2020 BTO Report Card: Which Were the Most Popular HDB Launches This Year?

Mary Wu
2020 BTO Report Card: Which Were the Most Popular HDB Launches This Year?
2020 was an unprecedented year indeed.
During the “circuit breaker” period, many activities that were deemed non-essential had to be halted, including the construction of HDB Build-To-Order flats and even appointments at the HDB Hub sales office.
In addition, China locked down its cities in end-January, which affected the flow of materials to Singapore. Later in March, Malaysia closed its borders, disrupting the supply of precast concrete components and other construction materials.
At the height of Singapore’s COVID-19 outbreak, emerging clusters at foreign worker dormitories also led to a shortage of manpower. As a result, construction projects would be delayed by months; and affected homebuyers could seek reimbursement from developers, including HDB.
Those who managed to receive the keys to their flat before COVID-19, but were caught in the midst of renovation when “circuit breaker” happened, were forced to move into half-finished homes.
Nevertheless, this year is coming to a close, and hopefully things will look up in 2021. As we enter a new year, let’s take a look back at the BTO launches of 2020 — how popular were they despite the pandemic, which were the hottest estates, and what unit types caught the majority’s fancy?

2020 HDB BTO Launches

2020 HDB BTO launch cycle
February 2020
Sembawang and Toa Payoh
August 2020
Choa Chu Kang, Tengah,
Woodlands, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Geylang, Pasir Ris and Tampines
November 2020
Sembawang, Tengah, Bishan, Toa Payoh and Tampines

HDB BTO February 2020

In February 2020, HDB launched 3,095 flats in Sembawang (non-mature estate) and Toa Payoh (mature estate). The BTO units would be located in Canberra Vista, Kim Keat Ripples and Toa Payoh Ridge.
In Sembawang, there were a whopping number of applicants for the 5-room/3Gen units. A total of 3,738 applicants clamoured for the 266 (5-room – 221, 3Gen – 45) units available, which meant that about 14 people were fighting over 1 unit.
Toa Payoh, as a mature town with more amenities, was of course the more popular (and the more expensive, with 4-room flats priced up to $666,000!) of the 2 launches, with almost 14,000 applicants for the 1,628 units available. As expected, the 4-room flats were the more popular choice in Toa Payoh.
Toa Payoh Ridge, which is close to two MRT stations — Caldecott (on the Circle Line, and an upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line interchange) and Braddell (on the North-South Line) — naturally took the spotlight due to its location. It’s also near to Raffles Girls’ School and CHIJ Toa Payoh; not to mention Upper Thomson and MacRitchie Reservoir.
Sembawang’s Canberra Vista also proved popular, due to its proximity to Canberra MRT station. While amenities such as Canberra Plaza (opening 18 Dec) and the Bukit Canberra sports and community hub are still under development, by the time the BTO is ready, many amenities will be too.

