchasing their home.
“Buying a flat is a serious commitment, but for young couples who have considered it carefully I think we can exercise some flexibility to support them in their marriage and parenthood journey,” said Wong of the move.
Currently, to apply for housing grants, first-time couples are required to show that they have been continuously employed for 12 months prior to applying for a flat.
With the change, young couples – including full-time students, national servicemen and those who have recently completed both – will be able to defer their income assessment. According to a joint press release by the Ministry of National Development and HDB, this will shave up to a year off the process of such couples being able to get their flats.
“The flat will typically take four years to build do during that period the couple can have time to build up their finances. And just before key collection we will assess their income for purposes of determining the loan quantum and housing grants they are eligible for,” said Wong.
Smoothening out the process
The 45-year-old, who is also Second Minister for Finance, also noted other measures aimed at making it easier for people to purchase a flat. Among them is a move to make available BTO flats with a shorter waiting time.
Wong said that 1,100 such flats will be launched in Sembawang, Sengkang and Yishun later this year and the government will offer another 2,000 units in 2019. “The waiting time for these flats is around two to three years, as opposed to the normal waiting time of three to four years,” he said.
The HDB is also reviewing the balloting process for BTO flats, which Wong said used to be “much simpler in the past”. With many more factors involved today, he noted that it currently takes about six weeks to work through the entire balloting process.
“Still, I think the time taken can be reduced. So I’ve challenged the HDB team to see if we can halve the balloting time from six weeks to three weeks,” said Wong, adding that he hopes to hear some “good news” from HDB on the matter soon.