Up to 14,000 2-room HDB BTO flats to be launched in the next 3 years: Desmond Lee

Minister for National Development (MND) Desmond Lee said that this is an increase of about 30 per cent over the past three years.

HDB BTO blocks in Punggol district on a sunny day.
Up to 14,000 two-room flexi HDB BTO flats will be launched in the next three years. (PHOTO: Getty)

SINGAPORE — The Housing and Development Board (HDB) will launch up to 14,000 two-room flexi Build-to-Order (BTO) flats between 2024 and 2026, said the Minister for National Development (MND) Desmond Lee.

The minister told Parliament on Monday (18 September) that this is an increase of about 30 per cent over the past three years from 2021 to 2023 and will help meet demand from singles and elderly households who were looking to "right-size".

Lee was responding to a question by Jurong Group Representation Constituency (GRC) Member of Parliament (MP) Xie Yao Quan, who had asked whether there were plans to offer more two-room flats in future Plus and Prime BTO projects.

The planned increase in future two-room flats is part of the government's strategy to enhance housing access for singles under a new public housing framework, which will take effect in the second half of 2024. Under the new framework, singles aged 35 and above will be able to purchase new two-room flexi flats islandwide in standard, Plus or Prime BTO projects. Singles are currently only allowed to buy new two-room flexi flats in non-mature estates.

More subsidies for Plus and Prime flats

In his speech, Lee also said that the government will be providing more subsidies for flats located in Plus and Prime BTO projects. This is in addition to existing grants such as the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) for eligible homebuyers.

The minister said this in response to another question by Xie, who had asked whether the government would introduce a price cap on Plus and Prime BTO flats as an additional measure to ensure their affordability. In response, the minister said that setting a hard cap can be "distortionary" as prices may then "not fully reflect the attributes of the flats".

Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) for Plus flats

In response to another of Xie's questions – he had asked whether the government will consider shortening the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) of Plus flats to less than 10 years given the lower subsidies on Plus flats compared to Prime ones – the minister said that the government had "considered this carefully" and that an MOP of ten years "seeks to strike a balance between strengthening the intent of owner-occupation on the one hand and giving homeowners the flexibility of moving home for genuine reasons".

Lee added that many Singaporeans supported the imposition of a longer MOP period "because they felt that HDB flats should primarily be for owner occupation", citing views from the Forward Singapore housing conversations.

The minister also said that while a vast majority of existing HDB flats come with an MOP of five years, most Singaporean households stay in their HDB flat for 10 years or more before selling.

"For those who genuinely need to move out before the end of the MOP, HDB will assess their appeal on a case-by-case basis," said the minister.

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