HDB BTO August (and May) 2020

Oops, May was skipped and combined with the August launch, no thanks to COVID-19 and Singapore’s extension of circuit breaker measures till 1 June to control the spread of infection.
The planned launch in May 2020 was to include 3,700 flats in Choa Chu Kang, Tengah, Pasir Ris and Tampines, as well as about 160 assisted living flats for seniors in Bukit Batok. This was then deferred to August, in combination with the launch of Woodlands, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Geylang — a total of 7,862 flats. Meanwhile, the launch of the assisted living flats for seniors in Bukit Batok was further pushed back to February 2021.
Because this was an unprecedented bumper crop, here’s a bullet list of the projects:
August 2020 BTOs in non-mature estates
  • Choa Chu Kang (Keat Hong Verge)
  • Tengah (Parc Residences @ Tengah)
  • Woodlands (Champions Bliss)
  • Woodlands (UrbanVille @ Woodlands)
August 2020 BTOs in mature estates
  • Ang Mo Kio (Kebun Baru Edge)
  • Bishan (Bishan Towers)
  • Geylang (Dakota One)
  • Pasir Ris (Costa Grove)
  • Tampines (Tampines GreenCrest)
  • Tampines (Tampines GreenGlade)
  • Tampines (Tampines GreenOpal)
For those looking to get a BTO in a mature estate, August was probably the perfect month. However, thanks to the delay caused by COVID-19 and a deferred round, there was pent-up demand.
As expected, the most popular estates were in mature towns. Ang Mo Kio’s 5-room units saw an eye-popping 21.5 application rate — it’s no surprise, since the estate has produced million-dollar HDB resale flats. Geylang’s 4-room units were next in line, with a 19.1 application rate.
It’s also interesting to note that the 5-room flats at UrbanVille @ Woodlands, a non-mature town, saw a high application rate of 9.8, probably due to the proximity to the MRT, affordability (from $405,000) and other amenities in the area.
Somehow, the Bishan development wasn’t as popular as expected, with an application rate of just 4 for 3-room flats and 6.2 for 4-room flats. This was likely due to the “neither-here, neither-there” location of HDB blocks, which are rather far from any MRT station (1.4km away) and close to a busy road and expressway.

HDB BTO November 2020

Just last month in November, HDB launched its final batch of 5,795 BTO flats for 2020. These were in non-mature towns Sembawang (Sun Sails) and Tengah (Garden Court @ Tengah & Garden Terrace @ Tengah), and mature towns Toa Payoh (Bartley Beacon / ParkView @ Bidadari — not *really* in Toa Payoh), Bishan (Bishan Ridges) and Tampines (Tampines GreenEmerald).
As expected, Bishan (this time right smack near the MRT station) and “Toa Payoh” (actually Bartley/Bidadari) were priced the highest, from $528,000 for a 4-roomer and from $627,000 for a 5-room unit respectively. Ouch, so expensive — but you might still be able to afford it. Check your mortgage repayments and affordability with our handy calculators.

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As expected, the 5-room units in “Toa Payoh” were hotly contested despite the high price tag, with an application rate of 15.1 (Bartley Beacon). Bishan, too, saw application rates of 6.6 (3-room) and 7.1 (4-room). In fact, Bishan and Toa Payoh’s bigger BTO flats were oversubscribed just one day after launch — talk about kiasu!
To be honest, if you’re not a stickler for location, the bigger flats in Sembawang are also a good pick. These saw healthy application rates of 4.1 (4-room) and 5.8 (5-room), and priced from $260,000 and $336,000 respectively. If we were allowed to buy more than one HDB flat at a time, the budget for a Bishan or Toa Payoh flat could go towards two of the same in Sembawang (or just one unit at about half price).
Sembawang is hotting up, with existing malls Sun Plaza, Sembawang Shopping Centre and Sembawang Hot Springs Park, the new Canberra MRT, as well as the up-and-coming Bukit Canberra hub and Canberra Plaza.

2021 HDB BTO launches

What’s coming up for 2021? So far, we know that for February’s launch, HDB plans to offer about 3,500 BTO flats in Bukit Batok, Kallang/Whampoa, Tengah and Toa Payoh (Bidadari).
Later in May 2021, HDB plans to launch 3,870 BTO units in Tengah, Woodlands, Bukit Merah (actually along Telok Blangah Drive, which will be part of the upcoming Greater Southern Waterfront area), and Geylang. Unless there’s a shake-up, it’s likely that the demand and prices for Bukit Merah and Geylang will be high.
Tired of waiting up to five years for your BTO to be completed, and another five years for your flat to reach MOP (that’s 1 decade in total)? Consider getting a resale HDB flat if you can’t wait, just like what other Singaporeans are doing.
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This article was written by Mary Wu, who hopes to share what she’s learnt from her home-buying and renovation journey with PropertyGuru readers. When she’s not writing, she’s usually baking up a storm or checking out a new cafe in town.
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